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Leaking sections on steam boiler with copper header

johnmusgravejohnmusgrave Member Posts: 4
edited January 16 in Strictly Steam
I have an 8.5 year old Weil McLain LGB-6 steam boiler. The sections have begun to leak in about 4 areas in front. The header is made of copper without any swing joints or companion flanges. There is only one riser coming from one side of the boiler. When the boiler is first fired up after being cold, the sections begin to leak for about a minute until the sections heat up. The leaking appears to be coming from between the sections in at least one area. The sections appear rusted in front. The boiler locks out at times possibly from the flame sensor or pilot assembly getting wet. We have a metal trough built to divert some of the water drip away from the flame sensor. What is causing the leaking? Is the leaking because of bad seals? Is the leaking due to the copper header expanding when heated and thus pulling the sections apart because there are no swing joints or companion flanges? If a copper header is built, is it enough to have a swing joint or a companion flange, or are both needed in conjunction? Is it better to use a swing joint or a companion flange? Is it better to build a header out to steel with a swing joint? No additives have been used in the boiler that would have affected the rubber/composite seals that Weil-McLain uses between its boiler sections.

Comments

  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,423
    While copper is not ideal, if there is only one riser out of the boiler, it can't pull the sections apart. In any case,I would have expected the solder joints on the copper to give before the boiler sections. You need to have someone inspect the boiler block and determine if the leaks are actually from the seals or if there is some cracking in the cast iron sections. Have you used and additives in the boiler that could have affected the rubber/composite seals that WM uses between its boiler sections?
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,947
    Actually, I can envision at least one piping arrangement where a copper header with only one riser could lead to pulling the boiler apart: where that one riser is at the opposite end of the boiler from the equalizer. That, without swing joints, could do the job.

    You cannot create a swing joint in soldered copper, as there is no "give" torsionally in a soldered joint, and the pipe itself is very rigid in torsion. You can create an expansion loop, but the legs of the loop have to be long in relation to the diameter of the pipe to keep the reaction forces within reason. You could use an arrangement of at least two flanges, but both would have to be loose enough to allow twisting -- which would almost inevitable lead to leakage after time. Better to do it right the first time, in threaded black iron.

    Now, all that said, the leakage which you are seeing may well be between sections. It could be from expansion forces pulling the sections apart, although the tie bolts should be managing that. It could also be, sorry to say, that when the sections were assembled the O-ring (which has a square cross section) which is supposed to seal them got twisted. Wouldn't be the first time. It could also be that the tie bolts for one or more of the sections have lost their preload (the fact that it leaks on startup sort of suggests that).

    The bad news is that once leakage begins between sections, there may be enough damage from the leak that the both sections are scrap...
    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_HazzardB_Sloane
  • johnmusgravejohnmusgrave Member Posts: 4
    No additives were used in the boiler that could have affected the rubber/composite seals that Weil-McLain uses between the boiler sections.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,423
    After 8.5 years of service, it's hard to believe that the seals were twisted or there was a defect during assembly unless the boiler "seeped" all along and it was just never noticed. Something seems amiss with this boiler. I know @Jamie Hall suggests that it is possible that the sections could separate with the boiler riser on one side and the equalizer on the other but even that seems a stretch given one attaches to the top of the boiler and the other attaches to the bottom but I suppose anything is possible.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,947
    I was trying to be optimistic. The most likely leak is just that -- a hole in a section. It does happen...
    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
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,091
    @johnmusgrave

    Hard to tell whats going on maybe you can post some pictures.

    Remove some of the boiler jacket, if the gaskets are leaking it's probably worth fixing, if there is a hole in the boiler it's not
  • B_SloaneB_Sloane Member Posts: 54



    You cannot create a swing joint in soldered copper, as there is no "give" torsionally in a soldered joint, and the pipe itself is very rigid in torsion. You can create an expansion loop, but the legs of the loop have to be long in relation to the diameter of the pipe to keep the reaction forces within reason.



    The bad news is that once leakage begins between sections, there may be enough damage from the leak that the both sections are scrap...

    I have fabricated copper expansion loops on a job that had 200' runs down hallways
    I do not have the chart I used, but as I recall the loops was 2' x2 in 400 foot
    no problem ever
    I find it not possible that a short copper header exerted enough force to cause these problems
    the joints would fail first
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