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Main Line Vent not closing & Auto Feed / Flooding Issue

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Hi all, this is my first post but I’ve been reading lots of others around this topic, so bear with me. Hopefully I provide everything needed to get some help!

We are carrying out a basement remodel and have experienced some problems with our furnace during the construction.

First we moved one of main pipes that returns back from the 2nd / 3rd floor of the house. We ensured we kept the same pitch but all new pipes led us to experience "surging", with water eventually coming out of all of the Gorton vents in the basement due to the auto water feed getting stuck on.

To try and resolve this I carried out multiple blow downs + cleanings and that seems to have somewhat solved the problem. For example I still experience the auto feed not shutting off when the water is clearly high enough in the inspection tube. Could this be the float in the LWCO getting stuck?

The second, more prominent problem, is that the Gorton #1 to the left-hand side of the furnace (see picture below), didn't seem to close. The furnace runs at 0.5-1psi and when up to temperature we were getting get a lot of hissing and condensate at the Gorton.

So, after reading the forum I decided to put an antler in 1) because we needed it to be accessible (which it wouldn't be in the corner), but 2) I was thinking it might help resolve the problem.

Now it is about 3 feet from the corner in the middle of one of the studs and a little higher on a tee (just below the fire block). But even with moving it a bit we are now experiencing a large amount of wet steam/condensate and it is not closing (will post a video).

How should these valves operate when working? Can you expect some condensate? Anyone got any suggestions on what is causing this problem? Is there anything wrong with the pipework?

Thank you in advance for any suggestions. Below are all of the pics but can send more.


Here is a picture of the pipe work around the furnace and the locations of the vents:


This is the left hand side of the furnace: Gorton #1 to the far left (prior to moving):


The furnace is a Utica PEG1879, with a Honeywell Pressuretrol, McDonell and Miller (67-G) LWCO and a McDonell and Miller 24V Automatic Water Feed:


A shot from slightly above the furnace with the main line that goes to the right:


The 3 Gorton #1 vents are tightly packed together behind the main line shown in the above picture:



Comments

  • nisgar2k
    nisgar2k Member Posts: 10
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  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    Blowdowns and cleanings are not sufficient when any new pipe work has been installed -- you must skim the boiler. That isn't hard, but does take patience. The surging is likely caused by oil -- it doesn't take much -- floating om the surface, and that is removed by skimming. Unfortunately, lowering the water level in the boiler without skimming has deposited some of the oil on the boiler walls, and it will probably take several skims to get it out.

    On the automatic water feeder -- chances are excellent that indeed the float is stuck; again, oil and crud. You may be able to free it by blowing down the low water cutorr a number of times, but it may be necessary to take it apart to clean it. Again not hard, but you will need new gaskets for it.

    Otherwise -- check, double check, and recheck the pitch of any pipe which may have been moved by the work (not just the ones which were replaced -- anything connected to them).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    nisgar2k
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Show us the side of the boiler where the steam outlet is connected, back up for floor to ceiling shot.

  • nisgar2k
    nisgar2k Member Posts: 10
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    JUGHNE said:
    Show us the side of the boiler where the steam outlet is connected, back up for floor to ceiling shot.
    It's been closed off but I've annotated to hopefully help. The Gorton only just above the main line on the back wall, it's as high up as we could get it (see linked video I posted in comment above). At the corner there is a 90 degree street elbow from the rising pipe with ~3 foot pipe to the hole in the wall with 1 tee with the Gorton in it follow by an elbow with a stop in it (for potentially adding another Gorton).




     Here are some picts from the rear/side of furnace prior to closing the walls too.


  • nisgar2k
    nisgar2k Member Posts: 10
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    Blowdowns and cleanings are not sufficient when any new pipe work has been installed -- you must skim the boiler. That isn't hard, but does take patience. The surging is likely caused by oil -- it doesn't take much -- floating om the surface, and that is removed by skimming. Unfortunately, lowering the water level in the boiler without skimming has deposited some of the oil on the boiler walls, and it will probably take several skims to get it out. On the automatic water feeder -- chances are excellent that indeed the float is stuck; again, oil and crud. You may be able to free it by blowing down the low water cutorr a number of times, but it may be necessary to take it apart to clean it. Again not hard, but you will need new gaskets for it. Otherwise -- check, double check, and recheck the pitch of any pipe which may have been moved by the work (not just the ones which were replaced -- anything connected to them).
    I've got no skim valve on the furnace but I've heard you can use the sight glass taping. Do I just close off the bottom of the sight glass and slowly fill with water until the top drains out. Should the furnace be on producing steam / off? Any advice would be appreciated.
  • Dan_NJ
    Dan_NJ Member Posts: 247
    edited December 2021
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    You can't skim while the boiler is steaming. You want it hot, but stop it before it boils, then shut it down and do some skimming. Using the sight glass you'll need to do this several times since it's a much smaller tapping than a skim port tapping. This will require removing the 1/4" plug on bottom sight glass fitting. I would suggest to replace with a decent 1/4" ball valve per Gordo's steps below.

    Gordo demos his best practice of installing a drain valve on the sight glass lower fitting:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z8v1YOQcM4

    Gordo demonstrates skimming via the sight glass. I've done it myself. It takes more time but it works (eventually):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO2oR9JhF0M
    nisgar2k
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
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    4th picture,
    don't we see the end of a tee where the riser comes up from the boiler?
    that would be a skim port if it is,
    better picture of that ?
    known to beat dead horses
  • nisgar2k
    nisgar2k Member Posts: 10
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    neilc said:
    4th picture, don't we see the end of a tee where the riser comes up from the boiler? that would be a skim port if it is, better picture of that ?
    Here are pictures from all sides of the boiler, are any of these skim ports?


  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
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    First picture, the tee with the nipple and cap. remove the cap and that is the skim.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    nisgar2k
  • Dan_NJ
    Dan_NJ Member Posts: 247
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    Yes that cap is the skim port you're looking for, much better to use it rather than the sight glass method. I would still suggest the ball valve on the sight glass for ease of maintenance.

    What water treatment are you using?
    CLambGordonisgar2k
  • nisgar2k
    nisgar2k Member Posts: 10
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    Thanks. Good to know that is the correct place to skim from.

    I'm using something called "Comstar Steam Clean" for the treatment (https://www.amazon.com/ipc-35-213-steam-cleaner-cmstr/dp/B01069LW2O). It seemed to stop the first batch of surging I had, but I think the extra water that has been added due to the Gorton leaking condensate/water has got me back to the same predicament.

    Is the water/condensate coming out of the Gorton #1 on the main line likely related to the surging though? My drawing at the top shows the Gorton to the LHS of the furnace in its original location (i.e. it was on an elbow from the the upright pipe, so not directly in line to be slammed with steam but close). I wanted it to be accessible for maintenance so we put a 90 elbow in, brought it 2-3 feet away from the corner, and then moved it up via a tee. It's only about an 3 inches above the main line, if that, but I am experiencing water coming out of it - especially if the auto feed kicks in while it is running.

    Any thoughts?


  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    "Steam Clean works like a sponge absorbing any cutting oil, grease, sludge or organic algae, which sits on top of the boiler water and prevents it from boiling."

    I'm skeptical. I don't know why anyone would want to put diatomaceous earth in their boiler, but I'm sure I wouldn't want to leave it there. I've heard of sodium polyacrylate as a food additive (thickener, I think). It's a long chain polymer with multiple carboxylate groups with ionically bonded sodium, which allows it to absorb huge amounts of water. They might be using its amphipathic properties to absorb oil, like a sponge, but you clean something with a sponge, you normally take the sponge out when you're finished.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    nisgar2k
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
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    skim first, slowly, hours, until all the gatorade is out of the boiler,
    then if that gatorade looking water is still there, dump it, and run straight water,
    boiler looks good otherwise,
    I know you said 1.5#, but have you checked both pigtails that they truly are clear?
    blow down thru the gage piggy and be sure you're clear all the way back into the LWCO and boiler,
    once you clear the piggy water trap it should blow easy,
    you know to blow down the LWCO weekly, right?

    edit, thought I submitted this a day or 2 back, oh well
    known to beat dead horses
    nisgar2k
  • nisgar2k
    nisgar2k Member Posts: 10
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    The gauge is on a brand new pig tail so I cleaned out both in the process. They are definitely clear. 

    Yes, I blow down weekly, especially given the current situation. I just still seem to have an issue with this one vent seeping water.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
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    ok, pigtails are clear,
    what about the port where they are both piped into the top of the LWCO ?

    and honestly, it doesn't seem right that the Ptrol port is under the boiler water line,
    some of these more experienced guys will call me wrong, or confirm what I'm thinking,
    nisgar2k said:


    I think you need to see the steam, not the boiler water,
    move the Ptrol and gage, up to a tee, under the safety valve,
    I'm not sure that's accurate boiler pressure where they are now.

    if nothing else, the Ptrol should go up higher on another nipple where it is
    known to beat dead horses
    nisgar2k
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
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    is the water still green ?
    known to beat dead horses
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    I'm not fond of that arrangement for the pigtail for the pressuretrol and gauge -- but it usually works fine.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    nisgar2k
  • nisgar2k
    nisgar2k Member Posts: 10
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    neilc said:
    is the water still green ?
    Yes. Water still green although it is getting clearer as I am losing water at about 2 cups per day through the antler arrangement with the Gorton on.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
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    please try clear boiler water,
    save the coolaid in the 5 gallon pail, or 2,
    you could put it back in if I'm wrong,
    just run clear water

    are all 3 vents spitting?
    one picture shows 2, up behind some raw framing,
    and this latest picture, is that a single vent in the hole in the wall?
    where is the spitting?

    go buy a 1/2" female hose repair end, a hose clamp, and 20 feet of 1/2" clear tubing,
    assemble,
    boiler off,
    screw onto a working boiler drain, loop the tubing up high to your ceiling, and back down the floor drain, or pail,
    open boiler drain slightly, water in tubing should level out with boiler water line,
    start boiler, watch water line,
    shut off boiler before water line climbs to ceiling,
    does water line climb higher than your vents ?
    known to beat dead horses
    nisgar2k
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    When skimming these boilers with the side connection, it is recommended to put a reducer coulping of 2 sizes on that nipple that has the cap.

    If you look inside that boiler port the push nipples are smaller than the fitting size of the outlet of the boiler. The reducer makes the skimming water rise up over the reduced nipples and you skim the entire boiler.
    Otherwise you are only skimming the closest section.
    nisgar2k
  • nisgar2k
    nisgar2k Member Posts: 10
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    Thank you all for the help. I think I’ve managed to stop the surging while running and the vent has stopped leaking water as I managed to raise it via a union and 1 1/2” nipple, plus put a steeper pitch on the pipe the vent. I think this was impacting the surging due to the pressure fluctuations on the main line, possibly. Also the Gatorade has gone too and I’m back to clean water.

    It’s still only a couple of days in but the only problem I am experiencing now, is when the burners shut off after a cycle, the water in the sight glass drops very quickly and the LWCO kicks in to call for more water. It’s as if the water is being siphoned out, is this normal? I let the LWCO/autofeeder fill the boiler the most recent time rather then manually doing it.

    I assume you can expect some make up water but the siphoning seems quite severe considering the furnace would have gone from operating normally with water 1/2 - 3/4 up the sight glass to suddenly empty.

    Any help very appreciated.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,702
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    are you sure that it's happening in that order?

    As in, are you sure it's not the boiler turning off because of the low water condition?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    What type of main vent? You may have said.... if it isn't opening on vacuum, that could pull water under some conditions.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • nisgar2k
    nisgar2k Member Posts: 10
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    What type of main vent? You may have said.... if it isn't opening on vacuum, that could pull water under some conditions.
    Gorton #1 on the main line.

    are you sure that it's happening in that order? As in, are you sure it's not the boiler turning off because of the low water condition?
    Definitely not the boiler turning off due to low water. I’ve tried just turning my thermostat off and witness the drop in the sight glass because the condensate doesn’t appear to be returning fast enough or the water is being sucked out due to some sort of vacuum.