New steam boiler/pipes noisy

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Old 01-10-08, 01:23 PM
BRN
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New steam boiler/pipes noisy

I have a new Smith boiler which was just put in in October. It doesn't have an automatic fill device; I do it manually. There is a light which will tell me if it needs water. That has happened a couple of times, but I don't wait for the light to go on, I check the water level in the tube regularly. Last week when it was really cold out the low water light went on twice in one day.

The major problem seems to be that the pipes are noisy (obviously) when the system is on.

Yesterday I had another plumber here for something else. He asked why I had too much water in the boiler. I told him that I hadn't filled it up that high. I drained many gallons of water from the boiler. He put in a new copper tube and lever thinking that there might be some sort of leak which was making the system overfill. There was some "gunk" in the old pipe.

So this morning the first time the system went on the house was quiet. Not so the second time. Very noisy. I left my house while it was on and checked it when I came home. The tube was full to the top again. I drained off more water though not as much as yesterday. No clunking when it came on again.

HELP!

PS: He also told me that the plumber who put it in (licensed and a referral) didn't use copper piping where he should have in two places. He evidently didn't get a permit because the code enforcement guys never called to inspect the job. I found that out when I called my city (Springfield, MA) today. Needless to say I am VERY frustrated. I did get three estimates from well-respected plumbers.
 
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Old 01-10-08, 01:56 PM
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I'm steam-stupid but I'm surprised about your comment about not using copper where he should have. I was under the impression that black iron is preferred throughout a steam system and that copper should only be used when it is below the water line and even then black iron piping is still best for those areas.
 
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Old 01-10-08, 02:31 PM
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copper vs black iron

I am beyond hopeless in what I know about this sort of thing. I will let you know what the inspector says if he can come over even though there was no permit.
 
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Old 01-11-08, 05:42 AM
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Noisy Pipes

I am a steam engineer and I can tell you what you are describing can be dangerous as well as costly. It sounds as if an automatic fill valve is leaking by and overfilling your unit. This causes water to be carried over into the system causing water hammer. You should have traps to remove condensate, however the situation needs to be rectified as soon as possible. I would be interested in knowing what you eventually find. Remember, "Steam is Supreme"

'Berd
 
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Old 01-11-08, 06:29 AM
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condensate traps?

There is no automatic fill on this boiler as I didn't want to spend the extra several hundred dollars. The plumber who was here the other day did replace the pipe and valve that is used to manually fill the boiler. Yesterday I drained more water from the system as the fill tube was over the top. Today I had to add more water to the system. Not a lot, but the low water light was on. I'll check it again when the system turns off.

What is a condensate trap?

The thing that is so frustrating about this noisy problem is that my 40 year old Crane boiler never did this. Now I have this brand new state of the art $3000 boiler and I'm slowly going insane.

Thanks for your previous reply. I really appreciate the time folks give to this website.
 
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Old 01-11-08, 11:33 AM
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Pipes

Hi, I'm sorry, I missed the part about there being no automatic fill. (?!) Any and every heat/hot water/steam system that I have ever been around had a make-up valve. Your system is apparently a hot water versus steam system. On hot days the system shuts down, the water cools and contracts. Oppisite, on cold days the water heats and expands. This COULD be what you are experiencing. If your system is hot water only, it would have no traps. (They keep in steam, let out water.

Hope this helps.
'Berd
 
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Old 01-11-08, 01:21 PM
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Some of these controls with the light on will go into a self check and the light comes on. It does not mean you need to add water. There is a Normal Water Level you need to maintain. The installation manual will give you this information. They normally refer to it as a NWL. This will be measured from the floor or what ever the boiler is sitting on. The water level should be maintained in that area. You do not have to add water if that level is down just a little. You did not give the model number but if it is the Smith "8" series the NWl is 25-5/8".
 
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Old 01-11-08, 02:49 PM
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lights/water

There are two lights on this boiler. One is a self check light, and the other one is a low water light. One is green, the other yellow. I only add water when the yellow light is on and I don't over fill it. I never fill it up to the top. There is a place on the side of the boiler which shows you how far to fill it up.

Just now I went downstairs and the fill tube is full to the top. The boiler wasn't on. I emptied several gallons of water before the fill tube showed any air at all. What gives?! It sure seems to me that something isn't working properly on this boiler. The only time I had to empty water from the old boiler was when I was draining sediment out of it which I did every so often.

AAugh!!! The sound of me screaming.
 
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Old 01-11-08, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by oldeberd View Post
Hi, I'm sorry, I missed the part about there being no automatic fill. (?!) Any and every heat/hot water/steam system that I have ever been around had a make-up valve. Your system is apparently a hot water versus steam system. On hot days the system shuts down, the water cools and contracts. Oppisite, on cold days the water heats and expands. This COULD be what you are experiencing. If your system is hot water only, it would have no traps. (They keep in steam, let out water.

Hope this helps.
'Berd
I'm confused. I know that there is hot water in the boiler, but whether it goes into the radiators as hot water or steam is a mystery to me. I have exactly the same system that I had previously with the Crane boiler, but I never got the banging in the pipes and radiators that I have now. When you say make up valve, are you saying the one that allows you to put water into the boiler if the water is too low? Read my latest post about that.
 
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Old 01-11-08, 03:38 PM
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BRN, you really should post some pictures of the system and all the near boiler piping. Everything else is just guesswork.

You can post pics on www.photobucket.com for free, and provide a link here so the steam heads can see what's wrong.

I'm kinda hoping that furd will weigh in on this one, he's a REAL steam head!
If you ask me (also steam stupid) it sounds like the condensate is taking it's sweet a$$ time coming back to the boiler and flooding it. Probably piped wrong.

As steam stupid as I am, I know that you never want to use copper above the water line.
 

Last edited by NJT; 01-11-08 at 03:43 PM. Reason: Who, thanks for 'steam stupid' !
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Old 01-11-08, 08:44 PM
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If the condensate returns to the boiler slowly, the low water light will come on when too much water has left the boiler as steam. It can happen also if the boiler is dirty and sending wet steam out. Then you add water before the condensate returns and the boiler is flooded after it shuts down for an hour or so. You really should find a knowledgable steam tech in your area and let him work his magic. The newer low water content boilers can present new problems on old systems but there are new solutions for every one of them. Photos would help us.

Ken
 
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Old 01-12-08, 06:47 AM
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Me again

I will once again call the plumber who installed the boiler in October. This morning I went downstairs to check the water in the tube. It was over filled once again. I drained off some water so that about an inch of air was at the top. Then, a little later when the boiler was on I went downstairs again and the low water light was on again.

This system is a Smith GB200.
 
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Old 01-12-08, 12:46 PM
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I'm pretty sure that KField has nailed the problem.

Forget about steam traps (condensate traps) as your system doesn't have them. However you MAY have some dips in your piping that is trapping condensate.

I'm going to make a wild guess that this new boiler is considerably smaller in size (water containment) than was the original boiler and that you have a fairly large house.

I would like to see several pictures of the installation.
 
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Old 01-13-08, 07:11 AM
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To happen that fast I might guess you have two problems. Slow returns and surging. Surging will take the water out of the boiler quickly and slow return will not allow it to come back as quickly as it needs to.
If you don't add water does the house get cold? It could just be surging and you catch it before the water makes it back. Don't feed the boiler next time the light is on. See if the water is back in about 10 minutes. If not the returns are slow. Surging is not uncommon in a newly installed steam boiler if the water was not properly cleaned at time of installation.
 
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Old 01-14-08, 05:27 AM
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pictures etc.

I have the pictures on photobucket.com, but I don't know how to link them to this site (or any site for that matter.) So if NJ Trooper can help me (or anyone else) I'll put in the link.

Last night before I went to bed I checked the water tube. It was full with about one inch of air. This morning the heat is supposed to go on at 6:30 which it did because I heard my radiator hissing, and I went downstairs to check the tube and sure enough the yellow low water light is on. I filled it up halfway and the system is running, lots of clunking, but running.
 
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Old 01-14-08, 06:37 AM
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photos

 
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Old 01-14-08, 06:44 AM
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Smile more photos









I did it!!!
 
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Old 01-14-08, 07:03 AM
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Neither the supply or the retuen are piped correctly. The pressure control seems to indicate a pressure around 2psi and to see the differential, you would have to remove the cover. The supply is probably the biggest problem. I can elaborate if you would like.

Ken
 
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Old 01-14-08, 07:40 AM
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As Kfield stated the piping is in error. You have no chance of producing dry steam. The pressure control is also too high. The setting you show in the picture should be .5 and the white knob inside should be 1.5. There is a fitting right above the vent pipe not sure where it goes.
 
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Old 01-14-08, 11:17 AM
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Thanks

Phew! Thanks to everyone who responded and especially to Ken who had me call him. There are some major problems which need to be fixed. I have called the contractor who referred me to the plumber who put it in. I expect that I will have resolution as the plumber does a great deal of work for this contractor. I am more than a little upset as I was careful about who I got estimates from. Licensed, etc.

I just got a call from the plumber. I suspect he got a call from the contractor. He said he'd get the folks from Smith Boiler to come over to check out the installation. They are 20 miles from here, so hopefully that happens soon.

Thanks for all of your input. I've learned more than I ever thought I needed to know about steam heat.
 
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Old 01-14-08, 01:08 PM
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That is a waste of the reps time and it may make the rep lose respect for the installer as he obviously didn't read the instructions. Let us know how this plays out.

Ken
 
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Old 01-18-08, 07:02 AM
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Continuing saga

I spoke to the tech rep yesterday and sent him larger pictures than I had on here (my friend enlarged them). He concurred with those of you who said that this boiler isn't installed properly. He also said that the plumber may even have to move the boiler. He's going to call him today and give him the "good" news.

What I don't get is that if someone isn't familiar with a particular system then they shouldn't bid on the job. I wouldn't be upset if he had told me that he doesn't install steam systems.

Meanwhile, thanks in great part to all of you, the tech said that I should have gone into heating since I had done some research before ever calling him. Ha ha.
 
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