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Pipes banging after new steam boiler install

Truckermike
Truckermike Member Posts: 43
edited October 23 in THE MAIN WALL
I converted over from oil steam to gas steam in august. Now that the temps are getting colder I’m getting to test the new furnace out. I noticed the one union was leaking as the system warmed up so I called the installer and he came and after a couple tries finally got it. I only ran the furnace enough to knock the chill off and had no other issues. During the attempts at getting the leak to stop he drained and added water until he finally got it sealed up. The next time the furnace started up I noticed a bunch of noises coming from the pipes. Yesterday I ran the furnace and bled the system until every radiator was completely hot. Thinking ok I had it figured out I woke up this morning and when the furnace fired up it was a lot of banging and hammering. After it heats for a few minutes there’s no noises.








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Comments

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,876
    edited October 23
    KC is completely correct.

    I’ll also ask if the installer performed the task of “skimming” which is to heat up the water then slowly add water over an hour or two, letting it escape from a port high on the boiler. This removes oils from a new boiler that will exacerbate the pushing of water into the mains 
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    No he didn’t
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    KC the old furnace never did any banging or other noises. I’m not doubting what your saying I’m just trying to understand my new system. The old furnace leaked water to the point I was adding it in the morning and at night at the end of last winter. I was excited to switch to gas and looking forward to this winter but the banging is scaring me and sounds horrible.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,239
    Steam is relatively forgiving and can accommodate some bad piping and still function “OK”, that isn’t evidence of anything being right, it’s evidence of luck.

    What you now have is so wrong I don’t see a possibility of luck.  It’s like the guy went out of his way to make it as wrong as possible, but the reality is, they just don’t know what they don’t know.

    What’s sad is there is a very clear picture in the manual of how to do it properly.  I attached the picture for clarity.  To be clear what is of utmost importance is the order of things on the header.  Look at the order in your installation and the. Look at the picture from the manual.

    Also of note, the manual clearly states the header is to be full size of the tapping.  Your install has a bushing in the outlet choking it down to 2”, that is wrong and can be very problematic in those side outlet boilers.  Again, this is a do over on every level.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 293
    edited October 23
    Non-pro here. There should be no copper pipes anywhere, black pipe only. This is from a Burnham manual, but the same thing applies to your boiler:



    What is your boiler's model number? You will find it on the white sticker here:



    Proper piping is diagrammed in your boiler's manual on pages 10-11 depending on its size:

    https://penncoboilers.com/sites/default/files/1305004%20Pennco%2016%20series%20IOM%20REV%20N.pdf

    I'm also not seeing a vent damper.

    Most importantly, the horizontal section of your water heater's vent pipe appears to be pitched downwards. This could be dangerous and lead to backdrafting, allowing carbon monoxide into your basement. Looks like you might need a shorter water heater to avoid problems.

    Did you or your contractor measure the EDR of your radiators before installation?

  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    Until I can get him back in here am I doing damage to anything running it. Once everything heats up I don’t hear anything and it heats the house fine?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,636
    KC_Jones said:

    The old one was piped wrong, the new one is piped even more wrong.

    I can’t see a single thing right with the way they piped it, and it’s certainly leading to water being pushed up into the mains.

    The “header” they installed has things in the wrong order.  The manual that came with the boiler shows the proper piping.  For reference the header should start with the boiler takeoff, then the risers (you have two that should not be tee’s together), then the drop to the equalizer.  Yours “starts” with the system riser, the the boiler takeoff, then the equalizer.

    The purpose of the header is to separate the steam from the water.  So the riser comes up into the side of the header (yours is into the bottom which is wrong), then flows along the header, steam goes up into the system risers, the water flows along the bottom, then drops into the equalizer.

    From what I see this is a complete do over.

    To add to this- the installer reduced the size of the outgoing steam pipe from 2-1/2" to 2". This increases the velocity of the steam leaving the boiler, which can actually pull water out of the boiler and up into the pipes- where it will cause banging. The instructions specifically say not to do this.

    This guy should not be installing steam boilers.

    Where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    KC_JonesSgtMaj
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,239
    You won’t do any damage, but I do wish you best of luck getting it piped properly.  For every 50 bad installs we see here maybe one of them gets fixed by the contractor willing to admit they messed up.

    I want to be very clear here, things running quiet or the house heating isn’t the only criteria here.  Poor piping means you could be spending a significant percentage extra in fuel to heat the house when you don’t need to.  You could be shortening boiler life, and as you are experiencing, having a noisy system.

    If the contractor tries to pull “its steam that’s how it is”, they are factually incorrect.  Steam should be 100% silent when it’s correct.  I have to look at my thermostat to see it calling for heat to even know if my boiler is running.

    @random12345 mentions sizing, that is important too.  If they can’t even get close in the piping, the sizing (which is even easier) comes into question.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 389
    Hello @Truckermike,

    Wow, so sad, a new boiler should be an opportunity to improve the near boiler piping, your installer made it worse. In addition to what the others mentioned this is wrong too (Red box in picture), look at your old pictures.


    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 2,801
    That’s amazing ! If I installed it ,it would never work but some one else does it and it bangs a little bit . Looks like it is a counter flow system w the drips . It must take a while to heat up being all it’s doing is producing wet steam and tossing it up as it rolls back down . Maybe he should have piped a equilizer or better yet a real header . Hopefully not much was spent on such poor work if you call it that and it only goes to prove how forgiving steam really is even a counter flow system and what people will tolerate as a working steam heating system .
    I do like the chair by the boiler it’s more comfortable then standing and watching and wondering what the heck is going on you can at least have a front row seat and wait for the fire works .
    In reality it really needs some attention and a re pipe to every get it to operate as it should anything less is in reality just kidding yourself and paying for poor performance with every fuel bill . Done correctly all the copper would be ancient Mayan history .
    Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    JohnNY
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 2,801
    I think that flue piping needs some attention including checking the pitch on the hot water heater that was added and was not present in the pics of your oil boiler . I hope that your contractor has had your chimney cleaned and certified that it is good work condition w no damage to the liner . If there is no clay liner or the chimney has 3 outside surface then it should be lined even if it has a clay liner ,unless you don’t mind at some point re doing the chimney just a little advise . I would also look at the installation instruction on the placement of the flue damper personal the flue should be tied in higher . These last point are just safety concern considering the quality of the work that was done and the lack of possible attention to detail as mentioned .
    Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    edited October 23
    Clammy I did have a liner installed before the furnace was put in.
    Tomscott1
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    109A_5 by doing what he did what is the repercussions?
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 623
    There is no way in the world this was installed by a plumbing contractor. I've repaired some really bad one's but this one is up there. If you really don't trust the advice of the installers on here, call your insurance company and ask if it is insurable. Maybe call the manufacturer and see if they will honor warranty. i think you will be surprised that you will be on an island by yourself. Or better yet call the town inspector and get his opinion. You know the guy that your plumber didn't call because it wont pass.

    And i want to ask where is the combustion air coming from?
    CLamb
  • BDR529
    BDR529 Member Posts: 247
    I'll take a stab that no pipe threading machine on the job. That is alot of trips to the supply house and still botched.
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    I’m not doubting any info everyone has given me I’m trying to wrap my head around everything I’m reading.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,004

    I’m not doubting any info everyone has given me I’m trying to wrap my head around everything I’m reading.

    get your install manual and read up in there,
    the piping pages are the bare minimum required,
    having the near boiler piping correct is key to your new boiler's success,
    oh, and a skim port also,
    read and follow the manual.
    known to beat dead horses
  • rconkling
    rconkling Member Posts: 49
    Ill just add my $0.2 for fun.

    The safety valve isn't piped down towards the floor. He also didn't bother to crimp the vent pipe so it fits neatly into the 90.

    When you don't do the small things right, what other corners were cut.
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 623
    The small things right, lol? He didn't do anything right.
    reggi
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 544
    clammy said:

    the pitch on the hot water heater that was added and was not present in the pics of your oil boiler

    Good catch Clammy!
    Did a Government Building Code Inspector sign off on the water heater? Our tax dollars hard at work. Moron installer supervised by Moron Bureaucrat.
    This is why I DIY.
    Tomscott1
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 544
    I don't know if spaghetti gas lines meet your local codes or not. I personally think they look bad and are a problem waiting to happen. I don't expect every plumber to always have the tools on his van to thread 2 and 1/2 and up diameter pipes (although he should for a steam install). However, if a plumber can't or won't cut and thread gas line, they should find another profession.
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 623
    @WMno57 I'm on board with that statement. If the installer does not have threading equipment on his truck, then he is not a boiler installer. Please move on. Any competent installer knows the importance of not just installing the equipment, but making it look like a professional installation. That why you have guys that always post pictures of there jobs. They are proud of there installations. Its quality combined with experience that will give you a long lasting install. I hate looking at installations like this and realize all the money the customer will has spend to get this lack of quality. And if he got this on the cheap then you get what you pay for.

    I like the story of the customer who has had multiple service techs on site but cant fix the issue. Tech with 30 years of experience looks at the job and performs the repair in 10 minutes. Gives the customer a $700 invoice. Customer complains about him only spending 10 minutes on the job to perform the repair. Tech responds with " your not paying for 10 minutes to repair your boiler. Your paying for my 30 years of experience that allows me to fix your boiler in 10 minutes".

    I hope i wrote that right. Because it says a lot and struck a cord the first time i read it.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,239
    So I did my best to mark up your install and the manual so you can try and relate how things should be.  The colors relate to each other.  Now remember it’s not just a matter of everything being connected it has to be connected in the specific order shown in the manual.  This isn’t just for this steam boiler, it’s any steam boiler and should be known (even without the manual) by anyone doing installs.  Hopefully this helps clarify for you how the install is incorrect.

    Across the header the order should start with red, then blue, then green and finally yellow.  In that exact order.  Right now yours goes green, blue, red, yellow.

    Also the riser from the boiler should go into the side of the header not the bottom as yours is.  This serves a functional purpose.  The steam and water mixture enters from the side and allows the water to sit on the bottom of the header and the steam rise to the top.  As yours is the steam will be fighting through the water coming up and not really be able to separate.

    And finally, as said, the entire header and riser are the wrong size pipe, should be 2 1/2” according to the manual.

    A final thought here.  With an improper install like this your warranty is effectively void.  If you ever have a problem they will point at that improper piping and say it was the cause of whatever failure there is and you’re done.  If you review your manual and warranty materials I’m sure you will find wording to this effect.

    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,239
    For the warranty see item 6 in their warranty information.

    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 389
    Hello @Truckermike,

    109A_5 by doing what he did what is the repercussions?

    Drips should be connected below the boiler's water line (like they were, see old pictures). The water line will isolate the steam, keeping it where it should be and flowing in the correct path and direction. In the case of the Red box in the picture the steam from the main pipe could get into the return line and cause issues. Steam piping is all about keeping steam, wet steam and condensate separated and flowing in the correct direction. Repercussions, hammer noise, no heat, no heat to some radiators, increased fuel to heat the home.

    Contamination of the boiler water with production oils will cause problems too, which is why skimming is so important.

    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 2,801
    The repercussions of the way your boiler Ian installed is as follows . The boiler will never produce dry steam piped in the manor it is ,your comfort level in your home will never be close to what it should be ,your fuel bill will be more then it should be being the boiler will never produce dry steam and if it does manage to heat the radiators there is no way they will be completely hot and in what time span to do so . In a properly installed steam boiler in most cases from a cold start your steam mains should be piping hot within 15 minutes at worse . Some installs after the near boiler piping is hot it’s maybe 5 minutes till the mains are untouchable . I highly doubt that this is occurring w your boiler piped the way it is ,clearly the installer has zero clue on what he is doing ,espically since he cannot follow a simple diagram if he has been paided in full your sol and your gonna need to get some one to do it right and if your gonna live w it then best of luck and remember the way it was installed there is no maintenance just a future replacement because I know I would be honest and tell the truth that all the maintaince in the world is not going to correct a improper install and make it perform or behave properly . Personally I ve seen pennco boilers but have never installed one and know that they are not on the top end of steam boilers in my opinion wouldn’t even know where to get one but do know they are not costly in comparison to Weil ,peerlesss In reality I see installs like yours all the time and I usually just leave there’s no miracle anyone is going to perform that will make it operate properly .and after a while u just get tired of the same speech and the same replies ,no money ,it worked before or we just need a little heat not a lot and top of the list is we are going to be moving ,I love everyone of the replies the last one the most .
    Best advise is as follows ,cut ur loses fire your present installer pay him no more money ,hire some one who has a clue and knows how to follow a simple stick drawing and possible can chew gum walk and talk put there heads and rub there bellies at the same time would be helpful at a minimum . And be prepared to pay , usually anyone who does work like that is usually charging about 1/2 of what it really cost at a minimum The other choice is to live w what you have and curse it every heating cycle and pay the gas bill for uneven noisy heat the choice is yours but in its present state it-can only do-what it can do .
    Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    mattmia2
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    Thank you guys for your answers and knowledge it’s greatly appreciated! The guy I had do the install is a young guy just starting his own company and local tour town. I talked to him today and we’re going to meet Friday so we can get everything figured out. He wants to get it working properly. This is the first steam system like this he’s done and as someone said earlier you don’t know what you don’t know. So it’s going to be a learning experience for the both of us.
    rconklingGrallert
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,892
    May I strongly suggest that you get your man a copy of :"The Lost Art of Steam Heating -- Revised". If he really wants to know how steam heat works and how to make it go well, there is no better place to start. Either the store on this web stie or Amazon.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    MaxMercy
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 623
    First steam system "like this". Listen, I don't want to rag on the guy but there really ain't much difference in piping the "near boiler piping" on a steam boiler. you have only so many ways. Its more tricky getting the boiler in a location and piping it to the existing than the near boiler piping. Knowing how to lay it out.

    I would probably appreciate the guy more if he just said he's never piped a steam boiler in. At least he would be honest. Somehow I don't think this is still gonna end well. There are other OP on here still trying to get there steam boiler piped right from a so called professional and they still can't get it correct. I would just cut my losses and higher a real steam guy. Its starting to get real cold out and who wants to be miserable in January/February.
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 389
    edited October 25
    Hello @Truckermike,

    Your area may need a good steam Tech. If your young installer wants (eventually) to be the 'go to guy' he needs steam education. With the above mentioned resources and maybe this would help too, binge watch these YouTube channels.

    Many installs and most videos are short.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA_ZKNA-k-nA4eH5qNb3jXA/videos
    https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPrJrk_ajqswKV7mOzbifgYqaPlK6aXwF

    This YouTube channel is excellent too, obviously. The videos are longer.
    https://www.youtube.com/c/HeatingHelp/videos
    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 544

    The guy I had do the install is a young guy just starting his own company and local.

    To do steam installs correctly he needs to bring one of these to the jobsite.
    https://www.supplyhouse.com/Ridgid-26092-Model-1224-Threading-Machine-1-4-to-1-1-4-Pipe-Capacity-120V
    $11,000 to buy new. Harbor Freight does not sell an equivalent.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,525
    edited October 25
    WMno57 said:

    The guy I had do the install is a young guy just starting his own company and local.

    To do steam installs correctly he needs to bring one of these to the jobsite.
    https://www.supplyhouse.com/Ridgid-26092-Model-1224-Threading-Machine-1-4-to-1-1-4-Pipe-Capacity-120V
    $11,000 to buy new. Harbor Freight does not sell an equivalent.
    I did my own install with off the shelf nipples and two custom threaded ones done by a local plumbing supply.

    I didn't buy my Ridgid 65R-TC until years later, and even then that's not what you listed nor is it $11K.

    So, I disagree.


    The problem we see happening again and again isn't due to an $11k threaded.
    It's due to people taking on work they do not know how to do, not even bothering to read the manual and then installing the boiler completely wrong. Why this happens so much is beyond me.

    Then it gets even worse when they argue with the customer and insist the work they did is correct and steam is just loud and inefficient. Another way of saying "Not my fault".

    We've seen a few guys come on here and admit they didn't know what they were doing and ask for help. That's what we need more of.

    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
    pecmsgmattmia2Grallert
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 544
    You can thread up to 2" with a Lollypop (thanks @JohnNY). 2 and 1/2 and up is a different ballpark. Larger boilers need larger than 2".
    @ChrisJ, you are right, the knowledge is more important than the tools.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,525
    WMno57 said:

    You can thread up to 2" with a Lollypop (thanks @JohnNY). 2 and 1/2 and up is a different ballpark. Larger boilers need larger than 2".
    @ChrisJ, you are right, the knowledge is more important than the tools.

    And that's all most guys will need for residential work.
    I managed without any issues.
    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
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    Ok other then I’m completely piped wrong and still trying to get it piped right I have a question. I have two radiators that aren’t getting hot they are the last two on the run. I can feel the feed pipe getting warm up to the valve but nothing enters the radiator. They both worked after the install but not now. I noticed the pressuretrol was maxed out so turned it down to .5-1 after reading the steam book. I know I’m getting water n my system is that what is causing this or is it the pressuretrol being lower on a badly piped system or something else?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,540
    are the vents failed closed/pugged? more pressure will compress the air that can't get out and allow some heat.
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    I don’t think they are but can’t confirm without taking them off. Just bothers me that they worked after the new install. The end radiator has a little bleeder next to the valve when I open that I get air coming out and you can hear water in the pipes.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,540
    Why is there a bleeder on a steam radiator? Is this a 1 pipe or 2 pie system?
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    edited November 14
    It’s a two pipe system I have no idea why it’s there. It was there when I moved in I feel like when they put the heating system in my house they used left over parts they had laying around.