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My boiler is over filling

shycam
shycam Member Posts: 8
edited May 5 in THE MAIN WALL
Hi everyone, 

My tenant’s boiler keeps overfilling every time it is low of water. It fills all the way to the top and the only way that it doesn’t make that banging pipe noise is if I either manually feed the water myself or when it does overfill, I turn off the emergency switch so I can dump some water out. At one point, it would overfill so much that water would shoot out of my tenants radiators and would shoot out from the returning water pipe. The sounds are unbearable.. I live in New Jersey and The bedroom is in the basement. As you can imagine all the pipes run over there so I hear everything. When the water is at the right level, the boiler makes a really loud swooshing sound which I believe is the water being boiled. That sound is tolerable but the banging sound is so loud and I can’t sleep nor can my tenants. I have had many plumbers come to my house. They all give me different reasons. One said oh there’s a lot of mud in the pipes.. so they charged me $ to drain the boiler to clean the pipes with this solution. I don’t think it did much as the tube is still dirty and lots of dirty comes out whenever I drain. One other guy told me that the boiler is too big for that apartment.  And that I would need to purchase a smaller boiler or completely install a new water heat system. He told me it can cost about $... and honestly, I can’t afford it.  I need guidance and help.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,620
    The boiler gets low on water and all by itself overfeeds and floods? Is that correct?

    OK. Somewhere on the water supply piping going to the boiler is an automatic water feeder, and it is controlled by a switch on the boiler which senses the low water. Either the feeder isn't working properly, which is quite possible, or the switch on the boiler isn't -- which, if the boiler has been neglected and the switch is the float type is quite likely. The float gets stuck down if the mechanism isn't blown down regularly.

    Can you post a picture of the boiler, showing all of the controls? And find the automatic feeder on the water supply piping to the boiler and take a picture of that? Then we can probably suggest what needs to be done. Even if you have to hire someone ;to fix the problem, it's an easy and cheap fix.

    So far the plumbers you have had in obviously haven't a clue. They may be good plumbers, but... either they are incompetent or they are taking advantage of you to line their pockets.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    shycamLS123
  • aperson
    aperson Member Posts: 66
    Try to at most pay half and then tell them you'll wait for the invoice. If they don't fix it don't pay.
    shycam
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,727
    @shycam

    Check "find a contractor on this site"

    There are several good ones in NJ. @EzzyT & @clammy
    shycamgeno907LS123
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,495
    Can you check the operation of the low water cut off, (stopping the burner when the level gets low), and valve off the water to the auto-feed, and watch the boiler waterline for a couple of cycles? This should temporarily stop the overfilling.
    It is possible that the cleaning solution put in by the plumber is responsible for some of your troubles with this. Draining out all the water, and refilling would remove the chemicals. They can sometimes cause such a violent boiling as to throw water up into the pipes, instead of just steam.
    We await any pictures you may send us to give further advice.—NBC
  • Lance
    Lance Member Posts: 168
    I am sorry you are in this mess. My advice is strictly optional. We plan to fail when we fail to plan. Step 1. Search and find one honest, trustworthy and competent contractor. You will have to set standards that many of us will easily agree to. Insured, licensed, referenced. You may have to go through hundreds of companies. Start with those listed with authorities, recommended by manufactures, or other reputable sources. Perhaps anyone who had a great experience. or step 2) Go to school for this trade, apprentice for 6 years, and learn to do it yourself. Just expect to pay far more for this education than what a great contractor will charge you. Absolutely do not pay for anything that will not work, no matter how expensive or cheap it is. or Step 3, which is where your are now, seeking advice, finding out how to do it. Just be aware there are many causes and many reasons, singular or combined that cause your systems problems.
    Start with learning the minimum requirements to see if your system meets those requirements. You may even need a consultant to review it first. A good plumber may not be an engineer, or a heat expert, or control expert, or even a steam expert. You do not need a plumber, you need a steam heat pro. Remember with many hands come many mistakes. If you are paying, we need to show our competency. If we cannot not, we should not be hired. I have a list of things that number over 50 that can go wrong in this stuff. So far, all my customers that listened to me have been very satisfied with the results even if they had to be told twice. It is hard to judge one good answer from 10 wrong answers when you judge by the majority and not the facts. There are thousands of false answers, but only one right answer. Most of my customers' systems like this have at least 3 problems. 1) what is broke, what is wrong or caused it, what is maintenance. And sometimes we have to remove the previous mistakes by others. PS. Residential steam is a controlled system and deserves a slow rate of makeup water. Lower the water feed pressure to no more than 10 PSI. on a 1/2" pipe. A new boiler is never the solution, if the problems are elsewhere.
    clammy
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 290
    edited May 10
    Shycam,
                   Does this boiler have a tankless coil for domestic hot water? Tankless coils can develop a leak & overfill the boiler. 
                    Is there a manual bypass &  valve piped around the auto feed valve? Manual valves can fail & allow a tiny, continuous trickle that will over feed your boiler.
                  Sludge or mud can also accumulate in the return piping & slow the flow back into the boiler - this can also contribute to overfilling.
                     
  • shycam
    shycam Member Posts: 8


  • shycam
    shycam Member Posts: 8

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,620
    Why are the dip switches set the way they are? You need a steam man to look at this system -- no a plumber -- and we've given you names of two of the best.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    LS123
  • shycam
    shycam Member Posts: 8
    Why are the dip switches set the way they are? You need a steam man to look at this system -- no a plumber -- and we've given you names of two of the best.
    How should the dip switches be set to?
  • unclejohn
    unclejohn Member Posts: 1,736
    Looks to be set for 2 min delay and a 3 min feed.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,360
    Put switch #2 to the on position and other switches to the off position. 
    SuperTech
  • shycam
    shycam Member Posts: 8
    Ok I turned on #2 and turned the rest off. 
    Can anyone explain to me why my tube isnt clear? I know it’s obviously dirty, but the last two plumbers “cleaned” my boiler and they said that the sludge will go away after some time.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,702
    There is sludge in probably the returns and the boiler that should be flushed out.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,495
    I don’t know where the plummmmers think the sludge will go. There are cleaning products, (8-Way, by Rectorseal), which will loosen any sludge in the bottom, so it can be drained out. Oils floating on the boiler water after any repiping, or installation should be skimmed off, which is a time consuming, but necessary process. No chemical can replace skimming, which can be done by the homeowner.
    The glass tube should be removed, and cleaned using a test tube brush.—NBC
  • shycam
    shycam Member Posts: 8
    mattmia2 said:

    There is sludge in probably the returns and the boiler that should be flushed out.

    Yes, the previous plumbers had used a solution to clean the sludge but it still not clean.
  • shycam
    shycam Member Posts: 8

    Can you check the operation of the low water cut off, (stopping the burner when the level gets low), and valve off the water to the auto-feed, and watch the boiler waterline for a couple of cycles? This should temporarily stop the overfilling.
    It is possible that the cleaning solution put in by the plumber is responsible for some of your troubles with this. Draining out all the water, and refilling would remove the chemicals. They can sometimes cause such a violent boiling as to throw water up into the pipes, instead of just steam.
    We await any pictures you may send us to give further advice.—NBC

    Someone had told me that the low water cut off circuit box may be broken.. or defected.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,874
    shycam said:

    Someone had told me that the low water cut off circuit box may be broken.. or defected.

    This is a dangerous condition. The low water cutoff is one of the safeties that keeps the boiler in the basement & not the neighbor's yard. The boiler should not be operated until this is verified operational.

    Have you tried the Find a Contractor link above?

    LS123
  • shycam
    shycam Member Posts: 8
    Ok, so it is not the LWC system. My dad installed the VXT digital water feeder. It made the ehhh sound for a really long time, and did not open for the water to pass through. Does this mean the feeder is defective? I think there is something wrong with the water feeder. I must've changed it like 4 times! And not I tired this one, and it is still not working. It is so bizarre. I can manually feed the water, but the water feeder does not.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,689
    You have at least 2 different devices controlling the water fill.
    First is the LWCO, could be a float type or probe type.
    That then will tell the other device, VXT in you case to add water.

    Pictures of both these are needed, from far back to show any piping and valves.

    You should not have to add much water to a steam boiler.
    Often the return condensate water is slow, (or possibly leaking where you can't see) to return to the boiler and the LWCO thinks it should add water.
    It may do that and then at the end of the heating cycle the slow water does return and flood the boiler.

    You must test the LWCO to verify that it does in fact shut the burner down when there is a low water condition. Obviously this should be tested with the fire on.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,620
    I'm not entirely clear here. When you say you can manually feed the water, is that with the manual feed button on the feeder/ If so, at least the feeder valve is operating. And when you manually feed with the button, does the counter show the fed water? If so, it's very likely that the circuit board is OK, too.

    Now... this may be a very stupid question, but the VXT feeder comes in two types: 120 volt and 24 volt. You can't mix them. Are you quite sure that the feeder you have is the correct voltage for the rest of the system? The LWCO and all? It's happened...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    PC7060