steam boiler -- guage full of water

Reply

  #1  
Old 11-22-08, 07:47 PM
T
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: New York
Posts: 13
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
steam boiler -- guage full of water

very new to this.
ever since I drained the dirty water out for the second or third time (was told to do so once a week by the guy who did the annual cleaning), the radiators started acting funky and the boiler would shut off on its own. Now I have to restart it 2-3/day. Noticed that the water guage is completely full -- not half way like I thought it's supposed to be.
I figure that the water draining did it. Started playing around with the valve that lets water in, but saw no changes in that water level. Only the psi gauge increased a little bit.
Then tried to loosed the valve underneath the water gauge, and it started dripping, but the waterline never came down.
Any help appreciated. (I've ordered from heatinghelp.com but must wait for the books to arrive).
It is an old oil-fired steam boiler/furnace and I couldn't find any model # on it.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 11-22-08, 08:41 PM
R
Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: new york
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I am not a heating expert but I am with my steam system. judging from the sound of it you simply have too much water in the boiler. your right about where the level should be. I would find the drain valve and let some water out until the level is reached. the radiators are acting funky because the steam is trying to fight it's way through the extra water in the pipes to the radiators. it may be shutting off from the pressure it's making with all that extra water. be patient, it's gonna seem like a LOT of water your draining and be carefull. it's probably very hot. I'm guessing your not getting very good heat either.
you should have an auto water feed system to maintain the level. this may be malfunctioning. you'll want to pay close attention until you can have it looked at.
 
  #3  
Old 11-22-08, 09:10 PM
T
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: New York
Posts: 13
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I drained about 10 buckets (from that valve on the bottom) of steaming hot water, and it didn't make the waterline drop at all. Meanwhile, the small valve directly underneath the water guage is dripping, quickly, so that over the last hour or two it managed to fill the bucket I had underneath -- also getting water over on the ground near the motor.
I stopped draining because the hot water managed to dislodge one of the couplings on my sump pump, and it's too hot (and late) to work on that now.
I hope I was doing the right thing...
 
  #4  
Old 11-23-08, 05:19 AM
rbeck's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 2,477
Received 5 Votes on 4 Posts
Verify both valves are open on the sight glass. Drain until you see water in the glass about 3/4 of the way up if you do not know where the level is supposed to be from the manufacturer.
The level the water is supposed to be changes per boiler design. Each boiler has a different height. Also remember an automatic feeder does not take the place of maintaining the water level manually. It is for emergency use only. The auto feeder will maintain the water near the lowest permissible water level.
 
  #5  
Old 11-23-08, 07:32 AM
R
Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: new york
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
is it possible that the feed line is open just putting more and more water in? my auto feed would stick from time to time overfilling my boiler until the radiators started leaking water.

that was a friggin mess.
 
  #6  
Old 11-23-08, 07:54 AM
T
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: New York
Posts: 13
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
so this is what I've done so far:
late last night I was able to hook up a hose to the drain and have it drain out into a 'vent' in the back of the crawl space, thereby circumventing the unhooked up sump pump. so that enabled me to drain down until I saw the waterlevel.
It was difficult to get the waterlevel to stay where I wanted, because when I stopped filling (or draining) it would still move quite a bit.
Meanwhile, the valve directly underneath the watergauge drips whenever there's any water in there. So it dripped all night until this morning I saw the watergauge was empty (and the house extra cold).
So I refilled and drained until I got it to about 3/4 way up, thinking the dripping will bring it down soon anyway. This is where I tinkered with the valve directly above the glass while the water valve was open...should this glass valve always be open? The one on the bottom drips constantly whether closed or not...
I also noticed a whole bunch of orange scum in the watergauge -- now it's riding above the waterline.
 
  #7  
Old 11-23-08, 07:59 AM
rbeck's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 2,477
Received 5 Votes on 4 Posts
As stated above both valves the upper and lower must be open at all times except to service the glass. There is a little nut at the base of the stem on that valve. Try to snug it down a little. There is a packing in there that may stop the leak if snugged down.
 
  #8  
Old 11-23-08, 08:06 AM
T
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: New York
Posts: 13
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
so this time, I checked again (less than 15 min later), and the glass was full.
I opened the valves, and drained/filled until I got the water close to halfway.
Then 2 min later it filled by itself and now is full again.
(so it emptied last night with the valves closed and the dripping all night, but stays full if the valves are open)
So I think I have the problem randy had.
 
  #9  
Old 11-23-08, 08:21 AM
R
Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: new york
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
sounds like your headed in the right direction. your gonna have to give it a little time for all the water to drain back to the boiler which is why it seemed like it was still moving. both valves need to be open in order for the guage to work. the orange scum is more than likely rust deposits from the radiator pipes. when the water came back down it brought this stuff with it. the dripping guage is a problem though. this allowed the water level to get too low. you will have to be vigilant in making sure the water level stays where it should be while the valve is leaking. BUT WHATEVER YOU DO, do not try to fill the boiler while it's hot and no water shows on the guage. this will crack the boiler for sure! (ask me how I know). shut it off and let it cool for a while before replacing the water. the boiler is gonna need constant attention until the leaking valve is fixed or replaced. I would open and close the little valve under the guage a couple times. it's possible some sediment got stuck in there. or maybe find a way to cap it for now. make sure the drain is closed as well.
 
  #10  
Old 11-23-08, 09:38 AM
T
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: New York
Posts: 13
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
funny, I DID refill the boiler with water this morning! But luckily, even though my boyfriend had already restarted it, it wasn't warm enough to make a difference. It had been off for probably about 5 hours at that point.

I went ahead and called for boiler maintenance from the oil company. Now I'm waiting for them to show... I'm guessing that the details of the water line feeder is too complicated for me right now, and I don't want to mess anything up. I don't know how to get it to stay at the halfway level...

To think, I could have cracked my furnace this morning without having the slightest clue!
Thanks to all of you!
Natasha
 
  #11  
Old 11-23-08, 01:04 PM
R
Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: new york
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I'm not so sure about draining all the water once a week. that's a little over the top. like changing your car's oil once a week. the boiler guy was probably refering to "skimming" the water once a week which would entail opening a valve somwhere at where the water level is supposed to be. this could also be used to drain the boiler to the level it should be. look around the boiler and see if there is something like that.
 
  #12  
Old 11-23-08, 01:12 PM
R
Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: new york
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
don't ever assume anything is too complicated for you to understand. when boiler guy shows up, ask questions..a lot of questions. the more you understand about the boiler the less fear you will have of it. and the less you will be at anyone's mercy. they're complicated to a point but the theories are relativley simple. and don't feel akward about asking too many questions. your paying for his time. (just my 2cents)
 
  #13  
Old 11-23-08, 02:36 PM
T
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: New York
Posts: 13
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
So I cancelled the boiler guy appt because I had to leave at 1pm. Got back now and checked the boiler -- the water level was holding at around 3/4 !!! The boiler was still running, had kept the house warm without shutting off. This is good.

The advice was to let it drain until the water coming out wasnt dirty anymore. This usually took about a half a bucket or so. So maybe this is also 'skimming'? I dont see what you are referring to. My drain is right underneath the water feeder assembly with it's mcdonnel controls and such.

I agree to always ask questions and try to understand everything yourself. This is what I'm trying to do. Unfortunately, besides you guys, there is not much online about all this. I did tons of searches to no avail. If I knew my boiler's make and model, I would get a manual asap. With that, nothing should be too complicated.
My oil co knows the model -- I will have to ask them next time.

Now I have to figure out how to keep the water level even. I'm not sure if my skimming contributed to the problem or if it was just a separate quirk -- maybe there was dirty water clogging the system somewhere??
 
  #14  
Old 11-23-08, 03:56 PM
R
Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: new york
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
sounds like everything is under control. good for you
hope all works out for the better. I too am in the process of researching heavily and your right, there isn't a whole lot out there. even the manual and other books are relitivley generic but you'll figure it out.
I'm trying to figure out the best way to repair my broken water jacket. I am a car guy and can weld very well but somehow welding my boiler has got me a little shaky. especially since it's only gonna be temporary. so I am also researching epoxies.. this is WAAY deeper than I ever wanted to be.

good luck.Beer 4U2
 
  #15  
Old 11-24-08, 09:37 PM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,495
Received 34 Votes on 26 Posts
Everybody that has residential steam heat should have a copy of Dan Holohan's book, "We Got Steam Heat! A Homeowner's Guide to Peaceful Coexistence".

HeatingHelp.com
 
Reply
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: