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Lost a boiler full of water in less than 12 hours

I've posted here before -- 2 y/o Burnam IN5 boiler

I generally check boiler every 2 or 3 days. Occasionally I have to add a bit of water. Currently no auto feeder. I went away for 4 days and made sure water level was good before I left.

We had snow and cold weather and it's an older house with not the best heat retention. Anyway, came home to a boiler that cut off for low water and a 52* house. Filled fhe boiler at 7pm and it cycled for about 5 hours until house warmed up and satisfied thermostat. It was a very cold night as well.

By 7am I cut out again on low water. This seems to me a massive amount of water loss. I've left a message with a local contractor whose name I got on this site with hopes of adding an auto feeder and more importantly solve the water loss issues.

I can't find any MAJOR sources of water leaks. Is it possible to lose that much water in that time from a few leaky vents or valves, or am I likely missing a major leak somewhere?

Comments

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited January 2017
    Is this a steam system? If so, it's Not possible to lose that much water, that fast from leaky vents/valves. You should see water on the floor somewhere. Are your wet returns buried in the basement floor? If so, those pipes are most likely the cause and will need to be replaced. Of course, as long as the wet returns remain below the boiler water line, they don't have to go back under the floor, unless so desired.
  • Johnson_Rod
    Johnson_Rod Member Posts: 31
    Yes, @Fred , a one pipe steam system. My wet return is not buried under the floor, but much of it runs behind sheetrock in a finished basement. There are no leaks in the wet return for the 25 or so linear feet I can inspect before it goes behind the wall. No leaks or pooling water anywhere else I can inspect either.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited January 2017
    If that's the case, you may well have a clogged wet return and the water is stacking in that pipe.
    When the boiler is running, do you see a steam cloud coming out of the chimney? I know you said the boiler is only two years old but it could be cracked/have a hole above the water line. Stranger things have happened.
  • Johnson_Rod
    Johnson_Rod Member Posts: 31
    Filled it to 2/3 of the gauge glass at 7pm. Maybe an 1" left in the glss by 7am with the boiler not firing despite the thermostat calling for heat and the low water light illuminated.
  • Johnson_Rod
    Johnson_Rod Member Posts: 31
    > @Fred said:
    > If that's the case, you may well have a clogged wet return and the water is stacking in that pipe.
    > When the boiler is running, do you see a steam cloud coming out of the chimney? I know you said the boiler is only two years old but it could be cracked/have a hole above the water line. Stranger things have happened.

    Boiler is firing now. I went and looked at the chimney. Watched for about 3 minutes and for a brief moment against a totally overcast sky I believe I saw a faint bit of steam... it wasn't a big ongoing thing though or totally pouring out in clouds...
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Watch it for a few cycles but I suspect your wet return may be clogged preventing the condensate from returning to the boiler. If that's the case, at some point you will begin to get some banging in the steam main as water backs into it and steam hits that water.
    Johnson_Rod
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,348
    A gas fired boiler running in cold weather you probably cannot tell if it is steam coming out of the chimney or gas water vapor condensing
    Canucker
  • Johnson_Rod
    Johnson_Rod Member Posts: 31
    > @EBEBRATT-Ed said:
    > A gas fired boiler running in cold weather you probably cannot tell if it is steam coming out of the chimney or gas water vapor condensing

    What's the difference between steam and condensing gas water vapor?
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    For every pound of hydrocarbon fuel burned, there is produced a pound of H2o (vapor). This is what can rot out the exhaust system on your car, if you only make short trips.
    This is the source of the white plume leaving the chimney, when the burner is on. A short-cycling boiler could rust out more quickly as there would be more off time cooling the sections down, and allowing that vapor to condense on the block, and rust it prematurely.
    A water leak from the sections of the boiler would produce more noticeable vapor.--NBC
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    @Johnson_Rod how did you do on this? Any findings or solutions?
  • Johnson_Rod
    Johnson_Rod Member Posts: 31
    > @MilanD said:
    > @Johnson_Rod how did you do on this? Any findings or solutions?

    Water loss has been much lower. I think I only added water once this week. Weather has been a bit milder in NY. I found at least two radiator supply valves that need to be either repacked or repaired but I'm not sure if they could be the source of *all* the water loss.

    I made contact with local contractor on here (@scully) who is scheduled to take a look at the whole thing this week.
    MilanD
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    @Danny Scully is great. I'm sure He will get to the source of the problem.
    MilanD