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Flew one in from France

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EBEBRATT-Ed
EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,607
One of our techs told me he had an oil pump go bad on a Weishaupt burner on a Viessmann boiler last Thursday night shutting down the heat in a school. This is a 2500mbh boiler. Yeah, they have an old Burnham that they only use for a back-up so they limped by ok.

He just got a pump today, made by Suntec in France. They had to fly one in. Their were none in the USA.

I don't know what the impact of parts availability is on the residential equipment because I don't do much of that but on the commercial side this is a real issue. I have had several problems with this.

I admit that the Viessmann, Buderus etc equipment is good equipment. Set up properly they run for long periods of time efficiently and with a minimum of service

But anything mechanical can and does break. No matter how efficient they are over and above "standard USA equipment" no amount of fuel savings (and were only talking the difference between the two) can offset the cost of down time, parts cost and aggravation

At least in my opinion

Comments

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    You should've ordered 2. Hard to believe you are the only one in America who needs that part.

    I'm starting to become a little frustrated with supply houses and parts, especially anything electronic.
    My dilemma:
    They only want to cover, say, one year from manufacturer's date, unless you have the receipt. No problem, I keep the receipts, write the invoice number on the part box. Then when I use the part, I pull the invoice, and note next to the part who has it, & when it was installed. However, if I have a part on the shelf for more than a year, now it's a battle. Especially when I purchased a special aquastat for a commercial water heater, and it was bad right out of the box. If I had that sitting on my shelf for a year or 2 I wouldn't been SOL.

    So, do I keep parts in inventory, especially special, hard to get items, so I can provide the best service? Then install them, they crap out in 3 months, then told no warranty because you purchased it 2 years ago.
    -Makes me look bad, unreliable to the customer-

    Or, do I not keep these parts in inventory, then when the break, tell the customer they are going to be without for 2+ days until I get the part.
    -Also makes me look bad, unreliable to the customer-

    I picked up some aquastats the other day, one had a date code Oct 12 2017. I asked them if it was already out of warranty. They looked at me puzzled, I put it back.

    And this is all the major players in the game. I'm sure I'll be long gone when you can order a part on your phone and a drone immediately flies it over to your job.

    It would be nice if they delivered parts for hvac the way automotive repair shops get parts delivered by local parts distributors, or maybe get Uber involved with a new division-Uber Parts. I'd pay someone $10 to bring me a part to finish a job, rather than stop work, run out, run back, etc.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    Intplm.Zman
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    It is a dilemma for sure as @STEVEusaPA so eloquently described it. I will generally order 2 of those parts (after we discover they are hard to get) and the customer gets one installed and the other on their shelf. They own their hard or essential backup parts. This is strictly commercial/industrial thinking. Most will gladly stock their own parts when you explain the situation to them.

    Always good to have the old boiler there (usually an old Mills) to keep the chimney warm while equipment is down.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    ratioIntplm.Mike
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,426
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    The problem is not confined to HVAC. My son in law runs a timber harvesting firm, and had a hydraulic hose burst the other day on a forwarder (a $250,000 hunk of machinery). You have to keep those running, just to pay the bank. The hose had to be flown in from Sweden, along with a tech. to install it. Granted, they were there in 24 hours, but... ! Or in agriculture -- many of the new tractors (never mind combines) are computer controlled, and to get repair on them you may have to wait two or three days to get a tech. out to where it sits, dead, in the middle of your field.

    Not sure where this is going -- and I certainly don't have any answers! -- but it's part of what drives my occasional comments on keeping things as simple as possible, even at a small cost in apparent efficiency.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,607
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    I like my 1980 Crane atmospheric boiler with the thermopile.

    The costs associate with thes problems is ....something else.

    I don't want any of this stuff in my basement.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,993
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    I have been having this problem more frequently in the past couple of years than any in the many that I have been doing this.
    You make a phone call to the supplier and they say it will be there day after tomorrow, or the next day or a week to ten days.
    This is getting all too often the norm.
    Auto mechanic friends have said the same thing although they do have that delivery truck some how show up with the needed part on the same day.
    Maybe the supply houses that we frequent can take a hint from this thread and start doing what STEVEusaPA was saying and have the parts delivery service just like auto parts.
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,183
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    This is a huge problem for European made equipment. I recently had a Riello burner that I had to wait almost two weeks to get the electrodes. They were the larger ones, every set in our Riello rescue boxes was too small.
    Intplm.
  • SuperJ
    SuperJ Member Posts: 609
    edited January 2019
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    Most residential Viessmann boilers (for the NA market) are made here in North America, about 10km from house here in Waterloo, ON, Canada.
    Intplm.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,607
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    Maybe the residential parts are more available.

    The commercial stuff I work on every time we need a part it has to be flown in.

    And these are common parts

    You would think that these manufacturers would have as a minimum two distribution centers in the states
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    Honestly, youd think that if they sold one or two boilers that would be the problem. Selling many boilers of a certain model should mean at least the consumable parts should be stocked somewhere you'd think.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,607
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    Thing is they don't seem to care. I started up 10 Buderus boilers in Boston a few years back they all had Riello burners about 4600mbh each boiler. The boiler room was really tight. The burner motors were fan cooled with a plastic end cover on the motors over the cooling fan which were about 2 or 3 hp (metric motors)

    So during construction with people running around in a tight space with tools and job boxes the plastic end covers were broken and shoved into the fans on 2 burners.

    So when I started those burners I pulled off the end covers and the broken fans. Started the burners and adjusted them so I could complete start up and then left those two shut down so the motors wouldn't overheat running without a fan.

    Told the supplier that we needed 2 plastic fans and 2 end covers, that's it, the motors were fine. They said they would call me when the parts were in and ship them directly to the job.

    6 weeks later (I had forgoton about it) they called and said the parts were on the job.

    They shipped 2 complete new motors all the way from Italy. Can't get the fans or end covers separately. Free under warranty.

    Who would like to pay the shipping, put up with the delay and then pay for two complete motors that you don't need just to get a couple of plastic parts worth about $5.00?? The only alternative would be buying 2 metric motors state side (which are available) but you still paying a lot for something you don't need.
    Intplm.
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 722
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    > @SuperJ said:
    > Most residential Viessmann boilers (for the NA market) are made here in North America, about 10km from house here in Waterloo, ON, Canada.

    I didn't know they were that close. I'm only in Brantford, might see if they'll let me have a tour of the place
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
    Intplm.
  • Mith
    Mith Member Posts: 14
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    He just got a pump today, made by Suntec in France. They had to fly one in. Their were none in the USA.

    We've got 4 large Fulton boilers with Riello dual-fuel burners on them. Installed for nearly 5 years now -- as far as I know, these were then and are still possibly now the only commercial, oil fired condensing boilers in New York City. And they run B20, year round.

    We got a bad fuel delivery -- contaminated, infected our tank and gummed up everything -- the second winter we had these in service. Same same, a replacement Suntec pump was not to be had. We tore them (and the rest of the fuel trains) down, sprayed them with Chemtool, cleaned them with toothbrushes and nylon string and then flushed them with Techron. There are solenoids in this rig that for all the world look just like the fuel rail on my old Volvo and we kind of let an automotive injector service be our guide.

    Then we took the OEM filter housings off and replaced with the kind they use on biodiesel dispensing pumps. Took a while to dial the filters in (too fine and they'll clog with biodiesel wax if the incoming fuel is cold) but we ended up with Wix 24043 which are nominal 10 micron. In the very coldest weeks of the year sometimes we swap the filters for screens.

    By the time we did all that, our local distributor had finally obtained a single replacement Suntec pump from Europe! To their credit Fulton had offered to pull one from a boiler on the production line if need be. But, that said, we haven't had a problem since... I guess we know what to do when the time inevitably comes. Though the distributor now say they'll be keeping two of the pumps in stock at all times.

    You can run your labor costs way, way up chasing efficiency. I think the trick is to really understand the problems the first time through so you don't spend so much the next time!
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 913
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    I am so glad that I retired when I did (2007). Most of what we sold were H B Smith boilers of any size including the 6500 series and usually equipped with Power Flame burners. The boilers were simple as were the burners. I drove a Ford F 350 loaded to the hilt with service parts including oil pumps. I probably had the pump you were looking for in my truck. Today, that is all changed to the "CRAP" equipment that is now available due to efficiency regulations. Please bring back the old junk, that fired coal, nat gas and fuel oil #1, #2, #6, it usually ran forever.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
    edited October 2019
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    It's a catch 22 @retiredguy

    We never had to shovel off roofs before we added all the insulation in the 80s either. You want to pay to melt snow off a roof in 2019? Me either.

    Find equipment you like and a distributor who keep parts in stock. If not, make the customer buy it and keep it in their shelf (commercial/industrial). That's what good maintenance guys do.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    Intplm.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,767
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    It's a catch 22 @retiredguy



    We never had to shovel off roofs before we added all the insulation in the 80s either. You want to pay to melt snow off a roof in 2019? Me either.



    Find equipment you like and a distributor who keep parts in stock. If not, make the customer buy it and keep it in their shelf (commercial/industrial). That's what good maintenance guys do.

    Steeper pitch with a steel roof? 10 on 12? That should fix the issue. ;)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    I'm saying throwing a cat through the window with old pin boilers (chimney heaters) was reliable, but fuel ain't cheap. I like the idea of efficient equipment. But with efficiency comes added completion. So redundant boilers is key, always has been in fact.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Mike_Sheppard
    Mike_Sheppard Member Posts: 696
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    I feel your pain. Middle of winter. Had a customer call and say their boiler was down. One boiler for the entire property. Garden style apartments. Riello burner. Flame scanner went bad. Called the reps to find a new one. Two week lead time from Europe.
    Never stop learning.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    What did you do in the meantime?
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Mith
    Mith Member Posts: 14
    edited October 2019
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    I'm guessing rental boiler on a truck - around here it's easy to rent something appropriately sized for a district heating system serving a bunch of low-rise residences.

    The facility I was talking about earlier has about 9MMBTU peak load and 12MMBTU of boilers. We can take a unit offline for the coldest week of the year and it's fine. If it's not the actual design day, we can take two units down though I'd sure rather not. It's much more of a nuisance in the shoulder season when we run all units at high fire about 2X/day to bring the (30,000 feet of) HHW loops up to temp quickly...

    I think essential to buying large systems with modern equipment is accepting that having just one of anything is a poor idea. That, and understanding there will be a learning period when you figure out what spare parts you really must have (economics will seldom let you have a complete spares set on hand - after all, that's what the extra boiler is, no?) and what maintenance procedures you'd better be ready to run in a hurry (like tearing down those pumps mentioned above).

    I'd never go back to the pair of redundant 10MMBTU steam boilers we had before. Just watching us burn 90 gallons a day all summer long to make DHW instead of 300 gallons makes me very, very sure of that (never mind the much larger, but more variable, savings during the heating season). From the property owner's point of view, the nuisance does pay for itself.