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New Burnham V8H-7 - really hoping this isn't ALL wrong.

raydoll
raydoll Member Posts: 23
edited December 2016 in Strictly Steam
Hi-
I've been reading the wall for the last month nonstop, thank you for being here. I have learned so much and have a long way to go (waiting for The Lost Art book in the mail)... I would love to hear some opinions about the situation at hand.
One pipe steam, 3 mains feed a total of 14 radiators on 2 floors. All the risers are directly off the mains into
radiators on the second floor. The only vents up there are the radiator vents. .
Background-
Moved into new (old) house in October. There was an 11 year old Burnham steam boiler that we came to find had cracked from being run with an unlined chimney (so they said). I think it was from running high pressure and a bad water feeder, but I still want to investigate this further.
Lined chimney and had new Burnham boiler installed last month. The same one basically because
the piping was already set up to accept that model of boiler is what my oil company installer said. I was under the impression that a heating professional was just that (then I found this website! Cue the doom music)
Boiler installed. Pressure at factory set was sent to 5.5 psi. I said "no that's way too high"
factory rep told my installer that to heat a house this size it needed that much pressure. Also the old boiler was set at 5.5 so maybe that's just what is was supposed to be. I told him to find out for sure. Boo. The radiators upstairs didn't get hot.
While I waited to hear back from him I listened to the godforsaken thing short cycle for an hour and a half... figured out that the thermostat was never set up for a steam system (those poor people who lived here before us must've been miserable) then I got my husband to lower the pressuretrol to 2 and diff to 1. Major improvement but I still felt like it was too high.
Lowered again to 1 and .5 diff. This was ok but then the thing started shaking the house the very next morning when it started up. Hubs shut it off and set it to 1.5 and .75diff not too bad.
Another week passes and the installers come back to skim and look at the pressure. Took them less than 20 mins. I tell them I really need some vents on the mains that are bigger than rad vents, and that I thought skimming would take longer. Well... You can guess how that conversation went I think. The water is clean because they didn't use very many new pipes when they changed out the boiler. Ok fine. But what about the water droplets at the top of the gauge glass?
The next week the thing cut out 3 times because of air in the fuel line so now I have a fancy little tiger loop too.

Questions:
How bad is it?
My main vent ports are only 1/4" and have no riser. Will I benefit at all from adding some Gorton #1's on an adapter?
I burned a tank of oil in 3 weeks. It's a big **** house but can I get any more efficiency?
can the pressure be lower? What should it be?
I feel like the system isn't as it should be- am I wrong?

Thanks!
Here are the pictures






«1

Comments

  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    Ps
    And the clanging is pretty good too.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    With those vents you basically have no main venting. More venting is always better. Big mouth vents will do wonder. See "big mouth" on Amazon. You may not need a nipple on that tee for the vent, due to return's size. And it's easy to add it if needed. Then dial down the pressure. Way down. You should be able to heat the place on ounces of pressure, not pounds. All that pressure and no venting is eating the fuel and giving you horrible efficiency.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    As to clanging, where is it? Radiators? Pipes: rad risers or the main? Could be radiator not pitched towards the valve, could be sagging horizontal rad riser pipe, could be sagging main... if there is copper pipe, it could be expansion...
    raydoll
  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    edited December 2016
    How would I install a big mouth vent in such a small vent port? Wouldn't the 1/4 port negate the larger vent?
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    Pictures look like it's a bushing to 1/4... is it? Remove the old bushing. Some larger pipe wrench, and a super small amount of cranoil or pb blaster.
    raydoll
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    Tap it a little and let it sit for 10 min for the penetrant to work. Should come right out.
    nicholas bonham-carter
  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    edited December 2016
    Clanging is rads and risers I think. I really only hear it at night. Once I get the mains vented right my next goal is to address the individual radiators. No copper pipe.
    nicholas bonham-carter
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,325
    edited December 2016
    Ah, close but no cigar. From what I can tell, the risers have a bullhead connection before the header. That should be corrected. It also seems like there is a reducing coupling on the header which won't allow all of the condensate to drain. As far as the main venting goes, you definitely need to upgrade. Barnes and Jones makes a 1/4" VariVent that could be perfect. Finally, your pressuretrol is subtractive, so, if you wanted it to cut in at .75 for argument sake you would set the diff to 1.25 (between 1.5 and 1).
    raydoll
  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    Yes. It is a bushing but installer advised not trying to get them out because the old cast iron is so rusty they're afraid it'll crack.
    MilanD
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    As to cracked boiler bc of no liner in chimney, more like bad draft or sooting from bad combustion creating moisture. But I am not sure on that one. This happens more due to lots of make up water or high op psi, or poor water quality. Check out your municipality water report for chloride levels. If high, you'll need a descaling filter.
    raydoll
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,470
    edited December 2016
    That's a unique approach. The header is at the ceiling. I can't make out how they tied into it. They didn't tie the boiler risers together and run one pipe into the header, did they?
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    When working with old pipes, there is always some risk. Trick is to use good sized wrenches, plenty countering forces on the fitting (another wrench on the fitting), penetrating oil, and slow slow non-yanking smooth adding of force.

    More involved is cutting the bushing out. But, scrape out around the threads, apply penetrating oil and have plenty of patience. Do nor attempt without the penetrant.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    Clanging: make sure all valves are open all the way and that the rad is pitched to the valve. If it persists, you may attempt to raise the entire rad, while connected to the riser. 1/2 inch on both sides and still keeping the pitch. Use some 4x4 as fulcrum and a breaker bar or some other strong material to elevate rad onto a piece of 1x2 or similar. Sometimes the homes settle, and with it, horizontal risers lose the pitch.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,466
    You need a better contractor. Where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    raydoll
  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    Steamhead said:

    You need a better contractor. Where are you located?

    Yes I do.
    I'm in mid coast Maine.
  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    edited December 2016
    Paul48 said:

    That's a unique approach. The header is at the ceiling. I can't make out how they tied into it. They didn't tie the boiler risers together and run one pipe into the header, did they?


  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    edited December 2016
    The previous owners left these behind.


  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23

    Ah, close but no cigar. From what I can tell, the risers have a bullhead connection before the header. That should be corrected. It also seems like there is a reducing coupling on the header which won't allow all of the condensate to drain. As far as the main venting goes, you definitely need to upgrade. Barnes and Jones makes a 1/4" VariVent that could be perfect. Finally, your pressuretrol is subtractive, so, if you wanted it to cut in at .75 for argument sake you would set the diff to 1.25 (between 1.5 and 1).

    What would the correct connection be before header?
    What should my pressuretrol be set at now?

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,653
    You have a diagram of how it should have been done. Those risers shouldn't tie together an then into the header, they are supposed to be connected into the header individually. I can't imagine it working well like that.

    Also that reduction on the header is a no no. If it is done it needs to be an eccentric reducer not a concentric reducer like you have.

    Definitely more venting. That garbage they gave you about breaking fittings is either they don't want to do the work, don't know how to do the work, or just don't know what they are talking about in general. If a fitting breaks it breaks. The likelihood of that is slim to none in my opinion. If they are that worried about it cut out the bushing chase the threads and add the proper vents.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    MilanDraydoll
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,190
    The installers didn't understand how to pipe a steam boiler. I don't see a header or an equalizer. It looks like they never looked at the piping diagram in the book.

    The only good thing is the connection from the boiler to the main has good height. i would show the piping diagram in the book to the installer and ask him why he didn't do it right.

    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
    raydoll
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    edited December 2016
    Another week passes and the installers come back to skim and look at the pressure. Took them less than 20 mins.
    they didn't use very many new pipes when they changed out the boiler.
    So the boiler block is old and used too? I guess they forgot cast iron from factory has oils on it too..

    I stopped reading after that..
    Steamhead said:

    You need a better contractor. Where are you located?

    This...
    raydoll
  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    BobC said:

    The installers didn't understand how to pipe a steam boiler.

    Bob

    Yeah. That was my concern.
    I'm not really comfortable calling these guys back in again.
    KC_Jones said:


    Definitely more venting. That garbage they gave you about breaking fittings is either they don't want to do the work, don't know how to do the work, or just don't know what they are talking about in general. If a fitting breaks it breaks. The likelihood of that is slim to none in my opinion. If they are that worried about it cut out the bushing chase the threads and add the proper vents.

    I am going to attempt adding some vents to the existing 1/4" taps. I feel like I need an actual pro to do the bushing removal not to mention addressing all the other stuff they didn't fix.
    I've already paid the installer and I feel like I should cut my losses. :(
    They said the existing piping was good and we're trying to save me some significant money by not having to rebuild all the piping- hence bringing in the same boiler (which I suspect is oversized on top of everything else)

    Who can I call in Maine? Who wants to take a Maine winter vacation?

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,466
    In order to function properly, this boiler requires two 2-inch risers and a 3-inch header. Here's the manual with the piping diagram:

    https://file.ac/wvtk2vaJtHM/V8H I&O Manual.pdf

    Here is a list of Maine contractors who advertise on this site:

    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/state/ME
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    raydoll
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    From a home owner perspective, at this point it's a cost-benefit question. You have the new boiler piped as it is into old piping and you have a new flue and chimney liner.

    That near boiler piping seems to have been there for a while. Depending how that main "header" is pitched, if back to boiler, not having the reducer an eccentric one won't matter - condensate will drain back to boiler... this is what one pipe counterflow systems do. Is it ideal for your setup, probably not, but if it works, it works. If it's not banging there, it is what it is. Question now is do you want to pay to have it fixed to spec and what will it cost? It looks like pipes are in good shape and don't seem to have rust eating them from potentially sitting water. I'd try to find out who supplied oil in the past and what the use was. This will give you a fuel use benchmark of sorts (use depends on outside temps for any given heating season, so it's not accurate, but it will give you a picture over a few years history).

    As to venting, remove bushings and add big mouths. Easy enough. This is one of the easiest, chraprst and most beneficial fixes for the system. Get the air out of the way as quickly as possible. Some old books call these vents "air eliminators".

    Then check pitch of rads and rad risers, and make sure rads are venting properly. There are several good rad vents out there. Vari vents, maid-o-mists, hoffmans... with vented mains you can start balancing the system.

    Then, turn down pressure. As low as you can to get the last radiator hot. This is, again, matter of venting (and boiler size which we didn't talk about here). You can never have too much venting, but you can always have too much pressure. Dial it down, and always remind yourself that the Empire State building is heated on 2 psi of pressure. It has approx. 5,400 radiators and you have 12. You need ounces, not pounds and the trick is to vent mains like crazy, and then rads to balance the system.

    Finally, question water quality and reasons for old boiler failing to make sure new boiler doesn't. If it was the unlined chimney, and that is what you were told, this is no longer issue. I doubt it was the culprit, but whatever - now it doesn't matter. Water in your sight glass looks clean. I'm assuming install closeout was done properly. But, watch for water surging in the sight glass. If it's steady 1/2 inch smooth bobbing, you are fine. If it's wild and you get bubbles and condensation in the glass and above the water line, it needs skimming. Skimming is not difficult, only time consuming and many so called "experts" don't do it properly bc they can't or won't charge you an extra 8 hours at their hourly rate without you questioning it. So many don't to win your business and you are left with less than optimal system. Steam costs money to install properly, and you are now back to the cost-benefit analysis for your particular situation.

    Fix what you can yourself, or hire a plumber to replace 3 main vents. Tell him/her what you want done and ask how they propose to do it. Ask they use penetrant oil, and be to be pateint. Or get some pipe wrenches and YouTube a few videos on removing old plugs or such.


    Then, find a good steam contractor to do an annual service of the boiler: clean the burners and check combustion (this will also tell if there is excess soot and if cleaning of boiler sections as needed, as well as addressing the combustion and the chimney draft). This new contractor has to be a different one from people you used so far, as it is obvious from your experience with them that they are clueless (on purpose or out of ignorance, doesn't matter). Unfortunately, in this case, you got to kiss several frogs to get to the prince.

    Good luck!
    raydoll
  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    edited December 2016
    Yall- I messed up- we've got two risers coming out of the boiler. It was late when I was down there last night. Sorry!!!

  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    MilanD said:


    Thanks. I appreciate all of the good advice.
    :)
    MilanD
  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    Anywhere besides Amazon to buy big mouth vents online?
  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    Give me a ring 781 789 6008 and I can get some out to you. I'm travelling for the next few days but can have factory ship them.

    Peter
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
    raydollMilanD
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,367
    raydoll said:

    Yall- I messed up- we've got two risers coming out of the boiler. It was late when I was down there last night. Sorry!!!

    You've got 2 risers, but not piped into th header properly. They're chocked wher they come together into the Tee before the header. They should each connect to the header individually. Like this:




    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    raydoll
  • New England SteamWorks
    New England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,412
    edited December 2016
    Unfortunately, the Burnham V8s have a bad history of premature block failure. Usually they corrode above the waterline. This sends steam up the chimney, which eventually does the chimney in. I am guessing that is what happened in your case.

    Shame you didn't get here first, we would have advised that you switch to a MegaSteam boiler. You should add installation of a Hydrolevel VXT-120 automatic water feeder and counter to your to-do list. Fresh water is what causes this block failure, and the counter on the VXT will let you know if you have a problem, which I bet you do.

    I concur that you need to get some Big Mouth vents installed. That's the biggest energy savings for the buck. Are all the mains in the basement insulated? That's the 2nd. Then get the piping straightened out, that would be 3rd.

    Somehow, the winter vacation in ME doesn't sound too enticing! If the guys up in Maine can't help you out, try us again in the summer. Summer in ME is much more pleasant to contemplate.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
    raydoll
  • raydoll
    raydoll Member Posts: 23
    > @RI_SteamWorks said:
    > Unfortunately, the Burnham V8s have a bad history of premature block failure. Usually they corrode above the waterline. This sends steam up the chimney, which eventually does the chimney in. I am guessing that is what happened in your case.
    >
    > Shame you didn't get here first, we would have advised that you switch to a MegaSteam boiler. You should add installation of a Hydrolevel VXT-120 automatic water feeder and counter to your to-do list. Fresh water is what causes this block failure, and the counter on the VXT will let you know if you have a problem, which I bet you do.
    >
    > I concur that you need to get some Big Mouth vents installed. That's the biggest energy savings for the buck. Are all the mains in the basement insulated? That's the 2nd. Then get the piping straightened out, that would be 3rd.
    >
    > Somehow, the winter vacation in ME doesn't sound too enticing! If the guys up in Maine can't help you out, try us again in the summer. Summer in ME is much more pleasant to contemplate.

    Funny thing- I actually asked if we could get a mega steam instead and they told me that our system was too big for one. Which I'll bet is totally not true.
    There is a new water feeder with a counter on it. It says 10. There was the same water feeder previously that was deemed unusable.
    What should I be looking for on that water feeder?
    I know I'm losing some water due to a leaky rad that I'm going to replace. I have the vent rite valve turned all the way down on that one right now.
    How do I prevent another corrosion problem?
    Mains are mostly insulated although they've got foam on em and not fiberglass. And the original (probably) asbestos on some parts.
    Do I insulate the return part of the mains too?
    Thanks so much for your reply!
  • EzzyT
    EzzyT Member Posts: 1,120
    Ideally the feeder should be reading 000 with no leaks in the system. As you mentioned having a leaking radiator the automatic feeder is going to feed water. Have you had the water tested to determine the quality of the water? That would be something that is done prior the boiler installation. Yes all piping should be insulated
    Creative Solutions Plumbing & Heating LLC
    Lic #12683
    Co-Owners: Fred Drescher, Jr & Eliezer "Ezzy" Travis
    201.499.0223
    MilanDraydoll
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    I would not even consider cutting your losses, and ties with them....I would consider a very well written and detailed letter to them, and explain to them that you will follow thru with your promises to take them to court....Get a full refund....I can happen..
    BobC
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,393
    You also need min. 1" thick fiberglass pipe insulation.
    New England SteamWorkskcopp
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471
    With "JA" And the others. NEVER a fan of suing, but in many cases, people don't do the right thing and you need to "bring then to their senses," with a TUNE UP letter. Been in these situations before. Take a big step back, listen to sharp people (here) and do your homework. Get your facts in order, write it up, present it to them...THEN, it's their choice. NO NEED TO SETTLE OR CUT YOUR LOSSES. mad dog
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    j a_2
  • Marz
    Marz Member Posts: 90
    My 2 cents.... I would never replace a boiler with a Burnham unless it was being upgraded to the Megasteam. That being said, the V8-H IS a different block than the standard V8 block. The H definatley designates a different block, as I was told this by many Burnham dealers. Some have different names for the "H" so I will leave it to who may know the true meaning if it so I do not give the wrong name. We have done many many "block swaps" with most Burnhams after the V1 series. So far so good with the "H" designation. Pretty sad that the V3 and V1 boilers were far superior to anything that followed. As I know for residential oil boilers it started with the V3, then went to the V1. From there the wonderful V7, which starts the warantee process, which started the V8 series. ( I can't imagine how many boiler blocks the factory had to make due to the V7 disaster) the V8 and K8 in my opinion had to be rushed into the field. My hope is that the "H" will help us all as technicians and homeowners gain some more trust back into Burnham. I am still counting days from when the Megasteam has been in production. Has it been 10 years yet?
    raydoll
  • dean_20
    dean_20 Member Posts: 16
    Just a suggestion from another homeowner with a one pipe steam system. If you intend to live and work with your system buy two books, "We Got Steam Heat" and "The Lost Art of Steam Heating." from this site. Read them and you will know exactly how these systems work and what is needed to fix them when they don't work. You will probably end up knowing more than the contractors you have been dealing with.
    MilanDvibert_c
  • New England SteamWorks
    New England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,412
    Marz said:

    I am still counting days from when the Megasteam has been in production. Has it been 10 years yet?

    Yes. Today marks the beginning of the 11th year. All quiet.

    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,466
    Marz said:

    As I know for residential oil boilers it started with the V3, then went to the V1. From there the wonderful V7, which starts the warantee process, which started the V8 series.

    The V3 and V1 were carry-overs from when Burnham bought the American-Standard boiler line in 1971 or so. The V3 was an evolution of the A-S A3 series, which were built like tanks. I still see a lot of these out there.

    The main difference between the A-S and Burnham versions was that Burnham tossed the A-S DH burners in favor of Sunray and Wayne flame-retention burners. For those who don't remember, that was a major upgrade.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Dan Foley
  • PolychromeUganda
    PolychromeUganda Member Posts: 11
    I don't disagree that there has been no shortage of V-7x boiler owners (loudly) unhappy about a failed block, or more often specifically a failed block joint.

    They aren't all weaklings or mine would have given up the ghost 20+ years ago. I have a V-76 installed for hot water heating only in Northern MA in 1992 that heats an indoor pool, spa, and pool room slab with an air boost coil as secondary. The boiler aquastat maintains 140/180 boiler limits. The return line temperature when either of the SuperStor SS-20 heat exchangers calls for heat is under 120°­­ F and the return from a cool slab is as low as 75°F. There is no primary - secondary loop to temper the return line, a 1-1/4" cold return hits the block at the bottom right of the fire door. The boiler is around 50' of trunk line from the pool's machine room.

    I suppose that arrangement delivers about as much thermal shock for the boiler castings as a hot water system can deliver. If the casting was going to fail, it would have failed long ago.

    The part of the design I have no love for is the puny functional surface area of the pachinko machine inspired pin field heat exchanger of the V-7 series, The pins are slowly eroded by flue gasses but they also crack near the base of the pin from the stress of the tip/root thermal expansion difference over many thermal cycles and eventually snap off. I'm convinced the heat exchanger only works because the pins create a turbulent flow that slows the flue gas flow improves hot gas contact with the main body of the casting by breaking up the laminar flow boundary layer. The pins themselves have too much thermal resistance for more than the 1/3 closest to the block to be effective heat exchanging surface area. I'm convinced that when any temporary adverse firing condition soots that pin field even slightly the increase in draft resistance along the path shifts the air/fuel ratio and sooting snowballs until it plugs shut in less than 5 days. I doubt I could prove it to anyone else's satisfaction, but from monitoring over the years, I've seen everything about the draft and combustion analyzer readings showing 15-20% excess air as little as 5 days before the primary locks out because the pinfield is soot plugged. Unusual temperature and wind patterns can cause poor draft despite the flue cap until the 25' tall metalbestos flue fills with enough really hot air to draw anyway. If I knew what could make that better I'd add it, but it already has 2 stages of oil filtering, the 2nd stage is 10 micron, an oil deaerator loop (Tigerloop), vacuum gauges to monitor the fuel line for filter condition, a nozzle line heater and 30s of pre-ignition burner air before it opens the oil solenoid and lights off, and another 15s after fire-out, and its fired at 1.3 gph instead of 1.65. Even with all the newer goodies it still spontaneously soots itself shut every couple of years. (its cleaned every summer)
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