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Automatic water feeder filling furnace while heat is off

huntj01
huntj01 Member Posts: 8
I have a Weil-McLain Gold Oil furnace with a Universal Water Feeder hooked up to it. I had some issues this past winter with the water feeder needing to fill the furnace frequently, sometimes as much as daily. I can see the water level in the glass tube and it is low when the feeder kicks on and it does fill it to the marked water level on the face of the furnace.

I turned off my heat this past weekend, but that water level still drops slowly and the feeder kicks on to refill it. I've looked around the base of the furnace, around my radiators, and around the visible pipes in the basement and I don't see any evidence of a leak. Could this just be evaporation? I replaced a few air vents on some radiators (but not all), could that be the problem? Or is this just normal behavior?

Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,958
    Sorry. Not evaporation. Nor a leak above the water line, nor vents... somewhere below the water line of the boiler you have a leak. Wet returns? Any buried wet returns? Leak into the firebox of the boiler (you might not see that without opening the access door)? But a)it's a leak and b)it needs to be fixed and c)it's below the water line.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    huntj01
  • huntj01
    huntj01 Member Posts: 8
    Crap...

    I just had the furnace serviced by my oil company, and the guy didn't mention anything like that. I'll take a closer look.

    Thanks for the reply.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,689
    Boiler, not furnace...:)
    steve
    huntj01ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    huntj01 said:

    Crap...

    I just had the furnace serviced by my oil company, and the guy didn't mention anything like that. I'll take a closer look.

    Thanks for the reply.

    He or she may not have seen any evidence of it. Do you have any pipes that return to the boiler after being under the floor of your basement. It would seem that a leak this big and not visible MUST be in underground return pipes, but correct me if I'm wrong, @Jamie Hall , the Hartford Loop should keep the water level high in the boiler if the boiler isn't running. The water's going somewhere though!

    I agree it's certainly not evaporation or a leak in anything above the water line.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • huntj01
    huntj01 Member Posts: 8
    I may have identified where it is. Not sure how to describe this, but one of the return pipes goes through a set of concrete steps that go up to a sub-basement. On one side of the steps where the pipe comes out I can see steps, and luckily (I guess?) it's dripping down into a perimeter drain that's installed around the regular basement. I can take pictures if that explanation is not clear.

    So that would explain why the feeder was turning on so frequently when the boiler (thanks Steve) was running, but would that also explain why I'm still losing water with the boiler turned off? I checked under the boiler, behind it, all around it and don't see anything wet.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,958
    Sounds like you may have found it. Good show. Now for the mix of good news and bad news. The bad new is that if a wet return is dripping, it's probably pretty badly corroded elsewhere, too -- so the best thing to do is to replace the whole thing. The good news is that so long as you keep it below the boiler water level, it can go up, down, sideways, whatever -- although it's helpful to add places where you can open it out to flush it if you need to. Like plugged T's instead of elbows. The even better news is that if you're not keen on threading iron pipe, it can be in copper.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,594
    edited May 2019
    Yes please post pics of the leak and the boiler with connected piping.
    If you didn't have an auto feed and the LWCO was faulty, its possible the boiler could have dry fired and cracked the cast iron block. There should be a Hartford Loop at the boiler return in the event there is a leak below the water line, it keeps the water in the boiler rather than drain out from the leaking area.
    The WM Gold arrived around 1993 but I'm pretty sure the Hartford Loop was common even way back in the 20th century.
    Intplm.
  • huntj01
    huntj01 Member Posts: 8
    I took a video just to show the whole section leading up to where the leak is. The point where the pipe goes into the steps is where the leak is. Hopefully this shows the setup, I can also take pictures of anything else.

    ethicalpaul
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,082
    That pipe is below the water line of the boiler so it always has water in it regardless of boiler operation. It will leak until it's empty.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,958
    edited May 2019
    A Hartford loop -- depending on exactly how it is piped -- may not be high enough to keep an automatic feeder from tripping. Probably the case in this situation. And it will keep the boiler from emptying -- if the boiler is off, even with a leak in the wet returns. But -- a word to the wise: it will not keep the boiler from eventually running dry from a leak in the wet return or any where else if the boiler is running. That's what the LWCO is for.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    edited May 2019
    KC_Jones said:

    That pipe is below the water line of the boiler so it always has water in it regardless of boiler operation. It will leak until it's empty.

    I hate to disagree with my DIY hero KC but the leak seems to be protected by the Hartford Loop. The boiler level should be lowering to the level of where the Hartford Loop enters the Tee shown by my red arrow in this picture, and no lower, if it's not firing.

    Edit: if KC means "the pipe" then there is no disagreement. I assumed he meant "the boiler" would go empty.



    Why do they call it a "loop" anyway?

    Also, does it really even help anything? In this case, exactly the situation I think the loop was designed to help, the boiler is still going to go dry really quick once it fires if the LWCO fails. So the failure point is still the LWCO regardless of if you have a Hartford Loop, right?

    Or is the Hartford Loop to protect the basement from getting flooded with boiler water? Because that's the only benefit I can see of it.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,485
    > @ethicalpaul said:
    > That pipe is below the water line of the boiler so it always has water in it regardless of boiler operation. It will leak until it's empty.
    >
    > I hate to disagree with my DIY hero KC but the leak seems to be protected by the Hartford Loop. The boiler level should be lowering to the level of where the Hartford Loop enters the Tee shown by my red arrow in this picture, and no lower, if it's not firing.
    >
    > Edit: if KC means "the pipe" then there is no disagreement. I assumed he meant "the boiler" would go empty.
    >
    >
    >
    > Why do they call it a "loop" anyway?
    >
    > Also, does it really even help anything? In this case, exactly the situation I think the loop was designed to help, the boiler is still going to go dry really quick once it fires if the LWCO fails. So the failure point is still the LWCO regardless of if you have a Hartford Loop, right?
    >
    > Or is the Hartford Loop to protect the basement from getting flooded with boiler water? Because that's the only benefit I can see of it.

    Slows down the boiler emptying out. Once upon a time, people used to check the boiler a few times a day.
    ethicalpaul
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,082
    Yes the pipe will empty, not the boiler.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ethicalpaul