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50% Defective Big Mouths in recent order

I installed 6 B&J big mouths on a recent job. At the time of installation, all seemed to be well on the test fire. However, only 2 weeks later I was called back due to the boiler losing vast quantities of water as well as the homeowner noticing odd sounds. Upon arriving, steam was observed exiting a doorjam above the vents! (Damage to the finish of the door due to the steam)
In total, 3 of the installed 6 vents were still steaming after steam reached them, one severely. https://i.imgur.com/C0tamj0.mp4 Has anyone else seen this with recent batches of the big mouths, or is this a fluke? Also, how should I go about getting replacements? Currently they've been replaced by the $1 main vent (3/4" pipe plug), but I'd obviously like to install new ones ASAP. Thank you all, and a belated Merry Christmas!
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Comments

  • Lard
    Lard Member Posts: 115
    This is exactly what I had happen with one of three...It worked for about ten cycles and then was just wide-open. The disc lost the alcohol fill and no longer expands.

    I tried calling B&J, but have not had any luck. My working hours make it difficult.
    Others have had good luck getting a new disc sent their way.. Mine is still plugged off.
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    My experience with one failed vent is they stand behind their products. Email jpatriarca@barnesandjones.com , he is in charge of sales and customer support.
    Lard
  • 1Matthias
    1Matthias Member Posts: 148
    edited December 2019
    Yeah, I'll be calling B&J tomorrow morning. I'd love to fix them here if possible. I'm just glad that A ) the customer is being polite about the door as it's much worse in person than it is on camera and B ) They actually checked the water level on the boiler and noticed it was decreasing. (They don't have a auto water feeder, which is one of the next things on the list.)
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,623
    i bet if that door was that affected by steam that it is shellac and if you brush it with alcohol and let it dry it will all smooth out.
    CLamb
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    @mattmia2 , I have used alcohol to correct shellac finishes many times on furniture with good results. Just go easy with it so you don't rub the finish off instead of blending.
  • Dave0176
    Dave0176 Member Posts: 1,177
    edited December 2019
    I’ve unfortunately have had multiple customers call for the same reason and even replaced a few vents only to have them leak eventually also. I will be unfortunately going back to using multiple Gorton No2s, I’m in business and connot afford many failures.

    Yes Barnes & Jones is a great reputable company and they honor their products, however we’ve had waay too many failures in the recent future causing too many call backs.
    DL Mechanical LLC Heating, Cooling and Plumbing 732-266-5386
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  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,623
    Side note, when they sell denatured alcohol, they use the denaturing as an excuse to replace about half of the alcohol with MEK. This doesn't work so well with shellac. There is an eco version of denatured alcohol where it is mostly ethanol and a lot less denaturant. this works much better with shellac.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    @Sailah , I know you're not with B&J anymore but do you have contacts that can address these issues? Seems like a quality control issue with the disc.
  • Lard
    Lard Member Posts: 115
    > @gfrbrookline said:
    > My experience with one failed vent is they stand behind their products. Email jpatriarca@barnesandjones.com , he is in charge of sales and customer support.

    Thanks for the contact! Hopefully I can get a new disc before this strange warm weather abruptly leaves us. I took advantage of the boiler being off and repacked 40 valves... yay!
  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    @Fred , I will ask. Seems the discs are having the same issue as a few years ago. I thought we had fixed it while I was there.

    I'll report back.

    Peter
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
    Fred
  • Lard
    Lard Member Posts: 115
    I have a new disc on the way. Email was the way to go, I had a response in less than ten minutes.
    I really hope this issue is resolved for good. I would hate to see this product pulled due to high failure rate.
  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    When you get the disc, examine closely the weld line of the 2 shells. Or post a pic. Also shake it to your ear, it should be sloshing around in there. I'd estimate "about half full" is right amount of fill.
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
  • 1Matthias
    1Matthias Member Posts: 148
    So, pulled the disks out of the failed vents. All 3 sound completely empty. There's a couple spots along the weld lines of each that looks like there's less penetration, almost like the arc was disrupted for a second. Luckily, it sounds like I'll be able to send the old ones back in for replacements. I may have to start "vetting" any vents I order by sticking them on our system for a couple of days before installation.
  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    I'm convinced this disc issue is the reason for the failures. When we first started making these, we had a bad disc run and I assumed it was corrected. Frustrating to see the issue may be back.

    I'm sorry for those this affected, sounds like Barnes and Jones are being helpful to those who got some bad ones.

    It's fairly random, some have had them installed from the very first batch and they still work fine.
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
  • Lard
    Lard Member Posts: 115
    > @Sailah said:
    > When you get the disc, examine closely the weld line of the 2 shells. Or post a pic. Also shake it to your ear, it should be sloshing around in there. I'd estimate "about half full" is right amount of fill.

    I will bring the old disc into work when I return to that mess (Jan. 6) and stick it under the microscope, even should be able to provide some microscope photos. It is definitely empty with no sloshing.
  • Lard
    Lard Member Posts: 115
    My dead disc (empty, just like my skull) shows an incomplete weld. It is a “miss” on both sides at the area indicated.
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    You repacked 40 valves, were they all leaking or was this a PM project?
  • Lard
    Lard Member Posts: 115
    @gfrbrookline

    They were all leaking. This particular building has lots of deferred repairs to catch up on. The water loss from the small leaks was masked by massive water loss for years—around 60-70,000 gallons last year alone. On the coldest days the system went through over 400 gallons!
    After completely redoing the condensate returns and with the leaky valves, the worst has been three quarts every couple days. Hopefully this repacking nails down the worst of it...
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    That's a huge and thankless job. What did you use to repack the valves?
  • 1Matthias
    1Matthias Member Posts: 148
    @Lard The ones I just sent back had spots like that, although much smaller. That's probably the issue if I'm any judge of the matter.
  • Lard
    Lard Member Posts: 115
    > @gfrbrookline said:
    > That's a huge and thankless job. What did you use to repack the valves?

    I used the good ‘ol graphite rope on most, but did a few with PTFE to see how it holds up. Most of the valves are original from 1916, but amazingly only one handle screw snapped off and every packing nut spun with ease. The packing I removed looked like it was oakum.

    Back to the topic at hand:
    > @1Matthias said:
    > @Lard The ones I just sent back had spots like that, although much smaller. That's probably the issue if I'm any judge of the matter.

    I am quite certain that it is the issue. Can’t have a hermetic seal with an incomplete weld. The magic juice will seek lower pressure however it can!
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
    Lard said:

    I used the good ‘ol graphite rope on most, but did a few with PTFE to see how it holds up.

    You might find that it's hard to get the packing nut tight without squeezing the PTFE out. It tends to creep through the gap between the stem and the packing nut. PTFE isn't crosslinked, so it can creep through gaps as thin as a single molecule.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    CLamb
  • Leon82
    Leon82 Member Posts: 684
    That seems like a good application for an electron beam weld
  • 1Matthias
    1Matthias Member Posts: 148
    @Lard Best place I've found for getting packing rope is Autozone, believe it or not. Was $12 for a massive roll of the stuff. They have it for repacking water pumps and such on antique cars.
  • Lard
    Lard Member Posts: 115
    > @1Matthias said:
    > @Lard Best place I've found for getting packing rope is Autozone, believe it or not. Was $12 for a massive roll of the stuff. They have it for repacking water pumps and such on antique cars.

    I will keep that in mind! I am within walking distance of an AutoBone. I never thought about old automotive uses (my oldest in the “fleet” is an ‘89 caprice wagon, long into the era of disposable water pumps).
  • bmma
    bmma Member Posts: 32
    edited December 2019
    I too have had a problem with the Big Mouth vent not sealing. I bought the vent last December but didn't install it until this summer. When the heating season started I noticed I was losing some water from my boiler. I tracked it down to the Big Mouth vent. It wouldn't seal completely and was letting some steam out during each heating cycle. I reached out to Barnes and Jones and they sent me a new disc very quickly. Unfortunately, that disc was worse and was essentially wide open; it wouldn't seal at all. Steam was just pouring out whenever the boiler was firing. Barnes and Jones asked me to send the vent back for them to test it. In the meantime I installed two Gorton #2 vents and things are working fine, and I'm no longer losing water from the boiler.
  • Shalom
    Shalom Member Posts: 165
    Are these discs exclusive to the Big Mouth, or are there a bunch of other defective traps out in the wild?
  • Lard
    Lard Member Posts: 115
    The replacement disc came today. The weld on it appears to be complete. It also actually has juice inside!

    It worked perfectly in a test run. I should know by next week if it is another leaker.
  • TC83
    TC83 Member Posts: 18
    I just browsed into this post and made me realize i've been seeing more water use after switching to big mouth vents. i am going to have to camp out and monitor them. i'll report back
    ethicalpaul
  • TC83
    TC83 Member Posts: 18
    Followup - I sat through two heating cycles today (am and pm), my big mouth vents seem to close fully as soon as 0.1# of steam registers on my 0-5psi gage. both of mine are approx. 2-3 months old. Hope this helps someone for reference.
  • TC83
    TC83 Member Posts: 18
    update, I watched my furthest BM vent and it does indeed leak throughout the beginning of the cycle. I was afraid i had a leak of sorts on my returns, but they are all dry.
    I've been having to top off the water about every 4-5days.

    https://imgur.com/a/NMlmcmS
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    I had sea sickness from your video, but didn’t see any water spraying out-was there some other problem with it?—NBC
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
    I think I'm seeing some steam escaping.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    ethicalpaul
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    Does it only chuff steam for a few seconds and then close. If so I don't think that is abnormal, it takes a few seconds for the vent to get hot which triggers the disk to expand and close.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
    Aren't the alcohol capsule types usually faster than the bimetal strip type vents? I'm not disputing anybody's emprical observations; I'm just surprised that the Big Mouths would be slower than a Gorton #2.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    My BM is definitely slower than my Gorton #1, not even close. But my BM might be from the "not enough alcohol" batch. It closes very marginally and I have taken it out of service because it was blowing too much steam.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    I've been using the BM since they were first produced and haven't had a single problem. Not even a puff of steam.
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,229
    I used them twice and threw them both in the garbage. I have no idea what the attraction is.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
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  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    > @Fred said:
    > I've been using the BM since they were first produced and haven't had a single problem. Not even a puff of steam.

    Interesting. Mine doesn’t operate anything like that. It would puff and puff and slowly, barely close.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,965
    I have installed quite a few. They vent so fast, it's almost unbelievable. i did have a few leakers in the beginning. Sent back and was replaced for free. Also had one recent leaker. Sent back and was replaced for free. I have also had Gorton #2 leakers. And #2's that were frozen shut, out of the box. Assuming no leaks, the BM is compact and vents super fast. Also, has higher closing temp. That means that will reopen quicker earlier in the heating cycle.