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Utica Steam Boiler: PEG150BDE, Replace...Tune...Repair?

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LostInSteam
LostInSteam Member Posts: 6
edited February 2022 in Strictly Steam
All,

I’m in need of some input on my Utica Boiler that heats 50% of my house, PEG150BDE. The boiler has had minor issues over the last 10 years, but it keeps on chugging along with no major issues. Two years ago, I decided to set up an annual inspection with a local heating company to verify the combustion for peace of mind. Last year the inspection passed with no issues, this year on 29JAN2022 it also passed, inspection report photos attached. I’m currently living outside of the U.S. for a work assignment and I’m trying to manage the latest developments from abroad, so I will do my best to explain everything for your honest opinions.

1.The gas valve was replaced about 3 years ago due to solenoid chatter
a. VR8200H-3000. I verified with Utica that this is the correct gas valve.
b. When the new valve was first installed at the factory 3.5” W.C. setting the flame was
very orange and the boiler kept tripping the high limit thermal rollout closest to the
burners
c. The valve was adjusted down to around 3.2” W.C. at the time until the flame burned
a very clean blue, and the thermal limit switch nuisance trips stopped.

2.The boiler passed inspection in 2021 with CO at 0ppm (really?) and 86% efficiency per the report (not attached).

3.In September 2021, at the start of the heating season, again valve chatter. A 2nd new valve was installed then again; high limit tripping, adjustment required, etc…
a. VR2800A-2132 valve was installed
b. Adjustment was done same as 3 years ago, but only visual flame quality
without a manometer reading

4.The boiler has been working flawlessly all winter, but during the most recent 29JAN2022 inspection the tech adjusted the gas valve back up near the factory setting. I wasn’t there to explain the thermal limit story to him, he so he followed the standard procedure. Inspection report attached excluding company details.

5.On 01FEB2022 the boiler stopped heating. My wife called the service company and they diagnosed that the thermal limit switch was tripped, which is no surprise to me. My wife was the only one there, and this is where I start to get a little frustrated.
a. Upon arrival the tech noted CO at 1500 PPM. The tech noted that the gas pressure
had to be lowered from 3.2” to 2.1” to get the CO to drop. No idea what CO came
down to because he only reported the original value of ~1500 PPM.
b. The tech turned the boiler off, said it was unserviceable, and called sales to quote a
replacement boiler. I will exclude the amount but it gave me a headache instantly.

6.On 02FEB2022 we requested a manager come out to the property to meet my friend to explain how the boiler could pass inspection on Saturday, and needed to be replaced on Tuesday. The service manager re-inspected the boiler. He noted the following:
a. ~400 PPM CO
b. Pilot burner has been replaced with non-OEM
c. Heat exchanger is dirty (never noted on previous inspections, photo attached)
d. Boiler is leaking CO @ 25 PPM above relief fitting (never noted on previous
inspections)
e. One burner tube has been replaced with a non-OEM part
f. Unit needs to be replaced, shut down the unit

7. At this point I’m really questioning everything because it feels like a money grab to me, so that brings me to my list of questions for the forum.

a. Is the heat exchanger in bad condition per the photo?
i. Is it truly dirty?
ii. Does it need to be cleaned, or is it unrepairable?

b. Why can’t the valve be set to a factory setting without tripping the high limit switch,
burning orange, and pushing high CO?
i. Is the wrong valve installed?
ii. Or is the new valve bad?
iii. How low can the gas pressure be and still be acceptable? Valve say 3.0-5.0

c. Do boilers normally leak any CO around them? Is 25 PPM unacceptable?
i. Why did the service manager find this and no other techs?
ii. Is it the heat exchanger leaking?
iii. Or is it still an unclean burn from the valve not being tuned perfectly, or
incorrect?

d. What is the upper threshold for the combustion CO PPM from an old boiler?
i. Is 400 PPM so far out there that it can’t be improved more?

I’m flying home for three weeks soon and I need to know whether I need to invest in a new boiler or tune/repair this one. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Respectfully,
LostInSteam

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    You have problems -- but they aren't the boiler. I'm not an gas person, but the heat exchanger actually looks pretty clean. Cleaning would never hurt.

    I do think that whoever is adjusting your burners has not done a good job of getting the air/fuel ratio correct. Perhaps draught problems.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    LostInSteam
  • LostInSteam
    LostInSteam Member Posts: 6
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    Jamie, thanks for the input. I'm no expert by any means, but I thought the heat exchanger looked decent. Interested in other opinions on the air/fuel ratio adjustment.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,376
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    If you have the wrong burner tube, then it’s unlikely that you’ll get the combustion numbers correct.

    Like Jamie said, you probably have a draft issue.

    I can’t tell from the pic that you posted of the boiler, but it looks like the burners are being restricted of air flow because of how the boiler is set in a recess. Utica’s are very touchy about being able to get enough air for proper combustion and we always kept them up on blocks so they could breathe.

    Could you post some better pics of the boiler?
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    tommay
  • Peter_26
    Peter_26 Member Posts: 129
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    Click on find a contractor in your area or find yourself another reputable service company and get a second opinion. Sounds like they just want to sell you something rather than fix the problem.
    ethicalpaul
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,533
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    if you can't run 3.5" on the burner manifold i would suspect a draft issue. Has anyone looked at the flue pipe for dead birds or a chimney issue? Lowering the gas pressure a tad does no harm if it improves combustion but tripping at 3 1/2" points me to draft
  • LostInSteam
    LostInSteam Member Posts: 6
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    Ironman, great feedback. The boiler is set in a recess in a small enclosed area as you can see from the attached photo. The door is solid to the utility room and is not vented, however, there is a large air passage from the main room of the basement to the utility room in the left wall that you can't see in the picture.

    *This is an older picture, the auto feeder has been replaced with a VXT-24.
    *I will try to find the correct burner tube from Utica.
    * I have a New Yorker CGS-A installed on the opposite side of the house in the same exact manner, same utility room layout, just a mirror image. That boiler is new within the last 6 years and the gas valve runs near the factory setting.
  • LostInSteam
    LostInSteam Member Posts: 6
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    Peter, I agree with you. I'm going to get a 2nd opinion. I'm in Michigan, outside of Detroit on the north side. Find A Contractor doesn't have a solid list of contractors near me. If anyone knows someone that is knowledgeable in steam around my area I would be willing to pay drive time to get an expert to take a look at it.
  • LostInSteam
    LostInSteam Member Posts: 6
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    Ed, based on the consensus of draft being the suspect root cause I'm going to get a chimney company out for an inspection. The property is a 1929 Tudor with 40' tall stone chimneys and they have not been inspected since I purchased the property over 10 years ago. The tops of the chimneys are capped so I doubt it is an animal, but I could see the liner, mortar, or concrete scaling off and restricting the path.

    *Since the height of the chimney is so tall, could that be the issue itself?

    *We don't use the fireplaces in the house, 2 in each chimney, 4 total
  • kevink1955
    kevink1955 Member Posts: 88
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    Nothing to do with the boiler problem but the firefighter in me has to ask is the mirror image boiler sitting on a prefinished or wood floor. Is it rated for combustible floor installation
    BobC
  • LostInSteam
    LostInSteam Member Posts: 6
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    Kevin, both boilers sit on the concrete. The floor is LVT and the installer ran it into the utility room and cut it in around the boiler. I've never seen any melting or heat damage of the flooring near the boiler since it was installed 7 years ago so I just left it.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,478
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    The problem might come if your insurance company ever became involved they would use that to deny a claim.
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge