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New Boiler, Old Problems, Lots of Questions

This is my first time posting on this though I have referenced Dan Holohan’s

many times for the past three winters we have been in our house. The reason I

am posting is we thought that by replacing and updating the original boiler in

our 1920’s house with a new Burnham boiler and other work in May this year by a

reputable heating contractor, we would have a more smooth running steam heat

system. So far, that has not been the case. So my questions are whether the

problems the heating system is experiencing are “normal” or is there something

else going on?



Is loud noise and spitting from the air vents “normal”? Almost all three floors

of air vents have been replaced in the last 12 months though it seems that they

need to be replaced all the time. (They have all been pitched properly. Lets

say we have had a lot of work done and money spent on our heating system.) They

are mostly Hoffman variable vents and there are 2 Danfoss thermostatic radiator

valves (TRV). How much water beads spewing from the air vents is “normal”? I

get water beads on the wooden floor and the air vents themselves are caked with

white watery substance. We have 4 main vents. The noise is loud enough that it

wakes us up at night.



So for the last 36 hours the living room radiator with a TRV (maybe around 12

months old) started getting really hot really fast (so heat all the way across

in say 5 minutes) when the heating cycle goes on. This is despite my setting

the TRV to around a low setting of “1” since my thermostat is located in the

living room. I adjust this TRV when I want to lengthen or shorten a heating

cycle depending on the weather outside. So I heard a very audible gurgling

sound coming from the TRV. And then there is hissing which after some

inspection seems to come from a section of the radiator leaking since there is a

distinct white water mark on the floor that is the size of a nickel or quarter.

The only thing I did prior to this 36 hours ago was to increase very, very small

increments of the setting because the heating cycle was too long. Is this an

isolated event? The question is this in any way related to the loud noises and

spitting experienced in the other vents?



Also in the last 36 hours, I have also heard some “booms”. Since I am never

near the boiler when this happens, I don’t know whether that is where it

originates. I have heard these “booms” at the beginning of cycle, end of cycle,

middle, so basically there is no pattern.



We just had a heating contractor skim off the boiler under pressure last

Wednesday. (This is the third time since the installation in May.) A few days

later when my husband went to flush the boiler, the water coming out was pitch

black. It was flushed again 2 days ago and it was still pitch black. Is this

“normal”?



Our boiler now runs around 5 psi. Last week, the new Honeywell Pressuretrol

control that was put in May was replaced with a new Vaporstat low pressure

control. Dan’s books say most systems can run at 2 psi. Is running our system

at 5 psi “normal”?



Dan’s books talk about wet steam. How do I know if this is an issue our system

has? Do the above problems relate to a potential wet steam problem. I do not

believe there is the 24 inches of vertical space between the boiler and the

header. See the picture attached.



So, what is going on with our heating system?
«1

Comments

  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Boiler Piping is Wrong.

    Hi-  If you could post some more pictures of the piping to the boiler taken from all sides, we could tell you more though from what I see now of the boiler piping it is no where near what the manufacturer recommends and is most probably producing wet steam big time. All the symptoms you mentioned point to "Wet Steam"

    Pressure - 5 PSI is way TOO HIGH!   As you mentioned a residential steam system should operate at under 2 PSI and most operate quite below that.

    TRV- You shouldn't have a TRV in the same room as the thermostat as this doesn't allow the thermostat to operate properly. (See attached Danfoss Warning)

    I've also attached a photo of a Megasteam installation by Frank "Steamhead" Wilsey, who is a very experienced steam pro, in the Baltimore area. Here's a link to his page:

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/professional/79/All-Steamed-Up-Inc

    Note the high riser pipes coming out of the boiler and the dropheader. These produce very dry steam. He and Gordon do exceptionally good work.

    If the only thing changed in your steam system was the boiler then getting the near boiler piping properly sized and configured and the pressure down should take care of most of the problems you are experiencing. If you could post more pictures we could tell you more about the boiler piping.

    Happy New Year to you!

    - Rod
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,428
    Actually...

    almost none of the things you mention are normal for a smoothly running steam system...



    Pressure.  You have a vapourstat.  Try setting it for 1.5 psi cutout and 1 psi (which on a vapourstat is subtractive) differential.  This may cure a lot of your problems with the vents -- if they aren't toast already.  5 psi frequently fries vents.



    The near boiler piping, as Rod mentioned, isn't right in a number of ways.  Get, if you don't have, the installation manual for the boiler -- since it is newish, this shouldn't be a problem -- and then make sure that it is piped correctly.  That will help with the wet steam, which I'm sure you are getting now.



    Fixing the wet steam problem may help the booms.  Although I would not describe water hammer as a boom, it could be water hammer from the wet steam.



    How much water was flushed when you flushed the boiler?  And how much do you have to flush to get it to be at least vaguely clear?  And where are you flushing from?  It is quite normal for there to be a gallon or two of pretty ugly water flushed, if you are flushing from the low water cut off blowdown. 



    I agree with Rod that the radiator in the room with the thermostat should not have a TRV on it.  Use the thermostat to set the overall heating cycle.  Use the variable vents to balance the system.  Use a TRV as a last resort, and only in a space which has no thermostat -- and which gets too hot otherwise.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    More Photos and Thoughts

    Thanks to both of you for such useful and quick responses! We really appreciate it! I have posted a few more photos of the boiler piping from three different sides to give a better sense of how it is set up. I am also posting two photos of the vapourstat (at least I think it is the vapourstat) settings) for your advice. The numbers do not seem to be what was recommended.



    As to the "boom" sound, it is more like a "boooom", so a boom with an echo. Twice I heard it while in the bedroom which is on the second floor. And it really seemed like it came from the boiler area in the basement.



    Finally, what exactly is involved in repiping? Does the boiler need to be dismantled and moved down given what appears to be a shortage of space above? We could use some advice on how to proceed.
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    edited December 2010
    The problem most obvious

     to me right now is that the system risers are in-between the boiler risers.  If you look at the picture that Rod sent you above, the correct way is to have the system risers after both boiler risers.  The way its piped right now the steam is coming out of the boiler and smashing into each other.  This may explain the booming sound. Can you take one more picture?  Just like the one I wrote on, only lower so we can see how the pipes hook up to the Hartford?



    The second picture is another Steamhead install which shows the 2 boiler risers dropping into the header before the system risers.
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    edited December 2010
    I am having some picture problems.

     Lets try it again.  Here is another example of a tight install where the boiler risers had to be placed before the system.  This one was done by Danny Scully http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/133262/Goodbye-Burnham-Hello-Burnham#p1208878
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    edited December 2010
    The Header Configuration needs to be Redone

    Hi- I just got a chance to look at your second set of pictures, Crash is right!  The up takes from the header to the mains are between the steam risers coming from the boiler.That's a big "No-No" as the two steam streams collide with each other and the result is very wet steam. (See attached diagram below). This coupled with the lack of height on the risers coming out of the boiler makes a wet steam producing machine and is undoubtedly the root of your problems, On top of that the colliding steam streams and wet steam cut down on efficiency resulting in more fuel usage

     It shouldn't be that hard to redo the header and piping. The contractor is expected  to follow the manufacturer's installation instructions so I'd go back and talk to him and have him make it right.

    A Happy New Year to you!

    -Rod
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,428
    That's a

    1 to 4 psi vapourstat.  You should set the main scale (the one on the right) at 1.5 (psi) and the differential scale (the one on the left) at 1.  The other box -- the blue box -- is a pressuretrol, and it should be set at between 4 and 5.  It's there as a safety mechanism if something should go wonky with the vapourstat -- but they rarely do.  You can change the settings with a screwdriver -- there are screws on the top for that.



    As to the near-boiler piping, the two problems I see right off hand are the arrangement of the steam mains coming off, as noted, but also the header itself may be too low relative to the boiler.  The bottom of the header -- the first horizontal pipe -- should be not less than 24" from the water line of the boiler (I'd rather see it not less than 24" from the top of the gauge glass).  It does look as though you are a little short on headroom there, but it should be possible to pipe a drop header arrangement with some thought and care without changing the level of the boiler (which I would be a little wary of doing; lowering boilers sometimes has very odd results which I won't go into here!).  It will be a little tricky to pipe, and will look a little like a steamfitter's nightmare when you get done, but a good steam man should be able to do it.



    It still think the boom might be a water hammer -- but it is remotely possible that it is a particularly loud expansion noise, too.  I can't really make out the complete layout (horizontal and vertical) of all the near boiler piping so I can't really assess that...
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    Thanks, but one more question

    Hi, thanks so much for the picture and the fabulous labels on what seems to be wrong with our piping. Unfortunately, I am not quite sure I understand what is wrong with our "system risers". They seem to be "dropping into the headers" after the boiler risers. But part of the problem is that I don't recognize the risers on the Steamhead installation photo. In any event, here are two more photos to show the Hartford Loop piping. Thanks again for all the help.
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 5,014
    edited December 2010
    Tell him to do it per the installation manual

    I'm a bit late to the party but your last pictures of the Hartford loop look  too high. That loop is usually 2" below the normal water line and yours looks like it might be at or above the normal waterline.



    This install was poorly done, I suspect the installer is not familiar with steam boiler piping. I would show the installer the installation manual piping diagram for steam systems and tell him it has to be done that way.



    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
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,428
    Risers etc.

    Julian -- be sure to read my note below on setting the vapourstat -- it's easy; to repeat, set the right hand (main) scale at 1.5 and the left hand (differential) at 1.0.  On the risers, as I see the picture, you have (going from the front of the boiler) a riser which comes up, angles over a bit, then turns across the boiler and hooks into the horizontal pipe (the header).  Then, going from front to back along the header, you have your two steam mains.  Then you have a riser coming straight up from the boiler and angling over 90 to a horizontal and hooking into the header.  then, at the back end, you have the equalizer dropping into the Hartford Loop.  The problem with the arrangement is that any water which is brought up by the front riser will try to flow to the back of the boiler and go down the equalizer -- but the steam coming from the back riser is trying to go in the opposite direction, to get into the steam mains.  The turbulence where that steam from the back meets the steam from the front will trap the water from the front riser and tend to draw it up into the steam mains, rather than allowing it to keep flowing peacefully back to the equalizer and Hartford Loop.



    But...



    Given the location of the flue outlet on that boiler, I have a feeling that figuring out how to pipe it "right" (that is, along the header from front to back a riser, the second riser, then the two steam mains, then the equalizer) might be a bit challenging.



    So...



    I might ask: are the risers the diameter recommended by the boiler manufacturer?  And does the boiler manufacturer actually call for two risers?
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    In answer to your question

     about the Steamhead photo, I drew some arrows to show you the direction the steam travels, and wrote some numbers on it which show the order that the boiler risers and system risers must be in for it to work right.  1 and 2 are the boiler risers and 3 and 4 are the system risers (also known as takeoffs).

    If you compare that to yours, Your order is 1, 3, 4, 2, instead of 1, 2, 3, 4.  The steam comes out of the boiler from 1 and 2 and then goes up into your home through 3 and 4.  Hope this answers your question, if not, I could try again. 
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    My turn for a question

     Is your boiler sitting up on a platform?  It appears to be the same height as the hot water heater.  Could we get 1 more shot from further back to see how high off the floor it is?  If it is on a raised platform, did the old boiler sit on the same platform or was it added with the new install?
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    Some More Info

    Thanks again to everyone for their advice and comments. It seems from everyone's comments that we have several problems. I am trying to summarize it to make sure I understand the extent of the problem and how we should go about asking our contractor to fix it.



    1) The piping above the boiler may be improper, with the system risers in between the boiler risers



    2) The header itself may be too low. I measured it at 17 inches between the bottom of the header and the water level in the gauge glass.



    3) The Hartford Loop may be too high relative to the water level of the boiler



    4) The Vapourstat settings are set too high



    My question is: which of these various problems is the most serious and the likely cause of the problems we've been experiencing? Thanks again everyone and Happy New Year!
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    One more question

    Another question. Is dry steam an ideal? How do we know when it is not just condensation but a sign of a real problem? So, can condensation get stuck in the radiators even if the radiators are pitched properly. Can condensation not drain properly and hence get stuck in pipes?



    Or is any sign of water beads a wet steam issue? Or is any sign of water beads combined with loud air vent noises a wet steam issue? Or is it the sign of water beads combined with loud air vent noises and potential piping issues a wet steam issue? I just want to make sure I understand this the best I can. Thank again! Happy New Year!
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    I don't think I can answer that question.

     All of the conditions combine to be the problem.  They collectively are the problem.  I think I will let Dan explain in this very informative video from the resource section here on the website.

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/107/Steam-Heating/118/Steam-boiler-near-boiler-piping
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    Answer to question

    The new boiler sits on concrete blocks 29 inches off the ground. The original (big) boiler sat on the floor.
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    This is a very important discovery

    The height of the boiler was changed.  This raises even more questions.  I personally don't know what questions to ask you.  All I do know is never change the height unless you know exactly what you are doing.  Since the piping was so poorly done this suspects the waterline now too.  Someone else will have to jump in here and figure out if a 29" raise was necessary or not.  Did you get the picture?
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    edited January 2011
    Wet Steam/Dry Steam

    In answer to your question. 1, 2 and 4 are all serious and any one will cause the problems you are experiencing, Together who knows ?!  It would be a big help if you could take some pictures of your boiler similar in distance from the boiler as the other boiler pictures we have uploaded. What is the model number of your boiler? 

    Wet Steam -.You know them when you see them. I've attached two pictures,one of wet steam and the other dry steam. You can easily tell the difference.

    - Rod
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,428
    THREE BIG CHEERS

    Boiler on blocks may very well NOT be too high.  If it is replacing a really big old boiler, the installer may have brought it up on blocks to set the new water level at the old water level.  In which case...



    The Man Did Something Very Right!  CONGRATULATIONS and THREE BIG CHEERS!



    Don't even think of lowering it unless you absolustely have to -- and if you do, check everywhere in the basement for wet returns, which MUST stay wet or you will have even worse problems than you do now.



    Question 4 -- just change it this morning and be done with that one.



    Question 1 & 2 -- well, it really should be redone with, in this instance, a drop header.  If the dimension is really 17", eyeballing the drawing tells me that you do have room for a drop header in there, with enough height in the risers.



    Question 3 -- again, it should be right... but of the lot, this is probably the least important.  However, if you were to repipe, it would be fixed right when you do that.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    follow-up

    But with air vents on, how do I see the steam? I see droplets of water bubbling out of the air vent slits and spewing onto the floor at the same time there is a huge expansion noise from the steam pushing out the air inside the radiators and pipes. This would last 5 minutes or so. I don't know since I have never timed it. And then the system runs and automatically shuts off because it has now been programmed to shut off when it hits a PSI of 5 or 6. The system starts up again in a minute or so. There could be more water beads coming out. And so on and so on until the system reaches the desired temperature setting.



    Let me ask you another question. Does the following story help figure out whether we have dry steam or wet steam? This happened 2 weeks ago. Again, I don't know if this is an isolated event or related to the overall issues we are experiencing with the system. There was a leak in the basement ceiling and wood trim crack and peeling wall paper in the direct space above in dining room and plastic peeling in a ceiling around 20 feet away between the first and second floor as well as other symptoms. The problem was a dresser coupling leaking on the steam line riser in the basement and steam was going everywhere. Yes, that coupling should never have been there in the first place (put in by previous owner?), but then it has seemed to be ok for the previous two winters we were in the house.



    I cannot help but think there is a connection between this incident and the current system problems. So, could dry steam as well as wet steam do similar damage as described above?
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    reply

    Yes, the original boiler was huge. I found a small picture of the old boiler but I can't tell what the distance is between the water gauge and the header



    As to the Question 4, I recall the recommended settings are what the heating contractor had originally set at. But then the coupling leak incident two weeks ago (see above post) led to the heating contractor replacing the boiler Pressuretrol with a Vaporstat low pressure control. And so he changed the settings to the current ones (a picture was added earlier). I do not know why. Can someone explain to me why?
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 5,014
    edited January 2011
    pressure settings

    I suspect he setup the vaporstat as the primary pressure control and the vaporstat as a backup safety (probably at 5 or10 PSI). In that case i would have dialed the vaporstat down lower than it is now, steam will move at very low pressure.



    Also i would have mounted one of them on a separate pigtail, just in case one of them became blocked.



    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
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Video on Boiler Piping

    Hi- Here's a link to a video on near boiler piping that might be of help to you.

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/107/Steam-Heating/118/Steam-boiler-near-boiler-piping

    - Rod
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    boom noise question

    I have some clarifications and a follow-up question on the boom noise. My wife first started hearing it two weeks ago, around the time we discovered the following. There was a leak in the basement ceiling and wood trim crack and peeling wall paper in the direct space above in dining room and plastic peeling in a ceiling around 20 feet away between the first and second floor as well as other symptoms. The problem was a dresser coupling repair leaking on the steam line riser in the basement and steam was going everywhere. Yes, that coupling should never have been there in the first place (put in by previous owner?), but then it has seemed to be ok for the previous two winters we were in the house. She thinks that once that was repaired, the boom noise went away.



    Then as mentioned in the first post, gurgling sound and spitting was found in the living room TRV last week. It was too late to have it serviced because of the holidays, so we turned off the living room radiator supply valve. The boom noise resumed around the time this living room TRV problem appeared.



    My wife heard it again just now (she was laying in bed which is two floors directly above the boiler), around 5 or 10 minutes into the heating cycle, during the pushing of air out the vent. There was a suggestion that the piping may be allowing steam to come out of the boiler and smash into each other. But then why is there usually only 1 boom during 1 entire heating cycle with several stop-go mini-cycles in-between. Sometimes none is heard. On one occasion, there were two booms, one in the beginning and one in the end. Again, it is hard to describe the boom noise, it could be a rumbling noise.



    The question is whether there is a connection between the boom noise first appearing around the time of the steam pipe leak problem two weeks ago and the living room radiator TRV problem last week. My wife is concerned that this boom noise is an indicator of something bigger happening aside from the boiler piping problems raised above. The boiler piping and wet steam problems have been around since the installation of the boiler in May and turning on the system in October, but the boom noise is new. Does anyone have any thoughts as to why? We are trying to get all of our questions together before we talk to our heating contractor tomorrow. Thanks again in advance for your help!
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,428
    I still wonder

    if that boom noise (dang it's hard to describe noises, isn't it?) might not be an expansion noise, just not the kind one is used to hearing.  There are a couple of things which make me wonder that -- mostly that you hear it just once near the beginning (but not right at the beginning) and once (but not always?) near the end.  And it is possibly related to the air coming out of a vent -- which means that steam is going into the pipe and heating it up.



    I honestly can't diagnose it for you, not being there.  And, if it is an expansion noise, it's going to be time consuming to diagnose -- as you will have to fire up the system and hope you are somewhere near what is making the noise, then cool it off, go somewhere else and try again.  Could take a good few cycles to pin it down.



    But a couple of thoughts.  Does it sound like a big piece of sheet metal bending?  That's almost what your description reminds me of.  If so, is there any such thing around the place that could be heating and cooling?  How about the boiler casing itself?  Have to admit I've never heard of that making a boom, but I'm told anything is possible.  Are the steam mains so tightly restrained somewhere that somewhere else has to move, but is partly restrained, so they have to get pretty well warmed up before they can push enough?



    Keep us posted.  I have to admit that I'm fascinated!
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • World PlumberWorld Plumber Member Posts: 389
    Boiler height

    Did I read that right?? They lifted the boiler up 29 inches off the floor!!!!!! The first step would be to get it down where it belongs.  What was the reasoning behind that are you prone to flooding?  There was a reason a lot of old boiler were in pits. I had problems here before I dug my basement floor down 24 inches.

       If they raised the boiler that much I would look into getting someone or the people who did the install back to lower it and repipe it correctly.

         Also have them check for sagging pipes. You can look at the holes where the pipes come threw the floor if they are touching the wood you will get a low pitch (banging noise for lack of a better word) as the pipe expands. From what I have read your getting water pushed into the system and causing a lot of problem and your banding is real loud. Stam hitting water ad condensing. Steam takes 1800 times the space of water so when it has that sudden change it is like Thunder.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,428
    I'll say it again...

    Check the water line elevation of the new boiler vs. what was there before, if at all possible, BEFORE you go to the trouble of lowering the new boiler.  Some smaller new boilers are a lot shorter than the great big old ones (some aren't -- a Weil-McClain 580 installation I was involved with recently, replacing an H. B. Smith unit, only had to be raised 6").  You can get into a world of hurt if the new water line is significantly below the old one.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Boom Noise

    Could all that tin wrapped around the boiler riser, header, system risers be making the noise.  The tin has some wrinkles in it like it is, or has been distorted.  I have never heard anyone describe a boom sound from their system.  Then again I have never seen the pipes wrapped like that.
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    Partial Success, but New Questions

    Hi everyone, thanks again for all your terrific advice. Our heating contractor has agreed to repipe our near boiler piping per the manufacturer’s instructions, and along the lines that all of you have recommended here on this thread. But now we are trying to figure out if many of the other problems (and costs we incurred trying to solve those problems) were the result of the incorrect near-boiler piping.



    For instance, we noticed back in October when we first activated our new boiler, the lower water cutoff became plugged with rust after two or three weeks of use. What could have caused the low water cutoff to be plugged with rust? At that time, we had our contractor clear it, and he also did substantial work on our radiators to try to reduce expansion noises. A month later, one of our steam pipes burst and we had to have an emergency replacement pipe installed. Our contractor explained that the burst was a result of the previous homeowner leaving a dresser repair coupling on the pipe, that could have burst at any time. He later recommended skimming our boiler as well. We also recently discovered one of our radiators is cracked and needs to be replaced.



    Our question is whether we can fairly attribute any or all of these (substantial) costs to our heating contractor’s failure to properly install our new boiler’s near boiler piping. We are glad that he is willing to repipe our new boiler at no extra cost, but he only did this after we insisted he do so. And we feel that we would not have at incurred some, or even all, of the costs described above since our new boiler was installed.



    We really could use your thoughts on this. Thanks again!
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    low water cutoff to be plugged with rust?

    Likely the returns were not cleaned before being hooked up to the new boiler.  They are likely still dirty.  Did anyone flush the returns?

    Dresser repair coupling?  Not sure if a boiler installation includes a visual inspection of every inch of pipe.  I suppose if the coupling was in an obvious place, a true professional would have alerted you to it being a potential problem.  Still they would not fix it for nothing. 

    I think you should get the manufacturer involved.  Just to keep this contractor honest.  I have watched these types of re-do's go quite well when the manufacturer's rep gets involved.  How has this screwed your warranty?  Maybe the whole boiler is screwed.  Just some thoughts for you.  I am not saying it is.  I am only suggesting that the manufacturer should be contacted and informed.
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    Radiator Cracking

    Thanks for your response on this. I guess we are just wondering if it is reasonable to attribute the various problems happening within two months of a new boiler installed with the incorrect boiler piping. Just to take two:



    1) A cracked radiator that will now have to be replaced



    2) The burst steam pipe that had a repair dresser coupling.



    I can see that 2) is hard to say, but could 1) (the cracked radiator) be a result of the wet steam caused by poor boiler piping? Especially since both occurred in the last two weeks and within two months of activating a new boiler?



    I realize this is hard to answer, but any insights would be appreciated.
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    Wet Steam v. Dry Steam

    Given everything else is equal, could wet steam create more structural or physical damage than dry steam were a leak to occur?
  • jpf321jpf321 Member Posts: 1,562
    perhaps a pro can chime in but....

    I'm not sure that under normal steam pressures you would blow a dresser nor crack a rad...however severe water hammer could have contributed to either...I did hear in another thread recently that someone blew a vent clear off a rad...I forget the circumstances of that..could have been hammer...



    as others have mentioned..I'd be cautious of that boiler height..I hope that height is correct and that the boiler is very securely anchored into a solid concrete platform not just a pile of blocks...boilers tend to vibrate and shift...the last thing you want is 500 + lbs of iron and water hanging from an overhead pipe...there are easier and safer ways to solve a waterline differential.
    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
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    Normal Steam Pressure

    Thanks for the feedback. Yes, one problem is that we can't figure out what the normal steam pressure was since we were told today that the pressure gauge on our new boiler is faulty and had to be replaced. Does anyone know if this kind of pressure gauge failing (along with our new pressuretrol failing) is common or explainable in a new boiler?
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Wet Steam

    Radiators are pretty "bullet proof". Generally if they crack, it was either from freezing somewhere in the past or corrosion or sometimes even a flaw in the original casting.

    "Wet Steam" - All steam guys speak of wet steam as being bad and evil and they avoid it like the plague.  However Wet Steam is just steam with a high water content. It isn't efficient which is why it isn't liked and also causes noise problems as it makes steam collapse (condense) before the steam is able to reach where we want it to go. (the radiators)  You have to remember these boilers and radiators are made to also be used in Hot Water systems which operate full of water and at a far higher pressure so  "Wet Steam" isn't likely to damage a system.  What is called "water hammer can cause problems but usually just affects the vents.

    - Rod
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    follow-up

    but what about damage to like plaster and wood? given everything else is equal, would wet steam cause more physical and structural damage to non-heating items like plaster and wood? for instance, from the incident 2 weeks ago, my wood floor boards are warped and one corner popped out 1/2 inch, and my hallway ceiling had an opening some 18-24 inches long and half an inch to an inch wide, and there is a crack running the entire length of my dining room ceiling, amongst other issues.
  • Julian KuJulian Ku Member Posts: 43
    returns

    Actually, to answer your question, the returns were replaced when the new boiler was installed, so that should not have contributed to the low water cutoff being clogged. If it is not the returns, what other cause could there be?
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Wet Steam/Dry Steam

    Steam and "wet steam" are water. Will water damage certain items? Yes,everyone knows that.  I'm not quite sure where you are going with this. If it was a result of the dresser coupling that would sound like it was a preexisting condition. Dresser couplings don't really belong in steam systems. Your home owner's insurance should cover water damage.
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Rust

    Well, the boiler was new right?  If so, the rust didn't come from there.  The rust came from your existing pipes.  Someone should have cleaned the system before that happened. 

    Maybe on your second time around you might get your contractor to make some allowances to the piping, that would make it easier for you to clean it yourself.  Please watch this video

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/107/Steam-Heating/118/Steam-boiler-near-boiler-piping

    The video explains so much.  I learn something new every time I watch it.
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Was someone actually there

    or was it over the phone?  If they were there, Was the gauge and pressuretrol put on a test rig and tested?   Sometimes its just the pigtail that gets plugged, where it goes into the boiler.  If the pigtail is plugged both the pressuretrol and gauge will stop working.
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