High Pitched Whine When Boiler Running

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  #1  
Old 09-16-13, 02:01 PM
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High Pitched Whine When Boiler Running

Hello,

My hot water boiler recently started making an incredibly high-pitch noise when running (it actually sounds very similar to a smoke detector, but it is definitely coming from the boiler itself). I tried listening to different parts on the boiler to isolate the noise but the whine is so high pitched and loud that it makes it difficult to narrow down where it's coming from. My best guess is around the vent pipe, which makes me think it may be the power vent.

Any advice on where to start or how to troubleshoot this new issue would be appreciated. The house was built in 2002 and, after making a few fixes to various parts (new pressure regulator, air separator, and expansion tank), the boiler has been running well for the year I've owned it. I'm also attaching a picture to show my setup.

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  #2  
Old 09-16-13, 03:56 PM
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which makes me think it may be the power vent.
Power Vent? not shown in the pics, correct?

I looked back at your photobucket album and don't see a power venter in any of the pics... are you possibly referring to something else?

That M21 rock-crusher won't fit your boiler by the way...
 
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Old 09-16-13, 04:12 PM
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Like Trooper, I see a barometric damper in the photo, but no power vent. Tell us the exact circumstances of the noise - boiler firing, Pump A, B, or C energized, etc.? Take a dowel, yard stick, or piece of an old broomstick; place one end up against various points in the system, and your ear against the other end. That might help localize the sound.

This looks to be a forced-draft boiler, right? Gas or oil? Check for noise from the forced-draft fan, too.

I'm not keen on the way your expansion tank is cantilevered off to the horizontal. That needs to be changed.
 

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  #4  
Old 09-16-13, 05:53 PM
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Power Vent? not shown in the pics, correct?

I looked back at your photobucket album and don't see a power venter in any of the pics... are you possibly referring to something else?

That M21 rock-crusher won't fit your boiler by the way...
Correct, I added the photo for general reference but the power vent is not shown. I can take a picture of that tomorrow.

Ha, the tranny did fit in the Chevelle though and if my boiler ran as reliable as that car, I'd be all set
 
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Old 09-16-13, 06:01 PM
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Like Trooper, I see a barometric damper in the photo, but no power vent. Tell us the exact circumstances of the noise - boiler firing, Pump A, B, or C energized, etc.? Take a dowel, yard stick, or piece of an old broomstick; place one end up against various points in the system, and your ear against the other end. That might help localize the sound.

This looks to be a forced-draft boiler, right? Gas or oil? Check for noise from the forced-draft fan, too.

I'm not keen on the way your expansion tank is cantilevered off to the horizontal. That needs to be changed.
I'm no plumber so bear with me but, basically, the boiler will fire and increase temp during normal operation, then once it reaches the set max, it "idles" for a few minutes with no fire (I'm assuming this is done to expel all remaining fumes before turning off again). I'm only hearing the high-pitch noise during the burn period, not during idle, and right now the noise happens maybe 50% of the time, it is not every time the boiler turns on.

The system is oil fueled and that expansion tank has since been relocated to hang vertically (sorry for the slightly outdated picture).
 
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Old 09-16-13, 06:17 PM
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hi we -

I'm not an expert to say the least, but I wonder if that's the motor screaming in the burner? I think AC motors can make high pitched sounds - but I'm not sure. The experts will be back for sure.
 
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Old 09-16-13, 08:28 PM
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When was the last time that the burner itself was serviced?

I was wondering the same thing ZD...

It looks like you've got the newer type of motor on it, so I doubt it needs oiling... but there could be something going on with the bearings in it... or ? ? I dunno... kinda hard to pin down without hearing it.

From what I can see, the flue pipe runs right into the base of the chimney... no? Yeah, we need pics of the power venter too.


I for a long time had a '70 SS 396 Chevelle... it whined too... but I hadda take the 4-71 off cuz the cops wouldn't let me drive without a hood.
 
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Old 09-17-13, 06:13 AM
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Burner was serviced and cleaned in 2011.

Plumbing is not my expertise but from experience with working on other mechanics, a whining bearing does sound like a possibility. My guess was the power vent fan because I have to believe that the hot air blowing through that must shorten the lifespan of the fan bearings.

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Old 09-17-13, 09:39 AM
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...I for a long time had a '70 SS 396 Chevelle...
Not to get off the topic, yet just for a second, – but first google image I found for 1970 SS Chevelle. Tell me that’s not beautiful?

http://blog.cashforclassicrides.com/...evelle-1-1.jpg
 
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Old 09-17-13, 02:34 PM
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It sure is! That's GOT TO BE a lacquer job, enamel don't 'pop' like that. Mine was gold, but never looked like that! Mechanically perfect, cosmetically somewhat of a 'beater'... but it was FAST!

Burner was serviced and cleaned in 2011
Really should be done annually.

What about oil filter(s)? Those should really be changed at LEAST annually.

Where is your tank located? One pipe? or two?

A fuel oil pump will scream like a banshee if there is too high a vacuum on the oil suction line, are you sure the oil valves are open fully? (and a clean filter?)

I would think that if the venter is making the noise, it would be REAL loud outside... have you checked outside when it's screaming?
 
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Old 09-18-13, 07:54 AM
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Thanks Trooper, all good feedback. I will start with scheduling the cleaning. When I spoke with the salesman, they did say the filter would be replaced when they service the boiler.

When looking at the boiler from the front, the fuel tank is to the left. It has two pipes leading outside, looks like one to fill and the other with some kind of vap on it (vent?).

I'll report back after the cleaning.
 
  #12  
Old 09-18-13, 07:58 AM
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By the way, sleepers are the best! I'd rather have a mechanically sound car over a pretty trailer queen any day.
 
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Old 09-18-13, 02:37 PM
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Well... me too... but that was no 'sleeper'... not by a long shot! It was VERY obviously badazz muscle! I've had my share of TQ's too... bleeve it or not... 67 Shelby GT-500 comes to mind, unfortunately not a 'numbers matching' car.

It has two pipes leading outside
Yes, a fill and a vent. The vent has a 'whistle' in it so the delivery guy knows when it's full.

I meant from the tank to the burner though, the copper tubing... one or two?
 
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Old 09-18-13, 04:07 PM
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Holy smokes, you've had the best of them. Nice cars.

One copper tube from tank to boiler.

Called serviceman, won't be here until early October to do cleaning.
 
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Old 09-18-13, 05:25 PM
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Yeah, but them Shelby Stangs were NOT all they were cracked up to be. Didn't handle worth a damn. Good brakes though!

Wow... early October! Did you tell them it was SCREAMING AT YOU!

What about the question I asked about OUTSIDE, by the power venter. Is it as loud or louder out there? Will the neighbors be calling the cops?
 
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Old 09-18-13, 05:48 PM
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But did you name her "Eleanor"? That is the real question

I did finally catch the noise outside one time and it was very loud, but not louder than when I put my ear right next to the barometric damper indoors. I would say these are the two loudest locations, the power vent and damper and they are equally loud.

I'm sure the neighbors can hear it too but it's an odd noise, not loud like a siren but more like an ear-piercing whine (similar to a fire detector or one of those high-pitched dog whistles).
 
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Old 09-18-13, 07:11 PM
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Ha! no... I actually never named any of my cars, besides, mine was blue!

It sure does sound like the PV is the culprit to me.
 
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Old 09-18-13, 07:48 PM
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I'm with you on that, I think it's the power vent too. Once the serviceman cleans the boiler, replaces filter, etc. that will rule some items out and I will be digging into the power vent if the noise persists after that. I'll let you know how things progress. As usual, thanks for the help.
 
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Old 10-03-13, 05:28 AM
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Oil man serviced the boiler yesterday, everything looked clean to him and, of course, the noise didn't happen while he was here. Woke up early this morning to a loud "chunking" noise from the boiler (this time it wasn't a whine) and then the boiler shut off and would not start.

I grabbed the tools and flashlight, pulled off the power vent cover outdoors and, bingo, all questions were answered. There are 3 bolts holding the fan in place, 2 of which were completely rusted out. Time to buy a new power vent.

I did a little research and it looks like Field Controls makes a stainless steel version. My local plumbing heating/store wants $500 though and with baby on the way, that wasn't music to my ears. I did find what looks to be the model I want for $366 on Pex but I want to make sure it's the correct one:46395401 - Field Controls 46395401 - SWG-4HDs, 4" Stainless Steel Power Venter (170,000 BTU). Currently, I have the SWGII-4HD. Can anyone confirm if the SWG-4HDs is an exact replacement, other than being stainless? I'm wondering what the "II" in my model number stands for.

Also, any specific advice on swapping one of these units out? It looks fairly simple and I'm no stranger to handyman projects. Thanks guys.
 
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Old 10-03-13, 06:57 AM
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As a 'temporary' fix, I myself would be hacking something together with large fender washers...

I don't know if it's a 'direct fit plug and play' replacement or not, but it might be worth a call directly to Field Controls... (might want to present yourself as a contractor... ) the folks at PexSupply MIGHT be able to help.
 
  #21  
Old 10-03-13, 07:05 AM
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Boiler is back up and running, thanks to a pair of vise grips securing the fan/motor to the housing. I'll see what Field Controls says.
 
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