Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

why is every tech afraid of my system?

yfrank
yfrank Member Posts: 17
Single pipe steam. Radiators and pipes are, god only knows how old. Boiler is about 15 years old. Oil fired.
Boiler leaks water. It adds water several times a day. Even when not running. Tech says it is not leaking. Leak cant be seen on the floor because basement is more of a crawlspace, always wet.
Soot above, what i assume is the combustion chamber seal. Just above burner. Tech says it is not leaking. I smell exhaust in the house.
I have been through several techs.
I assume the boiler needs to be taken apart and checked for leaks. But no one will touch it.
I have started to read the books here. i learned no one, since my grandfather built this house, knows how to service steam. I assume high ph and sludge has eaten through my boiler. Since no one has ever skimed the sludge out of the water. Or treated the ph.
But, i cant find anyone that will open the boiler.
I can learn how to service or replace the boiler, but i cant service the burner. I assume the house is about to burn down or the carbon monoxide will kill me.
Does anyone have a suggestion on how to get the burner serviced?
The last guy still hasnt billed me, i assume he does not want any proof he was ever here. Because he knows the house is about to burn down.
Are techs that afraid of steam?
Any suggestions?
I live near new haven, ct.
«1

Comments

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    Check the "Find a Contractor" here on the Main Site and see who may be available in your area. If I were you, I'd make sure I get a CO detector and install it ASAP. If you are sure it is leaking water, the boiler probably needs to be replaced. At 15 years old, it isn't likely that it is worth the cost to replace the boiler block. If you can, post some pictures here and let us see exactly what you have going on. It is important that you do not let this go if you fear that it is not safe to operate. You are here during the start of winter and waiting is not an option.
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    It is leaking water. I shut the boiler off wjen i am not home. The sight glass is empty when i turn it on. I just dont know where it is leaking ffrom.
    I tried the find a contractor, no steam techs listed. Im sure i can find a burner tech, but they all seem to be afraid of the boiler and i assume the leaking water is messing up the burner.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,354
    Where are you located? We may be able to recommend someone. Not all the contractors in find a contractor have a big sign that says "steam expert", but we know who most of them are. Also what radius were you using, some of these guys will travel.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,354
    Someone pointed out that you already put your location. There is a good steam man just over the border in MA to your north. I sent him a message on your behalf to see if he goes that far. His name is Charlie, good guy.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • The first thing you could do is to overfill the boiler up to the header, and that may uncover any leak in the boiler itself. Make sure it has cooled down to warm, and let it sit for a couple of hours. Any leak in the boiler will be seen in the firebox, or on the floor.
    Secondly, you could look into the chimney clean out to see if that is obstructed.
    When the steam pro arrives, you will be able to discuss the results of the test.--NBC
    wcs5050
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    MA is not that close . i am costal CT. MA is the other end. I am near new haven, nearest big city. Branford, guilford area.
    Aaron_in_Maine
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    Not to sound like i am arguing with anyone giving advice, i mean, if i didnt need advice, i wouldnt be here, but, the leak has to be in the bottom. The sight glass is empty. I dont see how overfilling it would help. I can only see major water leaks on my floor, i cant see slow leaks. Basement was added later. No footing drains and the ground is not sloped away, so i always have some groundwater on the floor.
    I am guessing i need to open the boiler to look for the leak.
    But it is the burner that really concerns me.
    Would i have exhaust leaking into the basement if water is leaking into the combustion chamber?
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    More info
    weil-mclain
    SGO oil fired natural draft steam boiler.
    steam radiators, the old 4' high ones that hiss and they chain you to in the old movies.
    tankless hot water.
    uni-match universal water feeder. mcdonnell&miller.
    model # WF2-U-120
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    Also, the exhaust smell seems to only occur when the burner first fires, when warm. I turn the boiler off at night. When i turn it on in the morning, no smell. But while i am taking a shower, i smell it. Like a mini puff back, i guess.
    Also, if my return pipes were leaking, would the boiler drain through the return pipes? Can the return pipes pull water from the boiler? i realize the return pipes are lower then the boiler, just wasnt sure if the boiler water could gravity feed back through the return pipe. I dont know how the return pipe is set up inside.
    I belive my return pipes have been replaced and i belive they are copper, so they are probably leaking.
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    some photos
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,380
    A boiler can empty itself out easily if you don't have a hartford loop.

    The close nipple in that picture is the top of the hartford loop, that loop prevents a boiler from emptying out if a leak develops in the return pipe.

    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
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,354
    yfrank said:

    MA is not that close . i am costal CT. MA is the other end. I am near new haven, nearest big city. Branford, guilford area.

    I know I used google maps, he is about an hour from you. That is "close". I just don't know if he goes into your state and exactly how far he will go. Some travel further than others.

    How do you know it's ground water and not the boiler water? If it's emptying in a day that isn't a slow leak that is a VERY MAJOR leak. A slow leak means it takes a week or a month to empty or get to low water not a day. And on a side note you really should address the moisture issue in the basement that is not good for anything on that boiler.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    the tech in MA, if he is willing to travel that far, fine, i will try him.

    hartford loop, that was just mentioned in "we got steam heat" but he has not gone into detail yet. I am sure i will be adding one.

    ground water VS boiler water. i dont know which it is. by slow leak ,i mean it is not gushing under pressure. if it is leaking from a pinhole, i cant tell if it is from the boiler or ground water coming in.
    perhaps the best way to describe the basement is, take a cow barn. add a basement. wouldnt work too well, would it?
    my house was built before building codes, before there was a town. 1934. back when farmers got drunk and built a house. it was built as a summer cottage, hunting cabin type house. no plumbing, no heat, no electricity. it was built lower then the ground around it. i guess because it wasnt suppose to have a basement.
    basement was added later, along with plumbing, heat and electricity. first heat was a pot belly stove upstairs, then coal fired steam downstairs.
    so, the basement is more like a root cellar.
    there is no way to keep the ground water out, unless you can defy physics, gravity or use a lot of sump pumps.
    when the water table is high, basement gets an inch or two of water, water table drops, water recedes.
    i keep hoping the town will put a road through my house, i can take the check and leave.
    no luck so far.
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    something new.
    last tech put a bucket under the burner. thought he just forgot it. just noticed today, bucket is full of water. so, water is leaking from the burner. i doubt that is possible, so i will guess it is coming from the combustion chamber, running along the underside of the burner, then dropping into the bucket.

    could that still be from the return pipe leaking? or is that a boiler leak?

    can i assume that a lot of my burner problems are because burners dont like being under water?
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    since this is the first place i found that knows steam, is there anything that would survive in that environment, or should i consider not putting anymore money into that system and look for a whole new system, like electric heat? something that does not need to be in that basement?
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    return, i assume.
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    return line, i assume. near boiler.
    yes, it is always wet like that.
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    boiler info
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    looks like a leak to me
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,467
    Did you ever get hold of Charles Garrity? He's not that far, and he does do Connecticut, and he's one of the best.

    The boiler is almost certainly ready to be replaced. If not past ready. It is possible to keep a boiler in decent shape in a damp crawl space, but it isn't easy. Charles will have some thoughts on that.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Jean-David Beyer
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,053
    I get consulting calls from southern CT and Westchester, NY quite a bit. It seems there is a void there for good tech talent.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting
    Plumbing in NYC or in NJ.
    Take his class.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,244
    I go there into.the void. Working on a Westchester County license this winter too.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    SWEIKC_JonesChrisJJean-David Beyer
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    Give Charlie a call at the number on his last post. He's your man. He will advise you of what needs to be done. As I said in my original post, I suspect it's time for a boiler replacement, along with those wet returns laying on the floor. If the bucket was full of water and the boiler completely empties, I think you are right, there is a leak either on the underside of the boiler block or very low along a side wall.

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,762
    Two things:

    1- if you're staying with oil, you want a Burnham MegaSteam boiler. There is no better residential steam boiler available. Depending on whether your current boiler is oversized, you'd want a MegaSteam 516 or 396.

    2- Charles Garrity is one of the best steam men out there. Do whatever you have to do to get him to work on your system.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    SWEIKC_JonesChrisJ
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,890
    Besides the megasteam put in a sump pump. Not only is that bad for the boiler it's bad for the house. The sump pump I installed in my basement was actually sold as a crawl space kit from Little Giant.
    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
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    I missed something, i was not aware i was supposed to contact a man named charlie and that i had his number.
    Maybe it is because i am new here and not looking in the right spot.
    Or maybe i am staring at his number right now and i am not smart enough to know it.
    Which ever, can i have his name and number again, please?
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,380
    He gave you his number about 7 messages up.

    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
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    Charles Garrity
    cell # 413-841-6726
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,244
    My number does not show up on the mobile version from what I can see. Nor does the link to my find a contractor ad.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • I can see your listing on my iPad, but I haven't tried my phone yet.--NBC
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,354
    I posted the link using my phone, I can see it and use it on my phone just fine. Your signature doesn't show up though.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,244
    I mean the signature and link under my posts. I am on a droid phone though.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • yfrank
    yfrank Member Posts: 17
    The first time i see a phone number for charles Garrity is when Fred posted it at 608 pm. I see posts from charley in wmass, who i will assume is the same charley, but i am must missing parts of some posts.
    I am on a cell, droid.
    Whatever, i have the number now, i will call
    Thanks everyone
  • Tim_64
    Tim_64 Member Posts: 76
    A cast iron boiler will not survive in that environment.
    Not true.... I recently (2009) replaced the original cast iron boiler, which had a huge steam chest..... and a nifty gauge on the front that read in some weird scale like Tbsp/in or ..

    It took that boiler nearly 100 years to "not survive in that environment"

    I live in the house my family has lived in since the turn of the previous century.. built in 1907 we think...... and it is environment quite similar to the original posters situation..... When the moon is full... I get water in the quarter basement...

    Basically the boiler in my house lasted 100 years, before it needed replacement...

    However.... that 100 year old boiler I replaced was maintained except for major service... by my ancestors..They knew that you don't try to fix things when they're broken... you prevent them from breaking....

    Maintenance and TLC... and those iron boilers may outlast you and you family....


  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,244
    The good thing is new boilers are short so we can get them up on blocks out of the mud if we are prudent with the piping.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,354

    The good thing is new boilers are short so we can get them up on blocks out of the mud if we are prudent with the piping.

    Another thing a drop header can help with.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,467

    The good thing is new boilers are short so we can get them up on blocks out of the mud if we are prudent with the piping.

    And it's very nice to have some installers who are aware that they can do that and need to, if only to keep the water levels correct!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,244
    Maybe I am not afraid because I am a Master Plumber not a tech. Just saying.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    KC_Jones