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Boiler running at high PSI

tambli
tambli Member Posts: 14
Hello. I just bought my first house and was so excited that it had a new boiler purchased in 2020 thinking that I shouldn't have any issues with my heat. Well, that has not turned out to be the case. The boiler is constantly short cycling because the PSI is climbing too high. The PSI will climb to 3, the boiler shuts off, the PSI falls to .5 and the boiler turns back on. This is happening every couple of minutes (at best). From reading through several discussions on this forum I'm afraid this probably means that my boiler is too big. My house has convectors and I can't find the brand written on any of them so I haven't been able to calculate the EDR. Does anybody have thoughts on what could be causing the high pressure besides an oversized boiler? I'll attached pictures of the convectors and convector covers. Other things to note:

Boiler: New Yorker CL4-210s
# of convectors: 5
# of cast iron radiators: 1
House Size: One story at 1,040 SF (boiler in basement)

I don't know what else to include. Oh, I have replaced two air valves on the radiators. I need to change more out but doesn't seem like this would be causing the problem.

Any help, thoughts, feedback would be appreciated!










Comments

  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,141
    edited March 11
    Here is the general capacity of your convectors:
    https://ocsind.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/15981-OCS-Catalog.Updated15-12-13-combined.pdf

    Your Chinese vents should be replaced with a reliable domestic brand if the boiler is cycling before all the elements are completely hot.

    If that doesn't help, consider adding or replacing vents at the ends of the mains.

    If the boiler continues to cycle before all the radiators are hot, the piping must be checked against the boiler manufacturer's recommendations. The siphon for the pressuretrol should be checked that it is not clogged. And the size of the boiler should be checked against the connected load.

    Once everything has been corrected, the cut out setting on the pressuretrol should be reduced as low as possible to still fill the radiators completely with steam without short cycling.
    Mad Dog_2Intplm.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,452
    Are there any air vents in the basement at the end of the steam mains?

    If so what size/type....pictures.

    If none look for a fitting near the end of the main with a plug installed.

    Or if you have return pipes coming to the boiler room, those may be the vent location.
    Mad Dog_2
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14
    Are there any air vents in the basement at the end of the steam mains?

    If so what size/type....pictures.


    This is the only vent in the basement coming off the main. It says it's a #5. I'm honestly not sure it works.

    Mad Dog_2
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,452
    That is a nice looking museum piece by now, if working may not pass much air.

    You could replace that with one Gorton #2 for starters.

    How many steam mains do you have and the length of them?

    Pictures of boiler piping, all sides, floor to ceiling would be interesting and helpful.
    Mad Dog_2
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14
    edited March 12
    @JUGHNE, below are some pictures as requested.

    This is going to show what a newbie I am to all of...how do I know which pipes are the steam mains?





    Mad Dog_2
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 364
    edited March 12
    @tambli ... How high is the water level as your picture looks like it cloudy water filled the entire length ( overfilled) ... And a bit crusty, with the scaling on the floor it just may be dripping and setting off the auto fill.. All depends. ..a closer look would help..
    Edit: or Empty 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14
    @reggie, the sightglass is only filled about 1/4 to 1/3. The glass itself it quite cloudy with mineral buildup. Nothing on the boiler leaking/dripping. The bucket on the floor was left like that from previous owners of the house and I just haven't emptied it.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 4,476
    The "main" is the big pipe that is horizontal above your boiler. It should travel around your basement.

    That chrome vent coming off the main is the "main vent" whose job is to let all the air out of the main at the start of a heating cycle to let the steam quickly fill the main so that it can start to make its way to all your radiators (in your case convectors unfortunately) at about the same time.

    As Jugne said, replace that with a Gorton. He suggests a number 2 but I would start with a number 1 to see how that does for you (it's much cheaper).

    The piping near your boiler is incorrect, but we all have seen much worse. It's interesting to note that boiler is a hot water boiler that has been repurposed for steam (based on what the info plate says). That might be OK.

    The pressure relief is improperly piped, it never would have cleared inspection here. I wonder if it was inspected at all? hard to say.

    What area are you located in?

    You should buy the "We Got Steam Heat" book from this site and become your own expert, it's not hard. Your oil company/burner people probably don't know very much.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14
    Thank you, @ethicalpaul. I already purchased the Gorton #2 and it was delivered today. It was expensive! I also purchased Gorton vents for each of the convectors in the house. I was able to replace all but one that I can't get off. I also haven't been able to remove the main vent in the basement. It seems to be quite stuck!

    I remember the home inspector mentioning that the pressure relief valve was done incorrectly but I guess I was under the impression it wasn't a huge deal. Is that not accurate?

    I'm in Central Vermont right on the New York border.


    ethicalpaul
  • Waher
    Waher Member Posts: 147
    @tambli Does the Gorton No.2 rattle/clank in your hands? You want to make sure it is working before you install it. Shipping is hard on the larger vents.
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14
    @Waher, it seems to be in working order after arriving. Thanks for the suggestion of checking.
    Waher
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,452
    edited March 14
    Any pipe above the water line will contain steam. The horizontal piping is a steam main until after the last radiation is connected, then it is considered a return heading back to the lower (below the water line) wet return at the boiler.

    It looks like you have 2 steam mains and 2 returns (end of mains) that drop down to the wet return.

    The end of mains is where you want steam main air vents....or after the last take off to radiation.

    There may be another main vent location that could be a plugged fitting.

    One reason for short cycling other than being oversized boiler is the steam is pushing against the air in the system. Steam will not go if there is air in the way.

    The radiator vents are too small and slow to quickly vent that air in the main piping.
    And you do not want them to do all that air venting, not their job, they may spit water and be noisey.

    You want the main air vents in the basement to do the heavy lifting of air venting.

    Then large basement air vents will let the boiler continue to run until the main is vented.
    Then the radiators are supposed to start to condense the steam and allow more steam to enter the rads.
    This is in the ideal perfect world.....you could still have an oversized boiler but more main air venting will shorten the cycling.

    For the Gorton air vents, you WANT to hear the rattle when shaken.
    Hold up right and blow thru them easy, then turn upside down and you should not be able to blow thru them as the rattle float would seal the outlet......rattle is good.

    If there is not enough clearance to install the G2, you can add a 90, 3" nipple and another 90 ell.
    This will get the vent away from the floor joist is needed.

    To get that old vent off you can spray some rust buster such as Kroil or PB blaster on the threads....several times may be required to get it loose.

    ethicalpaul
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14
    @JUGHNE, I think I understand what the steam mains are. They also get really warm down in the basement. I'm attaching pictures of the piping that actually goes to the convectors. It looks to my very untrained eye like one pipe take steam to the convector and a different smaller pipe allows water to leave the convector and takes it back to the boiler. Is this not a two pipe system? And, if it is then wouldn't that normally not need vents? Maybe I'm totally off base but I just can't quite figure it out from the piping.




  • archibald tuttle
    archibald tuttle Member Posts: 1,033
    edited March 15
    @JUGHNE "more main air venting will shorten the cycling." think you mean "lessen the cycling" or "lengthen the cycles" but I understood . . .

    you got a few 5 - row deeper convectors it looks like. depending on length you could be at 20,000 btus but others are smaller. I would guess you are overfired a bit as well as undervented. Do you have a tune up chart around indicating what nozzle is in there? Ideally you would run a nice tight system like that at under a pound. And I like to fire them low so it takes a little while longer to make steam but you get long cycles. can't read the nozzle size in the picture with the service tag. that will approximate what you are fired for. but i would get a tech and see what the lowest nozzle you could fire with that could start heating rads/convectors in 15 mins or even 20 mins from a cold start (once you straighten out the venting). Probably within the range of the burner. might push below the nominal range for the boiler. that is a bit of tech art. then you play with the heat anticipation settings on the thermostat maybe.

    i've got these big boilers that take 15 minutes to make steam and won't trip a 16oz. vaportstat so you get nice long cycles.

    i know you say it short cycles now but not whether you are actually getting any heat in the rads, or some rads, before several of those cycles have run?

    on the positive side you have a tight system and maybe a decent Pressuretrol if it seems to reliably turn on and off at 3 lbs and give a good differential down to .5 but to run the system at even lower moax pressure you should get a vaportrol control, which often is wired as an additional control with a tee and nipples and the original pressuretrol serving as high pressure safety.

    one complication is that some of the more reliable vaporstats readily available don't always have the wide (relatively speaking) differential you are looking for although, as i mentioned above, if the boiler is low fired, I've been able to prevent it from hitting a 1 lbs. control setting and with some emperical work you might be able to do that for operating but that takes more careful experimentation although on bigger setups than this so that my percentage of first change is not as significant with a .05 gallons per hour change.
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14
    @archibald tuttle, The living room and dining room both have five row convectors, the three bedrooms and bathroom have three row, and the kitchen has a more traditional cast iron rad.

    The service tag for the nozzle says: 1.00 80B. That means absolutely nothing to me but maybe it means something to you.

    The radiators are getting warm before the boiler shuts off due to high pressure but they shut off quickly once they have steam in them. At least, that's what it seems like is happening to me.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,840
    Yes, a two pipe system, and yes, it does need vents -- any steam system does. However, the vents need to be on the dry returns -- the smaller return pipes at ceiling level, NOT on the convectors or radiators. There may be just one, where all the dry returns come together near the boiler before they drop down.

    The mains -- which should get steam hot and, by the way, should be insulated, also need venting, but in two pipe systems there are two ways to do that: either main vents near the ends of the mains or, quite often, crossover traps (just like radiator traps, really) which allow air to go from the mains to the returns, but not steam. Those would also be at the ends of the mains, and connect to the associated dry returns.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14
    @Jamie Hall, I'm sorry I should have specified that I meant no vents on the convectors. All of the convectors in my house have vents as well as the one radiator. Are you telling me that this is incorrectly done? And, if it is done incorrectly how big of a deal is it? Does it need to be corrected ASAP or it can be left the way it is?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,840
    If it's working as it is, leave it alone. Chances are very good that somewhere along the line the dry returns got worked on by someone who didn't know what they were doing, and lost the main vents -- at which points the vents had to be put on the convectors.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • MaxMercy
    MaxMercy Member Posts: 361
    edited March 15
    tambli said:



    The service tag for the nozzle says: 1.00 80B. That means absolutely nothing to me but maybe it means something to you.

    That means your nozzle will spray 1 gallon per hour if it's being run at the standard 100lb pressure, it will spray at an 80 degree angle, and the B means it has a "solid" spray pattern. The boiler manufacturer will specify the range of flow and the pattern.

    If the oil pump on the Beckett is set for 100lbs (minimum pressure usually), then you will be using one gallon per hour as the burner runs. If your pump is set for a higher pressure (many do these days), then your boiler will use more than one gallon per hour.

    There's a chart here that will give you flow rates based on pressure:

    https://hvacrschool.com/oil_nozzles/
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14
    @Jamie Hall, thank you. Besides the high pressure it does seem to work fine. As in it heats the house.

    @MaxMercy , thank you for this explanation. That mostly makes sense to me. Somebody previously mentioned that under firing the boiler might help lower the pressure. Would that require a different nozzle or just changing some settings on the current nozzle? I've read enough to know that messing with the nozzle should only be done by a professional so mostly just asking out of curiosity.
  • MaxMercy
    MaxMercy Member Posts: 361
    tambli said:



    @MaxMercy , thank you for this explanation. That mostly makes sense to me. Somebody previously mentioned that under firing the boiler might help lower the pressure. Would that require a different nozzle or just changing some settings on the current nozzle? I've read enough to know that messing with the nozzle should only be done by a professional so mostly just asking out of curiosity.

    I know little about steamers but I do know that one doesn't select a nozzle for pressure considerations.

    If your boiler is oversized (many if not most are), then you can downsize the nozzle following the boiler manufacturer's direction. If you go too small with the nozzle for the boiler, things go wrong, so you can go with the lowest firing rate the boiler manufacturer says is doable and no lower.

    Yes, if the nozzle is changed, then the burner must be adjusted at minimum. It might also require a new "head" for the Beckett burner and maybe a low firing rate baffle if it doesn't have one now. But in any case, the air must be adjusted to the nozzle's flow rate.

  • archibald tuttle
    archibald tuttle Member Posts: 1,033
    edited March 16
    @maxmercy "one doesn't select a nozzle for pressure considerations"

    actually I do, and NG or LP pressure settings on regulators for atmospherics as well. yes, if you push the low limits of the firebox and burner cone/air grates you will find yourself in a situation where you need a good tech to hone that in.

    but there is no cold circulation with steam so even from a cold start, if you have enough fire to make steam you are going to heat quickly and not condense much and your stack temp is going to be higher than the same boiler as hydronic unless you run 210 degree water or something which I ain't seen in a couple of blue moons. (but what was i doing looking in beer glasses all the time anyway, but i digress . . . .)

    As I said, this a small boiler to play with, but, besides being limited to changing the nozzle .05 gallons at a time, you could alter the pump pressure, i.e. go down .10 gallons but turn up the pressure a little. that's probably a theoretically slightly better way to run anyway if you are at 100 psi fuel oil delivery . . .

    I have found this balance with larger boilers-atmospheric and power burner and been quite happy. yes there is longer burst of fuel spent on warm up prior to steam but less overall. been very happy with this compared to like a 20 oz. cut out 8 oz. cut-in. I tend to get short cycling if I try to play that game with too much btu horsepower because these are larger systems and not so tight as OPs small system.

    Only if you are retentive about this stuff and have a tech who likes to come over after work for a six pack and hone this kind of stuff in does it maybe make sense. But I am fascinated by this balance point.

    brian
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14

    So, this is where things stand:

    I swapped all the old air vents on the convectors out for new Gortons. I had a tech come out earlier this week and he swapped out the old main vent pictured above and also added a second vent where a plug had been. He also fixed the piping on the pressure relief.

    The boiler is still only running for about 2.5 minutes before it cuts out due to hitting 3 PSI. It's off for a minute or so until it the pressure lowers to .5 PSI and then it runs for another 2.5 minutes. It does this over and over again until the thermostat is satisfied. All the convectors are getting warm and the house eventually heats up but this seems both really inefficient and hard on the boiler to have such quick cycles. Am I wrong? Is it normal to have a boiler cycling every couple of minutes? If not, what else can I do? The tech said the boiler was a touch big but not overly so. Please feel free to tell me if I'm overthinking this and that all is working well enough. Thanks for all the previous feedback and suggestions!

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,398

    "The tech said the boiler was a touch big but not overly so."

    Even without the EDR numbers, based on house size, emitters you have, and the performance you are seeing, that boiler is massively oversized. I'd estimate 80% over, but we would need actual EDR numbers to confirm.

    To answer your question directly. The boiler shouldn't shut down on pressure under normal operation if it's sized correctly.

    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ethicalpaulSTEAM DOCTORMaxMercy
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 4,476

    The boiler is overly big

    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    STEAM DOCTOR
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14

    Yeah, I was afraid it was just going to boil down (no pun intended) to the fact the boiler is just too big for the house and the system it's running. I was hoping to see at least see some improvement with new vents but I don't think there really is any.

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 4,476

    In case no one has mentioned it yet, you might help the situation by getting rid of those convectors and putting radiators back in. Radiators have a lot more thermal mass and will "soak up" or condense a lot more steam before they get hot, resulting in a greater capacity of your system to absorb the steam that your boiler is producing. It will be a pain, but it might not have to be too expensive, you can get them on craigslist. You will just have to do some calculating to get the right sizes.

    We don't size boilers by the size of the house, but in your case I can tell that your house is so small that you should have had the very smallest steam boiler produced instead of this one.

    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    STEAM DOCTOR
  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14

    @ethicalpaul, I figure a smaller house just means fewer radiators/convectors but yeah I learned early on a boiler size isn't based on square footage or anything. An earlier poster gave me a link to calculating EDR with convectors and if I did it right (that's kind of a big if) I came up with approximately 345. That's based off just the dimensions and not to any specific brand.

    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 4,476

    It does generally yes. My old house is about 200 EDR (sq ft of steam) and it's 1200 sq ft. I'd be hugely shocked if your little house at 1040 sq ft had an EDR of 345.

    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,398

    I was rough guessing about 300 which would be 80% oversized. If it's 345 that would be 60% oversized. Not sure what the tech's idea of "just a bit" is, but to me it's much less than 60%.

    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 550

    I didn't see if you mentioned it…but are you using a setback? Meaning…do you have thermostat reduce the temperature when you are away or overnight and have it return to a higher setting when you are home?

    I also have an oversized boiler and if I use a setback I will experience similar cycle times to what you are experiencing. Short cycling wastes fuel and I found that if I keep the thermostat to a set temperature my cycles are much more reasonable and it actually saves me some money. (And the house is more comfortable)

    As mentioned…cast iron radiators would probably help your system out and reduce the cycling or at the very least make it feel warmer in the house. New ones can be somewhat expensive but there is an Antique Home Salvage store in White River Junction that I know of that has plenty of cast iron radiators. Vermont Salvage I think? Probably more even closer to you I bet also.

  • tambli
    tambli Member Posts: 14

    @ethicalpaul, it was a pretty rough estimate. Either way it seems clear the boiler is significantly oversized.

    @KC_Jones, yeah I guess I can't really say what the tech was thinking. He didn't go into any explanation.

    @AdmiralYoda, I do lower the temp pretty significantly at night as I like to sleep cold but might have to try your trick and just crack a window instead. The short cycling is definitely less of an issue when it's just trying to maintain and not warm a cold house.

    To those that suggested replacing the convectors with radiators I'll keep that in mind. I'm a pretty broke first time homebuyer so that's probably a longterm project for me.

    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 4,476

    Best of luck! Odds are, as you learn more about how it all works, you will be able to get it working pretty well even oversized.

    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • dabrakeman
    dabrakeman Member Posts: 375

    From a cold start how long can your boiler run before it starts short cycling? If your issue is mainly just doing recoveries in the morning and you don't want to stop doing recoveries then you could try breaking up the recovery into forced on and off cycles if your thermostat allows such control.

    ethicalpaul
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 364

    {{@AdmiralYoda, <b>I do lower the temp pretty significantly at night</b> as I like to sleep cold but might have to try your trick and just crack a window instead. The short cycling is definitely less of an issue when it's just trying to maintain and not warm a cold house.}}

    .... How significant

    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
    ethicalpaul