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Steam boiler not working correctly

Dave8699
Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
Hello everyone so I been working on steam system for quite a while and this system has me scratching my head. The boiler was installed by another plumber a couple of months ago and they did a horrible job. We got a call to diagnose and see if we could resolve the issue. 

The system is a Weil-Mclain 2 pipe system that is not heating up all the radiator correctly.  The management to the building said before everything was working correctly " You guys know how that is". Any how the system was left at 6 lb which is crazy how guys do this kind of things. So first thing i do is turn it down to .5. Then I noticed that the boiler turns on but shut off after about 5 minutes do to low water. As I know on big boilers the return water takes a while to get back so you use a reservoir pipe to jeep ot from shutting off early. The old boiler had a vapor engineering tank which they left connected but I believe its not working correctly. 

When I rise the water level manually to about 1" from the top the boilers stays on and everything heats up, but the issue is that the vapor tank gets full of return water and it doesn't fill the boiler until the steam starts flying out the top and it fills the basement up.

Can't seem to figure out the issue, I was thinking in removing the vapor tank and connecting it directly or piping in a reservoir pipe.

Sorry for the long post any ideas would be appreciated. 
Mad Dog_2
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Comments

  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    Oh my God..what 😳 a hack job they gave them...RUN 🏃‍♂️  BUDDY....NAH just kidding .  Can you a few more shots from a distance and different sides?  MD  Dog
    reggi
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    You want my advice?   It IS that bad.  Total repipe or you're going to become married to this Jack-Legged Job.  MAd dog 
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    edited March 2023
    1) Carefully remove Vapor Engineering Tank and send off to its new home Suffolk County CC or your shop. Or mount on that boiler room wall like a Trophy 8 Pointer
    2) Cut out all near boiler Piping.
    3) Repipe via Weil McClains drawings
    4)  tweak system and clean  if needed 

    Mad Dog
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    We will walk you through it.  You a plumber or boiler guy?  Mad Dog
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    edited March 2023
    Thanks for the quick Reply Mad Dog, my first decision was to run but I do love a little Challenge. I just hate fixing other people half **** work. I'm a Licensed plumber but I do Specialize in high Efficiency boilers. Not so many steam systems but I do work on them so often.  

    Unfortunately I don't have no more pictures to post up, but I'll get some in a few.

    I was thinking the same to repipe the near piping but wasn't sure if I needed to do a reservoir pipe. Also the manual states that on this size boiler reservoir pipe not recommended use a boiler feed.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    You're capable.  Well get u thru..I doubt u need any of that  all wet returns?  MD
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    When u say "boiler feed" ??? Md
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    Mad Dog_2 said:
    You're capable.  Well get u thru..I doubt u need any of that  all wet returns?  MD
    Yes all wet returns expect the return from the main header going into the Hartford. 
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    Mad Dog_2 said:
    When u say "boiler feed" ??? Md
    That is what I didn't understand from the manual. Not sure if they meant use a auto feeder which it does have or they meant a feed pump.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,897
    @Mad Dog_2 is right -- that's a catastrophe. I wonder how many people before the guy who installed the new boiler have hacked it up? I suspect more than one...

    The presence of the tank suggests rather strongly that this was once a vapour system. That is -- it is supposed to run on very low pressure (more like a cutOUT at less than half a pound -- probably less than 8 ounces). The steam coming out of the tank, however, very much suggests that you have one of several possibilities, none of them good. First, one or more bad traps out in the wilderness somewhere. Second, the excess pressure is blowing through one or more water seals or drip connection pairs somewhere out in the wilderness. Third, the working water level on the boiler is low enough to make a wet return somewhere out in the wilderness into a sometimes dry return (although I note the boiler was mounted high, so that may not be a problem). And there are others... but those are the most obvious ones.

    It looks to me from the picture that the low water cutoff is mounted fairly high -- and that may be the only real problem regarding raising the boiler operating water level. That does happen, and those boilers will operate well with a higher water level. Also, larger systems do tend to have what appears to be a slow return (and often is) with the result that the running water level is lower -- perhaps two or three inches even -- than the cold water level. That's not really a problem either, so long as the running level is well within the gauge glass.

    So -- seems to me that you have two headaches: first, some really creative near boiler piping to fix, and second some trap problems, probably compounded by a too high running pressure problem. Have fun!

    Oh -- and what is there for venting on this thing? Crossover traps? Dry returns? wet returns?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    mattmia2
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 495
    edited March 2023
    Originally would of been setup
    VECO Governor mid '20"s
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
    Dave8699CLamb
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    @Mad Dog_2 is right -- that's a catastrophe. I wonder how many people before the guy who installed the new boiler have hacked it up? I suspect more than one... The presence of the tank suggests rather strongly that this was once a vapour system. That is -- it is supposed to run on very low pressure (more like a cutOUT at less than half a pound -- probably less than 8 ounces). The steam coming out of the tank, however, very much suggests that you have one of several possibilities, none of them good. First, one or more bad traps out in the wilderness somewhere. Second, the excess pressure is blowing through one or more water seals or drip connection pairs somewhere out in the wilderness. Third, the working water level on the boiler is low enough to make a wet return somewhere out in the wilderness into a sometimes dry return (although I note the boiler was mounted high, so that may not be a problem). And there are others... but those are the most obvious ones. It looks to me from the picture that the low water cutoff is mounted fairly high -- and that may be the only real problem regarding raising the boiler operating water level. That does happen, and those boilers will operate well with a higher water level. Also, larger systems do tend to have what appears to be a slow return (and often is) with the result that the running water level is lower -- perhaps two or three inches even -- than the cold water level. That's not really a problem either, so long as the running level is well within the gauge glass. So -- seems to me that you have two headaches: first, some really creative near boiler piping to fix, and second some trap problems, probably compounded by a too high running pressure problem. Have fun! Oh -- and what is there for venting on this thing? Crossover traps? Dry returns? wet returns?
    Yes I figured it's a big mess, It's a 2 pipe system. As for as bad traps if they where stuck or bad would the radiator still get hot?
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    Wish I could load up a video of th3 steam coming out the vapor tank.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 495
    Dave8699 said:
    Wish I could load up a video of th3 steam coming out the vapor tank.
    Put it on tube and link it here 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    edited June 2023
    reggi said:
    Dave8699 said:
    Wish I could load up a video of th3 steam coming out the vapor tank.
    Put it on tube and link it here 
    Should have thought 

    https://youtube.com/shorts/cXxuB8bnn28?feature=share
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,897
    If you look at that patent (thanks, @reggi !) and compare it to what's there now...

    Um. Well.

    Not worth trying to repipe that chamber in, though it's a nice antique. However I'm even more concerned about what, if anything, there is in the way of main venting.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    edited March 2023
    reggi said:
    Originally would of been setup
    VECO Governor mid '20"s
    Wow this is definitely what this building had, and someone screwed it up big time. Now the question is what is it going to take to fix it.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    edited March 2023
    You don't need no stinkin' boiler feed pump or that Reservoir (although sometimes I make a 'Mad Dog Bazooka Bottle" to collect system mud and to add a little volume to available feed water).  Repipe all near boiler piping first, then look for main vents, crossover traps and u may want to rebuild the traps.  You'll run at very low pressure..1.25 or as low as u can go.   mad dog 
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    Do the Home Owners have ANY 💡 idea what this repipe is going to cost them?  Steam Fittings are a FORTUNE these days  .  Mad dog
    CLamb
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    Its very simple Dave.  No worries.   Is the condensing radiator still  installed?  MD
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    Mad Dog_2 said:
    You don't need no stinkin' boiler feed pump or that Reservoir (although sometimes I make a 'Mad Dog Bazooka Bottle" to collect system mud and to add a little volume to available feed water).  Repipe all near boiler piping first, then look for minutes vents and u may want ti rebuild the traps.  You'll run at very low pressure..1.25 or as low as u can  mad dog 
    I didn't see no vents no where. Do you recommend a drop header or leave it as is?
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    edited March 2023
    Your going to  pipe it EXACTLY the way it shows on page #17 of the Weil Mc Clain manual.  Mad dog
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    edited March 2023
    When was this boiler installed?  Two months ago?   Mad Dog
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    Mad Dog_2 said:
    Do the Home Owners have ANY 💡 idea what this repipe is going to cost them?  Steam Fittings are a FORTUNE these days  .  Mad dog
    Oh it's a monk Monastery they will find out once I have a game plan and figure out how long it will take.
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    Mad Dog_2 said:
    Its very simple Dave.  No worries.   Is the condensing radiator still  installed?  MD

  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    Mad Dog_2 said:
    Your going to  pipe it EXACTLY the way it shows on page #17 of the Weil Mc Clain manual.  Mad dog
    Ok standard setup
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    Mad Dog_2 said:
    When was this boiler installed?  Two months ago?   Mad Dog
    Yes beginning of heating season 
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    Its always a touchy situation, but the Homeowners deserve some $ back to buy proper materials and pay you. Make this clear and get a price BEFORE you do another thing.   I don't when"s  the last time you bought 3" Steam fittings and nipplles but its crazy..  it cost us $4600.00 to.pipe a Burnham SteamEx bolier Mad Dog  
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    Mad Dog_2 said:
    Its always a touchy situation, but the Homeowners deserve some $ back to buy proper materials and pay you. Make this clear and get a price BEFORE you do another thing.   I don't when"s  the last time you bought 3" Steam fittings and nipplles but its crazy..  it cost us $4600.00 to.pipe a Burnham SteamEx bolier Mad Dog  
    Oh I'm sure 4" cast fitting are going to be a arm and a leg.
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    Ok so im guessing the safest bet is to tell customer that we need to start with redoing boiler piping correctly because we can further diagnose other issues. 
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    Yes  and be VERY clear you are there to help but aren't guaranteed anything   step by step   mad dog
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 495
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    reggi said:
    I saw that thread which seems like he had a similar system he removed. Not sure if he also had a 2 pipe system. 

    Now I'm wondering if the system needs to have lots of main vents installed on the return lines. 
    Mad Dog_2
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 495
    Dave8699 said:
    reggi said:
    I saw that thread which seems like he had a similar system he removed. Not sure if he also had a 2 pipe system. 

    Now I'm wondering if the system needs to have lots of main vents installed on the return lines. 
    Hmmm...did you click the link ? 
    It explains the operation.. 
     in the Heating Museum
    https://heatinghelp.com/heating-museum/veco/

    Now 100 years later everyone is probably yelling Gorton #2's. 
    LoL 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 1,339
    Well apparently there is no lack of knuckleheading these beautiful old systems to death, looks like the original traps may be gone too. If they only used a chapter out of @PMJ's system control play book it probably could have be modernized a bit with a lot less work and cost.

    If the system was presently controlled correctly the steam would not be spewing out of the Veco Governor.

    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
  • Dave8699
    Dave8699 Member Posts: 53
    109A_5 said:
    Well apparently there is no lack of knuckleheading these beautiful old systems to death, looks like the original traps may be gone too. If they only used a chapter out of @PMJ's system control play book it probably could have be modernized a bit with a lot less work and cost. If the system was presently controlled correctly the steam would not be spewing out of the Veco Governor.
    Yes sir that is correct tbey scew something up which most likely could have been fixed and kept working correctly. Now it's a screwed up system that who know what it's going to take to get it working efficiently. 
    Mad Dog_2
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 1,339
    I wonder if the "Seamless Copper Float" is still in there and viable. With a little ingenuity I bet that Veco Governor could be put back into service and be a lot more reliable than a modern Vaporstat. If the Veco Governor piping is still intact and correct (and not plugged up) there is probably plenty of venting, it is just hiding in plain sight.
    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
    Mad Dog_2
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 1,339
    reggi said:

    Now 100 years later everyone is probably yelling Gorton #2's. 
    LoL 

    If the original venting method is still intact, possibly no amount of Gorton #2 vents would outperform it.

    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
    Mad Dog_2reggi
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,409
    You will have to find and fix all of the failed steam traps, that will be another cost. Failed open traps usually cause other radiators to not heat because the steam in the main keeps other radiators from venting.

    Is the control on the left a vaporstat? If you get the pressure way down and replace the bad traps and skim it you might be able to limp through to the end of the season. You have to check the other reasons @Jamie Hall cited for steam in the returns too. The steam coming out of the governor is because there is steam in the returns.

    The speed with which the water leaves the boiler suggests it is leaving as a liquid rather than steam. Surging from oil that wasn't skimmed off will cause liquid water to be thrown in to the mains.
    Mad Dog_2reggi