New boiler short cycling

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  #1  
Old 10-29-05, 05:12 PM
diywannabe
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New boiler short cycling

Just replaced my coal to oil burning dinosaur boiler to a new Utica gas boiler. The boiler is short cycling because when it is working the water level gets below the safety cut-off and it turns off...10/15 seconds later the level rises and it fires up again. The installer techs were here all this morning and fiddled with everything. They checked all the radiators and changed air vents where needed. They also installed a main vent on top of the boiler, but no main vents on either the long supply line or its return.

While the boiler is working the water level gets all jumpy and starts to drop to a point that the safety cut-off shuts down the boiler before steam has a chance to heat the farthest radiators, from it, in the house. The old boiler that I had was a slow dinosaur, took awhile for the heat to get going, but with this one it is almost like instantanious. It fires up and whamm you have heat. I would think that with this type of quicker steam they should have installed some vents on the supply line to let the steam move along faster.

I a friend of my cousins take a look at it. He was my original pick to do my job but he was so busy that he could onlydo it in mid Dec. which was too long of a wait for me. He said that the hartford loop was a bit to low in relation to the water level and that could be the reason for the jumpy water. He couldn't axactly explain why the water was going down so low and so quickly. He said that the boiler was making steam faster than the condenced water was returning to the boiler. Pipes were checked by the install techs and were found to not be clogged. So there should be no reason why the water takes longer to return.

Should I just call the Utica tech guys and have them take a look at it or do I call the install guys back up? They are getting pissed cause I still have half of there payment and won't give it to them until it is working fine. Any ideas or thoughts on what could it be or what I should do would be much appreciated.
 
  #2  
Old 10-29-05, 05:39 PM
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Short cycling

This, so I understand, is a common problem when a boiler is replaced with a physically much smaller one. Since I do very little steam, I don't recall the cure. I would call the installer & write a follow up letter explaining why I am withholding final payment. Most companies want a satisfied customer. A call to Utica might also be in order. Do not do anything to the boiler yourself. To do so would likely void any installers warranty & possibly also the manufacturer's. Here is a web site loaded with guys very well versed in steam.
http://www.heatinghelp.com
 
  #3  
Old 10-29-05, 06:20 PM
diywannabe
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Grady...thanks for the reply.
No I won't touch or let anybody other than the installer or the Utica tech guys touch it. It just seems to me that they aren't that fluent in steam heat either. Most of the time the techs were here they were scatching there heads like me.LOL The funny thing is the first time they fired it up after install it worked fine. The next day that's when it started giving us gripe. I like the new boiler. It purrs like a kitten compared to the growling of the old one.

I'll take a look at the site you mentioned and post my problem there and see what they say.

Thanks again.
 
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Old 10-29-05, 07:46 PM
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Boiler sizing

How did they size the new boiler? Steamers should be sized for the attached radiation. If they sized it according to the firing rate of the old boiler, it may be too big, in terms of btu.
On the site to which I linked, there are a number of books by Dan Holohan & others about steam. Some, if not all, are excellent. One in particular is very interesting reading although it may not apply to your particular problem. That book is "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" by Dan Holohan.
 
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Old 11-02-05, 10:14 AM
diywannabe
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Near boiler piping wrong

Grady.. They sized the replacement boiler by counting and measuring the radiators in the whole building/house. I had another plumber come in and take a look. He did the job on my neighbors house and he is very happy with the work done. He, just as the guy who did my cousins boiler install, said that the near boiler piping is all wrong. Here are the problems he found.
1. Near boiler piping should be done with steel/cast iron/black pipe not copper.
2. Use of copper will in the short term cause leaks due to the constant expasion and contracrion of the piping due to heat.
3. Piping should be 4" in size and not 2 1/2" this causes the steam to leave boiler to fast and pull water along with it. (the Utica installation manual also calls for 4" near boiler piping).
4. He said the they did not install a equalizer to balance and kep the water from going with the steam.
5. They didn't install a skimmer tee, so there is no way to clean the top of the boiler water if need be.

He said that the they did a bad job and that they should come and correct the problem as it is not a problem with the old piping as they were trying to make me think but a bad install on there part.

Since I already paid them( can you beleive thet they threatened me if I didn't pay up!!!) the full amount I don't think they will be back even though they said they would be back this Thursday with the Utica tech. Wonder what he's going to say? Since they threatened me about payment I don't trust or have any faith in these guys any more. If they continue to say that it is an old piping problem and that they have to charge me more to fix it I'll just say no thank you and give the job to another plumber do fix.

About how much would a near boiler piping job cost? A ruff estimate will do.

Thanks
 
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Old 11-02-05, 05:40 PM
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Piping

I can't blame you for being upset. I would personally call Utica if the installer does not show or wants to charge you extra for fixing their improper installation. Get any comments from Utica in writing if possible. You paid for an installation. It should be done right. Was this job inspected & did the installer pull a permit?
 
  #7  
Old 11-04-05, 06:34 PM
SteveKJR
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It sounds like the condensate is not returning to the boiler fast enough to keep the water level up. I would definitely make them change the copper piping to steel w/cast Iron fittings. Copper piping should not be used for that application. What they did is probably not according to code.

If they give you a hassel about it, contact your city government permit department to file a complaint. You could also get a quote from another contractor if they refuse to correct the problem and send them a notice that it will be corrected by the other contractor and they will receive a bill for the correction.

Steve
 
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Old 11-05-05, 06:07 AM
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Every item you mentioned is a potential reason for problems. The equalizer prevents steam pressure from pushing water out of the boiler into the return by 'equalizing' pressure on both sides of the boiler. That could be where your water is going. Another job of the equalizer is to give a place for the water to go that gets drawn up and carried out of the boiler by fast moving steam. If the contractor undersized the risers or installed only one when the instructions said to use 2, the steam is really moving too fast and the water can't drop out. The hartford loop issue should not cause a problem unless one of your condensate returns leaks and the water level actually goes to the loop caryover level. Then you could ruin the boiler if it is too low. It is sad that you have no recourse because there will be some serious cost associated with the repiping. I suggest that you photograph and document the problems and the solution and sue the installing contractor in court for your compensation. If there is no skim tapping, you can be sure there is crap in the boiler getting pushed through the system. It could cost $500-$1000 to correct the piping problems. 4" pipe is difficult to work with and fittings are expensive. HOWEVER, there is no other way to do the job correctly. I hope the original price was low because the final price may be even higher than the other contractors prices. You will use way too much fuel if the boiler isn't working properly and you will not be comfortable. Vents usually don't go near the boiler but at the ends of the mains if required. There are many different types of steam systems and the accessories need to match the type of system. I hope you get this problem resolved before cold weather.

Ken
 
 

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