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Crown Boiler Pressure Syphon Increasing and Other Issues

melomelo Member Posts: 36
edited November 19 in THE MAIN WALL
Hi,

So I'm a new home owner (only 26) in NYC. I moved in with my family in the new house and now I'm having some trouble with the boiler. We've had a plumber remove the old baseboard steam heaters and put in steam heaters.

The heating system seemed to have been working fine for a bit early on but now I'm getting some issues.

I have a crown boiler and just yesterday night the release valve opened up and it let out steam and some water.. lots and lots of steam before I managed to go down there and turn off the power switch.

At the moment, the crown boiler worked when I turned on the heat but it seems like the Internal Syphon keeps increasing. It's at 0 when the heat is off but then it keeps rising and it was just 15 PSI when I turned off the heat again.. scared of the pressure valve opening if it went over 30 PSI.

Some of the problems I'm having right now and it's making me a little worried. I'm not too sure about heaters and all the heating guys around me are giving me different answers.

PressureTrol came set to:
1.5 PSI DIFF
4 PSI MAIN

The house is a 2 story multi family dwelling, about 1700 square feet.

5 Radiators on the first floor. Second floor has 4 radiators.

The furthest radiator (in the living room) usually doesn't even get warm when the heater is on. There is some knocking and banging on the pipes when the boiler first starts up.

2 of the radiators are always hissing from the relieve valve that are on.

One heating guy told me it may be the pigtail being clogged. Another one said that the boiler had too much water hence why the relieve valve released all the steam yesterday. Another one didn't even pick up calls Zzzzz Don't know who to even go to or trust.

Finally, I have a VXT water feeder which seems to be working. I reset it and everything and it seems to be giving water to the boiler if needed.

Thoughts? Tips?

Thank you!

Comments

  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,571
    Most likely the pigtail to the pressure control is plugged.........that's assuming the pressure control is wired correctly.

    Either you or your technician need to shut down the boiler, shut off the circuit breaker to the boiler (or pull the fuse) undo the wiring and remove the pressure control and pig tail and clean and reinstall them....and make sure the pressure control works

    It should be set to cut the burner off at 1.5-2.0 psi and restart the burner at 1/4-1/2 psi settings depend on what control you have some have additive or subtractive differential


    Above all, the pressure control is a safety device. You should not operate the boiler if it is not working correctly
  • neilcneilc Member Posts: 934
    post pictures,
    of the Ptrol and pigtail,
    of the sight glass so we see the water line and its condition,
    the pigtail is clogged and the Ptrol can't shut the boiler off,
    why didn't the heating guy that mentioned it fix that ?
  • melomelo Member Posts: 36
    Please see the images as requested. 

    the person who mentioned the pigtail was not able to see the boiler. He was to come over today. 

    Can you explain more about the pressuretrol? What’s the diff and the main mean? 


  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,893
    OK good. Your pressuretrol is the subtractive variety. I personally prefer them! What the two scales are is this. The one on the right, labelled "main" is the pressure -- more or less (they are reasonably accurate, but...) at which the burner should stop firing, called the cutout pressure. The scale on the left, called "diff" determines how far the pressure has to drop, once the boiler has stopped, before it will start up again -- so the pressure at which it will start again, called the cutin pressure, is the value on the main scale (the cutin) minus the differential on the diff scale. Which is why the contraption is referred to as subtractive.

    Now. In your situation, obviously it isn't telling the boiler to cutout. There are three possible reasons for that.

    By far the most likely is, as @EBEBRATT-Ed said, that the "pigtail" -- the pipe which connects the bottom of the pressuretrol to the boiler -- is clogged. Not at all uncommon. The solution is simple enough -- take the pressuretrol off the pigtail (one would have to disconnet the wiring -- so label the wires so they go back on correctly), make sure that the opening in the bottom is clear (but don't stick anything sharp in there!), then if possible take the pigtail pipe off the boiler. I say "if possible" as sometimes they are hard to undo;. Whether you get it off or not, make sure that it is clear all the way through into the boiler. With the boiler off and cool, obviously, it should be possible to blow freely into its open end with no resistance. If it's clogged, you may be able to clear it simply by running water into it -- but that's unlikely. You can also try running something stiffish, like a zipt-tie, through it (make sure it's long enough to get all the way into the boiler!. Otherwise, you'll have to get it off -- at which point you might as well get a new one (brass, please) and make sure the boiler opening is clear and put it all back together.

    The second possibility is that the pressuretrol is defective or broken -- but that's quite uncommon.

    the third is even less common -- that the pressuretrol is mis-wired. This happily is easy to check. With the power off, open the pressuretrol and disconnect one of the wires. Turn the power back on and call for heat. The boiler should NOT run. If it does... not good. Unless you are good with electric circuits, time to all a pro. Otherwise, reconnect the wire and go back to the first case.

    Now -- if the pigtail is clean and all is good, you can easily reset the pressuretrol to better values. There are adjusting screws on the top. Set the main scale to 1.5 (the lowest mark), and the diff. scale to 1.

    Since the pressure relief valve operated, the pressure gauge you have probably isn't lying that badly. But don't trust it.

    On the rest of your comments. Some of the vent hissing will probably go away when you get the pressure down to where it belongs, assuming that the vents haven't been damaged by the high pressure. Run it with the lower pressure before you worry about that.

    There are many possible causes for the banging -- and for the radiator you mention to be slow. Again, though, let's get the pressure right before we go after those.
    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
  • melomelo Member Posts: 36
    Thank you guys so much! I'm having the person who said that the pigtails needs to be cleaned out come and "fix" the problem later today.

    I really hope that takes care of it. My mother is super scared cause she hated seeing the discharge that happened with the boiler 2 nights ago.. Steam everywhere and water.. She freaked out and thought it was a fire or something.

    What are some safety features that prevents boilers from exploding? What can we do to make sure it's the safest environment? I want to tell her these things so that her mind is at ease... she's literally having anxiety attacks.

    Thank you again!! I really hope the issue is steaming (lol) from the pigtail and pressure being too high to begin with.

    Another question! What about the damper? We have a model GVD-6 damper control. It used to be set as always keep damper open but someone set it a few weeks ago to automatic damper control... Would that have caused this problem?

    Thanks again!
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,893
    There are three safety features or controls on the boiler. Get the person who comes to do the pigtail to show them to you. You've already encountered two of them -- the pressure relief valve, which is really a kind of last ditch protection, and the pressuretrol. The third is a low water cutoff, which turns the boiler off if the water gets too low. You mention the VXT water feeder, and that it seems to be working. That's related to the low water cutoff.

    If you now have the automatic damper set to work, that incorporates another safety. If that damper fails to open, the burner shouldn't fire. I have to admit that I'm not keen, myself, on automatic dampers, though they do save a small amount of energy.
    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
  • melomelo Member Posts: 36
    Should I just have the damper always stay open? I'd rather waste 20 dollars a month on gas bill and feel safe.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,893
    melo said:

    Should I just have the damper always stay open? I'd rather waste 20 dollars a month on gas bill and feel safe.

    The savings will be nowhere near that amount.
    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
  • melomelo Member Posts: 36
    So I should just have the damper always open if that's the case?
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,571
    Ask the tech that's coming to walk you through the safety controls and he can tell you what to look for if there are any safety/maintenance issues.

    Other than a burner issue, there are two things to look for. Pressure issues and the boiler water level.

    It's best to have a look at the boiler every 2-3 days during the heating season. Look around for any leaks, check the pressure gauge when it's running and keep the water level at 1/2 gauge glass. Ears and eyes open for any strange sounds or smells.

    Proper maintenance is the key to proper operation and minimal calls for service.

    The pigtail for instance some recommend it be checked and cleaned every year
  • melomelo Member Posts: 36
    Hey, so I had to replace the Pressuretrol and now it seems like the pressure gauge is not going some crazy number.

    However, now I'm facing a problem with the boiler short cycling. My guy thinks it may be because we did some work on the house. Removed the old base board heaters and put in some small radiators on each room of the first floor. Our biggest radiator has like 12 sections but currently isn't working because of improper piping.

    Planning to get a plumber to come by this weekend to fix that. The pipe going to the radiator in the basement is tilted down before it stubs up...

    I also replaced all the vents on the first floor with the Hoffman radiator vents (expensive but was recommended by my guy so I went with it).

    Anyways, the boiler seems to turn on every minute and then turn off.. seems to happen like every minute or so. The vent also follows suits, shuts off when radiator is off and then opens when it's on.

    One pipe going to the second floor still hasn't gotten hot after 1 and a half hours of the boiler working. Anyhow, I'm planning to replace the air vents on the upstairs radiators tomorrow.

    Currently, the pressure gauge will go up to like 2/3 psi and the boiler will shut down and pressure gauge will go back down to 0. Boiler will then power up again until pressure gauge reads 2/3ish and then shut down again. This happens every minute or so. I have heat currently but I need to stop it from short cycling!

    Any ideas or theories as to why this happens will be much appreciated.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,571
    If your building pressure it sounds like a venting issue.

    Most steam boilers in houses don't need to build pressure to heat the building. But that is assuming the radiation load somewhat matches the boiler load. If the venting is not working or you have other issues you will build pressure.

    You can try raising the set point to make the burner cut out at 1 1/2-2 psi and start up just above 0 to reduce the cycling but this is sometimes counterproductive and causes more issues
    STEAM DOCTOR
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,893
    If it is cycling that fast it is almost certainly a venting problem. What, if anything, is there in the way of main vents on the system?
    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 DOCTOR
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,254
    Can we see some pics of the boiler piping? Poor piping can cause pressure buildup. Ditto to poor water quality. 
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,254
    What size boiler? An oversized boiler can contribute to pressure buildup. Might be a combination of issues. 
  • melomelo Member Posts: 36

    If it is cycling that fast it is almost certainly a venting problem. What, if anything, is there in the way of main vents on the system?

    By Vent do you mean the air vents that are on each radiator?

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,893
    melo said:

    If it is cycling that fast it is almost certainly a venting problem. What, if anything, is there in the way of main vents on the system?

    By Vent do you mean the air vents that are on each radiator?

    No -- vent on the main steam lines in the basement.
    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
  • melomelo Member Posts: 36

    melo said:

    If it is cycling that fast it is almost certainly a venting problem. What, if anything, is there in the way of main vents on the system?

    By Vent do you mean the air vents that are on each radiator?

    No -- vent on the main steam lines in the basement.
    I will try to replace the old vent with a new Gorton Valve 5 today.

    What else may cause the boiler to cycle every minute? What are some things I can do to stop this?

    Will this dramatically increase my heating bills?

    Thank you!
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,893
    You need to figure out which of the controls on the boiler is causing the cycling. The usual culprit is building pressure too fast, but it is remotely possible that a low water cutoff could do that, if the water level is very close to the cutoff level. It is even more remotely possible that somehow the vent damper could be involved -- or even a really weird thermostat problem.

    But the most likely problem is building pressure too fast. Now, that said, it is critically important in diagnosing this that one really observes what is going on. Starting from cold, how long does it take to raise steam (the header starts to get hot)? How long after that does the boiler start this cycling? When it starts cycling, are the radiators mostly hot? Really need to know the answers to those questions to get much farther.
    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
  • melomelo Member Posts: 36
    Is the air vent damper the module that's inside the exhaust duct? I notice it opens and closes every minute as the boiler is also turning on and shutting down.

    How inefficient is this gas wise? any estimates?

    I will try to calculate how long it takes the boiler to heat up the cycle, radiators heating up, etc. When I get a chance. I'm already looking to perhaps getting bigger radiators and also get the radiator in my living room (biggest in the house) to start working. Currently, it's not working because it's piped incorrectly as it is on a slant downwards.. getting that fixed by a plumber this weekend.

    Thank you again!
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,893
    The question with the vent damper in the boiler exhaust is... does it start to close before the boiler shuts down, or after? It's supposed to close after the boiler shuts down, and then open up fully before the boiler fires up again. If it's starting to close and then the boiler shuts down, that's not right. If it does -- or seems to -- try locking it on manual open and see what happens.
    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
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,453
    From all indications seen on this forum and personal experience there has just about never been radiators installed that were too small. If you still have the original CI rads chances are that they are oversized for the job. You just have to get them working correctly. IMO
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,453
    Pictures of your boiler piping would be good, also pictures of the new "steam heaters" you had installed when the baseboard heaters were removed.
  • melomelo Member Posts: 36
    Hey,

    ive attached some pictures of boiler and piping.

  • melomelo Member Posts: 36
    These are the type of radiators I have on first floor.

    I have 5 radiators in total.
    1 - 20 Sectional that isn't working at the moment because of piping being in a decline.. fixing that this weekend.
    1- 10 Sectional
    1-6 Sectional
    1-12 sectional
    1-8 sectional

    https://www.amazon.com/Durable-Steam-Radiators-Height-Section/dp/B072QLQ77D

    2nd floor has the old school radiators.

  • melomelo Member Posts: 36
    edited November 20
    Bump.

    Any advise would be much appreciated. I've attached a sketch I've done with my piping and venting.
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,077
    edited November 20
    Those new radiators are quite small in EDR compared to old ones. Did you compare the EDR of the new ones vs the old ones?

    EDR is a measure of how much ability to radiate heat a steam radiator has, if you didn't know that.

    Also, you don't need to "bump" after less than a day :)
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • melomelo Member Posts: 36
    edited November 20

    Those new radiators are quite small in EDR compared to old ones. Did you compare the EDR of the new ones vs the old ones?

    EDR is a measure of how much ability to radiate heat a steam radiator has, if you didn't know that. Also, originally the house had baseboard heaters with steam... no idea how that worked. It was all ripped out by contractor during renovation.

    Also, you don't need to "bump" after less than a day :)

    Nope I did not calculate the EDR. Unfortunately (not an excuse) but Im a 26 year old new home owner who doesn't know crap haha. I'm definitely learning fast and unfortunately I realized I can't just throw money at this problem since different plumbers/HVAC around me are telling me different stuff.

    I've had the issue with high pressure and 2 HVAC companies checked and said boiler seemed fine.. Only one guy, an expert of sorts who doesn't actually do this stuff anymore told me what you guys have said! Check the pigtail and pressuretrol.. the pigtail was clogged and later we found that the pressuretrol was also bad.
  • neilcneilc Member Posts: 934
    the Ptrol may be set a little low, and be part of the cycling,
    try the main scale just under the 2,
    and post another picture showing its settings, that last picture is a little hard to make out.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,571
    You need more venting on the mains. I explained it in the other thread. The boiler will not work right until you get it fixed
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,893
    edited November 20
    See my comment in the other thread. I might add to that that substituting the new, smaller radiators has made the cycling problem worse. Can this boiler be downfired at all?
    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

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