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Pilot went out in Burnham in-4

Anne_5
Anne_5 Member Posts: 27
My boiler has been thirsty lately, so I called my local gas company to have it serviced. I did see a few drips here and there from the low water cut off, and over the summer when not in use I had to put water in. Make a long story short, the boiler guy who was sent out from a contractor working for the gas company only worked on hot water systems. It took him all day to replace the cut off, and he bypassed the sight glass because he had broke the original and 2 others. With no sightglass and someone who does not know steam, he began filling up my boiler to the point of leaking all over my basement. I have no heat and it is cold. My pilot was snuffed out from the water. How on earth can that even happen? I am calling the gas company to have them send someone else out who is certified in residential steam systems. Meanwhile, water on the bottom of the boiler where the pilot is concerns me greatly. Why did I get water in there? Anyone have a good guess. Thanks!
It's supposed to knock. It's steam.

Comments

  • One of the tests for a leaking boiler is overfilling, and then watching for leaks into the firebox. This is what has now been done, and as a result, you can suspect that you have a leak above the waterline of the boiler.
    As this will require replacement, it will be necessary to measure your radiators to determine their total heat capacity EDR), and from that value, select a boiler whose square feet of radiation matches that value. Do not go off the old boiler.
    Make sure the installer follows the piping instructions for the new boiler.--NBC
    Anne_5
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,692
    It sounds like your boiler is dead or dying for sure. Use the find a contractor link and see if there are any steam experts in your area. You really need to try and find a steam expert, just because someone says they can work on steam systems doesn't mean they know steam systems as you have already found out. I will also add in case you weren't aware excess water usage on a steam boiler is what kills them. Anything more than a gallon or 2 in an entire season is too much and should be looked into. https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Anne_5
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    edited December 2014
    Anne said:

    I am calling the gas company to have them send someone else out who is certified in residential steam systems.

    Unfortunately, we have no recognized (or even credible) steam certification program here in the US. As was mentioned in another thread recently: If you can request photos of the boiler and nearby piping from two recent installations by any prospective contractor and post them here, we can tell you in seconds if they are qualified or not.

    Dan used to have a great article here on "How to replace a residential steam boiler without getting steamed." Pretty sure all of the text is here.
    Anne_5
  • Anne_5
    Anne_5 Member Posts: 27

    One of the tests for a leaking boiler is overfilling, and then watching for leaks into the firebox. This is what has now been done, and as a result, you can suspect that you have a leak above the waterline of the boiler.
    As this will require replacement, it will be necessary to measure your radiators to determine their total heat capacity EDR), and from that value, select a boiler whose square feet of radiation matches that value. Do not go off the old boiler.
    Make sure the installer follows the piping instructions for the new boiler.--NBC

    As I suspected from the go, but I had hoped it wasn't so. Egads. This boiler is a 2000 model how can it possibly need replacing already?
    Someone told me Burnham was the Cadillac of boilers, but from this one experience it seems as though they are more of a Yugo.

    So, what is a good boiler that will give me long life and keep the gas bills at bay? I am very satisfied with the gas efficiency of the Burnham boiler. My bills often are lower than some of my friends who have forced air heat.

    I know a few folks who tried to install new gas boilers that cost an arm and leg every month to run. They replaced them with forced air and bills were cut in 1/2. Why were their bills so high running the new steam boiler?
    It's supposed to knock. It's steam.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,692
    It's not about the boiler it's about the install and maintenance. Burnham makes a good boiler yours failed most likely due to excess make up water. Excess water kills a steam boiler. You should only use a gallon maybe 2 per year in that boiler. Less is more with this. The reason people see fuel savings is because they most likely have people working on them that don't know what they are doing, this is common with steam. Remember this is a system, not a boiler with some pipes hooked to it. Do you know how much water you were using in the boiler per year? Has the boiler been PROPERLY serviced every year? Is the piping correct on your current boiler? Post some pictures of your current boiler and piping and we can comment if it looks correct or not. How has your system run all these years? Steam should be virtually silent when running. No vent noise no spitting water just nice warmth and quiet.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Anne_5
  • Anne_5
    Anne_5 Member Posts: 27
    Since my boiler is a newer model, is it necessary to have to measure the radiators? After all, I'm not going off a 92 year old boiler, but one that could be about 14 years old or less.

    I'll post photos later, but I came here several years ago to ask about my boiler piping and did have it redone. All that, and to have to replace the boiler now. Man alive, I wish I had known. Could have saved some aggravation and money.
    It's supposed to knock. It's steam.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    edited December 2014
    Yes. You must measure them. There's a good chance that THAT boiler size was based on the previous one which was oversized. You want the closest match for the most efficiency. Its not hard to do at all and can help with other things in the future.

    I'm a homeowner who recently replaced my old leaking bucket that went after a similar time-frame, with wet-based boilers that have the flame in the middle. These require less water and provide greater efficiency with less standby losses...however they require exacting piping and are heavier. Many HOs who have done their own go with the atmospheric types as they weigh less and are seen to be "easier" to install. I didn't find the latter to be true at all. Whatever you decide, just make sure the installer follows the manu's instructions at a MINIMUM.

    I suspect the higher bills of your neighbor's new boilers are due to improper installation and inadequate venting. As you've visited here before I'm sure you seen the pics, and the fact that you have reasonable bills after redoing your piping attest to the results.
    BTW, how are the chorides in your water? Just wondering why it failed so soon. Colleen
    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
    Anne_5
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,692
    Anne said:

    Since my boiler is a newer model, is it necessary to have to measure the radiators? After all, I'm not going off a 92 year old boiler, but one that could be about 14 years old or less.

    I'll post photos later, but I came here several years ago to ask about my boiler piping and did have it redone. All that, and to have to replace the boiler now. Man alive, I wish I had known. Could have saved some aggravation and money.

    Never assume anything with steam boilers. It is good to always measure and size correctly. How many years have you been in the house with this boiler?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Anne_5
  • Anne_5
    Anne_5 Member Posts: 27
    I've lived here since the winter of 2008. Heat is good, or at least it was before it sprung the leak.




    It's supposed to knock. It's steam.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,692
    Have you monitored water usage in that time? The water usage is generally what kills these boilers. If you are using excess water with this one and don't address that you will have another premature failure with any new boiler you install. For your information according to Burnham that boiler should not use more than 1 gallon of water per year anything more than that is considered excess. See page 48 in the below link.
    https://file.ac/9IIdhbTJLLQ/Independence I&O.pdf
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Anne_5
  • Anne_5
    Anne_5 Member Posts: 27
  • Anne_5
    Anne_5 Member Posts: 27
    KC_Jones said:

    Have you monitored water usage in that time? The water usage is generally what kills these boilers. If you are using excess water with this one and don't address that you will have another premature failure with any new boiler you install. For your information according to Burnham that boiler should not use more than 1 gallon of water per year anything more than that is considered excess. See page 48 in the below link.
    https://file.ac/9IIdhbTJLLQ/Independence I&O.pdf

    It seemed ok the first 4 years. I had an auto feed attached and it did send too much water to it but that was rectified. then it broke in 2010. :disappointed: Last year was the first year I've had to fill the thing so much. It was drinking water like crazy. I suspect that is when the crack in the boiler appeared. It was so cold and the thing was just throwing unseen water out, it was filled up to 5x a day. I'd go to bed around 11, slowly fill the thing before I did and wake up between 4-5 am freezing cold. I had my heat set as low as possible and used space heaters and my oven for heat. Even so, the thing just absorbed enormous amounts of water. My basement was freezing because I had the heat on as low as I dared. Usually it's pretty warm down there because of the boiler.

    I did see a lot of steam coming from my chimney last winter, though everyone had a lot of smoke because of the polar vortex's affect on our weather. It did seem I had more smoke than everyone. Somehow the unit cracked.

    After the water feed broke, it did not need to be filled but maybe once a month with a little water. Probably still too much, (I have a leak in a cracked shutoff valve so I suspect the water is leaking from that location--but it's just a little not near what I have experienced last year and cold days this year)

    Sooo, that is possibly why the block cracked, from the excess water from before the feed was rectified?
    It's supposed to knock. It's steam.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,692
    If you saw steam coming from the chimney it was leaking then and leaking badly. All the water was going up the chimney. Did your auto feeder have a meter on it so you knew how much water it was using? It's probably not cracked it's probably rusted out. You won't know for sure what is wrong until it it torn down for replacement, but in all likelihood it is rusted out.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Anne_5
  • Anne_5
    Anne_5 Member Posts: 27
    No, I have no idea how much the feeder was pumping into it. I know it was too much for awhile.
    It's supposed to knock. It's steam.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,692
    If/when you have a new one installed either don't install and automatic water feed or have one installed with a water meter. Auto feeders are a touchy subject around here for the exact reason you are experiencing. They can mask a leak and cause a boiler to fail. Without a meter you have no idea what is going into the boiler. If you eliminate the feeder altogether it forces you to pay attention to the boiler like you should be doing. I check my boiler 2-3 times per week just to monitor it's behavior and monitor the water level. I have an auto feeder for times when I am away from home for extended periods, but that's about it. It's definitely a matter of personal preference, but keeping track of your boiler shouldn't be an option it should be a requirement.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Anne_5
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited December 2014
    I can tell you, just from what little I can see of that picture you posted, that the boiler is not properly piped. It looks like there is no header there and that the installer just dropped a pipe off for the equalizer on his way out to the Main.

    Whomever you get to install the new boiler, please make sure it is someone who has the experience and who can be depended on to do the job right. Maybe one of the PRO's on this site is located near you. What city are you in?
    Anne_5
  • Anne_5
    Anne_5 Member Posts: 27
    I live near Detroit. A friend of mine has a friend who owns a HVAC company and also good with boilers. Hopefully, with any luck I might be able to get a little deal for install. I do want to try the Burnham In-4 again.

    Could the near boiler piping have caused the unit to fail so prematurely? Is that at all possible? Besides of course the thing getting a bit too much water at times.
    It's supposed to knock. It's steam.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,692
    Anne said:

    A friend of mine has a friend who owns a HVAC company and also good with boilers.

    Be very very careful there. You want someone who is a steam expert first not one who "also does boilers". I don't know you, your friend or their friend, but I will say this. If you are worried about saving money or getting a discount you are already approaching this wrong. Your primary concern should be getting it done correctly otherwise you may end up in the same place you are now in a few years. Just my $.02 worth.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Anne_5
  • Anne_5
    Anne_5 Member Posts: 27
    edited December 2014
    true. However, money is very tight for me. It's not like I can just choose whatever, whenever. I'm hoping the thing gets me through the winter. better if it can do 2 more winters but I know that's pushing it.

    Could the crack cause water to go to the pipes rather than steam? I look at the sight glass and if the boiler is running for awhile the water line is pretty low.

    I don't know who is going to do the job. I need to find someone qualified who isn't going to charge me to much.

    If the boiler isn't big enough could that also cause it to have troubles such as this? I have the 2nd smallest Burnham boiler, my house is 2 story with 3 bedrooms. I wonder if there is enough boiler for it? idk. I know it can't possibly be any less than this.
    It's supposed to knock. It's steam.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    One thing I want you to remember. I know money is tight for a lot of people and they often have to prioritize how they spend it. Just keep in mind (and I don't mean to frighten you, just to make you aware) that if this boiler should run dry one day or night, it is a life threatening and property damaging situation. Make sure, at a minimum that your Low Water Cut-off is working and working flawlessly until you get that boiler fixed. Spend your first few dollars on having that device professionally checked and the probe cleaned.
    Anne_5
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,897
    No a crack won't throw water into the mains -- so you don't have to worry about that one.

    However,if the boiler is leading a good bit, you do have to keep an eagle eye on the water level -- and have an absolutely reliable low water cutout.

    In fact I would have two. One would be tied into an automatic water feeder, with a delay. And a meter. Why an automatic? Because if it is cold, and you go away for the weekend, you want the heat to keep going. The other one would be set lower, and would have a manual reset and no feeder. Why? So that if something goes wrong with the automatic one, the boiler will shut down and stay that way until you fix whatever was wrong and the reset it. As they say, belt and braces.

    Installing a boiler isn't rocket science. However, it does have to done correctly. The manufacturer has good instructions, but they will be the minimum, and no shortcuts are permissible -- and there are a lot of ways to make it better. And a lot to make it worse.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Anne_5
  • Anne_5
    Anne_5 Member Posts: 27
    I Woke up this morning freezing, the leak is getting worse and it put the pilot out. It's up and running now, but I need some quick help. I want to try a stop leak just for a few months or less until I can get a new boiler. Someone told me it could work, maybe it won't. there's a 50/50 chance either way. What say you regarding the patch? As I said it is not going to be forever just a little while so I can try to get things in order and get a loan. Thanks a bunch for your advice. :)
    It's supposed to knock. It's steam.
  • Anne_5
    Anne_5 Member Posts: 27
    KC thanks a ton for the link for the contractors. I'm going to check it out now.
    It's supposed to knock. It's steam.