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vacuum your boiler?

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so I am reading on abnormally high bills and am wonder what to do on this part.



The boiler is dirty.

If the boiler is sooty, it's going to burn lots of fuel. Check it out, and give it a good vacuuming if it needs it.



What part of the boiler is this talking about? Has anyone done this lately?



It you are wondering what web page I was reading it is this.

<a href="http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/95/Problems-that-plague-ALL-steam-heating-systems/81/The-fuel-bills-are-abnormally-high">http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/95/Problems-that-plague-ALL-steam-heating-systems/81/The-fuel-bills-are-abnormally-high</a>

Comments

  • MDNLansing
    MDNLansing Member Posts: 297
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    Soot

    Anything regarding soot would be referring to the burner and firing chamber area. Look for soot where the fire is and clean that area as needed. An inch of soot means less energy is being transferred from the fire to the boiler. They are talking about cleaning that off to remove the old soot.



    If there is a large amount of soot, you might also want to check your flame. Soot can be the result of too much oxygen being mixed during the combustion process. Excessive soot will probably also mean excessive orange and yellow in your flame. Tune it to get the blue back.
  • JHprovidence
    JHprovidence Member Posts: 51
    edited November 2013
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    tune it back?

    The place I am renting has a very old boiler. The person I am renting from does not really understand this stuff, and everyone he has ever hired has just tried to sell him another oversized boiler or has broken stuff… and after they left thing pretty much stayed the same. The flame does has a bit of orange and I think the firing rate might be a tad high. I think this last part because pressure at the radiators build up faster than it does at the boiler. What type of controls should I be looking for to make this adjustment? Most importantly for the oxygen first.
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,787
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    proper firing on this type of burner

    The proper air mix on this type of burner should have yellow at the tips of the flame.



    It is impossible to have more pressure at the radiator than at the boiler. However, the gauges are probably difficult to read, may not function well, given the age, and if it is a 15 psi gauge, you won't hardly be able to see it move to 1 or 2 psi.



    All things considered, for that age of that boiler, it looks at least like someone has taken care of it as far as cleaning the exterior, etc.



    If you want to vacuum the heat exchange passageways, that would through the little slotted door at the top. In the main firepot, (also a main heat exchange area), any dirt, soot, or rusty grit is going to fall to the bottom, and essentially, that is the floor. It causes no harm there unless there is so much that it impedes the air flow around the burner, and that is NOT likely.



    While I commend you for wanting to learn about your boiler, you need to respect that fact that if you start tinkering with a gas burning appliance with the thought that you can adjust something to save yourself money, you may very easily do something that is dangerous and can cause, as the boiler manuals always state, "serious injury and/or death." It is nothing to be taken lightly.



    I really love seeing your boiler because it pretty much looks like it did 90-100 years ago and its amazing that it is still chugging away. That said, most old boilers when converted to gas are not very efficient, but it varies depending on type. It is my understanding that this type, a vertical sectional boiler is perhaps the worst in efficiency. I am only guessing, but I'd say 40% and I get I'm not too far off. I know of a case where a person changed out a boiler of this type and installed an atmospheric cast iron boiler rated at 81% on a hot water system and the gas bills dropped by half.



    So, I guess you need to accept that fact that if the owner won't replace the boiler with something that is efficient, you're just stuck with what you got. There's not much you can do about it.



    By the way, in one of your earlier posts, the "heating element" that you referred to is actually just a flame spreader. As the gas comes up out of an open tube, about 1 1/2 or 2" in diameter, this thing that looks like a saucer on a rod, serves to spread the flame out toward the walls of the boiler. It is most likely made of stainless steel. It didn't look dirty to me, but dirty or shiny and polished, it would have no effect on efficiency.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,787
    edited November 2013
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    This Old House

    By the way, the VERY first season of "This Old House" featured the rehab of a house in Boston in 1979. It had a boiler much like yours! It was fired by an oil burner, right through the door. Sadly, the entire steam system was shucked out in favor of a hot water baseboard system. Not exactly historically friendly to the original baseboards.



    This was the first show for Bob (look at my face, not the project) Vila.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • JHprovidence
    JHprovidence Member Posts: 51
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    thank you dave

    So I would vacuum the inside and outside of the door?



    Thank you so much for all of your help. While the boiler looks good on the outside the inside has been a different story. Before last sunday the tubes leading the the sight glass were clogged. I had to push my landlord to work on it with me since he did not want to hire someone. Last time someone had worked on it they broken several things and it went right back to the way it was afterwards. We got them unclogged but since then tons of rust keeps coming out. We added a new 0 10 15 gauge since the other did not work. We can see the gauge climb but I can hear vents popping upstairs. When that happens the gauge stops moving. The two that pop open are vent-rite. then after awhile the gauge will move again. When I switch the two vent-rite to gortons I bought one won't close on a giant radiator. It get hot and spurts water and then the gorton one fattest rad on this counter flow system away starts to gurgle. The system has no main vents. Most of the air vents were broken when I moved in and the pressuretrol did not function till we did everything this week. It has been a nightmare and took up way to much of my time.



    I didn't plan on having to deal with this and learn all of this this when I moved north, but my craving for warmth and sleep has been too strong. My only saving grace has been the help that people give off of this website. Again thank you so much for your insight.
  • JHprovidence
    JHprovidence Member Posts: 51
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    oh wow

    I am glad to see the boiler is in better condition than that one. The thing I like to remember is… it could be worse!
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,787
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    set pressure

    On a system like this, the pressure should get no higher than 2 psi. Set your pressuretrol low enough so that is the maximum. Set it at 1.5 psi if you can. Those don't work very well and the scale reading is not usually accurate. You kind of have to turn the screw when there is pressure there to see where it will shut off. Then as the pressure drops a little, the burner will come back on.



    Good that you got the glass and the pressuretrol working. Those are very important. And, very wise to have the owner working with you. That way he can't blame you if something goes wrong.



    The vents click closed when steam gets to them. If they cool off, they may open again for a moment or two. But, just because the vents are closed, doesn't mean that the pressure is going to keep rising. When the steam runs out into the system and fills the radiators, those radiators are condensing the steam back to water. LOTS OF IT!. That is where the steam goes, and so the boiler keeps making more steam and the radiators keep condensing back to water. If the burner is matched to the output of the radiators, it will run indefinitely without building pressure. Most boilers are sized with an extra 34% percent, or more sometimes. That allows for the losses from the piping and what is called the "pickup factor". So, in most installations, if the boiler runs a prolonged period of time, the pressure will eventually rise and shut the burner off. Since you don't have any main vents, you may have to use higher capacity vents, such as the vari vent with its adjuster open most of the way. Once the mains have been fully filled with steam, the venting should slow a bit as it takes alot more steam to heat the radiators than it does to heat a pipe.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • JHprovidence
    JHprovidence Member Posts: 51
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    large radiator

    what am I not figuring out here. I have one giant 3 column radiator that has 54 square feet. When I put a large vent on it, it speed up the heating cycle a lot but a large vent won't close. The only one that seems to work was the only vent right that worked around here before I moved in. Even a goron 5 which expels about the same amount of air won't close. All of the Gorton's will just gurgle and spurt water. The other rads are all mini tubes besides one that is a normal tube. Also and any other combination has caused the last radiator to gurgle which has a gorton 6 on it.



    Thank you again. I am also a musician… if musician forums were anywhere near as helpful as this one, the world would be a much better place.
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,787
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    to fast perhaps

    Keep in mind that if you vent too fast, it may be impossible for the water to get out of the radiator because of the speed that steam and air is coming in, especially on a system that has no main vents. Also, as I recall, those Gorton vents, while usually very good and quiet, don't have the little tongue or syphon tube that helps expel condensation out of the vent.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    Do you have the IOM?

    The installation and operation manual should contain instructions for accessing the flueways for cleaning. Normally a vacuum cleaner doesn't work terribly well, but there are brushes you can get from your heating supply store. They're like long bottle brushes. When you clean the flueways the dirt just falls on the floor. In gas-fired atmospherics dirt can collect on the tops of the burner tubes, and there a vacuum cleaner might help, but you can also just take them out and brush them off.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,787
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    posting your prior picture

    Because the discussion here about your boiler does not have the benefit of a picture of it, such as you posted in an earlier thread, I am bringing it forward.



    http://www.heatinghelp.com/images/posts/20244/resize_1108031738.jpg



    I am also posting a cutaway image of a similar type of boiler so that the way it is put together internally can be seen. As you can tell, there is not much that can be cleaned. Only place is in that little slit of a door at the top of the firing door.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • JHprovidence
    JHprovidence Member Posts: 51
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    the tongue

    I had not thought of that. Maybe if I put a hoffman 1a there it would help. Thank you for your help
  • JHprovidence
    JHprovidence Member Posts: 51
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    old

    wow you know it is an old boiler when the picture of it's design is a print etching.
This discussion has been closed.