low water problem in a steam boiler

Old 09-22-06, 02:31 PM
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low water problem in a steam boiler

I have a Burnham independence series gas-fired steam boiler that was installed in 1999. I moved into my house in the winter of 2004-2005 so the warranty apparently doesn't carry over.

The problem: last winter I found that on -0F days I needed to add water as frequently as every 2 hours because the low water cutoff would shut it down otherwise. Since I have to leave home for work this was problematic and I often came home to a very cold house.

In March I called in a HVAC specialists who brought in a steam boiler "specialist" who told me to just replace all the release valves on the radiators of the house. He said that the boiler was never reaching enough pressure so it just kept taking in water and boiling it into steam. This seemed to allow the boiler to go longer without a need for more water but then again it was March.

Winter is approaching again and I do not know what to do. Burnham tells me to talk to my gas company, my gas company says to just replace it (for a "discount" of $5000 but no financing).

Old 09-22-06, 05:26 PM
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This sounds like fun

Well even though your system is not completely filled with water, what is in there should stay in there. Believe it or not, you should only have to add water once or twice a year if everything is working properly. I have several customers with no automatic water feed and the only time anyone adds water is when the level drops due to blowing down the low water cutoff. If you add water often and when the system shuts down, you never have the boiler with an extremely high water level, you have a leak. It is that simple. The real difficulty will be locating it. Do any of the pipes run where you can't see them or any evidence of leakage? Like beneath the basement floor or behind walls in the basement that could conceal the leakage? Think real hard because the life of your boiler is at stake. Also, how many pipes lead to each radiator? One or two. If two, is there a trap on one side? It would be a weird looking thing usually with a hex shape on top of it for disassembling it. I think you have a good chance of nailing this down before it gets cold if we stay on it.


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