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Adding water

Good morning,
I inherited a steam heating system and this wall was an incredible resource when I started making modifications three seasons ago. I'm hoping you can all steer me in the right direction.

In 2013, we had the risers replaced, as well as all the vents replaced on the entire system 22 radiators). It was a great overhaul, hammers eliminated, I learned a great deal. After these improvements, and most likely before, the system continued to intake water on a daily basis. (It wasn't something we recognized before.)

In 2014 we had some of the piping replace / re-routed in the hopes that any possible under-cement leaking would be rectified. It lasted until the season got very cold in January, then it started taking in water again.

Now, since day 1 this season, it is pulling water into the system. As we have gone through this for two years now I'm trying to look for a new direction. The boiler was installed in 2011, the basement is dry, there is no white smoke coming from the chimney, no great puddles of water...

I'm going to try and check every radiator. Should I start with a mirror? Tissue?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Thank you.
Isabella

Comments

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    Is this a one pipe system? How much water is it using per day? Do you have a meter on the auto water feed? Do any of the rooms feel unusually humid, like a vent may not be completely closing off? Check the Main vents as well. One or more of them may be leaking steam. Are there still return pipes under the floor? If so, they could be leaking. A four year old boiler isn't likely to leak but make sure there isn't any indications of a leak in the burner area.
    Also, what is the pressure on your Pressuretrol set at? If the pressure is too high it could prevent water from returning to the boiler, if this is a one pipe system but when the boiler is idle, the sight glass should be over filled.
  • I would suggest you valve off the auto feed, and watch the operation for several hours. Mark the at rest level with a clothespin, so you can see how much the level drops. It may take a whole day or two. Test your LWCO, so as to be sure the boiler will shut off if the level drops too low.
    If you notice much drop, then do the overfill test. Let the boiler cool off a bit, and fill slowly until you can feel the risers getting cold. Let it stand and then examine the firebox, and floor for drips. This will etablish whether the boiler is leaking or not.
    Having a water meter on your water feed would be a very useful addition, as would a 0-3 psi low pressure gauge.--NBC
  • Isabella
    Isabella Member Posts: 17
    Is this a one pipe system? Yes
    How much water is it using per day? I would guess, in the vicinity of 3 gallons
    Do you have a meter on the auto water feed? Yes. It is on, but I have been manually adding water through an additional valve we added (two years ago) when this problem began. We thought it might be that the meter was misreading.
    The Pressuretrol is set at 2.0 psi.
    The water in the sight glass is above the water line as the system is idle at present.
    No visible rooms are extremely humid
    We have 8 main vents in the basement.
    The LWCO is functioning as we have been down there when the water level drops and the boiler is not on.





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


    The LWCO is functioning as we have been down there when the water level drops and the boiler is not on.

    So you can see the water level dropping while the boiler is off? If that is true you have a leak for sure. What would confuse me is that if your boiler piping is correct you shouldn't be able to go into low water if the wet return is leaking since the Hartford loop should prevent this. To go into low water like you describe would be a leak on the boiler side of that loop. You don't have a floor drain or dirt floor right at the boiler do you? Basically a place water could "disappear" after it leaks out. I would definitely start checking all the wet return piping and if any is underground now might be a good time to run new. Sometimes you can run new above the floor as long as there aren't any obstructions and all the piping is kept well below the water line of the boiler.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Isabella
    Isabella Member Posts: 17
    Thank you for the responses, I appreciate it.

    No, it is not losing water when the boiler is off. Sorry for the miscommunication.

    Ok, I'm trying to understand this part... "if your boiler piping is correct you shouldn't be able to go into low water if the wet return is leaking since the Hartford loop should prevent this."

    I shouldn't go into low water, meaning I shouldn't be losing water? So, if its a leak in the return pipes, the level of water in the boiler should be consistent because the leak would occur before the Hartford Loop?

    The basement floor is below water table. So, right now there is water on the floor, but it's coming in from the walls. Just to make things more difficult to determine.

    Thank you
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    Isabella said:

    Is this a one pipe system? Yes
    How much water is it using per day? I would guess, in the vicinity of 3 gallons
    Do you have a meter on the auto water feed? Yes. It is on, but I have been manually adding water through an additional valve we added (two years ago) when this problem began. We thought it might be that the meter was misreading.
    The Pressuretrol is set at 2.0 psi.
    The water in the sight glass is above the water line as the system is idle at present.
    No visible rooms are extremely humid
    We have 8 main vents in the basement.
    The LWCO is functioning as we have been down there when the water level drops and the boiler is not on.





    You didn't say if you had all the return pipes under the floor replaced and if they are all now above the floor or at floor level. Using 3 gallons a day clearly that much water has to show somewhere, unless some of the pipes are below the cement floor.
    The Pressuretrol, if it is an all gray box, with one scale on the front, that scale should be set at .5 PSI (the lowest setting) and there is a white wheel inside that unit that should be set at "1" for a Cut-in of .5 PSI and a Cut-Out (max Pressure of 1.5 PSI) However the pressure is not the issue on this leak. 3 gallons a day is a real leak somewhere and you need to find it. Adding that much fresh water to a boiler, daily, will rot it out prematurely.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,354
    The job of the Hartford loop is to prevent the boiler from dry firing due to a leak in the wet return. So if there is a leak in the wet return it will drain down to the level of the Hartford loop connection then stop. This connection is above the low water point of the boiler so this alone shouldn't drain the boiler into low water, but if the boiler fires for long enough with the leak in the wet return you can get into low water because you steam the water out and into the leaky wet return. My comment was based upon you seeing water level drop with boiler off, you say this isn't the case so moving on. Also I would submit that if your floor is wet all the time, how do you know the pipes aren't leaking? This would be especially true if you have buried returns. If you are losing 3 gallons per day that is a water leak and not a steam leak. If it was a steam leak 3 gallons a day would make the house feel like a sauna.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Isabella
    Isabella Member Posts: 17
    No, we didn't have all the pipes replaced. Some returns were put in to circumnavigate the pipes in the cement, in the event that those were the pipes that had the issue.

    There are pipes running underground. A comment made during one earlier conversation was that for that amount of water, we would almost have puddle form outside the house.

    Ok. So it's not the vents - it's the pipes. I was hoping I could start with the vents.

    Thank you.
  • Isabella
    Isabella Member Posts: 17
    As of last week, the basement floor was dry and we were still adding water. It just so happens that when we came back after the weekend, when we had the boiler off, the floors got wet and the sump pump is running. So while I can't be 100% sure, I'm fairly confident the dampness is not the boiler since historically the floor is dry while this is happening.

    The house is definitely not a sauna.