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One pipe steam system problem

Ken_10
Ken_10 Member Posts: 7
Would it be worthwhile to clean the boiler with TSP and skim afterward? I could probably pull the hot water coil and clean with a hose nozzle either before or after the TSP. I'm trying not to tie up any more labor time than will be necessary to rectify the problem properly.

Comments

  • Ken_10
    Ken_10 Member Posts: 7


    I have a one pipe steam system that I have been servicing for a few years that has developed a problem I can't pinpoint. Any suggestions would be welcomed. The system has not undergone any major changes in equipment or adjustments to steam pressure in at least 3 years. Pressure cut-out is at 1.5 psi and cut in is at .5psi. The problem is that the radiators push water out of the vents. One radiator sounds like it has water in it at all times. The boiler water line stays near the middle of the glass and the homeowner rarely needs to add water. There is no automatic feed. They use the boiler for domestic water too and that works well as it always has. I made sure that all radiator inlet valves are fully open. There are no vents on the ends of the mains (there are 2) but there never was. There aren't fittings that could ever have had main vents on them. The mains are insulated. I added a quart of 8 Way treatment when the problem started a few weeks ago and that didn't change anything. The water has always been clean in the glass. I don't know what to try next and don't know how to nail down the problem. Any suggestions can be posted here or emailed to me directly. I have more information on the equipment but didn't want to go overboard with this post.

    Thanks in advance for any ideas.

    Ken
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    You need to skim the boiler

    Oil is sitting on top of the water and interfering with steaming. What steam you do get is wet, causing the water-in-vent problem.

    If skimming doesn't help, or only helps for a short time, there's probably a load of oily sludge in the bottom of the boiler. It's best to flush this mess out with a hose.

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  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    Hose it out first

    then skim, and see if it works. What's probably happened is enough sludge has washed into the boiler to interfere with steaming. Once the sludge is gone, skimming will get anything clinging onto the section walls. You might not even need TSP, which would save you the trouble of flushing all the TSP out of the boiler.

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  • Ken_10
    Ken_10 Member Posts: 7


    Thanks for your advice on the boiler problem. I don't know what would have stirred up the dirt all the sudden but I went there today and drained the boiler, removed the LWCO and washed the surfaces down with a hose. After the mud stopped, I refilled and skimmed for an hour or more. Eventually the water was clean and not surging. I added a quart of 8 way and closed the boiler up. I also found a 3/4" plug where the condensate return legs came back to the boiler and put a #75 Hoffman vent in there. When it started making steam, it filled tha mains pretty fast and did not make a single sound. I told the homeowner to keep an eye on it but I think it may be OK now.
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    Glad to help

    I think enough mud finally washed into the boiler to cause problems. How long did it take for the mud to be cleaned out?

    Let us know how the job does.

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  • Ken_10
    Ken_10 Member Posts: 7
    4 hours total

    I spent an hour flushing the boiler. From the 2 1/2" tapping for the LWCO I could only direct the hose nozzle to most of the surfaces and not every square inch of it. The drain was running muddy every time I washed down the inside. Then toward the end of the hour, it wasn't nearly as thick and the water was just cloudy. I added some water through the feeder and drained that out a few times until I felt like it was as good as it was going to get. I used the same port for skimming and that took over an hour until the water was clear. Once I put the LWCO back in and started running steam, things sounded very good (quiet) and it has been running for two nights and I have not heard from the homeowner. I will call them tomorrow to confirm that the system is working correctly. Do you think that a setback thermostat could have caused the problem? I installed one for them last fall and they turn the heat down 6 or 8 degrees during the day and at night. It would make the boiler drive harder on the recovery and may possibly have added to the turbulence inside the boiler.

    Ken
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