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Steam boiler losing water

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So I've monitored my one pipe steam system boiler since I've moved in. I've changed all radiator vents to gorton vents as well as put two #2 main vents on my 2-1/2" main. House heats up evenly and much improved from when I first got here. But now I'm noticing that I constantly have to keep filling the boiler with make up water which I read is horrible for the boiler because of the oxygen and the minerals in the water. The main in the basement are all sheet rocked up since the basement is finished. One other thing I noticed is that when the boiler first kicks on I get slight water hammer/knocking at the pipe that goes to my second floor. Where do I even start troubleshooting where the water is going?? Thanks in advance.

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  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
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    Do any of the boiler return pipes go under the cellar floor, any steam feeds or returns in crawl spaces? Look at the chimney when the boiler is making steam and see if it seems to be putting out a larger plume than you neighbors does.

    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
  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    Try overfilling the boiler up to the header. let it cool down first, and leave it off while overfilled. Look inside the firebox, and around the base for any signs of a leak.
    Can you see the wet returns close to the floor in the basement? The increased pressure of the overfilled boiler should show any existing leaks in the returns as well.
    when you have looked at everything carefully, then drain the waterline back to its normal operating height, and turn it back on.--NBC
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    How old is the boiler? Do you notice any wet spots on the basement ceilings? any radiator vents/valves/joints/fittings leaking? Does the boiler build any pressure when it runs for an extended period(even a couple ounces)?
    How much water do you have to add daily?
    As far as the water hammer is concerned, if you can identify the area where the hammer occurs, look for a Main or radiator supply pipe that may be level or pitched the wrong direction or that may have a sag in the pipe. Radiator runs should pitch back towards the Main and the Main should pitch towards the return end, heading back to the boiler. Also, check that the radiators, in the area of Hammer, and make sure the radiator is pitched back towards the steam valve/pipe. You can use shims under the Vent end of the radiator to get pitch.
  • Spunky424
    Spunky424 Member Posts: 82
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    Fred said:



    How old is the boiler?
    Boiler is 3 years old

    Do you notice any wet spots on the basement ceilings?
    No wet spots in the basement

    any radiator vents/valves/joints/fittings leaking?
    previously had one supply valve that leaked but replaced that and no leaking anymore.

    Does the boiler build any pressure when it runs for an extended period(even a couple ounces)?
    Boiler builds pressure and cuts out at 2 psi through the pressuretrol. no lack of steam pressure.

    How much water do you have to add daily?
    i add water about every 3-4 days.about 1.5" through the siteglass of water

    As far as the water hammer is concerned, if you can identify the area where the hammer occurs, look for a Main or radiator supply pipe that may be level or pitched the wrong direction or that may have a sag in the pipe. Radiator runs should pitch back towards the Main and the Main should pitch towards the return end, heading back to the boiler. Also, check that the radiators, in the area of Hammer, and make sure the radiator is pitched back towards the steam valve/pipe. You can use shims under the Vent end of the radiator to get pitch.
    All radiators are pitched back towards the supply valve via a shim

    see above answers to your questions.

  • Spunky424
    Spunky424 Member Posts: 82
    edited February 2015
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    BobC said:

    Do any of the boiler return pipes go under the cellar floor, any steam feeds or returns in crawl spaces? Look at the chimney when the boiler is making steam and see if it seems to be putting out a larger plume than you neighbors does.

    Bob

    i checked this last night and there is no large amount of steam coming from the chimney when its firing. i dont see anything coming out of the chimney at all.

    Return pipes all run above grade below the first floor until it gets to the boiler and is still above the floor and back into the boiler.

  • Spunky424
    Spunky424 Member Posts: 82
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    The one thing i did notice is that on the manual water feed valve to the boiler. whenever the boiler is on and firing the valve itself drips. from the stem thats about it.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    You have a vent, valve or fitting somewere on the system that leaks. They can be hard to find because the the boiler is running, the water steams away and it is almot impossible to see. Take our time and inspect every fitting and valve/vent. Look for any signs of moisture rusty drips.
    The obvious next question is can you post oe picures of the system, boiler and mains/returns?
  • Spunky424
    Spunky424 Member Posts: 82
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    Fred said:

    You have a vent, valve or fitting somewere on the system that leaks. They can be hard to find because the the boiler is running, the water steams away and it is almot impossible to see. Take our time and inspect every fitting and valve/vent. Look for any signs of moisture rusty drips.
    The obvious next question is can you post oe picures of the system, boiler and mains/returns?

    I inspected the supply valves on the other radiators which are the original ones from 1950 or so, and noticed alot of dried rusty drips. but when the boiler is running i dont see any moisture at all. is it recommended that i change them all out?

    there are two radiators on the second floor that i noticed spit a little bit of water - like a drop or so, but not enough to be losing that much at the boiler.


  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    There's no reason to change out those valves. Sometimes water steams away from a joint/pipe and it's not noticable. I had a flange joint that steamed so subtly, in the basement that it took me most of a heating system to finally find it. When water leaves the system, it is going somewhwere. just keep an eye on things.
  • Spunky424
    Spunky424 Member Posts: 82
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    I've attached some photos of my system. It's a WM sgo4 boiler.

    Now I also have a question. I calculated my boiler size and compared it to my radiator edr. I'm about 30 percent oversized. Could that have anything to do with the missing water?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Being oversized is more common than most of us want to believe. It can cause short cycling depending on how long the boiler runs but won't cause water loss.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
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    Unrelated to your losing water, but header should be at least 2.5". Looks like they reduced the riser to 2" and ran 2" header.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,741
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    Unrelated to your losing water, but header should be at least 2.5". Looks like they reduced the riser to 2" and ran 2" header.

    Weil Mclain actually says in the manual that it can be reduced down to 2". I don't agree with it, but that's what it says.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
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    KC_Jones said:

    Unrelated to your losing water, but header should be at least 2.5". Looks like they reduced the riser to 2" and ran 2" header.

    Weil Mclain actually says in the manual that it can be reduced down to 2". I don't agree with it, but that's what it says.
    Only the riser can be reduced.. not the header though.
    KC_Jones