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Boiler Maintenance - few questions

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Newbie_homeowner
Newbie_homeowner Member Posts: 5
edited December 2021 in Strictly Steam
Hi - new homeowner, first time steam heat user. Really respect everyone here for sharing their knowledge.

Basically I moved into a new home with a steam heating system. I hired a professional to do a maintenance on the boiler to be sure it was in good order. He charged me $$$ and just drained the system and filled it back up. Oh and added some Surgemaster. What concerned me was that the sight was so dirty it was impossible to see through and neither him nor I could really gauge the water level - but he said the green stuff will clean it out. Well it didn't (been about 1 month) and I could see the sight was always completely full - this bothered me. So I read on here and cleaned the glass myself. Started up the system and the water immediately rose to fill the entire glass and never went down. So I read on here again - the pigtail was completely full of mud and the top valve above the glass was not flowing. Cleaned out the pigtail, used the glass rod protectors to clean out the valve. Started the system and this time the water level stays at the high water mark and I can see it bouncing around with pressure (yay!). Few questions:

-I noticed more mud falling from the top valve into the glass. I take it this means there's flow-through the pipe, but should i try to flush it out?

-The pressure gauge builds up to >15 psi, nearing 20. I'm fairly certain the gauge must be broken because the boiler has a 15 psi blow off valve that never opens. However I'm uncertain the pressuretroller is working. How can I test this?

-Does the system need the Surgemaster that was added if I flush the system?

thanks

Comments

  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    It's possible that the pipe the safety valve is mounted on is full of the same gunk you found in the upper gaugecock or the gauge itself could be clogged. This is not a safe situation. You really need to get someone over there ASAP, and not the same guy you called before. If you can't locate someone knowledgeable we can try to talk you through some steps to get running again, but you should not let the pressure get that high. Ever. Shut it off manually if you have to.

    Try to find a professional here: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/

    Where are you located?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    MaxMercy
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,323
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    This ^^^
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
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    when calling some one to do maintenance on a boiler or your heating system the first thing you need to do is to call an approved contractor.

    1. If you are heating on oil call your oil burner company for service. tell them you have a one pipe steam system and need to have the boiler checked out for safe operation which includes the the operation of the oil burner.
    2. If you are gas fired call the gas company to have their service personnel or an approved contractor to do do the same.

    Tinkering with the vent valves and other needs to assure that system is working fine all of us will try to help you thru that phase of maint.

    Jake
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,540
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    Really sad but in these times that's what you get for $$$$ spent.

    How can any professional get upset with a homeowner working on his own equipment when faced with these issues.

    The service guy above couldn't be bothered to clean a dirty gage glass!!! Much less anything else.
    delcrossvethicalpaul
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 742
    edited December 2021
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    I'm unfortunately not surprised.

    Last guy that came out to do "maintenance" on my MIL's hydronic system (building 3- 2 steam buildings, 1 hydronic), he emptied some water out of the expansion tanks and closed the air shutter on one burner so it would soot up the thermocouple (after telling her, what else, that she needs to replace that boiler and "parts weren't available"). 👌🙄
    Won't post prices, but it wasn't free.
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,478
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    Years ago I called someone in to do steam boiler yearly maintenance. I could hear a voice in my driveway and it was the service guy sitting in his truck on the phone (about 1/2 hr). When he left i took a good look and couldn't see any signs he touched anything but the service switch. When I got the bill I sent about 25% of it in and told them that was more than enough for someone sitting in their truck. I never heard a peep from them and I never called them again. Just as well I would not trust them to do the job right.

    I always did most of the work myself except for the cleanouts and combustion tests. Since 1970 I've called for boiler service twice (other than oil burner clean outs) - cast iron is pretty damn reliable. If I had hot water heat I'd think long and hard about these new ultra efficient boilers, the cost of service swallows any fuel savings. I found someone else who did a good job but he left that company and then I switched to gas and bought my own combustion meter and learned how to use it.

    Finding competent people gets harder every year. I worked for years servicing complex test equipment and I can read manuals which seems to be more than some of these guys are willing to do. It's a shame because it tarnishes the reputations of all the guys who do a stand up job.

    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
    MikeAmann
  • Newbie_homeowner
    Newbie_homeowner Member Posts: 5
    edited December 2021
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    Thanks for replies, I'm located in Northern NJ, Millburn. Apparently this was a reputable company because the first plumber I had hired came over to fix a valve on a radiator, said he couldn't do it but this company could. I asked the first guy if he could clean out the boiler, said he didn't have time but still charged me the $$ to come tell me he couldn't do any work. SMH.

    Looks like from the search, the only company that comes up is Toro, anyone know about them?
  • Newbie_homeowner
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    Also should mention, among my other woes, the company that replaced my radiator valve and "serviced" my boiler, the valve is leaking and spilling water onto my hardwood. Had to completely shut off the radiator. I had been calling the guy for weeks trying to get him to come back. NOPE.
    clammy
  • Dan_NJ
    Dan_NJ Member Posts: 247
    edited December 2021
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    Did their paperwork include anything resembling a warranty? It's so hit or miss with this skill set, and sadly so much more miss than hit these days, when you need service on system like this. There are a few excellent pros on here in NNJ region, I am sure you'll get the right one on your system. And when they fix your leaky replacement valve, send the original guys a bill including a line item for your time to rectify their mistake.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,861
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    have you looked at the find a contractor I posted. 
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
    edited December 2021
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    Welcome to the forum, fellow Northern NJer. Time to activate the @clammy signal
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Newbie_homeowner
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    No warranty explicitly outlined on the bill, but the line item says FLUSH AND CLEAN BOILER. Any recs for reliable people in NNJ?
    learning_steam_NJ
  • Newbie_homeowner
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    Update: the safety valve pipe is not gunked up. When I popped the valve, steam exited. However, doesn't ensure the valve is working.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,540
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    @Newbie_homeowner

    Try @clammy , @EzzyT or @JohnNY in NJ you can PM them.
    Newbie_homeowner
  • EzzyT
    EzzyT Member Posts: 1,295
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    @Newbie_homeowner I service your area and the best way to reach is at 2018878856.
    E-Travis Mechanical LLC
    Etravismechanical@gmail.com
    201-887-8856
    Hap_Hazzard
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,861
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    EzzyT said:
    @Newbie_homeowner I service your area and the best way to reach is at 2018878856.
    And he’s one of if not The Best!
    motoguy128