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This weeks case

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RayWohlfarth
RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,529
In this weeks case, I am holding off on saying the name of the case as it would give away the solution. In this case, the owner had a single boiler for his building that we installed three years earlier. The boiler was a copper finned boiler with an atmospheric burner. It was the first cold snap of the heating season and the owner called to say the building was cold. The forecast called for dropping temperatures all day. When I arrived, the boiler ran perfectly. I checked all the safety and operating controls and they each worked properly. The system pressure was at 12 psi, perfect for a two story building. I left knowing the boiler worked great.

A few hours later, the owner called and said the heat was once again off in the building. When I entered the boiler room, the boiler started right up.

I'll post the answer on friday morning Just curious what you think caused the issue.

Ray
Ray Wohlfarth
Boiler Lessons
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Comments

  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,198
    edited April 2023
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    Power saving motion sensing switch on lights somehow cutting power to boiler controls (28v transformer?)
    ethicalpaulCLambSuperTech
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,090
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    Yes, switch rewired to shut down burner with lights. (emergency switch plate traded with light switch plate)

    Or pump power switching wrong and not closing water flow switch.
    CLamb
  • dko
    dko Member Posts: 621
    edited April 2023
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    didn't refresh

    same as above!

  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,477
    edited April 2023
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    This should be the case of the missing apostrophe. What's the owner or tenants doing differently?
    Ray, I always suspected you had magical powers and when you entered the room, boilers snapped to attention knowing that they couldn't get away with those shenanigans.
    It seems to me to be a temperature related electrical connection in the thermostat, boiler or the connections between them. Or...
    Maybe the gas meter is locking up from the cold and when you went there, the sun was out warming up everything, restoring order to an un-ordered world. That's my thoughts from the Twilight Zone.

    I suspect that your photo of the boiler controls is a clue, but what you're implying, I don't have a clue. hmmm
    ethicalpaul
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
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    It looks like the power switch is off; so is the green light on the lwco. The guy sleeping in the next room on his break wakes up from the boiler noise, comes in and turns the boiler off. 
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
    PC7060
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,840
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    I'm going to go with combustion air and it gets enough air when you open the door.
    JUGHNECLambrandom12345SuperTech
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,477
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    I'm going to go with combustion air and it gets enough air when you open the door.

    I'm not so sure of that. I think the boiler would just run rich and the flue gases would have that peculiar odor.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,022
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    Boiler is wired to light switch. You come in the room turn on the lights and boiler works. You are a gentleman and you shut the lights when you leave the room and the boiler goes off. Had the exact situation once.
    mattmia2pecmsg
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,840
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    I'm going to go with combustion air and it gets enough air when you open the door.

    I'm not so sure of that. I think the boiler would just run rich and the flue gases would have that peculiar odor.
    If there isn't enough air for it to draft properly it could be tripping rollout or spill switches.

    I also like the on the same circuit as the light after the switch thing, but you would have noticed that when you installed it unless someone added the switch over the summer.
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,477
    edited April 2023
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    Mattmia2, good point!
    A reminder, it happens only when it get cold out. A light switch connection to the problem would occurs when ever the light switch is turned off even in warmer weather.
    Rollout switches are thermo chemical fuses which are not resettable or thermo discs that require a manual reset.
    I guess it's a standing pilot? Which would mean a gas supply since Ray didn't mention relighting it. Or...maybe it is an intermittent electronic ignition which could be a gas supply problem.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,911
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    mattmia2 said:
    I'm going to go with combustion air and it gets enough air when you open the door.
    I'm not so sure of that. I think the boiler would just run rich and the flue gases would have that peculiar odor.
    If there isn't enough air for it to draft properly it could be tripping rollout or spill switches. I also like the on the same circuit as the light after the switch thing, but you would have noticed that when you installed it unless someone added the switch over the summer.
    That looks like a lot of space. It would have to be real tight!
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,477
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    A pressure regulating damper?
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 522
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    Worked well for 2 years and beginning of 3rd heating season " Somethings Different"
    Should be simple... "Was anything done at the end of last season that has to be undone for this season? 
    All things be equal and it sits as it ran last season nothing should of changed..
    I'll go with a thermostat misconfiguration..
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
    CLamb
  • flowpro
    flowpro Member Posts: 3
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    Global warming was satisfying thermostats!
    ttekushan_3
  • davidcatelluzzo
    davidcatelluzzo Member Posts: 1
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    Power to boiler was tied into the lighting circuit, electricians did that to me once, get a call that boilers not running, showed up, turned light on as entering boiler room, by the time I got to the boilers, they were running, took awhile to figure it out
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 395
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    The room looks too large for an intake air problem so I am leaning towards an electrical problem most likely the power was wired to a light switch or motion sensor equipped circuit.
    Bill_Kitsch69
  • SgtMaj
    SgtMaj Member Posts: 77
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    I’m going to say the owner had some electrical work completed and the boiler power was tied into the boiler room light switch by mistake. Or gremlins.
  • Bill_Kitsch69
    Bill_Kitsch69 Member Posts: 48
    edited April 2023
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    Insufficient information/detail to seriously diagnose. Being fin tube, this boiler likely has a manual reset hi limit and m/r rollout. Either in play? Boiler tied to the light switch in the boiler room door frame?
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes Member Posts: 4,076
    edited April 2023
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    In this weeks case, I am holding off on saying the name of the case as it would give away the solution.

    Ray: Is this a clue? Can you give us a hint? Tell us if we're warm or cold?

    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
  • BradHotNCold
    BradHotNCold Member Posts: 70
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    I am reminded of my problem with a central AC system with a condensate overflow in our cellar. Finally figured out the condensate pump was plugged into cellar light circuit which of course I turned off on leaving after mopping up the puddles!

    Could this be similar problem/solution?
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,529
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    The case of the nocturnal boiler failure.
    Well this case was a first for me. @JUGHNE was the first to guess the cause and is awarded 500 points. LOL

    The owner had a new fire alarm system installed the previous summer and the electrician could not find an open breaker. Since the boiler had a low electrical draw, the electrician moved the power for the boiler onto the lights circuit and used the newly idle breaker for the fire alarm system. The boiler only worked when the light switch was on. I only discovered it when I shut off the power as I was leaving the boiler room after the second call there that day. I heard the boiler shut off here is the link to the video. Thanks for all the great guesses.

    https://youtube.com/watch?v=Y_tidilJwGc


    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • propmanage
    propmanage Member Posts: 17
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    The cold air is having a negative effect on the atmosphere pressure and messing with how the burner is firing.
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,529
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    @propmanage The electrian wired the boiler into the light switch so the only time the boiler ran was when the light was on
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,529
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    @JUGHNE I agree. Not sure why he did it I guess he underbid the job
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • tony_19
    tony_19 Member Posts: 30
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    why is the pressure at 12 psi...
  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 1,075
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    tony_19 said:

    why is the pressure at 12 psi...

    12 PSI is standard fill pressure for hydronic systems up to about a 2 story building
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,090
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    Hot water.....not steam.
    GGross
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,153
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    tony_19 said:

    why is the pressure at 12 psi...

    Because that is what the gauge says it is!

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

    GGross
  • dullknife1
    dullknife1 Member Posts: 58
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    How do you know the gauge is right?
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,090
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    It must be at least 12 PSI or the water would not get to the 2nd floor and it must be somewhat under 30 or the relief valve would be opening.

    So one assumes the gauge is close enough for this purpose.
    GGross
  • dullknife1
    dullknife1 Member Posts: 58
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    I only said that because I always carried a silicone filled pressure gauge in my toolbox. For testing gauges on boilers I was working on. just a thought.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • dullknife1
    dullknife1 Member Posts: 58
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    Don’t assume.  Know 
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,153
    edited May 2023
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    I only said that because I always carried a silicone filled pressure gauge in my toolbox. For testing gauges on boilers I was working on. just a thought.

    I always installed an oil filled pressure gauge on the high pressure line of any oil burner as part of my service call. This made sure that the burner did not light when you pushed the reset button. (oil goes into the gauge not the nozzle) I never needed to charge a minimum fee service call because I pushed the reset button in the first minute of the service visit. As a result, I never got this question: "How do you justify charging so much for only one minute of labor"

    But this might be off topic because the question was Why 12 PSI? and not How do you know you have 12 PSI? Is the dull knife moniker an indication of something else? Enquiring minds want to know!

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • dullknife1
    dullknife1 Member Posts: 58
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    Suppose that gauge was stuck on 12#, But the actual pressure was closer to 30# , and because it was a try to gator pressure temperature valve the temperature was blocked also so it read 180   and suppose the boiler was old enough that the pressure temperature valve was locked solid. so you did all your regular checks, and all looks good. So you’re packing up to leave but the relief blows and sprays the room with steaming, hot water and sends you to the hospital.    I say it because it happened, fortunately not to me.  You need to know things not assume things
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,090
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    Every boiler I have replaced or service end up with at least 3 pressure/temp gauges on them.

    On the boiler, on the supply , on the return.....I will reuse the existing gauges from the old boiler in addition to new.
  • dullknife1
    dullknife1 Member Posts: 58
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    I’m retired now, I did not come to this forum to argue or fight or prove a point. I came to this site to help younger guys that may have missed 90% of what they don’t teach in classrooms. Anybody that’s been in the field knows that 90% ofthe learning comes from. On the job training, they called My comments are only to try to help the younger guys not get hurt as many young technicians do
    Larry Weingarten
  • dullknife1
    dullknife1 Member Posts: 58
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     By the way, the for-mentioned guy was young and  did not go back in hvac field. assumption to many 
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,153
    edited May 2023
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    My brother was at the St Agnes Burn center in Philadelphia because he did not use the oil pressure gauge to diagnose a commercial boiler.

    As it happened, there were 3 boilers in this factory. And there were 3 shifts of Black Seal Licensed boiler operators because the factory was also operating around the clock. On Monday, the morning shift boiler man logged that boiler #1 was firing and recorded the water pressure. Boiler #2 was also operating and the water pressure was recorded on the log. Boiler #3 was not firing so I reset only once. The boiler did not fire. This was recorded in the log book. Second shift boiler operator did the same inspection and followed the same procedure. Resetting ONLY once. Third shift followed the same procedure, Resetting ONLY once. These three knuckleheads followed this procedure for 7 days.

    On the following Monday morning a manager asked about the failed boiler. He called the oil company for service. As it stands the reset button was pressed ONLY ONCE three times a day for 7 days. My little brother found the problem to be an ignition transformer and replaced the part. When he lit the boiler there was so much oil saturating the chamber that the boiler door blew open and the flame rolled out to my brother's unexpecting countenance. He looked like something from a cartoon with his hair burnt and face black with soot. The burns were not that bad. More like a bad sunburn. But for insurance purposes, he went to the burn center.

    I agree with @dullknife1, "Known Good Gauges" are one of the best tools to have at your disposal, only if you use them.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • dullknife1
    dullknife1 Member Posts: 58
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    Sorry to hear.  This is why I make the comments I do. My 2 friends spent six weeks in a chemically induced coma at a burn center, while getting their skin scrubbed off every day and rebandaged.    For all the new and all the old out thereS*** happens every day, try not to be in way