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Steam return setup

I'm working on my steam boiler, Crown, while remodeling my basement.
I'm getting rapid cycling. The boiler will fire up for 2 to 3 minutes, empty all the water until the LWCO kicks in. A few minutes later 1 to 2" of water will appear in the glass, from the return and boiler will fire again. For a few more minutes until drains over and over and a over. I have the waterfeeder and water supply off, to eliminate flooding the system.
My guess is the dry return(on the left side of picture, that ties into the lower return prior to the H-loop is allowing steam in and prevent water from returning into the boiler.

Comments

  • Jackuvtrades
    Jackuvtrades Member Posts: 17
    Picture
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    I don't see a picture?? Anyway, was this boiler ever skimmed? Has there been some repairs done to any of the piping? The boiler is shutting down on low water. It soulds like it needs a good Skim (probably multiple skims at maybe 1 week intervals) until the water in the sight glass stabalizes and only bounces maybe 1/2 to 3/4". The water is being pushed back into the returns because the oils on the surface of the boiler water restrict the bubbles from the boiling water that release steam from breaking through the surface of the water.
    You can't steam away enough water from the boiler in 2 or 3 minutes to empty the boiler out so a return problem is not likely to be a problem.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,698
    Your near boiler piping is wrong. You can guess and theorize, but in the end the boiler needs a repipe to get it running correctly. It's hard to say for sure why the water isn't returning, but it is easy to say the piping is wrong. Fred also makes some good points. I remember you posting before about having piping redone for a remodel etc. Didn't you have other issues with incorrect slope and concentric reducers etc.? If you want it to run correctly it needs to be piped correctly. There are typically no "band aid" fixes with steam.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    KC_Jones said:

    Your near boiler piping is wrong. You can guess and theorize, but in the end the boiler needs a repipe to get it running correctly. It's hard to say for sure why the water isn't returning, but it is easy to say the piping is wrong. Fred also makes some good points. I remember you posting before about having piping redone for a remodel etc. Didn't you have other issues with incorrect slope and concentric reducers etc.? If you want it to run correctly it needs to be piped correctly. There are typically no "band aid" fixes with steam.

    @KC_Jones , I looked at that near boiler piping for a long time too. This must be a counter flow system. The only wet return appears to be off of the header and the Steam riser out of the side of the boiler that also feeds down to the wet return/Hartford loop. I'm confused but I am not sure what variations there are for counterflows???
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,685
    edited March 2015
    Would that constitute having 2 equalizer pipes? Or is this a counterflow main of sorts?

    One equalizer on each side of the wet return?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    My initial reaction was "There are 2 equalizers on that system" and I do believe that to be the case. The Hartford loop should be over on the pipe that drops down at this end of the Header and the Riser that supplies steam should not drop to the wet return at all.
    Is this a counterflow system? I don't see any wet returns except what drops off of the header.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    Vaporvaccum systems have a system equalizer coming off the main and going to the wet-return. However, that only applies to a two-pipe system and I can't really make out what's going on with that NBPiping.
    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
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Looks like there's a wet return coming in from the lower right. zoom in and enhance.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,698
    @Fred if you look closely at the "Hartford loop" connection you can see the pipe runs to the right and into the wall, I am guessing that is where the returns are tied in. I just looked at the pics in the other post and there was some work on the near boiler piping, but it still isn't correct. The 2 equalizers I am guessing are a way to compensate for having 2 "headers" so they both drain back into the boiler, but that is just a guess. If it was mine it would all be ripped out and re piped to make it correct otherwise it's just going to be constant gremlins trying to get bad piping to work correctly. Also not sure if this was ever answered or not. Is this a 1 pipe or 2 pipe system (1 pipe connected to rads with a vent or 2 pipes connected to rads and no vent)?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    KC_Jones said:

    correctly. Also not sure if this was ever answered or not. Is this a 1 pipe or 2 pipe system (1 pipe connected to rads with a vent or 2 pipes connected to rads and no vent)?

    You're optimistic in your description, @KC_Jones . I'm a two-pipe, but some knuckleheads added vents to some of my rads! :)
    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
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    OK, I think I see it. When I first looked at it, it looked like an elbow with a plug in it. I guess not.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,764
    While you're zooming in, check the steam pipe coming out the side. It looks too small.

    Hard to tell from the pics, but this may be a re-branded Dunkirk boiler. Current-model Crown atmospheric steamers (the "Bermuda" line) have their steam tappings at the top. BTW, fellow Wallie Dan Foley has some pics of a Bermuda installation up on Crown's site- first class work as usual:

    http://news.crownboiler.com/2015/02/13/contractor-spotlight-foley-mechanical/

    If I'm right that this is a Dunkirk, and that steam pipe coming out the side is 2-inch as I suspect, that's at least part of your problem. Dunkirks do not like improper piping at all. The tapping in the boiler is 2-1/2". If it is reduced to 2", the steam velocity can literally pull all the water out of the boiler. The only way to prevent this is to use BOTH tappings- one on either side of the boiler- and make them the full 2-1/2", feeding into a 3" header. That's right, 3-inch.

    Somewhere there are pics of a properly-installed Dunkirk. I'll post them if I can find them.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    KC_JonesJackuvtrades
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    I'll see if I have pics of my old one. While it didn't have an equalizer it did have huge piping out of both tappings.
    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
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    While you're zooming in, check the steam pipe coming out the side. It looks too small.
    Definitely a 2" pipe out of the boiler.
  • Jackuvtrades
    Jackuvtrades Member Posts: 17
    Supply diagram:
  • Jackuvtrades
    Jackuvtrades Member Posts: 17
    It's a 2 pipe system. One return is wet return. The other will be a dry return.

    Both branches are vented.
  • Jackuvtrades
    Jackuvtrades Member Posts: 17
    Here are some before pictures.
    Any cooper work was done by local plumber that I no longer use.
    The very first picture in the begining of the post, is what's current.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,698
    Just to be clear 1 pipe versus 2 pipe isn't referring to pipes in basement per se it's referring to how many pipes connect to the radiators. So you have 2 pipes connected to each rad with traps on the outlet side? Also can you see how your piping doesn't match the diagram of the correct piping?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    edited March 2015
    Fix the near boiler piping. Have it installed like the manufacturer recommends and you'll have a steady water line and eliminate the water feeder flooding the boiler.
    Jackuvtrades
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    If you can get the piping to match the diagram, you'll be good to go. Also use the full tapping size and use both boiler tappings for the steam risers. It certainly was a mess!
    Jackuvtrades
  • Jackuvtrades
    Jackuvtrades Member Posts: 17
    KC_Jones said:

    Just to be clear 1 pipe versus 2 pipe isn't referring to pipes in basement per se it's referring to how many pipes connect to the radiators. So you have 2 pipes connected to each rad with traps on the outlet side? Also can you see how your piping doesn't match the diagram of the correct piping?

    I don't see how the piping and diagram don't match, I mean what's the primary issue?
  • Jackuvtrades
    Jackuvtrades Member Posts: 17
    KC_Jones said:

    Just to be clear 1 pipe versus 2 pipe isn't referring to pipes in basement per se it's referring to how many pipes connect to the radiators

    Thanks for that clarification!
  • Jackuvtrades
    Jackuvtrades Member Posts: 17
    Fred said:

    If you can get the piping to match the diagram, you'll be good to go. Also use the full tapping size and use both boiler tappings for the steam risers. It certainly was a mess!

    The original piping was reduced to 2" from the boiler, prior to any of my work, should I do I still need to change it to 2-½" if so then merge to 3" i'd have to rip open the entire ceiling of the basement and change everything.

    I was considering using the other boiler tapping to install the pressure limit there rather than where it is in the automatic water feeder which most of the time can below the water line. The only thing that stopped me was I was unable to take the old tapping out, even using a lot of force, (around all 200# of me).

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    I don't see how the piping and diagram don't match, I mean what's the primary issue?
    You do see how the diagram and your current pipe configuration are different right? The Diagram doesn't have 2 Equalizers for starters. The riser out of the Boiler does not also drop down to the wet return/Hartford loop. The Equalizer should come off of the end of the Header.
  • Jackuvtrades
    Jackuvtrades Member Posts: 17
    vaporvac said:

    KC_Jones said:

    correctly. Also not sure if this was ever answered or not. Is this a 1 pipe or 2 pipe system (1 pipe connected to rads with a vent or 2 pipes connected to rads and no vent)?

    You're optimistic in your description, @KC_Jones . I'm a two-pipe, but some knuckleheads added vents to some of my rads! :)
    1 pipe with vent at each radiator
  • Jackuvtrades
    Jackuvtrades Member Posts: 17
    Fred said:

    I don't see a picture?? Anyway, was this boiler ever skimmed? Has there been some repairs done to any of the piping? The boiler is shutting down on low water. It soulds like it needs a good Skim (probably multiple skims at maybe 1 week intervals) until the water in the sight glass stabalizes and only bounces maybe 1/2 to 3/4". The water is being pushed back into the returns because the oils on the surface of the boiler water restrict the bubbles from the boiling water that release steam from breaking through the surface of the water.
    You can't steam away enough water from the boiler in 2 or 3 minutes to empty the boiler out so a return problem is not likely to be a problem.


    So how many times should I drain the boiler? I added a white powder the turns green when added to water into the boiler a few weeks ago to help clean the boiler, supposely if its green its clean, if it turns orange isn't no longer working. I since had to drain the boiler several times during repairs, even the fresh water turns green.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    Hi. Draining isn't skimming and doesn't remove oil from the system. You need a skim port above the water line to remove the oils. Think of skimming the fat off turkey drippings. If you just drain the boiler, the oils stick to the sides and you're back where you started from upon refill. There are plenty of instrctions for skimming, slow and faster, but you need a skim port to do that. Have we seen a pic of the front of your boiler?
    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
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    Skimming is different from draining the boiler and those chemicals are not a substitute for skimming. Skimming uses a port?tapping above the water line and is a very slow process to "skim" the oils off of the surface of the boiler water. When you drain the boiler, those oils just cling to the sides of the boiler and ride on the surface again when you refill the boiler.
    To skim, you open a tapping, above the water line, raise the boiler water level until the water starts to trickle out of that skim port and let it trickle (the slower the better but the trickle should never be mor than the diameter of a pencil) for several hours, 3 or 4 hours. I usually get the trickle right and then run a garden hose from my skim port over to a floor drain and let it run like that.Be sure to have the power off on the boiler so that it does not come on during the skim process.
    The chemicals you are using probably aren't very good to use. You can put too much in a boiler and that will also cause the boiler water to be unstable.A 1/2" to 3/4" bounce in the sight glass is normal if there is no oil in the boiler water.
    Having said that, I suspect a good portion of your issues stem from the way your boiler is piped. I'd try to fix that first as 2 equalizers is a problem.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,698

    KC_Jones said:

    Just to be clear 1 pipe versus 2 pipe isn't referring to pipes in basement per se it's referring to how many pipes connect to the radiators. So you have 2 pipes connected to each rad with traps on the outlet side? Also can you see how your piping doesn't match the diagram of the correct piping?

    I don't see how the piping and diagram don't match, I mean what's the primary issue?
    The very first tee coming off the side of the boiler is wrong. That pipe should only go up not down. Also you basically have 2 headers, which I am told can work if done correctly which yours is not. You have 2 "equalizers" and that first one isn't correct. The header that is up close to the ceiling is really the only one you want. You should come straight up from the boiler and connect into that and eliminate that pipe running under the vent. Also the order is critical. The header should start at one end with the boiler tapping(s) then into the main takeoffs then drop down to the boiler for the equalizer and Hartford loop connection. If you go to the effort to repipe it then I would strongly suggest you do as Steamhead recommends and fix the pipe size and use both tappings on either side of the boiler. I agree with the skimming as well...there really isn't a chemical that can replace a proper skimming.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15