Steam boiler water fluctuates....

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Old 10-22-13, 04:41 PM
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Steam boiler water fluctuates....

I'm sorry to use this thread but I can't find a way to post my question about a steam boiler issue. My request goes to anyone who can help me. The water on the glass viewer goes way low or tops and is not reflecting of the water level on the boiler according to what the LWCO guard is indicating. Please reply so I can give more info before I dare turn the boiler back up (temp is going to below 50 tonight) Thank you!
 
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Old 10-22-13, 04:45 PM
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Moved to your own thread....

Sounds like the boiler needs to be skimmed. Its called surging... Not really for the DIY IMO.. You probably should call a pro in...

Although we do not know your skill set.....

Read here.

Skimming a Steam Boiler
 
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Old 10-22-13, 09:35 PM
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Thank you Mr. Larowsa for the skimming a steam boiler information.

I'm not able to make repairs to the system but I'd like to understand what may be the problem, since I had the Utility Co. inspect the system and they said during the rest of the year I didn't have to drain it as often as in the winter. Since the weather has been mild I started to drain it weekly about 3 weeks ago.
The gas Peerles steam boiler is 4 years old and has a CG Cycle Guard with the indicator lights. By the way the Internal Syphon Gauge did not move from 0 all this time.

The water level was half inch from the top of the glass viewer. When I drained the boiler after taking out a significant amount of rusty water it remained in the same position.
I let is stand for about an hour and when I came back the level was 1/4 on the glass viewer. Added more water this time faster since the boiler was cooler, still the level only increased to 1/3, so I let it stand for another 2 hours and when the thermostat turned on the boiler, the radiator valves started hissing, so I run to check the boiler and noticed water was spilling from one of the 6' pipes that ends on a gold color flat, round valve; so I turned the thermostat down and the power to the boiler off. A couple of hours later I returned to find the glass viewer topped off. I tried removing some water again and the LWCO guard yellow light turned on so I filled it until it went off and the green came on and turned off a few seconds later.
I finally left it alone overnight powered off, but today the glass is still toped off and the boiler has not run (I have the thermostat at 62) and powered on. Does this explantion give you more clues of a diffent solution or confirms that I need the boiler to be skimmed.
I have been maintaining the boiler myself for the past 2 winters and nothing like this happened before. I'd appreciate any expert advice to avoid unnecessary repairs. Thanks!
 
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Old 10-23-13, 01:25 AM
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You might not like what i am about to write. I don't think that you or your service people have been properly maintaining your boiler and heating system.

You write about draining the system more in the winter and then weekly recently. You should NOT be "draining" the boiler but you SHOULD be periodically "blowing down" the boiler. This means that when the boiler is operating you should open the drain valve fully and then close it. That is it, only blow down a small amount of the water, not the entire amount. How often you do this depends upon the both the quality of your "make-up" water AND how much new water is required to maintain the water level in your boiler. The ONLY way to KNOW how much water you are using is to install a water meter on the make-up water pipe. The meter is available for about $100.

Next, you need to do ANNUAL maintenance on the boiler. You need to remove the water gauge glass and its fittings and clean out the connections, all the way to the internal boiler. The same for the low water cut off device. The pressure gauge should be removed and the connection cleaned while the gauge itself is tested. Since the safety valve will never operate under normal conditions you need to replace it every five years. Remove the electric pressure switch (Pressuretrol) and clean both the control itself AND the loop of pipe. These things MUST be done every year before the heating season.

In addition, you need to maintain the air vent valves located on the room radiators AND the main line vents located on the piping in the basement. In short, there are a lot of items to clean, test and maintain in a residential STEAM system that do not exist with a hot water system. All of them are important.

You also need to get the book, We Got Steam Heat by Dan Holohan and read it cover-to-cover. It is available from Amazon and also direct from Mr. Holohan's website.
 
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Old 10-23-13, 11:28 AM
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If you have your books from the boiler read the part about skimming and maintainence. It can get involved explaining if you're not experienced. I will say the worst thing you can do is to keep draining the boiler from the bottom. You mentioned rusty water. All you're doing by bottom draining is leaving all the crap on the boiler walls and then picking it up again when you refill. Every time you add fresh water you're adding more crap depending how bad your water quality is. It's the worst thing you can do not to mention shortening your boiler life. You must SKIM to clean the water and then if you have LWCO with a blowdown valve take a small amount once a month. Your problem sounds like surging from dirty water. What happenes is when the boiler makes steam with dirty water it will syphon the water up into the pipes and rads which makes your water disappear from the glass but given time if it's piped right after the boiler shuts down the water will return. If you get impatient and add water before it has a time to return you will overfill and have more problems. One other thing you might check is your valve to feed the boiler to make sure it's shutting off completely and not leaking by. It may not seem like much but overnight it adds up. This could get drawn out but this might give you a starting point. Incidentally Furd mentioned the maintenance which should be done periodacly but given that the controls work and the boiler operates properly I don't think removing everything at this point would solve your problem. Just my opinion.
 
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Old 10-23-13, 04:10 PM
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The fluctuation

Every time you drain and add new water, you bring in more oxygen, and adds to the rusty water that you see in the [gauge] glass. The boiler might be over fired [too big of a fuel nozzle], most boilers are probably over fired ,witch causes bouncing water. By the time you read the books mentioned, you will be an expert.
Sid
 
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Old 10-23-13, 04:56 PM
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Thank you all for the great information and advice; You are right Furd, I actually liked what you say about not properly maintaining the boiler because ignorance is the reason things break down or are incorrectly fixed/maintained.
I was also advised to open the valves on top and bottom of glass viewer (that I didn't know needed to be open) but water is still topped.

I need a professional to assess the problem and won't come until Friday afternoon, in the meantime I need some more heat (I've kept it at 62) would it cause damage to increase the thermostat a little?
 
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Old 10-23-13, 05:05 PM
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It sounds to me like your water feeder is over-feeding the boiler...
 
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Old 10-24-13, 01:32 AM
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Although few residential boilers have them ALL steam boilers need a drain valve on the lower water glass connection. Opening the drain should cause the water in the glass to drop instantly. Alternately open and close the other two valves to blow through the top and bottom connections to make certain they are clear. ALWAYS leave both the upper and lower valves wide open with the drain closed except when doing the above testing.

Having the water not go down when blowing from the boiler drain valve is indicative of a plugged, maybe only partially, lower connection. A slowly rising water level WHEN FIRING is indicative of a plugged lower connection. High and low pressure excursions are indicative of a plugged siphon loop on the Pressuretrol.

A water feeder that has partially plugged connections WILL feed excessive water or sometimes not enough water.
 
 

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