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Atmospheric condensate tanks. Duh!

Jackmartin Member Posts: 196
edited December 2019 in THE MAIN WALL
I thought would write this one up because we all need a laugh now and again. I have a friend, that just recently retired, from one of the major hospitals here in Winnipeg. He is a good tech.and he cares, not a good combination in these bureaucratic political institutions. This home of the suffering is especially bad, in fact, I would not be surprised if Kevlar vests are not normal underwear, considering the backstabbing that goes on.
He managed to get the boss to agree to hire me regarding a problem they were having with a condensate return tank pump. This is a hospital that still uses autoclaves for sterilization, so they keep the steam pressure in the boiler room at 125 PSIG, they have reducing stations for heating etc. I ask him why he needs me to look at it, I know he has already in his quiet way, figured out what was going on. He tells me if he fixes the problem he will be wolf bait because this tank was installed by the hospital's plumbing shop in coordination with the millwright shop so egos are in the way. I ask him what the problem is because I know he has the solution, but he tells me you have to see this for yourself.
I arrive at the hospital, meet the boss, the guy with the clipboard and he rounds up the posse to take me down and see this mysterious terribly complex mechanical vexation. We go into a very large mechanical room and of course, for some reason they decided to put the tank under the return steam pipes, I always welcome a chance to burn myself. The millwright, I know he is a millwright he tells me at least ten times, explains over the last heating season they have had to replace the seals on the pump at least five times, this is only used for comfort heating and it is off all summer. Please see this in your mind's eye, I have two tradespeople and the guy with the clipboard convinced that the wholesale is selling them bad seals and did I mention, Mr. Clipboard pipes up, we had to change the whole pump two months ago. The conscientious is, the manufacturer's engineers are a bunch of dummies. Just to add indignity to the problem, they had a long talk with the engineering department of this very large firm and they were told in no uncertain terms, they were whistling down a drainpipe, there is nothing wrong with our pump, so there!
Well, how would a mere engineer be more knowledgable than us, you know the plumber and the millwright ( eleven times) and not to mention Mr. Clipboard; who needs to go to school for four years and then apprentice for four more years to get your P.Eng., not us, we are too smart. I think you are seeing why my buddy retired early.
So, with all this very unhelpful information, I get to crawl into the space where this lousy, no good, rotten pump has been so carefully installed. I remembered my mag light this time, one episode of crawling to get out of unlit crawl space is once too many. The light hits the vent pipe and I start to laugh, which is not a great thing to do when the customer can hear you. I roll out of the space and ask them in a serious tone, trying not to smile, if the engineers had sent them installation instructions? Mr. Clipboard gets a little haughty and tells me they know all about condensate receivers because we have a millwright. I explain in the most basic language possible that there is a small problem with the install. Oh, and what may that be Mr.Clipboard says, I explain, in the installation instructions that stupid engineer sent, they made reference to atmospheric venting of the tank, no? They seem to all speak at once and tell me this is a high-pressure system and all the tanks are piped to the outside. Well, it would seem, someone mistakenly thought a high-pressure return was the pipe going to the outside and piped the vent into the return. So they had very hot condensate going into the tank and did I mention, they told me the pump never seemed to go off. I told them in a most gentlemanly way, to vent the tank to the atmosphere and things should settle down. Well, Mr. Clipboard tells me, they will have a meeting about it and decide. Good show, just send the cheque when you get the invoice. I know they saw the error of their ways because, of course, my friend repipes it on the following Monday. Heavens, don't you just hate those stupid engineers!


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,950
    Good one. @DanHolohan , ISTR you've written about similar cases.......
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,553
    Retired and loving it.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
    Years ago I used to spout off my title.

    Not anymore, only if someone asks. Otherwise the work that gets done is all the speaking that is needed.

    And I have a lot bigger title which I could spout off now.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • jacobsond
    jacobsond Member Posts: 90
    To tell someone that is an expert (in his own mind) to read directions is just wrong. Then having to verify the correct installation is crazy. Those guys that write those things are just idiots. FYI I always read the directions on everything. Some I follow some not. If there is a problem I always fall back on the service manual and directions. I know it sounds crazy.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 922
    In my 40+ years I never told anyone that I was an expert at what I did but said that I usually knew what I was doing. Many years ago, before retirement I entered the boiler room of a school in eastern Pa. to ask if they (union contractors) needed any instructions on the proper way to replace the cast iron sections on an H B smith 6500- 20. I was ushered out of the building by the overzealous workers after I told them that they were going to hit a snag in their work since they were doing it "wrong". I went back to the boiler room in a building adjacent to this one. 2 days later I was called by my boss and told to go back to the boiler room where the contractor had asked me to leave. When I got there they were so nice. The owner of the company was at the site and asked what they had to do to get the boiler together. They had been on the job 5 days and they could not get the boiler together. I said that they had to take all the sections back out and start over, and that if done properly, the boiler section replacement could be done in 1-1/2 days. They balked at my suggestion but did what I asked, and they even allowed me to help. A day and 1/2 later the Job was finished and I restarted the burner.