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Flush out boiler?

WillV
WillV Member Posts: 10
Just a quick question. I had a new WeilMclein Gas steam boiler installed last year. Is it necessary to flush the boiler out once a year or more to get rid of any sediment that has deposited in the boiler? If so then I have a second question. The valve to the left that has the round handle appears to not be functioning as I opened it all the way and only a drop or two come out at a time. There is another valve slightly lower and to the right of it that had the handle taken off when it was installed for some reason. (Its the valve a few inches below the gauge glass in the picture) Is there a reason you are not supposed to use that valve that the handle was taken off?
Thank you very much for any insight!

Comments

  • Once a year you can open the operable valve at the bottom to let out any sediment accumulation. If all is as it should be you should only have to add a gallon or so of makeup water per year. Any more water use indicates a leak which should be immediately fixed.
    Was the boiler skimmed/cleaned in the early days of its installation? Details would be in the installation manual.
    This process is an essential step to get out all the residual oil left over from the piping. Oil on the surface will impede the boiling, and cannot be removed by draining and refilling. I see the skimming port has been plugged, and should be opened up and have a nipple, and valve put in for this purpose.--NBC
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,690
    I have this same style boiler in my house. Not sure why that valve would have the handle removed as that is the drain valve if you ever need to drain it completely. The other valve I am guessing is to drain the "mud" leg? It's hard to tell where the pipe goes to know for sure. A wider shot of the piping would help in determining that. If it's only trickling that sound like a plug not a bad valve. I agree 100% with NBC if that boiler was not skimmed it needs done! This is a critical step. If they replaced much piping during the replacement you may need to skim several times. I have done mine about 4 times so far and will be doing it again this weekend. Looking at your gauge glass that water is filthy so a good skimming and probably even a flush would be a good idea. Remember skimming and cleaning serve different purposes. One removes oil the other is for sediment that can accumulate. It appears you definitely have sediment, but oil can't be determined from pictures only from how it performs.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,555
    I can say, from my experience, it is painfully tedious to skim a boiler properly and I'll admit that I have not skimmed mine properly initially or ever since.

    At the beginning of each heating season, I turn on the boiler, watch the sight glass turn black and then I skim for a couple hours, flush several times for a couple hours, fill, then let the boiler run for a couple hours. This is the first year I added an Oxygen scavenger (8-Way) to the water.

    Each year I dump many gallons of water ,black as ink, until it clears up. But each year, I start with clean water in the boiler.

    I would like to believe that after five heating seasons, all of the oils have been removed. But I think the reason the boiler is filled with sediment is the 80 year old radiators and pipes were as neglected as the original boiler and sediment continues to flow to the boiler.



  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,690
    We are all different, but I didn't really find it that tedious to skim. I have plenty of other house chores to keep me busy so I just made sure to check in on int every 20-30 minutes or so and didn't leave the house. I personally don't "babysit" mine the whole time other than staying home, which I do most of the time anyway. Others on here have developed ways of running it to a drain of some sort then you almost don't need to check on it. I have to use a bucket unfortunately, but it takes a long time to fill a 5 gallon bucket while skimming. I do agree how dirty the system is sometimes depends on conditions in the house. Mine isn't too bad and doesn't accumulate much sediment from the system. To the OP if you do get a lot of sediment from the system and not the boiler it is a good idea to flush that out and start with clean water as @SlamDunk suggests. If you don't it will only get worse and cause other issues. Just remember always always always run that boiler for a while after adding water! The oxygen in the water is what rots the boiler and boiling the water drives off the dissolved oxygen in the water. Many people on here also recommend water treatments to keep the PH up which can reduce corrosion. You could do some searches of the wall and get plenty of information about water and system maintenance. Also if you don't have the books from this site and you are new to steam I would suggest getting them. Great reads and they teach you a lot about your system. Post some more pics of your new boiler everyone is always curious to see the piping, which sometimes leads to more input for you!
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    This is why you should use a full sized plug where that valve is on the return. The valve with the handle removed is a boiler drain, at least that's what WM calls it. The one's i've installed usually get a full-sized valve. That one looks like the opening has been reduced down to a 3/4" or 1/2". Take a wider shot of the boiler and header. I hope you don't have a copper header and risers.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited November 2014
    Those water droplets on the top half of that sight glass are a good indication that there is oil on the surface of the water that needs to be skimmed.
  • When you say that the oil has been removed, then where has it gone?--NBC
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,555
    KC_Jones said:

    We are all different, but I didn't really find it that tedious to skim. I have plenty of other house chores to keep me busy so I just made sure to check in on int every 20-30 minutes or so and didn't leave the house. I personally don't "babysit" mine the whole time other than staying home, which I do most of the time anyway.

    I babysit mine. I cant bring myself to walk away from it because I'm paranoid.

    I'm also impatient; I can't bring myself to babysit for eight hours.

    KC_Jones
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,470
    My boiler was installed 2 years ago, I skimmed it 4 or 5 times within a month or so of the install. I then added a steam master tablet to control corrosion. I've done nothing but occasionally draining a few quarts of water from the boiler drain and adding enough water to get up to the normal water level. As you can see the water is still pretty clean after two heating seasons.

    You really need to get the skim port added with a full port valve on it and skim that boiler a few times to get rid of all the oils. After all the oils are out I would drain and fill it one more time (when the boiler is cold) and then bring it up to steam to drive off any oxygen.

    After that you can just drain a little water every few months to keep the bottom clean. You should not have to drain and refill it for years once you get it clean.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,432
    I skimmed mine 6 times and then finally used a wand to wash it from the inside using hot water. All of my oil troubles went away, at least until the new piping I installed this fall gets washed into my boiler.

    As others have said, you need that skimmer port opened. The picture of my boiler shows it's location. I originally had a large ball valve on mine but overtime the chrome got attacked on the ball for some reason so I switched to a brass coupler and brass plug.

    As far as I know, the wand is Gerry Gill's idea and he really deserves some kind of an award for it because it really is a life saver. http://youtu.be/q1tw9rz-pUk

    I use the wand through my skim port and keep a bucket under the boiler drain. This way is much slower but keeps the dirty water off of my floor as I don't have a drain and half of my floor is dirt.
    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
  • WillV
    WillV Member Posts: 10
    Thanks for all the great advice. So I should get the skim port opened, skim the system, and get a handle placed onto that valve where its been taken off and flush sediment from that valve? And the valve that isnt working is probably just clogged with sediment or something? Here are the additional pics of the full boiler. Any other input and advice is again greatly appreciated.
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,226
    What on God's green earth is going on with that installation, bro?
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
    ChrisJ
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    1 - The second smoke el after the damper looks like it's pointing down.
    2 - from the pictures you posted I don't see a skim valve on that side. maybe it's on the other side?
    3 - looks like someone removed a main vent and threw in a plug.
    4 - i'm not liking the near boiler piping, but maybe that's just me. I don't like copper above the water line. The steam takeoff should be between the riser and the equalizer elbow. ie. boiler riser up/steam takeoff up/equalizer el down. The way it's now you have boiler riser up/equalizer tee down/steam takeoff horizontal
    5 - i'm not liking the location of the transformer. That location gets toasty being on top of the boiler.
    6 - I don't see a dripleg on the gas.
    7 - Please tell me that's not a flex pipe gas connector on the boiler.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,690

    .
    4 - i'm not liking the near boiler piping, but maybe that's just me. I don't like copper above the water line. The steam takeoff should be between the riser and the equalizer elbow. ie. boiler riser up/steam takeoff up/equalizer el down. The way it's now you have boiler riser up/equalizer tee down/steam takeoff horizontal
    5 - i'm not liking the location of the transformer. That location gets toasty being on top of the boiler.
    6 - I don't see a dripleg on the gas.
    7 - Please tell me that's not a flex pipe gas connector on the boiler.

    If you look at the slope of the one main is it possible it's like that for a counterflow situation? The equalizer is doubling as a drip? Not even sure if that's a good idea just theorizing. I agree about the transformer and so does Weil Mclain it's supposed to be inside the front cover. In addition unless I am going blind, where is the service switch? There is supposed to be a service switch right on the boiler. In my area that gas piping wouldn't pass code as you pointed out no drip leg and that flex on an appliance isn't allowed where I am. All areas have different codes, but I am pretty sure the drip leg is always required. All the gas piping in the pictures looks new as well. Was this install permitted and inspected? As far as your cleaning questions yes get the skim port opened it is behind that insulation in the round knockout. It's a 1 1/2" tap on that boiler. As dirty as your water is I would do a complete flush and possibly even look into the wand idea Chris threw out, but still do the skimming after just to be sure. How has the system been performing? Does it make any noise at all? These systems should be virtually silent when they are working properly.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • WillV
    WillV Member Posts: 10
    I truly have no idea what happened with this install. I converted from oil to natural gas last October and this was a brand new install of the boiler, water heater and the piping connecting it to the system which is a one pipe steam system. The original contractor hired someone else that was supposedly a steam expert because they didn't know what to do with a steam system - yet they accepting the job. This setup did pass all permits and inspections in my town - Brick Township, Ocean County NJ. The system does have water hammer, but not as badly as it did originally with the oil boiler. And after the install was complete they had to come back out multiple times and repitch pipes because my steam radiators were spewing out gallons of water. That resolved the water issue, but the system still has water hammer.

    Its disappointing that I've learned slowly over time how much was installed incorrectly, and now I'm beat because its been 13 months since the install and I doubt they'll correct the problems if I point them out.
  • WillV
    WillV Member Posts: 10
    And Abracadabra there is no skim valve on either side of the boiler. One was never installed and no skim was done after install. All they did was throw some surge solution stuff in it.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,690
    Either they don't know or don't care. In and out fast and clean please pay me. No one on here is trying to beat you up or anything, but you will get a lot of honesty which is something I doubt you got much of from your installer. Personally I prefer honesty. As has been said many times on here any noise from a steam system is a cry for help. I think we have mainly answered your original questions. I am also a homeowner like you so from one homeowner to another I recommend education. Buy the steam heating books from this site read as much on this site as you can. Make yourself a list of "issues" you have with your system and if you can't figure them out on your own ask on here. There is a wealth of knowledge and everyone is more than happy to help. The pros on here are amazing for all they do for us...even if it is just the internet. When these systems are tuned in correctly they run so nicely and give fantastic heat! Welcome to the steam club!
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,555
    Call JStar. Will cost a little more but you'll be happy
    ChrisJRobG
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    edited November 2014
    Couple more things...

    I assume all that exposed wiring is low voltage 24V, at least I hope so. Regardless, it should be in greenfield/conduit.

    Also.. IIRC, isn't there a requirement on the smoke vent to go vertical before turning into an el?

    Closeup of pressuretrol please with the cover off.

    If you have water hammer, whether it's less or the same as before, there's problems that need to be fixed.
    WillV said:

    And Abracadabra there is no skim valve on either side of the boiler. One was never installed and no skim was done after install. All they did was throw some surge solution stuff in it.

    Sigh... this is where I'd usually attach a copy of my facepalm picture...

    I feel bad everytime I see a new boiler install that if the installer knew what he was doing, would look beautiful and provide the homeowner with wonderful quiet steam heat. Knucklehead installers give steam heat a bad rap... :(
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,690



    Sigh... this is where I'd usually attach a copy of my facepalm picture...

    I feel bad everytime I see a new boiler install that if the installer knew what he was doing, would look beautiful and provide the homeowner with wonderful quiet steam heat. Knucklehead installers give steam heat a bad rap... :(

    What always boggles my mind is I am "just a homeowner" and I was able to figure out proper installation of a steam boiler (with a ton of help from this site) and install my own. If I can do it what is the excuse of the "professional"? I can be rude, but to me it basically boils down to they just don't care. If they cared about their craft they would strive to learn and be the best. Just my humble opinion. Here are a couple pics of an install of the same boiler as the OP done just a little better. Wanted to share for reference. I also like to add, though off topic a bit the definition of professional basically is a person that gets paid to do something. It doesn't mean they are good or anything like that. All homeowners should be very cautious when choosing contractors because being a professional doesn't mean a good job it just means they will get your money.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,470
    If you can't get the original contractor to respond then write him off as a bad investment. The boiler will never work right the way it's piped.

    If you have the option of having someone like JSTAR make it right, pay the money and consider yourself lucky. Life is too short to live with something like that.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
    KC_JonesRobG
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,690
    @JStar do you service the OP's area? Brick Township, Ocean County NJ
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • WillV
    WillV Member Posts: 10
    Here is the close up with the cover off as requested. I'll give jstar a call and see if he services my area.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,690
    WillV said:

    Here is the close up with the cover off as requested. I'll give jstar a call and see if he services my area.

    The view we are trying to see is of the numbers on that white wheel. Can't quite see that with the angle of your picture. Did you notice what it was set to? It should be on 1.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • WillV
    WillV Member Posts: 10
    I don't really see a notch that indicates what its set too, but the 1 is the most visible number showing so i assume its set to 1. Maybe one thing at least was done correctly! lol What exactly is the number responsible for anyway?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    That number is the differential that the pressuretrol will allow the steam pressure to get to before it cuts the burner off. So the .5 cut-in + the differential of 1 means the boiler should shut off at around 1.5psi. (cut-out) if the Pressuretrol is close to properly calibrated and working. Make sure you clean out the pigtail under the Pressuretrol periodically as they do get plugged up with gunk and prevent the Pressuretrol from working properly.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    KC_Jones said:

    @JStar do you service the OP's area? Brick Township, Ocean County NJ

    Is there anywhere that I don't service?

    @WillV My phone system has been broken (on and off) for the last two weeks. If I don't respond by phone right away, you can always email me.

    [email protected]
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,690
    JStar said:

    KC_Jones said:

    @JStar do you service the OP's area? Brick Township, Ocean County NJ

    Is there anywhere that I don't service?
    Yes there is....the areas that @Steamhead services. lol
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    KC_Jones said:

    JStar said:

    KC_Jones said:

    @JStar do you service the OP's area? Brick Township, Ocean County NJ

    Is there anywhere that I don't service?
    Yes there is....the areas that @Steamhead services. lol
    Thank goodness for that. I don't think my fuel budget could handle it.
    Emeliza
  • Emeliza
    Emeliza Member Posts: 30
    "Is there anywhere that I don't service?" JStar

    Vermont! I think I'm a little bit out of your range, unfortunately. Maybe in @Steamhead's range. lol
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,690
    LOL Steamhead is south in MD
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Emeliza
    Emeliza Member Posts: 30
    Daggummit! Are there any really good steam guys up this way?
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    I'll go to Vermont. What kind of work do you need?
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
    I highly suggest, strip that thing down to how it was shipped and start new…Call the meathead up and demand your money back….He is a thief…..