Gas Boiler Tripping Out Intermittently


  #1  
Old 02-27-12, 05:51 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 5
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Gas Boiler Tripping Out Intermittently

Hello everyone,

Forum newbie here. I'm hoping you guys can help me. I have an older (1960's or 1970s) American Standard Boiler in my home. It is part of a hot water/radiator heating system. The boiler's exact age is unknown, however it did have a brand new circulator pump installed when we bought the house (about 5 years ago). The boiler is randomly tripping out. Please allow me to share some background...

-Last week I awoke in the middle of the night and noticed that the house was cold. The thermostat was firing (had the flame icon) but the boiler was not running. I checked and found that the pilot light was indeed lit. As I'm not terribly handy, I called a trusted heating/cooling serviceman. The serviceman determined that the boiler had simply tripped the fuse and so the gas valve was not opening. He did indicate that it was odd, but the circuit for the boiler was also wired into an electrical outlet upstairs, so maybe we overloaded the circuit? Currently we only have two table lamps installed on the upstairs outlet. Once the circuit breaker was reset, the boiler fired up immediately. The technician waited for the circulator pump to turn on, and when it did, it did not cause the system to trip out again. The tech oiled the circulator pump and did not find any other problems.

After that visit we stopped using the upstairs outlet. We didn't even leave the lamps plugged in. Despite our actions, I once again discovered that the boiler had tripped off several days later. Once again, I reset the circuit and the boiler started up fine. I called the same service tech and he indicated that we may want to have an electrician look at the system, and maybe we had a bad circuit breaker that was tripping at a lower voltage than it should. He said that he did not suspect the circulator pump. As my father-in-law is fairly handy, he helped me replace the circuit breaker this past weekend with a brand new one.

I was dismayed when I awoke again this morning to determine that the boiler had once again randomly tripped out sometime during the night. Once again, it started right up when I reset the breaker. Can you guys think of anything that could be causing this? When the breaker is reset, the boiler can run fine for days (turning on/off like it normally does), and then it will suddenly trip out again. From my understanding, there are only three things wired into the circuit that is tripping....the gas valve, the circulator pump, and the single upstairs electrical outlet (which is not currently being used). What should I do?

-Thanks
-Dan
 
  #2  
Old 02-27-12, 06:16 AM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 18,183
Received 77 Votes on 69 Posts
If you get a clamp on style amp meter you can see what the peak voltage is when the circ starts.


Sounds like the start capacitor may be going bad in the circ, or bearing/bushing can stall the pump some.

Whats the make and model circulator?


Mike NJ
 
  #3  
Old 02-27-12, 06:23 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 5
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the tip. I'll see if I can find out the make/model today and get that information to you by tomorrow.

-Dan
 
  #4  
Old 02-27-12, 06:35 AM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 18,183
Received 77 Votes on 69 Posts
Here is a link that descibes testing. Turn off all power. You will be working with electric so caution should be taken. Espeacially when discharging the capacitor.

Depending on the pump it may be easier and more cost effective to change the pump then repair.How to Determine a Defective Electric Motor Capacitor | eHow.com

Mike NJ
 
  #5  
Old 02-27-12, 08:28 AM
S
Member
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: pittsburgh pa
Posts: 154
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
electrical problem

A furnace or boiler or related equipmnet should not be on another circuit,it should be on its own dedicated circuit. I would eliminate the outlets upstairs from the boiler circuit,or run a dedicated temperary circiut from a breaker directly to the boiler,if it trips with only the boiloer ion the circuit,you know it is something with the boiler,otherwise,you cannot be sure...
 
  #6  
Old 02-27-12, 09:07 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 5
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the advice. This was the advice of the technician also. I will most likely be making an appointment with an electrician to configure things exactly this way.

-Dan
 
  #7  
Old 02-27-12, 04:21 PM
NJT's Avatar
NJT
NJT is offline
Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 23,538
Received 7 Votes on 5 Posts
Even though it's not 'right', I doubt that the circuit is overloaded to the point that the breaker is tripping. Yes, get that corrected, but don't expect it to solve the problem.

After all, how long has it been operating in this way?

Fix the problem first, improve the wiring next.
 
  #8  
Old 02-28-12, 07:27 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 5
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
So the circulator pump make and model is a Bell and Gossett booster series 100 L60 circulator. Again, it is only about 5 years old. The intermittent tripping out only began about 2 weeks ago. If we put the system on its own circuit and the tripping continues...my question is this...

Have any of you seen situations where the circulator is at fault, and yet it only trips out periodically, not every time it starts? After I reset the circuit breaker the system can run fine for days (with the circulator pump turning on and off as it needs to) before something trips the breaker. From what I understand, the only two parts of the boiler that use power are the gas valve and the circulator pump. What should I do next?
 
  #9  
Old 02-28-12, 03:00 PM
NJT's Avatar
NJT
NJT is offline
Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 23,538
Received 7 Votes on 5 Posts
Is the wiring from the panel to the boiler visible the entire way ? Examine all wiring carefully to look for breaks in the insulation, or maybe chew marks...

Open any junction boxes between the panel and the boiler and examine all connections for clean and tight, and no potential short circuits.

Are you absolutely certain that the outlet upstairs is the ONLY other thing on that circuit? That there isn't anything else on it? Two table lamps are VERY unlikely to have overloaded that circuit.

I don't believe that your pump has a start capacitor. I think it has a 'centrifugal start switch'. If that start switch is 'hanging', it could cause the breaker to trip. It may be doing this intermittently.

Listen when the pump starts. You should hear and see the pump spin up, followed by a 'click'. That click is the start switch dis-engaging. If you don't hear that click, that may be the problem.

If you own an 'Amprobe' device, measure the current draw of the system. I don't think it should be more than 5-6 Amps, if that. It WILL be higher when the motor is starting.

Does the motor run HOT ?

Examine all of the other wiring that is associated with the boiler. Look for any wires that are 'chafing' or bare or loose...

99% of troubleshooting is VISUAL. Get in there with a bright light and a magnifier if you need it and LOOK for anything that appears out of the ordinary as far as electric goes.

REMEMEBER, 120VAC CAN KILL YOU! BE CERTAIN THAT THE POWER IS TURNED OFF!
 
  #10  
Old 02-29-12, 05:34 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 5
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the great advice. I'll take my time examining as much of the wiring for anything that looks out of the ordinary. I can report that much of the wiring looks quite worn and old.
 
 

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