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New steam boiler install and lots of problems

bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
edited February 4 in THE MAIN WALL
Hello! I recently had a new slant fin gas steam heat boiler installed in a 2 family. It heats the second floor apartment. The prior boiler failed after 15 years - we don’t know why. We had zero issues w it prior to it failing - just had trouble starting it up last year and had it serviced, and this year, it totally broke and we were advised to replace it by three different companies/ plumbers. We also replaced the auto feeder and most of the valves on the radiators. The plumber guaranteed his labor for 2 years and is working w us to resolve whatever is causing issues but at this point - I think we are all open to ideas.

After install, the the tenant noted that some of the radiators weren’t heating ip right, with two radiators connected to the same pipe slowest to heat/ often cold. At the same time, several other radiators were spewing black water out of the valves etc. Plumber came back and adjusted some things (blamed it on the auto feeder having the wrong setting by accident), changed valves etc. All was well for a week. Tenant called again and no spitting but also no heat in the same two radiators - other radiators cranking. Water level on boiler was to the top. Plumber decides to replace auto feeder bed no one knows how old it is etc. He gets heat out of all the radiators. Fast forward another week or so and tenant calls and says no heat out of same two radiators. I go over and water level to top. Plumber has me drain the system and he comes next day and replaces a main valve, adjusts some settings, etc. Says tons of sediment In the system. Skims it - he did this once before already - and tells me there’s no vents on the main line, and he’s going to add two. And says the system needs to be skimmed a couple more times etc.

Tenant said heat was working well yesterday w all radiators heating up. This AM, same two radiators were cold. She cranked the heat and they eventually got warm.

I honestly don’t know much at all about steam heat. Plumber seems experienced but is not an old timer w TONS of wisdom; he does a lot of installs and repairs in Boston on steam heaters. He is, however, doing most of the labor for free at this point, but wants to charge now for the piping issues w the main vents etc.

Thoughts? I posted some photos.

Comments

  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 857Member
    Where did you post the photos?
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 857Member
    You say you had zero issues to the boiler prior to it failing.
    How was the heating system (not the boiler) working before the replacement? Rads heating the rooms etc. ?
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    Yes. All radiators heating up (or, at least, no tenant complaints). Whenever I was up there, the radiators were all working fine.
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 857Member
    Quite a few issues visible. For starters , copper piping is a no. no.
    Hartford loop appears to be too high. The systems near piping needs to be corrected to work properly with the boiler and the heating system combined. You don't have that.
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    edited February 4
    I should also mention that the apartment is very warm even without the two radiators not working well; and it cycles as it should, according to my plumber and the number on the auto feeder. The issue is that the two radiators not heating at all only don’t heat when the water line is to the top of the boiler. So there is some connection there. They seem to be on their own “zone”, so to speak... fed by the same pipe from the basement. I knoow that pipe worked well when I lived in the bottom unit bc it also heats the from entry and it was always warm. Now it is usually cold.
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    edited February 4
    What does “boiler piped wrong” mean? I think he kind of retrofitted it. Also - should proper piping be part of the overall installation costs that we already paid for?
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 857Member
    Slant fin galaxy boilers piping directions in the owners manual are very important. They must be followed !
    The vents and the skimming will help. But I suggest double checking the near boiler piping directions for starters.
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    Ok - I will review it with the plumber. I think he’s honest and will remedy it. He doesn’t want to come out to the apartment every week too ;-)
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,146Member
    The only pipes that are wrong are the copper ones, so it’s not that bad. ;)

    Seriously as was said there is a picture in the manual showing what’s proper. Also the mains need brought into the header individually, not that you even have a header.

    Black steel threaded pipe.

    If this was the first try I have a feeling you are in for a battle to get it done properly.

    Have you made final payment?
    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
  • IronmanIronman Posts: 5,155Member
    How hard is this to follow?


    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,146Member
    > @Ironman said:
    > How hard is this to follow?

    Other than being blind I can’t think of a reason it’s hard to follow.
    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
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    So...repiping the boiler should fix the two radiators not consistently heated and the water level issue? How much labor (hours) will this take, ballpark?
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    > @KC_Jones said:
    > The only pipes that are wrong are the copper ones, so it’s not that bad. ;)
    >
    > Seriously as was said there is a picture in the manual showing what’s proper. Also the mains need brought into the header individually, not that you even have a header.
    >
    > Black steel threaded pipe.
    >
    > If this was the first try I have a feeling you are in for a battle to get it done properly.
    >
    > Have you made final payment?

    Yes - made final payment in December.
  • IronmanIronman Posts: 5,155Member
    We can't promise you that fixing the near boiler piping will correct all of your issues when none of us has been on site to fully evaluate your system. What we are saying is that the instructions were not followed for how it should be done, which are the MINIMUM standard.

    Proper near boiler piping is THE starting place. When it's wrong (like yours), numerous issues will arise and a lot of them show up elsewhere in the system.

    The fact that the system worked with the old boiler indicates that what's been done in the replacement process contributed to or caused the issues you now have.

    Start with properly piping the boiler. That means full sized black iron piping in the exact order that the manual shows.
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • IronmanIronman Posts: 5,155Member
    Take a look at this thread that was just posted to see what a properly piped, profession boiler job looks like. This one has a drop header which is superior to the standard header that the manufacturer requires.

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/169184/loooong-day#latest
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    edited February 4
    If I have to hire someone else to redo the piping, any idea on ballpark # of hours it would take?
  • IronmanIronman Posts: 5,155Member
    At least a day.
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,146Member
    > @Ironman said:
    > At least a day.

    For someone that knows what they are doing.

    To the OP, where are you located? We may know someone competent in your area.
    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
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    The property is in Manchester NH. The replacement happened around Christmas and my tenants had no heat. We couldn’t even get folks to come and look at the job because of the holiday. More so, most didn’t really know Steam.
  • IronmanIronman Posts: 5,155Member
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    I need to try and get the plumber to do the job right first, as we don’t have the money to pay for another day’s labor when we just paid many thousands for the new boiler and install, and my husband is having his hip replaced next week, so isn’t working for a bit - but will definitey keep your recommendation as my backup. This property is upside down as it is. Sigh. Thank you though!
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,146Member
    bigbadv said:

    I need to try and get the plumber to do the job right first, as we don’t have the money to pay for another day’s labor when we just paid many thousands for the new boiler and install, and my husband is having his hip replaced next week, so isn’t working for a bit - but will definitey keep your recommendation as my backup. This property is upside down as it is. Sigh. Thank you though!

    It's all going to depend on how stand up the contractor is. First step may be for him to admit he did it wrong. Second step is getting him to admit to fixing it on his dime.

    If he recycles all that copper he may recoup some of the cost to buy the proper black pipe.

    Certainly make sure he looks at the install manual, the Slant Fin manual is pretty clear and specific and should be easy to follow.
    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
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    edited February 4
    I think the copper was there already. My husband kind of remembers it was always copper. So a big brand plumbing company installed most of that 15 years ago...unless it looks new to you? And the plumber just retrofitted it w more copper I guess.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,146Member
    bigbadv said:

    I think the copper was there already. My husband remembers it was always copper. So a big brand plumbing company installed most of that 15 years ago...unless it looks new to you?

    It really doesn't change anything, the current installer should have recognized that and told you, then fixed it.

    Also copper or steel the arrangement is still wrong, oh and it doesn't matter which brand it's wrong.

    Did you pay for the install 15 years ago?

    We see installs like yours on this site regularly, it's sad so many contractors don't want to do a proper job.

    BTW I am just a homeowner like yourself and I was so disgruntled when I started getting quotes I installed my own boiler, and mine is far superior to what you paid a "professional" for.
    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
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    No - we bought the house with two newer (less than a few years old) boilers that were converted from oil to gas. The other boiler heating my old unit is working fine, but it is FHW. For whatever reason - the first floor was converted from steam to FHW at some point. The house is 110 years old or so. This is the first (knock on wood) major issue we’ve had as homeowners since we’ve owned it.
  • IronmanIronman Posts: 5,155Member
    What's the pressuretrol set at? It should be set to cut in @ .5 psi and cut out @ 1.5 psi. Never more than 2 psi on the system. Guys that don't know steam will crank it up higher causing multiple issues, including spewing water out of vents.
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    It’s at 0.5 and 2.0.
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    edited February 4
    The spewing stopped. The only heating issue is two radiators not consistently heating (on one pipe). It’s not effecting the warmth of the apartment tho. It has to do w something causing the water level in the boiler getting too high and then only those two rads don’t heat - and it happens over time...works well for many cycles and must slowly build up. It’s hard to say bc I don’t live there anymore so can’t monitor well. The rest of the rads all just fine. Maybe too hot even.
  • GrallertGrallert Posts: 330Member
    It's pretty clear that your plumber simply cut the old boiler out and slid the new one in its place. That got you heat when you really needed it. He didn't point out that the previous boiler was incorrect, he might not have know, should have but... So now he or someone needs to finish the job correctly.
  • bigbadvbigbadv Posts: 16Member
    edited February 4
    Going to speak to him tonight.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,963Member
    They either:
    cant read
    refuse to read
    don't think the piping makes any difference
    don't care

    Either way the end result is always the same
  • gfrbrooklinegfrbrookline Posts: 400Member
    The pressure should be set at .5 and 1, not 2. That could be part of your problem that can be easily fixed.
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