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Please tell me everything you see wrong here

SuperTechSuperTech Posts: 1,140Member
I don't have any experience working with steam boilers, my company doesn't service them. I was sent to a church today for a service call because the boiler was over heating the building. Unfortunately for me I found the boiler was steam. I wanted to try and troubleshoot it but I was told to leave. I directed the customer to The Wall and instructed them on how to use the find a contractor tool.

I took some pictures because I figured everyone would be able to point out some obvious issues. let me know what you think....


  • FredFred Posts: 8,272Member
    Pressure is set way too high. Should be set at no more than 2 PSI.
    - Near Boiler piping is a mess but not likely the cause for over heating
    - I don't know what that large corroded control is on the pipe above the boiler but it clearly needs attention. It can't be functioning, in that condition.
    - I would say the entire system needs to be inspected and serviced
  • SuperTechSuperTech Posts: 1,140Member
    @Fred I agree with everything. I freely admit I am inexperienced with steam but I recognized right away that the pressuretrol was set way too high.

    The corroded control is a Honeywell V5011A-C used to zone the steam boiler.
  • SuperJSuperJ Posts: 574Member
    edited April 2018
    I'm not steam guy either, but it seems odd to have a control valve (in a bad state of repair) on the main line leaving the boiler.

    I wonder if the boiler is cycling on the pressuretrol instead of a demand signal? Wonder if they have the stat running that junk valve (and maybe stuck open), and are just maintaining pressure on the boiler, or maybe using end switches from the valve to start the boiler?

  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Posts: 643Member
    Looks like a mess. Could be a control issue. Would be hard to tell without being there.
    Never stop learning.
  • SuperTechSuperTech Posts: 1,140Member
    It's certainly a mess. The thermostats are connected to fan centers that are wired to the Honeywell actuators
  • ratioratio Posts: 2,209Member
    The big pressuretrol with the clear cover is the manual reset high limit. It only needs to be far enough above the operating control (the grey box that is connected to this one via the BX) that it doesn't trip during normal conditions. I have mine set at IIRC 1½-2 lbs as I run at 8-20 oz. I have valves in mine as well, but they're part of a (non-working) night setback system that was retrofitted some time in the past. It's possible that a valve has frozen open.

    Really, without being there it's hard to guess what might be wrong. Is your company sending someone else out, or are they bailing? Maybe you could ask to tag along.

  • SuperTechSuperTech Posts: 1,140Member
    @ratio My company doesn't service steam, we bailed. I would love have stuck around to see what exactly is the biggest problem. I think one of the actuators is probably stuck

    The near boiler piping being a mess...what specifically is wrong with piping? Or is it just sloppy?
  • ratioratio Posts: 2,209Member
    edited April 2018
    Looks like it goes: front tapping, big takeoff, rear tapping, equalizer on the bull of a tee, another takeoff on the run of the tee?

    They upsized the header, which is good, but IDK about running to it at a 60° angle. Seems strange. The takeoff between the two tappings is a no-no, as some of the steam in the second tapping may have to travel backwards in the header to get to that tapping. Taking the equalizer off the bull of a tee may allow the steam to carry water over it & into the system. (Around here some of the mechanical inspectors won't allow a dirt leg in a gas line on the bull for the same reason.)

    That said, they didn't call you out for all the banging that was going on, which means it wasn't banging (or they think that's normal &| acceptable, shudder). The piping on my boiler (6" drop header, for comparison) isn't piped exactly right either, but it doesn't make any sounds so I leave it alone. I did, as I implied before, turned the pressure down to 8-24 oz.

  • SuperTechSuperTech Posts: 1,140Member
    Thank you @ratio . That explains everything quite well
  • the_donutthe_donut Posts: 374Member
    What’s the setting on the lower pressure control? Looks like a PA404A model. Looks high, but can’t read it. Need shot of internal dial too. The other pressuretrol should be a high limit manual reset.
  • ratioratio Posts: 2,209Member
    I think we may have lost this patient, Doctor. No more pictures coming unless @SuperTech converts... :tongue::tongue::tongue:
  • SuperTechSuperTech Posts: 1,140Member
    edited April 2018
    I knew I had no business working on that boiler. I know enough to know that the church needed to get an experienced steam man in there. I definitely should have taken more pictures. It was such a mess, capped off branch piping all over the place from radiators that were removed
  • ratioratio Posts: 2,209Member
    There's nothing like having a steam boiler at your church to ...encourage... one to learn about steam. Ask me how I know!

    Thank goodness I don't have to figure it all out myself. Between @DanHolohan's books and @Erin Holohan Haskell's forum, well, there ya go!

  • Big Ed_4Big Ed_4 Posts: 1,188Member
    We have to assume the overheating problem has to do with one of the zone valves not closing .... One looks like a mess...
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 6,528Member
    I had 2 schools with steam line zone valves. Both kept the boiler up to pressure (5-7 PSI....that got cranked down to 2.5).
    But rewired with simple relays so boiler would not fire until zone valves opened. Prevented overheating as both valves were over 50 years old and could not hold their pressure. Also a cooler boiler room.
    Lowering the pressure helped a lot before the relays were added.

    One is a 1955 fire tube that goes thru expansion pains as it was fired from a cold start. I added a temp control below the water line to maintain a warm boiler, not constantly steaming.
  • LeonardLeonard Posts: 871Member
    edited April 2018
    All the "air" wiring makes it easier to trace wiring .........
  • Erin Holohan HaskellErin Holohan Haskell Posts: 1,213Member, Moderator, Administrator
    Here's an article that may help:
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