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Boiler Trouble - House Vibration

pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
edited March 16 in THE MAIN WALL
Hello everyone, my name is Peter. Owner of a house for about 3 years and have been running into an issue that I believe is from the boiler system which is approx. 15 years old. This happens very frequently at approx. 11am. I'll be home, just minding my own business when suddenly the entire house literally vibrates, it shakes. Almost like a car just ran through the first floor. I'm always in the family room which is directly above the basement, most importantly, the utility room where the boiler and water heater are located. Since I have a day job, I never noticed how frequently this occurs - the random times I was home during the weekday it was a 50/50 chance it happens and almost never occurs during the weekend. As of last Friday, I started working remotely from home and sure enough, around 11am it happened. It lasted maybe 1-2 seconds, if that. I ran immediately downstairs but nothing stood out. No leaks from the expansion tank, pump is running, both zones in the house are properly working , etc. I don't know the system too well but have been learning as I go. When I told my wife about this later in the day, she said that happened almost every day when she was on maternity leave for 5 months back in 2019.

What should I be looking for when this occurs again? I've had PSEG (my utility company) come out to service the system several times for different component replacements and every time I mention this issue to them, they don't think anything of it but I know if they witness it first hand, they'll think otherwise. I have a 1-year old now and this is starting to bug me - if it's a potential fire hazard I don't want to ignore it but how do I confirm that there is an issue if the techs that come out don't see it being a big deal? This just can't be normal. Any help is appreciated.
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Comments

  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,797
    edited March 16
    Somewhere on the boiler is a pressure and temp gauge.
    What pressure shows when boiler cool and then when hot?

    More pictures showing all sides of boiler please.
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,127
    Is anything programmed to change in the system, such as temperature at 11:00?—NBC
    STEVEusaPA
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,116
    edited March 16
    So this has been happening for at least 5 months? You'll need to get some pro eyeballs on it. Why not have a qualified tech come over at 10:55 am?
    Maybe delayed ignition after a deep setback? Are there any other gas appliances, or something affecting draft (like a whole house fan) that run at that time?
    steve
  • BDR529BDR529 Member Posts: 97
    Bearing assembly on that od B&G will make some gawd awful noises
    kcopp
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Member Posts: 3,282
    Play around with the thermostats.
    Up, down, together, separately.

    Could be the zone valves causing the pipes to rattle and bang when closing.

    No safeties tripped so it's ok there for now.

    Can you post a pic of the burner compartment with the front cover off the boiler?
    rick in Alaska
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,797
    In addition to the pictures, you should look in the bottom part of the pump for metal shavings. That is the open area between the pump section mounted on the pipes and the motor.
    As said above, that pump can make a lot of noise if the coupling starts to disintegrate.....but IMO within a year it would fail completely......not the end of the world. Just simple repairs or often a new pump.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,725
    Does this happen only and exclusively at that time, and never when the heating system starts and stops at other times of day? Heating boilers and pumps don't know anything about clocks. Only whether the thermostat or other controls are on or off.

    If it happens at a specific time of day you may have to start looking for something which is time controlled either in the house or, just possibly, in the area. Try this. Once you have established to your satisfaction that it really does happen at that time -- and at no other time -- try turning the heating system off (or just way down) at, say, 10:00 AM and let it sit. If it still happens... it's not the heat at all.

    If, on the other hand, it happens most times when the boiler starts up, I'd be on either the pump or delayed ignition. The pump is likely to be a noise as @BDR529 said. Delayed ignition may be more a more or less intense vibration, but very short.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,214
    The valve ball in those zone valves can come loose and vibrate around. When the noise is happening go down and change something, try shutting off a zone valve, or turn the pump off. See what change cause the noise to stop.

    Zone valve
    Coupling in the pump

    would be my first two guesses.

    Boilers with a lot of scale cam make some weird noise, especially when that are running at their highest temperature.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • ZmanZman Member Posts: 5,753
    The last post like this turned out to be water hammer caused by the irrigation system turning on.
    Unless you have thermostats that change the temp at exactly 11:00, I would look elsewhere for the issue.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    SuperTechBillyOSolid_Fuel_Man
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    > @nicholas bonham-carter said:
    > Is anything programmed to change in the system, such as temperature at 11:00?—NBC

    Nothing exactly at 11am or around that time but I have a minimum temperature that allows the heat to automatically turn on if the interior temperature ever drops below 68 degrees.
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    edited March 16
    > @STEVEusaPA said:
    > So this has been happening for at least 5 months? You'll need to get some pro eyeballs on it. Why not have a qualified tech come over at 10:55 am?
    > Maybe delayed ignition after a deep setback? Are there any other gas appliances, or something affecting draft (like a whole house fan) that run at that time?

    We have definitely noticed it the first winter we bought the house which was in 2017 (we purchased in summer of 2017). But since both my wife and I work during the day, we only encountered it a few times till my wife sat home for 5 months in 2019 for maternity leave, at which point she noticed it was much more frequent than we thought - almost every day. Never happens at night or on weekends.

    We brought a few techs for other services and when we mentioned this issue as well, they didn't really focus on it. Since it's never exactly at 11am and can't guarantee it'll happen, it's hard to gauge it and bring someone to witness it. I may need to record it every day till I can actually catch it on video. Today for example, nothing happened.

    There's a house fan on the second floor but not usually run. When this occurred on Friday when I was home, no other gas appliance was on at the time.
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    > @JUGHNE said:
    > In addition to the pictures, you should look in the bottom part of the pump for metal shavings. That is the open area between the pump section mounted on the pipes and the motor.
    > As said above, that pump can make a lot of noise if the coupling starts to disintegrate.....but IMO within a year it would fail completely......not the end of the world. Just simple repairs or often a new pump.

    Will provide pictures later tonight. The pump was actually just replaced 2 weeks ago when the one prior failed, which caused the expansion tank to fail as well that same night. Both were replaced 2 weeks ago and 1 of 2 zone valves were replaced in January 2020.
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    edited March 16
    > @hot_rod said:
    > The valve ball in those zone valves can come loose and vibrate around. When the noise is happening go down and change something, try shutting off a zone valve, or turn the pump off. See what change cause the noise to stop.
    >
    > Zone valve
    > Coupling in the pump
    >
    > would be my first two guesses.
    >
    > Boilers with a lot of scale cam make some weird noise, especially when that are running at their highest temperature.

    Unfortunately the vibration I experience is very short lived when it occurs. 1-2 second tops. It's the magnitude that just worries me. When I happens I run downstairs but nothing seems to stand out and at that point it's way over by the time I get downstairs. Can't get far within 1-2 seconds. I tried going downstairs and babysat the system around 10:50am today but of course with my luck, it didn't happen at all.
  • ZmanZman Member Posts: 5,753
    Try turning off the boiler for the morning and see if the noise persists.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    edited March 17
    > @JUGHNE said:
    > Somewhere on the boiler is a pressure and temp gauge.
    > What pressure shows when boiler cool and then when hot?
    >
    > More pictures showing all sides of boiler please.

    Currently temp reading is ~170F and pressure reading is ~40PSI. Maybe I'll keep an eye out for both readings next time this vibration occurs.

    As requested, more photos attached.

    Edited to correct pressure reading.
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    > @Zman said:
    > Try turning off the boiler for the morning and see if the noise persists.

    Unfortunately it's still cold here during the night so I can't do that with a 1-year old in the house. I definitely see the boiler kicking in during the night to keep the house around 68 degrees for my little guy.
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    edited March 17
    > @HVACNUT said:
    > Play around with the thermostats.
    > Up, down, together, separately.
    >
    > Could be the zone valves causing the pipes to rattle and bang when closing.
    >
    > No safeties tripped so it's ok there for now.
    >
    > Can you post a pic of the burner compartment with the front cover off the boiler?
    >

    The house is old so I'm certainly familiar with pipes rattling - the vibration I'm concerned about is definitely not from something rattling or loose baffles. It's more of like a combustion or something of great pressure being released. - It's very powerful in magnitude that shakes the entire house for a split second when it happens. It's so hard to explain and that's why techs that have come over don't seem to understand what I mean by it.
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    edited March 17
    > @Zman said:
    > The last post like this turned out to be water hammer caused by the irrigation system turning on.
    > Unless you have thermostats that change the temp at exactly 11:00, I would look elsewhere for the issue.

    Can you elaborate a little more on this please? What's a water hammer and an irrigation system? Still getting used to all the appliance maintenance and different appliances in general.
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,116
    It’s possible the circulator is turning on before a zone valve completely opens, or doesn’t turn off before the zone valve completely closes.
    steve
  • ZmanZman Member Posts: 5,753
    Water hammer is a violent shaking of the pipes due to a rapid pressure change. Valves opening quickly or lack of effective expansion tank can cause it. It sounds like someone hammering on the pipe.
    An irrigation system waters your lawn.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    pabadear
  • ZmanZman Member Posts: 5,753
    edited March 17
    Is this a 2 zone baseboard system?
    What is the history on the red B&G circulator? It looks crazy big. Could you post a picture of the nameplate on the motor and the pump housing?
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • ZmanZman Member Posts: 5,753
    It looks like you are running 42 PSI. That is very high for a residential boiler. A picture of the boiler nameplate and the pressure relief valve would be helpful. Is there an expansion tank somewhere?
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    SuperTech
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    edited March 17
    > @Zman said:
    > Water hammer is a violent shaking of the pipes due to a rapid pressure change. Valves opening quickly or lack of effective expansion tank can cause it. It sounds like someone hammering on the pipe.
    > An irrigation system waters your lawn.

    Hmm ok I think we're getting somewhere. This sounds in line with what I'm experiencing. I did some googling and Youtube to understand water hammering more. Are there other valves other than the zone valves that turn on/off during the boiler on/off operation or at any point while a boiler is running?
  • ZmanZman Member Posts: 5,753
    Do you have 2 thermostats? Are they programmable?
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Member Posts: 3,282
    edited March 17
    No soot or scorching anywhere.
    How does the water heater look? Any soot on top or on the floor?

    Is there a domestic extrol somewhere? Could be a ruptured bladder.
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    Zman said:

    Do you have 2 thermostats? Are they programmable?

    I have two programmable ecobee thermostats - one for each of the two zones I have.
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    edited March 17
    Zman said:

    Is this a 2 zone baseboard system?
    What is the history on the red B&G circulator? It looks crazy big. Could you post a picture of the nameplate on the motor and the pump housing?

    Yes, 2 zone baseboard system. The B&G circulator pump is 2 weeks old - the old one gave out and my utility company came and swapped it out with an identical replacement.
    Zman said:

    It looks like you are running 42 PSI. That is very high for a residential boiler. A picture of the boiler nameplate and the pressure relief valve would be helpful. Is there an expansion tank somewhere?

    I will provide photos tomorrow. Expansion tank is present and you can see where it is with respect to the rest of the system in my original post, which includes a full system photo. The expansion tank is also 2 weeks old. Old one leaked after the circulator pump failed.
  • ZmanZman Member Posts: 5,753
    pabadear said:

    Zman said:

    Do you have 2 thermostats? Are they programmable?

    I have two programmable ecobee thermostats - one for each of the two zones I have.
    Are they set to change the temp at the same time you hear the noise?
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Member Posts: 3,282
    > @pabadear said:
    > Expansion tank is present and you can see where it is with respect to the rest of the system in my original post, which includes a full system photo. The expansion tank is also 2 weeks old. Old one leaked after the circulator pump failed.

    What about a domestic extrol?
    Solenoid on a washing machine or humidifier. Loose hangers.
  • SuperTechSuperTech Member Posts: 1,304
    I would definitely correct the pressure issue, regardless of whether it's the cause of the noise or not. Your pressure relief valve is not functioning. It's a very important safety device, it should be dumping water at 30 PSI. You shouldn't be operating at a pressure above 25 PSI. 12-15 PSI is normal for a two story home.

    I'm not surprised your expansion tank failed. It sounds like you should have replaced the pressure reducing valve and the pressure relief valve when you had the boiler drained. It's a good idea to install new air vents at the same time.
  • GrallertGrallert Member Posts: 442
    boy sounds like a delayed ignition to me.
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    > @HVACNUT said:
    > No soot or scorching anywhere.
    > How does the water heater look? Any soot on top or on the floor?
    >
    > Is there a domestic extrol somewhere? Could be a ruptured bladder.

    Sorry but what's sooting and scorching? Is a domestic extrol another term for expansion tank? If so, there is one attached - see original photo with my original post.

    Attached is also a photo of the water heater.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,725
    Grallert said:

    boy sounds like a delayed ignition to me.

    Completely agree...
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    > @Zman said:
    > It looks like you are running 42 PSI. That is very high for a residential boiler. A picture of the boiler nameplate and the pressure relief valve would be helpful. Is there an expansion tank somewhere?

    > @Zman said:
    > Is this a 2 zone baseboard system?
    > What is the history on the red B&G circulator? It looks crazy big. Could you post a picture of the nameplate on the motor and the pump housing?

    Photos attached. Circulator pump is 2 weeks old. And yes 2-zone baseboard system.
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    > @SuperTech said:
    > I would definitely correct the pressure issue, regardless of whether it's the cause of the noise or not. Your pressure relief valve is not functioning. It's a very important safety device, it should be dumping water at 30 PSI. You shouldn't be operating at a pressure above 25 PSI. 12-15 PSI is normal for a two story home.
    >
    > I'm not surprised your expansion tank failed. It sounds like you should have replaced the pressure reducing valve and the pressure relief valve when you had the boiler drained. It's a good idea to install new air vents at the same time.

    Hmm good point. When the pump failed however, the pressure relief valve did work because we found the small bucket under the relief pipe filled with water plus some on the ground. I guess it may not be properly functioning though and is releasing water at greater than 30 psi thresholds.
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,214
    Is the relief valve discharging occasionally, could that be the noise. if you have a bucket under it, that would be a tell.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • Alan WelchAlan Welch Member Posts: 213
    What are the temperature settings under the cover of the gray control on the front of the boiler? Maybe the high limit isn't working.
  • unclejohnunclejohn Member Posts: 1,530
    I can't tell if the vent on the backflow is capped or not. Replace the feed and backflow. Replace the pressure temp. gauge. Also the relief and extrol tank and go out and enjoy your life.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,797
    If you look at the nameplate on the right wall inside the cabinet, it might tell you the boiler is rated up to 50 PSI rather than 30.
    Look at the pressure relief valve rating, it may be a 50 PSI.
    You only need 12-15 operating pressure.

    As for delayed ignition, have you ever had the burners and heat exchanger cleaned?
  • pabadearpabadear Member Posts: 21
    edited March 18
    hot_rod said:

    Is the relief valve discharging occasionally, could that be the noise. if you have a bucket under it, that would be a tell.

    It only vented water twice since I've been in the house. 1 time because I accidentally increased the pressure while purging the system 2 years ago and the 2nd time was 2 weeks ago when the circulating pump failed, which caused my expansion tank to fail shortly after.

    I keep a bucket under it all the time for precautionary measures and have gotten in the habit of checking on it along with the water heater every night before bed.
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