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Noisy steam

WE have a newer steam boiler (6 years) that has really never been right since installed.  The one we replaced died shortly after we moved in but was never noisy like this new one.

We are steam novices.  We just had service and the tech told us we had an unusual amount of oil in our water.  He had to replace the glass fill gauge because of staining. 

when we had the system installed they came back to skim 5 times.  Last time they added a surge inhibitor.  They did this because I was complaining that it sounded like water was boiling in the pipes (which I could hear upstairs).  

My question is.  Is this normal that it should have so much oil need to be skimmed again?  The installing company is telling me it is not unusual and I should have to pay to have it skimmed. 

The larger issue is it is still making noise and I can see the water surging from the top into the glass gauge.

What questions should I be asking to get the correct solutions to my problems?

Comments

  • hissyfit
    hissyfit Member Posts: 10
    Priming

    One more thing, when I called to ask about the noise again they said it was the priming.  Looking at what's available here it looks like priming is not something that should be happening but the guy on the phone said it to me like "geez lady it's just priming."   So is it normal?   or normal as long as it's not going up and down in the gauge etc.  

    I'm kind of feeling like they really don't know what the problem is so they are treating it as operator error instead of finding the real problem (most likely because it was something that was done when it was installed and it will be expensive to fix--for them).
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    edited October 2010
    Noisy Steam

    Hi- 

        "Priming!" ? - That's a new one on me!  Why don't you first give us some more information on your steam system.  Can you tell us the make and model number of the boiler and what pressure it is running at and at what pressure does the boiler shut off.

    Also if you would take some pictures of your boiler that includes the piping attached to it. To get the boiler piping in, take the pictures from farther back and from different sides of the boiler. (We can blow the pictures up if we need to look at detail)



    Normal boiler water should move about 3/4 of an inch up and down.  Has the boiler been drained and refilled lately?  When you add fresh (new) water to the boiler always bring the boiler to the boiler (produce steam) as this drives off dissolved oxygen in the new water. Dissolved oxygen can be very corrosive to a boiler.

     I wouldn't be overly happy with your present heating people. With a comment like "priming", they are either incompetent or playing with you. You might want to take a look in the "Find a Contractor" section at the top of this page and see if there is a steam pro located near you. Scroll down the page to the "States " section as the "zipcode" section doesn't function well.

    You might also want to get a book called : "We Got Steam Heat!"

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Books/5/61/We-Got-Steam-Heat-A-Homeowners-Guide-to-Peaceful-Coexistence

    which will be a big help to you. It's easy reading. Written so the homeowner can understand it and in an evening or two of reading you'll know far more about your steam system and how it works. This knowledge will also help you sort out the good from the incompetent when it comes to picking a heating professional.

    Post some more info and pictures and we'll try to give you some help.

    - Rod
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    Steam boiler priming.

    I heard the term from some friends who operate steam locomotives. I looked it up on the Internet and found this.



    http://www.lenntech.com/applications/process/boiler/foaming-priming.htm
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,942
    My guess

    -- and it is only a guess -- that when your service man refers to "priming" what he is really trying to say is that the boiler is surging so badly that it is carrying slugs of water over into the system.  Your comment that you can see the water surging from the top into the glass gauge sort of compliments this.



    And no, this is not normal, nor is it desirable (although one can sometimes hear the water in a steam system boiling -- in some radiators, and not very much).



    For starters -- pictures, as Rod suggested; there may be something very wrong with the near boiler piping.  Second, check the pressure -- a maximum of two psi is ample.  Third, check the water level with the system off -- somewhere in the middle of the gauge glass is normal, and there might be a problem with an autofill or a domestic water loop if you have one; if it's too high that could be a problem.  Fourth, there is a remote possibility that the burner is way oversize for the boiler; we'd need to know the boiler model and size, and the burner model and firing rate for that.



    Good luck!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • hissyfit
    hissyfit Member Posts: 10
    Some More Information

    Thanks for answering.  I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and frustrated. 

    I've attached some pictures.

    The furnace is a Lennox   Series PVSB-6D   Model GSB8 187S

    The PSI info I'm little fuzzy about cut off but I'll give it a try and I took the cover off the controller and took a picture

    The outside cut in is set to 0.5 (I actually adjusted this down after reading the We Got Steam Heat book and it did cut down on the noise a bit (I got it out of the library after the 5th time they came to skim the boiler with no change in teh noise).   The cut off I'm not sure . . .inside the box the white wheel is set at 1 "Diff"  so maybe 1.5???
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    edited October 2010
    hartford dirt leg??

    It's hard to tell from the picture, but is that a hartford dirtleg? can you provide one more of the bottom left piping from a more straight on view?



    i don't like the piping above the boiler myself, this could be part if not all of your problem. likely the old boiler was much taller .. and it looked a bit more like my piping (below).. at one point .. i don't like how they tee'd one of the mains off of your vertical pipe section.



    the piping that runs direclty across your boiler also looks a bit lower than the 24" it likely should be above your waterline.





    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
  • hissyfit
    hissyfit Member Posts: 10
    More Pictures

    This furnace replaced one that was probably 30 years old and was definately bigger.  Fortunately it was not the original one that came with the house.  The previous owners had to dig that bad boy out.  You can see blocks under the furnace and the entire thing sits in a depression from the original furnace.

    I think I'm coming to the conclusion that I need to get a different company to come and at least look at the whole set up, but I want to have all my ducks in a row before I do that.
  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,078
    do you have convectors, or radiators..

    also is the boiler correctly sized..also what is the firing rate? you'll probably only be able to answer the first question..but those are the things i would be looking at..is the manual their? is that header the proper size?
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958
    I was thinking firing rate too.

    That lennox looks ecr/dunkirk-esque and can be quite the wet steamer if the gas manifold pressure is too high. Also have had to resort to surface blow-off with the boiler running. Those 2" header lines may be what's in the manual, although we all know going at least one pipe size larger on the header would be better.
    terry
  • hissyfit
    hissyfit Member Posts: 10
    More info

    I can actually answer two questions!!  Radiators and yes I have the manual.     The manual seems to indicate use of 2 1/2" pipe.   
  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,078
    good...and is the piping

    actually 2 1/2''? hard to tell via the pictures.
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • hissyfit
    hissyfit Member Posts: 10
    piping going up to pipe feeding radiators is 2 1/2"

    Pipes going to return on lefst side of boiler are smaller. 
  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,078
    if you want us to see what we can do

    give us a call..i think your local judging from the sticker on the boiler.
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • hissyfit
    hissyfit Member Posts: 10
    Had already sent you a message.

    Will call next week to set up a time.   Thank you.
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    you are in...

    the best of hands with Mr Gil. look no further.
    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
  • hissyfit
    hissyfit Member Posts: 10
    Quiet and Toasty

    What a difference!! 

    Anyone with steam heat, needs to look around for someone experienced who will take the time with your system and not treat your job as a "one size fits all." 

    I had picked up some ideas from the "We Got Steam Heat" book a couple of years ago (turned down the steam pressure) but there are some things I just don't have the comfort level or knowledge to deal with on my own. 

    You can't beat an experienced and knowledgeable expert!    Thank you Mr. Gill.
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