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Boiler water usage

tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
edited November 30 in Strictly Steam
I wasn't sure what is considered, "normal" for boiler water usage. I probably have to manually top off my boiler 1-2 times a week when it's running a lot. I'm guessing that each time its maybe a gallon or 2 as it's not a very big boiler. There always seems to be some white smoke coming from the chimney even last year. Not sure if this is normal or not. The boiler was but installed in 2014 before I bought this house. It will clear up a little bit when it runs a little. Its about 25 degrees out when I took that picture.

Comments

  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,270
    That much water usage indicates a massive leak somewhere.

    What’s coming out of the chimney looks like a leaking boiler. The way to find out for sure is to shut it down, let it cook for a while, and overfill with water and see if it’s leaking out somewhere.

    As far as water usage, it does depend on size of system, but I’d say no more than a gallon per month for an average house. Much more than that and I’d be hinting down the leaks. My house is 1500 sq ft and I use 3-4 gallons per year.
    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
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    I'll fill it up and see what happens, how much should it be overfilled to check. Also, if its buring water does that mean I need a new boiler or can something be replaced?
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,270
    You fill it until the header has water in it. If there’s a hole in the boiler you should know fairly quickly. Fill it up, if you see water right away stop, if you don’t see water, let it sit for 15-30 minutes, if still no water you should be good.

    If you see water with this test and it isn’t coming from an pipe connections, it’s time for a new boiler.

    Before replacing I would find out why this one failed so quickly, 5 years is crazy. You may be eligible for a warranty claim for the new boiler.
    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
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    Ok thank you for your help. And by header your talking about the head pipe that comes out of the boiler correct? If by some chance this isnt leaking what would explain the white smoke I'm getting?
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,432
    That much white "smoke" may just be condensation. Not time to panic -- yet. However, much more smoke -- billows -- would definitely be a leak in the boiler. Boiler leaks are often into the fire side of the boiler, not handily onto the floor, and the steam is carried off with the flue gas, and condenses when it gets cold out. But -- flue gas contains water naturally, so some white smoke is to be expected anyway.

    On the water fill test. What you want to do is to add enough water to the boiler so that it is up in the risers, if not all the way to the header. Then let it sit for a while and see if it drops. This is not as easy as it sounds, since there really isn't any good way to "see" the water level in an iron pipe. Don't get carried away an overfill the system! And... don't forget to lower the water level to normal on the sight glass before you run it again.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    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
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,618
    I could be wrong, but most boilers are only warrantied for a year, and only to the original owner. There could be something about the installation that caused it to fail and that would void the warranty anyway, and you'd have to go after the installer to seek damages, which would be hard to do since they didn't install it for you.
    Given that it's only five years old, I would recommend looking into the possibility of repairing the boiler. Some boilers use elastomeric seals between the sections that can be replaced. It's a major job, and not something to undertake during heating season, but if you can limp through the winter by maintaining the water level, you should get somebody in there to tear it down and either rebuild it or do a thorough post-mortem on it.
    This would be a good place to put in a plug for hiring a steam professional to inspect the heating system whenever you're considering buying a home with steam heat.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,618
    tkos115 said:

    Ok thank you for your help. And by header your talking about the head pipe that comes out of the boiler correct? If by some chance this isnt leaking what would explain the white smoke I'm getting?

    Burning hydrocarbons produces two major products: carbon dioxide and water vapor. When the water vapor hits cold air, it forms a visible cloud of minute droplets which then disperse and re-evaporate. The size of the cloud depends on the amount of water vapor and the ambient temperature, so the best way to gauge whether the size of your cloud is larger than normal, indicating that additional water is leaking from your boiler, walk around the neighborhood and see how your neighbors' stack outputs look at the same time.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    It does seem a bit bigger than the houses on my street. I noticed also that when I open the draft dampner on the exhaust pipe before it goes into the chimney that it feels very humid when it's running. It makes my hand a bit wet. I filled it up a bit and let it sit and haven't seen any water leak outside of it yet. I dont know how to tell if its dropping down since I cant see inside the pipes.
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    edited November 30
    Could removing the blower and injection assembly from the boiler help me find out about an internal leak. Could this be easily removed and then could I look inside and see if there is any water or wetness? It looks like the assembly swings out.
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    I took the top off and took some pics of the heat exchangers. I dont see anything out of the ordinary. I'm gonna try to take a look down lower too. Could use a cleaning though.
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    After moving some of the gunk it seems like this section is a bit wet...
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,270
    What is going on where I circled? That looks like serious corrosion. Also when was this boiler last serviced? Cleaned, combustion analysis etc.?

    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
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,270
    tkos115 said:

    After moving some of the gunk it seems like this section is a bit wet...

    I think you found the problem.
    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
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    Looks like the left side is corroded
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 7,965
    That doesn’t look like a boiler from 2014. Let it sit for an hour or two, while overfilled, and any boiler leak should show up on the floor.—NBC
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    edited November 30
    Yeah it's pretty wet. It was cleaned a little over a year ago before I moved in. (So I'm told) but I think its junk or is that fixable?
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,618
    Probably not at this point. I'd start planning a replacement and see if you can nurse it through the winter.
    Where are you located?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    That's what I figured. I live in western mass.
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,618
    You might want to talk to @Charlie from wmass. He's in Springfield, but I think he covers most of western MA.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    Thank you, I send him an email.
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    Is is possible to replace this boiler with the same model to save time on installation and having to change the head piping and so on?
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,618
    I'm sure there are pros and cons to that. Maybe ths model has a history of failing like yours did. Maybe there are good reasons for changing the near boiler piping anyway. Maybe there are more efficient options that won't require major changes in the piping. I'm sure Charlie, or any of the steam pros on this site, will be able to guide you to the best option.
    If my boiler dies before I do, I know I'm going to replace it with the most similar Peerless model, but ease of replacement isn't the only reason. The big reason is that it's 36 years old and still going strong, and it was piped incorrectly for the first 30 years. If I'd needed to replace it after five years I'd be inclined to try a different brand, but maybe yours was just an isolated case.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,270
    tkos115 said:

    Is is possible to replace this boiler with the same model to save time on installation and having to change the head piping and so on?

    Typically some amount of piping needs to come apart to remove and install a new boiler no matter how similar they are. This also assumes your current one is the correct size.

    Also keep in mind those pipes typically don't like to come back apart.

    I would also be concerned about what caused that one to fail, excess make up water is the usual suspect so it would be worth while to figure that out and have it fixed at the same time.
    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
  • kevink1955kevink1955 Member Posts: 69
    I assumed we were talking about a Gas fired boiler but now see from the latest photos that it's Oil. I have never seen an Oil fired leave a vapor trail till it was below 0 outside, Gas on the other hand will vapor trail around 20 degrees. anyone feel different ??
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,618
    I don't see why it wouldn't. They're both hydrocarbons.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • tkos115tkos115 Member Posts: 66
    I know prices arnt really discussed on here but would this be something that would cost more than 6k to do? Or perhaps that's not an answer that can really be given, I'm just trying to get a ball park number.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,432
    Actually, @Hap_Hazzard and @kevink1955 , from the chemical standpoint gas exhaust will condense at a higher temperature than oil, all else being equal. This is because there is more water in it relative the BTUs produced. Natural gas produces 2 water molecules and one CO2 molecule per molecule burned, while #2 produces around 10 of each -- so twice as much waterin the natural gas exhaust.

    I don't think there's much in it, though...
    Br. Jamie, osb

    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
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,618
    Really? That's interesting, @Jamie Hall. I was assuming fuel oils were mostly just longer chain alkanes, so there wouldn't be as many terminal hydrogens, but that wouldn't make a big difference. I guess there must be a lot of alkenes, alkynes and other stuff.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • AdmiralYodaAdmiralYoda Member Posts: 66
    Out of curiosity, do you have any leaking radiators? When I bought my house, my first steam system, I thought it was normal to add a few gallons a week.

    After noticing lots of steam/water vapor come out of my chimney I started asking questions. I pretty much got the same answers you have received here and filled my boiler up to the header....no leak!

    But it turns out my leaking radiator was the culprit. I recently removed it and I'm not adding any water anymore. One radiator can leak ALOT of steam.
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