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Pressuretrol Setting on Burnham

Having trouble with Burnham Steam boiler, pressure seems to get high, around 10+ PSI on the gauge. Visible steam seems to be coming from the lower part of the glass tube.



I'm starting to wonder if the Pressuretrol device is setup correctly? See image below..



The boiler is feeding a 2nd floor apartment, about 1,200 SF
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Comments

  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Pressuretrol

    Hi- What the model number of your pressuretrol?  Pressure shouldn't go over 2 PSI on a residential steam system.

    - Rod
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    Model PIN5SNC-ME2

    PIN5SNC-ME2



    Do the pressuretrol settings look right?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,924
    EEK!

    No.  Try cranking the main down to 2.5 and the differential down a bit more.  Still probably higher than it should be, but you should be a lot happier.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    No Way

    Definitely wrong. Pressuretrol is set at 15 PSI which is why you are not shutting down at the 10 PSI indicated on the gauge. How long has it been set this way?
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    edited December 2010
    PIN5SNC-ME2

    PIN5SNC-ME2 is the model number of the boiler.  We need the model number of the pressuretrol.  It looks like its set to 15 psi with 2 differential.  If that is true, you better SHUT IT DOWN until you figure out how to set it right.

    STEAM COMING OUT OF THE SIGHT GLASS?
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    Thanks for the quick response!

    The unit has been this way since installed a few years ago. The system has never been right. Plumber has not been helpful. I finally started doing research online, that's when I started questioning the Pressuretrol settings. I just made ajustments, new settings in image below....we'll see.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    edited December 2010
    Settings

    That heating system will cost a fortune to operate. About a century ago the insurance industry decreed that any house in America would be heated at 2PSI; this was decided because of the number of boiler explosions in the late 19th century.



    That pressuretrol should be set as Jamie said, and if possible, lower. Whoever set those levels does not know what they are doing.



    My heating system is running at 12 ounces maximum and it heats the house just fine.



    I just saw your post, the new settings should make everything a lot happier!



    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
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Shouldn't the safety valve pop before that?

    I wonder how much pressure you have to build to get steam to come out the sight glass.  Not only was your pressuretrol set too high, you should find out why the boiler got to that pressure to begin with.  You must have come close to popping the safety valve.   
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    Thanks Everyone, Suspect This Will Solve My Problems

    Pressuretrol Model: L404A 1354



    Sounds like my system could be damaged? Hope the new settings work out, this is an apartment, so I'm not sure how high the gas bills have been.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Apartment block?

    How is your liability insurance?  Get that thing checked out.
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    Apartment Unit

    Single apartment, this is a two family house. I live in one unit with a forced hot air system. The steam boiler runs the heat for the 2nd floor apartment.



    Would like to go after the plumber, but what proof do I have? I have a picture, but he'll deny that he left it that way.
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    Relief valve

    The relief valve is set to open at 15 PSI, so it was having a race with the pressuretrol to see who could get there first. Normally, the pressuretrol would shut down the boiler before 2 PSI, but as originally set, the pressure would continue rising until it either reached condensing equilibrium with the radiators or the relief valve opened. Looks like the rads could condense all the steam produced at 10 PSI, which is why the pressure never rose further.
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    Damaged vents?

    You might consider replacing your main and radiator air vents, as if the system has been operating at 10 PSI for years they are probably bad by now.
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Pressuretrol Model?

    Hi - According to the Burnham Independence specs, the Pressuretrol installed should be a Honeywell L404F1367 controller which is 1 to 8 PSI with a .75 to 2 differential. See Link to Honeywell website -

    http://customer.honeywell.com/honeywell/ProductInfo.aspx/L404F1367

    The numbers on the scaled plate in your picture don't seem to reflect that it is this model. (There are many L404F models - the last 4 numbers are what counts.)

    All these models look the same in general appearance so it may have been the the wrong model was installed on your boiler.

    If you plan to replace it you might consider going to a Vaporstat as they are adjustable to a much lower setting. For now as others have mentioned turn the pressure as low as you can and still get it to run satisfactorily

    - Rod
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    If you had pressure that high,

     which I can only assume you did, there has likely been some damage to the air vents at least.  Did the people upstairs notice anything unusual?   I mean other than being roasted? 

     You really need to find out why it got to that high of pressure to begin with.  The pressuretrol is just a safety device, it doesn't really set your pressure.  All it does is shut down your boiler if the pressure gets too high.  You need to find out why the pressuretrol had to do its job.  What if the pressuretrol doesn't work next time?  What will stop the boiler from blowing the roof off the house?  Most multi-family units have a secondary pressuretrol that shuts the boiler off until a technition can come over and reset it. Do you have a secondary pressuretrol?  You likely have other problems, and whatever the cost, it will be less than funerals. 

    But you have come to the right place to find out though.  I am still looking for your manual for the pressuretrol.
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    1354 Obsolete.

    Hi-  That number you posted L404A 1354 is obsolete and was replaced by a number L404F1060 which is what I think you now may have in place. The 1060 scale numbers match the ones in the your photo.

    - Rod
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    Hmm...

    Now I'm confused...what would cause the pressure to increase like that? Looks like should have a tech look at it? Is there anything I can do to begin troubleshooting?



    Thanks for all the help folks!
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    Pressure limit

    Any steam boiler that is properly sized or oversize will generate more steam than the rads can condense at 2 PSI. That is the purpose of the pressuretrol. It acts as a pressure high limit to stop steam production until the condensing can catch up. If the pressuretrol does not shut off the burner, the pressure will rise until the rads can condense all the steam produced at a higher than normal temp, at which point they can dissipate the excess BTU's.



    If the boiler is undersize, the rads can condense all the steam produced and the pressure wil never rise over a few ounces or less.
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    1354

    I posted a photo of the Model number tag, says 1354...hmm
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    Understanding the issue

    So Mike, if I understand you correctly...the setting changes I made may fix my problem.



    Sounds like the system was producing too much steam, but the Pressuretrol never told it to stop..til it hit a whooping 15 PSI



    Do I understand that correct.
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    Pressure rise

    Your pressure rise was perfectly normal given the situation. The problem was that the pressuretrol was set incorrectly. 
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    Exactly

    With the settings you had, the pressuretrol effectively was not there, and did not perform its function of limiting the operating pressure.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    other boilers?

    You mentioned you were living in an apartment. If you can, check the settings of the other apartment(s); if they are set the way yours was, warn the people that it should be changed. then suggest your landlord find someone who knows what they are doing to maintain the systems.



    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
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    I'm the Landlord...lol

    Sadly this is my problem. There are no other units, this is a two family and I live in one unit.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    edited December 2010
    Vents may be fried

    Well the good news is you realized something wasn't right and looked for help. You do have to expect some issues with vents that have been fried by the high pressure.



    good luck,



    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
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,314
    It should be even lower

    1 pound is what most systems use. The vents are rated 3 pounds pressure for most 5 pounds max for a few types. I am betting the heat is not working well so instead of fixing the issue the pressure was cranked. Where are you? There are steam experts on here whop cover many areas. I will regularly travel over most of western Mass. I have been known to go a bit further abroad at times too.
    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
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    Northern Rhode Island

    The system is fairly new...I'm wondering if the installed simply forgot to make the adjustments on the pressuretrol? What are the settings right out of the box normally?



    I'm curious to see how the system is going to run over the next couple of days.
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    Out of the box

    I took a look at a couple of brand new mercury L404A's that I have and they come out of the box set exactly like the first picture you posted, all the way up at 15 PSI and differential at about 2.



    So it appears the installer never bothered to set yours after installation, and its been that way ever since until you noticed.
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    Thanks Mike

    Thanks for looking into this Mike, I bet that's exactly what happened.



    Sad it took me so long to figure this all out...you folks are amazing, this site is such a resource!



    I might turn the settings down even more once I know the apartment is getting heat. Hope to check tonight.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,314
    For curiosity's sake

    Could you post a photo of the boiler from say 6 to 10 feet back and post it?
    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
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    How Long should it Take to Reach Temp?

    How long should it take to reach temp? Given that the steam has to rech the 2nd floor from the basement and there are seven radiators to feed...seems like that could take a while.



    I suspect my tenant is lowering the thermostat down way low at night, using a programmable thermostat.



    With steam, is it more efficient to the thermostat at a constant temp? Or is a programming thermostat fine?



    Hope to get more details tonight when I get home. Tenant said it was 32 degrees in the apartment this morning (not sure if that's an exaggeration or not)...she tells me the thermostat is set to come up to 65 degrees at 4:15am...it was still cold at 6:30am...but warmed up an hour or two later.



    Thanks for all the help folks!
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Usually

    Usually it takes a few minutes to boil the water and make steam.  Then a few minutes more for the steam to travel down the main to the main vents.  Then it starts going up the risers to the radiators.  Normally you would feel some heat on all rads within (I am guessing) 10 to 20 minutes?  Depending on how far it has to go.  Night setbacks of more than 3 degrees are discouraged because it gives the water in the boiler a chance to cool off, and then you have to use more gas to heat it up again.  Setbacks cost you more $$$.  Same temp all the time is the way to go.  It probably was cold in there last night.  Sorry about pushing the panic button on ya last night, but I wanted to get your attention.  From the looks of things, last night, I thought you were just going to turn it down, and call it a rap.  I am glad you have decided to figure out whats going on with your boiler.  These guys here know everything.  Last winter mine was on the verge of blowing up and these guys saved it, and showed me how to make it work better than new.
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    Things Looking Good

    Apartment heat is good, within a few degrees of thermostat...I checked in with the tenant and left a wireless thermometer in the apartment so I can monitor things without bother her.



    Burner seems fine, actually it's been off every time I checked... Seems to be working a lot less. So far, so good.



    Below is a wide shot photo of the burner.
  • will smith_4
    will smith_4 Member Posts: 259
    Things to check

    Lots of things here would jump out at me if I were on site checking your system:

    1. Are the pigtails clean and primed?

    2. Is the pressure gauge accurate?

    3. Is the pressuretrol level? (Actually only matters if you have a mercury switch-which Honeywell doesn't produce anymore, but you may still have one. Check to see if you have a pendulum on your control and whether or not it's dead nut.)

    4. Is the control wiring correct? (Ran across a system a month ago where an electrician had installed a thermostat and effectively by-passed the pressuretrol. It happens.

    5. If you're truly getting to 15#, why isn't the relief opening?

    6. You should have an operating pressuretrol as well as a high pressure limit. The operator will dictate the cut-in and cut-out pressures, and the high limit will engage if the operator sticks closed. It should be a manual reset type (no differential) with a cut-out typically set about 5# above your normal operating range.

    7. Remember: Thermostat calls for heat, operator cycles the burner, limit protects if operator fails, relief protects if both fail-with low water cut-off watching it all the while.

    All the best!
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,314
    Did they leave the Installation manual?

    You may want to check the piping diagram and compare it to what you have. Copper is not good for steam. Especially above the water line. It may work but it could have been much better. With them not adjusting the pressuretrol I am guessing they are not familiar with steam at all. The return line going from the drop looks a bit small to me. Also the first elbow on the copper, is it 24" above the water line or more?
    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
  • haaljo
    haaljo Member Posts: 112
    I chuckled with "I am betting the heat is not working well......

    ....so instead of fixing the issue the pressure was cranked" as that seems to be the norm in many industries. My mouth dropped with the comment about p'tols coming out of the box set at 15# but that sort of goes along with nobody much giving a crap nowadays comment above.

    This has been an interesting thread with a good ending so far......
  • haaljo
    haaljo Member Posts: 112
    I chuckled with "I am betting the heat is not working well......

    ....so instead of fixing the issue the pressure was cranked" as that seems to be the norm in many industries. My mouth dropped with the comment about p'tols coming out of the box set at 15# but that sort of goes along with nobody much giving a crap nowadays comment above.

    This has been an interesting thread with a good ending so far......
  • MediaGuy4
    MediaGuy4 Member Posts: 14
    Happy Holidays

    This has been a great thread...I already see the humor in my first post. "Gee...is there anything wrong with these settings"



    Obviously I've learned a few things about steam systems over the past week. So far everything has been running great. The system seems fine, we don't have to fill it every few days anymore and the pressure is never more than 2 PSI and the apartment is still keeping temp.



    The copper pipe only goes a few feet until it reaches the cast pipe, something the plumber did when he replaced the old furnace.



    Will check for the installation manual. I think it's attached to the side of the furnace.



    I'm thankful for all the "wicked smart" people in this forum, thanks again!
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    There is just one little detail

     that I thought I should tell you about.  You have determined that you have a mercury switch in your pressuretrol.  Pressuretrols with this kind of switch need to be level to work right.  I noticed in your picture that the pressuretrol is mounted "not square to the pigtail".  When the pigtail heats up and cools off, it causes the pressuretrol to rock forward and backward.  So if the pressuretrol is square to the pigtail, it may rock back and forth, but at the same time remain level from left to right.  This is hard to explain with words, I was unable to find the picture to explain this.  Hope you can understand this jiberish.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,314
    Ok what crash was saying how I explain it

    If you keep the face of the pressuretrol parallel with the jacket of the boiler the loop of the pig tail when you look down would form the letter H with the jacket and pressuretrol being the left and right lines the loop makes the horizontal line. Then when you look at the pressuretrol from the face there is an indicator in it. a little arrow hanging down. This is the level indicator. The arrow lines up with the line inside the pressuretrol.
    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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