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Water leak

I have 2 spigots that I drain water from weekly on my steam boiler. One of them is leaking - is this something I need an steam expert for? In general, replacing a faucet is not beyond our scope but I do not know what I need to do with the system in order to do this, and obviously don't want to mess anything up.

If placement is standard, it's the one on the left that is leaking. This is the one I get the least amount of water from and it has an old style round faucet. The one on the right has a lever type.

I noticed a bit of seepage along the bottom of the glass tube yesterday when I was refilling it, but I haven't been able to duplicate that.

I am in CT and from what I've read here, Charlie is the main man. I know he's busy though and it's nearly filled up a small bucket in 2 days :(

Thank you! I've been reading emails from this site since 2006 and am in awe of the knowledge found here.

Comments

  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Posts: 1,928Member
    Do you have a picture you can post? Usually there's only one draincock.

    If it's just a standard draincock, you should be able to replace it yourself, but I recommend you use a full-port ball valve. That's probably what the one with the lever is. The globe valves get fouled with sediment. That's why you weren't able to get as much out of it, and that's probably also why it's leaking.

    You'll have to drain the boiler, naturally, so be sure to turn off your gas valve (Leave it in the "pilot" position.) and turn off the thermostat, if it has an "off" switch, and/or turn off the breaker. (You want to be really sure the burners don't come on while the boiler is empty.)

    Can I assume you know all about using pipe joint compound and/or plumber's tape on pipe threads?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 11,796Member
    First off, is this a spigot near the bottom of the boiler? Or is this on the low water cutoff? Placement of these drains is anything but standard.

    If it's on or very near the bottom of the boiler, you really don't need to be draining it every week -- in fact, you probably shouldn't be. Therefore... if it has threads on it, like a hose bibb, I'd suggest just putting a bit of hose on it, and capping off the end of the hose and leaving it be until summer. Problem is, you see, that to replace it you have to take it off... and you would get very wet indeed before you could get a new one put on. The proper way to do it would be to drain the boiler completely and replace the valve, and if you don't need to use the valve, that's better done when you don't need the heat.

    On the other hand, if it is on the low water cutoff, that's a nuisance -- but that's much higher on the boiler, so you can turn the boiler off, drain it down to that level, replace the valve, and fill it back up to where it belongs. A word of caution: the valve may not come off easily. An alternative approach would be to add a bit of hose (if there are threads) or a bit of pipe to the outlet and put another valve on that which doesn't leak. And again -- leave it that way until summer.

    If you can post a photo of the offending valve I can be a bit more coherent...

    You're right -- @Charlie from wmass is the main man in this area. You are also right -- he's kind of busy. But he's busy because he's very good indeed, and there would be no harm in contacting him and seeing if you can set up an appointment to give your system a going over.
    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
  • FredFred Posts: 8,188Member
    edited January 10
    Spigots are usually placed at the ends of wet returns and at the bottom of the boiler. If the leaking one is the one on the boiler, you will need to turn the power off to the boiler, let the water cool down so it doesn't scald you and drain the boiler. You can either replace the washer in the spigot or replace it with a new boiler drain valve or a ball valve (lever type).
    If the leaking spigot is on a wet return line, you will still need to drain the boiler down at least below the Hartford loop (using the boiler drain Valve) and then open the spigot on the wet return and drain the wet return. Replace it with a Ball valve (lever type) also.
    As for the leak at the sight glass, a plumbing supply sells rubber replacement washers that install at the top and bottom of the sight glass (under the hex nuts that hold the glass in place. You may want to just try a tighten those hex nuts a little to compress the washer that is in there. That might work. If you decide to replace those sight glass washers, you may want to but a replacement sight glass as well. the old one may break. Measure that glass so you get the right length.
    When done, refill the boiler to its normal level and turn the power back on.
    In a pinch, you can just but a garden hose cap and any hardware store and screw it onto the leaking spigot until you can replace the washer in the spigot or the spigot itself.
  • DianeD1DianeD1 Posts: 4Member
    That was fast! I didn't think I'd be able to post a pic on my first post. See attached, forgive the backsplash on the baseboard, it's on the mental todo list.

    There are threads on the one leaking. If I read the posts right, I shouldn't be doing the left one weekly?

    Thanks!


  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 11,796Member
    That left one is a boiler drain -- the one that's leaking. And as I said, you don't need to drain it weekly and probably shouldn't. You can drain the boiler now and replace it... but since you don't need it, I'd figure out a way to just cap it off and forget about it until summer. Then have at it.

    The one on the right, higher up, with the lever valve, you should blow down every week or two. That flushes any crud that gets to it out of the black triangular affair, which is your low water cutoff and water feeder. You really do want that to work...
    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
  • DianeD1DianeD1 Posts: 4Member
    Thank you Jamie! So I can just cap off the one on the left? Should I drain it at all, ever? I do get dark water out of it, but not very much. (not sure I want to say how long I've been draining it for :neutral: )

    The one on the right I do weekly during heating season and monthly in the summer.
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Posts: 1,928Member
    If you're getting sediment from the drain, it's worth doing it every week or two. That sediment can build up and block your return eventually, causing the water line to fluctuate. The reason you're not getting much out now is that it's probably pretty clogged up. Those draincocks are really good at collecting gunk. You'll see when you get around to taking it off. I'd replace it with a ball valve so you can flush the sediment more effectively.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 11,796Member
    Different styles there. I'd not worry about the sediment to which @Hap_Hazzard refers, but some would. What you do want to do is come summer you want to take that problem child off and thoroughly flush the boiler out to get rid of what's accumulated there and then replace the valve. In my opinion...
    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
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Posts: 970Member
    You can put a hose cap on that drain. $5 give or take
  • DianeD1DianeD1 Posts: 4Member
    Thanks everyone! You just saved me the stress - and cost - of getting someone out in heating season. Heading to my hardware store this morning.
  • BobCBobC Posts: 5,051Member
    Put some teflon tape on the threads before using a cap so it comes off easy.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 6,275Member
    @DianeD1

    I agree a garden hose cap will work then change or have the valve changed this summer
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Posts: 970Member
    > @BobC said:
    > Put some teflon tape on the threads before using a cap so it comes off easy.
    >
    > Bob

    You dont need teflon. There is washer inside cap. Just like you dont need teflon when attaching hose
  • Larry WeingartenLarry Weingarten Posts: 1,649Member
    Hello, I'm often mistaken, but in this case it seems the water seal is from the washer and the ability to tighten and later remove easily is provided by the teflon. o:)

    Yours, Larry
  • BobCBobC Posts: 5,051Member
    edited January 12
    @steam doctor The hose caps I got at the local hardware store were suspect and when I tested them they were magnetic. I've had problems getting washer machine hoses off hose bibs (after many years) and always use teflon tape there as well - those also were magnetic.

    If they really were brass it probably would not be necessary.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Posts: 970Member
    Interesting. Learn something everyday. Never had need for teflon. If you use teflon, make sure not to use too much. You need crank cap down enough to get good washer squish
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Posts: 1,928Member
    I got some "brass" washers for my glass gauge a few years ago. When they arrived I checked them with a magnet, and they were magnetic. I don't know why they do that. Brass is not a precious metal, and it can't be cheap to plate other metals with brass. You can't use electroplating, because brass is an alloy. There's no excuse for making something look like brass when it isn't, especially when they claim what they're selling is brass.

    BTW, keep a magnet handy when you're buying something made of "stainless" steel. With the exception of some special alloys used for cutlery or exhaust systems, most stainless steel alloys are austenitic, so a magnet shouldn't stick (although rare-earth super magnets are weakly attracted). If it's strongly magnetic it's probably just steel plated with something to make it look like stainless, and if it gets scratched it will rust.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 1,028Member
    You do not need to use teflon on a boiler drain cap. You don't.
    The reason why they leak at first is because to many folks (my self included) have tighten them down as if we are screwing pipes together.
    As many of you know from my posts, I am a big fan of using teflon tape. But not on hose bib/boiler drain type connections. That's what the washer is for.
    The biggest reason why the caps leak is OVER tightening. This makes the washer curl into the boiler drain and loose its inside surface connection. This can also happen when certain brands of hose bibbs have a non-flat surface at the diameter end of the hose bibb. (At the surface point where the washer contacts cap and hose bibb.) At times I have found bibb ends are actually a bit sharp and not really flat. But don't take my word for it. Look for yourself.
    All the tightening in the world will only make this leak more, not less.
    Plus, if you use teflon tape, you take the chance of cracking the cap.
    So, what I have found is to tighten by hand . And if it makes you feel a little better. One turn with a pair of pliers. Snug.
  • jerryb46jerryb46 Posts: 24Member
    with those cheap boiler drains that came in the trim kit some times the hose cap will stop the leak but it starts dripping from the stem,which you might be able to snug stem gland nut good luck!
  • jhrostjhrost Posts: 20Member
    Concerning brass plating , I notice they pull that with a lot of products. Sometimes they say brass plated, but often they are listed as brass even though they are just plated. Screws and hinges comes to mind. The only value to brass plating I can think of is to make something look decorative in a situation where it won't rust.
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Posts: 1,928Member
    jhrost said:

    Concerning brass plating , I notice they pull that with a lot of products. Sometimes they say brass plated, but often they are listed as brass even though they are just plated. Screws and hinges comes to mind. The only value to brass plating I can think of is to make something look decorative in a situation where it won't rust.

    Right, but they only look decorative until the lacquer wears off or gets scratched, and then they look like crap, and you can't polish them because the plating is so thin, and re-plating is prohibitively expensive. Would it kill them to use solid brass? It's not that expensive, and there are so many alloys to choose from.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • BobCBobC Posts: 5,051Member
    @Hap_Hazzard This would anger all the bean counters and you know how they love their pennies.
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • motoguy128motoguy128 Posts: 45Member
    > @BobC said:
    > @Hap_Hazzard This would anger all the bean counters and you know how they love their pennies.

    When I interned at GE Industrial Systems (now ABB... how the mighty fall) 20 years ago at the peak of the Jack Welch era, a running joke in the engineering department which shared the Office with accounting (probably on purpose), was that they could fire all the engineers and their numbers would be amazing until 6-12 months later and all the factories started shutting down without any production support.
  • BobCBobC Posts: 5,051Member
    edited January 16
    A lot of this is because the market has become a slave to the next quarters results. Long term planning has taken a backseat to what they can squeeze out in the next 3 months.

    Companies will cut costs (and quality) till there is nothing left and then wonder why sales slide
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • CondomanCondoman Posts: 63Member
    Yesterday the NPR program On Point made what you say clear with Boeing. Once the market was the priority the quality fell, and you know the outcome now shows in the Max 8.
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Posts: 1,928Member
    The max 8 was a product of deregulation. If they don't have to justify engineering decisions to anybody but the shareholders, bad things happen.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
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