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Where is the water going

So I have a question about the water line in my boiler. As a habit I check the water level every week or two to make sure that I don't need to add water. The Burnham IN6 boiler was installed about 2 years ago. I noticed that every few days it seems that the water level is dropping. I checked to make sure that there are no leaks when the system gets up to pressure, but other then the standard clicking and breathing of the vents I don't hear/see anything. Just to make sure I also checked to see if there was any steam coming out the chimney, but there is nothing. About 4 years ago we replace the wet returns so I know it's not them leaking.



The other day I added a little water to the boiler and after a short fire and cool down I noticed that there was more water in the boiler then when it started. So the added water came from somewhere.



Could this be a problem with water getting back into the boiler from the returns? Or is adding water every 2 weeks common place even in a new boiler.

Comments

  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    it comes back doesn't it?

    I can relate to that.  I have a couple small leaks that I am keeping an eye on also.  A log book can come in handy when you make an observation.  It also gives you an exact history of water added etc.  Also what you could do is hang out in the boiler room for awhile and record a few cycles.  Start with the date, time, water level, on, off, pressure, main vents if you can hear or feel them, and the height of the water during all those events.  After a couple cycles you will see a pattern in the log book, in regard to the sight glass, that will tell you what level is normal, at what point in the cycle. 



    Likely what happened to you the other day, is that you added water to the boiler before it had a chance to come back.  On mine anyway, the water level in the sight glass drops about 3/4" while steaming, and it takes about 30 minutes before it comes back.  I am not sure how long is normal, but I would say 30-60 minutes is OK.
  • SBoston
    SBoston Member Posts: 61
    The boiler was cool

    I was checking the water level every few days and it was going down consistently; a little bit more every time ( i have lines on the site glass to monitor the level of drop). In retrospect i should have had the line correspond with a gal. of water. I was concerned that there might be a leak so i brought the system up to 1.5 psi to listen for any leaks or drips from piping, valves or radiators. Since i didn't find any, i thought that this might be a result of the hight of the boiler vs. the water level in the wet returns. I will go back to Dan's book but i recall that the boiler might need to be at a hight in relation to the returns ( i could be wrong).
  • SBoston
    SBoston Member Posts: 61
    edited December 2010
    The boiler was cool

  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    any buried unhappy returns?

    often times buried returns develop leaks that can go unseen for a long time. 
    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
  • SBoston
    SBoston Member Posts: 61
    Both wet returns were replaced

    When we had the new boiler installed we replaced both burred wet returns... so unless it has rotted out in a few years that can't be a cause.
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    i've heard...

    that they *can* rot within "a few" years if they remain buried. you may want to double check that before you assume a several year old buried return is not the problem. how many years is "a few"? and do any pros want to provide their experiences with returns buried for "a few" years?
    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
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,314
    Life of iron underground varies

    If corrosive material is in the fill it can rot through in 6 months. Dad had wrought iron lines under a church built on grade rot through in a year. The church was brand new. The counsel said we used plain iron not the special wrought iron they requested. after breaking out the concrete floor and removing pipe to sample it turned out the fill used around the pipes was corrosive. It was determine we used the proper pipe and installed it properly. What was also determined is no one thought to check the fill. So yes it could be the returns. Was the new pipe wrapped or at least painted?
    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
  • SBoston
    SBoston Member Posts: 61
    i don't think either one

    The pipes that were in it's place before we replaced were about 25 years old. The new black pipe put in it's place were "factory" painted but i don't think that the installers thought to repaint them. The did mention wrapping in plastic but was talked out of it by the contractor saying that the heat would build condensation and rot them out even faster.



    It wouldn't be that a big deal to dig them up again if it is possible to rot them out in 2 years.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,470
    Stupid question

    If the buried returns are leaking again (that pipe might be crap imported from God knows where) why couldn't it be replaced by high temperature plastic pipe? At this point we are dealing with what is essentially very hot water. I would try to use this just for the buried portion of the piping.



    I found CVCP is rated for 180F at 100PSI so I would think it would withstand 205F at 2PSI especially considering it would be surrounded by earth at cement that is 60F or so.



    http://www.harvel.com/piping-ips-plumbing.asp



    I'll be playing Dylan's "Everybody must get stoned" track while awaiting my sentence.



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • SBoston
    SBoston Member Posts: 61
    i think i will leave that one up to the pro's

    I am not sure i would feel comfortable with PVC under my concrete floor. I was thinking that the next time i change out the wet returns i would put in copper. I don't think the water is leaving through the wet returns. There must be a few small leaks somewhere that i can't detect, but i am amazed that, that much water can leave the boiler that way.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    invisible leaks

    Have you checked all the invisible leaks?  Like the sight glass, drain, skimmer, radiator valves, the radiators, under the boiler.  These ones never get wet, they evaporate before you see wetness.  Look for rust spots, discolored brass, or copper, maybe a bit of corrosion around the seal of the sight glass.  Have you ever flooded the boiler?  Get a pressure test done, that will tell you where its leaking.  Not with live steam, with air.  Get your plumber to install an air valve on the boiler, and pump it up like a flat tire, to whatever your rated to, send the wife and kids to the movies so you can hear where its leaking.  I think you might even be able to hear the burried return through the concrete if it is leaking.  Pressure it up and listen to it.  There is probably a bunch of safety crap before you do it but at least you will find out.  And you wont have to play guessing games with yourself all winter.  That alone is worth a couple hundred.  



    Maybe someone here can tell us both what would have to be removed first and what pressure we should use?  Or any other safety concerns. 
This discussion has been closed.