Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Steam leak...

Options
Jamie Hall
Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,419
Grr.  Mumble mumble mumble.  Problem is my Weil-McClain 80 series (5 section) (model 580).  Somewhere above the water line there is a steam leak into the combustion gas path -- all the usual suspects: won't build pressure (thank goodness I have a vapour system -- still heats the building just fine, thank you, but I suspect using more oil than it should); vapour out the chimney; slowly dropping water levels...



The question, folks, is it worth trying to figure out what the leak is?  What's the odds on a fix?  Or should I just curse loudly and get Charlie of WMass down here to replace the thing?



It's only six years old...
Br. Jamie, osb
Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England

Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,887
    Options
    It should still be under warranty

    and is pretty easy to take apart. See where the leak is and go from there. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,419
    Options
    Sounds like a plan...

    I'll see if Charlie is willing to take it on -- I hope he is; mostly knuckleheads in my immediate vicinity...



    Thanks!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,419
    edited May 2010
    Options
    In case anyone is wondering...

    Charlie came down yesterday, and when we took the side panels off the thing, it's toast -- not only is there a leak somewhere into the firebox, but... leaking slightly outside between all the sections, and you take an inspection cover off and there's scale on the pins.  Generally a mess.



    A word to the wise -- Charlie thinks the problem may have been the initial installation (six years ago); I told you there were knuckleheads in the area and it looks (we'll see better when it comes apart) as though they adhered to the "if a little is good a lot is a lot better" theory on sealant between sections... rather than counting on the gaskets.  Oh well...



    So we're researching new boilers in the 1100 sq. ft. net range.  Let you all know -- but probably just a replacement for what's there.



    I might add that this is a fascinating illustration of the fact that vapour systems can and do run on zero pressure -- it still is heating the place quite nicely!  Just not as efficient (something about not getting much useful heat from the steam going up the chimney...)
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Unknown
    Options
    Tough-break Jamie,,,,

    Try to post some pics as Charlie progresses please. :-)
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,887
    Options
    Weil-McLain boilers

    come with very specific instructions on section assembly, and they warn about this very thing. Looks like someone didn't read the manual. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,419
    Options
    As usual...

    you are so right.  But that was six years ago, and I trusted the knuckleheads who put the dang thing together to do it right.  Should I have known better? perhaps... but I didn't, and I assumed that he knew what he was doing.  Live and learn -- but an expensive lesson.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Potential opportunity...

    Since you are stuck replacing the boiler, you may want to downsize if you can to get it closer to the actual heat load.  You are already seeing that the boiler can heat the space while only at partial capacity.   Do a good heat load calc and see where you're at.... you've probably have quite a bit of room to downsize.   If you have an orifice vapor system, especially with the adjustable valves, reducing the boiler capacity should be a snap.   A modulating burner with a modulating thermostat or outdoor reset pressure contro ( Warren Webster type set up)and you'd be set.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Al Letellier_21
    Al Letellier_21 Member Posts: 402
    Options
    streamer leaking

    Very familiar story......I inspected a Weil 4-80 that was leaking. Seems it was the second boiler in the house in five years...big hole at the water line of the rear section. Did a connected load....like I had done 10 years ago when I got outbid for the job. It was improperly piped, had bad vents and was way oversized.

    We removed the boiler, converted to gas, installed a Weil SGO-7 to heat the 700 sq. feet of load, repiped the returns, installed all new vents, and powered vented as the chimney had been relined....with 2 4" flues cause a 8" liner wouldn't fit in the chimney.

    This is one of the last steamers I will install in my career, and I'm satisfied that it will be one of the last to go into this house......3 in ten years and it was finally done right.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    Options
    Jamie provided a very good EDR list

    The 580 is pretty close to what is called for. I looked into Burnham and Peerless for the iron push nipples but I am leaning towards a properly assembled Weil 580 with a slight down size to the nozzle. The nozzle Jamie has is a 3.25 gph 30 degree I am not too thrilled with what that nozzle could do to the rear section on its own even if the sealant was applied correctly I think it was due a short life.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,887
    edited May 2010
    Options
    The 5-80

    does have a 30° nozzle specified for the Beckett (CF500?) burner. We have a customer with one and I didn't think it looked right either, so we called and confirmed it. As long as the flame doesn't slam the rear target it should be OK. If it does I'd check the burner settings first. Also, was the breech damper (this boiler fires with positive pressure) set properly?



    Someone had installed a 60° nozzle in this 5-80 and it sooted up..... couldn't have been that hard to double-check like we did.......



    I can't remember- is there a lo-hi-lo burner that will work with this boiler?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,419
    Options
    believe it or not...

    there is a breech damper on this set up -- at least they did one thing right.  And it the present burner is a Beckett, so perhaps the 30 degree is right.  I'm counting on Charlie for all of that, though!  Pipes yes.  Traps yes.  Radiatiors yes.  Boilers and burners?  Ah no!  Get someone who knows what they are doing!  But it might be possible to go to 3.00 instead of 3.25 -- but not much further, as experience has shown that it only cycles on pressure (when it's not leaking!) very far into a long recovery (like at least half an hour to 45 minutes in) so the firing rate vs. the load can't be that far off.  But it would be nice if there were a lo-hi-lo oil burner for this thing... (gas isn't an option).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Some confusion me thinks....

    I was talking about firing to the building heat loss, not the radiation load.   This could get your more efficiency and less wear by even longer heating cycles and continuous firing at design outdoor temps. 

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,419
    Options
    Um, well...

    First off it is steam, and last I looked the EDR ruled.  However... for a variety of reasons (you have to see this place to believe it) the building heat loss for the design day condition is actually greater than the installed radiation.  And yes indeed, it can get chilly in parts of the building on a design day.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    Options
    Sizing to the load

    I like the idea, But I would rather do that with nozzle sizes than dropping sections as they are hard to install later. I guess I am so used to Carlins on these boilers I was surprised to even see a Beckett on it. My thinking was that the flame geometry would not be that different from one burner to the next on this to allow that different of an angle. This is why manuals are produced and before altering they need to be consulted.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • JJ_4
    JJ_4 Member Posts: 146
    edited May 2010
    Options
    EDR vs. Heat Loss

    Caveate: Not a pro, engineer homeowner.  After I made significant insulation and weather-tightening improvements to my house I did a before and after heat loss calculation (using the Slantfin software).  The installed radiator EDR was a little high (total 343), even in the before condition.  Perhaps a leftover from a Victorian "leave the windows open in the winter" design and that the original boiler was coal.  I downsized radiators throughout to make the EDR match the "new" heatloss for each zone (total now 198).  House is just as comforatable as before...and actually eliminated the problem of two zones that were too warm before.  Still need to downsize the boiler when it goes (or when I can afford it).  Surprisingly it doesn't short cycle.  There is one central thermostat (the Honeywell digital round). 
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    Options
    not so easy on to change radiators

    The system is a two pipe vapor system. If one drops out or changes radiators to match the load you can size the boiler to thwe load. If the radiators are not changed you need to size to the radiation to assure you can fill the system with steam.I find that there is seldom funds to resize the radiation to match the new load for the upgraded home envelope.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,419
    Options
    for those following the saga...

    Charles took the thing apart today -- along with a good bit of dubious near boiler piping.  Found a nice hole -- a couple of inches across by an inch or so high -- top set of pins in the front section, next to the steam passage.  Wonderful.  Also a lovely twisted gasket in one of the water passages which had clearly been there since day 1.  And a fair amount of goop of varying consistencies here and there, as there was no way to blow the poor thing down before (there will be, there will be!).  Progress...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
This discussion has been closed.