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2 year old boiler issues

MJACK
MJACK Member Posts: 7
My previous boiler in my one pipe system heated 8 of 10 radiators completely every time it fired for 16 years. Developed a safety issue and needed to be replaced. 
From day one with the new boiler I don’t get filled radiators (even the one directly above the boiler) unless I crank the heat up by 5 degrees.  It runs longer than the old one to just partially fill them.  Things were piped wrongly at first, then piping redone. Then it was determined the boiler was too small. They installed a new one. Multiple piping mistakes made again (I discovered the incorrect/missing Hartford loop myself after looking at the owners manual).  They also didn’t skim until after I read that in the manual. They performed it, but there was still visible oil on top in the sight glass when they left. They have deemed it satisfactory. 
For most of this winter I would get my partially filled 10 radiators, and the house felt warm but since it runs more often putting off less heat my gas usage is way higher than it was with my 25 year old boiler. 
When the company finally completed my fall servicing last month, the technician changed something on the thermostat to try and help. It made the system call for heat before it dropped a full degree like it previously had for two years. My automatic refill was malfunctioning and had to be replaced (this is the third one) so when that technician came out he also tried to improve my heat situation. He changed the thermostat settings again and the pressure thinking it would help fill the radiators. 
Since then things have dramatically gotten worse. It calls for heat before the temperature drops a full degree, and fires when heat is called for, runs at most 5 mins, then stops (sometimes a water check is performed and the boiler is off two minutes during the 5 minute run time). The call for heat starts again anywhere from 8-20 mins later and the on off repeats   After 6 starts in 1 1/2 hours I finally felt a few hot fins on the first floor and partially warm radiators upstairs. (The basement was hot so my first story floors almost felt like in floor heating).  After several more firings the upstairs radiators were warmer, and the 1st floor ones were all partially hot.  Then the system didn’t need to fire again for a longer time, so when it restarted it was the same over hour long process to get heat upstairs. 

Previous system worked properly with all Hoffman 40 vents. I changed the two that never fully filled to Gorton D last year, and it helped a little. Last week all vents were replaced to rule them out as the issue. (2 farthest coldest Gorton D, the next 2 farthest Gorton C, and the rest still Hoffman 40). 
Any recommendations at all to help the situation?

I’d like to include photos but am trying to figure out how to attach them. 


Comments

  • MJACK
    MJACK Member Posts: 7
    edited March 2023
     Figured it out 🙂
    Also, the needle stays on the peg at all times.
    Mad Dog_2
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,878
    What does "figured it out" mean? In the photo of the pressuretrol, the cutin pressure setting is much too high.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    mattmia2Mad Dog_2
  • MJACK
    MJACK Member Posts: 7
    What does "figured it out" mean? In the photo of the pressuretrol, the cutin pressure setting is much too high.
    Sorry. I figured out how to attach photos. I’m not super tech savvy sometimes!  

    The technician was supposed to come out today, but they have rescheduled for tomorrow. 
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,089
    Fire them they are clue less . Even after re piping it’s still wrong . You need some one to repipe your boiler properly in steel and w a properly sized header ,equilizer and Hartford loop aside from usually updating main venting . As for cleaning that boiler there just lazy ,those side outlets boiler as the easiest to wand and flush and skim it sheer laziness stopping them . I high doubt skimming and cleaning alone will drastically improve your performance . The supply take off of the equilizer is garbage and is a sign of not knowing much about how to pipe a steam boiler and connect its mains properly to a header , not brain surgery . Check the find a pro listings on this site and possibly if your lucky some one is near and can give you a price to correct it all and get your system operating properly .
    Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    mattmia2Mad Dog_2SuperTech
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,691
    I would bet my left arm the first boiler wasn't undersized, that would have to be determined with a radiator survey and EDR calculation. Also, since you state the previous boiler only heated 8 out of 10 radiators, this problem doesn't seem to be new. I would suggest you always had this problem and the new (maybe oversized) boiler is making it worse.

    You have a venting problem. The steam is moving slow because of inadequate venting. The longer run times and that ridiculously high pressure setting on the pressutrtol are dead giveaways. Slow steam will set off the pressure safety (pressurtrol) and stop the heating, but the thermostat is still calling so once the pressure drops it fires again and steam continues moving slowly. After a long enough period of time you will get steam everywhere, but that requires a higher setting on the thermostat because the room with the thermostat is being satisfied before the rest of the house is hot.

    All of the above is typically compounded by a boiler that is oversized as it will build pressure even faster. If you want to determine if it's oversized we can help with that if you post up some basic information, please let us know.

    How many and what size are your main vents? That's the starting point here. After that we can discuss what vents you have on the radiators, what you listed are rather large and probably trying to compensate for lack of main venting. That, as you are experiencing, usually doesn't work.

    Also, the contractor you are working with doesn't seem to be knowledgeable with steam, or even basic piping for that matter. And the fact that they can't diagnose this common problem speaks volumes.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    mattmia2Mad Dog_2
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,878
    Fari enough -- I'm no internet guru myself.

    On to the pictures. First and simplest -- as I said before, the pressuretrol is set way too high. Use the screw on top to crank that indicator down to just barely above the lowest mark (the 0.5 mark) on the scale. Hopefully the excess pressure hasn't damaged your vents, but I wouldn't count on that.

    Second... I'm not really keen on the near boiler piping as it is shown. Not to say it won't work -- steam is amazingly forgiven -- but it's not good, either. I suspect that you may be getting a good deal of wet steam, particularly in the main which comes up from the bullhead T at the end of the header.

    What is the cute little pipe which looks sort of like a riser coming up from the header part way along? If that is a drip from the end of a steam main, that's a real problem.

    Among other things...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Mad Dog_2
  • MJACK
    MJACK Member Posts: 7
    clammy said:
    Fire them they are clue less . Even after re piping it’s still wrong . You need some one to repipe your boiler properly in steel and w a properly sized header ,equilizer and Hartford loop aside from usually updating main venting . As for cleaning that boiler they’re just lazy ,those side outlets boiler as the easiest to wand and flush and skim it sheer laziness stopping them . I high doubt skimming and cleaning alone will drastically improve your performance . The supply take off of the equilizer is garbage and is a sign of not knowing much about how to pipe a steam boiler and connect its mains properly to a header , not brain surgery . Check the find a pro listings on this site and possibly if you’re lucky some one is near and can give you a price to correct it all and get your system operating properly . Peace and good luck clammy
    I spent thousands on a 5 year labor, parts, and service warranty. Unfortunately if they can’t fix it, I will need to find a new company. 
    mattmia2Mad Dog_2
  • MJACK
    MJACK Member Posts: 7
    KC_Jones said:
    I would bet my left arm the first boiler wasn't undersized, that would have to be determined with a radiator survey and EDR calculation. Also, since you state the previous boiler only heated 8 out of 10 radiators, this problem doesn't seem to be new. I would suggest you always had this problem and the new (maybe oversized) boiler is making it worse. You have a venting problem. The steam is moving slow because of inadequate venting. The longer run times and that ridiculously high pressure setting on the pressutrtol are dead giveaways. Slow steam will set off the pressure safety (pressurtrol) and stop the heating, but the thermostat is still calling so once the pressure drops it fires again and steam continues moving slowly. After a long enough period of time you will get steam everywhere, but that requires a higher setting on the thermostat because the room with the thermostat is being satisfied before the rest of the house is hot. All of the above is typically compounded by a boiler that is oversized as it will build pressure even faster. If you want to determine if it's oversized we can help with that if you post up some basic information, please let us know. How many and what size are your main vents? That's the starting point here. After that we can discuss what vents you have on the radiators, what you listed are rather large and probably trying to compensate for lack of main venting. That, as you are experiencing, usually doesn't work. Also, the contractor you are working with doesn't seem to be knowledgeable with steam, or even basic piping for that matter. And the fact that they can't diagnose this common problem speaks volumes.
    The original boiler that I had for the first 16 years here was close to the same size as what I have now. It heated the 8 radiators in the original house. At some point an addition was made on the back, kitchen and upstairs bedroom. Those two additional radiators are the two that my original boiler only partially heated. 

    I’m at work now, but can look at things when I get back home. But I have no idea where my main vents are. The basement is finished and where they should be are behind walls.  
    Mad Dog_2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,392
    Oh my
    Mad Dog_2SuperTech
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,691
    Lack of heating in a steam system is almost never due to boiler size.

    By your description this has always been an issue and isn't directly related to the new boiler. Main vents are the cornerstone to proper heating in a one pipe system.

    Finished on not, you need to find the main vents, or add them. If you are sure there aren't any there then you can add them at the end of the overhead returns at the boiler, but that's only if you determine there aren't any in another location. To determine if there are or aren't any will require the same work to add them in the proper location so for me that is the path forward. I see cutting holes in your future. After finding them you can add an access panel for future maintenance.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    mattmia2dabrakeman
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,392
    I suspect your water feeder issue is the boiler surging from the oil and throwing liquid water in to the system and the boiler was flooding after the cycle stopped and the water returned to the boiler. That will also prevent steam distribution in the system. The first step is to properly skim it. If you get all the oil out of it you will then find out if it can work with that near boiler piping experiment.
  • MJACK
    MJACK Member Posts: 7
    Fari enough -- I'm no internet guru myself. On to the pictures. First and simplest -- as I said before, the pressuretrol is set way too high. Use the screw on top to crank that indicator down to just barely above the lowest mark (the 0.5 mark) on the scale. Hopefully the excess pressure hasn't damaged your vents, but I wouldn't count on that. Second... I'm not really keen on the near boiler piping as it is shown. Not to say it won't work -- steam is amazingly forgiven -- but it's not good, either. I suspect that you may be getting a good deal of wet steam, particularly in the main which comes up from the bullhead T at the end of the header. What is the cute little pipe which looks sort of like a riser coming up from the header part way along? If that is a drip from the end of a steam main, that's a real problem. Among other things...
    Which little pipe?  The one I put a green arrow on goes directly to a radiator. The red arrow pipes are for the automatic water feeder. I included a couple more pics to see where they sit. 
    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,692
    They owe you a 100% refund.  This way, you can hire a competent contractor.  Either that or THEY SHOULD BE ON HERE SEEING WHAT THEY NEED TO DO TO CORRECT EVERYTHING! Thats the offer I would make them. I feel for you,, sir..  😠  Mad Dog 🐕 
    mattmia2Long Beach EdethicalpaulSuperTech
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,392
    edited March 2023
    Couldn't they have done it right for what those enormous propress fittings cost?

    Everything above the water line should be black iron.

    That radiator needs a drip to the return below the water line if it is connected directly in to the header like that(assuming this is 1 pipe), but that wouldn't cause as severe a problem as you are having.

    If there are parts of the return that were below the water line with the old boiler that are now above the water line with the new boiler that can cause steam to short circuit through those areas and trap air and close vents too early.

    I hope this is 1 pipe and not 2 pipe?
    Mad Dog_2
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,712
    Mad Dog_2 said:

    They owe you a 100% refund.  This way, you can hire a competent contractor.  Either that or THEY SHOULD BE ON HERE SEEING WHAT THEY NEED TO DO TO CORRECT EVERYTHING! Thats the offer I would make them. I feel for you,, sir..  😠  Mad Dog 🐕 

    This.

    @MJACK , where are you located? We may know someone...........
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    CLambMad Dog_2
  • MJACK
    MJACK Member Posts: 7
    Thank you everyone for taking time to respond.  A technician is supposed to be out tomorrow, and I will be showing him this. We’ll see where it goes from there. It’s all a little overwhelming. 

    @Steamhead we’re in Baltimore County. Catonsville.  I do believe We are going to want a knowledgeable person to come and give their opinion, and help find the main vents (or lack thereof?) If we have them, I wonder if they could have been damaged after the first incorrect piping with the first boiler they installed, when my pipes running across the basement had water sloshing in them? 

    Mad Dog_2
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,691
    MJACK said:

    Thank you everyone for taking time to respond.  A technician is supposed to be out tomorrow, and I will be showing him this. We’ll see where it goes from there. It’s all a little overwhelming. 


    @Steamhead we’re in Baltimore County. Catonsville.  I do believe We are going to want a knowledgeable person to come and give their opinion, and help find the main vents (or lack thereof?) If we have them, I wonder if they could have been damaged after the first incorrect piping with the first boiler they installed, when my pipes running across the basement had water sloshing in them? 

    You may be in luck, @Steamhead is in Baltimore.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    MJACKLong Beach EdMad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,692
    Man did u luck out having the Great Frank Steamhead Wilsey & Gordo in.  Great job guys.  Mad Dog 
    mattmia2ethicalpaulGordo