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Steam Boiler Help

Hello All,
I am having a problem with my Steam Boiler and I'm hoping you can help. I am a relatively new home owner and not very technical so please bear with me while I try to explain the issue...

I noticed last night that there were some water stains under the boiler. This morning when I went to the basement to put a load of laundry in, there was a puddle. I did not see any water leaking at the time, but the boiler was not running as the temps were warm in the house. I had a friend look at it, and he turned the valves above and below the sight glass and the leaking started once the furnace kicked on. There is a lot of corrosion on the bottom valve and the leaking is coming from this spot. I suspect it needs to be replaced.

I have a Bryant Model BS2 boiler that is old, but otherwise operates properly. Recently tested by an energy specialist and all checked out ok.

My question is...while I await the repair (which should take place tomorrow), should the valves be open or closed?

Also, a bit off topic...I had a plumber tell me last year that the system shouldn't be flushed because it causes more harm than good given the age of the boiler and the amount of sediment in the pipes. Is this true?

Thanks in advance for your help!


  • Michael_Zaborskis
    Michael_Zaborskis Member Posts: 6
    edited December 2016
    In hindsight, opening and closing the site glass valves wouldn't do very much other then weaken the already degraded stem seal at the valve and leak on you.

    Not knowing much about the boiler, this item can easy be corrected by a heating company, and valves stay open. As for the water stains, please provide a better picture, it could just be the site glass or it could be something more drastic like a crack in the boiler itself, but more information will be needed, so not much insight can be provided right now.

    As for adding water to a boiler, this was a steam boiler issue back in the day when boilers had mechanical devices that required monthly flushing to maintain operation. Today's boilers should only be adding water sporadically to compensate for water loss due to steam and evaporation of water within the boiler. The system should only be flushed when maintenance is being performed boiler, unless there is another circumstance.

    Newer boilers today have lighter castings and are more prone to a quicker corrosion then the older heavier casting of the past.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,190
    he valves on the sight glass are normally left in the open position so you can see the water level in the boiler. If the leak is bad you can leave them closed for a day but don't leave them like that.

    Your water looks pretty dirty so I would empty it all out and flush it out to get rid of the crud, you may have to fill and repeat the flush. While your draining it you can verify the low water cutoff is working, it's very important that is kept operational.

    After filling it to the correct level the final time the boiler should be brought up to steam for a half hour or so to drive off any oxygen in the new water. Flushing does not usually have to be done often but you should drain some water from the boiler occasionally to keep the bottom of the boiler clean (maybe a gallon or so a couple of times a year), again bring the boiler up to steam when you refill it.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • KerriBerri
    KerriBerri Member Posts: 3
    I just went down and moved the valves to a slightly open position. The water level dropped in the sight glass. I turned the water on to raise the water level and it didn't move. Given the N'oreaster that's heading my way tomorrow, I am going to try to get a professional in here today to take a look at it.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,318
    Are you sure you are operating the manual fill valve?
    If you could post more pictures of all sides of your boiler...back up so all the close piping is included.
    Put a post-it note or ribbon to ID the valve you operated.
  • KerriBerri
    KerriBerri Member Posts: 3
    Yes, this is the second New England Winter I have been here and have had to use the manual fill valve at least once a month during the coldest months of the year. It's the only part of the system I am really familiar with. ha ha

    The plumber is on the way, so hopefully this issue will be resolved shortly. i'll let you know the outcome. :)
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