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How Often Should Auto Water Fill Boiler?

FJL
FJL Member Posts: 354
During normal operation, how often should the auto water feeder be putting water into the boiler?

Comments

  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,787
    Never

    Auto-feeders are a safety device to prevent the boiler from running out of water and leaving a building with no heat if a small leak develops. They are not a convenience device to take the place of routine maintenance. So if you're checking your boiler weekly, flushing out the sediment and topping up the water level, you shouldn't ever find that the autofeeder has been activated. They should be set to come on only when the lwco indicates a low water condition, and that should never happen under normal conditions.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • FJL
    FJL Member Posts: 354
    edited January 2012
    Hmmmm . . .

    There are times when I will flush or empty (whatever the correct term is) the LWCO, which has a built-in water feeder, and the auto-feeder will kick in. This should not be happening?
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    that's fine

    Nope, that's fine.  You are emptying the water that the float is floating on.  Float drops and the feeder feeds water.
  • FJL
    FJL Member Posts: 354
    Should It Ever Fill @ Other Times?

    I also know it sometimes fills during a run. Is that normal?
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,787
    edited January 2012
    Ordinarily not

    There are two things that can make an autofeeder activate, other than deliberately causing a low water condition for testing purposes. One is that there is a leak in the system that is causing an actual low water condition. The other occurs when the pressure in the boiler delays the return of condensate, causing a temporary low water condition, which activates the feeder to add water, then, at the end of the heating cycle, the condensate returns, and the boiler is overfilled.



    A leak that goes unaddressed eventually gets worse, and can cause considerable damage whether it is a steam leak or a water leak. In the second scenario, gradual overfilling can lead to flooding, where the water level rises until it finds a place to leak out, like a main vent or radiator vent, and it usually picks something expensive to leak on.



    If you're being careful to refill the boiler every time you blow down the LWCO, but the feeder still needs to add water to maintain the normal level, you need to find out where the missing water is going, and the more missing water there is, the more urgent it is to find it. If the water feeder makes the water level end up higher than it should be, instead of looking for a leak, you need to make some adjustments to keep if from overfilling. Sometimes it's just a matter of lowering the LWCO or adjusting the feeder, but if the water level is fluctuating a lot during the heating cycle, you might need to raise the Hartford loop. This modification is sometimes called a Gifford loop. (See http://www.heatinghelp.com/files/posts/1196/HPACGiffordLoop.pdf)
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • FJL
    FJL Member Posts: 354
    edited January 2012
    Water Level

    I'd hate to think that there is a leak. I haven't seen any evidence of a leak or an actual leak, but I live in an small four unit apt. building. Nobody has mentioned anything that would suggest a leak.



    I figured it could be caused by the second thing you mentioned, but the water level is pretty consistent according to the sight glass. The water reduces a bit when making steam and then rises after shutdown as the condensate returns.



    In my situation, the water level never gets above a certain point in the sight glass, so the boiler is not filling to the point where it is leaking out of the main or a radiator vent. Overfilling doesn't seem to be an issue for me.



    I have a steam person who will be rebuilding my lwco/feeder, so I will talk to him about the situation.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,787
    Could be a few bad vents

    If it's a big system and has a few bad vents, it could be losing steam that way, but it's the kind of thing you really want to track down instead of just assuming it's nothing serious. I used to think it was normal to lose a little water during heating season, then I got a call from my wife last November while I was at work telling me there was water on the basement floor. But that's small potatoes compared to a cracked boiler, which can send the water up the flue so you'd never see it, especially if you weren't looking for it.



    Hopefully it won't turn out to be anything serious, but if it is, you want to find out before it becomes an emergency, so you can get it fixed over the summer instead of having to deal with it in the middle of next winter.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • FJL
    FJL Member Posts: 354
    Bad Vents

    We have about 24 radiators in total. I know that some of my vents in my apt are prone to hissing. I've done all that I can do to reduce it. I try to keep the water as clean as possible. And I've replaced bad vents with new ones and it sometimes helps. I can't know what is going on in other apt. So if bad vents can cause a reduction of water, that is most likely the cause in my case. My boiler is four years old, so I would be surprised if it cracked. Our previous boiler had cracked, which we discovered b/c of the hiss it created.
  • Steve_210
    Steve_210 Member Posts: 625
    Check the

    Valve packing, better still re PAC each valve, takes about 5 mins per valve (for a pro) and it could save a boiler long term. Also you should have a water meter, built in or otherwise.
  • FJL
    FJL Member Posts: 354
    Valve Packing

    Now that you mention it, I do have one valve that every so often leaks a small bit of water right under the knob. That is what you are talking about, correct?
  • Steve_210
    Steve_210 Member Posts: 625
    Yes

    You could also have vapor leaks. I would re pack them all
This discussion has been closed.