1983 Burnham steam gas fired boiler will not fire up

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Old 02-22-12, 08:03 PM
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Unhappy 1983 Burnham steam gas fired boiler will not fire up

This is a pilot boiler. I have spent most of today working on it. The pilot stays on. I am not getting any voltage to the pressuretrol and automatic feed switches. I also get no voltage at the thermostat terminals on the gas valve inside the burner. I have bypassed the single zone thermostat (connected the 2 wires) and still no success. I assume this means the thermostat is not the issue. incidetally, I get 25v across the 2 thermostat wires. The water levels are fine and I cleaned the pressuretrol loop. I do hear a "buzzing" on the Honeywell RA832A. Could this be the cause? Anything else to try before I consider replacing it. I get 120V on the 2 wires below the transformer(I think) in the relay box. I get no voltage on the two T terminals in the relay box. I even connected the two T terminals together and that did nothing. If I replace the RA832A, Will the modern day replacement have the same specs? Is there another honeywell replacement? Thanks for your time.
 
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Old 02-23-12, 08:02 AM
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I moved you over to the boiler section since I have not been around enough boilers to know what's all going on.

Someone will chime in soon!
 
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Old 02-23-12, 09:32 AM
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It does sound as if the 832 relay is the problem... but I'm confused about something:

You said:

I get 25v across the 2 thermostat wires.
then you said:

I get no voltage on the two T terminals in the relay box
These two things are contradictory. Being that the 2 wires from the thermostat are most likely what is wired to the T T terminals, how is it that you get 25 V at one end, but nothing at the source? I suspect that you had no voltage at the T T terminals because you had the wires still jumpered at the thermostat. Please confirm.

Are there wires on the X X terminals of the 832 ? Do they go to the boiler control circuit?

What else is being controlled by this relay? Where do all the wires go?

Here is the manual for the 832 relay:

Product

This relay is still available, but there are any number of models which will replace it.

Most would probably use the R8845:

Patriot Supply - R8845U1003

or the Taco SR501:

Taco SR501-2 Switching Relay (1 Zone) - Taco | Taco Controls

Before you spend the money though, make sure the relay is really bad.

You said:

I even connected the two T terminals together and that did nothing.
If the wires were still crossed up at the thermostat, then this would be likely.

Make sure there are no connections to the T T terminals and try jumpering the T T terminals again. When you do this, you should hear the CLICK! of the relay pulling in. If this does not happen, then replace the relay.
 
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Old 02-23-12, 09:07 PM
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reply to previous messages

Thanks for the threads. I thought I would get an email if someone replied, which is why I did not respond earlier.

Because of all the uncertainty with the relay, I replaced it today with a Honeywell R8845. It has some LEDS which first tell me that it is functioning correctly and another LED that tells me there is a call for heat which occurs when the thermastat is set above the room temperature. All that functions well. I did get 25v across the TT terminals when the thermostat wires were removed, but no voltage when the wires are attached. However, despite the new relay, still the boiler does not kick in. With the call for heat from the Tstat, I still get no measurable voltage between the 3 gas valve terminals, or the pressuretrol switch or the automatic feed switch. I have even bypassed the firematic and thermal heat switches and still no firing up.

I do wonder if some switch got clogged when I did my biweekly draining of the system. The boiler was off at the time b/c it was late at night and did not fire the next AM. Also I noticed I may have a damper which apparently was put in when some other work was done and I was not home.
 
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Old 02-24-12, 07:36 AM
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The Burnham

You shouldn't nave to drain some water from your boiler weekly. The more you drain water from your boiler, the more oxygen you put in making the rust etc that you see. I used to drain [blow down] my boiler about twice a year. You should blow down your low cut off/auto feed make up about once every month or two depending on how much mud comes out, but no more than a quart at a time, [the oxygen thing].
Sid
 
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Old 02-24-12, 02:29 PM
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In order to get emails, you have to 'subscribe' to the thread. At the top of the message list is a button "Thread Tools" . Click that and you get a drop down with a selection to subscribe to thread.

What model Burnham boiler ya got?

Is there a 24 VAC transformer in the circuit? Is there 24VAC on the secondary?

If you are measuring ACROSS the switches, it might not tell you what you want to know. If the switch is CLOSED, you will read NO voltage.

Tell us the boiler model and we'll go from there.
 
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Old 02-24-12, 06:39 PM
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Model 406B. The damper is not electronic, just inline in the exhaust venting.
 
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Old 02-24-12, 07:34 PM
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I can't find a wiring diagram for that boiler quickly... so let me ask you some questions.

If you have a digital camera, can you take pictures? I'll tell you how to post them later.

On the old 832 relay, were there wires on the X X terminals?

Are you confident that you got the wires hooked up the same way on the new relay?

Follow those X1 and X2 wires and tell us where they go.

Do you measure any voltage on the X1 and X2 terminals when the thermostat is NOT calling for heat?
 
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Old 02-25-12, 03:13 PM
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Because the weather was getting colder, my wife was getting on my case more and more and I broke down and got a heating company to fix it. Broke my heart and my bank account. They did not know much more than me but did one electrical test that I would not have thought about and could not reproduce with the problem corrected. They depressed the gas valve in the pilot position, disconnected the red ignition module wire and measured the voltage in microamps. It started at 150 but kept dropping downwards and we stopped when it got down to 50. We tried to reproduce it and measured no voltage. He replaced the ignition module and boom it fired right up. Today with the boiler firing I measured 260 ma with all the wires connected. The new R8845U was wired correctly. At the two "X" terminals I always got no voltage and now with it working, I still get no voltage with and w/o the call for heat. The "X2" terminal is connected to the "TH" terminal on the gas valve and the "X1" terminal has a neutral white wire which I have not traced backwards.

In retrospect, was there a way to diagnose the ignition module as the problem. Perhaps I should have replaced it b/c it is a common failure item and easy to replace. I guess I missed the boat b/c the pilot always stayed lit, though I noticed it was taking 4 min before I was able to turn it to the "on" position from the "pilot" position.

Thanks for all the threads and I would love an answer on diagnosing a failing ignition module.
 
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Old 02-25-12, 03:18 PM
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"Ignition module" ?

Sounds to me more like a 'thermocouple' you are describing.
 
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Old 02-25-12, 03:20 PM
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Wait... I wonder if your gas valve is a 'millivolt' variety...

Take a look at the gas valve and tell us the model number on that.

and I wonder if when you say 'milliamps', you mean 'millivolts' ?

If that is the case, then it sounds like the replaced item was the THERMOPILE ( not thermocouple ).

There's always a way to diagnose stuff... but sometimes it's difficult with the 'time lag' over the internet... that's why I ask so many questions, to try to draw out the answer.
 
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Old 02-25-12, 05:53 PM
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NJ Trooper, I think you are right on both scores. Thermopile vs thermocouple, though I am not clear on the difference. I said milliamps but meant millivolts. Now I can measure 260 mv at the gas valve, I think when the boiler is running. The gas valve says VS820 A 1054, opera VS824A Reg V5396A 3.5 adj. It also says "for 750mv power pile system only". Any idea what the gas vavle goes for, it is acting a little quirky, sticks and depressing the pilot down does not always produce a good flow of gas. Also, given everything, anyway to diagnose the powerpile in retrospect. Thanks, again for your interest.
 
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Old 02-26-12, 07:54 AM
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Here's the install sheet for your gas valve.

http://customer.honeywell.com/techli...95C-10024B.pdf

Basically you would measure the voltage across the two PP terminals to determine if the thermopile is producing enough voltage. You should see about 750 millivolts ( 0.75 Volts ) across those terminals when the pilot is lit and the pile is hot.

Around $150 or so... I would not recommend replacing the valve yourself due to safety issues. Make sure that whomever does replace it is fully qualified!

Patriot Supply - VS820A1054
 
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Old 02-26-12, 07:56 AM
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Today with the boiler firing I measured 260 ma with all the wires connected.
So this was 260 milliVOLTS then? across the P P terminals?

If so, there is still a possible issue.

Is the pilot high enough? Is it aimed properly at the thermopile?
 
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Old 02-26-12, 07:05 PM
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I rechecked the mv readings today. No voltage is measured between the two "pp" terminals with just the pilot going or the boiler fired. But consistently now 340mv between the "th" and rear "pp" terminals with the boiler fired and no voltage with just the pilot going. The pilot seems high enough,a blue flame which
seems to partially surround the thermopile on three sides. I must say, when there is a call for heat, the boiler instantly kicks in. Does the low millivolts suggest a problem with anything else, including the gas valve?
Thanks again.
 
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Old 02-26-12, 07:16 PM
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As long as it's enough to open the valve, it's OK...

Is it wired as shown in the diagram in the PDF I posted link for? Figure 4 I think...

Two wires coming from the Thermopile (called POWERpile back in the day, thus the PP acronym) are going to the two PP terminals?
 
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Old 02-26-12, 07:40 PM
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yes, wired as per your posted link, figure 4
 
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Old 02-28-12, 05:37 AM
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NJ Trooper, I have a new problem or perhaps part or the old problem. The power pile (not replaced by me) seems to have a problem. There is a "blowdown" and a secondary smaller flame starts below the pilot, underneath the pilot assembly and it is a yellow flame. I can blow it out and it returns in 30 seconds. The bigger problem is that the pilot will not stay lit. I hold it town in the pilot position for 5 min, then go to turn it to "on" and it goes out. All started yesterday. If I call the service people, they will say it is a new problem. Could it be a bad powerpile or the gas valve. Thanks
 
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Old 02-28-12, 02:19 PM
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a secondary smaller flame starts below the pilot, underneath the pilot assembly and it is a yellow flame.
Sounds as if there is a leak at the pilot assembly. If it's burning yellowy, it means that it is probably producing some soot. If that soot coats the thermopile it will tend to insulate it from the flame.

Have you measured the thermopile output again while this is happening? That voltage has to get high enough to hold the 'pilotstat' control open, if not, the pilot won't stay lit.
 
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Old 02-28-12, 02:51 PM
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Smile

Thanks for your reply. The problem is fixed. The repair fellow came back. He did not tighten enough the nut that holds the powerpile in place as it passes through the pilot assembly. The "blowdown" as you said, was a small gas leak at the nut and preventing enough gas to keep the pilot lit. The scary part was that over 2 days the leak increased, b/c initially the pilot stayed lit after 40 sec. The next day, I was taking was microvoltages and I temporarily shut the pilot. It took me about 2 min to keep it lit. This morning the pilot went out and I cold not keep it lit. Maybe the slight leak was slowly unscrewing the nut!

Thanks again for your reply.
 
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Old 02-28-12, 04:07 PM
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How many millivolts (not micro) ya got now?
 
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Old 02-28-12, 08:18 PM
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surprisingly I now ony got 310 millivolts, measured between "th" and rear "pp"
with the heat kicking in.
 
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Old 02-29-12, 02:09 PM
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I'm still not understanding why you don't see any voltage on the two PP terminals!
 
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Old 02-29-12, 06:19 PM
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I am using a multitester with the voltage on millivolts, which is on the DC side of the multitester, just below 2v on DC. This is the setting that I am using to get the 310 milliv between TH andthe rear PP, with the boiler running. I get no voltage between the TH and the front-facing PP terminal. Is it possible that the powerpile leads are connected to the wrong terminals on the gas valve, meaning does the red lead have to go to one specific PP? This was wired by the repairman. Would it work if the powerpile leads were reversed on the PP terminals. Also were you expecting 750 millivolts instead of the 300 range?
 
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Old 02-29-12, 06:44 PM
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Measuring from P P (front) to P P (rear) gets ZERO?

Polarity shouldn't matter on the leads.

I would be happier with something higher than 300-ish... I would say 'borderline' under load would be like 250 or so... I wouldn't expect to see the full 750 unless the leads were disconnected and you heated it with a torch... but 500 with it connected in circuit isn't too much to expect, especially on a brand new pile.
 
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Old 02-29-12, 06:54 PM
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Look again at figure 4. Are you sure the leads from the pile and the thermostat aren't reversed? In other words, the thermopile is wired to the rear PP and the front TH ? It would still work, there would be no need to change it, and your readings would make sense then.
 
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Old 02-29-12, 08:21 PM
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I will trace the wires tomorrow evening and get back to you. Thanks again for your time.
 
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Old 03-01-12, 07:34 PM
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wiring of the gas valve

My wiring is essentially the same as Fig. 4. The two powerpile wires go to the "PP" terminals, with the red wire going to the rear terminal and the white wire going the the front terminal. I do not know if it makes a difference on which terminal the red wire goes.. The control circuit wires are as follows. The wire from the "X2" terminal in the relay goes to the rear "TH" terminal, which is essentially connected to the rear "PP" terminal. The front "TH" terminal is fed by a wire in the relay box that is connected to a wire that may travel to the pressuretrol switch.

There may be only one way I may be able to improve the wiring. The "X2" wire which goes to the rear "TH" terminal via a short and perhaps thinner jumper wire, rather than directly connected to the rear "TH" terminal. I could and probably should put a connecter on the "X2" wire and connect it directly to the rear "TH" terminal. It would be more secure and perhaps I am loosing voltage from the thinner jumper wire.
 
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Old 03-02-12, 10:36 AM
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I do not know if it makes a difference on which terminal the red wire goes..
It should make no difference.

The front "TH" terminal is fed by a wire in the relay box that is connected to a wire that may travel to the pressuretrol switch.
Probably correct. The wire on X1 should go to the other terminal on the pressurtrol.

perhaps I am loosing voltage from the thinner jumper wire.
If it's that short, it shouldn't make much difference.

You can measure the various voltage drops with the multimeter. If you measure from one end of the wire to the other, it will read the drop on that wire. Do the same across the pressuretrol and X1 X2 terminals when the main burner is firing. This will tell you if you are losing any voltage across the switches as well.

If it's working, I would leave it alone.
 
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Old 03-03-12, 01:20 PM
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I did remove the jumper wire and connected the "X2" wire directly to the rear "TH" terminal with a femail clip. I then fired the boiler. When it first fired, I measured 400 milliv across the front "TH" and rear "TH-PP" teminal. After 1 minute the milliv began to drop and after 5 min it seemed to level off at 280 milliv. Is that normal for it too drop and how come?
Thanks again.
 
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Old 03-03-12, 01:36 PM
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When it first fired, I measured 400 milliv across the front "TH" and rear "TH-PP" teminal. After 1 minute the milliv began to drop and after 5 min it seemed to level off at 280 milliv. Is that normal for it too drop and how come?
Since the output of the pile is proportional to it's temperature, the voltage will change... why did it drop off when the burners were firing? Dunno... can't be sure, but could be that the increased draft with the burners firing caused more airflow... maybe moving the pilot flame off the pile a bit... maybe the extra airflow cooled the pile a bit... can't give ya a definite reason...
 
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