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Oil fired flue without barometric damper?

Smith19 Member Posts: 95
I came across this system, and the boiler is lacking a barometric damper in the flue pipe. In one of the photos you can see that the oil fired water heater has got it's own damper. Since the flue from the water heater is conjoined with the flue from the boiler, the technician assumed that the boiler would draw it's draft from the water heater's damper. (FYI: This system was originally installed with both dampers). The boiler is shot due to soot build up, and oil soot has baked into the cast iron sections, making it impossible to clean. Did the removal of the damper cause this to worsen?



  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,512
    JOT or JOTTW?

    When issues with the tight JOT's surfaced in 80's it was common to remove barometric. What is date code?
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Smith19
    Smith19 Member Posts: 95
    Peerless JOT

    1986. It was installed in 1986. The damper was removed in 2004.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited August 2014
    No dampers:

    In my opinion, the boiler and lack of damper and the now problem with being plugged up is because they boiler is run as a cold start boiler. They plugged up easily. There is a front cleanout plate that often wasn't ever removed to clean out the passages. Many I saw were so bad from soot and debris falling between the sections. If and when they were off on safety and got cold, they leaked like crazy from the steel push nipples. Once they were fired off and got hot, they stopped leaking.

    I really don't know how you can really set a power oil burner up properly with instruments without a barometric damper. Especially in windy locations. If the oil fired water heater needed one, I wonder what the thought process is about not needing one on the heating boiler. Look and see if that front cleanout plate has ever been off for cleaning.

    As far as being a tight boiler, I always found them to be as loose as ashes when new. If it was "tight", it was because it was plugged up. The middle plate with the "peer;ess" sign on it looks like it hasn't been off. It has a Greenfield clamp on it. It doesn't look like it has been off regularly. It also looks like it is leaking exhaust gasses from the cleanout plate.

    Another good boiler, going down. From lack of proper care.

  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    this pic

    was from a couple of years ago? There was a thread like this back then
  • Smith19
    Smith19 Member Posts: 95
    proper care and cleaning

    I understand that the front of this boiler was removed often for cleaning. One puffback has already occurred, and obstructions soot wise have been found in the flue as far up as the first floor fireplace. (BTW…flues are separate…not to worry:). Boiler had VERY thorough cleaning. I've seen it done.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Dirty Flues:

    If you are getting soot or debris in the fireplace, the flues are connected. That's a concrete block wall that the fireplace and flues are on and in. I've encountered chimney's that were made entirely of concrete blocks with brick veneers and the tiles weren't properly set and side by side with no wydths between. They sucked back and forth. Is there an ash dump in the fireplace? Put the probe of a draft gauge like a Bacharach MZE and if you have draft in the ash dump space, you have leaks.

    It is my experience that Beckett Burners of that type absolutely do not like positive or varying draft. When you have positive/negative draft situations, all kinds of bad things happen. When servicing it, and you remove the nozzle/electrode assembly, look down the tube and see if there are carbon deposits in the end cone ring. Stick your paw in and and see if you can feel carbon built up on the outside (chamber side). Fixed head burners (Becketts) don't work as well as adjustable head (Carlin, Riello) burners do in problem draft applications. That has been a long running problem in that application. I once has a place where the draft was higher in the space behind the wall than in the actual flue tiles.

    Where is this building located?

    Whenever I had that problem, I replaced it with a Carlin EZ-1 that had an adjustable head burner where I could keep the static pressure higher. Riello's will work too. I just never used them.  
  • Smith19
    Smith19 Member Posts: 95

    There are two fireplaces, equalling in three separated flues in one chimney. I do not know if the fireplace clean outs at the bottom in the basement are connected. The building is located in Sandwich, MA, on Cape Cod, and although it sits atop a ridge, it is not coastal nor is it windy. Fireplaces draw VERY well.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited August 2014
    Sandwich Flues:

    If the building is located in Sandwich, MA and you think it doesn't have draft issues because it isn't on top of a hill, you are deficient on how wind and draft works. I lived on Cape Cod and The Islands for most of my life 70 years) and have sailed and raced all over Southeastern New England and the rest of New England.

    Trust me when I tell you that it regularly blows the @$$hat out of a cow. The prevailing wind direction is whatever point of the compass it feels like blowing on any particular day.

    You have a draft issue.

    I once had a repair job where the flue tile was almost 4' from the fireplace with with 4 fireplaces and a boiler flue. The house was built in 1982. The mason ran #22 gauge 8" metal smoke pipe from the block wall to the flue tile, in the enclosed base. I cut a hole the size of a door in the wall, built a wall to support a boiler flue tile. It solved the problems. What would have happened in 10 years when the metal flue pipe rotted away. I've been standing next to boilers on windy days and watched the damper gate go back and forth, with big back draft coming back. Especially in newer, really tight houses. With multiple flues, depending on the wind direction, one or more flues vent the house through one or more flues.

    I'll put a wager that if you ran both fireplaces at the same time, and the wind direction was right, smoke would come down one flue while the other one was working. The fact that someone removed the barometric damper shows that there was a problem and that someone didn't understand draft.

    I'd also like to see how they connected the boiler flue. That can have an effect on the boiler venting.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,512
    I'd kind of have to agree

    with icesailor here (and I have sailed over most of that area, too!).

    I don't see how, I really don't, you can have anything like a reasonably constant draught on that boiler without two things, neither of which I see: a barometric damper, to reduce the variations in draught from variations in the wind, and a control damper.  You might get away without the control damper...

    The key thing to remember here is that a burner can only be properly adjusted for one draught condition (assuming, of course, that it isn't self-adjusting!).  Some seem to be more tolerant of variations in draught than others, but it can only be correct at one draught.  Now if your draught in the chimney is varying, and there is no control for it...  at least some of the time that burner is operating out of adjustment, and maybe way out of adjustment.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Smith19
    Smith19 Member Posts: 95
    edited August 2014
    draft & wind

    Having grown up in Falmouth on Buzzard's Bay, I have seen a variety of draft issues on Cape. Sandwich ridge is an unusual situation. The house is located in East Sandwich on Service Road, off of Route 6. (Mid Cape hwy). This area is, as is obvious, densely wooded, and is often completely stagnant. It blows just like any other place on Cape during a storm, however in the summer it's totally dead up there. I completely agree that the boiler flue does not draw as well as the two others, and that during the winter there is more of an issue, but in any case, a Peerless JOT from 1986 will be a problem at this point.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Air Movement:

    It may appear that there is no air movement in that location, but rest assured, there is far more than you think. It only takes a 7.5 degree in temperature to cause circulation in a pipe or container. It is even less with air.

    Static (still) air has more pressure than flowing air. Air is always moving. Because the Earth is moving while spinning.

    Is that boiler bull headed into the exhaust vent of the water heater? That is very wrong, though most of us have done it. It needs to connect with a Wye. When the water heater is running, and it is connected with a Bull Headed Tee, the draft can be completely blocked to the branch/boiler. It can really make a difference.

    If you're a big guy that can make small single handed sailboats (like Lasers) go fast in light air, you come to understand and appreciate how fickle the wind Gods are. Iceboats go even faster in little to no air by running and pushing them and jumping in. They go fast on apparent wind speed alone.

    If it is a new and tight house, the problem can become worse. One of those draft thingy's by Tjernlund can be a big help.