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Steam Furnace - Residential - Maintenance Best Practices Request

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ArtA
ArtA Member Posts: 1
Hi - 8 yr old - New Yorker CGS-A gas steam boiler. Auto-feeder feeds approx 2-3 gallons per day when cold. Steam gets to radiators fast and heats the house fine.
Replaced all the radiator air valves and the two main vent valves. All pipes are above ground in the basement. No steam leaks in pipes, radiators, furnace casing. Maybe steam is going out the chimney through a hole in top of the furnace. Will fill with water in the spring and check.

The pipes are not insulated in the basement. Pressuretrol might have been at the max pressure for many years. I had a guy lower it to proper pressure last year before I replaced all the valves.

Question: I have HVAC guys perform yearly maintenance. They drain the furnace and flush out the mud. They make sure the looking glass is clean and fills to the line. That is it. They don't check the autofeed filter. They don't check the pressure control or flush the pigtail. They don't open the furnace casing and look for leaks.

They all say that a few gallons a day in cold weather is normal. They have decades of experience in steam including installing steam furnaces.

What should be done for a yearly maintenance call for a steam furnace to keep it in good shape?

Thanks
Art in New Jersey



Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,324
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    First place, that amount of water is anything but normal. In fact, it's somewhere over 30 times what would be regarded as normal (1 to 2 gallons per month). So you have a ;good big leak somewhere -- most likely the boiler. If they regard that as normal, they don't know steam heat.

    As to maintenance, while a gas boiler doesn't soot up as badly as oil does, they still should be cleaning the fireside at least every other year, and they should check gas pressures and combustion -- with instruments -- every year. In addition to all the things you mention which they do and don't do.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
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    First that water usage is crazy high.  I have a similar sized system and use as much in a year as you use in 2 days.  The contractor is wrong 100%.

    I think there are varying opinions on this, but I can tell you what I service on mine yearly.  I verify function of all safeties, these are essentially the items that prevent catastrophe.  The pressuretrol, and most especially the low water cut off, the second one should never be an option...ever.  I make sure my gauge glass is clean, I installed a blow down on mine so this is easy.  This may not be a yearly requirement as much as an “as needed”.  I verify my wet return is clear, again I have service valves to accomplish this.  Finally I operate all drain valves to make sure they are clear and operating properly.  I may have missed something, but that’s off the top of my head.  Completely draining the boiler shouldn’t be necessary.  I run water treatment in mine so I try to minimize added water as much as possible.  Your contractor isn’t doing what they should be.

    Finally that boiler isn’t piped properly, which given what you stated about the service people, doesn’t surprise me they haven’t recognized.

    Where are you located?  We may know a competent steam contractor in your area.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ethicalpaul
  • ArtA
    ArtA Member Posts: 1
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    Hi - The house is in Ewing NJ (near Trenton). Let me know if you know anyone nearby. What is wrong with the piping? If I need to repair/replace the furnace, I can have the pipes fixed at the same time.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
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    @EzzyT do you service that part of NJ?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,544
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    As far as maintenance goes everything tht @KC_Jones & @Jamie Hall mentioned.

    With gas I would at least check the fire side of the boiler every 3-4 years and pull the burners out and clean them as long as a combustion test is done yearly and shows good combustion
  • EzzyT
    EzzyT Member Posts: 1,295
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    @ArtA The near boiler piping is all wrong as others have mentioned and that much make up water needed tells me that either you have some serious leaks in the system or the boiler has a hole in it above the water line. 
    E-Travis Mechanical LLC
    Etravismechanical@gmail.com
    201-887-8856
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
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    Welcome to the forum fellow NJ resident! I try not to judge too much but your current contractor is laughably bad. Have @EzzyT or @clammy come over and write you up an estimate for what is needed. The near-boiler piping is atrocious and your guy’s opinions on water usage are grossly negligent. Never call him back.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el