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New Gas Boiler Very Loud Clicks and Thumps During Warmup

A brand new boiler is making very loud clicks and thumps. I don't know if the old one made those thumps, because the old one was dead when I bought the house earlier this year. The sound is definitely coming from inside the boiler. It sounds like it's happening right behind the pressuretrol. The noises start 5-15 minutes after the boiler turns on, lasts for 3-5 minutes, and stops when the first rad finally starts getting heat. It doesn't happen all the time. It seems to happen when it's colder in the basement. It happens almost every night even it didn't thump during the day. Lastly, the system almost always short cycles once and sometimes does twice, but the thumping rarely happens on the second or third warmups.

I recorded a 7/10 intensity banging from what I've heard so far. I only got the last 45 seconds of it, because I have to run downstairs and start recording once I start hearing it. Youtube link: https://youtu.be/HimiE3tL3pc

Things I've tried that did not have a lasting impact: 1) Changed out the two old Hoffman 40 main vents with Gorton no. 1s. One of those Hoffmans was so dirty it was completely shut and the other was letting out a ton of steam. 2) Emptied the water. 3) Lowered the psi down from 2.5 to 1.8 and increased the differential from 0 to 0.7. 4) Adjusted the radiator positions to reduce the water hammer in the pipes leading to the rads.

The one thing I have yet to try is to change out the air vents on all the radiators. Six of them Hoffman 500s and the biggest one has a Dole 1933. I just ordered 7 adjustable varivalves. If it doesn't stop the thumping, hopefully they will at least provide better heating balance and maybe even quicker time to first steam.

The noise is loud enough to wake me up every night. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!


Comments

  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,114Member
    The Hartford loop is too long and appears to be too high by the water level.

    That long pipe is supposed to be a close nipple for this very reason. The installer piped that part wrong, take some more pictures of the rest of the piping, I’m betting it isn’t the only thing that’s wrong.
    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
  • FredFred Posts: 7,863Member
    Need better pictures of the boiler and piping but it looks like that pipe that goes across all of your controls is well above the boiler water line. If that is the Hartford loop, it is too high and it should tie into the Equalizer with a short nipple, not that long nipple that goes all the way across the boiler. Both the long nipple and the height will cause that banging.
    Let us see pictures of the piping over the boiler as well. Clearly someone didn't know how to install a steam boiler and didn't follow the installation manual.
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Posts: 886Member
    Ditto to what others have said. I hear two noises. One is banging. Second is some sort of rattling noise.
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    edited January 20
    Pictures
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    The rattling could be coming from either the top of the boiler box which rattles a bit on the big noises or from the pressuretrol front cover isn't on very good. I unscrewed it a bit to look at it (completely unnecessary), and I couldn't get it back on snug.

    I didn't know the pictures would show up like that, is there a better way for me to post them?
  • FredFred Posts: 7,863Member
    It is piped so wrong I'm surprised that noise is the only problem you are aware of. Header is way too near the boiler water level, Hartford loop is way too high and too long, looks like main vents are spewing water.
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    The black piping is the new piping. The white insulated piping is the old piping. Is the header part of new or old piping? I changed the main vents, because they were very old and brown. The new ones work well.
  • FredFred Posts: 7,863Member
    The header is the new horizontal piping across the top of the boiler. It should be at least 24" above the water line in the boiler.
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    1) Would I be able to get rid of the thumping without changing the pipes?

    2) If the pipes do need changing, can it wait a few months for Spring?
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,114Member
    1. No
    2. Depends if you can put up with the banging until then.
    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
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    Thanks guys, I really appreciate how good this community is.

    Would you be able to provide a quick explanation of why the low header and long hartford is causing the noise? And why it doesn't happen every time and when it happens it's with varying intensity?
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,114Member
    Hammer is steam picking up water and "hammering" it into a fitting. That is what you are hearing. The hartford loop is to have a short nipple and stay below normal operating level. If the nipple is short it can't hammer, but with a long nipple like you have the steam can pick up water and slam it into the tee. Yours is especially bad because it appears to be above the water line which gives any steam plenty of empty space to do it's evil hammering.

    The purpose of the riser and header is to separate the steam from the water. Some water inevitably comes up the riser into the header, so when it does the header allows it to stay on the bottom and the steam sits on top to then go to the system. Dry steam is the goal. Your is so low it will end up mostly full of water and not be able to do it's job very well, and actually a taller riser helps the header by not allowing as much water into the header in the first place. So yours is killing efficiency the way it's done.

    The installer needs to repipe, there is literally a picture in the manual showing them the proper way to pipe it, so they really have zero excuse. Oh and they should fix this at no additional cost to you since it's their mistake.
    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
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    Thanks, KC!

    Do you know why the hammering rarely happens when turning back on from a short cycle? And why it seems to only happen on the first cycle when it's colder in the basement?
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,114Member
    Hard to say, could have to do with the difference in water level at different times. Also given the horrible piping I’d guess the installer didn’t skim either, which can cause problems.
    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
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,474Member

    Thanks, KC!



    Do you know why the hammering rarely happens when turning back on from a short cycle? And why it seems to only happen on the first cycle when it's colder in the basement?

    After a very short cycle, all the pipes are still warm to hot, and there is much less condensation -- and therefore much less stray water to be pushed around and bang.
    Jamie



    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
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    Is re-piping something I can do myself? I've never piped anything in my life. The directions in this kit look reasonable, but I'd need to do a lot more research: http://www.velocityboilerworks.com/documents/Bermuda-Near-Boiler-Piping-Kit.pdf
  • FredFred Posts: 7,863Member
    It's certainly not out of the question to do it yourself so long as you follow the instructions and diagram in the installation manual and you have the tools. Youi can probably buy nipples and fittings rather than having to thread your own pipe.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,114Member
    Not interested in getting the installer to fix their mistakes?

    There are a few of us on here that completely installed our own boilers without a piping kit. If you have worked with black pipe and fittings and have the tools it’s not an impossible task. I would think the kit makes it easier.

    If you decide to go that route you can post more pictures of what you have and we can certainly give you advice about anything else that could be wrong, or simply better than what you have.
    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
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    I'm going to reach out to the installer this week. If he is unwilling or too busy, I'll look around for other professionals, but I had a really hard time finding a heating place with good Yelp ratings that did boilers. Is there a better listing of boiler professionals I can use rather than Yelp?

    I'll look into doing it myself as a last resort, but I want to start doing the research for peace of mind in case I need to. I wouldn't do it myself until spring though just in case I take things apart and can't put them back together.

    A lot of you have mentioned not to use Home Depot air vents. Does that apply to piping as well or do they have good pipes/nipples/fittings?
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    Also, if I insulated the piping I have now, would that help reduce the hammer through this winter season?
  • FredFred Posts: 7,863Member
    Insulation isn't likely to fix piping problems. Normally the Hartford loop is below the water line and is short enough that steam isn't a problem, if it happens to hit the water in it. That header is just too close to the water line carrying both water and steam into the header.
    Michigan has always been a problem finding Steam Pros. I'm not sure why. Just by chance, check the "Find a Contractor" Tab at the top of this page. Maybe you'll get lucky. I wouldn't count on Yelp. Do any of your neighbors have steam heat and do they have a company that they rely on for service/repairs?
  • dave22dave22 Posts: 2Member
    Wow yeah that is piped horribly...really bad job.

    I assume you are in Detroit? There are a few companies in this area who know what they are doing. PM me if you are in Detroit I can recommend a few.
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    I wanted to update with the below pictures that I did get a pro to come out and look at the boiler. The guy said he was familiar with Dan Holohan's work. His crew was able to re-pipe my boiler, and I haven't had any issues with hammering near the boiler since.

    A couple of caveats, though. About 9 days before the boiler was to be re-piped, I drained every ounce of water out of the boiler. I did not hear any water hammer throughout those nine days. I think it was a couple weeks before I started hearing the loud hammering in the first place. I just never thought that draining the water completely would be a solution. It was quite expensive to get the boiler re-piped, and I was a bit disappointed that I could have just lived with draining the water once a week.

    The other benefit to the re-piping was that I would have dryer steam, because the header was too low. Unfortunately, I am still getting the same few droplets of water coming out of my air vents (have tried multiple vents) and out of my radiator valves. It doesn't seem any dryer. I bought some graphite valve packing to re-pack the nuts on a couple of the bad valves where steam blows out of during the last part of long runs.

    As far as the air vents go, the Varivalves were definitely not optimal. I bought some Gortons, but didn't like it initially, because one of them was blowing really hard right back into my radiator, making a small dent. Turns out that one was just defective. I swapped it out and was happy for a bit but the whistling started driving me crazy. The Gortons had a constant whistle the entire time the heat was on. I switched all of those to Maid-O-Mists, and I've been a lot happier with these. When the heat shuts off, they make a blowing noise for a little while, and sometimes there a whistle in that, but it's still a lot better than the Gorton's constant noise.




  • FredFred Posts: 7,863Member
    Actually that main should tie into the header on the top, not the side.
    Can't see the Pressuretrol well, the picture is blurred but it looks like it is not right either. I only see one scale on it. It looks like a Pressuretrol used as a secondary to shut the boilker down if the main Pressuretrol fails but I don't see a reset button on it. The Pressuretrol looks like it is set pretty high. It should be set for .5 PSI Cut-In and a Differential (or Main) cut-out of 1 PSI or 1.5 PSI. That may well be why you have the vents blowing/whistling and water blowing out of them.

    Also, You don't need to drain the boiler every week. Adding that much fresh water is not good and it won't remove the oils in the boiler that can cause hammer, wet steam, etc. You have a skim port on the side of the boiler, above the water line. You need to open that valve (with the boiler power off) raise the water level in the boiler until it starts to flow out of that valve, turn the water input down until just a trickle flows out of the valve and let it trickle like that for a couple hours. That will remove the oils on the surface of the boiler water. You may have to do that two or three times over a couple weeks to get all the oils out but after that you should be fine. Just draining the boiler, like you are doing allows the oils to cling to the sides of the boiler block and when you refill the boiler, the oils will float to the surface again.
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    Thanks, Fred. The Pressuretrol does have 2 settings. The first is set to .25 psi and the second is set to 1.8 psi. I tried to have it even lower, but it didn't turn on a couple times when the temp was below what I had the thermostat set to, so I bumped it up slightly, and the boiler fired right up both times.

    The boiler was skimmed a week after the new installation to remove those oils. I could tell the difference in the smell of the heat between right after the re-install and after it was skimmed.

    I did notice the main coming into the header from the side. What kind of affect will this have? I'm definitely not going to be having any more re-piping done, because the costs are outrageous, but I guess it's good to know what I'll be missing.
  • FredFred Posts: 7,863Member
    @Travis_in_Detroit , The Pressuretrol setting sounds fine. A single skim is usually never enough to get all the oils out of the system, new boiler, new piping and now that you've had the Near Boiler piping redone, those oils as well.
    The issue with tying the main into the side of the Header is that it doesn't allow water droplets to fall out of the steam heading out into the main. Some Water will drop out but because of the side mount, it likely doesn't all get back into the header because of steam pushing into the main. Of course, once the heat cycle ends, any condensate in that turn will drip back into the header but you really want the steam to be as dry as possible during the heat cycle. Wouldn't take too much to turn that Tee up right but I understand you concern about cost. Something to keep in mind the next time you have any piping done.
  • Travis_in_DetroitTravis_in_Detroit Posts: 13Member
    Thank you for the knowledge, Fred! And all others that have weighed in!
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