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Oil in sight glass, but no surging. Is this a problem?

Image of my sight glass: https://imgur.com/MQwu6Rb

There's an obvious amount of oil sitting inside the sight glass. When the boiler is running it's not really surging - I don't see a lot of violent/turbulent movement in there, it just sort of gently bounces up and down. Is the existence of oil in there a problem or not, regardless of whether there is surging or not? I received contradicting information from two different plumbers and I don't know who is right.

I have been having this issue where brand-new Gorton #1 main vents installed on a menorah-like pipe fitting arrangement on both of my mains eventually start to leak wet steam and refuse to close until _very_ late in the call for heat. The boiler itself is also mostly brand-new, having been installed July 2022.

One plumber I hired to diagnose the issue said that he believed oil was increasing the pressure in a way that my pressuretrol couldn't read (pressuretrol stays at 1.5-2.0 psi throughout the call for heat). So I called the plumber that installed the boiler back to my house and when he looked at it, he said there was no surging so it doesn't need to be skimmed.

Can anyone give me any indication one way or another who is right? My system just keeps leaking. If the main vents don't leak, one of the smaller rad vents starts to leak. When I replace the smaller rad vents, one of the main vents start to leak.

Comments

  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,415
    It needs to be skimmed, period, stop. It always needs to be skimmed…the plug in the picture to the right of the gauge glass is the skim tapping. It needs to be removed and a nipple/cap added for skimming. 
    BobCLong Beach Ed
  • Waher
    Waher Member Posts: 234
    The plumber that installed the boiler should have skimmed all of the oil out of it, period. The boiler installation isn't "complete" until all the oil is gone or you will wind up with various problems in perpetuity because that oil isn't going away on its own.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,695
    how how hard is it?
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,700
    Does the water when steaming flow over the top of the gauge glass , if so ,boiler needs to be skimmed ...
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,415
    No @Big Ed_4, the boiler was never skimmed, so it needs to be skimmed.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,329
    edited January 2023
    @Waher . get the installer or another plumber to come back and skim the boiler, fix the leaks and adjust the pressure control to cut out at 1.5 psi and cut in at 1/2 psi and clean the gauge glass.

    In addition it looks like the the bottom gauge glass fitting has a small leak.

    The skimming and gauge glass leak and adjusting the pressure control are for sure the original installers problem
  • ccordero
    ccordero Member Posts: 15
    Big Ed_4 said:
    Does the water when steaming flow over the top of the gauge glass , if so ,boiler needs to be skimmed ...
    It doesn’t.
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,415
    ccordero said:
    Big Ed_4 said:
    Does the water when steaming flow over the top of the gauge glass , if so ,boiler needs to be skimmed ...
    It doesn’t.
    That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be skimmed @ccordero. It needs to be skimmed without question. 
    ethicalpaul
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,704
    The fact that you have enough water in the area of the vent to prevent them from closing tells me you are either producing wet steam due to poor piping, or surging causing water to go up into the mains.

    After confirming the piping is proper, then skimming would be the next step. Are you sure the boiler has been properly piped?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Waher
    Waher Member Posts: 234
    I think you meant @ccordero

    Not my boiler, but my recommendation that @ccordero ask the original installer to come back and skim the oils out of the boiler.
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,700
    Are the mains insulated ?
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • ccordero
    ccordero Member Posts: 15
    Big Ed_4 said:
    Are the mains insulated ?
    Yup.

    Okay thanks everyone!  It seems everyone is in full agreement that the boiler needs to be skimmed, regardless of whether there is surging in the sight glass.  I called the plumbers to come back and do that, and they said that instead of a skim, they have something that they can pour into the boiler to force the oil to settle at the bottom of the tank where it can be drained.

    First, is this a thing? If so, what is this thing that you can pour into your boiler to do this?

    Second, is this an appropriate alternative to skimming the boiler? I was tempted to tell them to not bother and go with a different plumber altogether, but I don’t know enough to argue against the alternative they suggested.
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,188
    edited January 2023
    There is no substitute to properly skimming the oil off the boiler water. Any chemicals added to avoid that work will only further your problem.

    You should also be sure that the plumber who doesn't know how to skim a boiler knew how to pipe it correctly. Might want to check this out while he's still responsive. Your problem is probably more than some oil.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,329
    @ccordero They are taking the easy way out. 15 min to add chemicals versus a maybe 4 hr skim job.


    @waher, I did. Sorry about that
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,700
    Easyer to keep it out then spend the hours skimming it out ..
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • ccordero
    ccordero Member Posts: 15
    edited January 2023

    @ccordero They are taking the easy way out. 15 min to add chemicals versus a maybe 4 hr skim job.

    Big Ed_4 said:

    Easyer to keep it out then spend the hours skimming it out ..


    It's easier, but is it a worse way to do it? Or should I insist on a skim job?
  • ccordero
    ccordero Member Posts: 15

    There is no substitute to properly skimming the oil off the boiler water. Any chemicals added to avoid that work will only further your problem.

    You should also be sure that the plumber who doesn't know how to skim a boiler knew how to pipe it correctly. Might want to check this out while he's still responsive. Your problem is probably more than some oil.

    Thanks for this!
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,611
    edited January 2023
    It's a thing. See my video below. But I wouldn't use that stuff if I had the option of skimming. There's no point.

    I suggest go to the video on youtube, not the embedded viewer below because it's rather long and I put the times of different parts in the description. Although I do see in the embedded player you can hover your mouse over the timeline and it will give you the sections and names.


    https://youtu.be/Q0CkJUr0JRY
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,700
    edited January 2023
    One quart of of oil can pollute one square mile of ocean . They don't mix . The iron added, first needs to be degreased before installing to a steam system ..
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all