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2001 Gas Burnham Boiler not Circulating

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Hi,

We have a 2001 Burnham steam boiler for the second floor of our 3 unit multifamily (radiator heat). The boiler was recently and was working fine until last night when temps got down to -10deg outside. This morning, the pilot light was out and the boiler was not doing anything. So far, I’ve relit the pilot light 3 times following the instructions and it stays on for a while (and the boiler lights + gas is flowing), but the water is not circulating. We have another Burnham boiler for the third floor unit and it is functioning properly. The differences that I notice between the two are that the second floor has lower internal pressure (10 psi instead of 18) and the Honeywell pressure trip is set to a higher main pressure (10-12 psi instead of 2 for the third floor). Any thoughts on why the boiler isn’t circulating or how to get it going?

thanks!

Comments

  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,399
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    I’m glad that you attached some pics because your description is confusing: a steam boiler doesn’t circulate water except for the condensate that returns from the radiators to the boiler.

    If the burner is staying lit, the pressure should never exceed 2 psi. The pressuretrol should be set to cut out a 2 psi and cut in at 1 psi on a one pipe system.

    If the pilot won’t stay lit, your thermalcouple may be bad if it’s a standing pilot.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,650
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    Something does not compute here. You mention that the second floor boiler is set to 10 psi cutout and the differential shown is a bit more than 2 psi. You also mention that the third floor boiler is set to 18 psi.

    I sincerely hope not, if this is steam. 10 psi is way too high. 18 psi is simply outrageous -- for steam, but might be plausible for hot water (and if it really is 18 psi, its burner shouldn't run, since you say its pressuretrol is set to 2 psi). However, one does not use pressuretrols for hot water.

    So something -- besides the boiler not staying lit -- is wrong here.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • newhomeowner2022
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    Maybe I’m mis-stating something regarding the pressure. The dial that I’m referencing is the circular white one that in the attached picture shows a psi of 12 currently (the dial on the boiler for the third floor is at 18 psi). Then there is the separate pressuretrol (which it sounds like I should adjust the main/right readout in the photo to 2 psi instead of 10). The boiler itself has one large copper pipe leaving it from the center which is not hot - I assume that this is the steam - and then a smaller copper pipe that returns to the side where the water intake is. I believe that is inline with what Jamie is describing as a steam boiler - so I don’t think I’m wrong (disregarding my terminology in the first post about “circulating”). Overall, ignoring the psi because it was at that level when the boilers were last maintenance and didn’t raise any red flags - it sounds like I may need a new thermocouple. Is it acceptable to just get a generic everbuilt one from home depot (as they’re open right now) or do I need one that matches the boiler?
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,399
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    Any standard 30 milivolt thermocouple will work, but the cheap ones don’t last as long.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    newhomeowner2022
  • newhomeowner2022
    newhomeowner2022 Member Posts: 3
    edited February 2023
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    Hi again - I cleaned the thermocouple and now the pilot light stays on and the boiler ignites, but it doesn’t seem to be as loud as the other two (and there is no heat). The internal pressure on the white dial is lower now (at 7psi). The white dial on the 3rd floor unit is showing 13psi today when the boiler is off)