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Automatic Water Feeder Malfunction

2wheelinfool
2wheelinfool Member Posts: 30
edited February 27 in Strictly Steam
My automatic water feeder doesn't work. If I push the button on the side, it make a sound, but no water flows. Are these repairable? It looks like it'll be a bear to remove it if I have to. Too bad it wasn't installed with unions fittings.






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Comments

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,263
    Have you cleaned the strainer? The plug on the back that is at an angle.
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    @JUGHNE What is the fitting with the black label between the supply isolation valve (yellow handle) and the feeder? Another strainer, check valve, backflow preventer?
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    Does water flow if you open the bypass valve (green handle)?
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,263
    That is your backflow preventer.
    As Steaming asked, is your green lever passing water when you open it?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,520
    The strainer is probably clogged
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355
    If you can fill the boiler with the bypass valve (green handle), just use that until spring, then take apart the feed valve. You can usually clean them and make them work again, but you might want to put a filter on the line. Also add those uinons and a couple of shut-offs so you can remove it more easily next time.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    Thanks, I was able to zoom in on the label and read it. Technology is amazing.
  • 2wheelinfool
    2wheelinfool Member Posts: 30
    Hey ya'll thanks for the helpful advice. I didn't notice the y strainer before. The green bypass valve works and I've been using it to keep the boiler water level correct. I will try to clean the y strainer after heating season is over; hopefully that does it.
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    If you do disassemble the feeder strainer, you might want to get some replacement parts. The valve looks like the DEMA design used in the Hydrolevel feeder, but the name and numbers on the valve body are not clear enough to read. Can you post a more readable closeup of the valve?
  • 2wheelinfool
    2wheelinfool Member Posts: 30
    @SteamingatMohawk I cant seem to upload pics, keep getting 'failed to upload' error. It's a uni-match model WF2-U-24.

    https://www.supplyhouse.com/Mcdonnell-Miller-WFE-24V-Unimatch-24V-Electric-Water-Feeder-2016000-p

    Any risk of causing a leak by opening the y strainer?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,742
    Well... you won't cause a leak unless you break something, but unless you shut the water off to it you'll cause a flood...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    2wheelinfool
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355
    That's why you're supposed to have shut-offs on either side of the feeder. That lets you remove the feeder and still feed the boiler via the bypass.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • bucksnort
    bucksnort Member Posts: 109

    That's why you're supposed to have shut-offs on either side of the feeder. That lets you remove the feeder and still feed the boiler via the bypass.

    What, spend 50-100 to do it right? C'mon Man! Many times there's a reason for a low bid on a job.
  • 2wheelinfool
    2wheelinfool Member Posts: 30
    Yeah, I am noticing the effects of shortcuts taken. Too bad there is only one isolation valve :neutral:
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    When I replaced my VXT feeder, I tried to use the unions, but didn't have the time or space to just build the complex on the bench, so everything would fit. I ended up with some misalignment, so it's not as pretty as I like to do. To beat the isolation valve issue around the feeder, I added an isolation valve before the tee for the feeder and bypass and accepted not being able to add water to the boiler at that time. I also have an additional valve just before where the feed line connects to the return, so I essentially have the separate isolation valves and can run the boiler if needed.

    The unions for that size copper I could find locally are not brass or bronze fittings and are extremely flimsy copper. I bought some but was not satisfied with them, so I just eliminated them and will bite the bullet if I have to and use sweat couplings if I ever have to remove anything.

    It's a VXT that I had to do the Gordo modification on to get the readout to be right side up. Not a difficult task, just be extra careful reassembling the spring and plunger.
    2wheelinfool
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    @2wheelinfool Just post the numbers and the name that are part of the valve/strainer casting. the number looks something like 5-45 and I can't read the name.
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    Supply House has the strainer and cap as a repair part. It may also include a copper washer/gasket.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355
    @SteamingatMohawk I have some brass ½" sweat unions if you want them. I got them for my water piping and never used them. Now I'm thinking of replacing it all with PEX. (I did my water feeder piping with all brass NPT pipe.) BTW, I think I got these at a Sears Hardware store if you have one near you that hasn't closed yet. They used to have an amazing selection of brass fittings.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    @Hap_Hazzard Thanks for the offer, but I don't have any plans to modify what is working. Sears has disappeared from the area where I live. If I remember correctly I also checked both FW Webb and Grainger with no success.

    My arrangement is oddball and I put the bypass on the straight through section with the feeder teed off below it.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,184
    @SteamingatMohawk McMaster Carr has them but I've not laid hands on so I can't say how well built they are -

    https://www.mcmaster.com/unions/type~union/solder-connect-fittings-for-copper-tubing-7/

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355
    @SteamingatMohawk Keep it in mind in case you ever need to redo it for any reason.

    Speaking of oddball arrangements, here's how I hooked up my VXT. Sorry it's a little blurry.

    I wanted to position it next to the LWCO. I had to shorten the handles on the ball valves. The bypass is the red handwheel at the far right
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,649
    Unions and isolation valves are the way to go for sure. I haven't had any issues with the strainer clogging, but if it needs cleaned it's easy.

    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,955
    Do you need that bottom valve?
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355

    Do you need that bottom valve?

    You talkin' to me?

    If so, yes. It keeps the water from leaking out if I need to feed the boiler while the VXT is removed.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,955
    No, I was talking to KC...yours I can't tell what the heck is going on :D
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Hap_Hazzard
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    I'll post a pic of my setup after I take one. This is getting to be like posting pics of our kids!!
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,649

    Do you need that bottom valve?

    Unions on both lines, the valves allow me to isolate and remove if necessary.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,955
    Yes, the unions are great, but what is the bottom valve for? There's just air in there
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,649

    Yes, the unions are great, but what is the bottom valve for? There's just air in there

    1. I'm paranoid
    2. I have children that have, on occasion, played with valves.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355

    Yes, the unions are great, but what is the bottom valve for? There's just air in there

    Wait a sec. Is this the valve we're talking about?

    It looks like it does exactly the same thing as the lower shut-off in my setup. It keeps fill water from leaking out when you open the bypass, and it also prevents the boiler pushing water out when it's steaming. I'm assuming that pipe goes down to the equalizer.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,851
    Copper unions

    Try your best to get Nibco #733 unions they are .....ok brass to copper

    The 633 which is an all copper union...........SUCKS copper to copper

    We did a job with 33 fan coil units with HW and CW coils in them so that's like 132 1/2" copper unions with 6 good pipe fitters on the job I was running the 633s probably 25% of them leaked when installed correctly

    So now your left with over tightening them or doping them (wich I hate) or teflon tape they just suck


    To bad the one in the picture they could have at least left more room between the tees so someone could add unions
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,955
    KC_Jones said:
    Yes, the unions are great, but what is the bottom valve for? There's just air in there
    1. I'm paranoid 2. I have children that have, on occasion, played with valves.
    All the better reason not to have one there 😅
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,955

    Wait a sec. Is this the valve we're talking about? It looks like it does exactly the same thing as the lower shut-off in my setup. It keeps fill water from leaking out when you open the bypass, and it also prevents the boiler pushing water out when it's steaming. I'm assuming that pipe goes down to the equalizer.
    Yes, that valve. I don’t see it doing either of those things 🤷🏻‍♂️

    Or do you mean when the autofill is removed?? Only remove it when you’re replacing it maybe?
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    Here's a different point of view on the feeder isolation valves. As long as there are valves both before and after the feeder/bypass complex, there is no overriding reason to install extra valves to isolate the feeder. Why? Boilers don't use so much water that the makeup source must be available while the feeder/bypass arrangement is being worked on. Any competent person working on the complex would make sure the boiler is at the filled level before starting work. Then days, if not weeks are available. In an extreme case, a garden hose could be attached to the drain to add water, if really needed.

    The only exception I can dream up is if the feeder leaks by and needs to be isolated for an extended period of time, but then since the boiler doesn't require constant feeder availability, this is a moot point.

    Depending on access to the strainer, the feeder does not have to be removed to work on it. It might be easier to work on it on the bench, but how often does anyone, in reality, inspect/check it?

    The key concept in all of this is "both before and after" in the first sentence. My system had it before I bought the building, so it works for me.

    If others don't, this discussion is irrelevant.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355

    Or do you mean when the autofill is removed??

    Yes.

    Only remove it when you’re replacing it maybe?

    No. I have to remove it to work on it.

    When I installed my VXT, I was a relatively inexperienced homeowner, so, when the instructions said to install shutoffs and unions before and after, I was inclined to follow them. Besides, it seemed like a good idea, and I could see where it could bite me in the behind if I didn't, and, sure enough, a few years later I'm starting up my boiler for the season, and I turn on the power expecting the autofeeder to activate and fill the boiler, and it's activating, but it isn't filling. So I close the shutoffs, undo the unions, disconnect the wires, and filled the boiler with the bypass. I was glad I had them.

    The only scenario where I can see this making sense for a pro would be if you had a "loaner" water feeder you could drop in and take the malfunctioning unit back to the shop to fix it.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,742
    In a way it's a little like main venting... it's almost impossible to have too much. Except for the cost of the bits and pieces. Likewise, in my humble opinion, valves and unions. I like that setup for the feeder!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Hap_Hazzard
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,955
    a few years later I'm starting up my boiler for the season, and I turn on the power expecting the autofeeder to activate and fill the boiler, and it's activating, but it isn't filling. So I close the shutoffs, undo the unions, disconnect the wires, and filled the boiler with the bypass. I was glad I had them.


    They definitely don't hurt but couldn't you have just opened the manual feed to fill your boiler without undoing the unions and disconnecting the wires?
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    Don't get me wrong. I am sure many of us enjoy the process of installing the valves, unions and other fittings. In my case I had a bit of an arrangement challenge and already had both isolation valves if I ever needed to work on the feeder. Others may not be so ""lucky".

    On the other hand, more joints, more chances for leaks sooner or later.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,263
    Has anyone considered the "broken union test".
    It is described in install instructions for most blow down LWCO.

    If you think any valve, including the feeder valve, is seeping, you isolate each valve and by cracking the down stream union open you can find the seeper.
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 475
    edited March 5
    That depends a lot on the arrangement. Easy to get mislead. Been there, done that. Good idea for my mental troubleshooting efforts.

    Troubleshooting is like asking questions. I like asking equipment, not people. Equipment doesn't lie to you, sometimes people do.

    The trick is to ask the equipment the right question and understand the answer the equipment gives you. Especially true in electrical circuits. Plumbing is a bit easier.
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