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Another newbie with questions

Vjs1958
Vjs1958 Member Posts: 10
Just joined. Had our leaking Burnham steam boiler replaced yesterday. It’s showing all the signs of a needing a skim; surging, frequent low water cutoff activations. I’m sure they didn’t do it as they were in a rush so I plan to do it myself. First question is how long do you typically skim a new boiler? The instructions say hours but videos I’ve seen seem much shorter.
Second, can I use Teflon tape to reattach the cap on the skim pipe or is the blue pipe dope preferred?

Thanks in advance

Comments

  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,955
    Why are you skimming the boiler......thats the installing contractors job that YOU paid for.

    If it takes 1 hr (Doubtful) fine...all day also fine. there responsible for it!
  • Vjs1958
    Vjs1958 Member Posts: 10
    edited October 2018
    Yeah but at this point I don’t want them touching it anymore. When I questioned the 71 year old owner of the company (he did the post install checking) I got a lecture on how steam systems work and that the frequent low water stoppages are normal. Even after I told him that the old ( identical) boiler never had a low water shut off during the heating cycle.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,094
    Vjs1958 said:

    Yeah but at this point I don’t want them touching it anymore. When I questioned the 71 year old owner of the company (he did the post install checking) I got a lecture on how steam systems work and that the frequent low water stoppages are normal. Even after I told him that the old ( identical) boiler never had a low water shut off during the heating cycle.

    Those comments show a lack of knowledge, I hope they did proper sizing and installation. I hear these types of comments and I have many red flags going off. Are you confident they even did the job correctly?

    Skimming takes hours. You need to do it VERY slowly. I think I ended up doing a solid 8 hours on mine when it was installed, but I also did a wand cleaning to the tune of about 20 gallons of water. It depends how dirty the boiler came from the factory.

    Did they even install the skim port? If so I wonder why they feel it doesn't need to be used?!
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,150
    Aside from all that, the YouTube videos are hopelessly optimistic.

    However...

    Skimming isn't hard, it just take time. You need to find the skim port and open it (it will be above the normal water level) and add just enough water to the boiler to get a very slow trickle of water out of it -- not a drip, a little stream. Then bring the boiler to a simmer -- not a boil -- and keep it there for...

    a while.

    An hour would be a minimum; several hours might be better. The trick is to keep just enough water coming in to keep that trickle going, and to keep the boiler at a simmer -- not a boil.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Vjs1958
    Vjs1958 Member Posts: 10
    Thanks for the comments. It was a like for like replacement no additional plumbing except for the new connections between the boiler and main lines. The new boiler already had the skimmer pipe installed out of the crate.
    I live North of Boston and they had a very hard time just getting the boiler. The Merrimack Valley disaster has sucked up all the gas furnaces in the area or at least that’s what they told me.

    Any thoughts on my question about Teflon tape?
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,822
    I did try another method of skimming that works fairly well and is simpler.

    Bring the boiler up to a good boil as in normal operation.
    Shut off the power.
    Slowly add water (this should be a bottom connected cold feed) to raise the water level to the skim port.
    Then let the trickle of water come out.
    I added a turned down 90 with a reducer to 1/2" nipple pointing down. This allows you to see and control the trickle stream.

    Skim until the boiler is cool, drain down to normal water level and be sure to fire to boiling because of the fresh water added.
    Skimming into a bucket allows you to see results.
    Repeat as needed.

    This way the home owner would not have to monitor the burner operation and could just walk away once the flow is stabilized.

    FWIW
    Vjs1958
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,094
    Tape or dope shouldn't matter as long as you assemble the joint properly.

    Like for like assumes it was correct to begin with.... I hope it all works out for you.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Vjs1958
    Vjs1958 Member Posts: 10
    Thanks KC. The old ( 19 yo ) boiler worked flawlessly until the leak developed this year. And that was after years of neglect by the previous owner.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,075
    Ok, enough talk.
    Let's see the pictures of the new install! :p
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    JUGHNEKC_Jones1Matthias
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,075
    This is a short video I did of skimming.



    I found this way seemed to work just as good as any other.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Vjs1958
    Vjs1958 Member Posts: 10
    Ok Chrisj here’s your boiler porn:




  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,075
    They put the...............right in front of the...................
    I guess it could be worse.......


    And that pressure relief needs to be vertical. It's not optional. The funny part is Burnham even supplied and elbow for it......
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Vjs1958
    Vjs1958 Member Posts: 10
    Well what do ya know, if you follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions and skim the new boiler it works beautifully. Skimmed very slowly for 4+ hours. The first few buckets of water were a dark grayish brown and foamed when I dumped them in the sink. At the end the water was clear, no foaming when dumped and no low water shut down during a 20 min heating cycle. Now I’m roasting hot and happy. Still can’t believe that the installer was trying to convince me that a low water shut down every 2 min or less was normal. And pre internet I would have believed him.

    Thanks to all who commented.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,094
    You should invite him back and show him he was wrong and it's working properly now. ;)
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Vjs1958
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,312
    Most installers refuse to skim a boiler because of the time it takes. At least yours put the skim port in, too many don't even do that.

    I'm glad your system is working tight now,

    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
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,075
    I'm glad to hear it's working now, but please fix that pressure relief.

    It could save your life one day.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Vjs1958
    Vjs1958 Member Posts: 10
    Chrisj, done. Thanks so much for the warning.
    As the saying goes ‘read the effing manual’ or in this case look at the picture if you can’t read:

    Thing is the old furnace valve was installed horizontally too. Pretty sure the same plumber did that one too.
    ChrisJ
  • Vjs1958
    Vjs1958 Member Posts: 10
    edited October 2018
    In fact I had a different plumber, also a steam ‘expert’, come in for the leak on the old furnace. He turned the valve elbow up so he could pour in the sealant and when done put it back horizontal. I guess steam service is really becoming a lost skill.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,075
    Vjs1958 said:

    In fact I had a different plumber, also a steam expert, come in for the leak on the old furnace. He turned the valve fitting up so he could pour in the sealant and when done put it back horizontal. I guess steam service is really becoming a lost skill.

    The scary thing is, that's not specific to steam. That's any pressure relief valve, hot water included.

    T&P valves on water heaters are different. Not sure why, just know they are.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Vjs1958
    Vjs1958 Member Posts: 10
    @Bob, the skim port was factory installed. I’m positive these guys would not have installed one if it wasn’t. The old boiler didn’t have one and I’m pretty sure the same company did that install as well.
  • SeanBeans
    SeanBeans Member Posts: 487
    It’s a shame people spending thousands on a new heating system and then have to work on it themesleves...
    Vjs1958
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,312
    @SeanBeans I'm afraid iut's wider than that. A few years back I had an electrician install a outside light and switch on the front of my house. I used to do all of that kind of work myself but my back has severely limited what I can do.

    When they were done I cut them a check and as they left I realized some thing was odd. When I turned the light on I realized the light fixture was upside down, it could have acted as a rain catcher. I spun it around and whie I was doing it I wondered why the electrician and hos helper had not caught that error.

    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