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Common Boiler Installation Mistakes?

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RayWohlfarth
RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,513
Greetings all,
I will be giving a talk to a group of engineers and they would like the subject to be Common Boiler Installation Mistakes. I have a list of items and would love to know what you would include in the talk. Thanks for helping out.
Ray
Ray Wohlfarth
Boiler Lessons

Comments

  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 998
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    Hydronic or steam?
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,378
    edited May 2017
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    Okay, here are a few:
    1. Improper piping, particularly p/s piping. It seems plumbers have the hardest time of any grasping this. They seem to think its like piping a water heater and it doesn't matter how the flow enters or exits a Tee.
    2. Improper venting. In this case it's more often the 80% appliance than the 90%+. Because the old 65% boiler vented into a masonry chimney, many think that the 80%+ can do the same with no modification, such as a liner or insulation.
    3. Proper setup and commissioning. Combustion analyzers, manometers, etc are expensive, and therefore contractors are resistant to purchasing them. Let alone, learning how to properly use them. They usually tell the customer that "everything is set at the factory and no adjustments are necessary".
    4. Steam boiler piping. Again, the "plumbers" are the worst offenders here. After all, they know how to put pipes together, so why read the I/O manual?
    5. Which brings me to that point: read the instructions! There's something about us men that blinds us to seeing the need for direction. It's called pride. Let me also say that some mod/con programming instructions appear to be some kind of cruel joke being perpetrated on ordinary working men. Read the manual several times to try and grasp it. Go to the index to find the section that describes how to program the function that you want. Follow it carefully only to find that a some point you're instructed to go to another manual to find what you want. Go to that manual and go through the same process only to find it refers you to another manual. Go to that one and it refers you back to the first one. No wonder most techs don't setup ODR or attempt any programming. The Bosch FW200 and Lochinvar Knight are a couple to mention.

    The younger generation of engineers and IT guys doesn't seem to grasp that we older men are NOT gonna even try to remember passwords, sequences and codes of how to access different tiers of programming. Especially when every appliance, control or thermostat is different. This to me is one of the biggest issues that needs to be addressed.

    Okay, rant over.

    Ray, thanks for your efforts here. They are greatly needed.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    CanuckerGordy
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    Oversizing steam boilers.

    Not realizing the consequence of ignoring the original boiler water line.

    (I spun my wheels with a problem install done years ago. I assumed it was designed by engineers and properly installed by steam fitters from the big city. Finally asked local people who said the original boiler was another level lower in a building that was torn down when this new boiler was installed.)
    Ironman
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
    edited May 2017
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    A few more: failure to use the correct pipe sizes on both boiler header and circuits; failure to install isolation valves for circuits or components; failure to use hydraulic separation on mod-cons with design flow rates higher than manufacturer's recommendations; failure to insulate piping.
    Ironman
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,513
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    Wow such great ideas Im so appreciative to everyone. One of the common issues I see is with combustion. It is never sized properly.
    The other is to always check the existing piping. I have a saying Always assume the old system was not installed properly.
    Thank you everyone
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Ironman
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,246
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    Lack of good air elimination
    Improperly cleaning systems
    Lack of fluid quality analysis, and adjustments

    I've learned over the past 8 years just how critical and neglected fluid quality is.

    Failures in boilers, pumps, manifold actuators, zone valves, really every wetted component is directly related to what is in the system. be sure to make that known in your teachings :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Ironman
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,513
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    Hot Rod Great point Is there a link I can find to learn more on that Thanks
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,246
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    Pretty much al of the manufacturers of products have good info online. Rhomar, Fernox, Sentinel, Rectorseal, Hercules, etc for treatment. A large colorful graph like this is excellent for powerPoint slides, for example.

    The content in Idronics is there for all to use. We ask the you credit Caleffi with any content that you copy, paste or use.

    I always as permission when I copy content or pics , it's the polite thing to do.

    Idronics 2 & 15 for air elimination. Idronics 18 for water quality.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Canucker
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,513
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    Thanks Bob Appreciate it
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • RJ_4
    RJ_4 Member Posts: 484
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    Some other thoughts
    I always tell my fitters to remember when they leave the job, they were the last one at that mechanical rm. Any thing not right must be identified at this time.
    (a) Correct sizing of gas meter and gas piping
    (b) Correct sizing of flue piping, the size of the boiler flue collar is not always what the flue size should be.
    (c) Correct sizing of fresh air and combustion air into mechanical rm.
    (d) Surveying the bldg. is a must, don't go by the boiler and components that are existing.
    Recommend IAPMO code book.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,513
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    RJ Thank you I am so appreciate of the help everyone here shared. This could be a great article I think. So many good ideas
    Thanks
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,572
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    I see a lot of over sizing and over pumping on the design side.
    The best design covers the design day and is optimized for the typical day.
    I had an Engineer tell me "over sizing is a misdemeanor, under sizing a felony". We installed a boiler plant 1/2 the size of his recommendation with priority zoning to keep the snow melt from taking more than it fare share and it works flawlessly.

    Peer review of designs is a good way to control this. Hiring an Engineer that does not have thin skin helps as well.
    Many Engineers are far more receptive to feedback from another Engineer or a knowledgeable Owners Rp than they are from a contractor.


    I also see issues with the commissioning and the test and balance process.
    Having the contractor self perform or hire the 3rd party T&B contractor is problematic. It works far better if the owner hires the T&B contractor and the Engineer of record oversees the work.

    Somehow, in the last couple decades Engineer site visits and over site has been value engineered out of projects. I feel it is money well spent on complex projects.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • RJ_4
    RJ_4 Member Posts: 484
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    Your welcome Ray. Metalbestos company has a great booklet containing info on flue sizing and fresh/combustion air sizing

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,607
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    My pet peeve and this one happens all the time. Commercial MOD CONs. It seems that the condensate drain from the boiler and the stack is usually so low that it's impossible in most cases to pipe it into the neutralizer unless the boiler is on a housekeeping pad and the neutralizier is off the pad.

    Most of these boilers, buderus, lochinvar, viessmann need to be raised a minimum of 6" and that's probably not enough
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
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    I may have missed it but how about combustion air? I see more boilers in confined space...
    Tinman
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,808
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    The proper, professional methods of supporting and hanging pipe using strut, strut cushion clamps, split ring clamps and rod, clevis hangers, etc.

    Starting every job with a piping plan, ideally a diagram. So many boiler rooms look like they just made it up as they went along and the end result reflects that.
    Steve Minnich
    Solid_Fuel_ManPaul48
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    The piping plan/diagram should include isolation service valves so that any serviceable device can be changed out without draining the entire emitter/radiation system.

    Having to drain an entire converted gravity system, refill and bleed air just to change a gauge, pressure relief valve, fill valve, pump etc. This was a job done on the cheap of course.

    Or use low dollar valves that work only once.
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,513
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    Wow this is great. I have so many ideas for my talk. Ed, I always wondered about how they expect to drain the condensate on the mod cons. Wouldn't you love to take their engineer to the job site sometime? Ichmb I was going to include combustion air thanks. Stephen good point on the hangers. Many jobs use too few hangers also. Jughne, that is so true. It doesn't take any longer to install an isolation valve
    Thank you everyone
    I was also going to include water treatment and softeners
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,378
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    Let me add something noteworthy. I was somewhat critical of the difficulty in programming the Bosch FW200 and rightfully so. It's a very good smart control: the problem is the instruction manual. The FW200 comes standard with the wall mount GreenStar but is an option with the floor mount GreenStar.

    Bosch has done enough follow up on installations to know that installers don't setup the ODR 78% of the time. Thus, rendering a mod/con of little advantage over an atmosepheric. What they came up with instead is a simple, inexpensive room stat that works off of INDOOR RESET and is essentially just as effective as ODR in most boiler replacement scenarios.

    Bosch is to be commended for for this approach and I think it would serve other manufactures well to do this or something similar.

    However, the issue of the manuals being simplified and made more coherent still needs addressing with the more complex controls.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • newagedawn
    newagedawn Member Posts: 586
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    boiler piping is a huge one
    "The bitter taste of a poor install lasts far longer than the JOY of the lowest price"
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 998
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    Too much or too little pump for a boiler, too much and it can cavitate or allow insufficient time for a heat transfer. Too little, it will block a mod-con. Improper pipe sizing to boiler. Many boilers are piped acording to the boiler connection size and not the flow requirement. Example a 850,000 BTU mod-con has 2 inch connections. The proper pipe size is 2.5 inches for 80 GPM. I have seen a number of copper condensate drains instead of PVC. They last about 3 years.
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,047
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    To HR's point. Installation of dirt traps and proper system flushing of the old system prior to putting the fluid to the new boiler.
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,457
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    Number one pet peave; Install the dang thing so it can be worked on! I can't tell you how may times I have come across a boiler that needs to be cleaned from the top,where the installer put all the pipes for the manifold on top. I don't care how pretty it looks, if I can't work on it, then I am going to be irritated.
    Also, if you are going to put in control boxes such as Taco zone boxes, label the zones!!! One job I have with 2 zvc-406 boxes, and nothing labelled. And don't use a magic marker on anything.
    Rick
    delta T
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,246
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    Number one pet peave; Install the dang thing so it can be worked on! I can't tell you how may times I have come across a boiler that needs to be cleaned from the top,where the installer put all the pipes for the manifold on top. I don't care how pretty it looks, if I can't work on it, then I am going to be irritated.
    Also, if you are going to put in control boxes such as Taco zone boxes, label the zones!!! One job I have with 2 zvc-406 boxes, and nothing labelled. And don't use a magic marker on anything.
    Rick

    Brings up the topic of system documentation. Even a handwritten drawing and explanation is better than nothing.

    Copies of the CO analysis are a good idea also.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Harvey Ramer
    Harvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,239
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    It certainly wouldn't hurt to include job aesthetics in your class. Neat workmanship is hardly ever taught in a class. There are a lot of little tips and tricks that can turn an average job into beautiful craftsmanship.
    Solid_Fuel_Mandelta T
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
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    I think the number one problem would have to be improper boiler sizing. I think we see that the most, here. Failing to follow manufacturers specifications (boiler and components), is probably second on the list. I got this far, when I realized that these are not mistakes. These are just examples of incompetence, carelessness or both. What might make your talk, fun, would be to have the engineers review a horrible hypothetical installation. Provide them the tools necessary to determine the problems. Just a thought :smile:
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
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    You could ask the engineers how they would react if the chosen expert contractor discovers some fault in their design.--NBC
    Solid_Fuel_ManIronman
  • RJ_4
    RJ_4 Member Posts: 484
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    Always nice to have a new housekeeping pad poured before new boiler is installed. Also revisit the job if its been several months since you bid the work. Had a job where in the period of 2 months a contractor had installed a complete commercial kitchen in a basement which was previously just storage, the boiler had been shut off by contractor and the boiler room was now next to kitchen exhaust fans and other air changing equip. Major combustion/fresh air

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • RJ_4
    RJ_4 Member Posts: 484
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    Sorry my finger slipped anyway last sentence should be.
    Major combustion/fresh air changes were needed that were not in the first quote.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,513
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    Wow this is some really great stuff. Im going to need more time LOL I am so appreciative of the experts on here and the willingness to help. You guys are the best. I feel like the movie Matrix and just downloaded all this expertise. Thank you everyone. Have a great weekend
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • NYplumber
    NYplumber Member Posts: 503
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    @RayWohlfarth I find i extremely difficult for an engineer to design a system that will install easily, especially when in a space that is on the smaller side for the given equipment. As you would know, it takes many years in the field to draw a system that goes in easily, is serviceable, and works seamlessly.

    Moe
    :NYplumber:
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    edited June 2017
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    Not pumping away from the PONMIPC is the most common mistake I come across, and it generally causes other people to do even more stupid things, like turning the operating temperature and pressures up in an effort to make it work right. If you install it such that ALL pumps pump away from the PONMIPC, it will ALL work correctly, and silently. (PONMIPC = point of no mechanically induced pressure change, also known as the expansion tank/cushion tank connection to the system, formerly known as the PONPC,)

    Next big mistake is not following the manufacturers instructions (installation AND maintenance). Maintenance is non existent for the most part, and it leads to early death of the equipment, and possibly the building occupants.

    (edit) Also, not having a good plan for easy purging causes others to waste a lot of time and money. Think like water Grasshopper... Set your purge up on the return, right before the boiler and include adequate isolation provision to allow the system to be easily and quickly purged (forced purge). If its a bottom fill top purge system (standing cast radiators, and large bore pipe) make certain there is a means of bypassing the pressure reducing valve to reduce stand around time... Not all pressure reducing valves have that feature. Bypass the pressure reducing valve, but NOT the backflow preventer.

    RTFM... (read the frickin' manual)


    Rant off. :smiley:


    ME

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    delta T
  • Wellness
    Wellness Member Posts: 143
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    I am not an installer. However, although a lot of the focus here is on piping, pumping and boiler programming, I find in looking at the boiler units of my neighbors that many of the mistakes I see are in wiring: wrong size wire nuts, sloppy wire routing, poor or non-existent grounding, wrong electrical termination fittings, etc. Also, lack of proper condensate discharge neutralizer on condensing units is a big issue.
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,808
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    @Wellness - Agreed. Wire management is where the ball gets dropped on most jobs.
    Steve Minnich
    Solid_Fuel_Mandelta T
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,513
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    Thanks Mark, Stephen, Wellness (Forgot about wiring. Good point. I appreciate all the help
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons