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The leaking valve that created a monster.

Hi all. I'm back. Years ago, 2012, I posted about a float valve above my boiler leaking. It sat above the expansion tank, which sits directly above the boiler. It left a puddle on top of the boiler which I cleaned up and promptly had the float valve replaced. What I did not notice was that the water had run down inside (at the top) and along the slanted metal plate into the front of the boiler (on all of the electronic boards at the front). Over the past several years, the boiler has run with some issues and progressively gotten worse (Lochinvar Solution hot water). It wasn't until the winter of 2015/2016 that I opened the front panel and saw that some of the stickers had at one time gotten wet (from 2012). You could also see dried water spots on the ledge below the boards. Everything looked to have been completely dry, but it wasn't until my inspection that I saw a warning on the spark ignitor that it should not be used if it has gotten wet (!) Naturally I thought this was where my problems stemmed from and had a heater repairman come out to replace it in early 2016. Sadly, the boiler continued to operate poorly so he called another technician out. The next guy said it was the gas valve and that was also replaced. This did not fix it either. By this time I was $1100 poorer and with no heat and couldn't afford any more repairs to be made. Last fall 2017, I turned on the boiler, it worked for 3 days, it started making the loud buzzing on and then off cycling and then it stopped. This time, it seemed to be dead. No lights on the spark ignitor, nothing. The circulator pump seems to work just fine and circulates the water when the thermostat is turned on, but that is all. When I turn on the power switch at the boiler, I can 'hear' electricity, but there seems to be none going into the boiler. Last winter 2017/2018 I went without any heat. I drained the boiler to keep the pipes from freezing.
*** An explanation of what was happening throughout this (noises and such)***
You could hear the gas valve open, the pilot light would light the gas with a whoosh!, then poof! it would shut off with a little clunk. It would do this repeatedly and every so often it would catch, heat up like normal and then shut off until there was another call for heat and then start/shut off all over again. Sometimes there would be a very loud buzzing sound and it would shut off. Then it would make this buzzing noise again. I would watch the light codes on the spark ignitor to try to figure out what was wrong, but the codes were not always the same. The solenoid (I looked up the part!) is rusted and there is rusty dust below it on the small ledge beneath it. Could this be the problem? Is it the aquastat?
In closing, I wish I had realized that the water had gotten onto the front controls. It never dawned on me that it had rolled down under the front cover. I am at my wit's end as to what to do. Now I'm not sure because nothing turns on anymore. The boiler is 10 years old... I'm on here hoping for some suggestions. I have a repairman/plumber coming this Friday and I'd like to be able to help and have some hope that it isn't toast. Thank you all in advance for sharing your expertise.


  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,273Member
    Sadly... as a sort of general rule, electronic equipment which has gotten wet should be regarded as junk -- particularly printed circuit boards. Problem is you don't know where the water has dried and left a conductive path between traces -- and worse, the conductive path may only be conductive if the humidity is just right.

    If there is visible rust on the solenoid, it's probably toast as well -- you can't see how bad the rust is on the plunger, which is -- of necessity -- a rather close fit and made of steel (which rusts...).

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,868Member
    What make and model is the boiler?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • JaxonistaJaxonista Posts: 8Member
    It is a Lochinvar Solution hot water boiler
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,817Member
    edited October 2018
    I think there may be a chart of what to check in case of problems in the Lochinvar Solution PDF manual, on the website.
    Print it up, so you can show it to the tech when he comes to diagnose, and repair the boiler.
    A good tech should be able to find the cause of the problem, without causing you to buy all new internal parts unnecessarily.
    Others here may also have a list of things to check, to guide him along, such as the electrical grounding of the controls.--NBC
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,617Member
    edited October 2018
    Your assuming that water caused the problem but it ran for several years after the water issue. You cant make assumptions like that

    Respectfully, a plumber may not be the best technician for this job. You need to find a technician who knows Lochinvar equipment. Call Lochinvar and see if they can point you in the right direction

    I see no signs of water damage in your control panel, the service tech you have had is just a parts changer
  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Posts: 422Member
    edited October 2018
    Sounds like a dirty ignitor (flame sensor).

    Pull the ignitor and clean the electrode and the fork that goes over the electrode.

    Make sure the burner ground wire is attached.

    Turn the high fire offset knob up some off of 0.

    If I were the technician that came out I would be checking the heat exchanger for cleanliness. Checking draft, manifold pressures, burner tubes, wiring, grounds, etc.
    Never stop learning.
  • JaxonistaJaxonista Posts: 8Member
    A big thank you to all who took the time to read my too long post. The initial picture above was taken right after it was installed. I am including a pictures of what it looks like now. I have wiped away the rust-dust under the solenoid and should have left it I guess. The only things that got wet were these front boards as the ledge above dumped water directly onto them. And yes, the boiler did run afterward, but that is when the issues started to appear so in my unqualified boiler guessing mind, it seems that it must somehow be related to the water getting onto things. These guys have Lochinvar listed as one of the brands they install, and it seems that everyone who comes out just replaces parts and fixes nothing.

  • lchmblchmb Posts: 2,921Member
    I to think you need a service tech not a plumber. Where are you located?
  • ZmanZman Posts: 4,807Member
    I think it is most important that you get the right tech to look at it. Your problem does not sound very complicated. Your controls are very simple.
    Be sure that you have explained the problem to the individual who is coming out and be clear that it is an electrical/control issue.
    If they don't break out a multimeter in the first 10 minutes or so, you probably have the wrong guy.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • G_100161690_2000017139 (23937).pdf

    Start on page 44, and the diagnostic flow chart is on page 51.
    An ill informed tech may say, “I’ve been doing this for XXX years, so I know what to do”, but a true pro will follow instructions in the manual!!
    Have him check the other things related to routine maintenance/cleaning, and show you how to perform routine maintenance for yourself. They are good boilers, with a simplistic outdoor reset feature, but susceptible to dirty heat exchanger syndrome.—NBC
  • JaxonistaJaxonista Posts: 8Member
    I'm in Jackson Michigan, 33 miles south of Lansing, 33 miles west of Ann Arbor, 70 miles west of Detroit, 40 miles east of Kalamazoo and thank you for the link to the PDF, I'm printing that out now.
  • JaxonistaJaxonista Posts: 8Member
    Follow up: My boiler is fixed and has been working for almost a month! The aquastat was kaput. Two small transistors visible from the back of the unit were burnt at the top. Also, the spark ignitor installed by the last contractor was bad. Both parts replaced and my Lochinvar is working beautifully. The specialists I called install Lochinvar as one of their primary boilers so it was a smart move to call them. I was up and running right away. I would also like to mention they mailed me my bill and did not demand a credit card right then, which made me feel good about them. I got to run it for a week before sending payment. The contractor was Jim Coffey & Son Plumbing and Heating in Jackson Michigan. Highly recommend them if you are in this area and looking for professional and fair service. Bitter cold this week, and we are toasty warm!
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,617Member
    That's good news!

    Happy to see that their are still some qualified contractors around
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