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Am I on the right track?

Have a boiler we put in 5 years ago. On a call for heat you can see the water line bouncing maybe 1/2". After 5 minutes the water line slowly starts to rise. Goes up about an 1 1/2". After 10 or 15 minutes the water line starts to drop. It will drop out of the glass. The unit shuts down on low water. I have a long delay on the feeder, 8 minutes.

When the feeder does kick in, the water line has not yet recovered. After a few days the water level is just over the top of the glass.

Plugged return line?

There is also no insulation on the pipes. There are two mains, and the steam is getting to the end of one, but not quite making it to the end of the other. I believe the insulation would help that.

I can raise the firing rate from 1.50 to 2.00, but I think that might make matters worse with the water line.

Also, when I originally looked at this the LWCO was installed below the bottom of the gauge glass. I put it in a better tapping that puts it mid glass, but now it is only 20" from the bottom of the header. Moving the header would be a lot of work. A drop header may be more of a possibility. Do I need to address this?

Thanks for all your help.


    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,060
    Pictures of boiler, floor to ceiling, several angles would help.
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    this is all I've got
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
    The risers are too short, but other than that it doesn't look terrible. Still, it's pushing too much water into the system, so, while the risers might work normally, if you have a rough boil, you'll get more carryover. Assuming you're not going to change the piping right away, anything you can do to reduce the carryover will help. Flushing the boiler can remove sediment, which causes kettling and surging, but you also need to skim to remove any oily surface contaminants.

    There could also be something slowing down the return, so check that, but it's more likely that there's just too much water in the system and it's more than the return can handle.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,516
    @Paul Fredricks_3

    Actually you could make a drop header out of what you have. Take the unions apart, roll the header up90 over and down into the boiler. Leave the old risers in the boiler put two coupling on and raise the risers

    I know full well it's not that easy, the old stuff will probably not come apart easily but it would be a good summer time job

    Sounds like you have a plugged (slow ) return. Do you have wet returns under the floor?
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    Yeah, I thought about the drop header. And slow return is possible. The customer is starting off with having all the pipes insulated. The steam is having a tough time getting to the end of the mains. Probably causing a lot of extra condensate that wouldn't normally be there.

    We'll see where we go from there.

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    edited January 2022
    I know we are talking a lot about insulation on this board lately, but I have to be brutally honest: If your water level is dropping below the bottom of the glass, insulation is not your problem.

    You have many gallons of water in your mains (because where else could it be?) and that is what is killing your steam and/or wrecking its proper distribution. You have to solve that.

    Drain the boiler (or mentally drain it) to get the water level below the gauge glass. That's how much water is getting into your mains.

    I guess a plugged return is possible, but I can't picture 15 minutes worth of condensate adding up to that many gallons. Edit: But I guess you didn't say exactly when the water drops out the bottom. Maybe it takes hours? And you did say that after some minutes the water level hasn't recovered so that does point back to the return. Can you clarify the timing of how long it takes for the water level to drop below the glass?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,627
    I assume it is one pipe?

    Are the radiator valves all open all the way? Pitched properly? Are the radiators all heating well? Any water hammer? Seems like there will be other clues about system operation that should tell you where to look for the water. What is the pressure?