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This weeks case, The case of the rainy day boiler

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RayWohlfarth
RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,529
This case was one of my most challenging and by luck I discovered the solution. During a bad thunderstorm, all three boilers at my church tripped on the flame safeguard. I know @DanHolohan says to never do work for your own church or synagogue. The maintenance tech reset each one once and they tripped again. When I arrived, the error code for the flame safeguard said they failed when the main gas valves opened. I reset the flame safeguard and the boilers fired right away.

The boilers ran perfectly for two weeks with no flame failure until another thunderstorm hit. Then they failed and would not reset. Needless to say, I was surprised at the reason.

I will let you know the cause on Friday when my video is published at 6am EST

Thanks Ray

Ray Wohlfarth
Boiler Lessons
MarjPinardmattmia2

Comments

  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 919
    edited May 2023
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    A momentary blip in the electrical power caused the gas valves to close but the flame safeguard did not respond to the blip and sensed a loss of flame.
    GGross
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    I had something (maybe) similar on an oil burner with a nuisance lockout. On the 3rd trip I was muttering how it's always heavy downpour, because it was a very long walk from the street to the basement door, then it hit me. Might be the same thing, but I'll hold off commenting and let others play along.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,840
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    I'm thinking water in the vent for the regulator on the service.
    EBEBRATT-Eddko
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,752
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    @mattmia2 stole my theory!!! LOL
    mattmia2ethicalpaul
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,153
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    "Lightning never strikes twice in the same place". unless there is a church steeple. Be sure that the steeple has one of those Ben Franklin Inventions on it to protect the building. The Lightning Rod.

    As those lightning rod components get old and wear out, the earth ground may not be as good as it is supposed to be. Or perhaps the Electrical system Earth Ground is interconnected to the Lightning Rod earth ground. That may cause a jump in the flame signal.

    And I will reiterate that many of my customers were shocked when they found that I was not a licensed Electrician.

    Mr.Ed

    Edward Young Retired

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

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,840
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    This actually gives me a thought about the lp regulator that someone had that would fail when it froze but the vent wasn't iced over. i bet there was water inside it that was freezing and either blocking the vent or impinging on the diaphragm.
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 500
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      Is there a VOC sensor wired in series as a safeguard?
  • scott w.
    scott w. Member Posts: 209
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    Am not a heating technician but guessing the newer boilers have sofisticated electronics. My guess this has something to do with the way the breaker panel and grounding are configured and a bolt of lightning.
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,529
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    Well this one was crazy and I found the solution by simple luck. When the area had a bad thunderstorm, the gas pipe in the street would fill with water and stop the flow of gas to the church. It only happened when there was a lot of rain. I was close by and got there while it was still storming. Thanks everyone. here is the link https://youtube.com/watch?v=fj00EnUeZTg
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    mattmia2
  • dko
    dko Member Posts: 621
    edited May 2023
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    If it wasn't you with your technical knowledge, there probably would have been a bunch of parts changing. Flame safeguard for one. The church and utility company are the lucky ones. using a manometer, knowing it had to be a gas problem, knowing to call the utility are all skills and all part of finding the solution. You made your luck.
    CLamb
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,022
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    Did you need to clear the water out of the   building gas piping and boiler manifolds and valves?
    CLamb
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,529
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    Thanks @dko You made my day!
    @STEAM DOCTOR They checked the piping and no water was inside the building. We thought it would be safe because the gas piping rose about 30 feet after the meter.
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,840
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    I knew it had to be gas supply if multiple boilers were locking out when the main valves opened and multiple times, a power interruption or other power problem wouldn't just happen to coincide with all those times when the main valve opened.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,153
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    Amazing. As a child, I remember smelling Gas in the streets of Sea Isle City at different times of the day. Other times of the day there was no smell. Sea Isle City is a barrier Island resort community in Southern NJ. Fast Forward 15 years and circumstances caused me to become a year round resident of the community. As time passed and my Oil Burner Service business turned into a Full Scale HVAC service and installation business, I got to know some of the Gas Company service technicians.

    I recalled this Gas Smell issue from my childhood and one of the old timers told me that back in the day, the barrier islands had low pressure mains made of metal piping underground. Many of those old gas mains were rusted and had lots of pinholes throughout the system. At high tide water would seep into the mains. At low tide the gas would seep out of the mains. This was just a fact of life and was not a big concern because all the gas mains would eventually be abandoned soon. The gas company was planning to install new high pressure plastic mains within the next 10 years.

    Oh those 1980s were the days.


    Edward Young Retired

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

  • bio_guy
    bio_guy Member Posts: 89
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    Were the boilers staged? If not, I wonder if running them one at a time might have prevented water from being sucked in. In New Orleans after Katrina, I talked, one day, with one of my colleagues about her nat gas supply problems. It has been years so I don't remember all the details about what appliances were involved, stove, WH, Furnace, dryer, ?, but she could only run certain combinations or she would suddenly have low gas pressure and have to call a plumber to get water out of her supply. This was at least a year after the big flooding. She left town not long after that so I never learned about a resolution. I never really thought about it much, but it seems like she may have had a leak in the pipe between the curb and her meter. On the other hand, are the curb to meter lines buried that deep?
  • JDHW
    JDHW Member Posts: 76
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    Not quite a boiler story boilers but water in gas mains.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/people-sheffield-city-council-sheffield-cadent-south-yorkshire-b2240783.html

    It seems a cast iron water main burst underground and flooded a nearby gas mains (presumably also cast iron). The article mentions pumping 200,000 litres per day out of the gas mains!

    John
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,529
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    @mattmia2 Yes that was my thoughts Just never had it happen
    @EdTheHeaterMan OMG That would drive you crazy trying to troubleshoot that. LOL
    @bio_guy They were staged. I think each stage came on a few minutes after the previous one
    @JDHW Yikes Wouldn't want that call from the field
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • CLamb
    CLamb Member Posts: 290
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    Doesn't the moisture in the gas change the combustion properties?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,153
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    CLamb said:

    Doesn't the moisture in the gas change the combustion properties?

    Of course it does. Have you ever squirted a hose on a small fire in your outdoor barbecue? That really makes the whole combustion process come to a complete stop.



    Edward Young Retired

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

    CLamb
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,198
    edited May 2023
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    If we had a “smart ****” emoji for the site Ed would lap us all monthly!  :smiley:
    JUGHNEEdTheHeaterManmattmia2