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Boiler Consuming Water

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My boiler was installed 10 years ago. I have 7 radiators, 3 on the ground floor and 4 on the 2nd floor (3 in the bedrooms and 1 in the bathroom). They all have Gorton valves. The past few heating seasons I've had to daily add water to the boiler. Last year I was adding about 2 quarts daily, bringing it up to the maximum fill line on the sight glass. Also, some of the Gorton valves are not closing. This season I've decided to replace all the valves with Varivalve valves, the Gortons are all in service more than 10 years. Could the leaking valves be the source of my having to add water daily to the boiler?

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  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Do you have any buried or unseen return lines on the system?
    ethicalpaul
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,323
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    They may be part of the problem -- but not likely to be all of it. That's a lot of water to add.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • Steve_211
    Steve_211 Member Posts: 47
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    To JUGHNE: It's a one pipe system. The old boiler was a coal burner converted to oil. It was the size of a small refrigerator. The new replacement, a Dunkirk, is considerably smaller. To meet the piping, it was raised up on concrete block. Nothing is buried or unseen.

    To Jamie Hall: I may have guesstimated the amount of water, since there's no way of really measuring the amount consumed. What I did was drain the boiler from the maximum fill line on the sight glass down until the LWCO light came on and measured the amount. With the boiler at the maximum fill line and running
    normally, I'd check it once daily and fill as needed. Sometimes, I'd forget to check it. Then the boiler would shut down when it hit the LWCO. There is no water auto-feed on the boiler. This would take between 2 to 4 days, depending on how much heat is produced. It varies.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,540
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    2-4 days sounds like you may have a leak as that would be a lot for the vents to loose.

    The boiler could be leaking above the water line or it could be an accumulation of small leaks and the air vents
    ethicalpaul
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    I would not replace the Gorton valves with Vari-valves. The veri-valve is vents too rapidly and will spit water. Replace the old valves with Gortons, Vent-rite #1(adjustable or Hoffman #1A (adjustable) What pressure is the system running? Check the Pressuretrol settings and make sure the Pressuretrol is working. Any system pressure differential above one or two (max) PSI will push more steam out of any of the old valves that are not closing. Set the Pressuretrol at a cut-out of 1.5PSI and the Cut-in at about .5 to .75 PSI.
    If need be, fill the boiler up until the water starts to fill the riser above the boiler and see if any water runs out onto the floor. If it does, you have a leak in the boiler, above the water line and the boiler will need to be replaced.
  • Steve_211
    Steve_211 Member Posts: 47
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    To Fred: The pressuretrol is the ubiquitous Honeywell. The differential is set at the lowest, 1. The cut-in also is set at the lowest, .5. I installed a 3 lb gauge on the boiler. It shows the pressuretrol settings as being pretty accurate. I'd like to get it to produce steam in ounces, so I replaced the pressuretrol with a Honeywell vaporstat. But I couldn't get it to work.

    Regarding the air valves, I read that the Gortons, Hoffmans and Maid-O-Mists aren't of the quality of years ago. Installing the air valves, is Teflon tape OK? I read pipe dope should be used instead.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,323
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    And why didn't the vapourstat work? They have been known to be out of calibration, but it is rare that one completely doesn't work. They are set differently from pressuretrols, though.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
    edited September 2020
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    Teflon tape is fine on the vents. Gorton and MoM are fine in my experience, they will last you years at the pressures you are running. Hoffman I have no personal experience with.

    To measure your water usage, drain the water to where the LWCO cuts out. Mark the level on the sight glass with a sharpie or on a piece of tape. Then add a quart of water at a time and repeat. You'll have a quart graduation then.

    If you have no easy way to add water, then do it in reverse. Fill it up to the top, then drain 1 quart at a time and mark it.

    Two quarts per day is a fantastically large amount for a radiator air vent to lose. As others said, test your boiler for a leak.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Precaud
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    So how does your water return to the boiler?
    Hanging dry return piping from the end of the mains?
  • Dan_NJ
    Dan_NJ Member Posts: 247
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    To measure your water usage, drain the water to where the LWCO cuts out. Mark the level on the sight glass with a sharpie or on a piece of tape.
    ...
    Two quarts per day is a fantastically large amount for a radiator air vent to lose. As others said, test your boiler for a leak.

    I did it the opposite way - I marked the normal max water level on sight glass, and starting from that water level, drained exactly one gallon and marked that on the glass. Then put 1/4 graduation lines between the high and low marks for my 1 Qt marks.

    I had one stuck open radiator vent last winter that caused measurable loss of about one pint of water per day. This was when the system was running maybe 8 cycles per day? Add that up across multiple radiators and you're in the 1-2 Qt neighborhood, but again that was alot of cycles daily in my case.

  • Steve_211
    Steve_211 Member Posts: 47
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    To Jamie Hall: The Honeywell vaporstat is the L408B1131. It has the R, W, terminals, not the R, W, B. I don't know why it wouldn't work, it was simple to hook up.

    To JUGHNE: The one main runs the length of the basement. At the far end, about 1 1/2 feet after the last riser, the return drops down and slopes back to the boiler. At the boiler, on the 90 elbow is the air eliminator, a #1 Gorton.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,323
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    Um... are you sure it is the L408B1131? That one is SPST make on rise, and is the wrong one for this application. Not surprised it wouldn't work...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steve_211
    Steve_211 Member Posts: 47
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    To Jamie Hall: That's what the label says. It's the older vaporstat. It has a mercury switch.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,323
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    OK. Take a look at that mercury bulb. When there is no pressure -- the thing is disconnected -- at which end of the bulb are the contacts? The high end? Then it's make on rise. The low end? Then it's break on rise -- and should work
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steve_211
    Steve_211 Member Posts: 47
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    To Jamie Hall: The contacts are on the high end, the left side of the bulb. The mercury is on the right side, the low end. So, with the boiler off, the contacts are open. Then how does the mercury shift to the side with the contacts and complete the circuit, turning the boiler on when there's no steam pressure? How does this vaporstat operate? It seems to me the bulb is bacwards.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,666
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    it should be an open on rise control, you have a close on rise control (or you have it set so the setpoint is below atmospheric pressure or you disconnected the linkage or something)
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,323
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    Steve_211 said:

    To Jamie Hall: The contacts are on the high end, the left side of the bulb. The mercury is on the right side, the low end. So, with the boiler off, the contacts are open. Then how does the mercury shift to the side with the contacts and complete the circuit, turning the boiler on when there's no steam pressure? How does this vaporstat operate? It seems to me the bulb is bacwards.

    Well... the bulb really isn't backwards, but it is -- as I said above -- a make on rise unit. Honeywell makes both flavours, and the L408B1131is a make on rise. You got -- or were sold -- the wrong unit.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steve_211
    Steve_211 Member Posts: 47
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    To Jamie Hall: How does this vaporstat operate? What example(s) would this one be used in?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,323
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    Steve_211 said:

    To Jamie Hall: How does this vaporstat operate? What example(s) would this one be used in?

    There are uses for steam -- sterilizing equipment comes to mind -- where you want to have a certain minimum pressure before something operates. That vapourstat is used in that type of application. I can't think of a heating application where it would be needed off hand. Someone else probably can!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steve_211
    Steve_211 Member Posts: 47
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    To Jamie Hall: With that explanation since your recent post to me, I dug out that vaporstat. I reversed the mercury bulb so the contacts are on the low end. Will it work now , as intended in, in your opinion?