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Steam header issues

Spag74
Spag74 Member Posts: 11
edited November 2021 in Plumbing
Went to service this steam boiler and found: 
1-Double 2” risers out of the boiler 18” high  
2- Feeding a 2” header(which should be a 3” header) but the take off tees are between the risers supplying the radiators. 
3- Also the two 2” tees between risers are supplying a 3” trunkline to all radiators which I believe just needs one 3” tee suppIying the main trunkline
4- I noticed the glass guage surging when boiler kicked on.
 I told the customer that boiler was installed wrong and should be changed so the boiler would operate correctly to make dry steam.

Is there any other problems that I could relay to the customer to prevent possible boiler damage or just better efficiency by changing the near boiler piping. It’s been working like this for about 10 years. I’ll try to upload pics.

Comments

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,553
    edited November 2021
    Pics will definitely help try using the picture icon


    the picture must be a file on your device in a format that is compatible with this site. ".jpeg" works for me. I think PDF also works
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,553
    edited November 2021
    As far as your comment to the customer, is there a problem they are trying to solve? OR are you making a decision based on your understanding of how steam works BEST?

    Sometimes systems that are not installed using "BEST PRACTICE" will still work and the customer does not really have a problem that needs solving. I have come across that many times, Telling the customer about a problem they don't have (in the customers mind) will often get you kicked out for trying to sell snake oil to bump up your bill ( in the customers mind)... even though you have sincere intentions. Ask me how I know.

    If, however you were called to solve a problem, then you are on the right course. See of you can find the manufacturers IO manual with suggested piping detail, this will reassure the customer that you know what you are talking about. If the system is 10+ years old and it has operated satisfactorily for some of that time, then maybe it just needs skimming. Suggesting that you do Skimming only for $x.00, then maybe Skimming and new vents for $XX.00 and finally a complete repipe according to manuf spec for $XXX.00 might be a good approach. This way you can guarantee results on the higher price job, but if they want to try the lower price job you can't guarantee results.

    This all depends on the nature of the original call.

    If you were called because it never worked properly since it was installed... then your first impression and remarks are spot on!

    See if you can get those pics on this post.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Mr. Ed
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,041
    What make and model is the boiler?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Spag74
    Spag74 Member Posts: 11
    Burnham in7
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,161
    I agree with @EdTheHeaterMan

    If it works and makes steam leave it alone. If you have water spitting out of vents, water surging and tripping LWCO...wet steam then it should be addressed starting with the simple solution which may just be skimming
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,553
    edited November 2021
    Good picture. I can see how it is wrong, but it still works. The 2" left riser will mostly fill the left main take off and the 2" right riser will mostly feed the right main takeoff. Not perfect but not a reason to spend over a thousand for a complete repipe. It looks like you may need to relocate the boiler left or right in the basement to accomodate a drop header and proper piping of both takeoffs to the mains. I"m thinking the original boiler was similar to this picture and the replacement boiler (existing) was installed to conserve space in the basement.



    In this design the left riser went directly into one of the mains and the right riser went directly into the other main. That won't work in the new compact boilers because there is no room for the steam to boil and leave the boiler as dry steam The original installer had to work with what restrictions were there at the time of the replacement install. Also, the problems encountered with replacing old coal boilers with new compact boilers were not commonplace yet. Sometimes they got lucky.

    BTW, I realize this picture is a gravity water boiler system, but this same boiler design was used as a steam boiler piped as explained above
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,161
    Yeah its wrong all right and needs a repipe
  • Spag74
    Spag74 Member Posts: 11
    I’ll recommend skimming for surging but should the near piping be definitely replaced if it’s been making steam with no noises for this long 
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,553
    edited November 2021
    Spag74 said:

    I’ll recommend skimming for surging but should the near piping be definitely replaced if it’s been making steam with no noises for this long 

    My point exactly, It ain't right but it works. If you try to convince the customer that it is wrong, you will be banging your head against the wall. Solve the real issue that is causing the current problem. After they are comfortable with your ability to fix their problem (that no one else can fix in many cases) you will become more credible and be able to get the repipe job when they are ready.

    Always give them 3 choices. Good*Better*Best where the Best is what you will give the longest warranty, and that is guaranteed to fix the problem along with other problems they may not even know they have.

    Better is where you include some extras like cleaning the LWCO probe and flushing the system, maybe even some treatment chemistry.

    Finally, Good is the minimum things that are needed to solve the problem at hand with a 30 or 60 day warranty. If the problem returns in 3 months or next year... bring out your record of the Best offering they declined. This says "I told you so" without actually saying it.

    But always be supportive of the choices they make, understanding their financial situation. Let them know you can keep taking their money and do the minimum, the choice is always yours, or they can bite the bullet and get it done right once and for all.



    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16