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Wheres the water going?

68GMC68GMC Member Posts: 36
Hey all. I noticed last spring I was adding water more than usual, but didn't really pay much attention to it. Now, this winter, I'm pretty much adding water daily. It goes through enough that it will trip the LWCO after a couple days, depending on how much it has run. There is no leaks that I can see, certainly with that amount of water I think I'd notice it.

I was filling it up one day last week, and noticed water dripping onto the burners, that are underneath the boiler itself. I haven't noticed it since, but I don't really sit around and watch my boiler either.

Any starting points? Tips, advice, point in the right direction? Boiler is a Burnham IN6, if it matters. 



  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,406
    A hole or crack

    Yu may have a hole or crack at the waterline of the boiler and it is letting water leak into the fire chamber. You can verify it by overfilling the boiler by 4 or five inches and waiting to see where the water comes out.This should be done when the boiler is switched off and not hot. You may have to pull off a side panel to find the actual hole or crack.

    If it is in the boiler itself and not a pipe that goes into the boiler it's toast. There is no reliable way to patch it that will last.

    I hope I'm wrong,

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • vaporvacvaporvac Member Posts: 1,512
    Xmas Eve....

    I remember it well! All alone with a102deg fever, and that dribble you are seeing became a gusher and that was the end of that boiler! I'd start planning the replacement now because judging from my experience you don't have much time. On my latest boiler, we were able to plug small holes around the waterline and that actually lasted some time until the gas valve went. Depending on the boiler, you may just be able to replace the sections only but I would do them all since once one goes, the rest seem to follow. Fellow homeowner here, and just one person's experience. It's a situation I wouldn't wish on anyone. Take it as you will. Good luck.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • 68GMC68GMC Member Posts: 36
    Leak detection

    Bob- I tried overfilling the boiler, but did not see a leak. I'm with you, I hope I'm wrong, but I'm assuming the same thing you are. Time for a new boiler.

    I guess this weekend when I have time, I'll see if I can pull off a side panel and see what's going on.

    Does anyone know if you can replace sections on a Burnham boiler, or do I just plan to replace the whole boiler?

  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,406

    I know you can replace sections on the boiler but it's a lot of work and costs a lot to have someone do it for you, also if one section goes another might be ready to go very soon.

    How old is the boiler?

    It could be the kind of leak that doesn't show up till the boiler gets good and hot and under a little pressure. Spend a little time with it and watch it while it's making steam.

    good luck,

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Section replacement possible?

    What model, and age is the boiler?

    Generally all sections will be headed for the same fate, but it's worth trying to investigate whether new sections are available, and then fixing the problem which caused the section to fail.--NBC
  • MDNLansingMDNLansing Member Posts: 297

    Do you see any steam rolling out of the chimney? You might have a leak that's steaming out the exhaust.
  • 68GMC68GMC Member Posts: 36
    Chimney smoke

    MDN- I have noticed a lot of white exhaust from the chimney, I'm trying to remember other years if there was a noticeable exhaust. This year it's almost like having a woodstove, other years I don't remember any whiteness.

    Bob- Boiler is roughly 15-20 years old. It was replaced by the previous owner, there is one inspection tag on it from 1996.

    NBC- It's a Burnham IN6.

    I guess I will call Burnham next week and see if I can get a new section, and see where that takes me.

    Thanks for the advice!
  • MDNLansingMDNLansing Member Posts: 297
    Cenrtainly a Leak

    A natural gas boiler doesn't really have any visible exhaust gases. If there's enough white exhaust to see leaving the chimney that's more than likely steam. Sounds like it's steaming off and venting as a gas which explains why you can't see water anywhere. It's not condensing before the exhaust hood, and it's not a water leak below the water line. I would certainly tear the jacket off and try to find the leak. You night be able to use a high temp epoxy of JD weld to patch this until spring. Not likely it would hold very long, but you can't do much more damage than is already done. I've gotten lucky with with some sketchy patches on water boilers to finish off a winter before. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes not. Good luck!
  • 68GMC68GMC Member Posts: 36

    Update- I called Burnham, they said the boiler was made in '95. No warranty left.

    I tried taking pictures of the exhaust, of course the wind was blowing the wrong way. And I took pictures of I believe the canopy, and the top of the boiler. I don't see an easy way to remove the side jacket to keep looking for a leak.

    However, after a long run time, I can definately hear what sounds like steam exiting into the canopy, and I believe that MDN is correct on where the leak is. Thank you for the help!!

    If I do tear off the jacket, should I remove the canopy and everything else with it?

    And, I'm waiting on a call back for pricing on a section block, and on a new boiler. I know that pricing talk is verboten, but as a general guideline, is it usually better to go with a new boiler, vs. repairing the old one? Not neccessarily from the money perspective, but does it make sense to go to a newer, smaller boiler?
  • vaporvacvaporvac Member Posts: 1,512
    Replace ALL sections or entire boiler

    As I mentioned above, this exact same thing happened to me 2x.  Once one section goes they all do in quick order,  so you'll want to replace them all.

    . When this starts to happen it's anybody's guess when  there starts to be enough water to extinguish your burners and suddenly there's no heat!  If you can find the holes you could try patching. I've had this work to

    get me to the end of a heating season, but those are dollar bills

    flying out your chimney. Better to invest them in something else.

     While you could replace ALL the sections,  I personally helped tear out my latest boiler, and can testify that  this is no small feat.. I would suggest measuring your edr and looking into getting another boiler (wet-based if possible)  perhaps better sized to your system.  For all the labor involved, it's probably not a lot more money and you'll save in the long-term.

    Don't buy a  new one based on your old one's size. Measure the edr! The wet-based boilers are no more expensive and give better efficiencies and longevity. They do need someone knowledgeable  to install the burners with a combustion analyzer. Post you edr here to help double-check your boiler sizing.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • 68GMC68GMC Member Posts: 36
    EDR sizing

    I did the measurements a couple years ago, and did them again last night to doublecheck.

    3 rads 21" tall, floor to top of rad. 16, 20, and 22 sections. I used 2.2 feet per section.

    5 rads 26" tall, two with 8 sections, one 9 sections, one 11 and one twelve. I used 2.6 per section.

    All are 2 column, 7" wide, as pictured.

    35+44+48+31+20+23+28+20 = 250 (roughly). I come up with 250 EDR rating. I'm looking at purchasing a Burnham IN4.

    Thanks for the help.
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