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Hydrolevel VXT Failures

Anyone else having problems with these? 

Seems that every one of some ten we've installed has failed in the first three years.   Some simply stop working, others buzz instead of feeding and some have intermittent problems. 

Hydrolevel's been good about it all, but we've naturally stopped installing them.  And yes, we read and follow the instructions.  The problem is with the electronics. 

It's a shame because we like the concept.  But for now it's back to M&M and separate water meters. 


  • Al Corelli_2
    Al Corelli_2 Member Posts: 395
    I Hope Not

    I just installed one today. I positively LOVE these things. The ability to program delay and gallonage is the greatest thing. I used to have to make up delay relays before these things!
    Al Corelli, NY

  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,144
    edited January 2012
    Just today...

    Al, we just exchanged another one at the supply house today.


    What happened to the last two (within a month of installation) is that they work intermittently.   We checked on a boiler and found it shut off on low water and the VXT doing nothing.   Pressing the manual feed switch did nothing.  We cycled the power and the VXT performed normally.  Couldn't duplicate the problem, so out it went.

    Several have failed this way.

    This one cost me three hours for two mechanics.  Add it up.  Hydrolevel doesn't reimburse for labor. 
  • Ron Jr._3
    Ron Jr._3 Member Posts: 603
    edited January 2012
    Haven't had a problem either

    with the VXT , as far as I've heard . I'll ask our service manager if they've had to change any out yet . We only have maybe 20 or 30 in so far though . Installed one yesterday with this EC-4 . 
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 842
    edited January 2012
    We were so concerned about this issue that

    we called Hydrolevel in New Haven directly and asked the Manufacturing Manager if they had heard of any lockout failures as described above with their VXT.

    We were told that they had not.

    We also asked if their products were made in China. 

    We were told that they were not.

    What does the display read on the VXT when they go into failure?  We haven't had any nuisance lockouts unless the VXT tries to feed twice in a row  without satisfying the LWCO.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,144
    edited January 2012
    Hydrolevel VXT Failures

    The display continues to call out the gallons used.  The unit simply locks up.  It doesn't feed, even though the feeder is calling for water and shuts the burner.  The manual feed switch doesn't do anything either when it locks out.  It's an electronic problem, because resetting the power frees it up and then it functions normally. 

    We love the control, when it works.  Thank God it's not overfilling. 

    Hydrolevel has replaced many of them for us and for others around New York.  Maybe they just throw them out and don't ask why the returns are stacking up like cord wood?
  • Paxter2004
    Paxter2004 Member Posts: 1
    Same thing, buzzing no feeding

    Bought an investment property 2 years ago, thrilled to see this feeder on one of the steam boilers.  On routine monthly flushing/ inspection I noted the feeder wasn't kicking in when the water level was low.  So I figured I'd manually refill by pressing the top button and to my surprise all I got was a buzzing sound, no water feed.  Cycled power and still same thing.  No error code on the display, in fact it looks to be running perfectly.  Plan on changing it this week, though I'm no plumber or heating specialist, hopefully this is something I can do on my own...  Plan on buying something different, any recs?  Should just call someone else to do this?  Seems simple enough. 
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,144
    Buzzing Sound

    We know that buzzing sound too well. 

    Just sent another one back to them.  We now install another brand's feeders with separate water meters. 

    If you can sweat pipe and do wiring, you can install it.  Just pipe it properly with unions so you can test it should you suspect it of leaking. 
  • Overwhelmed_2
    Overwhelmed_2 Member Posts: 18
    Any Updates on Failures?

    Any updates for this thread? Two years later, are the newly-purchased Hydrolevel VXTs still failing? Or has everyone who had that experience with them abandoned them for good?

    My cracked Burnham is taking on a lot of water now. Local boiler guy has suggested I add an auto feeder now, which I'll subsequently be able to transfer to my new boiler. Timeline for new boiler might be about 6 weeks off, by the time I decide what to get, who to install and how, etc. and get everything delivered here.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752

    Does he know why the boiler is leaking? Adding a water-feeder may just mask a future problem. Sure, it will help you now, but don't rely on it with a new system.
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,144
    edited January 2014
    VXT Failures

    I own four of these VXT's.  Since 2012, I have had three failures.  Each has been replaced under warranty. Only one of the original installations has not failed.  One of them is now flashing its digits.  It still works, but will need replacement also.  It's two years old so I'm screwed.

    Of the fifteen or so that we have sold to others, perhaps five have failed.  Who knows if the others are still working.

    I love the concept, and the Company stands behind its product.  But the quality of the electronics is definitely lacking, and we have stopped selling and using them.  We have simply lost too much money with this product and this company.

    If your boiler is losing water, find and correct the cause.  Installing an automatic feeder will only accelerate the damage to the boiler caused by adding all that fresh water.   Troubleshooting a steam system for leaks is time consuming and requires a brain, so don't expect any volunteers.  It's best done by plugging the vents, pressurizing the system with air, and listening for the leaks.

    If you know the problem is a cracked boiler, I suppose you can add an automatic feeder, but tomorrow (after you spend an hour installing the feeder)  all hell may break loose, a chunk may fall out of that boiler and the feeder won't do ****.  Why not move up plans to replace that boiler?
  • Overwhelmed_2
    Overwhelmed_2 Member Posts: 18
    What Instead?

    Thanks, Ed! That is what I feared hearing. I force-fed myself Dan's "We Got Steam Heat" book yesterday, and was so excited to read his recommendation for the Hydrolevel VXT. I thought I had found one piece of the puzzle. Not so much, huh? :-(

    What are you using instead?

    Long, maybe mysterious story on why my current boiler cracked, but it definitely does need to be replaced. I'm specifically looking for feeders with (or can be combined with) meters, so I don't mask problems with the new boiler. And I'm also trying to figure out whether there may be other, substantial system leaks somewhere. I'll be asking for help with that in a different thread.
  • Overwhelmed_2
    Overwhelmed_2 Member Posts: 18
    Why Not Sooner?

    Ah LB Ed, you added to your post after I started my response!

    Would love to move up new boiler install, but don't know if it is possible. I don't much know what I'm doing and trying to figure it all out. I'm a recent widow, older, and hobble around with a cane. This is all so foreign to me.

    I'm in Detroit. From the responses I got (on Wall and off) I don't think it is possible to just call someone as I've been told said someone does not exist here. Detroit, as in the city everyone left. Even if I could afford it-- not instead of vacations or a new car or trust funds for my grandkids (if I had any)-- I'm talking basic survival here.

    So, best I can respond is that I'm trying, and will continue to try and hopefully not panic and lose it entirely.

    Also Detroit, where it is balmy 27 degrees presently, but where we're expecting highs in the teens and lows like 4, zero and -2 over the next couple of weeks. :-(
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,230
    We install a lot of VXTs

    only problem we've had is if something gets past the strainer and keeps the valve from closing. That's an easy fix.

    The one that's flashing its digits has probably fed so much water that it went up to 999 and rolled over. Reset it and it should work again, then fix the leak.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,144

    Thanks for the suggestion.  No they didn't "roll over".  The systems are good and  they fed maybe six gallons since installed.   Maybe "flashing" is the wrong word.  They are actually fluttering.  Some segments appear to be vibrating like a bad neon bulb.

    It's interesting to hear that you have no trouble with them.  Maybe it's the quality of our power out here?  We lose power several times per month in LIPA's service area.  Perhaps we suffer from surges too?  But other appliances and controls have no problems. 

    We may put a data logger on the power meter and see what we get.  Found one on ebay I have been eager to try.
  • 98chaos
    98chaos Member Posts: 9
    Ran into a problem with a VXT120 today.

    I was troubleshooting a system today where the boiler kept flooding. While isolating components, the VXT kicked on without a command from the boiler.  I disconnected the feed circuit from the LWCO.  The only power was 120v from the panel box.

    The VXT kicked on again 3 more times during the next half hour. BY ITSELF.

    Twice within a minute of resetting it, and once within 7 minutes.  Then it didn't do it for the next half hour.  Needless to say, I will not be installing another.

    Anyone use the TACO EWF version?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,230

    the hot and feed wires aren't reversed?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • 98chaos
    98chaos Member Posts: 9

    Absolutely positive
  • Jared234
    Jared234 Member Posts: 1

    I bought one of these online, not from a wholesaler and installed it.

    1 month later it stopped working, just buzzes.

    I contacted Hydrolevel directly to get it replaced under warranty, but they will only replace it to a wholesaler.

    They will not honor the warranty to an end user.

    This company is a joke, how are they still in business?

    Anyone know a wholesaler that wants to return it for me?
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,144
    You were warned....

    I told you so. 

    We stopped using them a long time ago.  Simply too many call backs.   And one by one, we are still getting call backs on the ones we installed.  It's the gift that keeps on taking from us.  We took the loss and don't even want the free replacements.

    A wonderful idea, executed with garbage electronics. 

    If you buy one from a legitimate supply house, you should be able to return the defective one after the fact.   This way, you always own one and you can take bets on how long the latest one will last before it feeds/doesn't feed/buzzes/blinks.  Eventually one will last a year and a day, be out of warranty, and you can throw it out and rid yourself of your "change the VXT again" hobby.
  • davidsorkin
    davidsorkin Member Posts: 16
    I installed a VXT-24 for my own boiler in 2010. It failed recently after 5 heating seasons in the worst possible way. The day after I powered up the system all radiators on my first floor suddenly started spurting water out the air vents. The thing must have fed 100+ gallons! Good thing I was home. There was no low water condition, the meter was not incrementing and turning off the power stopped it. There was not even a call to heat. Apparently the electronics are bad. It worked fine through the end of the last heating season and strangely seems to have developed this problem while powered off over the summer.

    Does anyone know if there is an easy fix i.e. replace the capacitors?

    I think the solenoid is still good so I might wire to that directly using my own relay.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    I know many on this forum love the VXTs, but I've never been a big fan. Coming from an electrical background, electronics in a boiler room... there should be surge protection used on the power supply. Don't think that VXT designs that in to the device itself, so there should be surge protection installed by the installer. There's something to be said for good old fashioned float devices.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,407
    I'd love to dissect one of these things. It might not be a surge destroying anything, it could be a spike that locks up an opamp or comparitor. If that is what is goung on you have to diode gate the inputs with diodes so it can't happen.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge