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Principal Amy

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asokol
asokol Member Posts: 1
edited January 2022 in Strictly Steam
We are a Catholic Elementary School in Columbus, NE. We have a lot of steam pouring into the boiler room. They are pretty sure that we have a steam trap stuck open. We just replaced the condensation pump in hopes that would help with the problem - no luck. Any ideas on where to start looking for this trap? We took several pictures to show you our system. The steam is coming out of the pipes in pictures 884 and 885.
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/148ilz5zT5FNwIoa6o4u8LCQzyGduPjR0?usp=sharing
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  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,580
    edited January 2022
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    if you have steam escaping the steam system I wouldn't bank on a stuck open trap. With a stuck open trap, the steam would just flow thru it unabated but would still be contained within the system. It would hammer. I would look for a broken/leaking/rotted pipe or a leaking pressure relief valve on the boiler.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    Looks like a slightly complex system. Your best bet may be to take a look at all the pipes leading to that condensate receiver. If you find one which is warmer than others, follow it along -- keeping to the warmer path anywhere pipes join -- and you may find the trap. You can also check each trap individually and see if one has an outlet significantly warmer than others.

    You may have more than one.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,842
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    @JUGHNE , do I recall you are somewhere in Nebraska?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    JUGHNE
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Do you have more than one pump in the boiler room?

    The one in the pit looks to be condensate water transfer pump.
    Does it pump its water over to the big red tank with the sight glass?

    The discharge for that pit pump is the smallest pipe coming out of the pit about waist high and might go to the tank.

    There is a control on the boiler that might operate another "feeder pump" from the tank to put water back into the boiler??

    For the pit pump there is a vent pipe that goes up and then turns down into the bucket with the hose attached. That should only pass air.
    (the attached hose implies that this has been passing steam for sometime)

    There is another pipe coming up and lying on the floor by the rag, that would be the overflow pipe in the event the pump quit.

    Then there in a pipe coming out of the wall of the pit itself going into the pump receiver,
    this is a return pipe under the floor.
    Also connected to that inlet pipe (with a tee) is another return pipe lying on top of the floor.

    So far I see only these 2 return pipes, they should pass only air to vent the system and then condensate water returning to the pump.
    Do you know where these pipes come from in the building.
    The steam may be coming thru on only one of them.
    It would be hot enough to almost burn your hand if it is passing steam.

    You may have other return pipes but you get the steam from the pit pump only, is that right?

    How about more pictures from farther back showing the piping at the boiler floor to ceiling......all of the red tank.....the outlet pipe of the pit pump, where it is connected.

    Is the pit pump and motor what was replaced?
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,533
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    @asokol

    hard to tell from the pictures. I am guessing that you have steam coming out of the overflow or vent pipe on the condensate tank you just replace.

    If that is true this should be fixed before the overheated condensate damages the new condensate pup and it's mechanical seal

    This is a common occurance with two pipe steam and steam traps.

    You need someone who knows how to test steam traps and can find an replace/repair the bad trap(s)

    Steam contractors are hard to find in NE

    You might call Tunsstall associates in Chicopee, MA or Barnes & Jones (in the Boston area) both these companies sell new steam traps and also sell repair parts for steam traps. You can Google both of these companies

    They might be able to point you in the direction of someone in NE they sell parts to who could help you out
    Intplm.
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 659
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    What steam pressure are you operating on this system? It may very well be that operating with too much steam pressure is contributing to this problem.

    As others have posted, the most probable cause of steam coming out of the condensate pump's receiver tank vent is steam leaking past one or more bad traps and into the return lines.

    While fixing the leaking traps is the real solution to this problem, cutting back on the steam pressure will cut back on the mass, or volume of steam passing through the leaking trap.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    I see the pressuretrol on the right is set to about 8 PSI.
    I was going to ask her what the pressure actually gets to on the gauge when fired up fully.
    I had a school that the pressure was set at 8psi. I asked the custodian why 8 and he said that is what the man from the company in the big city said you have to run it at 8psi. I turned it down to 5 and eventually down to 2.75 (lowest setting).

    I wanted to see if there were any F&T's near the boiler that required some lift pressure.
    Maybe more pictures tomorrow.
    CLamb
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    You’re going to need a competent steam pro on site. Pressure is way too high.
    Hard to believe a system that large is not getting proper attention.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    Intplm.
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,580
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    I thought condensate receivers are vented thru roofs with emergency overflow thru a p-trap
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Slamdunk, I believe some larger systems require venting to the outside.
    This is only about 1.3 million input (about 30HP).

    And had it been vented thru the roof the passing of steam may never been seen in the boiler room.
    SlamDunk
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,533
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    Around here they are usually vented in the boiler room
    SlamDunkIntplm.
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,580
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    Ahh-well, then it very well could be a steam trap. Learned something. A good day!
    Intplm.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
    edited January 2022
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    Dry returns going to condensate or feeder pumps should only have air or water inside.
    While redoing some returns that came from various parts of a building, I added tee's with tall riser pipes with turn down 90's to open air. You could then narrow down which portion of the building had the open steam traps.
    This also kept the steam from getting to the pump.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 905
    edited January 2022
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    Every steam heating unit will have a trap at the discharge pipe that goes into a common return pipe that will return the resulting condensate back to the condensate feed tank or to a transfer pump which in-turn will pump the water to the condensate feed tank. Pictures #84 and #86 are transfer pumps and pictures #75 ans#76 are the condensate feed tank. There must be a company near you that handles steam systems of your size since I see that most or all the heating units have temperature control valves installed on them that probably is not original. There will also be steam traps at the ends of all the steam mains where the steam supply piping drops down to remove any condensate that has been produced in those supply lines. Since the steam is coming out of the vent pipes that you referenced that indicates that you have traps that may have failed and need to be rebuilt or replaced. You can also have the same problem if the operating steam pressure is too high. I would call someone local if there is one and have them replace or rebuild all the steam traps in the whole building. Also, you should turn down the steam pressure about 2 Psig every few weeks until you get to about 3psig. Every heating engineer designs a steam system to operate a specific steam pressure and any pressure above this setting is a waste of fuel and could cause some of the problems of steam emanating from the vent piping.

    Looking at your system you need a "steam pro" to fix your problems. There has to be someone near you you can call. These steam systems should be serviced every year to help reduce the operating costs and to make sure that the system is as safe as it can be.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
    edited January 2022
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    I see the feeder tank, just can't see if there is a pump on the other end.

    Picture 81, shows an in floor sump pit, under the draft hood.
    I have seen feeder pedestal pumps in pits like this.
    However, it could be simply a sump pump for the floor drain in the room....looks rather heavy duty though.
    nicholas bonham-carter
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Bump up
  • asokol
    asokol Member Posts: 1
    edited January 2022
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    Thank you for all of your responses! Some of you had asked for additional pictures, and the end of the week was a bit crazy at school. Here are the additional pictures.





  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    You should put the pics in your original post, or put a link here to that post, or vice-versa. Or maybe ask Erin to merge the posts.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    Ironman
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,533
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    @asokok

    That is a pretty involved system. You have a boiler feed system an some condensate tanks. Steam coming out in the boiler room is a sure sign of bad steam traps.

    Unfortunately if this continues it will damage the pumps as well. You really need a good steam guy if you can find one
    Ironman
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,287
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    You should put the pics in your original post, or put a link here to that post, or vice-versa. Or maybe ask Erin to merge the posts.

    I've merged the posts. :)
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
    JUGHNE
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Questions for Wallies:

    I think I see a grey end of a motor for a feeder pump under the red tank, seems the logical place for it.....right?

    So transfer cond pump feeding tank, feeder pump feeding boiler.

    Boiler has M&M 150 looking feeder control, only 1/2 shown.
    Would that be M&M 157S??

    The red feed tank looks to have a make up water control. Maybe M&M 25-A ??
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,533
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    Boiler piping looks strange steam coming out the front section down low. Wish we had the model # of the boiler

    Lot's of things to fix probably mostly maintenance related
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Ed, the nameplate says Peerless Industries Inc.
    211A-07-N.....12 burners I think.

    No BTUH or serial on plate.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,703
    edited January 2022
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    Please hire a steam professional. IMO the principal of a school should not be looking for troubleshooting/repair help on forum (even one as great as this one). This forum can hopefully help find you a competent professional.

    And please remove the chairs from around the boiler before the professional gets there so they can access it :sweat_smile:
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    This is "only" 150 miles from me. In Nebr. that is a 3 hour drive.....and you haven't even left the state.
    So I made the trip yesterday.
    Steam is still blowing out of the cond pump.
    I did lower the pressure from 8 down to about 4 PSI.

    The change out of the cond pump consisted of the motor and impellor.
    It was actually needed as the pump was not always starting and impellor rather rough.
    The replacement may have an early death if the steam blow by continues.

    No one remembers anyone doing anything to this system for at least 10? years or more.

    It looks like it would be best to just change all traps in the building.

    There are about 30 emitters and maybe 6 F&T's.

    Might need a return trip for count and exact model numbers.
    I am thinking that the Hoffman 17 C is the majority installed.
    A few down feed supplies use the 17C for drip traps.

    Is there a better replacement for the 17C elements other than the Hoffman brand?

    BTW, the feeder control (M&M 150 type) is being blown down and functions for burner cutout if needed.

    And the chairs do not encroach upon the boiler as much as they appear, you can walk around it. And they have offered to move them as needed.
    ethicalpaulratioPC7060
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,533
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    @JUGHNE

    I think it's great if you can help them out. I looked at the boiler piping in the manual. If the front tapping is the supply and the pipe that goes around the back is the equalizer then I guess it's piped right. Looks a little weird though


    Traps being neglected is usually the biggest issue. Leads to blowing steam too much make up water and blown seals on the condensate and boiler feed pumps
    ethicalpaul
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Ed, this uses both side outlets that are 3", they yoke up to a 3" that feeds an existing 6" header. The header has 2-3" steam main connections and 1- 4" connection that is capped off.

    This is at least the 2nd boiler here.
    PB 211A-07 with 12 burners, maybe 1.3 Million BTUH?


    I did get the 1950 prints for this building.
    Explains a lot of the mystery here.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,533
    edited January 2022
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    here's the boiler manual

    I am sure both Tunstall & B & J have parts for those traps. Fix the traps and lower the pressure is probably a big chunk of the problem
    JUGHNE
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Thanks for that link, ED.

    From the print, there is 3053.2 EDR connected...yes down to the fractions.
    That 211A-07 is rated for 3063 EDR @ 1.33 pick up factor.

    Couldn't get any closer, someone else must have found the prints for this change out.

    There has been a hanging unit heater added for a storeroom which is probably small potatoes in the mix of this.
    New windows in all of the building. So plenty of heat available.

    There is no reason for all this math at this point, but by listing all the emitters from the print one is sure to find every trap.

    Now there are 4 EOM F&T's above the ceiling.
    And numerous 1/2" traps used as drip traps.
    PC7060
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,160
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    Nice work @JUGHNE!
    Held Plumbing & Heating, (402) 562-7916 are local to Columbus and have been around over 50 years. They may know more about the background of the existing boiler. 

    JUGHNE
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Made the drive and checked out all the traps in this school yesterday.

    About 40 Hoffman 17 C and 6 of the 3/4" 8 C.

    But EOM F&T;

    2 of the original Hoffman #55 (assuming) were replaced with Armstrong # 800 Bucket traps.

    Have never seen bucket traps on a heating system.

    Is there any reason to change from F&T's to buckets??

    There was obvious repiping around these to change out so not original.

    1950 print stages F&T's for EOM traps.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 905
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    I prefer F&T traps to bucket traps on low pressure heating systems and I have seen bucket traps used on heating systems in my area but most prefer F&T's. Any time you have bucket or F&T traps, they pass water (condensate) without any cooling of it whereas thermostatic rad traps force the condensate to cool about 15 degrees below the steam temperature. So, anytime you have F&T or bucket traps in a heating system especially if the steam pressure is too high, you may have a certain amount of steam discharge from a condensate tank discharge. So for me, I would first lower the steam pressure as low as I could to see if the steam discharge out of the condensate tank's vents stops and then if it doesn't I would replace/rebuild all the traps. On many jobs, especially for schools with a limited budget, I showed the maintenance man how to replace the elements in the F&T traps and then left it up to them to decide how they wanted me to proceed. On most of the old F&T traps you have to replace the whole trap and not just the front plate holding the operating parts.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,533
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    F & Ts are the right traps to use. If I am not mistaken they pass air better that a bucket
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    I have just read up on bucket traps, having never seen one in my life other than in books.
    Watched some Utubes about them also.

    It seems they are maybe not self priming and pass little air when functioning.

    Being 10' in the air above a suspended ceiling, these most likely have not seen daylight since being installed years (decades?) ago.

    I suspect they lost their prime and could be the major cause of blowing steam by.
    Considering the location, priming as needed is out of sight and mind.

    These 2 buckets may be the main steam passers but I still believe it is prudent to change all other traps in the building.

    There are almost no steam people around that town, I am supposed to be retired and 150 miles away so perhaps "strike the iron while it is still hot".

    The pressure was dropped from 8 down to 4PSI.
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,160
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    @JUGHNE - who did you find in Columbus does work on steam systems (knowledgeably)?
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    PC, I didn't look for anyone.

    The fact that the company they contacted, for the steam exiting the vent pipe, were disappointed that replacing the cond pump did not stop the steam flow at that point pretty well sums up their experience or lack of it with steam.

    It looks like I am nominated for the job.
    PC7060
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,533
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    @JUGHNE just consider it a "side job"

    The fule savings from blowing steam out the condensate tank and the damage the MU water will do if not fixed will more than pay for the job
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,215
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    If they have upgraded the thermal performance of the building, you may just want to get rid of the traps on the rads and use properly sized orifices. If typical, I bet the building was built with grossly oversized radiation, so orifices could be really helpful.
    Even if you do the radiation traps, you could use orifices to prevent steam from getting to the traps most of the season with a properly set up pressure control and running the boiler on low fire most of the day, but still run high fire and higher pressure to bring the building up to temp quickly by using the full radiation capacity during morning recovery.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
    edited January 2022
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    Yes, the building has newer windows from 1950 original and there has been more attic insulation added.
    I have done the very thing you mentioned as far as inlet orifices on other jobs.

    Those jobs were closer, (this is 150 miles) and I felt comfortable that the pressure settings would not be tampered with. (This one was set at 8 PSI originally)
    They do have TRV's as the inlet valves.

    As far as low/high fire this is a PB 211-A-07, just short of 30 HP.
    I don't want to complicate the gas train for any locals who may be called.

    However, the method of control, there is no tstat.
    There is a timer that runs the boiler from 4 AM to maybe 4 PM....that is it.
    The maint man will switch it off if a mild day.

    The boiler was firing when I was there on a Saturday...no school...warm day...would be the same on Sunday.
    I am thinking even an outdoor tstat to lock out at 40-50 would help.

    The existing EOM F&T's (2 are actually bucket traps) are decades old, will be replaced.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,533
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    An outdoor stat would save a lot of fuel. Even better without getting overly complicated is a Tekmar 265? that may not be the right # for the steam model.

    It has an outdoor air sensor and a "steam established" sensor. easy to adjust and set up and not very expensive
    JUGHNE