Adventures of a Neophyte


  #1  
Old 10-22-06, 10:11 PM
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Red face Adventures of a Neophyte

First let me say a big thank you to all the contributors on this site who have helped guide me through several projects over the past couple years with their responsive answers to the dilemmas posed by others in need of help. Thank you !

Today as I walked through my utility room on the way out to the barn to get the chainsaw to deal with the tree that fell a couple days ago... I couldn't help noticing a nasty wet spot around the boiler and a steady drip coming from the flange area above one of the two circulators. When I got back in after dealing with the tree, the bowl I had perched on top of the firing "stuff" to catch the drips was overflowing. I could see it was going to be one of those "fun" days off.

My thought was the big flange gasket was shot, and after searching through the spare heating system parts I bought off the prior owner and not finding one, it was off on a couple hour errand trip to obtain the gasket (plus a few extras).

Now my system is filled with antifreeze as the prior owner used the house as a weekend home and didn't want the boiler to fail while he wasn't there and loose all the pipes, so I got alot of big clean buckets, tried to close off the system so all the fluild wouldn't drain out, and opened the drain valve above the circulator. I think both zones drained as ended up with approx 15 gals of antifreeze mixture.

Apart from the fact that new gasket was not identical in the size of the center hole to old one, replacing the gasket was fairly uneventful until I refilled the system. I pumped the antifreeze back in through the inlet to the big pipe going into the bottom of the boiler and tried to purge each zone then pressurize the system by closing the drain valves about the circulators on the return side. This was when fluid started spraying out my new gasket connection. At this time the pressure on the gage of the Smith Boiler indicated 10lbs which wasn't quite where I wanted it but it's where the pressure has been stable for many months.

A minute or so after turning off the pump the spray subsided to a manageable drip. I decided to fire it up and bleed the bleeders on the various baseboards to try to get some of the air out and the fluid circulating. The good news is that as things heated up the drip slowed almost to stop, the bad news is that the boiler ran continously for a good bit as the house had gotten cold, and then pressure relief valve opened suddenly with a strong blast that I heard clearly from the other side of the house.

As soon as I got to the boiler I checked the pressure gage and it still indicated 10 lbs...

So to finally to my question: is it safe to assume that the gauge is faulty and that the pressure was infact much higher ? When the system was drained and nothing was coming out it read @ 5lbs.

My next concern is that temp gauge (actually the same gauge with two displays) started to creep up now that there was no circulation. It got up to @ 220 degrees. Is that within a normal range ?

I went with the theory that the pressure gauge was bad and drained off a gallon or so, and once the system had cooled a bit I fired it back up. So far it seems to be functioning normally, except for the running water sound in the pipes. I'm hoping that the air will work its way out in a few days (there is an air seperator where the zones split).

Is it common for a new gasket to take a few hours to get "seated" and form a good seal ? If the drip continues, I be forced to call my expensive heating oil burner tech !

How common is it for a pressure gauge to fail ? Its a 3 yr old Smith Boiler. Is that an easy thing to replace ?

And finally how does a low pressure shutoff switch work ? How big a job is it to install, This system had no plumbed in water inlet or low pressure shuoff, so I continualy monitor the pressure level (on a bad gauge !).

Any answers or insights would be greatly appreciated.

Chris in NH
 
  #2  
Old 10-22-06, 10:30 PM
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Wink

You have a lot of ??? here all at the same time.
Cant say if gauge is good or not . But they last a long time. PSI for a 1 floor home about 15 psi. As for temp most of the time on at 160o off at 180o
finally how does a low pressure shutoff switch work ? The boiler goes on and off on the temp the psi in the boiler is just to get the water up to the top baseboard
It got up to @ 220 degrees. Is that within a normal range ? water boils at 212. so when it went off all you had was steam. I dont know what all you have there but you better go over the whole boiler for sure. From a new P/T gauge to a new auto fill and pop off. How is the expansion tank is it ok
 

Last edited by Ed Imeduc; 10-22-06 at 10:45 PM.
  #3  
Old 10-23-06, 12:40 PM
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flange gasket

A flange gasket should not leak after being replaced!!! The seal should be immediate and 100 percent effective. Was there any adhession between the old gasket and flange surfaces that may have left some dried gasket material caked on those surfaces? Worst case, you have iron flanges that have corroded and will no longer hold a seal. I always use a small amount of NeverSieze on gaskets, it keeps them from adhering to the flanges and allows them some creepage to find there way.

Pete
 
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Old 10-23-06, 05:26 PM
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Anti-freeze, etc.

The anti-freeze could be a large part of your problem. Since you live there full time, the best thing you could have done would have been to flush every last drop of that stuff out of the system. In addition to it's becoming acidic over time, it also has reduced heat carrying capacity than plain water. If you don't trust the gauge, you can easily check it's accuracy by using a tire gauge on the expansion tank if it is a bladder type tank. The tire gauge will read the higher of either system pressure or the air pressure (usually 12#) in the tank.

I've never seen a low pressure switch on a residential hot water boiler. I'm sure you've seen references to a "low water cut off".
This is not operated by pressure, just water level in the boiler.

A temperature of 220 is too high if the gauge is right. I suggest replacing the gauge since it's pressure accuracy is in question & maybe the temperature too. Generally easy to replace.
 
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Old 10-24-06, 03:23 PM
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Thanks all for your input.

Its off to Home Depot tonight to see if I can find a temp/pressure gauge, the rubber o-ring type gasket that meets the big flange gasket, and a gasket that more closely matches the one that I replaced. Doubtful I can find what I need there... but I think I really need to purge the system of the air in it as it sounds like a river running through pipes. Could alot of air in the system allow fluid to drain out of the boiler allowing it to heat up once the curculator stops ? The temp drops back down quickly once the thermostat kicks the system back on and the cooled fluid flows back in to the boiler...
 
  #6  
Old 10-24-06, 07:00 PM
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Gauge/Air

You are not likely to find a gauge at a home center.
The air most certainly needs to come out.
 
 

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