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Burnham Gas Boiler

i am a newbie here so forgive my ignorance...we have a Burnham Gas Steam boiler that has been acting strange...whenever it starts a cycle to heat it constantly fires up as if its lighting up and keeps doing this over and over...it seems to provide heat but it keeps firing off...seems to do this until heats to desired range then stops..

But when it kicks on again it goes thru same thing?? I hope i described this correctly and someone could enlighten me as to what to describe to Heat guy so that the correct issue is repaired.



Thanks in advance

Comments

  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,189
    edited October 2012
    could be a few things

    Does it fire up and run for xx minutes only to stop and then fire up again, repeating the cycle till the house is warm?  Does the pressure gauge read anything just before it turns off?



      This tells me the high limit pressure sensor is being tripped and the boiler stops firing till the pressure drops below the low limit to refire. This could be a problem with the pigtail under the pressuretrol (senses pressure inside the boiler).





    Does the boiler light and then almost immediately stop, only to relight again and repeat the cycle till the house warms up?



      This may be is an ignition problem but usually the boiler will lock out after a couple of tries at starting.





    Is the water in the sight glass dropping in level just before the boiler shuts off?



      This may indicate a plug in the return piping of the boiler. the boiler makes steam and that steam condenses and has to return to the boiler. If the return is partially blocked the water is slow to return and that triggers the low water cutoff which shuts the boiler down till enough water returns. there may be a LED that lights on the low water cuttoff indicating a low water condition.





    Or it could be something else, post some pictures of the boiler showing the piping around it and also the front of the boiler showing the sight glass and low water cutoff.



    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
  • johnbart
    johnbart Member Posts: 4
    Burnham Gas boiler

    I will try to respond to your questions...

    1. Does it fire up and run for xx minutes only to stop and then fire up again, repeating the cycle till the house is warm?  Does the pressure gauge read anything just before it turns off? --- yes it does this though the guage i think is on 1

    2. Is the water in the sight glass dropping in level just before the boiler shuts off? -- not sure as the water seems to be filled in the sight glass...it used to be about 1/2 to 3/4 filled

    pictures included...excuse the little bit of water on floor...Huricane Sandy leaked a little bit...
  • JeffM
    JeffM Member Posts: 171
    water level

    I think the changing water level is a good clue. Either not enough or too much water will make a boiler run poorly (or not at all). You need to restore the water level to its prior place on the sight glass. If the boiler is overfilled, you might have a leaky feeder valve adding water that the boiler does not need. You would need to get a tech out to replace that if that's the case.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,471
    edited October 2012
    double post

  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,471
    over-full boiler

    can you turn off the valve to the water-feeder, and drain the boiler down to the midpoint of the glass. use a clothespin on the sight-glass rod to mark that level, and see if the level drops, or raises in the next few days.

    does the boiler make hot water as well?--nbc
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Boiler

    Hi-  While the pictures help a lot, it would help some more if we knew a bit more about your steam system. Take a look on the ID plate on the boiler and let us know what the model number is.

    Also take a picture from farther back from the boiler so we can see the boiler and the attached piping in the picture. This allows us to trace out the piping and we can zoom in if we need more detail.  Using copper for steam piping is rather a "no-no" but let's no worry about that at the moment.

    What type of steam system do you have?  This is determined by the number of pipes you have going to each radiator - 1 pipe equals a 1 pipe system, 2 pipe equals a 2 pipe system. (with variations of either type)

    Main Vents- Are your main vents working properly?

    - Rod
  • johnbart
    johnbart Member Posts: 4
    Burnham Gas Boiler

    Wow this is great with the responses....as far as the water issue, someone would need to walk me thru how to "drain the boiler down"..

    I believe i have a one pipe system as there seems to be only one pipe going into each radiator..

    O was told once that i could use more vents so that "the system would be more efficient"?? not sure if i remembered that correctly..

    where is the model number located as i can't seem to see a number anywhere?

    attached is a pic from a little further back...
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,189
    edited October 2012
    Back of the boiler

    I see a copper pipe running near the floor on the right of the boiler, this looks like it might be your boiler return feed. Is there a valve on the back of the boiler that pipe connects to?



    Don't mind me i'm half blind! Your boiler drain is down near the floor in the front of the boiler, Attach a washing machine hose to that and feed it into the bucket.



    Turn the power off and put a bucket under that valve (use a hose to run in the bucket if the bucket is to high). open that valve and as the water drains you should see the level in the sight glass come down, shut the valve when the gauge glass is about 2/3's full.



    Turn the boiler back on and monitor that gauge glass to see if it starts to creep up because that might mean the auto water feed valve is leaking water into the boiler. If it is leaking your going to have to get that fixed. the pigtail below the pressuretrol should be taken off and checked to make sure it's clean so that pressuretrol can "see' the boiler pressure. Also the gauge glass should be removed and cleaned, don't do it unless you have some gauge glass washers because they will fall apart when you take the glass out.



    What kind of main air vent is on your steam main, take a picture of it if you don't know. We will need to know about how long the steam main is and what size pipe it is (circumference is fine).



    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
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Boiler

    Hi-  Boiler model number- There should be a ID plate / placard on the boiler showing the model number. Do you have the manual for the boiler? It will also have the model number stated there,

    Boiler drain- There should be a tap (looks like a garden hose water tap) on the boiler about a foot off the ground. As was mentioned you can either use a grden hose or a bucket and drain down the water level to where it is half way up the glass pipe.

    The last picture from backaways was very good. We could also use some pictures taken of the 4 sides of the boiler.

    - Rod
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    1 Pipe Steam System

    Just thought I would follow up with some more information that might be of use to you.

    Books- There are some very good books on residential steam heating in the Shop section (top of the page) of this website. I would recommend you get a book called: “We Got Steam Heat!”

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Steam-Heating-Books/25/61/We-Got-Steam-Heat-A-Homeowners-Guide-to-Peaceful-Coexistence

    It’s east humorous reading and written so the homeowner new to steam heating can understand it. An evening or two of reading, will put your knowledge of steam heating light years ahead!

    This book will pay for itself many times over. I would say my copy has easily saved me at least 100 times its value!

    One pipe System- It sounds as though you have a one pipe system. I’ve attached a drawing of a typical one pipe steam system with two steam mains. Note the location of the main vents. This is the approximate location you should find them on your own system. Main vents are usually mounted on a short pipe coming off the main and either look like a silver (or corroded) bullet pointing straight up or they are shaped like a can of tuna laying on its side. Each steam main should have its own individual main vent. If you can find them, take a picture and post it. Also let us know what it there is any names and/or numbers on the vent. The picture and any names/numbers will help us identify the vent’s make and size. Having good large capacity  main vents realy helps improve your system’s operation and efficiency.

    - Rod
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,471
    over full

    don't forget the turning off of the valve before the auto-filler, as this will show more clearly the continuing level of water in the boiler, as the clothespin will mark the waterline height.

    does the boiler make hot water as well?--nbc
  • johnbart
    johnbart Member Posts: 4
    Burnham Gas Boiler

    i will have to try the draining this weekend but i do see the drain in the back of the boiler....i will need to get a short hose to reach to sink basin...

    the model number is "IN-8-I"...hope thius makes sense

    attached are pics of vents...the one looks kind of cruddy...

    as for the size of main pipe i think its 2" but length i am not sure how to measure as the pipe kind of goes all over and i am not sure if i am measuring the right one...
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,189
    in the front not the back.

    Your first picture shows the boiler drain on the copper pipe down low on the copper pipe in front of the boiler. Attach a hose to that and drain the boiler down till your water level is about 2/3rds high in the sight glass.



    then watch that sight glass to see if the water level creeps up.



    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
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Design Water Level

    Hi- If you have a sink near by,if it is more convenient, you might just use a 5 gallon bucket to drain off the excess water.  To find the correct design water level, measure vertically off the floor up the sight glass and make a mark with a Magic Marker. (It should be about half way up the glass)  On the Burnham Independence  the design water level is 28 5/8 inches off the floor (See Figure 24, Page 17 in the attached manual)

    - Rod
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