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DIY Maintenance Advice for Burnham V8 Series

JustinF Member Posts: 5
Hi - I am looking for help with my Burnham V8 Series (PV84SC). It was installed in 2005 and we bought the house in 2011. I have noticed loud water hammering at the beginning of the cycle combined at the same time with the water in the site glass getting all the way to the bottom of the glass. The water hammering is coming from a horizontal line that to a vertical feed to the second floor - the farthest radiator from the boiler. It might not be pitched correctly. After the beginning of the cycle, the hammering and the draining of the water, the low water shut-off kicks on the boiler fills again and the rest of the cycle of seems to continue fine. The water stays up and the hammering stops. However, the boiler does cycle on and off, but the heat is even and reaches the set temperature.

I am not sure if the water is dirty. The water in the glass seems clear, but there is rust in the bottom of the glass.

Should I skim the boiler? Looking at these pictures, where is the skim valve?

Should I clean the boiler? The Burnham manual seems to over complicate the cleaning process. It says you should boil the water without producing steam pressure. How is the done? Do you have any tips for this process?

Should I replace the main air vent? See pic.

Is the pressuretrol set correctly?

Thanks for any help you can give!

I have the "pocketful" app. Are there other resources you would recommend?


  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,470
    Fix the slope

    If that pipe near the end has bad slope it has to be corrected, trapped water will cause water hammer. Go over any exposed piping you can reach and check it with a level to see if it's sloped correctly.

    You said the water gets low in the sight glass and that triggers the auto water feed, does the water eventually find it's way back to the boiler and cause it to overfill? If the autofeeder is coming on consistently and the water is disappearing you have a leak somewhere.

    Any oil in the water will cause problems, If you can get some water from the skim port you can see if it has oil in it by boiling some of it on the stove. The pipe at the rear looks like it might be a skim port, is there a plug in that elbow you can remove?

    Is that main vent working? How long is your steam main and what size pipe, with that information we can tell you what size air vent you should have. There seems to be a lot of corrosion on the piping is there salt or other chemicals stored near the boiler?

    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: 8,576
    Hammering in the line.

    Skimming/cleaning the boiler is not really complicated, but very time consuming, and essential.

    Is the water feeder over-filling the boiler, requiring frequent draining? Excessive fresh water will shorten the life of the boiler.

    Get a 0-5 psi gauge from gauge store.com, and put it on the boiler, so you know what the pressuretrol is doing.

    Get a gorton 2 vent on in place of the ancient/incontinent vent you have now.

    Is the riser on the boiler the right diameter as specified in the manual?

    Get the steam books from the shop here, and read them for more knowledge and familiarity with steam systems.--NBC
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801

    The v8 does not appear to be the problem It appears to be the system it is attached to.. And the lack of proper care and service. Your boiler is only as good as to the system its attached to..... Many of good boilers are ruined by improper installation and lack of care. You should limit yourself to the homeowners care and call in a local qualified heating person
  • JustinF
    JustinF Member Posts: 5
    19 Feet

    Thanks Everyone - I don't think the boiler is overfilling. It does bounce up and down in the glass, but the water level never gets more than 3/4 of the way up the glass. It would fill the glass if it was over filling, correct?

    I don't think there is a leak. It is possible, but I am not seeing any leaks in any of the pipes I can see. The house is small - this boiler serves a 1000 square foot unit on the second floor - just four radiators. There could be something in the walls, but I am not noticing anything else that would indicate a leak.

    I haven't tried skimming yet, but the elbow in the back does have a plug that I should be able to remove. I'll give it a try. And, I'll follow the directions in the manual for cleaning. I have no idea when it was done last.

    The steam main is 19 foot-long loop. One side of the loop 2" and one side is 1". Do you all of recommend the Gorton #2.

    Replacing the gauge with a 5psi one also does makes sense!

    Thanks again!
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,433
    edited March 2013

    Where is it hammering?  Boiler? Steam main? Runout to a radiator or the radiator it self?

    When does it hammer, when the system first produces steam? The entire time its steaming? 

    Can you take pictures of the radiators and post them?

    On a V8 3/4 up the gauge glass is the normal water level when the boiler is not running.  When shes steaming, how much does this level drop?

    Unrelated but the feeder shows 768,  Is that 768 gallons?  76.8 gallons?  I'm just curious as I've never used a VXT.

    One more thing, DO NOT swap the 30PSI guage out for a 5PSI gauge.  This is not only against code, it could also be very dangerous.  They made 30PSI gauges standard on steam boilers a long long time ago and it was because many lost their lives.  Add a 3 or 5 PSI gauge between the siphon and the pressuretrol.  This way you have both the 30PSI and 3 or 5 PSI gauge.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JustinF
    JustinF Member Posts: 5
    re: Hammering

    The hammering is happening on a horizontal run out. It runs half way across my basement ceiling - about 12 feet. Someone before me actually propped the line up with a 2x4. I removed it to lower the pitch on one end and I think that helped.

    I will post pics of rads soon and see if I can post videos of the water in the glass.

    Is adding a 3 or 5 PSI gauge between the siphon and the pressuretrol something I could do myself?

    I am not sure about the reading on the VXT. I would guess it's 768, because I don't know when it was last reset.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,433

    I would defiantly say you need more pitch on the pipe. You said it was a runout so I assume its going to a single radiator?

    I don't see any reason you wouldn't be able to add the gauge. Here is how I installed mine, please note how high it is above the elbow. This was a change I made because I kept getting water in it which caused problems.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JustinF
    JustinF Member Posts: 5
    Runout hammering

    Thanks for the pics of your gauge! I'll look into getting one.

    Re: the run out...

    Here are some pics.

    It used to go to two radiators. In our renovations we took out one of the radiators and our plumber just capped the pipe. Seemed shady to me, but he didn't think it was a problem. Here you can see the cap inside the closet and the active rad. The run out in question goes to both.

    The run out is 11 feet long. I still need to go buy a line level, but I measured from the ceiling with a tape measure. It drops 2 inches in 11 feet from my rough measurements off the ceiling of the basement. I'll get a line level soon for a more accurate measurement.

    I know I also need insulation on the runouts. There are four all about the same length.

    The last three images are of the run out. Where it goes up into the wall and where it comes off the steam main. It's resting on a beam near the main, so I don't think I can lower that end any more. So I would have to raise up the end where it goes into the wall, correct? Currently it takes a short angled turn, as you can see, before it goes into the floor of the first floor.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,433
    Sorry for the delay

    From the pictures I don't see anything that would cause hammering.  The removal of the one radiator shouldn't matter as far as this problem is concerned.

    Is it still hammering, or did the removal of the 2x4 solve the problem?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
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