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Heat doesn’t turn on unless I let water out of the releases valve on burnham in-5. Plus other issues

chuside Member Posts: 6
So about three times this season I have come home and my heat was not on. Each time I went downstairs to bleed some water out of the boiler and the heat does eventually turn on. I’m not sure what causes this but I was content for the time being as my heat eventually turned on.

Fast forward to today and my dad came over and the heat did this thing and I bled some water and it turned on. But my dad called my cousin and he noticed that the pressure gauge wasn’t turning on. He hypothesized that there was no water in my system and turned on the manual feed even though the sight glass (which had been leaking) was too full. I mentioned it felt like it was too much water because we added a good amount and the gauge still did not go up. Also asked if the gauge could be broken. He said no.

So my wife comes down telling me that one of my radiators is flooding water. We scramble and get towels and try to dry off. (Tips for drying the water leaking into my basement?)

He said that the problem is the valve on that radiator is broken. I’m skeptical.

So thoughts as to what’s going on? May just call a plumber...


  • I am going to assume that you have a steam system:

    Your pigtail is likely clogged and/or you have an issue with an automatic water feeder, and/or water is leaking by your shut-off valve, and/or you have a tankless coil that is leaking. In any case, the water level should only be half way up the sight glass.

    Per haps we can recommend someone to help out. Where are you located?
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    This is a steam system, I take it? It sounds like water is leaking past the valve in the auto water feeder. Shut the manual valve to that feeder off, drain the water down to the normal level and watch it and see if the problem resolves itself. If it does, the auto feeder needs to be replaced. It also sounds like the maybe the pigtail that the Pressuretol is mounted on may be clogged and holding pressure that may prevent the boiler burner from kicking on. It sounds like this boiler needs some routine maintenance.
  • chuside
    chuside Member Posts: 6
    Ok update. He replaced the valve and it stated flooding from another two valves, many of which sound like it’s being hammered. Doubt it’s all my valves. Been draining the system and seeing if that makes the difference. Should’ve never let him touch my house....
  • chuside
    chuside Member Posts: 6
    Update 2: (sorry if I’m not doing this right!) Pressure gauge is now active.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    Check that pigtail. I'm sure it is clogged and the Pressuretrol is not seeing the actual pressure when the boiler is running. Excessive pressure, above 1 or 2 PSI Max will make valves, vents, leak. Get the pigtail cleaned out and set the Pressuretrol to .5 PSI Cut-in and the white wheel inside (Differential) to "1" and I think it will run without leaks.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,763
    Did he change an air vent or a radiator steam inlet valve?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,947
    Uh... before you get carried away here, does the sight glass ever show the water line in it?

    My recommendation -- to be done as soon as you finish reading this -- would be to go down to the basement and turn off the boiler with the emergency switch. Then see if you see the water line in the sight glass. If you do not, there should be a drain cock at the bottom of the glass -- open it. Water should come out. There should also be one at the top. Open that. Water should not come out. If water comes out of both, drain the boiler down until you can see the water level in the sight glass -- it should be half way up the glass.

    If water doesn't come out of the bottom drain cock, there are two possibilities: the opening from the sight glass to the boiler is plugged, or there's no water in the boiler. Neither is good. Both need to be fixed -- before the boiler is run. It's not safe to run a boiler without being able to see the water level.

    Get that straightened out, and you can attack the pressure gauge problem.

    Then try running the boiler. The water level in the glass should be active, but not bounce around a whole lot.

    Unfortunately, if the boiler has been seriously overfilled or overpressured -- or both -- you may have problems with your vents and traps... they don't like that.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England