Boiler heat leaking somewhere (I assume), but no signs of water for 3 mo

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Old 03-10-13, 07:52 AM
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Question Boiler heat leaking somewhere (I assume), but no signs of water for 3 mo

I have a boiler heat system installed in late 80's and recently within the past 3 months I noticed the sound of water gurgling through pipes. Normally this system is quiet, so I bled the radiators of the excess air and I added some more water. After only a day the pipes gurgled again. During a routine maintenance by an HVAC company, the service tech told me I most likely have a leak somewhere. This makes sense to me, BUT I HAVE NO SIGNS OF WATER LEAKING!!! I have been trying to find the sign of water leaking for a month. I'm at the point where I think I need to start cutting holes in my walls to find water. Could it be leaking to outside my house? Could it be leaking down the foundation and going under ground?? How do I find the potential leak without cutting out drywall so I can fix?

Thank you for all your help!!!

KB
 
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Old 03-10-13, 08:05 AM
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Before you start cutting up the walls, do some troubleshooting first to determine if you really are losing pressure.

Tell us what the pressure gauge on your boiler is reading.

Read this:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...ure-gauge.html

There is a pressure relief valve on your boiler. Is there any leakage from it? Even if there is NOT, it would also be wise to check the condition of your EXPANSION TANK. If you have the type of expansion tank that looks like a gas grill propane tank, read this, there are steps for checking the air charge in the tank. Let us know if your tank is a large steel one in the joists above the boiler, there is a different procedure for that type:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...sion-tank.html

How is the water fed into your boiler? Is there a 'pressure reducing valve' ? aka 'auto fill valve' ?

Post some pictures of your system and we'll try to help you determine what the problem is.

Tell us about the system:

Make/model of boiler?

Type of 'radiation' (i.e. fin-tube baseboard, cast-iron baseboard, standing cast iron radiators, etc)?

How many floors in your home?

Is the system 'zoned'?
 
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Old 03-10-13, 08:11 PM
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I've posted some pictures of some things that may help and I will comment on each of the postings.

My system is a Burnham Low Pressure Boiler (see photo) and it was built in 1987, but installed in my home (according to the notes on the unit) in 1990.

The pressure gauge is not working properly, or so the HVAC tech who last serviced the unit says it's not. The water is flowing through the pipes I can hear it and my house is heating as well.

There is no leakage from the pressure relief valve and there are no other leaks at or near the Boiler itself at all.

Water is fed into the boiler through a pipe with a valve of some sort (see photo) with an optional manual fill. I installed a water softener last wknd and the valve in the photo dripped when I drained the water lines to install the softener. Does this give you some info on what kind of valve it can be?

My expansion tank is the steel kind hanging in the joists.

I have two types of radiation, both baseboard. I have the fin-tube and the older cast iron model as well.

The boiler is piped for zone heating, but it's not active as there are no valves in place, but you can see in the photos that there possibly once was. The zones are (from what I can deduce, one for sleeping area, basement and bathrooms and one for the living areas and kitchen)

My home is two floors. Its a walkout rambler built in 1958.

Thank you so much for any help you can provide!!!

Kyle
 
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Old 03-10-13, 08:38 PM
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Buske when was the last time that tank in the ceiling was drained???? This is the first thing you need to do.... That is the reason you may have air and not from a leak.

You need to shut the valve to that tank, and drain it completely. May take some time, then open the valve back up, I think that will take care if your issue.....

Take a pic of your gauge. You should have 12 psi or so with a cold boiler.....
 
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Old 03-10-13, 08:41 PM
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Take some more pics from all around the boiler at different angles too.
 
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Old 03-11-13, 06:09 AM
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Lawrosa

my pressure gauge is not functioning. It reads zero all the time. I can take a pic later tonight when I am back home.

The expansion tank is empty. I'm sure of that.

Any other ideas to find where the leak might be? I've added quite a bit of new water to the system over the past 3 months, so there has got to be a leak somewhere.
 
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Old 03-11-13, 07:37 AM
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First of all fix the gauge. Cant do nothing really with out it. Buy a hose bib gauge at the homestore and put it on a boiler drain....

How do you know the tank is empty? They often get air locked when draining and it only seem that way....


You may have a leak but need to take one step at a time. Any pipes go in the slab???


Plus I need to find info on that red device under the exp tank.... Forgot what its used for... Troop?
 
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Old 03-11-13, 07:47 AM
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The red device is a Bell & Gossett "Airtrol" tank fitting. It is used when filling the tank. It has a tube extending into the tank, about 1/3 of the way. When draining the tank, open the little petcock - it allows air to enter the tank as the water drains out, avoiding trapped air.

Then, when refilling the tank, leave the petcock open until water comes out the fitting - then shut the petcock. There will then be the correct amount of water in the tank when the system is cold. More info on the Xylem website.

Ingenious.
 
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Old 03-11-13, 10:15 AM
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Smile

I know my expansion tank is empty, because I can push up on it as it sits in the straps between joists very easily. It's too light to have water in it and i don't hear any water sloshing around.

I'm comfortable installing a new gauge (i think), i've done this with my pool as well, but do I need to drain the entire system to do so? if that's the case I will not be doing this until it's warming. I live in MN :-)

I will take Gimorrie's suggestion about the red device under expansion tank.
 
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Old 03-18-13, 08:29 AM
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pressure gauge pics

Here are the photos of my pressure gauge. It's stuck below 10psi even if I add water. Also, a photo of the side view of my gauge, hoping for some advice on how to replace the gauge.

Thanks,
Kyle
 
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Old 03-18-13, 08:43 AM
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Home stores have them.

Tridicator/Boiler Temperature and Pressure Gauge-TR25X1CB160/250 at The Home Depot

You will need to drain the boiler. Try to isolate the zones. The gauge unscrews but just need to make sure new gauge has similar shank length.Use teflon tape on threads....
 
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Old 03-18-13, 03:18 PM
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Less 'invasive' suggestion to replacing pressure gauge.

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...ure-gauge.html

Surely you've got a hose bibb somewhere on the system that you can screw this on?
 
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