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Strangest Service Call

RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Posts: 738Member
I got a call from my church saying they had no heat. Both boilers just kept cycling. The pilot was lighting with a very low flame signal. When the main gas valve opened, the gas pressure dropped way down. The strange thing is the water heater was firing and up to temperature. I instructed them to call the gas supplier. They diagnosed the problem as the gas meter. When they removed the old meter, it was filled with ice. Water got into the gas line and accumulated inside the meter and shut off the flow of gas. When they installed the new meter, the boilers fired right away. He asked about the water in the gas line and the reparman shrugged his shoulders.
Never saw this one before
Ray Wohlfarth
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Comments

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,548Member
    It happens. Water vapour gets in the gas lines, condenses, freezes. But what is it about churches? When I got to the one I care for this morning, the heat was off. Now there are two thermostats (two zones). One of them someone had turned off, rather than down -- and for some reason that kept the furnace (this is hot air, sorry folks...) from running at all. Some wiring tracing is in order here...
    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
  • The only time I've seen water in a natural gas line is when electrolysis opened up holes in the pipe.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.

    Click here to learn more about this contractor.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,725Member
    Jamie, that is one of the reasons I installed vision pro tstats in churchs. Lockable screen set on lock function 1.
    They can turn temp up and down....that is all unless they read the book.....I don't even want to do that.
    Then you can do installer programing for min and max temp.
    They can over ride until the next timeline, which you program also.
    I have to go 2 times a year to change from heat to AC and back.
    Gets me to church at least twice a year.... >:) .
  • RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Posts: 738Member
    @Jamie Hall This was a new one on me. I love that I learn something everyday. It keeps me humble
    @Alan (California Radiant) Forbes Its wearid because I would have thought gas would be under pressure
    @JUGHNE Thats a good idea
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Click here to take Ray's class.
    Click here to buy Ray's books.
  • FredFred Posts: 7,874Member
    A gas main filled with water is not unusual around here. It's happened once a year for the last two years. Still waiting for the utility company to line the mains.
    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/165628/water-water-everywhere-not-a-drop-of-heat/p1
  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Posts: 529Member
    I had something similar a few weeks ago. A Weil McLain Ultra tripped once weeks prior on low gas. Had to be manually reset. I got called out because it happened again. I saw in the job site history it had happened once before. The water heater had also tripped on low gas but it was auto reset. Couldn’t trace it back to anything except the meter.
    Never stop learning.
  • RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Posts: 738Member
    @Fred That still amazes me
    @Mike_Sheppard The gas companies dont like to admit that I bet. The one at my church fought me and I explained how the gas pressure dropped and when he tested it he agreed
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Click here to take Ray's class.
    Click here to buy Ray's books.
  • FredFred Posts: 7,874Member
    @RayWohlfarth , I guess they think tagging the path of the gas line is as good as re-lining it.
  • SeanBeansSeanBeans Posts: 307Member
    We did a boiler change out in Point Pleasant, NJ right after Sandy hit.

    When we took apart the gas piping from the old boiler gallons upon gallons came out of the gas cock.. crazy days
  • RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Posts: 738Member
    @SeanBeans wow its amazing how resiliant boilers are
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Click here to take Ray's class.
    Click here to buy Ray's books.
  • SeanBeansSeanBeans Posts: 307Member
    A few weeks ago we were working in a building that was for Section 8 housing.
    It was very eventful to say the least..

    But the strangest thing was an apartment on the ground floor, we were told to not go in alone..

    I was checking to see if the zone valve was responding to the thermostat and as I was doing this someone was opening the bedroom door a half inch and looking at me.. all I could see was the outline of a head.. they kept doing this for a few minutes..

    Next thing I know the door is being stretched! It’s as if someone is grabbing the top and bottom corners of the door and pulling it towards the room..

    The middle of the door was still engaged in the lock slot but the top and bottom were moving back and forth a full 2 or more inches....

    Freaky, I got the hell out of there!
  • LeonardLeonard Posts: 837Member
    edited February 12
    Here City had low pressure nat gas main that rusted underground, groundwater dripped into main, evaporated, then condensed in winter inside gas meter, restaurant. No gas. Gas Co came out and put electric heat tape on meter.

    Said if problem continued they could add methanol? bubbler to absorb moisture from the gas. I asked for it but they wouldn't add it unless more problems. Year later HVAC valve failed on 1-st start of heating season, corroded inside.

    Few years later they dug up long sections of street pipe to replace it. Thing is about 20 years before that I remember building across street from there had meter wrapped with heating tape too. Guess gas co was cheap and only replaced sections that were actual dripping.......at that time. Corrosive coke ash or something like that used as fill long ago
  • RickBlackfordRickBlackford Posts: 3Member
    Meters freeze around here too. People put batting insulation around them with a garbage bag pulled over to keep the insulation dry. Gas company will remove the meter and pour dry gas down the service line to thaw.
  • RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Posts: 738Member
    Thank you so much Sorry I got delayed in responding
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Click here to take Ray's class.
    Click here to buy Ray's books.
  • DZoroDZoro Posts: 768Member
    @SeanBeans Yea I think any heat issue in there is NOT REALLY THE PROBLEM :)
    yikes
    D
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Posts: 806Member
    IF ice covers a gas regulator vent or if it’s piped and that line plugs, the regulator stick open and you get 2psi to the gas valve. Most valves shut down, so your thinking bad gas valve since you have 24VAC to it. Hook up the manometer and you get 48”+ or the meter pegs out on that range.


  • RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Posts: 738Member
    @mikeg2015 I had bees build a hive and it did the same thing
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Click here to take Ray's class.
    Click here to buy Ray's books.
  • LeonardLeonard Posts: 837Member
    edited February 17
    Thinking of valve as a solenoid ( coil of wire). If voltage to it "chattered" (pulsesed) say due to a bad wire connection. Then I could see how it might be constantly drawing a surge of current and run hotter maybe.

    Idea is solenoid would have less impedance ( from lower inductance) when moving steel slug was not in winding core. But seems good engineering would dictate it be designed to not overheat if slug got stuck and couldn't come into winding core. But who knows if it came from China ...
  • RobertMcRaeRobertMcRae Posts: 4Member
    I ran into a similar situation many years ago in upstate NY, Troy to be exact. It was cold as hell and had been for days. I couldn’t get enough gas flow to the boiler, but I had a static gas pressure reading that was fine. At first I thought the regulator at the gas meter went bad, or had some restriction. I tried everything I could think of to free up the regulator. At some point I decided to loosen the union at the inlet of the meter assembly and whaddya know! I was sprayed with droplets of water! I called the utility, who took over from there. They told me this is common in older cities, with old mains that run low pressure. During periods of extreme cold, the distribution pressure falls even lower due to under capacity for connected loads. Groundwater can then get into the lines and cause this problem.
  • rjheaterrjheater Posts: 6Member
    Just ran into similar problem last week, received two calls from same street for no heat. As I turned onto the street I saw the gas company tech pumping water out of the line. Stopped and talked to him he said it was a dirt leg he was pumping from that hadn’t been done in over two years.
  • LanceLance Posts: 137Member
    Gas pipe flow problems we found over the years. In Baltimore, we have very old pipes, water is added to the gas flow to make sure the really old joints do not dry out and leak underground. Utility puts in new meter, all seems normal, but on high demand, pressure drops. Found sand in pipe in the street. Similar situation, we found a spider web in the nipple at the meter. Have also found this in recently replaced pipes serving some appliances. Our code calls for drip legs. They are for water. They will fill up and block flow. Had a fitter threading pipe; a year went by then, no heat. Found the drip leg in front of a regulator filled with cutting oil. He had threaded pipe sloping the wrong way while using cutting oil. Eventually it all flows with the gas. We have floods now and then and water can get in from a pilot, with enough depth can push back through control valves. Mains can get filled. Eventually it goes somewhere until we get a call to find out where. One year a client with a standing pilot had no heat. Pilot was burning normal it seemed. Pilot heated up a mercury bulb switch to prove ready to light burner. Gas pressure was 2.5" Wc, Normally is 3.5 to 7.5"w.c. Found utility on the first cold snap had failed to inform all its commercial customers to switch off the natural gas system. Pressure restored. What made this unusual was this furnace's mercury bulb pilot sensor. Its smaller flame did not make enough heat for the bulb to work. Two years later same customer had same problem, I called BGE utility. Their response was, "Oh, I forgot to tell our commercial clients to switch to their backup fuel." Go figure!
  • HotanCoolHotanCool Posts: 49Member
    I've also seen spider webs clog a meter bar.In some of the old cities around here,the gas pipe inground is 50+ year old bare Steel. No wondering it's failing.The Utilities are slowly replacing the lines with the new plastic type material,supposed to last a lifetime.And because of demand,converting certain areas to High Pressure,which well certainly lead to more leaks in time, especially the exposed above ground service lines. Job Security!
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