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What are some tell tale signs of a cracked heat exchanger?

All,



Need some help here. I noticed the other day the my how water boiler had flames dancing around underneath the heat exchanger. From what I've been told and read, it could mean that my heat exchanger is cracked. When the the cycle stops, I don't hear any "hissing" after which could mean water leaking out of the exchanger. Should I be concerned with the dancing flames? Worth having a Pro come back and look? It was serviced\cleaned this fall.



Thanks for reading.



Lew

Comments

  • bill_105bill_105 Posts: 429Member
    Dancing with the stars??

    It ain't, First, make positive your CO detector is up and running fine. Then get it fixed. Seriously, It's probably flame rollout. which is gas burning and looking for air.
  • drhvacdrhvac Posts: 189Member
    how old is boiler

    and when was the last time you had it serviced? Most likely the problem is blockages in your flue passages in the heat exchanger. The boiler probably needs a real good cleaning.
  • Sweet_LewSweet_Lew Posts: 104Member
    Answers

    Thanks guys.

    CO2 detector is good to go. The boiler is 8 years old (Bryant BW2). We moved into the house 2 years ago and had the boiler cleaned both falls. From the look of it, I doubt the previous owners did any maintenance to it the 5 years they lived there. I'll call the company back out for another cleaning\inspection.

    Thanks again,

    Lew
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Posts: 5,843Member
    You'll know if the heat exchanger is cracked...

    My assumption is that you have a forced hot water heating system, and if so, you'll have water on the floor if the exchanger is cracked..



    You need someone to use a combustion gas analyzer to determine of you have a problem or not. Other than telling if the burners are lit, there really isn't anything else that can be told with visual verification.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Sweet_LewSweet_Lew Posts: 104Member
    edited December 2010
    Thanks Mark

    I had the same tech come out that cleaned the system this fall. He took a look and explained to me what the problem was.  Sediment , dirt, and\or rust was falling off the exchanger and landing on the jets causing the the flame to flicker (I saw some if it on the floor under the jets). Otherwise he said the jets were firing straight. I've read that the flames from the jets should be bright blue and that you should adjust the air\gas mixture if it's not. Is that something I could do or should I leave it up to a Pro for that? I see quite a bit of orange in the flame.



    Also, he stated that I had a couple of safety features. A flame rollout sensor and a gas spill out or overflow senor? Maybe? I can't remember. Regardless, is it wise to put a Co2 detector in the basement? I have one on the first floor which is almost directly above the boiler.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Posts: 5,843Member
    edited December 2010
    Roll out and spill switch...

    are the correct terms, and they reside on opposite ends of your boilers. The roll out detection is supposed to be down low, by the burners. The spill switch is at the relief hood, and they are both critical safety controls. Generally speaking tho, if they are not bypassed, then they should be functional. If they are functional then they needn't be replaced, again assuming they have not been bypassed.



    Air shutter adjustments on the burners are best left to a professional with a combustion analyzer. I spend a lot of time looking at flames, and many times, it is the "perfect" cone shaped flame, and many times I see high CO. You really can't judge a flame by its color....



    You can place a CO (not to be confused with a CO2) detector on the same level as the appliance, but it is not recommended that the detector be in the same room as the appliance, because the appliance is allowed to spill byproducts of combustion for up to 5 minutes before it establishes a good draft in the chimney, and it may cause nuisance alarms.



    Did your technician use a combustion analyzer on your boiler before and after service? Did he leave you a copy of the readout?



    EDIT: If you are in the peoples republic of Massachusetts, what I said about not putting the CO detector in the mechanical room does not apply. They play by different rules back there...



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Sweet_LewSweet_Lew Posts: 104Member
    edited December 2010
    Nope..

    He didn't use a combustion analyzer on either visits. 
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Posts: 5,843Member
    Then he's not doing a good job...

    If he doesn't test, he and you don't know. If you don't know, you're playing Russian Roulette with your and your families lives.



    I hate to sound too brutal, but I'm tired of seeing service people who do not test for products of combustion, giving consumers like yourself a false sense of security. Then, God forbid, when something goes bad and people get sick or worse from CO poisoning, they say "I didn't know I had to check for CO...."



    Bunk.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Sweet_LewSweet_Lew Posts: 104Member
    UGH

    Thanks Mark. When you think you found someone decent, they just aren't what they seem. I'll check around for other Pros in the area. Really appreciate the help.



    Lew
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Posts: 5,843Member
    Try this...

    Go to the National COmfort Institute web site, and use their Find A Contractor search bar to see if you can find a qualified contractor in your area. http://www.nationalcomfortinstitute.com/



    If not, come back here and we can generate some "Consumer Standards" that you can use to prequalify the service company.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Sweet_LewSweet_Lew Posts: 104Member
    edited December 2010
    Thanks Mark!

    Found a couple:



    http://ralphsheating.net



    http://www.acustomhvac.com/about_us.html



    I'll call and ask if they are able to do a  combustion analysis.
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