Steam Heat/Indirect DHW/Aquastat Wiring

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Old 11-23-13, 10:04 AM
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Steam Heat/Indirect DHW/Aquastat Wiring

Hello and good afternoon. Forgive me if this post is in the wrong place, as my question is electrical but relates specifically to the wiring of a stem heat/hot water system. I posted on here a while back about an issue with my boiler short-cycling when there was a call for hot water. Well, the boiler ended up cracking and I just had a new one installed and wired to an Amtrol Boilermate for our domestic hot water. Here is my best shot at a diagram of the wiring:



The issue I'm having is that when there is a call for hot water, the aquastat does not turn off the burners once the temperature setting is exceeded. The boiler runs until the setting on the Amtrol is satisfied, even if that means steaming up the radiators. Not a major issue this time of year in NJ, but in the summer it will be. Based on how it's wired, I think the only thing the auqustat is doing is keeping the boiler in a certain temp range when there is no call for heat or hot water - Pointless really, as we never have an issue with hot water coming up quickly enough. So, my question is, how should this be wired such that the aquastat kills the burners (but not necessarily the circulator) once it senses a temperature that exceeds the setting. I'm thinking that the answer should be pretty simple, but I want to check with you all before I start messing with things. I am also not quite sure how the circulator is wired into the relay (hence the question marks in my diagram) but I can look more closely if that is relevant/necessary info.

Here are some additional pictures of the setup:







Notes: I have temporarily disconnected the aquastat's connection to the thermostat wires so the boiler does not fire when there's no call for heat or HW. However, now when there is a call for hot water the circulator runs, but not the boiler. Also the aquastat is Honeywell SKU #L4006A2007. Relay is a Honeywell #RA832A.

Thanks!!
Chris
 
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Old 11-23-13, 10:53 AM
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had a new one installed
Meaning someone was hired... you didn't install yourself?

Why is the gauge glass so mucky? Do you know if they cleaned and skimmed the water side after install?

What OTHER controls are installed on the boiler, specifically a PRESSURTROL ?

Can you pull back with the camera and give us a wider view so we can see the big picture?
 
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Old 11-23-13, 11:00 AM
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Give us the model of the boiler.

Can you describe the wiring at the aquastat? and tell us the temperature setting?

In other words, the two wires that are coming from X X in the relay, what are they actually connected to at the aquastat?

Then you say there are two wires leaving the aquastat and going to the 'thermostat'... what control are you referring to as the 'thermostat'?

What terminals in the aquastat are those wires to the 'thermostat' coming from, and what terminals in the 'thermostat' are they landing on?
 
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Old 11-23-13, 11:34 AM
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I hired someone to install it. No way I'd attempt that myself. I do not know why the water in the glass is so dirty, and was wondering that myself. The contractor said they did everything they needed to, so I would hope they skimmed the boiler. The pressuretrol is Honeywell model # PA404A1074



Here is a bigger picture:



Boiler is Utica PEG150IDE. The temperature setting on the aquastat has been all over the place as I'm playing with it trying to figure this out, but basically with the heat shut down at the main upstairs digital thermostat and with the Boilermate turned all the way down, the boiler will fire up and shut down just by turning the knob on the aquastat. The two wires from the XX in the relay are going to the two terminals in the aquastat. There are only two terminals in the aquastat.



Each terminal of the aquastat has two wires connected to it. As you mentioned, the XX wires from the relay, and then one more separate wire from each terminal which is connected to what I referred to as the "thermostat". I meant the thermostat wires that my main house thermostat is connected to which tell the boiler to fire if you touch them. It looks like they are housed in the LWCO:



In other words, each of those blue wire nuts has three wires in them (I decided to reconnect the aquastat and crank the setting all the way down). The wire connected to my upstairs digital thermostat, the set of wires coming from the aquastat, and the two wires that you connect the thermostat to if you install a boiler or a new thermostat.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 12:32 PM
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Good grief... why do so-called 'professional' persons continue to think that COPPER pipe is OK to use with a steam boiler?

Can we see the rest of the piping above the boiler please? Also, a wider shot of the other side of the boiler where the aquastat is?

The solution to your constant firing issue is quite simple really. Your installers F'd up.

You should NOT have 2 wires on each aquastat terminal.

That aquastat needs to be in SERIES with the signal from the X X terminals on the relay, NOT in PARALLEL with it.

Find a small wire nut.

ONE of the X X wires goes to ONE of the aquastat terminals.

ONE of the 'thermostat' wires goes to the OTHER aquastat terminal.

The OTHER X X wire is connected to the OTHER thermostat wire with the wire nut and tucked inside the control box.

Going by color codes on your drawing, one each of the RED on each aquastat terminal, the two WHITE connected together with wire nut.

Set the aquastat to 180F with say 20 of DIFFerential.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 12:34 PM
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Please give us the model number of the circulator that was installed.

Let's talk about steam pressure...

Tell us the CUT IN pressure from the front dial of the PressurTrol, and the setting of the inside DIFF dial.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 12:51 PM
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If you are better thinking 'visually', here is your modified drawing:

 
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Old 11-23-13, 01:07 PM
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If I'm not mistaken that relay(832) didn't come with the boiler but was probably installed by the CopperKing Contractor. You have a Boilermate Indirect hot water heater. That unit unlike others on the market comes with there own wiring accommodations and does not need a relay. Your circ. wires and burner wires are all included if you remove the 2 screws where the readout is. IMO all that wiring and problems are needless.

I happen to have a boilermate since 1983(same one) and have installed numerous ones on jobs.
There not as difficult as people make them. Nobody wants to take the time to read instructions as with your COPPER PIPING.
Along with Trooper I am very interested in seeing your near boiler piping.
He could have at least made it look good with pipe insulation.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 01:36 PM
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CopperKing Contractor


He could have at least made it look good with pipe insulation.
Not to mention work better.

That unit unlike others on the market comes with there own wiring accommodations and does not need a relay.
Their lack of understanding on how to wire that aquastat is evidence that they couldn't understand the directions even if they DID read them!

Sad that too many contractors are more interested in using the directions as 'knee pads' to kneel on and keep their jeans clean.

I'm hoping that they at least sized up the radiators in the home and didn't install a bigger boiler than needed! (like our poor friend Jie Ouyang)
 
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Old 11-23-13, 03:06 PM
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If he could be granted 1 wish.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 04:22 PM
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Thanks guys. Don't get me started on this moron using copper. Even I as the homeowner knew better and urged him to use black steel. The trouble is, we were without heat/HW and I couldn't even get any heating contractors in the area to call me back, much less take the job. Weird really. Bottom line, we needed heat, I know this guy personally, and I have his assurance that he will come back to make any repairs free of charge if (when) the copper begins to leak. I suspected that the solution to the wiring was something as simple as you described. I just returned from a cousin's first BDay party and am about to lay down for a bit, then I will post again tomorrow after messing with the wires, snapping some more pictures, etc.

In the meantime I'd also like to know - Do you think I should skim the boiler? I've never done this myself before. Is it as easy as slightly opening the fill valve with the block hot, then opening the skim valve, and letting the oil on top slide out into a bucket?

Thanks again for all of your help. I really do appreciate being able to count on you guys (especially you, Trooper).

BTW, Spot, you are correct that the relay didn't come with the boiler. Trooper, does this change things, or can I still wire it as you described/pictured?

Regards,
Chris
 
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Old 11-23-13, 05:16 PM
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Do you think I should skim the boiler?
I would. You've got nothing to lose by doing so.

You might want to remove that boiler drain and install a straight through ball valve though. You want the oils and whatnot to be able to 'float' out of the skim tapping. With that boiler drain in there, they won't be able to do that.

Skimming a steamer:

Skimming a Steam Boiler

Page 22 of the boiler manual has a more detailed set of instructions. It includes flushing the bottom of the boiler as well.

When finished, I would definitely remove and clean the gauge glass as well.

There's lots more info on steamers here:

Technical Menu

does this change things, or can I still wire it as you described/pictured?
No, not at all. It will work fine the way it is, just that the extra relay wasn't needed. (I'm taking Spott's word for that, it's been a while since I've looked at the diagrams for the BM heaters... I DO recall though that there are all kinds of options for wiring them, so I'm confident Spotty is correct.)

When you do get back downstairs:

Tell us the CUT IN pressure from the front dial of the PressurTrol, and the setting of the inside DIFF dial.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 05:26 PM
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Chris
Just for grins, if you're curious, remove the panel on the BM where your readout is and you'll see all the marked wires. In case you need them for some reason. You should have your book for the BM also. That will give all the schematics.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 05:56 PM
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Ok, I can't help myself from fussing with it. I re-wired the aquastat as described, and it works exactly as I'd hoped (THANKS!).

The pressuretrol differential is cranked all the way down to 1, and the cut in appears to also be cranked all the way down to around 0.5:



The circulator is a Taco 007-F5:



I had a similar looking one before, except it was green (don't know the model #), but the contractor insisted on replacing it with this one.

As requested, here is a picture of the piping on the other side, from the BM to the boiler, and where the aquastat is:



And here is a picture of the piping up above the system:



Also, I have attempted to follow the instructions to skim the boiler, but the water comes out crystal clear and red hot. Why is this? Is it all because the incorrect valve is attached to the skimmer tapping? I did refer to page 22 of the manual as you suggested. When the manual mentions the "drain valve", is this any specific valve? Or just anywhere below the water line?
 
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Old 11-23-13, 06:08 PM
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Also, with regard to having the radiators looked at and the boiler sized properly, I'll give you one guess if that was done...

Anyway, on the first floor there are three radiators. They have 5, 11, and 12 ribs. Upstairs there are five radiators and they have 4, 7, 8, and 9 ribs, plus there is a shorter/smaller radiator in the bathroom which is recessed into the wall and looks to have about 8 ribs.

Home is about 1500 square feet colonial, built in 1927.

I don't have the literature for the Amtrol, because it was here when we moved in 3 years ago and the previous owners did not leave it for us. Any idea where I can get my hands on a copy of it? I can't seem to find it online. Model # is WH7Z.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 06:26 PM
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The pressuretrol differential is cranked all the way down to 1, and the cut in appears to also be cranked all the way down to around 0.5:
Perfect! Your guy isn't the moron we think he is!

The circulator is a Taco 007-F5:
Well... it's cast iron... but it's BLACK... which means OEM... that it was supplied with a boiler... maybe your guy had it 'laying around' from another job?

It should have been BRONZE (much more $$$) because the corrosive nature of the steam boiler water may cause it to fail prematurely. When it fails, scrape together some coins and get a bronze one.

here is a picture of the piping on the other side
Oh... thank goodness! I was afraid that there wasn't going to be an equalizer or a Hartford Loop! He's looking less and less the moron by the minute!

And here is a picture of the piping up above the system:
Which really is not bad at all... only thing I see is that where the riser goes up to meet the mains really should have been TWO risers off the header and individually run to each of those mains.

May not cause any problems though...

You need to get those steam mains INSULATED!
 
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Old 11-23-13, 06:53 PM
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Go to "pexsupply.com, click on boiler mate, click on the one you have, click on manuals and download.
Or you can just Google boilermate and you have choices.

I find pex the best. They let you download everything instead of jumping through hoops.
Good Luck

By the way, saw the pics.
I agree with Trooper. Couple things could be changed. Didn't particularly like the single feed but if
It works.Other than the copper it's not a bad job.
Do yourself a favor and cover the pipes with fiberglass.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 06:57 PM
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Is it all because the incorrect valve is attached to the skimmer tapping?
Possibly... you are probably seeing water coming from below the surface.

The boiler manual doesn't even talk about a skim valve. If you look at the piping diagrams, you will see that they recommend a CAP on the end of the 2" tee out the side of the boiler. They are saying to install an elbow down, and a pipe so you can set a bucket under it.

The 'comfort-calc' website shows a ball valve.

Either way, you need to be able to actually 'skim' the water from the very top. That boiler drain isn't going to do it... and looks like it may in fact only be 1/2" pipe coming off the end of that tee? Should be at LEAST 3/4".

You could actually just remove the drain valve and hang a bucket on the pipe.

If it's coming out clear, I would say it probably was skimmed. If it hadn't been, there would be foaming, surging, etc...

Maybe all you need to do at this point is clean up the gauge glass?

When the manual mentions the "drain valve", is this any specific valve? Or just anywhere below the water line?
I think you are talking about the 'blow down' valve? Refer again to the piping diagrams, it should be at the bottom of the boiler.

Blow down should be coming off one of the return tappings.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 06:59 PM
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Anyway, on the first floor there are three radiators. They have 5, 11, and 12 ribs. Upstairs there are five radiators and they have 4, 7, 8, and 9 ribs, plus there is a shorter/smaller radiator in the bathroom which is recessed into the wall and looks to have about 8 ribs.
In addition to number of sections, one would need the HEIGHT, and the number of TUBES or COLUMNS in each section in order to calculate the "EDR" of the rads.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 07:22 PM
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In regards to skimming they would like to see full size but your stuck for now but at least you have something.
That is the right location. What you do is with the boiler running to about 180 or abouts. You do not want it to make steam. Then very slowly you feed water in from the bottom and let it run slowly from your skim tapping. You're bringing all the oil and crap to the top. Depending on how they made the castings and the oil left inside.This could take hours to completely clean.
You can use your aquastat to run the boiler instead of the t-stat.

As far as your blowdown, you have a electronic LWCO so you don't have one. They do make another kind that has a blowdown on it but you don't have it.

After everything has been skimmed and running if you want to take a little out of the bottom every month it won't hurt.
You can tell by your gauge glass. You might be able to flush that so the openings don't get clogged.
 
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Old 11-23-13, 08:04 PM
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You can use your aquastat to run the boiler instead of the t-stat.
Excellent idea!

Putting a jumper across the X X terminals in the relay would result in the boiler being held at the temperature of the aquastat while skimming! Perfect!

I wonder though, without circulation, if the boiler would REALLY be at 180 because of the location of the aquastat, or maybe it would be higher and start to steam... so if that happens, just turn down the aquastat a bit I guess...
 
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Old 11-23-13, 08:12 PM
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Yes, you can either turn it down or periodically shut the boiler off. As long as the water stays hot he'll be OK.
 
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Old 11-24-13, 10:26 AM
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Ok, that makes sense. I want to do something, because the water seems pretty oily:



Actually DID clean the gauge glass just about two day ago, and installation was only on Tuesday.

It looks also like the valve is in fact a 3/4:



Maybe I just need to try again and/or for a longer time. Otherwise, is it as simple as twisting off that 3/4 valve with a pipe wrench, skimming, and then wrapping it in thread tape and sticking it back on? I do not have any experience with pipework...

When it comes to draining from the bottom, it looks like there are four options, and I'm wondering which would be best best to use:

 
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Old 11-24-13, 11:12 AM
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Actually DID clean the gauge glass just about two day ago, and installation was only on Tuesday.
That much crud collected in two days? Yeah, it needs to be skimmed, and maybe even a cleaner, but read the manuals precautions on using cleaners.

is it as simple as twisting off that 3/4 valve with a pipe wrench, skimming, and then wrapping it in thread tape and sticking it back on? I do not have any experience with pipework...
Yes, pretty much... just remember when you skim, the slower the better... just a pencil thin stream.

I don't like that fitting for skimming (the way it 'funnels' down) but you don't have much choice, do you?

You don't need more than 2 wraps of tape, more is NOT better. But chances of a leak there are pretty remote, water doesn't get that high normally, and steam pressure is only like 2 PSI.

it looks like there are four options
It looks like 3 and the ball valve next to it are a 'purge station' for filling the coil in the BM.

Two looks like more of a drain for the 'wet return' than a blow down.

One already has a hose on it? Where does that go?

I guess either 1 or 4...

What does Spott think?
 
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Old 11-24-13, 11:27 AM
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Chris,
Unfortunately it looks like he never skimmed it. Your gauge glass is horrible. That is oil from when they made the castings. All that oil hampers the steam from getting out of the boiler to the rads.

There's no real reason to take the spigot off, it's the same size as the part it's screwed into.

Lastly, you don't want to drain from the bottom until this is taken care of.
What happens when you drain from the bottom is as the water drains down the oil in the water just sticks to the walls again, and then when you refill it's lifted off again. It's counter productive.

That's why you must skim from the top. With the small opening it will take longer but be patient and it will happen.
You don't have to do it all at once.

Remember "slow and steady wins the race". That's what's nice about doing it yourself.

As Trooper says, we'll be here.
 
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Old 11-24-13, 11:40 AM
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Awesome. Thanks guys. I'll try skimming it later this evening or after work tomorrow. If I'm hearing you correctly, there's no real benefit to twisting off that valve - Just open it up and be patient.

The valve in the back labeled #1 has a hose on it because I was going to try draining from there, but decided to check here first. You might not be able to tell from the picture, but #4 is actually much lower to the ground. Was just concerned that with it's proximity to the circulator, I might not get a good flow.

I will worry about skimming (and insulating) first and then draining. I just cleaned the glass again and it's supposed to get down to 18 degrees here tonight, so if I don't get to it until tomorrow it will be interesting to see how bad the glass gets. Will try to remember to snap another pic.

Thanks again. Can't tell you how much I appreciate the help.

Chris
 
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Old 11-24-13, 12:01 PM
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There's no real reason to take the spigot off
I don't think I agree with this. The oil and crud is floating on top of the water, it will continue to float on top, while the water under it flows out of that spigot nice and clean... you saw that the first time you tried!
 
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Old 11-24-13, 01:02 PM
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I see...

The water was in fact clear as I'd mentioned, so my next attempt at skimming will involve twisting off the spigot. If it's that easy to replace, I have nothing to lose by doing so.

I'll be sure to post the outcome.
 
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Old 11-24-13, 01:13 PM
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Chris, it may look clear but look at the bucket after and see what it looks like.
I ran into the same thing once and by accident I found it.
Let it settle in the buckett and see if you get the same thing.
Good Luck.
 
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Old 11-24-13, 01:58 PM
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twisting off the spigot
Use two wrenches! Don't try just turning the spigot because you may crack the solder connection. Not the end of the world if you do, easily fixed, but don't do it anyway.
 
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Old 12-18-13, 06:08 PM
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Hello again, and sorry for reviving an old thread. I have been meaning to post here an provide an update regarding the progress I've been making. However, I've got another issue and I fear the worst...

Last night I came home and noticed that the boiler had used quite a bit more water than I would have expected. While it was running, I reached my hand up under the flue and found that the air was saturated. Almost like steam going up into my chimney. I reached under there with a cellphone cam and snapped this picture:



My 4 week old boiler is cracked already...isn't it?
 
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Old 12-18-13, 06:32 PM
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Oh 5h1t! say it ain't so!

That sure does look like a crack to me...

I hate to tellya this, but I've heard tell that this is one of the 'down sides' to piping with copper. Since the copper expands and contracts more than the steel does... and you can't really create a proper 'swing joint' with soldered copper fitting, the stress that is imparted to the block can be cause for cracks.

Soooo, your friend said he would come and fix any broken solder joints... but did he make any promises relating to a cracked block?
 
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Old 12-18-13, 06:41 PM
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Yea, this is unreal.

No he did not make any promises with regard to the block. With regard to your point though - This one is in the middle of the unit if that matters. In other words, the copper ties into the "outer" blocks, not the middle one that is cracked. Not sure if that makes sense or means anything.

He's telling me that he's going to go back to the supply house where the unit was purchased and also to Utica and that they may send someone out to my house to evaluate it.

I said that's fine but I just spent thousands of dollars on a new boiler plus installation, and this shouldn't be my problem at this point. He needs to fix it, and not at my expense.

We'll see where it goes, but I don't have a good feeling about this...

Anyway, what is the typical cause of cracks ABOVE the water line? It was the same issue in my previous (3 year old) boiler. Could it be because it wasn't skimmed? I've been skimming it and it's a lot cleaner now, but a couple times the boiler made some LOUD banging noises when firing up before I had gotten it as clean as it is now.
 
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Old 12-18-13, 06:47 PM
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Chris,
I doubt very much that you need validation of this but yes, that is a crack.
For what it's worth I'm sure it's under warranty and when the new one gets installed you'll know what to look for.

I know that's little cancellation at this time but if it helps 2 yrs. ago at this same time my brother lost 2 steam boilers about a week apart from the same thing.

His were Burnhams and they found they had bad castings.

I know misery loves company. Just thought I'd share that.
Good Luck
 
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Old 12-18-13, 07:02 PM
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Chris,
I forgot this was piped in copper. I was posting the same as you guys.
I had to back, it's been a while.
I hope you have good luck but from my experience copper above the water line generally voids the warranty.
A friend of mine had a cracked boiler that I had installed and was out of warranty. He called his homeowners insurance and they came down to look at it and they covered it because it was installed correctly.

The insurance guy said they were having so much trouble with cracking and claims due to poor installation they really clamped down.

The two things he looked for was 1, no copper above water line and 2, Hartford loop.
Fortunately he liked the install and they covered the boiler.
 
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Old 12-18-13, 07:13 PM
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Thanks Spott. If that's the case I'm actually fine with it. CopperKing assured me this was ok, and from what I understand Utica rarely honors the warranty anyway. If the installer voided the warranty then as far as I'm concerned it's all the more his problem.

Sorry if I seem frustrated. I just don't know what to think or who to try and hold accountable but I'm going to do whatever I need to. This isn't my fault and I'm intent on making sure it's corrected accordingly.
 
  #37  
Old 12-18-13, 07:29 PM
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Yeah, I'm feeling pretty bad for ya right now myself. All the boiler on here are like my 'adopted step-children' so I'm feeling some of your pain... if that helps at all.

Keep us posted what happens.

the copper ties into the "outer" blocks, not the middle one that is cracked. Not sure if that makes sense or means anything.
Where cracks occur all depends on where the stresses are 'focused'. If you pick up a branch and hold it at the ends, and start to bend it, it won't snap at your hands, it will snap in the middle. Not sure if it's a good analogy or not, just trying to show how ya really can't tell without some kind of 'stress analysis'.
 
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Old 12-18-13, 07:34 PM
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Got ya. That actually makes perfect sense.

You can bet I'll keep everyone updated (like it or not! Hahah).

Last question before I get some sleep. What do you guys think about my oil/skimming/banging hypothesis? Can the banging from a dirty oily boiler actually be intense enough to crack the block?
 
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Old 12-18-13, 07:55 PM
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Chris,
When the boiler goes through those spasms what we hear on the outside isn't anywhere near what is actually going on inside. It is really violent.
That's why they want black iron pipe and swings joints, so that there's some flexibility and the pipes take some of the brunt.
Copper expands at a different rate than B.I. and there's no flexibility.
Copper, when soldered is very ridgid, and does not move and all the stress goes right to the cast.
All the banging and problems you are having are due to poor installation and is definitely the responsibility of the Copper King Contractor.

Best of Luck,
 
  #40  
Old 12-20-13, 08:02 AM
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Hello again everyone. So I did some more research and came across this on page 9 of the manual:

Page 9

"Fit headers with header offsets, swing joints, or equip
with expansion joints, so thermal expansion and
contraction of header does not damage boiler. Do not
weld headers."

Seeing as how the headers were done in copper, there is no way that these are "swing joints" correct?



I was going to reach out to Utica, then the contractor told me not to. He also confirmed that although he's a licensed plumber, he is not familiar with the term "swing joint". I thought he was telling me stay away from Utica because he was going to try and get a warranty replacement, and didn't want them to know that he piped it improperly.

However, I just spoke with him now and he states that a Utica rep is coming to my house on Monday to determine the cause of the crack. He's saying that if it was dry fired, then it's going to be my problem. Based on how that block looks, and the location of the crack, do you guys think there is any chance that the boiler was dry fired? There is even an auto feed & LWCO. Could the LWCO have failed because the boiler wasn't skimmed? I've read that when the casting turns red, it indicates that the boiler may have been dry fired. Based on this and how mine looks, I am concerned that they are going to claim that I dry fired the boiler.
 
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