Feed pump not working

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  #1  
Old 10-04-08, 07:15 PM
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Feed pump not working

Hi all,

I'm trying to figure out what might be wrong with the feed pump (or whatever the device is called).

I have a one-pipe steam heat system in my house, and when I turned on the boiler for this winter, I noticed that the feed for the water won't work, so I had to fill the water using the valve.

The device itself seems to be fine, I tested it and the red button on the feed pops in when the water in the boiler goes below the cut-off level, however the water doesn't flow thru into the boiler. I know the electrical connections are good because it does activate that red button when the water goes below cut-off.

When I switched off the boiler earlier this year, I remember it was working just fine.

Any ideas, what can be wrong?

Thanks.
 
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Old 10-04-08, 07:34 PM
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the pump your talking about is the circulator for the baseboard on the side of the boiler...shut it down and see if you can free spin the impellar looking into where it connects to the pump housing that is mounted to the piping.or is it the motor hot to the touch after 5 minutes.
 
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Old 10-09-08, 07:39 AM
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No, it's not the circulator and plus I don't have baseboard, I have radiators. I'm attaching a picture below of what it looks like. It's a pump that prevent boiler from getting fried due to low water level. I checked it again today and it doesn't bring any wter in thru the loop. The red button in the picture pops in as soon as the water goes below certain level but the water doesn't flow thru that loop anymore.

Any ideas? It's driving me crazy now. I have to keep an eye on the water level all the time.

Thanks
http://i241.photobucket.com/albums/f..._2878-Copy.jpg

Originally Posted by sminker View Post
the pump your talking about is the circulator for the baseboard on the side of the boiler...shut it down and see if you can free spin the impellar looking into where it connects to the pump housing that is mounted to the piping.or is it the motor hot to the touch after 5 minutes.
 
  #4  
Old 10-09-08, 11:16 AM
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Your device is a water feeder and it does not contain any sort of pump. What it does contain is a float-operated valve that allows city water to enter the boiler when the level in the boiler drops.

Trace the piping entering the feeder back to where it connects to the city water in the house. Make sure that any valves in the pipe line are open. There may be a strainer in the pipe somewhere or possibly in the feeder itself. Some more pictures from different angles may be helpful.

Some feeders also require electrical power to operate. It looks like there are some wires connected to your feeder but they look more like thermostat wires than power wires.
 
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Old 10-09-08, 04:25 PM
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Thanks Furd for your reply, posting another picture of that loop. You can see there are two blue valves, one always closed the other always open.

http://i241.photobucket.com/albums/f..._2882-Copy.jpg

Ignore the big steam pipe in the front. I couldn't take a picture without it.

Since pressing the red button did not bring any water into the boiler, I had to open the blue valve on the left (that is otherwise always closed) and wait for the boiler to fill to the desired level and then closed it. I do not recall changing anything at all with the feeder last winter. It just worked fine.

I will post more pictures of the feeder itself. Any ideas with what you see in this one though?

Thanks
 
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Old 10-11-08, 03:29 PM
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http://www.mcdonnellmiller.com/pdf/i...tr/MM-307E.pdf

This is what I have. I followed the instructions to clean the strainer and cartridge, put it back on, but still the same issue. The feeder gets activated, but the water doesn't flow thru. And yes, I made sure the valves are open. Any ideas?

Thanks.
 
  #7  
Old 10-12-08, 12:56 AM
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When you removed the strainer and cartridge you obviously had to turn off the water supply at a valve outside of the pictures you posted. Did you try opening this shutoff valve while the feeder was apart to see if the pipe to the feeder was plugged? It could also be the piping from the feeder outlet to where it tees back into the feed to the boiler is plugged.

I was wrong about this unit having a float valve, that function is from a different device attached to the boiler. This feeder is an electrically actuated valve and is obviously the 24 volt model as evidenced by the low voltage wiring.

I really need several more pictures of the boiler before I can offer any more advice.
 
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Old 10-14-08, 04:14 PM
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The pipe to the feeder is fine, I think it's the other end (that goes to the boiler that is either plugged or something) When I opened the water feeder, I could tell the water was coming into the feeder (because there was still some water in the line between the feeder and the shutoff-valve to the city water). I also opened the shutoff valve a little bit and water was coming in fine. When I put the cartridge back and opened the shutoff valve, I could hear water rushing in to fill the empty pipe till the inlet of the water feeder.

Here's a new picture with the 3 valves labeled. You can't really see the first one but it's up at the top where I labeled it. That is the valve which control city water coming in to the loop.

http://i241.photobucket.com/albums/f..._2903-Copy.jpg

Here's another one that shows where the low voltage wiring from the feeder goes to

http://i241.photobucket.com/albums/f..._2904_COPY.jpg



And here's another one of the complete setup you may need to zoom in a little to see things clearly:

http://i241.photobucket.com/albums/f...e/IMG_2902.jpg

Thanks

Originally Posted by furd View Post
When you removed the strainer and cartridge you obviously had to turn off the water supply at a valve outside of the pictures you posted. Did you try opening this shutoff valve while the feeder was apart to see if the pipe to the feeder was plugged? It could also be the piping from the feeder outlet to where it tees back into the feed to the boiler is plugged.

I was wrong about this unit having a float valve, that function is from a different device attached to the boiler. This feeder is an electrically actuated valve and is obviously the 24 volt model as evidenced by the low voltage wiring.

I really need several more pictures of the boiler before I can offer any more advice.
 
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Old 10-18-08, 03:23 PM
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  #10  
Old 10-18-08, 04:32 PM
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Installers--GRRRRR

I noticed whomever installed the water feeder didn't bother following instructions as far as unions go. Because of this you can't really determine if water is flowing thru the valve or not. One thing you can do is, while you have the strainer off, open the "normally open" ball valve. Do you get water out of the bottom of the feeder? If so, this eliminates anything upstream of the feeder. For any further testing you would have to cut the copper pipe between the feeder & the boiler.
 
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Old 10-18-08, 04:56 PM
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I didn't respond earlier because I couldn't think of a diplomatic way of expressing my opinion. I still can't so I'll go ahead and let the chips fall where they may.

Whoever installed that boiler and accessories should be shot in the gut so he dies a slow painful death. If it were my boiler, or if I were called to fix it the first thing I would do is tell the homeowner that it will cost a bucket load of money because it was done so poorly the first time. I would cut all the piping and install the proper unions and drain piping. Then I would tear out all of the wiring and replace it using the proper flexible conduit and wire. This alone would take the better part of a day.

During the disassembly process I would likely determine why the feeder is not operating. It could be as simple as the transformer not operating (for several different reasons) or as dangerous as the connecting piping to the low-water cutoff being plugged. Maybe it is a failure of the switch in the low-water cutoff or maybe the float chamber of the low-water cutoff is full of mud and the float can't move to actuate the switch.

Whatever. The maintenance on this boiler has been abysmal. Maybe that is due to the ignorance of the current owner or perhaps the previous owner. Regardless, this unit needs some TLC and much more than can be relayed via an Internet help forum.

I'm sorry if anyone has been insulted by this tirade but I just hate seeing machinery abused and ignored.
 
  #12  
Old 10-18-08, 05:36 PM
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Git 'er Dun

Furd I absolutely agree. People are either under so much pressure from greedy management or their own greed they can't or won't take the time to read, understand, & follow instructions or they just don't care about a quality job. I can't begin to tell you how many pieces of equipment I've come across where the installation manual was still in a sealed envelope. Compound a poor installation with little to no maintenance & you end up with, at best, an expensive mess when repairs are needed.

END RANT
 
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Old 10-18-08, 06:04 PM
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Furd, I realize that. I'm a victim of a realtor who is a liar and a house inspector who didn't give a **** about how his poor quality of work can affect people.

Anyway, they both told me that the boiler seemed to be OK since it looked like it was new and installed no more than 5 years ago and is expected to work for years to come. Realtor was in agreement with what the inspector said. So, I trusted what the "pros" said and assumed everything was OK. He also said that the steam boiler would be just like hot water, the only difference would be it would make steam instead of heating the water. What did he care, he got his $600 for doing his stupid report.

For now, I just want to get thru this winter.

I also found this:

http://www.mcdonnellmiller.com/servi...A-bulletin.pdf

I can't find the date code on mine, but chances are (I seriously hope so) that this is my problem. It says that the design of the product was poor and the rubber disc would stick to the plastic and water doesn't flow.

I'm going to look into replacing the water feeder and not touch anything else. It might be that the cartrdige inside is bad because the feeder doesn't open for the water to flow thru. It's going to cost about $200 for the feeder. I can't find just the cartridge, which would be more economical and faster.
The water comes into the feeder but doesn't go out to the boiler and like Grady said, there's no way to test it without cutting the pipe between the feeder and the boiler.

The low water cut-off is working fine and it also triggers the water feeder.

If budget allows, I'll bite the bullet next year and convert my house to central A/C and heating. Hopefully, it will payoff in a few years when I sell the house.

Any comments appreciated.

Originally Posted by furd View Post
I didn't respond earlier because I couldn't think of a diplomatic way of expressing my opinion. I still can't so I'll go ahead and let the chips fall where they may.

Whoever installed that boiler and accessories should be shot in the gut so he dies a slow painful death. If it were my boiler, or if I were called to fix it the first thing I would do is tell the homeowner that it will cost a bucket load of money because it was done so poorly the first time. I would cut all the piping and install the proper unions and drain piping. Then I would tear out all of the wiring and replace it using the proper flexible conduit and wire. This alone would take the better part of a day.

During the disassembly process I would likely determine why the feeder is not operating. It could be as simple as the transformer not operating (for several different reasons) or as dangerous as the connecting piping to the low-water cutoff being plugged. Maybe it is a failure of the switch in the low-water cutoff or maybe the float chamber of the low-water cutoff is full of mud and the float can't move to actuate the switch.

Whatever. The maintenance on this boiler has been abysmal. Maybe that is due to the ignorance of the current owner or perhaps the previous owner. Regardless, this unit needs some TLC and much more than can be relayed via an Internet help forum.

I'm sorry if anyone has been insulted by this tirade but I just hate seeing machinery abused and ignored.
 
  #14  
Old 10-18-08, 06:13 PM
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Cartridge Assembly

Stuck: Here you go.
http://patriot-supply.com/search.cfm...-101&search=Go
 
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Old 10-18-08, 06:39 PM
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Thanks Grady, I'll look into that. It was about $20 on ebay but the listing expired before I could purchase it.

Back to the point of maintenance, what should I do in this situation to atleast do the basic maintenance? I drained the boiler 3-4 times already to clean it up a bit, drained the low water cut-off, checked the water feeder (not working), insulated the boiler piping (as seen in the pics).

Anything else I should do?
 
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Old 10-18-08, 06:39 PM
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You can try replacing just the cartridge, maybe you could get reimbursed for that cartridge by sending a letter to McDonnell-Miller.

On the subject of how the steam system operates and what maintenance is necessary you might try this book.

http://heatinghelp.com/shopcart/prod...category=2-109
 
  #17  
Old 10-21-08, 01:25 PM
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Ok, I ended up buying the entire feeder because the cost difference between just the cartridge and the feeder was only $50 and I wasn't sure if I was going to need to replace the entire thing.

I have a question. To remove the old one, can I just use a wrench to remove these nuts? When putting it back together, can I use the same nuts and use some pipe dope/teflon tape? If not, what is the correct way to do it? I don't think I will need to cut any of the copper pipes.


Thanks
 
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Old 10-21-08, 03:19 PM
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Nuts

Sorry fella, those are all soldered connections. You are going to have to cut pipe then unscrew the male adaptor from the feeder. To make putting it back together easier, you can use Shark Bite couplings of the correct size for the pipe. As I recall, that feeder is 1/2" but it could be 3/4". When using Shark Bites, you need a couple of inches of straight pipe on either side of the coupling.
 
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