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wet steam?

JuliaV
JuliaV Member Posts: 45
Ok pros, help me out please!

My boiler is using too much water. We keep having to add water to it in order to keep it running. After a few visits from our plumber to remedy the situation he is basically telling us 'I DONT KNOW.'

What could the reason for this be? We do not have a leak. We did not have this problem with our old mammoth boiler from 1950. 

We do not have main vents. Currently all venting is done thru the vents on the radiators. We are going to get them installed as soon as I can get another plumbing company out here. I am hoping they can come out on Friday to give us a quote. One radiator 'gurgles.'





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Comments

  • JuliaV
    JuliaV Member Posts: 45
    few more things

    Sometimes I see water surging in the sight glass. Only sometimes. We do have some water hammering when the system kicks on. Only sometimes.
  • thirsty boiler

    what sort of system is this, 1-pipe or 2-pipe? how old is the boiler? has the plumber done a leak test by flooding the boiler? can you see steam coming from your chimney? are any of the pipes buried underground, or running in a hidden spot where a leak might go unnoticed? do you occasionally have an over-full waterline?

    as we have all been told, matter can be neither created nor destroyed, so the water must be going somewhere; it's just a matter of finding out where!--nbc
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Fireing the moron

    who hooked it up in the first place is definitely a step in the right direction.  Have you contacted the manufacturer of the boiler yet?  Please be on guard with the new company.  You don't want to be a victim twice.  Get the new quote in writing.  Post the quote here, and have it reviewed.  (don't show the price)  Where are you?  Have you been unable to find anyone from around here, in the Find a Contractor section at the top of the page? 

    Even with my un-professional eye, I can see that this is hooked up backwards and upside down. 

    Rotate the boiler counter-clockwise 1/4 turn, and fix that drooping damper.

    Use both holes coming out of the boiler.

    Build a drop header.

    If the mains are counterflow, drip them right, like the examples in your previous post.  I could go on all day, but I have a foot of snow to do.  See ya later.
  • Jason_13
    Jason_13 Member Posts: 299
    edited February 2011
    Piping

    The only thing I see wrong with the piping is no returns which means this is a counterflow system. Counterflow systems require a drip and should be piped into the system piping from the top.

    If this is infact a counterflow system see page 4

    http://www.hoffmanspecialty.com/pdf/submittals/hs-901a.pdf

    Water surging needs to be skimmed.
  • moneypitfeeder
    moneypitfeeder Member Posts: 249
    pressure

    Its hard to tell from the last picture, but what is your pressertrol set to?
    steam newbie
  • JuliaV
    JuliaV Member Posts: 45
    crash2009

    the photos you posted of my unit are not current. we had it re-piped. you will see the changes if you look at the pics i posted last night.

    i did use the 'find a contractor' on this site. i called the guy local to me and he said he was going to charge me money (not saying how much but A LOT) just to come here and take a look. no estimates from him.
  • JuliaV
    JuliaV Member Posts: 45
    some answers

    what sort of system is this, 1-pipe or 2-pipe?

    1 pipe

    how old is the boiler?

    installed october of 2010

    has the plumber done a leak test by flooding the boiler?

    not that i know of

    can you see steam coming from your chimney?

    have not checked... could this be the culprit?

    are any of the pipes buried underground, or running in a hidden spot where a leak might go unnoticed?

    nope

    do you occasionally have an over-full waterline?

    nope
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Your photo's

     from last night are not showing up.  There is just a blank square where they should be.  When I click on the blank square it takes me to AOL login.



    Sorry, I thought I was helping by posting the photo's from the old post.
  • JuliaV
    JuliaV Member Posts: 45
    no prob

    No problem, thank you for trying to help out. This site really is great.

    Here are the 2 new pics that I had tried to post above.
  • JuliaV
    JuliaV Member Posts: 45
    rotated

    You're right. I think it should be rotated.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,566
    edited February 2011
    newish boiler losing water

    how often are you adding water? when you need to add water, is it at the cut-off point?have you looked at the piping you have to see if the diameters are correct with the manual? in the picture, it almost looks like the cabinet cut-out is much bigger than the diameter of the riser pipe. you may measure it with a flexible sewing tape, to get the circumference, and from that the diameter may be obtained.

    if too much water is being drawn up into the supplies by improper piping, then of course, the water is not lost, only temporarily misplaced, and will eventually come back.

    still the water must be going somewhere, so set up the thermostat, and have a look at your chimney for excessive steam, while it is firing. if you see any white vapor, then it is time to do an over-filling leak test.--nbc
  • JuliaV
    JuliaV Member Posts: 45
    more answers

    how often are you adding water?

    When it is very cold we have to add water once per 24 hours.

    when you need to add water, is it at the cut-off point?

    close to it

    have you looked at the piping you have to see if the diameters are correct with the manual?

    in the picture, it almost looks like the cabinet cut-out is much bigger than the diameter of the riser pipe.

    i'm not afraid to sound stupid... which pipe is the 'cabinet cut out?'

    you may measure it with a flexible sewing tape, to get the circumference, and from that the diameter may be obtained.



    if too much water is being drawn up into the supplies by improper piping, then of course, the water is not lost, only temporarily misplaced, and will eventually come back.

    Yep. That's the weird thing. I don't understand where it is going?



    still the water must be going somewhere, so set up the thermostat, and have a look at your chimney for excessive steam, while it is firing. if you see any white vapor, then it is time to do an over-filling leak test.--nbc

    I will do that tomorrow.  What does an over-filling leak test entail?
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Perculator

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqwpQoXtGbg&feature=player_detailpage  I hope this link takes you to the correct perculator video.



    You must remember the old pyrex coffee perculator right?  You set it on the stove and boil the water and the water and steam perculates through the tube, and spills over the coffee.  If the stem is too big the coffee will not perculate.  The point here is the coffee pot is an example, of what a boiler, making wet steam, is doing.

    Basicly, a steam boiler, is just a big cast iron pot with boiling water in it.  The holes in the top of the boiler are designed to be a certain size to prevent perculation.  We want to keep the water in the boiler.  If you only use 1 of the holes, and/or use too small of a pipe, your boiler will just perculate all the water out of itself.  If you have a place for 2 pipes coming out of the top of the boiler, use both of them, and make sure the pipe is the correct size. 

    I think your boiler is sending the water out of itself, and if you shut it off for a few hours, all your water will come back.  This test of course does nothing to fix it.  All this test will do is confirm or not that this is happening.  When you shut it off, watch the sight glass, and be ready to drain some water.
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Leak?

    Hi Julia -

       First of all let's talk about the disappearing water. The water has to be going somewhere. It is:

    1. Either staying inside the radiator piping system and is slow returning to the boiler.

    or

    2. It is leaking out of the boiler /piping system.



    In the case of situation #1 - Are all radiator valves (not the radiator vents) fully open? Steam can squeeze through a closed valve but water can't squeeze back out which results in a radiator full of water. Check all the radiators to see if the valves are fully open and they are slightly sloped towards the intake pipe.   If the boiler is shutoff for an hour or so most of the "slow" water should drain back into the boiler resulting(if you've been adding water) to the water level rising high in the boiler.



    In the case of situation #2 - Steam or water is leaking out of the piping or boiler. Since you don't have any buried returns and no visible leaks we can disregard these. Steam leaks-  It's surprising how much water will leak out due to a tiny steam leak. Go over your system carefully looking for leaks. If you suspect a steam leak DON'T test for it by using your hand!! Steam can give you a BAD burn! Use a strip of newspaper and watch for movement when the steam hits the paper. Check the top of the inlet valves to the radiators (where the handle goes into the valve) If the packing is old, steam can leak around the valve stem.

    Boiler- The check for leaks in the boiler - First check outside the house and look at the top of the chimney to which the boiler is attached. A white plume of smoke indicates there is a steam leak into the fire pot area. (A very small amount of smoke is normal in cold weather)

    The other boiler leaking test is flooding the boiler. Basically this is accomplished by shutting off the burner and letting the boiler cool way down. When the boiler is cool, you fill the boiler all the way to the top with water. (If you put cold water in a hot boiler there is a high risk of thermal shock cracking the boiler so let it get quite cool! ) You have to be careful just to add water till the boiler is full. Any more will fill the pipes and flood radiators/house. You then let it sit for a while and wait and see if any water drains out on the floor. No water on the floor = no leaks in the boiler.  Before your start the burner again, be sure to drain the boiler down to the normal boiler waterline.



    I've looked at your pictures and made some notations on them. Your near boiler piping isn't good and will produce wet steam as it is now configured.  Question: Which way does the pipe marked slope "A" or "B" ?  As the the piping in the box I haven't any idea what exactly this was supposed to accomplish ?



    At this point what can we help you with? Do you need a diagram of what needs to be repiped  or something like that?

    - Rod
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,349
    Two more questions

    After you've answered the other questions, I have a couple more for you. What make and model is that boiler? Another question is what pressure is the boiler running when it's making steam (what is the pressuretrol set to)?



    Some boilers require two steam outlets be used for proper operation, but smaller boilers only need one outlet used. Look into the installation manual and see if your model is supposed to use both steam outlets.



    Multiple outlets reduce the velocity of the steam leaving the boiler and any water carried up the pipe by that steam. Pressure higher than 1-1/2 to 2PSI makes everything worse.



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • JuliaV
    JuliaV Member Posts: 45
    answers

    In the case of situation #1 - Are all radiator valves (not the radiator vents) fully open? Steam can squeeze through a closed valve but water can't squeeze back out which results in a radiator full of water. Check all the radiators to see if the valves are fully open and they are slightly sloped towards the intake pipe.   If the boiler is shutoff for an hour or so most of the "slow" water should drain back into the boiler resulting(if you've been adding water) to the water level rising high in the boiler.

    I will check all valves. I believe they are all open. Two had small leaks which were repaired when we installed this unit in October. Plumber checked all others; said no leaks. All are sloped.



    In the case of situation #2 - Steam or water is leaking out of the piping or boiler. Since you don't have any buried returns and no visible leaks we can disregard these. Steam leaks-  It's surprising how much water will leak out due to a tiny steam leak. Go over your system carefully looking for leaks. If you suspect a steam leak DON'T test for it by using your hand!! Steam can give you a BAD burn! Use a strip of newspaper and watch for movement when the steam hits the paper. Check the top of the inlet valves to the radiators (where the handle goes into the valve) If the packing is old, steam can leak around the valve stem.

    Would I 'see' a steam leak? Would I hear it? I don't see or hear anything in the basement where the piping. All 'venting' valves on the radiators have been changed out as well, so all are new. Sorry to call them valves if thats not what they are, I'm not totally clear on all the terminology. :) It seems to make sense that the water is going somewhere since it doesn't seem as though its returning to the boiler. But even if it was 'settling' as condensate in a pipe, wouldn't it slowly return??? Simple laws of gravity and physics tell me this. Honestly our plumber is 'stumped.' I am disappointed that I can't have the contractor listed on this site come out and take a look.

    Boiler- The check for leaks in the boiler - First check outside the house and look at the top of the chimney to which the boiler is attached. A white plume of smoke indicates there is a steam leak into the fire pot area. (A very small amount of smoke is normal in cold weather)

    Need to raise the thermostat to get it running good and hot and take a good look at this. I do remember seeing what looked like 'smoke' coming from the chimney a month or two ago, but I chaulked it up to 'seeing your breath.' It was VERY cold that day. How do you repair a steam leak such as this?



    The other boiler leaking test is flooding the boiler. Basically this is accomplished by shutting off the burner and letting the boiler cool way down. When the boiler is cool, you fill the boiler all the way to the top with water. (If you put cold water in a hot boiler there is a high risk of thermal shock cracking the boiler so let it get quite cool! ) You have to be careful just to add water till the boiler is full. Any more will fill the pipes and flood radiators/house. You then let it sit for a while and wait and see if any water drains out on the floor. No water on the floor = no leaks in the boiler.  Before your start the burner again, be sure to drain the boiler down to the normal boiler waterline.



    Since this is a new boiler I would be shocked if there was a leak. I suppose anything is possible.



    I've looked at your pictures and made some notations on them. Your near boiler piping isn't good and will produce wet steam as it is now configured.  Question: Which way does the pipe marked slope "A" or "B" ?  As the the piping in the box I haven't any idea what exactly this was supposed to accomplish ?

    Are you suggesting there should be 2 risers? Our manual's pic shows 2 risers, but then has an asterick and a note that says 1 riser is sufficient. As for the slope I am not at home so I can't be sure. I don't recall seeing a significant slope for that pipe. The piping in the box was the piping that was changed. You can see the difference if you look at the pics crash2009 posted. Those were my pics from when the unit was first installed. When it was changed things were mentioned such as 'hartford loop,' 'equalizer....'



    At this point what can we help you with? Do you need a diagram of what needs to be repiped  or something like that?

    If you feel up to it, sure.



    This boiler we have is  Burnham IN-5. 2Psi reading.  
  • Steve_175
    Steve_175 Member Posts: 234
    Riser Pipe

    I have an older Burnam IN5 (8yr) and it only has 1 riser pipe coming out of the top of the cabinet. Yours appears to give you the option of 2. With all the wet steam problems you are having it might help to utilize the second riser and configure the piping with a drop header. Going over size in the piping diameter coming out of the boiler can also help.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    counterflow

    Rod has determined in the previous post that she has a counterflow system.  There are no drips installed on the mains either.  The condensate cant get back to the boiler.  This one needs a lot of work to get it right.  The "new re-pipe" was a waste of time.
  • JuliaV
    JuliaV Member Posts: 45
    FOUND A LEAK!!!!!!

    I believe I have found the steam which has been causing my headache and frustration.

    Last night I was in my son's room picking it up and took the cover off of the radiator to take a good look at it. The one in his room seems to hiss more than the others but he is 12 I am not in there that often (he needs his privacy LOL) so I don't really hear it. As I am lifting the cover I can see some white vapor coming from under the cover. I could not believe it. There is my steam leak. How did I not notice this before.

    Trying to get someone to come out tomorrow and fix it.

    Thank you all for all your help and guidance.
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Congratulations!

    Hi Julia- Good for you! We all knew there had to be a leak somewhere. I think everyone feared that it was in your new boiler and while that would have been covered by warranty it would still be a big hassle. I'm always surprised by how much water can be lost from even a tiny steam leak.

    - Rod

      
This discussion has been closed.