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Boiler Drain Valve is... MELTING

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Hello!

The other night, I discovered that the gate valve on my family's 14 year old Peerless WBV-03 oil-fired steam boiler is melting. I knew these gate valves could get stuck, rust, or fail altogether, but melt? I confirmed it is melting when I used a screwdriver to poke it, and sure enough it was spongy. What would cause this and how often does this occur?

Comments

  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
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    It does not seem to be melting, but only leaking through the packing nut. In order to change it the packing nut will probably have to be unscrewed, to give turning clearance. The threads into the boiler block also appear to be leaking.
    A ball valve would be a better solution.--NBC
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,258
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    It looks pretty damp in that basement, even the steel post is corroding. Maybe a dehumidifier would help control all the rusting and corrosion?

    Any chemicals stored down there, pool stuff, snowmelt chemicals?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    SWEI
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
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    It also appears from the last photo that the boiler is piped in copper which is not good. Can you post some pics of the piping exiting the boiler?
  • AlexPetron
    AlexPetron Member Posts: 22
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    Thank you all so far for the helpful replies!

    Hey NBC,

    It does not seem to be melting, but only leaking through the packing nut. In order to change it the packing nut will probably have to be unscrewed, to give turning clearance. The threads into the boiler block also appear to be leaking.
    A ball valve would be a better solution.--NBC

    I again poked the valve with the screwdriver, this time going deeper, and I could feel the blade hit the valve handle. So, if it is not melting, what is building up upon the gate valve handle? I do agree that a ball valve would be a suitable replacement.
    hot rod said:

    It looks pretty damp in that basement, even the steel post is corroding. Maybe a dehumidifier would help control all the rusting and corrosion?

    Any chemicals stored down there, pool stuff, snowmelt chemicals?

    HotRod, no chemicals are stored in this basement, aside from a very limited amount of sodium chloride a/k/a rock salt left over from winter 2014-15. In fact, the total amount of salt stored in this basement can be seen in the picture of the boiler in the yellow bags. It is hard to believe that the limited amount of rock salt stored within the containers held within those bags could be responsible for the damp conditions in this basement; in fact, I would have expected for salt to absorb the moisture from a humid environment.

    I should note that there are several holes in the rat slab of this basement floor. The house was built in 1925. And within the past two weeks, I have experienced a strange phenomenon of water puddles on the first floor of the house (the level directly above the basement) which have collapsed corrugated cardboard boxes, caused puddles on hardwood flooring, and caused puddles on OSB furniture which in one instance actually destroyed an electronic A/V component that was sitting upon a shelf. Suspecting the holes as being Earth moisture vehicles, I used plastic bags to cover the holes. Since this endeavor, I have had no strange moisture issues on the first floor of the house.
    RobG said:

    It also appears from the last photo that the boiler is piped in copper which is not good. Can you post some pics of the piping exiting the boiler?

    RobG, the pictures you requested are attached. As you suspect, the boiler is piped entirely with copper, inclusive of the return line. I have read on this forum about the errs of copper piping with respect to steam boilers, so I am looking at this in the most positive way I can fathom: At some point, I could remove all this copper, scrap it, and be able to install a new boiler AND take a trip around the world with the remaining proceeds.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    "I should note that there are several holes in the rat slab of this basement floor. The house was built in 1925. And within the past two weeks, I have experienced a strange phenomenon of water puddles on the first floor of the house (the level directly above the basement) which have collapsed corrugated cardboard boxes, caused puddles on hardwood flooring, and caused puddles on OSB furniture which in one instance actually destroyed an electronic A/V component that was sitting upon a shelf. Suspecting the holes as being Earth moisture vehicles, I used plastic bags to cover the holes. "

    I'm sorry but puddles on the first floor of a house usually means a pipe in the ceiling or in a wall is leaking. Also, I apologize for not knowing what "Earth Moisture Vehicles are and what a "Rat Slab" is. Can you explain?
    Also, as has been said, that valve is not melting. It is corroded and the build up is mineral deposits and rust from leaks at the fitting and packing.
  • AlexPetron
    AlexPetron Member Posts: 22
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    Hi Fred,
    Fred said:

    I'm sorry but puddles on the first floor of a house usually means a pipe in the ceiling or in a wall is leaking. Also, I apologize for not knowing what "Earth Moisture Vehicles are and what a "Rat Slab" is. Can you explain?
    Also, as has been said, that valve is not melting. It is corroded and the build up is mineral deposits and rust from leaks at the fitting and packing.

    Perhaps that is the usual cause, but not in this case. Imagine a VCR sitting upon a shelf, or a computer keyboard sitting upon a desk. Both the shelf and the desk are manufactured not of hard wood, but of composite OSB wood. You wake up one morning, and find the VCR sitting in water, yet no water is on top of the VCR or on the shelf around its perimeter. The next morning, you find the same situation existing beneath your computer keyboard. Where did the water come from, if not from condensation?

    By Earth moisture vehicle, I meant that the cracks and holes in the floor expose soil. The cracks and holes then act as vehicles by transporting the moisture from the soil upward into the house. A "rat slab" is the very thin concrete floor that was typical for basements in cheaper homes built in the early 20th century.
  • unclejohn
    unclejohn Member Posts: 1,833
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    If you keep poking that valve you are going to get wet. It's not melting as everyone has pointed out. Its leaking and corroding and needs to be replaced.
  • JharrisSeattle
    JharrisSeattle Member Posts: 26
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    I can see evidence of possible flue gas leakage at the burner gasket and burner door. Looks like that thing has been getting HOT. I have seen many boiler jackets corrode away due to a blocked hx. Personally, i would get a qualified tech in there with an analyzer soon. May have a partially plugged up hx and/or flue.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    Hi Fred,

    Fred said:

    I'm sorry but puddles on the first floor of a house usually means a pipe in the ceiling or in a wall is leaking. Also, I apologize for not knowing what "Earth Moisture Vehicles are and what a "Rat Slab" is. Can you explain?
    Also, as has been said, that valve is not melting. It is corroded and the build up is mineral deposits and rust from leaks at the fitting and packing.

    Perhaps that is the usual cause, but not in this case. Imagine a VCR sitting upon a shelf, or a computer keyboard sitting upon a desk. Both the shelf and the desk are manufactured not of hard wood, but of composite OSB wood. You wake up one morning, and find the VCR sitting in water, yet no water is on top of the VCR or on the shelf around its perimeter. The next morning, you find the same situation existing beneath your computer keyboard. Where did the water come from, if not from condensation?

    By Earth moisture vehicle, I meant that the cracks and holes in the floor expose soil. The cracks and holes then act as vehicles by transporting the moisture from the soil upward into the house. A "rat slab" is the very thin concrete floor that was typical for basements in cheaper homes built in the early 20th century.

    I've always heard that referred to as a "mud slab".
    Perhaps it has to do with the area. Slang terms often vary from location to location.

    To me, that value looks like it's corroded. What on it can melt?
    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
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    What's in your boiler water if anything?
    I can't see the water in the gauge glass, it just looks like mud?

    Are there any chemicals in the water? What was the handle on the valve made out of?
    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
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    The valve is a typical bibcock, which is a globe valve, not a gate valve. The handle is die cast, aka "pot" metal, which has a high zinc content and corrodes readily.

    I'll just reiterate what others have said: take it out and replace it with a full-port ball valve, and flush that boiler as soon as you can.

    If your near-boiler piping isn't leaking yet, you're ahead of the game. Don't press your luck. Have it re-piped.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24