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Brewery boiler issues

I currently posted concerns about brewery low pressure steam boiler having vacuum issues causing overfilling and learning about operating pressures. I did install a vacuum breaker which took care of the vacuum and overfilling and i also increased the operating pressure from 8 PSI to 10 PSI it increase the steam pressure. Thank you for all the help on these issues. I ordered Mr Wohlfarth book Brewing with steam.
Within minutes of going through the book I got a little nervous.
The enclosed picture shows
Steam header is welded and the steam supply is not in the correct location.
The pipe off of the steam traps, the condensate has to be lifted and i am 80% sure their is no check valves.
This system was installed by a boiler company, not me I just volunteered with pay, to work on it.
My question is will the header being welded or the condensate pipe having no check valves becoming an issues, safety or production. I need to inform them about.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,085
    Got to admit I'm not really keen about that welded header. Do I assume from what I can see that it is solidly welded? If so, it may be putting quite a bit of stress on the boiler block -- and itself -- while the boiler is warming up (and static stress, if it isn't exactly the same length as the openings in the boiler). I'd be happier if you had flanged joints connecting the riser stubs to the risers rather than unions; the flanged joints would give just enough laterally to reduce the stress.

    But hopefully others, more experienced than I, will also comment.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • sraburne
    sraburne Member Posts: 15
    edited December 2018
    Thanks Jamie
    I appreciate the input, I am trying to keep an open mind about this system, but the more I read about it The more nervous I get .
    The boiler this one replaced blow up, I was told.
    Happy new year
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 10,290
    If the condensate has to rise up then check valves should be installed on the trap outlet pipes.

    With regard to welded pipe headers. Many on this site are against welded headers. But the largest pipe that can PRACTICALLY be screwed together these days is 4" and it is common for many contractors to weld anything 2 1/2" and up. Boilers that need 5", 6" 8" 10" 12" or larger
    headers are welded more often than not.

    That being said, the risers come up out of the boiler and the horizontal branches that run over to the header should be longer if possible to build some flexability into the header. Yes welded pipe can flex. Burnham recommends 18" minimum on the horizontal.

    It is possible that the header can cause stress on the boiler and cause boiler failure if expansion and contraction are disregarded.

    Do this: Take a pc of 2" black pipe 2' long and stand it on the floor vertically. Put moderate hand pressure on won't move.

    Now take the same pipe with a 2" 90 on each end. Cut 2 18' pieces and screw them into the 90s facing in the same direction (like the letter C)

    stand this mess up with the end of the bottom 18" pc up on a block of wood or something. Push down on the end of the top 18" pc. You can move it 1/4" with no problem and it's not because of screwed fittings.
  • Dave0176
    Dave0176 Member Posts: 1,172
    We did a Weil-McLain 488 with a Powerflame gas set using 6” cast iron fittings for the header and two 5” by 5’ boiler risers.

    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

    I cannot force people to spend money, I can only suggest how to spend it wisely.......
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 918
    @sraburne Thanks for buying the book. The piping should not affect the safety and only the efficiency. The idea of the takeoff to the system between the last boiler tapping and the equalizing pipe is to dry the steam. The way it is piped will allow wet steam which will lower the efficiency of the system. @Dave0176 did a nice job of piping and the steam should be much drier because of using drop headers and the proper location of the takeoff to the system.
    The header may be a bit low. I like using at least 24" above the boiler as a min.

    I have a brewery here where they lift the condensate and i do not like that. They work great when the steam is on 24/7 but as soon as you shut off the boiler, you lose your lift. I like to gather the condensate from the vessels in a small condensate tank. From there it can be piped back to the boiler feed unit.

    You may want to consider an air vent on the steam trap for the vessel as air may not be able to get out.

    To be sure the boiler is safe, have it checked twice a year and test the low water cutoff regularly. That is the leading mechanical cause of boiler accidents.

    @Jamie Hall was right about the welded header. A threaded header allows the expansion and contraction of the pipe. The pipe expands at a great rate than the cast iron boiler.

    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons