Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Water Hammering Problem in pipes and registers

<strong>I am so desperate for help.</strong>  I am hoping you experts can lend an empathetic ear and give me some direction on how to resolve a serious water hammering problem.   When you reply to this email, please also forward a copy to my work email address - which is: <a href="mailto:[email protected]">[u][color=#0000ff][email protected][/color][/u]



BACKGROUND:  I've been in my home for 25 years.  Had steam heat and a couple of boilers in that time.  NEVER heard one hammer or "ding" in 24 years until a new Dunkirk boiler was installed in late March 2010.  Because it got warm early that spring, the furnace never really ran until it got cold again.  On Nov. 1, 2010, the temps hit below 32-degrees in Michigan and I was startled awake -bolted right out of my bed - by the sound of a large BOOM and BANG in the basement.  Long story short...after months of trying to get the guy who installed it to come back to my home and fix it or even look at it, the original contractor that installed the new boiler refused to fix it or even try to find out what the problem was.  (He said it was installed right and there was no problem...that steam boilers just "bang" sometimes.) 



Saga continues.  Banging continues.  Ended up with an inspector looking at it (it was never inspected after the first installation cause the guy charged me for a permit but never purchased the permit). [b] It failed inspection.[/b]  Sent photos to the Dunkirk Manufacturer - [b]they said it was installed wrong[/b] (that the near boiler piping was wrong (not to specs), and should not have been installed with copper pipes (instead of black pipe)...see photos of first installation job). 



After a VERY LONG WINTER on 2010-2011, I finally ended up getting another furnace contractor that was recommended by the Dunkirk distributor.  His office was a long way away...but he still came out and reinstalled it for me.  (see photos of new re-installation).  This guy really seemed to know what he was doing.  He used the recommended 2" black pipe for near boiler piping, measured angles and the pitch of the pipes, etc.  He seemed to do all the right things.  BUT...it wasn't until late March of 2011 that I was finally able to get it re-installed.  So, ...guess what.  The weather got warm again and I didn't hear a bang or "ding" all spring and summer.  (History repeating itself!)



Well...about 4 weeks ago...when it got cold again at night, the whole thing started again.  The banging - especially in the registers has started up again.



[b]I am at my wits end and a nervous wreck because this problem will just not go away.[/b]  In 24 years I NEVER, NEVER, NEVER had a problem with my steam heat...other than having to replace the boiler a couple of times.  Not until this new boiler in 2010.  So, what is different?  



The model steam boiler I have is a gas-fired, Dunkirk Model PSB-5D. It is one that has the electronic intermittent ignition.  It is the exact same model Dunkirk boiler that was in my home prior to this new one being installed.  



[b]My questions are these:  [/b]

1.  So why now?  Why does it hammer now?  What is different?

2.  Why didn't the re-installation take care of it?

3.  Where it hammers the most and the loudest is the return pipes (of all places).  Why in the RETURN PIPES?

4.  And my biggest question...why are the registers all "banging" now too?  What would cause this and how do I fix it?  Should I replace the registers?  Will that help?  

Why am I still getting  the "banging"? - especially in the registers?  I have to believe - since the new guy that re-installed it for me really seemed to know about steam boilers...and in particular about Dunkirk models...he followed the installation instructions and specifications in the manual that came with it...but I emailed photos of the [b]re-installation[/b] job to the Dunkirk Manufacturer and they said he should have used different installation diagram with different specs (see attached Figure 6 in the attached comments & specs the manufacturer sent me.)



So, [u]there must be something else that is being over looked[/u].  What else could cause this?

 

Can you all PLEASE look at the photos I am attaching and the installation instructions the Dunkirk manufacturer sent me?  Please let me know if the re-installation job looks right to you.   As I said - the new guy really seemed to know about steam boilers...but maybe he missed doing something or didn't hook something up quite right.

 

And if it there NOT a problem with the way it was re-installed...do you have any other ideas of what might cause this?  Could there be some water trapped in the registers or something like that? Or some debris in the pipes?  When my old furnace went bad, it kept filling up with water - that's how I knew something was wrong with it.  Could it have overfilled to the point of trapping water in the registers? And...if that is the case - how do you "flush" a steam boiler to make sure you get all of the water and air out of the pipes and registers??

 

As I said numerous times, I have lived in this house with a steam boiler for 24 years, and NEVER had any kind of water hammering until this new furnace was installed.  Now I have it all the time! 

 

[b]Help!  I really need someone to figure this problem out!!!  [/b]

[b]I cannot even live in my home.  I am having to move out until this is fixed.  Can anyone help me....please![/b]

[b]I cannot even live in my home.  I am having to move out until this is fixed.  Can anyone help me....please![/b]

 

Thanks much for your review of the photos and any ideas you may have on how to fix this problem once and for all.   Again....please also forward a copy to my work email address - which is:  [url=mailto:[email protected]][u][color=#0000ff][email protected][/color][/u]



[b]Thank you so much for your help.[/b]</a>

Comments

  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,306
    More info

    We need a little more information to help you figure out what is wrong.What is the model number of that boiler and did the first installer survey your radiator load (EDR) before selecting that size boiler?



    Does the banging occur at the start, the middle or the end of the steaming cycle and can you tell about where it's coming from?



    Does it occur only in the morning when the system is coming off a night time setback?



    What pressure is the boiler running at? It should be 2PSI or less.



    Is the water in the sight glass bouncing around a lot?



    How many steam mains are there and are they all properly sloped so condensing steam can find it's way back to the boiler. Sometimes the slope gets inadvertantly changed when a new boiler is piped in.



    Are the main air vents working and what kind are they?



    The manufacturer stated both output tappings should be used and your re-installer only used one. When using both outputs you have to be careful to NOT try and take steam off the pipe between the two boiler outputs, the output to the steam main should be taken between the boiler outputs and the equalizer. that insures you will not be pulling water out of the boiler because of colliding steam in the header.



    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
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,564
    new boiler-new hammering

    first of all can you use black on white for your posts to make them more readable, as the aggregate age of steam guru's here is a millennium [not counting professor steamhead!] i have to use my mouse to change the color of the fonts on screen to be able to read your post!

    what has changed? probably the pressure of the steam before the cut-out of the pressuretrol, so can you check that, using an accurate gauge [gaugestore.com, 0-3 psi], and it should be no more than 1.5 psi while steaming.

    what has changed? it could be the slope of the dry returns which now may trap bit of water on its way back to the boiler. when the steam hits the water in the dry returns, it causes a steam bubble in the water, which will implode violently causing your banging. use a level to check the slope.

    what has changed? most likely the water is now dirty from the initial, and secondary work, and now the boiling is more violent, with subsequent throwing up of slugs of water into the supply pipes [see skimming].

    what has changed? now the main [not rad] vents may have been destroyed by the water-hammer and should be replaced with new gortons # 2 as a start.

    while you are ordering the gauge, also order the steamy deal of steam books here and you will learn a lot about steam which will guide you to a solution.--nbc
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,776
    edited October 2011
    Trying to understand

    I'm trying to understand your situation.

    It appears to me that you are indicating that there was an initial installation that was done in copper and was completely wrong.  Then you had it all redone.  It was done in iron pipe, and was closer to being correct.  But you still are having water hammer.  You sent pictures to the manufacturer of this second install and the manufacture responded with some clear and specific recommendations and comments.  

    The problem is that both water and steam are mixed together in places where they shouldn't be.  Water hammer then occurs and the sound will travel throughout the piping.  You may in fact be throwing so much water up into the piping that hammer is actually occuring in the radiators, or it may just sound like its there.  THE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE RADIATORS, DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT REPLACING THEM.  That would be like buying new tires because your car won't start... there is no connection.



    I would recommend following the manufacturer's recommendation to remedy the problem.



    In answer to the question, "what has changed?"   That is simple.  Answer is, "The boiler."   And, it is not installed correctly.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,306
    Reply received by email

    The homeowner emailed me so I am posting his answers to my questions and my replies  until he can log onto the site to reply to your comments.





    Hi Bob -



     I tried to log back into the site, but it keeps giving me an error message.  Could be because I am trying to respond from my work computer, and not my home computer.  I am a brand new user of the site - which is why the font color was all weird.  I must have did something wrong when I typed it up. Anyway...I'm trying to get answers to this, so until I can log back on, I thought I'd just email you.



    I'll try to answer the questions you raised, and maybe you can help me.  I am very desperate to try to fix this problem!



    Val I've answered any comments you made in blue type here, If I didn't post an answer to a comment it means I think it might be ok as is or that we will address it after getting the more severe problems ironed out first.

    To access the site you have to supply them with the email address you used when you submitted the question and whatever password you used.

    I would first check the boiler pressure yourself and then have the boiler skimmed if the water is dirty or appears to have oil in it (foam on the water in the sight glass). I'd address the piping after those two items have been corrected and those two might be enough to quiet the beast so you could wait to have the boiler repiped.



    Q.1  What is the model number of that boiler and did the first installer survey your radiator load (EDR) before selecting that size boiler?

    A.1  It is a Dunkirk Model PSB-5D. It is one that has the electronic intermittent ignition. And no, the first installer did not survey what I needed, as this was the exact model that was in my home before (and that I never had a problem with).



    Unless you have a lot of radiators connected to that boiler it might well be too large but there is nothing that can be done about that now. Oversized boilers tend to amplify any problems you might have because the generate so much steam (385 sq ft of steam for the PSB-5b) very quickly.




    Q.2  Does the banging occur at the start, the middle or the end of the steaming cycle and can you tell about where it's coming from?

    A.2  The registers start banging first - both at the start of the heating, and when it cools down again.  The return pipes bang after it runs a while.  I always hear the registers bang first...then the return pipes.)



    Q.3  Does it occur only in the morning when the system is coming off a night time setback?

    A.3  It seems to occur at any time.  Nothing routine...although, it does have to be cold and the furnace running enough for it to happen.



    Q.4  What pressure is the boiler running at? It should be 2PSI or less.

    A.4  I asked about the pressure, and I think they said it was set at 0.5 psi. (very low)



    You have to check the boiler gauge while it's running and see what pressure it registers, just because someone sets it at 0.5PSI does not mean it's working that way




    Q.5  Is the water in the sight glass bouncing around a lot?

    A.5  YES!  I noticed this and said something about it.  But was told it was normal.  But I do not recall the water in the glass tube of the old boiler ever "bouncing" around like this one does.  It really goes all the way up the tube and all the way back down when it's running.  Is this normal or not?



    The water and the sight glass should not move around more than plus or minus a 1/4”. If the water is not clear this means the boiler has to be skimmed to remove and oil or other contaminants. It can also be caused if water is being sucked out of the boiler because of improper piping




    Q.6  How many steam mains are there and are they all properly sloped so condensing steam can find it's way back to the boiler. Sometimes the slope gets inadvertantly changed when a new boiler is piped in.

    A.6  I can't tell how many there are (I think two), but the new installer checked everything to make sure the pipes were sloped so that everything ran back to the boiler.



    Q.7  Are the main air vents working and what kind are they?

    A.7  Yes.  As a matter of fact, I had two new "main vents" installed right near where the return pipes are...thinking that might be a problem.  All the vents on all the registers seems to be "whistling" and you can feel air coming out of them.



    Q.8  The manufacturer stated both output tappings should be used and your re-installer only used one. When using both outputs you have to be careful to NOT try and take steam off the pipe between the two boiler outputs, the output to the steam main should be taken between the boiler outputs and the equalizer. that insures you will not be pulling water out of the boiler because of colliding steam in the header.

    A.8  This last comment you made, I do not fully understand.  Did my re-installer contractor do it correctly then?  Because I thought he did.  The manufacturer had originally told him to install it the way it is now (with using only one output tapping).  But now the manufacturer is saying to use both tappings.  I'm so confused.



    Dunkirk specifically said both supply tappings should be used in their reply to you, I've enclosed a copy of the install manual   that shows how it should be piped on pages 7 to 9, they also show some common piping mistakes. Small boilers usually only need one steam supply but yours is a 5 section boiler and a lot of companies want both steam supply tappings used for any boiler with 5 or more sections. Dunkirk has a reputation of being fussy about proper boiler piping if they say to use both steam tappings then both should be used. Also the pipes coming out of the steam tappings and the header should all be 2-1/2” diameter - nothing smaller.




    Bob....could it possibly be the boiler itself has a problem?  After all, the old boiler (same model) never did any of this?  



    All of this is usually caused by improper boiler piping, or dirty boiler water. Then you cut in new pipes there is a lot ofg oil and debris that gets flushed into the boiler because it steam cleans the pipes every time it turns on and makes steam.

    Did the installer come back after installing the steel pipes to skim the boiler? That is usually done a few days after the work is done and the boiler has had time to work everything down from the pipes. The skimming takes hours and sometimes it has to be done more than once.

    A boiler defect would not cause this type of problem.



    Any more ideas or answers you can give me would be so appreciated.  I cannot tell you how stressed I am about this.  (you can't tell stress in an email).  But I can't go through another winter with this the way it is.  Please help me if you can.

    Thanks.



    Val
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,306
    edited October 2011
    more answers from owner

    The homeowner responded that the pressure gauge never moved. I asked her how long the system steams for and if it stops for a minute or two and then resumes; the system may just be running at very low pressure but that is hard to tell.



    She did say that gauge glass is bouncing up and down to the extent it almost empties the glass. It doesn't sound like it's ever been skimmed and I told her it should be skimmed to clean the water of oil and debris from the repiping. She has ben trying to get it skimmed for several weeks but it sounds like she's not getting anybody to respond - probably all busy at this time of year.



    The guy that repiped the boiler checked the main to be sure it had the right slope.



    That new pipe job is 2" pipe not the 2.5" it should be, if the boiler were clean and it was a 2.5" it might be enough but a single 2" riser and header may be tough to overcome. Dunkirk told her it SB 2ea 2.5" risers into a 2.5" header;n the manual doesn't state that but it does say 2.5" pipe must be used.



    I've somehow lost my ability to attach PDF files but you can download the install manual here - http://www.e-comfortusa.com/products/dunkirk-plymouth-steam-ii-psb5d-electronic-ignition-gas-fired-boiler-82150000-btu/3111  As i said the details for your situation are on pages 8 and 9.



    Hopefully she will get her account straightened out soon.



    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
  • moneypitfeeder
    moneypitfeeder Member Posts: 248
    it looks like...

    I would take a look at the find a contractor section, but I also I want to point out that your wet return is looks like now it is so close to the new water line of your new boiler, that I would imagine it would bang like heck if the waterline was any bit erratic or bounced at all.  
    steam newbie
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Pittsfield?

    How far from Ann Arbor are you?  I might be able to help. 
  • eagle97
    eagle97 Member Posts: 6
    Thanks to all for responding!

    First, I want to apologize for the "font color" in my initial post.  Not sure what happened.  I am new to the site, and I must have clicked something wrong.  I'm not a boiler expert...nor am I a "techy" either.  So, my apologies if my first post was hard to read. I also had trouble logging back on to the site to respond to you all...but thanks to BobC, I was able to email him and he posted some of my responses back.  I finally just had to re-register to log back on...(again, not a techy").  So, I hope this works.



    Second...I so very much appreciate all your suggestions and I hope that others will continue to respond with ideas and questions too, which I will try to answer as best I can.  I have finally got in touch with yet another NEW furance contractor (gave up on the other guy), that is supposed to come out to look at the boiler next Wednesday.  I am going to share all of your comments and ideas with him.  Maybe the boiler needs to be re-piped again with 2.5" pipes.  Maybe he can figure out why the water in the glass tube is bouncing all over the place.  And why my registers keep banging too.  It was another sleepless night last night! ugh!



    One thing I forgot to mention before is when the new furnace was first installed (incorrectly), I had replaced the old thermostat too...the old one had the mercury in it and I never had a problem with it -- I replaced it with a digital one.  I asked both furnace contractors if this would make a difference and they did not think it would.  What are your opinions?
  • eagle97
    eagle97 Member Posts: 6
    Thanks for the offer to help...

    Just a note to say thanks for offering to help.  I am near Ann Arbor...but I have the new boiler contractor coming out this week.  Hopefully, he will have some ideas on how to fix this beast.

    Thanks again to all for your ideas and suggestions.
This discussion has been closed.