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Constant leaks

I've got a church where we installed a new Weil Mclain boiler on the steam system a few years ago. This winter it's been constant leaks showing up, in steam pipes and in returns.
I'm guessing it's a water problem, what do you all suggest?


  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,189
    Was it your church? That would explain it.....
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    edited April 2015
    Is this a 1 pipe or 2 pipe system? Are the leaks at joints or actually rust-throughts in the pipe/elbows/unions?
    Have you checked the boiler pressure to see what it is running at? Has the pigtail the pressuretrol is mounted on been cleaned lately? If it is plugged the pressure may be running a lot higher than it should and that added pressure in the system will find leaks that won't show up at lower pressures.
    If these leaks are actual rust-throughs, i'd be looking at the water quality, PH, chlorides. Also, if a lot of freshwater is being added to this boiler, that is a recipe for rotting the boiler out prematurely.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,117
    Are these on mains? Dry returns? Wet returns? Leaks on mains or dry returns would very much suggest excess pressure -- but it it is water dripping from them, it could also be a serious wet steam problem.

    Wet returns, on the other hand, do corrode with time, although water quality isn't really that much of an issue -- condensate is, except for the gunk it slowly picks up from corrosion, pretty benign since it has been thoroughly degassed by the boiling.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,456
    As FRED said check the PH if no other obvious reasons.

    We had a high pressure steam boiler that we couldn't keep a gage glass in it, leaked, new washers, new glass, alignment, new valves everything. It was the PH. Water was etching the glass.

    If it's the returns look for lots of make up water. Put a water meter on the water feeder (if it has one)
  • Larry_52
    Larry_52 Member Posts: 182
    in the hp world of boilers, acid attack of glass is leaching and high pH exposure is called etching. Different mechanisms, one cuts through it like termites (etching) the other is systemic thinning (leaching). If you had a true hp boiler that had acid leaching of glass then you didn't have much boiler left. More likely a high ph occurrence than low for glass failure. If the boiler is under proper treatment over 500 psi than you need to use mica shields.

  • Larry_52
    Larry_52 Member Posts: 182
    edited April 2015
    By any chance are the pipes copper? If they are was a volatile chemical treatment of the boiler used?

    It is so rare for residential steam carrying steel pipes to start wasting unless they not properly pitched and are pooling water with large water makeup (as mentioned).
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,573
    Probably a boiler chemical salesman is to blame for this situation.--NBC