Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Hole in Steam Boiler

dlipter
dlipter Member Posts: 59
edited December 2018 in Strictly Steam
I have a 12 year old Burnham KV85 series oil fired steam boiler that failed to build pressure and was loosing water fast when making steam. Upon inspection I found a 1/4" x 1/2" hole in the top part of the rear section. Luckily the hole was near the top of the section and was reachable. It seemed crazy that this small hole in the boiler could cost $ to fix by replacing the boiler. For the repair I chose JB Weld, a 2-part steel reinforced epoxy good to 550 deg F. I embedded some fiberglass mesh into the patch to give the JB Weld something to hang on to while setting and to lend some added strength.

The patch will be exposed to steam from inside the water jacket at 232 deg F and flue gas on the outside of the patch surface. Two possible issues with this repair, one is temp degradation and the possible different expansion rates of the two dissimilar materials during heating cycles.

I did the repair and the next day I ran the boiler all day. Pressure built indicating the patch seemed to have corrected the problem. The next day I took a peek and the patch looked perfect. Time will reveal the wisdom of this approach.

Question: Before the repair, raising the temp 5 degrees would empty the boiler requiring a refill. After the repair, raising the temp 5 degrees lowered the water in the sight glass by 3/4" which seems excessive to me. Pressure built to 2psi and I couldn't find any leaks in the return or the radiators. Do I still have a problem?

Thanks,

dlipter
«1

Comments

  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 1,892
    No you have a BOMB in your basement.

    Good luck.
    1Matthias
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    Raising the pressure will lower the water level in most systems. How much depends on the cross section are of all the drips at the elevation of the water line.

    Now as to the repair. As @pecmsg implies, unless you pressure tested that puppy at 30 psi (twice the pressure relief valve pressure) you have a potential bomb there. Let us consider this matter. You have a patch which holds at the moment at 2 psi. Now you run the boiler at 2 psi; water temperature inside is 215 Fahrenheit or thereabouts (3 degrees above boiling). What happens when that patch lets go? Now the boiler point of the water inside is 212 Fahrenheit. Now all that water wants to boil. Not all of it will, of course, because in boiling it will also cool -- but a good bit of it will; enough to push a good bit of what doesn't out of the hole. You can try the experiment on your car's radiator, if it overheats... it's pretty spectacular.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Dave0176
    Dave0176 Member Posts: 1,171
    Unfortunately that most likely isn’t the only corroded area, you just patched the most obvious one that rotted through. More will continue to rot through. That boiler is the most notorious boiler to corrode when used for steam. If it’s still under warranty Burnham may replace it with a Megasteam boiler.
    DL Mechanical LLC Heating, Cooling and Plumbing 732-266-5386
    NJ Master HVACR Lic# 4630
    Specializing in Steam Heating, Serving the residents of New Jersey
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/dl-mechanical-llc

    https://m.facebook.com/DL-Mechanical-LLC-315309995326627/?ref=content_filter

    I cannot force people to spend money, I can only suggest how to spend it wisely.......
  • dlipter
    dlipter Member Posts: 59
    If the patch lets go while under 2psi pressure, what will happen? Will the steel canopy above it and the steel housing around the boiler be breached?
  • dlipter
    dlipter Member Posts: 59
    Bomb is a strong word.... Will I have just a wet floor or will I have metal fragments flying if the patch fails. Consider that the patch is surrounded front, back, left and right by cast iron and two layers of steel above it.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,762
    You will have a boiler full of water that is heated to greater than the boiling point at normal pressure.

    If the patch fully fails, the boiler water will turn to steam pretty quickly (due to the suddenly lower pressure) and the steam will shoot out of that hole.

    So I wouldn’t call it a bomb, but rather a steam gun.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,663
    You will have a good mess.
    The other question is why are you running the boiler at 2psi? 1 pound or 1/2 pound should be plenty.
    You really need to get a new boiler.
    And we don't talk pricing on this forum....
  • dlipter
    dlipter Member Posts: 59
    The boiler was set up by the installer with the pressuretrol set for 2 psi. I dont have a 0-3 psi gauge yet so I am guessing using the pressuretrol scale as a measure.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 1,892
    Do Not Run the Boiler.

    You fixed one hole, there are probably others.

    You’ve patched it so start the process of replacement. Sizing the heat loss
    EDR
    NEW Boiler!
    New England SteamWorks
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,625
    I’ll be honest. You were better off doing nothing. I had a hole bigger than yours and ran the boiler from January until the end of the season, heated just fine, just used a ton of water. It had a hole so at that point who cares how much water it uses?

    I hope while doing the repair you also formulated a plan to replace the boiler in warmer weather, it’s dead it needs replaced you aren’t avoiding that.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,338
    And you'll probably have to re-do the near-boiler piping as well. This thread has pics of one such V8-to-MegaSteam upgrade:

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/168108/most-times-when-we-post-a-diy-install
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    Bomb is, perhaps, a bit strong. It probably won't disrupt much metal when it lets go, unlike a water heater. What you will have will be a basement which has been filled with live steam and liberally sprayed with boiling water.

    In the OSHA manuals, this is a situation which is correctly called "IDLH". Immediately dangerous to life and health. The best case? No one was down there when it let go, and all you have to do is replace all the electrical equipment which was. All of it. Plus anything else which was water or steam sensitive -- power tools, electronics, files, whatever. Worst case? Someone was down there and got sprayed with boiling water while the steam asphyxiated them.

    I don't usually do the OMG routine but... a lungful of live steam is 100% fatal, although not, usually, instantly.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    STEVEusaPA
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,996
    wonder how his insurance company would respond if something bad happened...
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,625
    I wouldn’t use bomb, but at 2 PSI you would be shocked how much steam will come out if it lets go all at once. You could run the numbers, but based on some personal experiences I’d say it will fill your basement pretty handily and you don’t want to be there if it does. Steam displaces oxygen and as Jamie said will cook your lungs quite effectively.

    Of course all these are worst case scenarios, but they are based on a lot of personal experiences and knowledge of steam.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • dlipter
    dlipter Member Posts: 59
    OK I get the picture.

    Replacement is in order!

    What is "Sizing the heat loss EDR'?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    dlipter said:

    ...
    What is "Sizing the heat loss EDR'?

    Steam boilers are sized so that the amount of steam they produce matches the amount of steam the radiators can condense.

    Fortunately, there is an easy way to do this, and it's EDR. EDR stands for "equivalent direct radiation", and is a measure of the actual surface area of the radiator -- all the tubes and everything -- with a factor for the configuration. It's a pain to actually measure, but happily there are tables -- available on this site, or in the book "Every Darn Radiator" -- to do the math for you. Just go around and tally up all your radiators and how big they are and add that up.

    Then, to make it really easy, all residential steam boilers (and some commercial ones) have, as part of their specifications, the EDR rating of the boiler -- what it will produce in terms of steam.

    So... you've tallied up your radiators and have a number, and then you go and find a boiler which matches reasonably closely (doesn't have to be exact). And there you go.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • dlipter
    dlipter Member Posts: 59
    OK....

    I"m learning so much here!

    King Valves, Return Valves, Mud Leg Valves, Drop Headers....

    I live in the NYC area and will need to find a good steam contractor. I don't think my oil delivery company Petro will satisfy me as an installer with all this new found knowledge.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,540
    edited December 2018
    @dlipter

    Most important don't order a replacement until you have measured all your radiators. This is the only way to size the boiler.

    Then you need an installer that really knows steam and will actually read the installation manual and pipe the boiler according to the manual.

    Most won't read the manual they already know everything and have installed boilers by the thousands.....beware
    1Matthias
  • dlipter
    dlipter Member Posts: 59
    I appreciate the wealth of knowledge shared here.

    If the patch fails why wouldn't the released steam just go into the vent pipe and up the chimney? Is the volume so great that the steam will travel down and out the bottom of the boiler too?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,338
    dlipter said:

    OK....

    I"m learning so much here!

    King Valves, Return Valves, Mud Leg Valves, Drop Headers....

    I live in the NYC area and will need to find a good steam contractor. I don't think my oil delivery company Petro will satisfy me as an installer with all this new found knowledge.

    Do you have natural gas available?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,762
    > @dlipter said:
    > I appreciate the wealth of knowledge shared here.
    >
    > If the patch fails why wouldn't the released steam just go into the vent pipe and up the chimney? Is the volume so great that the steam will travel down and out the bottom of the boiler too?

    No one knows. But they have described some possibilities. People don’t like situations where if something fails, no one knows what will happen.

    One possibility is that everything would be fine, but that one isn’t the one anyone is concerned about.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,996
    hmm doesn't gateway Plumbing cover NY? seem to remember seeing something about them recently.. :)
    kcopp
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    @dlipter -- try John Cataneo -- @JohnNY -- Gateway Plumbing and Heating (he's in the Find a Contractor tab). Or @EzzyT . Or @Dave0176 . You have a wonderful choice of really good contractors to help you out here!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    DZoroIronman
  • dlipter
    dlipter Member Posts: 59
    Yes I do have natural gas available. Is that a better choice over
    Oil?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,338
    dlipter said:

    Yes I do have natural gas available. Is that a better choice over
    Oil?

    It will certainly help the house's resale value. At least around here, according to several realtors I've worked with, no one wants a house with oil heat.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • dlipter
    dlipter Member Posts: 59
    Why is oil heat not wanted by buyers?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,338
    Well, for starters, no tank taking up space and that can possibly leak, no running out of oil when the oil company doesn't deliver on time, no smells............
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    1Matthias
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,762
    @Steamhead +1

    Also every home buyer fears being the one to deal with switching over and/or dealing with a tank failure.

    Underground tank being the worst possible scenario
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,323
    In every market that I know about, natural is cheaper to operate than oil.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Dan_NJ
    Dan_NJ Member Posts: 166
    One person I know wound up with a small EPA monitoring station in his yard and a five figure expense after their above ground tank leaked. Not worth the risk IMO
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    I'd switch if I could -- but those of us out in the boonies don't have natural gas, and aren't likely to get it in the foreseeable future. Sigh...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,338

    I'd switch if I could -- but those of us out in the boonies don't have natural gas, and aren't likely to get it in the foreseeable future. Sigh...

    In that case, I'd use a double-wall tank.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,762
    I’d use a ground-source heat pump
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,338

    I’d use a ground-source heat pump

    For steam?????
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,762
    edited December 2018
    No, to replace oil steam. I’d go water-water. I hate oil, probably more than I should
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,208
    oil leaks, it stinks, and you pay to clean up.
    Gas leaks, it stinks, your house goes boom, and you pay to clean up.
    CLamb
  • SeanBeans
    SeanBeans Member Posts: 483
    Yesterday I found a boiler leaking water falls from a middle sections.. the property manager was begging that i do something temporarily so they would have heat during Christmas.

    Unfortunately the leak was dripping all over the burners and pilot assembly so a patch or anything of that nature was out of the question. 50 apartments without heat on Christmas, all because of a lousy hole :(

    Did I mention that this is a 6 section monster boiler and there are 6 old leaky sections laying about 10 feet away from the boiler..

    Merry Christmas to those who have heat and to those who don’t!!
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,323
    Probably a severe lack of maintenance and now a lot of folks are without heat on Christmas .
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,338

    No, to replace oil steam. I’d go water-water. I hate oil, probably more than I should

    I don't "hate" oil, but my earlier post reflects the market in my area. Everyone wants gas. Have to work within that.

    Converting a steam system to hot water is a bad move. HW runs at over ten times the pressure of steam, and this WILL cause leaks if there are any weaknesses in piping or radiators. Also, a HW radiator gives off only 2/3 the heat of the same size steam rad, so the building may not heat well. And even if it does, the rads would need to run hot enough that a mod-con would be out of condensing range, reducing its efficiency.

    So a double-wall tank, as made by Roth or Granby, is the answer. Unless you do a complete system tear-out and replacement, in which case only a one-percenter could afford it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    ethicalpaul1Matthias
  • Oil is great. Don't let the plumbers put you off!

    Mostly because the greatest, most efficient, and longest lived steam boiler on the market is the MegaSteam, -and it is oil only.

    You'd be nuts to switch. Keep oil. Get a MegaSteam.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!