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where's the H2O or steam going

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Still perplexed. New Burnham block installed, last one had cracks. Sight glass always hovered around 1/3 full. New block, new air vents (replaced 4 older models), found 2 small leaks, one small leak - 1 gallon a week in daughters room, no other major leaks, no under ground pipes, only using heat 2-3 hrs a day in Boston, adjusted feeder 1 extra gallon (vs LWCO which it was set at), even fed delay 10-minutes...yet STILL filling approx 2 gallons H2O a day and site glass remains at 1/3...what else should i be checking? i know the system needs to be skimmed with new block. But what.... Is feeding 2 gallons a day bad?

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  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    I just added 2 gallons with manual feeder button, trying to bring to 1/2 way point in glass, and the sight glass level only inched up 1/4 to 1/2" at best...
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,973
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    Do you have a manual feed valve? They feed much faster then the button on the auto feed. Try to fill the boiler to near top of glass. Turn boiler off. Wait several hours. Check water level and see if it went down. 
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    When you say "new block", how new is it? Are you sure both the upper and lower valves on the sight glass are fully open? Have you checked to see if the lower port that the sight glass is attached to isn't plugged? Where is the water supply line, feeding into the boiler/wet return, from the water feeder attached and, if attached to the wet return, are you sure the wet return or area around the Hartford loop isn't clogged, causing water to back up into the wet return and not actually get into the boiler?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,322
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    2 gallons a day is way too much. But... your second post there really points to the answer: most likely somewhere in the wet return system (including the Hartford loop), whatever it may consist of, you have a leak. What you are seeing, I think, is that you can't raise the water level above the Hartford loop connection. Rather less likely is that there is a plug or connection to your new block which is at that elevation which is leaking -- it's been known to happen.

    If you are adding two gallons per day, let's consider; that represents 16 pounds of water, more or less, or 16,000 BTU worth of steam. That's a substantial fraction of the steam you are producing for which the condensate isn't returning.

    On the other hand, don't go looking for a gusher -- or even a little stream. Two gallons a day could be not much more than a persistent drip.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    Do you have a manual feed valve? They feed much faster then the button on the auto feed. Try to fill the boiler to near top of glass. Turn boiler off. Wait several hours. Check water level and see if it went down. 

    VXT programmable feeder. went from 29 - 31 ...so it's ok to just fill away until it appears near top of site glass?
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    Fred said:

    When you say "new block", how new is it? Are you sure both the upper and lower valves on the sight glass are fully open? Have you checked to see if the lower port that the sight glass is attached to isn't plugged? Where is the water supply line, feeding into the boiler/wet return, from the water feeder attached and, if attached to the wet return, are you sure the wet return or area around the Hartford loop isn't clogged, causing water to back up into the wet return and not actually get into the boiler?

    Mark929 said:

    Still perplexed. New Burnham block installed, last one had cracks. Sight glass always hovered around 1/3 full. New block, new air vents (replaced 4 older models), found 2 small leaks, one small leak - 1 gallon a week in daughters room, no other major leaks, no under ground pipes, only using heat 2-3 hrs a day in Boston, adjusted feeder 1 extra gallon (vs LWCO which it was set at), even fed delay 10-minutes...yet STILL filling approx 2 gallons H2O a day and site glass remains at 1/3...what else should i be checking? i know the system needs to be skimmed with new block. But what.... Is feeding 2 gallons a day bad?





  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    Fred said:

    When you say "new block", how new is it? Are you sure both the upper and lower valves on the sight glass are fully open? Have you checked to see if the lower port that the sight glass is attached to isn't plugged? Where is the water supply line, feeding into the boiler/wet return, from the water feeder attached and, if attached to the wet return, are you sure the wet return or area around the Hartford loop isn't clogged, causing water to back up into the wet return and not actually get into the boiler?

    installed last month

    2 gallons a day is way too much. But... your second post there really points to the answer: most likely somewhere in the wet return system (including the Hartford loop), whatever it may consist of, you have a leak. What you are seeing, I think, is that you can't raise the water level above the Hartford loop connection. Rather less likely is that there is a plug or connection to your new block which is at that elevation which is leaking -- it's been known to happen.

    If you are adding two gallons per day, let's consider; that represents 16 pounds of water, more or less, or 16,000 BTU worth of steam. That's a substantial fraction of the steam you are producing for which the condensate isn't returning.

    On the other hand, don't go looking for a gusher -- or even a little stream. Two gallons a day could be not much more than a persistent drip.

    found one drip, tightened and gone! but the part about can't raise the water level above hartford loop seems practical as this occured on the prior block which was cracked and sending steam up the chimney...
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    Fred said:

    When you say "new block", how new is it? Are you sure both the upper and lower valves on the sight glass are fully open? Have you checked to see if the lower port that the sight glass is attached to isn't plugged? Where is the water supply line, feeding into the boiler/wet return, from the water feeder attached and, if attached to the wet return, are you sure the wet return or area around the Hartford loop isn't clogged, causing water to back up into the wet return and not actually get into the boiler?

    installed last month.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,973
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    Mark929 said:
    Do you have a manual feed valve? They feed much faster then the button on the auto feed. Try to fill the boiler to near top of glass. Turn boiler off. Wait several hours. Check water level and see if it went down. 
    VXT programmable feeder. went from 29 - 31 ...so it's ok to just fill away until it appears near top of site glass?
    Yes. Use the ball valve to the side of the vxt. Trying to determine if return is leaking. 
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    Mark929 said:

    Do you have a manual feed valve? They feed much faster then the button on the auto feed. Try to fill the boiler to near top of glass. Turn boiler off. Wait several hours. Check water level and see if it went down. 

    VXT programmable feeder. went from 29 - 31 ...so it's ok to just fill away until it appears near top of site glass?

    Yes. Use the ball valve to the side of the vxt. Trying to determine if return is leaking. 

    can you elaborate on what to do..thanks
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,973
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    Locate the valve near the feeder, that has a lever that is perpendicular to the valve. Turn the lever. You should hear water flowing. Fill boiler until water is near top of the glass. Shut valve. Make sure boiler is turned off. Wait a few hours and see if water level has gone down. 
    Mark929ethicalpaul
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,662
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    Perhaps the boiler was never leaking to begin with? Did someone flood it and observe it leaking?
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    2 gallons a day is way too much. But... your second post there really points to the answer: most likely somewhere in the wet return system (including the Hartford loop), whatever it may consist of, you have a leak. What you are seeing, I think, is that you can't raise the water level above the Hartford loop connection. Rather less likely is that there is a plug or connection to your new block which is at that elevation which is leaking -- it's been known to happen.

    If you are adding two gallons per day, let's consider; that represents 16 pounds of water, more or less, or 16,000 BTU worth of steam. That's a substantial fraction of the steam you are producing for which the condensate isn't returning.

    On the other hand, don't go looking for a gusher -- or even a little stream. Two gallons a day could be not much more than a persistent drip.

    longshot here - but is the fact that boiler sits on 4 cement blocks being about 5" tall play any roll in the Hartford Loop theory?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,322
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    No -- but it's probably a good thing it is. It almost sounds as though the installer was thinking and paid attention to matching the water level in the new boiler with that in the original one.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Mark929
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    No -- but it's probably a good thing it is. It almost sounds as though the installer was thinking and paid attention to matching the water level in the new boiler with that in the original one.

    @Jamie Hall You were correct again. Hartford Loop plus 2" = 1/3 site glass I've seen the past few months. Advice from here?


    Also, I did add manually at feeder, but H20 level didn't go down. Left H20 at 1/2 site glass for now...New Hoffman air vents nice and quiet.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,662
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    Are you sure the auto feeder is actually adding water?
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    i think it is. if it weren't the site glass would be dropping from 1/3..to 1/4..etc. right?
    Lard
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    Locate the valve near the feeder, that has a lever that is perpendicular to the valve. Turn the lever. You should hear water flowing. Fill boiler until water is near top of the glass. Shut valve. Make sure boiler is turned off. Wait a few hours and see if water level has gone down. 

    tried...filled the boiler and site glass...remained at same level 4 hrs later. But, drained (flushed) a bit of water today (hasn't been done since install tech is coming this week). Brought to 1/2 level in glass and has remained at that level all day vs regressing to the 1/3 it's been for months...

    Also, after reading a bit and Jamie's thought - found Hartford Loop + 2" = 31" which is exactly at the 1/3 level in glass....and where it's been sitting... interesting.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
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    Mark929 said:

    i think it is. if it weren't the site glass would be dropping from 1/3..to 1/4..etc. right?

    I haven't been able to follow the last couple things you have said about your auto feeder. When you activate it, the water level should rise noticeably in your gauge glass.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
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    it does rise...
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,322
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    At the very least, @Mark929 , I think you have established that the boiler is not leaking, at least below the water line. If there is any leak at all, it must be one of two things: the wet return outside the Hartford loop (they do have a use!) or a steam leak.

    Unless it is very minor, I doubt that if it is a steam leak it is in the block; first place, it's new, and second place they tend to be larger when they do happen. Your usage rate, while quite excessive, doesn't seem to be of that magnitude.

    You mentioned finding -- and stopping -- one drip. It is possible that that may have been it. Consider this: if there is a one milliliter drop every 10 seconds -- quite seemingly minor -- that is 2 whole gallons of water in a day.

    Which gives an indication of how tight these systems have to be, by the way...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    New England SteamWorksMark929
  • johncharles
    johncharles Member Posts: 50
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    Has no one noticed the circulator pump, do you have a hot water zone tied into the system, the leak could be in that part of the system too.
    mattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,662
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    i noticed it. Figured they would notice a puddle.