Boiler servicing/cleaning (way over due apparently)

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Old 02-14-12, 05:52 AM
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Boiler servicing/cleaning (way over due apparently)

This is a bit of a continuation of the other thread I started (http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...ggestions.html) but is specific to what I should be looking for while getting this boiler some well needed TLC.

Last night I arrived home to find the boiler was out. It had run out of oil (thankfully it was a nice mild day and keeping ~ -2'C outside). Home delivery was closed for the night (I'm on a schedule with them, but this would only be their second visit for me), so I had to run to the local petrol station and pick up some died fuel. Anyway, had the local service guy come over for a beer and show me how to prime the pump (I am totally new to oil heat).
While he was over, we got talking about the boiler (I was digging for history of it from him as he was the guy to service it). It was installed in 97, and has not seen any real maintenance in about 3 years. Apparently he has a love/hate relationship with this particular boiler (didn't get too much info on that).

Anyway, I am going to get him come in and do a full clean and maintenance on the boiler.
What he said he does is replace the fuel filter, fuel nossel, and clean and flush all the pipe work.
Is there anything else I should be looking at replacing, servicing or inspecting?

I have noticed, no matter what the tempurature is outside, that when the boiler is running, the smoke from the chimny is reasonably black.
 
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Old 02-14-12, 07:08 AM
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I have noticed, no matter what the tempurature is outside, that when the boiler is running, the smoke from the chimny is reasonably black
Not Good!
I hope he is also going to clean the heck out of the inside of the boiler flue passages.
Sounds like the boiler is fairly well sooted up.
Wonder if the love hate thing, is because that boiler is hard to tune up.
After he is done, report back the combustion results, especially the draft numbers.

Peter
 
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Old 02-14-12, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by "PeterNH
Not Good!
I hope he is also going to clean the heck out of the inside of the boiler flue passages.
Sounds like the boiler is fairly well sooted up.
Wonder if the love hate thing, is because that boiler is hard to tune up.
After he is done, report back the combustion results, especially the draft numbers.

Peter

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...#ixzz1mMilFCLa
I believe tuning is where the love comes in. It's a pretty big/tall old house which had been retro-fitted with a boiler sometime in the 40's or 50's. The water is also from a well (hard water softened).
The owners we bought the house from did the very minimal amount of maintainance and from what I am finding out, and opted for the cheapest routes when it repairs where needed (I've replaced ciculating pumps that when they where installed, where already used and my well pump controller, also was used when installed).

I will say that the house is pretty well insulated. When I arrived at home last night to find the boiler out, the water temp was cold. After running to the local petrol station (twice) to aquire a total of ~50L of fuel, and the local tech arriving to show me how to prime the pump, at least 2 hours had past since I got home and the house only lost ~4'F (Normally the main floor is 68'F when we are home, and it had dropped to 64'F).

Just to give you a brief idea how poorly this thing is running, It was ~ -5'C outside last night and warmed to ~-1'C this morning. ~50L of fuel lasted from ~7:30PM to about 8AM this morning. It took about 30 minutes last night to bring the water up to running temp, so I am assuming that is where a lot of my fuel went to.
 
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Old 02-14-12, 08:53 AM
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It's a pretty big/tall old house
I had problems with my tall house and 36' center chimney for years, due to excessive draft.
It's finally solved.
If too much draft is a problem for you, there are things that can be done.

Peter
 
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Old 02-14-12, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by "PeterNH
It's a pretty big/tall old house
I had problems with my tall house and 36' center chimney for years, due to excessive draft.
It's finally solved.
If too much draft is a problem for you, there are things that can be done.

Peter

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...#ixzz1mNNymR5I
I never thought about the chimny draft being an issue, but that is a very good point. I'm about 36' in hight from the boiler to the top of the chimney.
The exhaust pipe exits the boiler horizontal, and goes straight into a 90', up to about 5' above the floor (I hit my head on it all the time). From there 90' elbow with ~6' horizontal piping exiting through the basement wall. From there, it's another 90' elbow and staight up.
There is a weighted (butterfly?) valve in the exhaust pipe in the first bit that goes virtical from the boiler. Its pretty much shut tight when the flame is burning, and rests ~5-10% open when not running.
 
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Old 02-14-12, 03:18 PM
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The boiler cleaning

It sounds like there might be a chimney obstruction, and I would worry about CO, maybe get a CO detector.
Sid
 
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Old 02-14-12, 03:25 PM
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There is a weighted (butterfly?) valve in the exhaust pipe in the first bit that goes virtical from the boiler. Its pretty much shut tight when the flame is burning, and rests ~5-10% open when not running.
I think Sid has a good point... there is no reason that the (correct name) "Barometric Damper" should be 'shut tight when the flame is burning'. You better get that thing checked out by someone who knows what the heck he's doing.

Is the damper properly installed? i.e. PLUMB and LEVEL?

There should be NO smoke from a properly running system.
 
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Old 02-14-12, 08:36 PM
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"Flush the pipe work"? Why in heaven's name would he want to do that. Adding fresh water to a boiler system is one of the worst things you can do to it.
 
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Old 02-14-12, 09:08 PM
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fuel filter, fuel nossel, and clean and flush all the pipe work
Good point Grady.
I read it that is was probably flush the oil line.
But, i'm know for seeing what i want to see, not always what is.

Peter
 
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Old 02-15-12, 05:44 AM
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Multiquote time....
Originally Posted by sidny
It sounds like there might be a chimney obstruction, and I would worry about CO, maybe get a CO detector.
Sid
We have a number of them in the house, including one ~3ft from the boiler. The previous owners went nuts with CO and smoke detectors (5x CO2 and 9 smoke, none hardwired).

Originally Posted by NJ Trooper
I think Sid has a good point... there is no reason that the (correct name) "Barometric Damper" should be 'shut tight when the flame is burning'. You better get that thing checked out by someone who knows what the heck he's doing.

Is the damper properly installed? i.e. PLUMB and LEVEL?

There should be NO smoke from a properly running system.
I would have thought that the damper should be partly open when the flame is out, and closed when it's burning.

Originally Posted by Grady
"Flush the pipe work"? Why in heaven's name would he want to do that. Adding fresh water to a boiler system is one of the worst things you can do to it.
Could you expand on that a bit further (I'm still new to these water systems).
The existing system had been running for who knows how long at 220'F. The water softener also has not been working 100% (for again, who knows how long). So I have a boiler system that has been boiling hardwater for an unknown time period. I would assume the build up of crap (similar to a kettle) would be pretty heavy.

Originally Posted by PeterNH
Good point Grady.
I read it that is was probably flush the oil line.
But, i'm know for seeing what i want to see, not always what is.

Peter
I personally can't see any value to flushing the oil lines. Could I be missing something?
 
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Old 02-15-12, 06:28 AM
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Based on what I can see with my boiler, and what I have read (here and elsewhere) I can pretty much confirm my boiler is probably too big.
With the up and coming tear down, clean out and maintenance, is there anything that can be done to help account for this?

Coming from an automotive tuner world, I wish there was a way to connect an Air/Fuel meter and confirm what ratio it is running at. From what I have been told, the fuel nozzels are pretty cheap, so It could very well be worth my time playing with different sizes once I know what what A/F I have and what A/F I should aim for.
 
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Old 02-15-12, 02:55 PM
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Generally the most you can downsize is 10% below the rating on the boiler. If at all.
Going smaller can end up with a situation where the combustion is not hot aeough and ends up as a smokey fire. It is also said, that a small wind blowing thru a big tunnel doeswn't have the proper turbulance to give up its heat and ends up not gaining any efficiency. Or worse. Beyond that there can start problems of condensation in the chimney due to the lower flue temps.

Generlly an oil burner is set up for 11-12% co2, any higher and it usually soots up and causes all kinds of bad things to happen, when you least expect it. Like on the coldest night of the year.
A device that tests for smoke is used to determine if the co2 setting is ok.
Anything much lower than 11%, lets in too much excess air and the eficiency drops, due to the ecess air cooling down the hot combustion gasses.

Peter
 
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Old 02-15-12, 03:02 PM
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I personally can't see any value to flushing the oil lines. Could I be missing something?
If you ever run out of oil, all kinds of crud from the bottom of the tank can clog up oil filters and oil lines.
No Fun.
Perchance there is crud in the line, blowing it out once in a while can't hurt and might help keep it from ever becoming a problem.

Peter
 
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Old 02-15-12, 03:27 PM
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I would have thought that the damper should be partly open when the flame is out, and closed when it's burning.
Seems logical, doesn't it? ahhh, but it's not.

The damper works to regulate the draft through the boiler by modulating the damper at all times. While the draft UPSTREAM of the damper will vary greatly between a cold chimney and a hot chimney (much more when hot!) the draft between the damper and the boiler (and THROUGH the boiler) will remain relatively constant.

When the chimney is cold, the damper will be open the least. When the chimney is hot, the most.

If your boiler is pushing the damper door closed, it could indicate that there is restriction in the system which is causing BACK PRESSURE... DANGEROUS!

Sometimes the damper is positioned in the pipe at an improper location which would also cause this.

Can you show us the flue pipe and damper in pics?

A device that tests for smoke is used to determine if the co2 setting is ok.
Simplistically, yes, but the smoke spot test should also be supplemented with an actual CO[SUP]2[/SUP] measurement with a gas analyzer.

I personally can't see any value to flushing the oil lines. Could I be missing something?
It happens from time to time that the oil lines get 'crud' built up in them. Have you ever looked at that black sludge in the bottom of your tank, or in the oil filter? Same stuff can collect in the fuel lines. I don't know that I would go to the trouble of flushing them out without first knowing there was a problem by diagnostics. A vacuum gauge would tell a lot.
 
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Old 02-15-12, 07:16 PM
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The major reason for not flushing the water side of the system is the fresh water being added contains oxygen which will contribute to rust in the system & in severe cases actually cause a boiler to rust out from the inside.

Once the system is filled & has run a while the oxygen will be either expelled or used up. The same is true if the water is somewhat acidic. In short order it will do all the damage it can & become "neutral" neither aggressive nor deposit forming. BTW, boiler manufacturers tell you not to fill the system with softened water.
 
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Old 02-23-12, 07:04 AM
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Have you had this cleaned yet?

I understand that you have alot of CO2 detectors around, but I could sleep through a 9 richter earthquake. Please make sure there are not obstructions in the chimney/liner where your venting this.

Joseph
 

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Old 02-23-12, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by AmericanChimney
Have you had this cleaned yet?

I understand that you have alot of CO2 detectors around, but I could sleep through a 9 richter earthquake. Please make sure there are not obstructions in the chimney/liner where your venting this.

Joseph
The chimny and damper insides are in good shape (within the house anyway).
I shut the system down for an hour last saturday and pulled the piping apart, giving it a good clean out with a soft wire brush and a toner vac (not a chimny vac, but as fine or finer filter).
The damper works as it should now and after cleaning the air intake grill with the vacume, the exhaust has cleared up some (pretty much non-visable now).
I have not been able to get the guy in to do a full tear down due to some work and family related issues. I hope to have him in soon as I know the $100 fee will be saved in probably the first month's worth of fuel.
 

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Old 03-12-12, 07:16 PM
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Oil Boiler question

I purchase a used NTI Caprice boiler. During cleaning I noticed a rusty colored paste in the burn chamber. Is this incomplete combustion? I tested the pressure in the water chamber, I put 40 psi of air in it, but it is losing a few pounds, is this something to worry about. I guess I'm wondering if I should bother installing this? I paid 250 dollars, it is 2007 year of manufacture. Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks
 
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Old 03-13-12, 07:20 AM
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The stain

You are not supposed to test boilers with air. you could have an explosion. You could do it with your domestic water. Of course there are certain safegards. The test in most circunstances is 1 1/2 times the working pressure. The boiler has to be isolated from all piping. The safety valve has to be ethier gaged or temporaily pluged. It is best done by qualified people. You can replace a boiler a lot easier than an injury or even a life.
Sid
 
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Old 03-13-12, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by yotulfrank
I purchase a used NTI Caprice boiler. During cleaning I noticed a rusty colored paste in the burn chamber. Is this incomplete combustion? I tested the pressure in the water chamber, I put 40 psi of air in it, but it is losing a few pounds, is this something to worry about. I guess I'm wondering if I should bother installing this? I paid 250 dollars, it is 2007 year of manufacture. Any advice would be helpful.
As Sid mentioned, it can be dangerous to mess around with preasure testing if you are not properly equiped and trained.
If you have the ability and know how to test in a proper environment, I would say take Sid's suggestion of domestic water and run with it. Our boiler's safety valve generally are set to 30PSI. Domestic water in most areas is set around 60PSI.
The nice thing with using water is if it is leaking, you'll have water showing. air can be hard to detect and/or locate.

Again, be very careful doing this and if you do not have the proper knowledge/safe environment to work in, hire someone.

As for the rusty color paste... What type of fuel was/is the boiler setup to use?
 
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Old 03-13-12, 09:22 AM
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Oil Boiler

Oh, I won't be doing that again. How do I get the pressure up using domestic HW to 1-1/2 times. It is an oil burner F4 Riello. It looks like to me it might be unburnt oil mixing with the ash.

Thanks
Frank
 
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