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Surging issues activated LWCO and excessive water loss, help =./

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Hi all,

HeatingHelp.com is awesome and I'm incredibly amazed how dedicated you all are to troubleshooting everyone's issues, hopefully there's some bandwidth available to think about my issues as well. I purchased a home in Queens, NY in April and finally turned the heat on in October and that's when all the trouble started. Basically the be all end all of it is that I started out with surging issues and short cycling, which has now turned into dramatic water loss. I have two children in the house, one being a 5 month old and am really terrified of losing heat. I've reached out to lots of plumbers, some friends, some acquaintances and two plumbing companies. No one has solved by issues or been confident in the exact problem. The latest plumbing company I'm dealing with seems good and didn't want to up-charge me or sell me additional services I don't need, but I'm not convinced that their "fixes" will stop my issues. Looking for any help I can get, I've only gotten this far due to hours and hours of research on the forum and I'm incredibly thankful for it. I'm ready to answer any and all questions, still on paternity leave and dying to figure this out.

Please see notes on my system below.



Please find my system specs below.



Please find timeline of my issues below.



Main Venting, prior to removal of Gorton #2s



Zoomed in right side of boiler
(Installed vaporstat last night, but CO did not work and have to send back for replacement)
(15 PSI gauge on left, 5 PSI gauge on right, both read accurately)



Right side of boiler



Left Side of boiler and NBP



Front of boiler and NBP



Thank you in advance for any and all help.

JHRocks86


Comments

  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
    edited January 2020
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    I don’t see a skim port on that boiler, so I am sure it was not properly cleaned, and should be done. In the meantime, drain all the chemical infused water out, and refill with pure water for the moment. If there is no other floor drain there, the clean out plug in front of the boiler could be opened temporarily to serve that purpose.
    Since the installation of the new boiler was badly piped recently, it would not be a huge effort to correct that with a drop header, and 2 risers.
    Proper repiping would mitigate the effects of an oversized boiler.
    Check the find a contractor department on this site for someone finally who knows what he is doing!—NBC
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    That boiler is piped incorrectly and will never perform properly until it has its near boiler piping corrected .from the looks of it your just tossing carry over in to your main and it looks like your condensate is slightly counter flow make the situation worse.first things first figure the edr of your radiators yourself and see for sure if your boiler is undersized . Take a look at the manafactures installation and operation manual it gives a min. pipe sizes and dimension for a header usually smaller then most real steam guys would install . Both supply tapping should be used and the header should be at least 24 inches above the water line . Doing anything aside from repiping the near boiler piping is a waste of money and will not rid your system of the issues your having ,I highly doubt you needed a vaporstat ,your issues are stemming from incorrect near boiler piping possible dirty boiler water and possibly plugged pig tail . Your need to have a real steam guy repipe and wand And skim the boiler . Again the way it’s piped it will never perform close to as it should . A closing thought is the cost between have a boiler improperly installed is always drastically cheaper then having it done correctly by some one who knows want it takes to install a steam boiler correctly which usually includes oversized headers properly pitched headers full size equalizer Leaving tee s on boiler return tapping on all return tappings ,no bull headed tee s on supply and new radiator and main vents finally a good water side cleaning of the boiler and flushing or replacement of wet returns . It always seems a lot but most returns have not been flushed ever and are usually filled w mud and rust something I know I don’t want returning to my new boiler but some who want to save money or contractor who are not as versed as the claim have no clue . The issue your having are located right at your boiler until that piping is addressed your just throwing money at it w no results .when repipe have a demileralizing filter installed on your water feed to improve your feed water quality to lower the tds and chlorides in local water . Just trying to tell you the truth peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    ethicalpaulSuperTech
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,453
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    If your figures are correct -- and I have no reason to doubt them -- the boiler isn't undersized. It's oversized. By a good bit. As @clammy and @nicholas bonham-carter say, the near boiler piping is incorrect, and that isn't helping a bit.

    The main venting you had before -- the 2 #2 Gortons -- was probably just about right. I hope you didn't scrap them; they're not cheap. Put them back where they were, if you still have them.

    Since I rather suspect you're not too much into DIY (I seem to recall a 5 month old is somewhat demanding), probably the best thing to do would be to get hold of one of the really good steam men in your area, such as @Danny Scully or @JohnNY , to take a look at the system and help you out. They can both be found under "Find a Contractor".
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaulSuperTech
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,740
    edited January 2020
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    Everything you need is in @clammy's wall of text (which I say with the utmost respect and good-natured ribbing).

    But I'll say it again because it's so important to your case: The near boiler piping is ridiculous and your boiler is throwing water into your main.

    I'm so glad you are a skeptical, careful consumer who doesn't mind refusing bad advice. I can't believe someone thought your boiler was severely undersized, for example.

    When your near boiler piping is fixed, then you can be able to chase down any problems that remain with cold radiators, but until then it's very difficult because all that water in your pipes (from the bad piping) is likely killing steam in various places.

    Use Find a Contractor here to find someone who really knows steam and you'll be in good shape in no time. https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/

    One more question: In your notes you often mention "water loss". Is this water that stays lost, or does it come back after the heating cycle ends?

    Based on the piping, I would bet my life that it's at least the latter, but I'm curious if there is also some that is "staying lost".
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,740
    edited January 2020
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    Additional info: You may have this already, but here is how your boiler's manual ( https://www.velocityboilerworks.com/documents/bermuda_installation_manual_2012.pdf ) says the piping is supposed to be:



    Unfortunately whoever installed this never opened the manual, and if you know who it is, put them on your phone's block list.

    Admittedly the diagram is not especially easy to visualize, but all the information is there. For a more easily understandable image, you can look in any Peerless or Weil-McClain manual at their small boilers:



    At first glance, the diagram doesn't seem that different from yours, but the reality is that with yours, there is nothing to separate water drops from your steam. They both shoot straight up to the main. And believe me it makes a huge difference. I know because I put a sight glass on my riser to be able to see it.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • JHRocks86
    JHRocks86 Member Posts: 8
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    Hi all,
    Thanks for the responses.  My biggest issue at the moment is water loss to the atmosphere through a leak in the system or through my vents which I have not been able to find.  I'm losing 1/10" of water per hour of run time, which means I need to refill my boiler every 25-35 hours of run time.  I need to stop the leak or at least diagnose it first so that I can move ahead.  I have no problem replacing anything, but need to know its the culprit for the water loss first.  Thank you all!

    @nicholas bonham-carter - There's no skim port, only the 3/4" port where the pressure release valve is.  I've used the 3/4" port to "skim" the boiler, but always seems like I'm getting nothing. The boiler was installed in 2004, so I assume the pipes are pretty solid.  Thanks for the response.

    @clammy - The EDR of the radiators that I posted was created by me from the spec sheets provided by the manufacturer of the radiators, so it should be spot on and means my boiler is very oversized.  Dirty water and the NBP are the primary issues I suspect as well, as everything I've read on the website describes the issues I'm having.  The pigtail is brand new and was cleaned out three days ago, so shouldn't be any problems there. Appreciate the response and the insight.

    @Jamie Hall - The two Gorton 2 and one Gorton 1 maxed out the 1/2" pipe.  Definitely didn't scrap them and have a BigMouth ready to go as well.  My bandwidth is definitely limited and after adding all the main venting, the "skimming" and flushing, haven't solved the issues I'm in need of help.  Thanks for the response. 

    @ethicalpaul - the NBP is definitely ridiculous, I found the NBP schematic right after I read about possible issues and couldn't believe my eyes.  I no longer have any issues with cold radiators, they're all good and I'm getting great heat.  The real issue at the moment is water loss. Water is leaving my system and not returning to the boiler.  I'm losing 1/10" of water in the boiler per hour of run time which is my biggest concern, so at the moment I'll get about 25-35 hours of run time before my boiler starts to short cycle on the LWCO.  I've searched the house for leaks and can't find any, neither could the last plumber that came.  Last plumber believed water loss was due to wet steam and large radiator/main vents losing water to the atmosphere.  Thanks for the response and the schematics that you posted, I've cursed at them many times now.

    Thank you! Will post some pics of water loss today.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,740
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    OK thanks for the clarification, and I'm glad your system is heating!

    For that much water I would look at any buried wet returns (but I think you don't have any), but since you mention that you lose the water during run time I'm afraid I would have to look for a leak in the boiler sections, escaping as steam out your chimney.

    Have you filled the boiler up to the header level (or where the header would be) and left it there for awhile to see if any water pools on your floor?

    I just put hashes on my sight glass exactly like yours...are they 1 quart each? So you're losing maybe 16-24 ounces per hour I guess?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
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    Firstly before we go to boiler water loss and correct the near boiler piping do you have a maintenance contract with the gas company? If not get one.

    Secondly you can replace the gas burner or down size the burner by 20% which will give you 213 square feet of steam capacity.
    In small boilers (physical size) The water in the boiler can boil violently causing water hurling. This drives the water into the steam main and down the dry return. Which in turn may blow out of the 3 Vents.

    Thirdly remove the two Gorton #2 vents, you only need one vent the smaller one is just fine.

    When you correct the near boiler piping the header must be at least 24" above the the boiler water line. I used to use 36" as my minimum where there was room.

    I only used drop headers where height was a problem or the boilers were 1,000,000 BTU output and above.

    The inlet connection at the bottom of the boiler is much to long
    a shorter pipe should be used.

    I am enclosing a hand sketch (much simplified from the boiler installation instructions provided.

    What is key is the header should be no less than three inches or one pipe size larger than the outlet connection of the boiler.

    Please excuse the writing and sloppiness of the sketch as I have arthritis in my hands.

    Jake



  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
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  • JHRocks86
    JHRocks86 Member Posts: 8
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    Thank you for the replies guys.  Biggest issue is still finding the cause of the water loss, because I can still "live" with the priming/surging and dirty water.  I can't live with the house having no heat because there's no water.  Really appreciate the responses.

    Please see water level loss pictures below and short video of priming/surging mid cycle today.  I typically lose 1" of water in glass during a cycle which then has about 1" of primary/surging. 95% of water returns prior to the beginning of the next cycle.  I have absolutely no water hammer at all in the mains or NBP.  I do have some small water hammer on the cold side of my house in the cold riser that is attached to four radiators for about 30 seconds about 1/3 through cycle.  At the end of the cycle I do hear what sounds like water draining through the riser back down into the return.  All radiators are pitched appropriately.

    Boiler filled 1/24/2019 at 12:47AM



    Boiler water level today 1/27/2019 at 1:41 PM



    Total time between pictures - 84 hours
    Total run time - 18.5 hours
    Total cycles - 39
    Average cycle length - 28.5 minutes
    Typically build pressure up to 3PSI in 25-35 minutes

    Link to boiler surging - https://youtu.be/vOdWS73Yjcg

    @ethicalpaul - Plenty of heat when the system isn't short cycling due to the water surging tripping the LWCO.  The radiators on the hot side and cold side of my house finish heating at the same time, so the system is "balanced", but still possible I'm venting too quickly.  

    No wet returns, entire main and return is exposed.  I have walked my entire system while it's running and have seen to steam or water and haven't heard any sounds of leaking steam anywhere.  I have looked inside the boiler the best I can without taking off the casing (Involved job that I'm definitely not able to do.), checked the chimney on a cold day for steam and filled the boiler to into the main and let it sit for an hour with no sign of any leaks.  

    Last plumbing company convinced water loss is due to incorrect NBP/only partially insulated mains creating wet steam which at some point is leaving through the main and radiator vents.  I've downsized all the radiator vents and will be fully insulating the steam main on Wednesday when insulation comes.

    I haven't taken the time to carefully pour water into the system in order to measure the amount of water in the system/glass, but I the hashes are 0.5" each and helps me determine how much water I've lost.  I also have a nest camera watching the boiler at all times so I can make sure I have enough water.

    @dopey27177 - I have a contract with a company for the maintenance of the boiler, but they're the ones that gave me lots of bad advice and initially told me everything was fine.  They then wanted me to install a new LWCO and so on.  They didn't do their homework and expected me to just nod along and do whatever they said.  Their cost to replace the boiler was also about double what I've found estimated for NYC.

    I think it would be great to downsize the burner as it would definitely fall more in line with the size of my connected EDR.  I'll be posted a short video of the water in my glass mid cycle, I assume its due to the violent boiling inside + other issues.

    The Gorton #2s have been removed, system still seems to heat evenly.  What I did notice after remove the #2s was that the surging in the glass became more pronounced.

    I sadly don't have the time or ability to replace the NBP myself and will have to have a company do that, I also don't have the luxury at the moment to displace my family for a couple of days/nights while the work is done.

    So basically 2" outlet(s) into 3" header into 2" main, drop header would be good additional but not a necessity.

    Thanks all!
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,709
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    you said the main vents were leaking bad,
    and of course that's wet steam or air, due to the boiler piping,
    you're still pushing all that lot of humidity,
    if you hold a small mirror, or a large shiney salad spoon at those vents you might see some of the leakage, or wrap or drape a tissue.
    Then at the radiators,
    same trick at the vents and at the rad valve stems,
    are these leaking?
    No return pipes under the basement floor, correct?
    you can see them all?
    known to beat dead horses
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
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    My advice:
    1. Immediately drain all the yellow water out, and refill, with pure water, when boiler is only warm, and not hot.
    2. Keep the main vents, as you already own them, and I feel they are the right total capacity-(1 Gorton 2 for 20 feet of 2 inch main.
    3. Start looking for a pro to rectify the piping.--NBC
    Hap_Hazzard
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited January 2020
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    AS @nicholas bonham-carter said, get rid of that chemical (probably Squick) that is in the boiler water and find a tapping on the boiler where you can do a very slow skim of the boiler water to get the oils off of the surface. You might be able to use that side tapping where the pressure relief valve is mounted. While the near boiler piping should be corrected, I'm guessing the no cost removal of chemicals and a good skim or two will get you through the winter and you can have the piping corrected next Spring or Summer.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,634
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    @JHRocks86

    You have a lot of issues to fix. Your concerned about having heat now.

    Others have suggested "find a contractor" on this site". That's what you should do.

    You can pick away at it youself and have problems for the rest of the winter and you still have 2 months to go
    ethicalpaulSuperTechcoby
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,740
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    You have plenty of good advice already to follow, but I want to touch on one thing that still bothers me about your posts.

    You are conflating a temporary drop in water line (from carryover due to bad NBP and/or water chemistry) that eventually returns, with an actual loss of water that stays lost.

    You don’t want to address the NBP which of course is totally your call, but for your and everyone’s sanity, keep the issues separate in your mind and communication. Just some unsolicited advice.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    coby
  • JHRocks86
    JHRocks86 Member Posts: 8
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    @neilc - the main vent gurgled water in the first week of starting it up back in the fall, the problem has rectified by moving the main vent up and away from the end of the return and cleaner water.  I'm going to triple check all the vents/valves/fittings with a mirror, but I think I'm pretty sealed up.  No return pipes under the floor, 100% dry return to the NBP.

    @nicholasbonham-carter - Will be purging the SurgeMaster from the system tomorrow.  I'm keep all my vents, don't worry =)  Will be looking to finalize the fix asap with a pro to confirm the leak and correct the plumbing/replace the boiler if necessary.
    @fred - I use the pressure release tapping to do the skim, it's a 3/4" tap and allows for me to drip the water the size of a pencil.  Will only be trying to prolong life of the system until I can confirm why I'm losing water from the system.  I can't deal with this for more than another couple of weeks.

    @eberatt-Ed - Agreed and will hopefully get some final answers this week and the fix.

    @ethicalpaul - I have both issues at the moment and I apologize if I haven't been clear when talking about one or the other.  My initial issues were severe priming/surging that caused the LWCO to trip, which I believe also masked the water loss.  I'm now deal with primarily water loss from the system, as the priming/surging has become more subtle as the system has been cleaned out.  I'm going to deal with the NBP as soon as someone can confirm where I'm losing water from, which means I assume I'll have to have someone remove the jacket of my boiler and confirm there's no holes in it.

    Thanks again all, I'll work to get things moving and come back with some answers if I ever get confirmation as to why my system is losing water.

    Thanks!
    ethicalpaul
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    The water level after 1 hour of steam is not to drastic but as other have stated your tossing a lot of wet steam up into your mains ,take this for what it’s worth from my experiences badly piped boiler that toss wet steam into the main over time cause leaks in your mains due to excessive condensate flowing through your mains causing groving on the bottom of the pipes And usually cause leaks at the threaded joints mainly because that’s the thinnest metal due to the threads being cut ,so as I tell people w very bad nbp is pay to repipe header or wait and repipe header and repair all the supply leaks that occur at all the threaded tee ,it a common occurrence and theme that I see .worst part of these leaks is that they usually form rust piles that will eventually cause condensate to pool and cause water hammer , I liken it to the Buddhist thoughts of cause and effect . On a side note when the boiler cycles off for a hour how much of your condensate is not returning ,I would think that’s how I would determine how much your losing ,has any one flooded your boiler to ensure your boiler doesn’t have a hole usually u need a decent sized hole to show steam coming out of the Chimmey at least from my experiences . The way the equilizer is taken off the riser is not helping anything I highly doubt it’s doing it’s job . The real answer to your issues as everybody has stated is repipe that boiler it was not installed properly and the issues your experiencing are the issue which comes w every steam boiler that is not installed properly which is improper operation nothing short of a repipe will correct sorry to say peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    When it gets repipe I would suggest to put a drip on the 2 inch feed on the horizontal supply before the 45 so condensate can drop down into the return instead of running back down the riser into the header , unless the 90 can be turned and the 45 removed but with the gas line in the way I think a drip would be easier and more cost effective . Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • JHRocks86
    JHRocks86 Member Posts: 8
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    @clammy - Thanks for the info on the result of having bad NBP and what it can do to the pipes and where it will occur, great information.

    90%-95% of the water that leaves the boiler during a cycle returns, with no leaks found in the boiler, main, return, radiators, valves or vents. So I 1/20" to 1/10" of water from the site glass is not returning after each cycle and is leaving the system.

    The boiler has been flooded for an hour with no apparent leaks coming out of it.

    My next steps at the moment are purging the Surgemaster from the system, fully insulating the main and return (Currently in soffit with fiberglass bat on top), installing a VaporStat to ensure system only pushes to 1.5PSI on cold days, insulating behind a radiator in my bathroom that has been recessed and further decreasing the size of some of the radiator vents. I assume this won't stop the loss of water from my system, but at that point hopefully the plumber will be able to come back and give me a concrete answer on where the water is leaving from and a process for fixing it (Obviously replace NBP, replace main/return, replace boiler, probe walls for moisture)

    Thank you!
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,740
    edited January 2020
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    I would hold off on the vaporstat. At one time I thought I would get one too, but after I got my issues figured out (similar to yours), I found my system almost never cycles due to high pressure.

    Also don't get frustrated, you are on your way to having a great, quiet, cheap, trouble-free system, I can tell.

    I'm glad you passed the flood test. You'll find where the water is going.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,453
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    Agree with @ethicalpaul on the vapourstat -- they're nice to have, but they aren't cheap and, in my humble opinion, they aren't needed on a convectional steam system (vapour system, yes, but that's a whole different beast), so long as the pressuretrol is working -- which yours is.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JHRocks86
    JHRocks86 Member Posts: 8
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    Update
    • Surgemaster has been purged from the system after skimming 4 gallons off the top
    • Vaporstat (0-4 PSI) has been installed (Pressuretrol was running with a CO of 3.25 and CI of 1.25, even though was set to 1.5 CO and 0.5 CI) Got vaporstat because I liked idea of running system under 2 PSI and couldn't get a good pressuretrol, but agree it's overkill.
    • Main and Return have been fully insulated with 1" and 1/2" insulation
    • Radiator vent sizes have been reduced where possible, with only one vent being a Gorton 6 and everything else being smaller.
    • Replaced vents that weren't fully sealing
    • Still need to insulated being one radiator that has been recessed, will happen this week.
    Planning to monitor water loss again over the next few days/week and then see what the damage is.

    I was able to measure out 1 gallon of water on my glass and determined that between my last two refills I lost 2.3 oz or 4 cubic inches of water per cycle on average, for a total approximate loss of 192oz of water over 36 hours of call time. So my question is the following...

    Does losing 1/6th of a soda can through vents (8 radiator 1 main) each cycle sound possible with an improperly piped boiler that is creating wet steam?

    Next steps as I stated before are the following...
    • Flood boiler for 3 hours to confirm no leaks
    • If still confirmed no leaks, find someone that is willing to do the work required to find the leak (Boiler/risers)
    • Department if repair is feasible based on leak location or change to different type of heating
    Thanks all!
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,453
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    The amount of water you are losing is -- relatively speaking --small, although you want to find it. But... it's going to be hard to find. A few vents not fully closing. A couple of valves with leaky stems. Maybe even a tiny drip at a fitting.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,740
    edited February 2020
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    I very much agree with brother @Jamie Hall above but here’s one more question:

    How long did you wait after fire to measure your water? I was surprised from watching the sight glass on my return that it takes many minutes for condensate water to finish returning to the boiler.

    Edit: and I thought some more. I have a very small house with only 7 medium size radiators. Yours is much larger as i recall. It must take a loong time for drops of water to return down slightly sloping mains. This return error can be eliminated by tracking over multiple firings, which you may well be doing already.

    And all those radiators and pipes are going to be wet inside, even after all the “free” water runs back to your boiler. And that wetness is going to evaporate into the air that got pulled back into those pipes by vacuum after the steam collapsed. And that air would have been dry room air. Then that now humid air is the first thing expelled at the next call for heat.

    None of these thoughts are new of course but I’m not sure I ever pictured how much water we’re talking about in a large system
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    @JHRocks86 , The water loss of 192 oz. or 1.5 gallons of water per 36 hours of operating (call) time seems excessive to me.
    I had to make some assumptions here but I think my assumptions are conservative. I estimated the following:
    - One heat cycle per hour
    - 20 minutes per cycle
    - Based on those assumptions, that 36 hours of heat time would be over 108 hours or just under 5 days.

    If that's the case, that would suggest you are using about 9 gallons of water per 30 day month.
    If you have more than one call per hour or that call is longer than a 20 minute average/per hour then the monthly usage is even higher
    It is quite possible to have multiple vents or valves leaking and maybe lose that much water but, I would think you'd likely know which vents/valves need attention.
  • jhrost
    jhrost Member Posts: 57
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    For what its worth, it is also possible a section of one of your radiators is leaking. I had this happen to me. I thought the room it was in was a little humid, But I didn't discover it until it became bad enough to create a puddle on the floor big enough that the heat from the radiator didn't evaporate it before it was noticed. It was at the end of a long line, maybe the result of what the LASH calls condensate grooving.
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,740
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    I had a leak between radiator sections too. Damn annoying!

    I just timed my condensate returning and it took 23 minutes. I have about 200 sq ft of radiation on 7 radiators
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • JHRocks86
    JHRocks86 Member Posts: 8
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    @Jamie Hall - I keep checking all the vents, unions, radiators, stems and anything that has steam coming through it and can't find anything close to 2.3oz of water p/cycle.

    @ethicalpaul - It takes about 20-25 minutes for all the water to return to the boiler after a cycle has completed, but only about 95% that leaves comes back.
    My connected EDR is 170 for 8 radiators on 3 floors and boiler's EDR is 267, so system isn't much bigger than yours but boiler is 57% over sized.
    I've definitely thought about how "wet" the risers, branches and mains are and how there's a chance that I'm losing a lot of the water through evaporation, but it doesn't seem like anyone really thinks that's a possibility. I do have one 1" branch that is approximately 35ft long, but it's only connected to one radiator.

    @Fred - Your math is just about right, my average cycle at 32 degree outside temp is about 24min every 90 min or so. I have full access to all my radiators and still can't find the issue.

    @jhrost - Radiator sections leaking crossed my mind, but I've checked them all during runs and haven't seen/heard any leaks.

    Does anyone experienced having this kind of excessive water loss in a system and if so, what was the cause of the water loss? It seems most excessive water loss issues tend to be wet returns rotting through or boilers with large holes in them, I definitely don't have either. Has anyone had to track down leaks in a system before, how have you done it?

    Calling plumbing company tomorrow to have them come out and go over the next steps, but I think following are the only possibilities....

    ~ Remove boiler casing and flood it to check for leaks one last
    time
    ~ Check all walls and floors for leaks with a
    moisture/temperature probe
    ~ Replace NBP and see what kind of effect the dried out steam
    has on the water loss


    Still trying to remove steam vent plugs on radiators (1/3 up instead of at the top) so that I can get more heat out of them and take more time to build pressure in system, but have only been able to remove one so far as they see cemented in.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks all!
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    Options
    You can do the overfilling leak test yourself before the pros come in.
    Add water to a not too hot boiler, until you feel the risers get cold from being full of fresh water. Let sit for an hour or two, and then look in the firebox for signs of dripping.
    The resultant pressure will also expose any other leaks in piping below the waterline, such as returns, etc.
    Don’t forget to drain the level back down to the correct height off the floor!—NBC
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,453
    Options
    When you check around your system -- all the vents, joints, valve stems, radiators, whatever -- don't expect to find a puddle. You may not even find a damp spot. The amount you are losing is not because of a nice dramatic leak somewhere! If the leak(s) is (are) anywhere that is hot when the system is running, it (they) will almost surely evaporate.

    Which is discouraging. But diligence and patience...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaulGrallert
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Options
    Are you 100% sure ALL of your radiators are Pitched the right direction (back towards the supply valve)? It is possible, if they are level or pitched the wrong direction that they hold a little water and, when the vents open, shortly after a heating cycle, some of that retained water evaporates. A little from several radiators can be the cause.
  • JHRocks86
    JHRocks86 Member Posts: 8
    Options
    @nicholas bonham-carter - Will do the flooding myself again, but sadly I don't have a wet return and don't think I'm going to see anything.

    @Jamie Hall - I keep checking the radiators when they're full of steam and have yet to see any leaks or hear anything, will keep checking.

    @Fred - All my radiators are pitched, some probably more than they should be and one that I suspect is pitched too much actually has water hammer at the valve.

    Just ran through another water fill cycle and had the following stats...

    1/31 2:35 PM (Fill) to 2/6 6:30 PM (First AutoFeed)
    ~ 36.03 hours of call time
    ~ 27min average run time

    - This is a little higher than average due to a 4 hour and 2 hour cycle due to work being done in my basement (Fire doors for boiler room) and an open cellar door.
    ~ 182 oz of water loss
    ~ 2.275 ounces lost per cycle
    ~ Basically the same amount of water loss per cycle as last time


    I will be replacing a few radiators vents that have has some bubbling and downsize some of vents for the next go.

    Does anyone think replacing the NBP could reduce the water content of my steam by > 90% so that the water loss in my system is actually manageable/normal?

    Thanks!,

    JHRocks86

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Options
    @JHRocks86 , Correcting the near boiler piping will certainly help to produce dryer steam but even with wet steam, that water would return to the boiler, in the form of increased condensate. Water is leaving the system from somewhere???
    ethicalpaul
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,453
    Options
    Some more random thoughts on water loss... you are going at it in a very good way -- observing over a longer period of time. As several people have said, it takes an astonishingly long time for all the condensate to find its way home, and that can be misleading.

    Some of your problem may be from the very wet steam. As again someone has noted, the result of that is going to be that the air which is vented on each cycle is going to be pretty well saturated with moisture. I'm not going to say that that accounts for all of the problem -- but it surely isn't helping. Also even one vent which isn't fully closing can lose a good bit of steam, but again -- you'll never see it unless you use the mirror or spoon test, and even then... I'm not doubting your diligence, but just saying that small water losses are a real pain to find.

    You will...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul