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Steam water line and piping

mtlight
mtlight Member Posts: 28
I a new recently installed a steam boiler after a basement renovation. I measured the connected load. I bought a Williamson GSA125. I have a new 2 ½ header, equalizer 1 ¼ and a proper H loop. Pressuretrol set ½ to 2psi and all as per Williamson specs. I used the boiler through last winter. All seems fine. I have a water feeder in place but it is not being used. I feed manually. I have three or four problems after monitoring the progress throughout last winter, but now I want to correct any problems.

I have one of those waist high level returns that has shrunk the “a” dimension. The return gradually pitches and crosses the water line about 12 ft from the boiler. I am going to drop this to 1-2 ft above the floor and slope the return to bring the water back to the boiler. All will be below the water line and my A dimension will be 36 inches. There is no banging at this time, but here are some water line problems I noticed which may be caused by the lack of A dimension at this time

1. When the boiler is started up from a cold start and before the steam is formed, the water line in the sight glass moves up within 1-2 inches of the top of the glass? shouldn’t I be losing water pre stream? Why is the water initially rising here?

When the steam is starts to generate and to move to the header and riser, the boiler water level begins to drop within minutes the water disappears from the sight glass and the boiler sometimes shuts off on low water. The return water now returns to the boiler and the water line goes back to the normal water line. The boiler now goes back on and the water line drops slowly and hovers an inch or two above the glass. I think it’s a little low. Not a lof of surging, but movement up and down. While this is happening, rust water drops drip from the top of the sight glass down towards the water level. I know its supposed to be dry above the water line?

2.Why is this rusty water leaking in the top of the sight glass and dripping down.? Ps I’ve skimmed the boiler 4 times

3.Will a return that is fully below the water line with an A dimension of 36” keep this water leave more steady and closer to the NWL?

After the boiler is running for a while, the system doesn’t shut off on low water, the line just stays low and the rust water leaks out of the boiler in the top of the glass and drips down. Ive removed the glass, cleaned it and viewed this. I know it’s a lot, but maybe you can help me out. I have Dan H,s big red book on steam very informative Please help

 



 

Comments

  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,192
    Any photos?

    We like a few photos so we can get a better idea of whats going on.
    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
  • mtlight
    mtlight Member Posts: 28
    Steam water line and piping

    I'll get the pics posted today  Thanks
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,492
    mysterious waterline behavior

    i don't know why the water would rise on the initial firing, but the sudden plunge of the waterline sounds like a problem we had with our new boiler in 1975, and again with another new boiler in 2008! with the first boiler, we tried to control the waterline disappearance with a check valve in the return [only curing the symptom and not the cause!].

    if that return has any horizontal runs just above the normal waterline of the boiler, it will "hide" the water as the boiler builds pressure. this can be solved by piping the returns straight down to the floor, and over to the boiler, so that there is no opportunity for this to happen. this problem  drove us crazy [see "mysterious migration of water" in the search feature here].

    i would also get that pressure down to a few ounces, using a vaporstat and a good low pressure gauge [gaugestore.com 0-15 oz.].

    don't forget to put plenty of main [not rad vents] on the returns. it may have been trapped air expanding that raised the waterline at first steaming.--nbc
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 702
    Water Quality

    What you describe strongly suggests poor water quality.



    Skimmed four times?  It takes us six to twelve hours to clean a new boiler. 



    If you have water cascading down from the top of the sight glass, your water ain't clean.
  • RDSTEAM
    RDSTEAM Member Posts: 134
    hard to tell without seeing

    these type of problems are hard "over the net" fixers. are you sure the pressure isnt too high? you need atleast 28" of "a" dimension for each pound of pressure. that could also be your "carry-over" problem with your sight glass. as far as the water rising when it starts to make steam. thats gonna happen just because the water is beginning to be drawn up. 1-2" seems like a little much but it should happen a little
  • Chris M_2
    Chris M_2 Member Posts: 67
    Water dropping and rusty

    I had exactly the same symptoms with my  Burnham Megasteam a couple of years ago when it was installed in my home. I'm not a pro, and I wasn't there when the installers "finished up", but I know they didn't skim the boiler, given the time it takes to perform a skimming.  Anyway, I take an interest in my home and its related systems and began reading up. I skimmed the boiler (let it cool a bit, opened a port on the back of the boiler, opened the water feed valve to a trickle, caught the runoff in a 5 gallon joint compound bucket, and dumped the bucket out  a bunch of times. This took me all day. Although that seemed to improve the bouncing waterline and the cascading rust in the site glass for a while, the problem came back within a week or so. So, I decided to drain the boiler completely via the drain plug at base of boiler, after heating it up. Then I filled it again (after waiting for the cast iron to cool before filling!!), boiled again, drained again, wait to cool, fill again, boil, drain... until the water that was draining was coming out as clear as possible. That seemed to have fixed the problem.  So, I believe the cause of the problem (in my case) was my new boiler loosened up a lot of crud in the rads and pipes that the old boiler was too tired and weak to loosen. All that junk in the water creates interference on the surface for steam to rise up, and you get bouncing water, water "thrown" up into the headers, surging waterline, etc.   Give what I did a shot and see if it works for you.. It's important to boil that water when you add it so that the extra oxygen in the fresh water is expelled.  That oxygen is what corrodes the cast iron. 
  • mtlight
    mtlight Member Posts: 28
    Pics attached

    Nicholas  I know my return is not right, this this could be the cause of some problems  Im in the process of dopping the return line and will have 40" A dimension.  As far as vents, I have a gorton #1 and 2. My pressure ops between .5 -2Psi (actually 1.75).

    LB Ed  Any good cleaning suggestions.  Im reading different things.  The water coming in the top of the site glass is when the boiler is actively steaming and the water line has dropped, but there is a leakingout the top of the glass intermittent. In otherwords the water line is no where near the top of that glass.

    Chris M  Thanks Ill keep your cleaning suggestions in mind  I didnt understand one thing. Did you add fresh water to the boiler each time before heating and draining?

    Thanks to all   One thin I know is that my return has to be dropped to give me a propper A dimmension.  I have one of those waist high one which crosses past the water line with minimal dimension.

    Any more suggestions, let me know
  • mtlight
    mtlight Member Posts: 28
    Site glass photo

    The pic with the sit Glass photo shows an 1 1/2 nipple 6" long with a cap that I used for skimming and will us again.  Note the glass which is brand new and just cleaned.  After using the boiler to test this week, the rust on the glass is from water that almost appears to dribble in from the top of the site glass.this is one of my problems

      I also believe that when the boiler was filled for the first time, last october, the site glass valves were shut and the main may have had water in it when being filled initially. The water did not get to the first floor rads but things were stirred up initially in the main.  I used all last winter and seemed to be ok. The more Im reading about the installation, these are the problems Im having.

    Header 2 1/2 and equalizer is 1 1/2(correction from initial post).

    The header does not drop straight down, but on a 45. I was told this was ok and i dont believe any water sits near the reducing L

    Thanks 
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 702
    edited August 2010
    .

  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 702
    edited August 2010
    Clean it....

    Chris' formula for cleaning it is the same as mine.  Lots of skimming and draining then skimming some more.  Keep slowly adding water as you skim.  The carry-over of water into the sight glass is caused by bad water quality.



    That Hartford Loop nipple seems mighty low.  I doubt that's where the manufacturer wants it to be.  And that too can give you waterline problems. 



    Clean the boiler water.  Clean it again.  When it's clean see if your problems remain.  If they do, get the installation instructions and re-pipe that Hartford Loop.
  • mtlight
    mtlight Member Posts: 28
    H loop

    The camera may have been at an angle, but the loop is Two inches below the normal water line  maybe 2.5   no banging     i hope its not necessary to repipe that.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,192
    edited August 2010
    Each dry return

    needs to be dropped below water line before joining and going to the Hartford loop. Also where are the main line vents?
    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
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Skimming

    Here's an article on skimming from the June 2009 Issue of Oil Heating Magazine.

    http://www.epaperflip.com/aglaia/viewer.aspx?docid=9beef5d931a94544990269f771411ad1

    Look on page 20 for the article "Cleaning a Steam Boiler and Keeping it Clean".



    In the article they "hotskim".   I have been doing a "cold skim" which has been working just as well. (Cold skimming = skimming without heating the water)   The idea is to drain off the top surface of the boiler water as s-l-o-w-l-y as possible.  To give you an idea of how slow it takes about 2 hours to fill a 5 gal bucket.  With the burner shutoff and zero pressure, open the skim port and then turn on the boiler makeup water and fill the boiler till the water just trickles out the skim port (s-l-o-w-l-y)   After skimming off a 5 gal bucket full. I then shut off the water, close the skim port and lower the boiler water level to the normal cold operating level.  You then want to turn on the burner and heat the boiler water to a boil to drive off any excess oxygen.   You should then run the boiler for a day or two (I'm a home owner so I do it of successive Saturdays mornings) and then repeat the skim process. I've sometimes gotten away with just two or three skimmings but sometimes have had to do more. I've also had really good luck with using Rhomar's products. http://www.rhomarwater.com/products/residential-steam-system/



    While it doesn't affect the normal operation of the boilers, looking over your pictures I noticed that neither the safety valve on your domestic hot water tank nor on the steam boiler has piping to lead the discharge safely away. Steam burns are bad news so you want to fix this.

    - Rod
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,492
    "A" dimension

    i don't think the "A" dimension is affected by the return height as much as  by pressure. for each ounce of pressure, the water in the returns can rise 1.75 in. if the horizontal is in this above waterline area, it can hold enough water to drastically lower  the boiler waterline, so drop your return to well below the waterline, and drop your pressure. even if a vaporstat is not doable for the moment, then at least get a good  0-3 psi gauge, so you can see exactly what happens at what pressure.

    the hartford loop height is usually given as a height off the floor in the installation specs-is yours at that height?

    don't forget the main vents so you are not paying your fuel company to get the air out for you-[we all know how good fuel companies are at what they do!]--nbc
  • Leak at top of sight glass

    I had a similar problem with my Burnham boiler last season. I had a very slight leak at the top of the sight glass when the boiler was under pressure; a couple of table spoons per steaming cycle. First I tried tightened the top bonnet nut a bit but that didn't last. I removed and cleaned the sight glass and replaced the rubber sealing washers with new EPDM gage glass washers. It took some work to scrape the old washers out of the bonnet nuts  but they had been in there for 12 years. i also had to use my cutoff saw to remove a rusted gage glass guard.



    I'd try tightening that top bonnet nut but be gentle! I'd also have a spare gage glass and new gage glass washers on hand, just in case. I ordered the washers from Mcmaster-Carr so now I have 22 spares - a lifetime supply.
  • Chris M_2
    Chris M_2 Member Posts: 67
    Draining and Skimming











    Regarding your question about fresh water being added during

    the draining process… Yes, I run the boiler to heat the water, shut it down,

    drain completely, let dry boiler cool down before filling again, close the

    drain tap and then do the whole thing over again.  Boiling the water gets the rust and other

    impurities spread throughout the water. Then, when opening the drain spigot at

    the bottom of the boiler (with a hose attached and run outside the house into

    the yard), the water quickly drains out, taking along with it  much of the "suspended" dirt.  You won't get all the rusty crud out by doing

    just one boil/drain/cool/fill cycle, but if you do it 3 or 4 times, it'll

    surely make a difference.    Skimming is a different process altogether.

    Skimming is meant to remove the impurities that float to the surface of the

    boiler's water. You're slowly "skimming" the very top layer by

    letting the water trickle out. It has to trickle out so as not to

    "disturb" the water in the boiler. The water in the boiler has to be still

    so that the oils can rise to the top and trickle out.  The longer you skim it, the more time you're

    giving those floating imputies to make their way to the surface of the water

    and out through your skimming port.  A

    newly installed boiler must be skimmed, because in addition to when the boiler

    was manufactured, the installation itself of the boiler involves a lot of hand

    tooling, pipe dope, and generally the introduction of dirt and grease into the

    new system.  That dirt and grease winds

    up in the boiler's water and has to be removed by skimming.  A good skimming also should be done whenever

    new radiators or piping is added too, because those new parts will surely have residual

    oils on them left by the manufacturing process. 

    I don't see much reason to skim after that, unless new water contacting components

    are added to the boiler later on.
  • mikeyone
    mikeyone Member Posts: 3
    water line

    it appears to me that the hartford loop may be too low??? 2" below nwl is standard some manufactuers say 2-4" below. what is yours???
  • mtlight
    mtlight Member Posts: 28
    H Loop

    The NWL is exactly 2 1/4 above the top of the H loop nipple. There are discrepancies as to wether the 2" mark is above the top of the H Loop fitting or the middle of the h Loop. Dan H from this site says below the glass totally. He wants it real low as compared to other sites and books. So my 2 1/4 is probabely ok
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 2,660
    not for nothing

    not for nothing but what size is the return nipple coming out of the boiler it looks as though it was reduced.I personally never reduce the boiler return tapping and usually always drop my equalizer line down from my header to what ever the boiler return tapping is on another note you should have used a tee on the return nipple instead of a elbow out of the boiler so in the future the plug could be removed and the boiler sections could be flushed out of sediment .I believe  reducing the return inlet would effect how the equilizer would function i know on some larger boilers that i have worked on which had only a 2 inch equilizer but needed a required 2 1/2 (over750,000 btu) had a cold spot in the equilizer which remained cold even after hot condensate was returning .They also did have water level promblems .What size is that pipe tieing into the return? just my 2 cents peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • mtlight
    mtlight Member Posts: 28
    not for nothing

    Equalizer is 1 1/2.  Inlet opening was bushed down from 2".  From the info I received the 1 1/2 equalizer was sufficient with this 125,000 btu boiler. Even the info in dans book, said it was sufficient. I definitely should have put a tee there to flush. Maybe ill remove and put one in with a union.  As far as the equalizer, Im not sur what you mean as far as drop down location. Also, When the boiler is firing, the upper portion of the equaizer is hot and near the hartford loop is hot, but its only warm in the middle of the equalizer.

    I warm skimmed and cold skimmed 2 times each. The water level seemed to calm down, no major fluctuations, but the area in the glass above the water line is not bone dry as it is supposed to there is fogging and droplets. When the boiler was installed all the near boiler piping was changed as well as other pipes witha lot of pro Dope.  After 10 skims, can it still be dirty.  Should i clean with some tsp?

    I will do it if needed, but im lowering my return to create more A dimension(newPipe)  I probabely should wait until after that before cleaning.  As of now, I cant seem to stop the water/fog from showing its face above the water line in the site glass

    Any suggestions, let me know  thanks
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,700
    It's probably still dirty

    that is by far the most common cause of your problem. But an over-fired burner can cause it too. Have the burner's input rate checked and adjusted if necessary, and then tuned using a digital combustion analyzer. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 2,660
    willamson / weil mclean

    A willamson is just a rebagged weil ,even though it is a small boiler i personally still would have done a 2 inch equilizer and not have ran it at an angle  and if i had to i don't think i would have  had the peice that's s at a angle so long .the only time i really had a promblem with a water line was when the returns tied together above the water line,as for cleaning i always do a hot skim and i use tsp and flush the boiler completly out when done a isolation valve on the return helps also .A for myself if your hartford loop (the returns )are coming back hot and you still have a cool spot on your equilizer then it is under sized botton line and that will effect your water line in the boiler .Here justa couple of steamers piped correctly and the gas one is about a 125 output ,see two riser slow exiting velocity i think it was under 11 fps very dry very hot steam ,peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 2,660
    edited August 2010
    lost the other pic

    here,s the other .sorry no 2 riser on this one it was a 1 day wonder and a charity job the owner had cancer so we did him a solid with what we could  being it was a outta the way job and a sorta favor for the supply house we where dealing with .I was told by a old timer a long time ago to always drop straight down with your equilzer and to if you where going to reduce it do it on the vertical and last but not least use at least a 6 or longer nipple from your last riser hook up (going to the existing piping) he stated just that,s the way to do it and that it was the proper way so i have always done it that way as force of habit and have never had any issues .just trying to help please don't take offense peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,192
    boiler that small and the high drop header

    It is still a fine install. much better than the standard full cost install I see around here.
    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
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