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Hydrolevel Safgard 650 failure: reliability, lifespan?

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SteamFTW
SteamFTW Member Posts: 76
The 650 is the backup LWCO on our boiler, and it's not reliable. Can anyone report on how long the electronics last (separate from the probe, that is)? Or how picky it is about testing continuity?

This Safgard 650 was probably installed when the current boiler went in (15 years ago? long before we moved here). It doesn't appear to have any visible damage (box is dirty but intact, components and board _look_ fine, but I don't have the schematic to test it). The probe--yuck!--was so nasty that I wonder whether it was ever inspected after it was installed. So, I cleaned the probe enough to expose much (but not all) of the metal (see photo), and when I reinstalled it, with the boiler empty, the LED lit up as expected. I continued pre-season maintenance, flushing the return on the far side, which also looked like it had never been inspected since install. With the water level still well below the probe, I turned the power back on and the LED on the 650 no longer illuminated. I removed the probe again to see if the metal had become coated again, but it looked exactly as it did when I reinstalled it.

I will say that last season I regularly tested the unit--pressing the "test" switch--and in that respect it worked as expected. The boiler burner instantly shut off, but (shame on me) I don't remember if the LED lit up at the same time.

Anyway I'm just curious from those HH'ers who have seen a lot of these over the years, if I should bother to go back and clean the bejeezus out of the whole thing (white insulator section, the whole metal probe, etc.) and try again, and if not, if there's any point in ordering just a replacement probe. Maybe the MTBF of the electronics isn't long enough to justify that.

Thanks again to all for your insight
Fast. Cheap. Good.
Pick any two.

Comments

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,153
    edited October 2022
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    1. this is not the operating LWCO
    2. this is a backup LWCO
    3. this LWCO has a manual reset on it.
    4. The control in question is 15 years old and has never been services as far as you know.

    IF these statements are true, then I would replace the entire control and probe.

    If any of these statements 1 thru 4 are incorrect. please correct me in order to get better advise.

    Is the operating or primary) LWCO a float type?

    Just say'in. Replacing a LWCO is much cheaper that replacing a dry fired boiler.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,710
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    If your car wasn't serviced in 15 years you would be walking. It's time to replace the entire control but you can try a new probe if you want
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • SteamFTW
    SteamFTW Member Posts: 76
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    @EdTheHeaterMan
    1. this is not the operating LWCO -- TRUE (the operating one is an MM 67 in great shape)
    2. this is a backup LWCO -- TRUE
    3. this LWCO has a manual reset on it. -- FALSE (the 650 is auto-reset, with a test switch)
    4. The control in question is 15 years old and has never been services as far as you know. -- TRUE

    "It's time to replace the whole unit." That's what I figured. For peace of mind, if nothing else, I was going to replace it. I was asking because of what I know about the McDonnell Miller 67. That's what I'm used to. That I understand. It's a big hunk of metal with a mechanical switch. It says replace after 10 years, but is that really necessary in the absence of some obvious issue? Take it apart, clean it out, make sure the body is still sound and nothing impedes the float, replace the gaskets, reassemble, and it can certainly last longer than 10 years. Of course, the weekly test that it gets during the heating season is much more reassuring to me (since it's mechanical) than pressing a button and seeing a light go on.


    Fast. Cheap. Good.
    Pick any two.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,153
    edited October 2022
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    SteamFTW said:

    @EdTheHeaterMan

    1. this is not the operating LWCO -- TRUE (the operating one is an MM 67 in great shape)
    2. this is a backup LWCO -- TRUE
    3. this LWCO has a manual reset on it. -- FALSE (the 650 is auto-reset, with a test switch)
    4. The control in question is 15 years old and has never been services as far as you know. -- TRUE
    I wonder what your "operating LWCO” is since the one in question is a backup.

    The primary or operating LWCO must be an automatic reset type. When a secondary LWCO is used it should be the manual reset type. This is so you know that the primary LWCO has failed to do its job. Allowing the secondary LWCO to auto reset will not be as good of a protection as the manual reset type. When you have a no heat condition, and find resetting the secondary LWCO restores heat, then you will look at why the primary LWCO failed to stop the burner. Better chance of getting it operational before there is a dry fire condition that ends in a boiler failure that costs a lot more to fix. Since you are going to order a new probe type LWCO, you should consider the manual reset model.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,852
    edited October 2022
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    Comparing a solid state probe type LWCO to a car isn't really an acceptable comparison, is it? You're comparing a machine with many moving parts to a solid state electronic device. That's not even apples to oranges, it's more like apples to concrete blocks.

    My Hydrolevel LWCO is currently 11 years old and I have absolutely no plans on replacing it at this time. I test it occasionally when I clean the boiler and as long as it behaves expectedly it stays.

    That being said, if it had any signs of behaving erratic I'd replace the entire unit not just the probe as it's too much effort and too little cost in parts to justify the possibility of having to pull it apart again.

    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
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,710
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    @ChrisJ

    You keep on top of your boiler water it's probably drinkable :) . Most steam boilers are full of muck as you know.

    To me not pulling a probe out of a low water cutoff in 15 years is neglect especially if the water is not good
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,852
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    @ChrisJ

    You keep on top of your boiler water it's probably drinkable :) . Most steam boilers are full of muck as you know.

    To me not pulling a probe out of a low water cutoff in 15 years is neglect especially if the water is not good

    Aside from the steamaster, yeah....it probably is.
    The wet return is probably very drinkable as is...........though I'm sure it would have a hint of iron taste.


    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
  • SteamFTW
    SteamFTW Member Posts: 76
    edited October 2022
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    When you have a no heat condition, and find resetting the secondary LWCO restores heat, then you will look at why the primary LWCO failed to stop the burner.

    Thank you for spelling out the full scenario of how (diagnostically useful) redundancy is meant to work. At the risk of derailing my own thread, I'll just add that's why in our previous place I preferred to set the VXT to fill only enough to satisfy the LWCO (another MM 67 float). I never wanted to delay being prompted to investigate, if the water level was too low. I'm already someone who regularly looks in on the boiler between blow-downs. Thus, under usual circs I would notice visually, but I like the boiler to have a way to give me more than the absolute minimum info when I can't be so attentive.

    To me not pulling a probe out of a low water cutoff in 15 years is neglect especially if the water is not good

    I agree. Someone paid at least some attention to the primary side...at some point...for a little while(?). There's a note in Sharpie that says the MM 67 was replaced 10 years ago. Maybe that was the last time it had service by someone with a clue. Or maybe I should say "half a clue", if the far side was ignored. Let me clarify...

    The black, oily, nasty, gloppy sludge was only on the far side of the boiler, which I had not disassembled for inspection when we moved in last year. I didn't want, in the first couple weeks of moving in, to appear to disrespect the two separate long-time tenants in the building who said it had been serviced every year. [Still, the HH umpire should give me a called strike for not having opened up the far side until now; however, they eventually realized I knew more than anyone they had paid to (fail to) fix their problems.] Anyway...a year ago (and just the other day) I inspected both limit control tappings, pigtails, the relief valve tapping, return tapping, and drain tapping on primary side, and there was no black residue of any kind, just the usual sediment that accumulates over time, most of which I bet is from the 100 year old returns. Correct me if I'm wrong, please: I learned that in a nat gas boiler (that shows no signs of compromised heat-exchangers) the oily sludge is the sign that the boiler was insufficiently skimmed after it was installed and/or new piping was done at some point after install (again, without sufficient skimming). There hasn't been any work done since install (according to one of the aforementioned long-term tenants in the building who has been here since before the current boiler went in). Therefore, I attributed the presence of said sludge on the far side as being from when it was installed.

    This all reminds me of a question I was going to float on HH about relative conditions at opposite ends of a boiler. [Must--resist--urge--to--say--now!]

    @ChrisJ "...boiler water it's probably drinkable." LOL! Somewhere on HH I remember reading an allusion to this, but I forget who it was. I'm pretty sure he said something about "Yeah, I did my piping in threaded brass!" I wonder if I bookmarked that. Must look gorgeous.

    Fast. Cheap. Good.
    Pick any two.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,852
    Options
    SteamFTW said:

    When you have a no heat condition, and find resetting the secondary LWCO restores heat, then you will look at why the primary LWCO failed to stop the burner.

    Thank you for spelling out the full scenario of how (diagnostically useful) redundancy is meant to work. At the risk of derailing my own thread, I'll just add that's why in our previous place I preferred to set the VXT to fill only enough to satisfy the LWCO (another MM 67 float). I never wanted to delay being prompted to investigate, if the water level was too low. I'm already someone who regularly looks in on the boiler between blow-downs. Thus, under usual circs I would notice visually, but I like the boiler to have a way to give me more than the absolute minimum info when I can't be so attentive.

    To me not pulling a probe out of a low water cutoff in 15 years is neglect especially if the water is not good

    I agree. Someone paid at least some attention to the primary side...at some point...for a little while(?). There's a note in Sharpie that says the MM 67 was replaced 10 years ago. Maybe that was the last time it had service by someone with a clue. Or maybe I should say "half a clue, if the far side was ignored. Let me clarify...

    The black, oily, nasty, gloppy sludge was only on the far side of the boiler, which I had not disassembled for inspection when we moved in last year. I didn't want, in the first couple weeks of moving in, to appear to disrespect the two separate long-time tenants in the building who said it had been serviced every year. [Still, the HH umpire should give me a called strike for not having opened up the far side until now; however, they eventually realized I knew more than anyone they had paid to (fail to) fix their problems.] Anyway...a year ago (and just the other day) I inspected both limit control tappings, pigtails, the relief valve tapping, return tapping, and drain tapping on primary side, and there was no black residue of any kind, just the usual sediment that accumulates over time, most of which I bet is from the 100 year old returns. Correct me if I'm wrong, please: I learned that in a nat gas boiler (that shows no signs of compromised heat-exchangers) the oily sludge is the sign that the boiler was insufficiently skimmed after it was installed and/or new piping was done at some point after install (again, without sufficient skimming). There hasn't been any work done since install (according to one of the aforementioned long-term tenants in the building who has been here since before the current boiler went in). Therefore, I attributed the presence of said sludge on the far side as being from when it was installed.

    This all reminds me of a question I was going to float on HH about relative conditions at opposite ends of a boiler. [Must--resist--urge--to--say--now!]

    @ChrisJ "...boiler water it's probably drinkable." LOL! Somewhere on HH I remember reading an allusion to this, but I forget who it was. I'm pretty sure he said something about "Yeah, I did my piping in threaded brass!" I wonder if I bookmarked that. Must look gorgeous.


    That sounds like something @KC_Jones would do, but I think his is just polished and clear coated copper below the water line.

    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
  • SteamFTW
    SteamFTW Member Posts: 76
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    ChrisJ said:

    That sounds like something @KC_Jones would do, but I think his is just polished and clear coated copper below the water line.

    You are correct, sir!

    From the following
    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/comment/1450568/#Comment_1450568
    KC_Jones said:

    If you do replace I would suggest copper for the wet part. It stays much cleaner, the water out of mine looks like drinking water.



    Fast. Cheap. Good.
    Pick any two.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,745
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    I polish the copper, but it’s not clear coated.  I definitely wouldn’t drink the water, but it is clear.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15