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quick fix until we can get a pro

We have a combination 1-pipe/2 pipe steam system, Weil McLain 68 boiler and a Midco gas burner. Our first floor radiators filled up with water and I shut the system down and returned the water level in the glass to the correct level. But, the boiler still won't fire up. I shut off the auto water feeder for the moment. I'm assuming it thinks it's low on water? Is there any safe way to get this thing running and keep the house warm until tomorrow when I can get a pro here?

Comments

  • kcoppkcopp Posts: 3,126Member
    Why did the boiler flood?
    What type of low water cutoff?
    Could be a number of things.
  • wcs5050wcs5050 Posts: 110Member
    edited January 2015
    Pressuretrol may have water lock. Head pressure from overfill is enough to interrupt burner. Remove pressuretrol, check up inside for dirt/rust. Remove pigtail, clean with copper wire and run water through it. Reassemble. You could jump the pressuretrol beforehand to prove it out before disassembly, if you choose. Do not leave jumper, even if temporary.
  • FredFred Posts: 6,783Member
    If it has a probe type Low water cut-off, it iss quite possible the probe needs to be cleaned. Take it out and use steel wool to clean it.
  • Thanks...I'll try the things that you suggest that I understand :# here are some pics, if that helps.
  • Well, I pushed a lever on top of the pressuretrol, and the boiler fired right up. The auto water feed is still closed off. Is this unsafe? I didn't see reset buttons on either of the LWCOs.
  • AbracadabraAbracadabra Posts: 1,947Member
    you should have 2 pressuretrols. the one you reset should be the backup. sounds like the primary pressuretrol isn't working.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,757Member
    Can't really see, but it looks as though you may have two pressuretrols on that pipe that goes up high which also has the pressure gauge on it. Does one of them have a pushbutton on it? That may be a manual reset, and might well have tripped from the overfill, even if it didn't get water in it.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Paul48Paul48 Posts: 4,492Member
    Gauge on one side, pressuretrol on the other.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,118Member
    edited February 2015
    I agree with Jamie, the overfill was enough to trip both pressuretrols.


    By the way, how do you read that gauge glass!?
    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
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,757Member
    You can safely run with autofeeder off -- but pay attention to the water level in the gauge glass. Don't let it drop below about a quarter of the length of the glass, if you can help it.

    That lever on the pressuretrol was the manual reset I was looking for... good for you!
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • wmtandsonwmtandson Posts: 62Member
    keep the water level in the safe zone
    Have someone check the pressurertrol for water damage
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,839Member
    That boiler is no longer young, if it does not get some TLC soon it may not get much older. Deferred maintenance is usually an expensive mistake.

    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
  • Gauge on the left, two pressuretrols. The lower pressuretrol was the one with the manual reset. I couldn't find one on the top unit, even after opening it up.

    I flushed the blow-down valves several times and opened up the automatic water feed valve again. After checking it every 10-20 min. for the last 3 hours or so, the level in the grimy glass is holding steady. I'm feeling like it might be OK until Monday.

    It's due for its annual maintenance...we'd been waiting a few days for a scheduling call-back when all the fireworks started.

    One of the pros from this forum came to have a look at it last year and scared the pants off us when he started saying things like "custom copper pipe work" and "this (brand-new) burner shouldn't be used for direct vent" and "you might not need all these traps." He clearly knew what he was talking about, and we know it needs lots of pipes replaced and probably a general replacement before long.

    However, unlike several other parts of the house, it is actually still functional! Hoping to baby it along for awhile.

    Thanks for your help!
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,118Member

    Gauge on the left, two pressuretrols. The lower pressuretrol was the one with the manual reset. I couldn't find one on the top unit, even after opening it up.



    I flushed the blow-down valves several times and opened up the automatic water feed valve again. After checking it every 10-20 min. for the last 3 hours or so, the level in the grimy glass is holding steady. I'm feeling like it might be OK until Monday.



    It's due for its annual maintenance...we'd been waiting a few days for a scheduling call-back when all the fireworks started.



    One of the pros from this forum came to have a look at it last year and scared the pants off us when he started saying things like "custom copper pipe work" and "this (brand-new) burner shouldn't be used for direct vent" and "you might not need all these traps." He clearly knew what he was talking about, and we know it needs lots of pipes replaced and probably a general replacement before long.



    However, unlike several other parts of the house, it is actually still functional! Hoping to baby it along for awhile.



    Thanks for your help!


    However, it almost wasn't and that's not exactly the kind of thing you want to break especially during a cold snap.

    If I was you, I'd get that pro back out there and follow his recommendations.
    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
  • The hope is to eventually bring him and another pro and see if their plans seem to be similar before taking the plunge. Unfortunately, I don't know enough to judge, and ripping everything out and starting over in a 115 year old house is a pretty drastic and expensive plan.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,118Member

    The hope is to eventually bring him and another pro and see if their plans seem to be similar before taking the plunge. Unfortunately, I don't know enough to judge, and ripping everything out and starting over in a 115 year old house is a pretty drastic and expensive plan.

    Ripping everything out!?
    Why would they want to do that?
    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
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,336Member
    edited February 2015

    Gauge on the left, two pressuretrols. The lower pressuretrol was the one with the manual reset. I couldn't find one on the top unit, even after opening it up.



    I flushed the blow-down valves several times and opened up the automatic water feed valve again. After checking it every 10-20 min. for the last 3 hours or so, the level in the grimy glass is holding steady. I'm feeling like it might be OK until Monday.



    It's due for its annual maintenance...we'd been waiting a few days for a scheduling call-back when all the fireworks started.



    One of the pros from this forum came to have a look at it last year and scared the pants off us when he started saying things like "custom copper pipe work" and "this (brand-new) burner shouldn't be used for direct vent" and "you might not need all these traps." He clearly knew what he was talking about, and we know it needs lots of pipes replaced and probably a general replacement before long.



    However, unlike several other parts of the house, it is actually still functional! Hoping to baby it along for awhile.



    Thanks for your help!

    I remember that system- glad to hear it's still working. Here are the earlier threads:

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/142858/need-advice-on-converting-fuel-oil-to-natural-gas-what-to-do-with-buried-tank#latest

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/147876/am-i-dealing-with-a-knucklehead#latest

    The Dead Men who installed it actually bent some iron pipe in a long curve to match the curve of a wall. That would be hard to duplicate these days. The best solution I can think of, assuming this was a return line, would be soft copper and a lot of supports.

    Someone kludged a boiler-feed pump into it- and as usual, that required a lot of traps. Neither the pump or the traps were really needed, as that system can run just fine on gravity return if the return lines are piped properly. They just add mechanical complexity and increase maintenance over the years.

    The boiler exhaust was rerouted out the sidewall, though the boiler and burner weren't designed for this. I seem to remember that a power venter, which would mechanically re-create a draft like a chimney, was not used. We always recommend fixing the chimney, again because a chimney has no moving parts.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 3,672Member
    To the OP if you haven't already done so, look through this site at some of Steamhead's installs. He does fantastic work and honestly as far as Steam I doubt if you could be in better hands. Trust what he is telling you he won't steer you wrong.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,336Member
    edited February 2015
    Thanks KC, Chris, Rob & Fred!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,118Member
    edited February 2015
    I agree with KC.

    Steamhead is one of few that would always be welcome in my home. He knows steam well and knows how to make that system work correctly.

    Please remember, that boiler isn't like a dishwasher or a tv. You need it to work and when it doesn't you could be in big trouble.
    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
  • RobGRobG Posts: 1,850Member
    Don't bother getting another "pro" out there to see if they say the same things as Frank, they won't. It's hard enough to find someone who knows steam systems and you have found one of the best.
  • FredFred Posts: 6,783Member
    I agree with all the comments regarding Steamhead! You aren't going to find any better. Listen to him and let him do the work that needs to be done.
  • QueenAnneVictorianQueenAnneVictorian Posts: 15Member
    edited February 2015
    LOL!! I'm not saying he doesn't know what he's doing - as you will see if you reread my post. He OBVIOUSLY knew what he was talking about - and has an excellent memory as well. (It was about a year ago that he came out!) I didn't want to mention any names because I didn't want to diss him!

    He came highly recommended, and I *wish* I had the ability to rework the whole system right now. Frank helped us solve some of the problems we were having, and I absolutely intend to have him and his partner back out to do a heat load test and replacement plan. BUT I have at least $30K of foundation and roof work to do as well. Those are even more fundamental to the integrity of the structure than the heat system. And the chimney rebuild was going to cost me $15K. There is a power venter, but I agree that this was a less than ideal install.

    I'll admit it: We didn't know what were were getting into when we bought this place. We love it, and are trying to do our very best. It was neglected, foreclosed on and then flipped by people who couldn't care less about it. We're getting all the info we can and spending money we don't even have to put it back into as close to original, with structural integrity and another 115 happy years ahead. But we also have 3 teenagers and we're both musicians, so not exactly as rich as you might think by looking at our gorgeous house. And we live near downtown Wilmington, DE, so we will never be selling this place for big bucks...and consequently won't be able to get big dollar loans to improve it.

    I really appreciate the expertise and help I've found here...and I promise that I get why it's important to do it right and have it done by a real steam pro who lives at least an hour away. :/
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,336Member
    Hey, I get it- I have an old house too, but not as old as yours. You have a lot of de-knuckleheading to do, and not just on the steam system. Just let us know when you're ready.

    BTW, the only other place I can remember seeing bent iron pipe like that was at Lovely Lane Church, a steam-heating museum if there ever was one. For those of you who didn't see that thread, here it is:

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/151036/lovely-lane-methodist-church-a-steam-heating-museum#latest
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,118Member
    Any specific reason not to tear the chimney down and have a B-vent installed? It would be a whole lot cheaper and is easier to maintain. They have fake covers to make them look like brick as well.

    Of course, if you're trying to keep the place original for historic reasons, I can respect that as well.
    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
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 3,672Member
    No problem.

    It was neglected, foreclosed on and then flipped by people who couldn't care less about it.

    Oh boy another victim of a flipper. There are tons of them in the town I live in...generally (where I live) they do garbage work and flat out lie to people about what they have done. My house was a flip, but luckily I knew the work was crap. I only bought it because he put in a lot of nice stuff and the price was actually good. Now I am slowly undoing his crappy work and making the house nicer. I wish you luck in your endeavor there is nothing like the charm of an old house! Oh and keep us updated if and when you do get Frank to fix that system up...we love seeing his beautiful work!
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • ChrisJ said:

    Any specific reason not to tear the chimney down and have a B-vent installed?

    Yes, we are in a historic district and they are quite strict. One of the reasons it's so expensive is that it is on top of a very tall 3 story roof.

  • KC_Jones said:

    I only bought it because he put in a lot of nice stuff and the price was actually good. Now I am slowly undoing his crappy work and making the house nicer.

    Yes, sounds familiar. Unfortunately, we didn't understand the extent of the crappy work, and we aren't that handy. But I'm learning. Thanks for your encouragement. I'm hoping to fix most of the worst before I get too old to go up and down the stairs. :smile:
  • FredFred Posts: 6,783Member
    I am chairperson for the Landmarks Commission for the City I live in. We govern all exterior repairs/modifications, even paint colors, for about 14 Historic Districts and a multitude of structures on or eligible for registry on the National Registry of Historic Places. Chimneys are more often than not architectural features on turn of the century homes and are not taken lightly. We typically will not issue a COA (Certificate of Appropriateness) for chimney modifications or removals unless the chimney is at the rear of the structure (where the removal is not obvious) and where there are no decorative features to the chimney.
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,839Member
    That's a beautiful house, enjoy getting her back into shape.

    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
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,118Member
    It's got a turret so it's good in my book!

    Sadly our 1860s house is very plain. I'd love to own a large Victorian one day.
    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
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