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Steam problems

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HELP PLEASE!

I am responsible for a Roman Catholic Parish Our church is 132 years old and quite an extensive building. It measures 100 by 35 feet and has an adjoining chapel 50 by 30 feet, The chapel is heated separately and the system works fine.



All of the church and chapel have been thoroughly insulated.



Here is my problem. I am not a plumber by any means and I need help.



Our church is heated by steam. We had 2 furnaces to do the job and one gave out last spring. We kept the remaining one in case on an emergency and replaced the unusable one by a Smith Cast Iron Boiler in September 2011 (19HE-s/w 506 / jacket 38” /steam 2384 sq.ft / steam MBH572 / 6.5 gal per hour).



Since the furnace has been installed we have had no end of problems.



The first thing that happened was that wen the steam went through the radiators, the banged so loud people wanted to leave the church. At one point, the whole cellar was full of steam. One of the air vents in the main line (approx. 75 feet) was spewing steam so the plumber decided it was not necessary and closed it. Here is a pic of it.







Is it OK to close such an air vent?



Since the new furnace has been installed, we have 3 inches (sometimes more) of water on the furnace room floor. This water comes out of the feed water pump every time the furnace shuts off.

This picture of the original two return pipes were connected to the rear lower portion of existing boilers. They have been rerouted to the new feed-water pump and a check valve is shown in the return piping at the feed pump shown in this picture.









Question?

Should these 2 check valves be there? Is this why there is water on the floor?



According to <a href="http://www.smithboiler.com/html/litlibrary.asp">http://www.smithboiler.com/html/litlibrary.asp</a> and file product literature which is named: PD19HE-1.PDF, for a model 19HE-S/W-06 boiler installed as a steam boiler it shows on page 2 in the typical steam piping diagram that models 6 – 10 as having two 3 inch risers into main steam header.

2) The following photo of the top of our installed boiler shows only one three inch riser. Can this be one of the reasons for our problems.











Here are pics of the 2 types of rads in the church.







Finally, this week, 10 rads leaked extensively at the seams. The plumber told us it was because the float in the check valve was clogged with sludge and that the pressure had risen from 5 lbs to 17 lbs. He wants to come in every 2 weeks to flush the system (so even more wter on the floor). Does this make any sense?



PLEASE…. Please… can anyone help us. We live in the country and the plumber who did the work is the only one qualified to do steam in a 150 mile radius.



Can someone get back to us about this. PLEASE…..

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,436
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    Oh boy...

    The pictures didn't come through for me... perhaps just as well.  I'm crying just from the verbal description.



    First, Before you do ANYTHING else, turn the pressure down to no more than 2 psi.   That's where your radiator leaks are coming from, and I only hope that the damage isn't permanent.  Go down there and do this this evening, or as soon as ever you can get the plumber there if you can't do it yourself.



    Second, when the replacement boiler was sized, did anyone bother to measure the actual heating load?  That is add up what is called the EDR of the radiators?  And size the boiler to that?  Doesn't sound like it... and I'll bet that boiler is oversize.



    Third, that vent was needed.  It's toast now, but you will need to replace it.



    Fourth, if the boiler maker called for 2 3" risers, they meant it.  A good bit of your hammering and wet steam problems may be coming from that.  But I would bet that if that is wrong, the rest of the near boiler piping is, too.  The near boiler piping directions in the boiler manual are absolute minimum directions.  Can you see if you can get pictures of the near boiler piping up to see?



    Is the feed water pump new with the boiler?  Was there an old one?  Generally speaking, feed water pumps are not required -- in fact are most undesirable -- in applications like this one.  If it wasn't there before, you don't need it now.



    I hate to say this, but from the description you have given here, it sounds to me as thoiugh your plumber, while he may be a good plumber, knows nothing about steam heat.  We will help you all we can, but you may have to find someone to come and actually work on the system who knows steam.  Where are you located?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
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    Vents are required

    A steam boiler HAS TO BE piped to the manufactures specs or better. If it was not piped per the specs ask why not.



    Steam cannot go where air is in the pipes so you need vents that let the air out so the steam can get into the pipes.



    Your pictures did not come therough, they have to be jpg's and they cannot be huge. did the installer ever skim the boiler?

    What pressure is the boiler operating at and is the water in the gauge glass bouncing up and down a lot (more than 1/2")?



    A steam boiler should operate below 2 PSI, anything more will cause problems and burn a lot more fuel.



    Get those pictures up so we can see what your dealing with.



    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: 4,322
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    I what country?

    Where are you located?
    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
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,893
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    Tell us where you are

    and we'll see who's close to you. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,436
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    Turns out

    he is in south western Nova Scotia.  This may be one for remote control... !



    Let's see what the Wall can do!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
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    Maybe I need to get my passport up to date

    I guess remote will have to do for now. My favorite Province too. Pictures will help us get some decent answers.
    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
  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    Remote steam advice

    This link will show you a success story in which men of the cloth were able to become men of the wrench, and solve their steam problems, by following a methodical approach. Perhaps it will help to get you over the rough spots of such a diagnosis when it seems all too complicated and impossible.



    http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/129259/Boiler-never-reaches-cut-out-pressure#p1185357



    NBC
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,436
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    Charles and NBC

    Field trip time?  It's not that far from Yarmouth, and that is a lovely area.



    Jean-Louis has sent me some pictures, and I am corresponding with him.  I'll be happy to forward them along to you -- and I may be seeking your advice!!!



    As far as I can make out so far, though, it won't be too bad.  Provided, that is, that we can get the knucklehead who put the new boiler in to repipe it right.  It is not good, to put it mildly.  With any kind of luck, though, there is no permanent damage to the rest of the system.  I hope...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    pictures worth a thousand words

    jaimie, let's see the pictures [hopefully including the secondary boiler], so we can decide on the first course of action.

    now may not be the best time for repiping; however, maybe correcting the main venting, and over-pressure could get things working better for the rest of winter.--nbc
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
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    Pictures

    Hi Jamie-   Great!  You have pictures!  I emailed him to inquire if I could help with posting his  pictures. I can appreciate his situation as mine was somewhat similar living in rural Maine with only "help" being  from a few local knuckleheads who wanted me to rip out the steam system and go with hot water.

    - Rod
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,436
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    I think the situation...

    is worse than some we have seen.  The contractor did a nice clean job of work, I'll say that.  All the evidence is that this is a one pipe steam system...



    But...



    Unless I am missing something, the contractor used the front, hot water heating, 3" connection for the steam main.



    Here, I hope, are a couple of the pictures...



    Please tell me I'm not seeing what I think I'm seeing.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    the next step

    it appears that this is a more difficult problem to resolve than the usual "deferred maintenance".

    the next step you should take would be to contact the distributor:

    http://www.smithboiler.com/html/salesreps.asp

    HARRIS ATLANTIC SALES, LTD.

    27 RUPERT STREET

    AMHERST, NS B4H 3R5, CA

    Phone: 902-661-0102

    Fax: 902-661-0088

    sales@harrisatlantic.com

    ask them if they can be of diagnostic help. they will help you cause the plumber to rectify his mistakes, which will take time for re-piping. in the meantime, can you use the secondary boiler?--nbc
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
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    No Proper Risers and Header Piping

    Hi Jamie- I'm afraid your right as the piping schematic calls for two 3 inch risers coming off the top of the boiler gong into a 4 inch header. According to the boiler tapping diagram, where the take off is now located, there is a 4 inch boiler tapping (piping looks like 3") which puts the lower edge of the tapping just 1/2 inch above the design boiler water level. How much water & wet steam is being carried into the piping is beyond imagination.  I also noticed in the I&O manual there is nothing mentioned about riser height above the waterline so that needs to be mentioned. Let me know if you need the manual and I'll upload it for you.

    - Rod
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,436
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    Nice to know I'm not daft...

    I do have the manual for the boiler; it looks as though the installer followed -- after a fashion -- the directions for setting it up for hot water so far as the takeoff was concerned.  But as steam for the two pressuretrols.  I dare say there is some water being carried over into the steam piping... !



    I did mention the 24" height on the risers in an e-mail to him, as well as a slight modification to the Smith diagram to make it into a drop header.



    I feel very sorry for this man.  But we'll get him straightened out.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,436
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    Thanks NBC

    for the contact.  I'm hoping that between the Wall here and perhaps the distributor and a friend (contractor for hot water systems, not steam) we can get this straightened out, but it does look as though that contractor has some repiping to do -- to put it mildly.



    Not sure about the other old boiler.  I'll ask.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
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    I am concerned about the boiler sizing

    The boiler looks rather large for the room. With the height it is a drop header will be needed for sure. Is there a local authority that over sees boiler installations? 
    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
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,436
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    Boiler sizing

    I suspect the boiler is oversize.  Quite possibly way oversize.  That, at the moment, is the least of the worries...



    I have been in touch with robijean personally, suggesting that the next thing to do is to see what can be done about getting the contractor who did the installaton to fix it.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    Proper size

    Hopefully the contractor will make everything right, including re-sizing/re-piping/reinstalling/reassuring. I am sure that smith boilers and their representatives do not want to be guilty of driving parishioners out of a country church, because their new boiler had been improperly installed!--NBC
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
    edited February 2012
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    Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

    Please make sure as you try to correct these problems that even the sizing of the boiler may have been wrong, and that a completely different boiler may need to be installed at the expense of the local plumber, as a result of his ignorance.

    A steam boiler is sized to the amount of steam needed by the radiators, and not by the building heat load, or by the size of the previous boiler. The difference between a miss-sized boiler, and one which is correct will be seen in the gas bill for the new correct one.

    I know that this must be a difficult problem for you and the rest of your parishioners, but I can only say that when a new properly installed boiler is in the church, it will not be heard, but only felt in its even heating throughout.--NBC
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
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    Boiler Piping Video

    Hi- It occurred to me that Dan's video on near boiler piping

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

    might help explain why the having  properly configured boiler piping is so important.

    - Rod 
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
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    Can we get a radiator list?

    If Robijean can get us photos and sizes for the radiators then I would be happy to give a size for the boiler.
    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
This discussion has been closed.