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Need Help - New Gas Boiler for Steam System Problems

My husband and I purchased a 100+ year old home in December 2012 and decided to upgrade the 60+ year old oil boiler to a gas boiler. Unfortunately we have experienced a variety of issues (boiler using 10 gallons of water an hour, pipes bursting as a result of the pressure of the new system, radiators leaking, pipes knocking) with the quality of the installation of the new boiler and are looking for advice from the experts as the company we hired has been unresponsive and unwilling to fix any issues.

Attached are some photos of the new boiler piping. Thoughts about how they are set up and the materials that are used?

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. We want to know that the system will last, heat and not cause additional issues.


  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
    edited March 2014

    It's a little hard to tell how the new boiler is piped, with your insulation on the pipes, but I suspect the installation instructions were not followed.

    That insulation is not meant to be used on pipes carrying steam, so you should probably remove it before it becomes a sticky mess. Only fiberglass should be used. When you have the pipes laid bare, post some pictures of the piping above the boiler, and we can see what the cause might be.

    Was the installation inspected?--NBC
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,428
    As they say on the 'net

    OMG.  Where to begin?

    I think I see copper pipe.  I think I see polyurethane foam insulation on steam pipes.

    I can't really make out from the photos how the steam pipes and header are piped, but it looks like horizontal main takeoffs from the header.

    And you are using 10 gallons per hour?  A good system shouldn't use more than 10 gallons every couple of years.

    I am sorry to say it, but it looks to me as though you have a full scale catastrophe here.

    Where are you located?  What needs to happen is to find a man who is actually a steam heat man (or woman!), and get him or her to reinstall the boiler properly.  You may be able to find such a person from the "find a contractor" tab above -- look by state, not zip code -- or just tell us where you are and we may well know of someone nearby.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
    looks suspect

    That boiler does not look like it is piped correctly, compare the piping you have with the diagram on the installation manual. Take the insulation off the pipes on the boiler header and take some pictures, it looks like they reduced pipe sizes on the header but it's hard to see with the insulation on the pipes. After the insulation is off take some pictures from further back so we can see the configuration of the piping better. Try to take pictures from a few different angles to help us see what is going on.

    Did they ever skim the boiler after it was installed?

    Is the water in the sight glass fluctuating a lot when making steam?

    What pressure is the boiler running at when making steam?

    A boiler should only need water added on a very occasional basis, have you seen any signs of a leak?

    Where are you located, you really need to find someone that knows steam to look at that boiler and correct the problems. If the installer won't respond your better off to get it working right and then go after the installer to try and recover some of your money but that may not happen.


    Is that foam insulation on the pipes?
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469

    It looks like the system risers come off the side of the "header"( I use the term lightly). That will make for a surging spitting system, no matter how clean it is. You need some help with that system. Bring in a steam pro and let them go over the whole system. They can tell you exactly what should be done.
  • bermudajazz
    bermudajazz Member Posts: 2

    We're located in the Bronx. I'm going to take off the insulation and post new pics. This has been an extremely frustrating and costly project. Instead of saving money we're now losing it and still have a system that doesn't work properly.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,428
    You really do need

    a steam pro. to come in and most likely redo that whole installation.  Try looking in the Find a Contractor tab on this site.  There are several firms in New York and New Jersey whom I know to be good -- Joe Starosielec of Thatcher Heating serves that area I think, and he's one of the best.  Or John Cataneo, at Gateway Plumbing.  And there are others of course -- those two just come to mind.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Joe V_2
    Joe V_2 Member Posts: 234
    Not good

    Looks like your sight glass and safeties are against a wall too. This creates the potential of out of sight , out of mind with devices that should be always on your mind. This may also. be a code violation.

    When you take new photos stand way back so we can see the whole arrangement. Include one with the gas line too.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
    Contractor choice

    How did you find the installer?

    If you have to take him to court, I am sure you can have someone here write up a description of what was done wrong, but let's get to the bottom of the problem first-take those pictures, with the naked pipes exposed.--NBC