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5 boilers that have failed

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Ok I have a major steam heat problem in the past 20 years we have had 5 steam boilers installed. The original Well MC lasted 30 years its replacement 6 Failure appeared due to steam leaks in the piping. Next we installed a Burnham again 5 to 6 years then a Utica 7 years another Utica sections only 2 years ago. All of the failures were the the result of failures in the sections there were no equipment failures eg low water auto fill etc. The water to the system is treated and the system is serviced annually. This is a larger 5section boiler. All of the installers were competent plumbers and raged from a sole operator to a large plumbing company. So can anyone point me in a direction to finally get this fixed. Thanks Bill
Robert O'Brien

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  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,852
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    The water to the system is treated

    How is it treated?
    Hap_Hazzard
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    Were the failures due to cracks or corrosion?

    Were both supply tappings (the holes where the steam comes out) piped or just one?

    What size were the supply risers (the pipes connected to the supply tappings)?

    If you have any pictures of the current installation, or any previous installations, showing the boiler and all the piping from floor to ceiling, that would be a big help.

    Do you know anything about the pH and hardness of your water supply?

    Where are you located?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • billnj
    billnj Member Posts: 7
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    The water system is adjusted for ph and particulate removal and is well within state standards. All of the failures were cracks no corrosion I am located in Chester NJ 07930. I will take some pictures that I’m sure will answer some of your other questions. I will work on the rest. Thanks
  • cross_skier
    cross_skier Member Posts: 201
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    Megasteam with Carlin gas gun is the way to go IMO.  Steamhead who I respect writes, "The MegaSteam with gas gun is the solution here- I hear these boilers have been running for some time in bakeries and other applications where they see a lot of fresh water, with no failures to date. Don't forget those crab-steaming rigs either- OK, that's mostly an East Coast thing, but if a boiler can thrive in that environment it can handle pretty much anything."

    The only issues I know of are voiding to the Burnham warranty, and the noise of the Carlin gin.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
    edited December 2021
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    On large boilers, if only one supply riser is piped, especially if the riser is too small, it can cause an uneven water level. If the supply riser is on the control side, the LWCO won't detect a low water condition on the opposite side of the boiler, so part of the heat exchange surface will overheat, then, when the boiler shuts down and the water line is restored to level, it suddenly gets slapped with water, and this happens every time the boiler cycles.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    Robert O'Brien
  • billnj
    billnj Member Posts: 7
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  • billnj
    billnj Member Posts: 7
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    Looks like I only have one h2o supply so this could be the problem all along Thanks
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,541
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    Where the LWCO should be installed, the tapping they're using looks way too low to me
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    No, that's not it. By supply piping I mean the pipes that supply steam to the system. As it happens, there are two of them, but it's the way they're constructed that's the problem.

    First of all, there's no header. The header separates water from the steam and returns it to the boiler through the equalizer. You're also lacking an equalizer. So your boiler can't supply steam to the system without forcing a lot of water out with it, enough to cause the water level to fluctuate, which also causes cracks to form at the water line.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • billnj
    billnj Member Posts: 7
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    is a header and equalizer a hard fix? And why would the installer not know this —just lazy using what’s there. If I can get the leak fixed I will of course install the above. I am a pretty good DYI but boilers are out of my wheelhouse. Thanks for all of your help
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,852
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    You said “your plumber”
    time to find a steam contractor. 
    Hap_Hazzard
  • billnj
    billnj Member Posts: 7
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    The large pipe that the steam feeds into would be what I would call a header but I don’t see an equalizer also the way the second steam pipe feeds into the first before the header seems strange shouldn’t both pipes feed into the header?
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    What's amazing is that several installers installed several boilers without ever looking at the instructions in the installation manual. I guarantee the instructions were there every time. They're very clear. Why they don't follow them is a real mystery. It's usually no more expensive to do it right, and definitely cheaper than having to replace the boiler. I'm not even a plumber, and I was able to repipe my boiler, correcting some serious mistakes the installer had made, and now I'm heating my house with a 40 year old boiler that's showing no signs that it's going to fail anytime soon, despite many years of neglect.

    So, no, it's not a hard fix. You could probably do it yourself if you want to, and we could help you, and you'd learn a lot, but it might take a month or so (I did mine on vacation time one summer.), but if you aren't so inclined or just want to get it done fast, we can help you find a reliable steam contractor in your area.

    The "find a contractor" search (see the link at the top of the page) shows 3 contractors withing 30 miles of your ZIP code. Unfortunately the closest one only does hot water systems, but Toro and E-Travis both do steam. Toro is run by @JohnNY, who is one of the best steam men in the country. @EzzyT runs E-Travis. He's a regular here. You couldn't go wrong with him either.

    We have a strict rule against discussing pricing here in the forum, but if you contact them privately they can help you out.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
    edited December 2021
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    billnj said:

    The large pipe that the steam feeds into would be what I would call a header but I don’t see an equalizer also the way the second steam pipe feeds into the first before the header seems strange shouldn’t both pipes feed into the header?

    Did the installer leave the manual by any chance? If so, you can find the near boiler piping diagram there. If not, let me know your model and I'll post a PDF here. But, to briefly answer your question, both supply risers should be connected to the header, then the system riser(s) (which go(es) to the main) should be connected, then the equalizer. The order and geometry of the connections is important.
    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: 23,310
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    In addition to @EzzyT , whom I know personally and can recommend very highly, and @JohnNY , whom I've never met (but would like to!), I can also recommend @clammy . All three good men.

    And has been said, that boiler piping is all wrong...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Hap_Hazzard
  • EzzyT
    EzzyT Member Posts: 1,295
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    Besides the boiler piping being all wrong, what about the leaks in system have they been fixed? 
    If they haven’t been fixed no boiler will last even with a water treatment system. 
    @billnj the best way to reach me is at 2018878856
    E-Travis Mechanical LLC
    Etravismechanical@gmail.com
    201-887-8856
    Hap_Hazzardethicalpaul
  • billnj
    billnj Member Posts: 7
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    All of leaks were fixed over 10 years ago and I keep after it. When i see corrosion on the fittings I have them replaced. There is a dirt floor in a portion of the house so moisture can play havoc with the pipes. I am waiting on the contractor who installed the boiler regarding the leak in the section 4 seam to see if i can make a warranty claim. I’m pretty sure I can fix it temporarily with boiler solder or pepper and get through the winter if need be but once it is resolved and before I buy anything I will be reaching out to the forum members listed above for the real resolution. Thanks to everyone for the help bill
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    In addition to @EzzyT , whom I know personally and can recommend very highly, and @JohnNY , whom I've never met (but would like to!), I can also recommend @clammy . All three good men.

    Oh, my! 🤭 I forgot @clammy! Sorry about that. Another regular who has been very helpful.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    mattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,655
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    Are you tracking how much water gets added? Many leaks are in the form of steam and leave little or no trace.
  • cross_skier
    cross_skier Member Posts: 201
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    Agreed, near boiler piping is wrong.  Someone didn't care and probably got the order wrong.  Here is the proper order -- First you connect the steam pipes to the existing system, following the instructions in the manual, this is the hardest part.  You usually have to nudge the block a bit to get everything lined up.  You don't want anything else connected. After you get that done THEN connect everything else.

    If you connect the steam pipes last it's going to be a pain in the rear to get the new system lined up with the old properly.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,529
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    @billJ

    Yes your installers are LAZY. 5 times and they still can't get it right? Why are you putting up with this? Installers that can't read or follow the install manual.

    Call a new jersey guy @JohnNY , @clammy , @EzzyT and get the thing done right......for once
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,529
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    @cross_skier

    Sorry but I never nudged a boiler in my life. That's why they call it pipe FITTING. You put the boiler where you wan't and make everything fit. If you set it in the wrong spot then you cut the old stuff back to make it fit. If you set it in the wrong spot you will do more work. The trick is not to line up anything and give yourself some wiggle room.
    When you plop the boiler in position you have to be able to "see" if you have enough room to make things fit without having it look like crap and work the way it is supposed to.
    delcrossv
  • cross_skier
    cross_skier Member Posts: 201
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    I've only installed one and mine looks pretty good, going strong after 23 years.  I'm sure as a experienced pro you'll agree that system interfaces between new and old requires planning.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    Sorry but I never nudged a boiler in my life. That's why they call it pipe FITTING.

    And pipefitting is an art. I have to admit, I almost nudged mine right off the pad when I was trying to get the equalizer connected. Repiping my boiler gave me a real appreciation for the skill it takes to do this for a living. We weekend warriors can get things right eventually, but there's a lot of trial and error, expedited orders for fittings, last-minute trips to the Home Depot, and shortening and rethreading pipes involved. You guys show up with everything you need in your van and everything fits—without even swearing at it!
    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: 15,529
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    @Hap_Hazzard

    I wouldn't say" everything fits—without even swearing at it" nobody is that good. But it's like anything else you get good at what you do all the time. The things you rarely do you struggle at.
  • cross_skier
    cross_skier Member Posts: 201
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    I'm cursed with the "frugal gene" so over the years I have been doing my share of swearing as I battle with a bunch of learning curves. 
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,692
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    How much water does the system use?

    If it was me besides getting things piped correctly I would contact Rhomar and ask them for help testing and treating the water.

    What are you doing for treatment now?  Are you using an oxygen scavenger and corrosion inhibitor?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment