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Burnham Independence Boiler sight glass is full

Hey guys,

My burnham independence stopped producing heat recently and it is FREEZING. I have tried draining the water with a hose from a pipe extending from the Independence. I saw the sight glass was full before draining and it is still full, to the point I can't see the water level. When I drained the Indendence, it finally came down to drips of water. I haven't seen a change in the sight glass. I turned off the power and even the feeder valve. Someone please help keep me warm! Thank you!!!


  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,094
    edited March 2014
    Gauge Glass

    When was the last time the gauge glass was blown down? It is probably clogged.

    Get a pro in asap. You need to know how much water is in the boiler. Did you have any

    Water coming out of your vents?
  • alex62wp7c
    alex62wp7c Member Posts: 4
    edited March 2014
    Gauge Glass

    I'm not sure when the gauge glass was blown down, but it was working this whole season. I think I've been having this issue seasonally, usually after the season. I am trying to remove and clean the gauge glass now. There seems to be no water to drain anymore, but the gauge glass is full. I am trying to clean it incase it is clogged, as I see rust buildup on the outside of the glass. I don't think water is coming out of the vents on the boiler.
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,094
    edited March 2014
    Gauge Glass

    Make sure the gauge cocks are open. Should be turned fully counterclockwise. There is a fitting at the bottom of the gauge that can be opened to drain out the water. If the boiler over filled into the piping you would have water coming out of the main vents or the rad vents.
  • alex62wp7c
    alex62wp7c Member Posts: 4
    edited March 2014
    Gauge Glass now at 2/3 full

    So the glass gauge is at 2/3 and I did this about 20 min ago. The house is still chilly and I'm not sure if it's working. I will give it an hour and see how it goes. It is heating a 3 story house, so maybe that's why it is taking so long?

    Thanks for your help Mark!!!
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 14,423
    edited March 2014
    Was it clogged?

    I'm confused, it's now 2/3 full but the boiler is still empty?

    If you are not 100% sure that gauge glass is giving an accurate representation of the water level in the boiler the boiler should be OFF.

    As Mark N said make sure the gauge cocks are both open. These are the valves at the top and bottom of the gauge glass. They must both be open at all times when the boiler is in use.
    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
  • alex62wp7c
    alex62wp7c Member Posts: 4
    edited March 2014
    Unsure if it was clogged

    Hey ChrisJ, both valves are open. I tried unscrewing the bolts in between and just moved the glass up and down trying to get glass gauge out while I was draining water. What I mean is you might be right that the gauge is misreading the water level. But when I turn on my thermostat, I hear the Independence clicking and seems like it is trying to start, then it goes quiet again. The sound it makes is somewhat of constant clicking. What do you think?

    Should I add some water using the valve after draining? I think auto feeder has done that already.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,409
    Ok reading your posts

    Do you know if the boiler has any water in it?  You said you drained until it was a trickle, but didn't say if you put the water back in?  The boiler won't fire without water because the low water cutout prevents this from happening.  In other words if there isn't any water in it it won't work.  You say the gauge glass has water, but don't know if its clogged.  What has been stated already is this needs to be unclogged to get an accurate reading of what is in the boiler.  The gauge glass could be showing water when the boiler is empty, if it is clogged.  Make sense?   Here is a link to a youtube video showing how to remove the gauge glass for cleaning.  As far as the clicking I would guess it's the ignitor trying to light the pilot, but it isn't coming on.  That would indicate another issue of some kind.  It sounds to me like a call to a professional is needed.  That is just my opinion as a homeowner.

    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    edited March 2014

    Reading this thread, it is very scary. KC has given you the best advise anyone could give you!Call a professional who can diagnose and correct the problem. It is clear you are not familiar with this boiler or steam heat. That is a recipe for disaster. That boiler has more sense (not to be unkind) than you have. It knows something significant is wrong and it won't ignite.It could be anything from a faulty flu damper (which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning) to a defective water feed to a defective or stuck Low water cut off. Something shut that boiler down and that problem needs to be fixed before you stand at the thermostat listening to the boiler ignitor click. You don't know if the water level in the glass is representative of the water level in the boiler and you did not even succeed at taking that glass out and making sure the waterway is clear so that you can be confident the gauge level represents the boiler level. You emptied water out through some outlet "with a pipe on it" but you never said that you closed that outlet before you put water back in the boiler. You said you thought the water feeder may have added some water but if you had put water back in the boiler, that should not have happened or been necessary. If you do manage to somehow get that boiler to start and it is dry, you potentially have a very, very serious safety issue. You have spent enough time on this Wall, do yourself a favor and call a Pro so you can have heat again.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    LWCO type?

    I might also add, that unless you have a probe-type LWCO you should be blowing it down at least everyother week if not every week. If not, it's a no wonder it's clogged.

    Another homeowner...
    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
  • Dennis Foley
    Dennis Foley Member Posts: 21
    You need this boiler cleaned ASAP

    I've seen this happen a lot. The boiler is dirty, the sight glass valves are probably clogged, the pigtail is probably clogged, the boiler has a lot of crud in it. When we clean a steam boiler all that gets removed and cleaned, the boiler gets a cold skim and sometimes also a hot skim. Takes hours, but that is what you need, before you crack it with a dry fire. Call a pro!!