Steam boiler problems after upgrade to gas from oil


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Old 12-21-14, 01:42 PM
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Steam boiler problems after upgrade to gas from oil

We updated my fathers boiler to a gas fired system it was an oil fired "snowman" looking boiler. They did the work and said it was good but we had major water hammering going on to the radiator in one of the upstairs rooms. Also water was shooting out of the main vent at the end of the run downstairs. They came back pitched some radiators checked the angle of the pipes and said there good. He actually removed the main vent and capped it! So the next weekend comes and we still have the same issues. The owner came back and said he shouldn't of capped the main vent. They spent the next two days there working on it. Said they needed to raise or lower the boiler? Something about 24" from the water level? But they said it was all set again... Today I went there and the low water light was on and it was 50 degrees in the house. Filled the boiler to half on the sight glass and it fired up 10 min later water is shooting out of the upstairs radiator all over the floor!!! Like a faucet!!so I shut that radiators valve and it stopped. Water level was low again so I brought it back up to half and it fired up. Now the living room radiator was shooting water out!! My sister is gonna call them back but I figured I would ask here to see what the steam experts thought of the setup. Something's wrong as it didn't do this before the swap. Here's some pics of the setup.






Thanks for your time...
 
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Old 12-21-14, 03:33 PM
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What size is the boiler and how did they come up with it?
The Hartford loop doesn't appear to be correct.
What are the settings on the pressuretroll?
Main vent needs to be in place.

Hopefully the steam pros will chime in shortly.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 03:51 PM
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From what I can see in the pic of the PressurTrol, it appears that it's set WAY TOO HIGH ... for starters.

I agree that something doesn't look right on the Hartford loop... shouldn't that be 2" above:NO NO NO: the water line? [no, that's wrong... 2-4" BELOW the water line, so it may be OK, but something still don't look kosher]

Water squirting out of the radiators is a sure sign that something is wrong with the water feeder.
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-21-14 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 12-21-14, 04:04 PM
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150,000 BTU 82% EFFICIENT STEAM GAS FIRED BOILER, MODEL # PER63-04LSPRKSP

Pressuretroll is the box on the side? It's set to just under 1%

They installed the main vent. But it was spewing water too. That's why the bucket is hanging at the end of the long line..

He went into all the rooms, I assume to measure what we needed...
 
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Old 12-21-14, 04:17 PM
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Pressuretroll is the box on the side? It's set to just under 1%
No... there's no % on the PressurTrol. It's in PSI. You need to read the scale on the right side, the scale on the left is in different units that nobody in the USA uses.


image courtesy supplyhouse.com

The setting on the pic above is up around 3 PSI which is WAY too high! Good thing it's not hooked up to a boiler!

From what I see in the pic, it looks like yours is above 2.0 PSI.

Please take a close look and tell us exactly what that's set at.

There's also a dial INSIDE that box that needs to be checked for sanity, but not now...


For water to be squirting out the vents, it means that the system is flooded with water, or that the condensate can't get back to the boiler.

When the squirting starts happening, what is the water level on the sight glass on the side of the boiler.

By the way, in the picture you posted, that water level is way low.
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-21-14 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 12-21-14, 04:30 PM
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It's set to the bottom so .05? The water is low because it was shooting out of the radiators... Water level drops out of sight when the boiler was running. And it was half way on the glass before I turned it back on.. We were still getting the hammering and when the water started shooting out the vent I shut it off...
 
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Old 12-21-14, 04:47 PM
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Another question comes to mind...
Did they clean the new boiler and piping to remove and oils?
That along with the improper Hartford loop can result in severe purging.
150,000 btu's - I hope the house has radiation for about 7,000 or more square feet.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 04:52 PM
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.
.
Where does that piping go down at the lower left of the boiler in this photo?





It looks like that copper pipe coming down to the piping is the water feed? and the other that is just hanging there is coming down from a backflow preventer on the water line?
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-21-14 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 12-21-14, 05:03 PM
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It's set to the bottom so .05?
OK then, 0.5 PSI is good for the 'cut in'. I wonder what the white differential dial inside is set to? Care to take the cover off the pressurtrol and look? TURN POWER TO THE BOILER OFF BEFORE REMOVING THE COVER!

It should be 1.5 to 2.0
 
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Old 12-21-14, 05:10 PM
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They said they skimmed it when they were there the last time. There's a ball valve from the main water supply that goes into a "T" center of that "T" is the pipe going down to just above the floor. Other side of that TEE goes into the boiler. The "T" must be a back flow preventer? There are 7 radiators in the house...

Here's a better shot of the pressuretroll

 
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Old 12-21-14, 05:27 PM
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Check the dial inside the box.

In that picture above, I want to see where the steel pipes connect to the boiler.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 05:44 PM
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The steel house pipes? Or the water main?
 
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Old 12-21-14, 05:53 PM
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I want to see where the steel pipes connect to the boiler.
Where the return is piped into the boiler.

See if you can get a better shot of that, it can't be seen in the photo.

Trying to figure out why the water is pushing out of the boiler... doesn't make sense.

If you wrap your fingers around the pipe that leads from the supply header down to the returns, can you touch your thumb and middle finger together? or do they over lap (your fingers)? That's called an 'equalizer pipe', and it should be 1-1/4" minimum... looks like it is, but pictures can lie.


How is the water feed to the boiler being controlled? Is there a valve on the water line that feeds water automagically ?
 
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Old 12-21-14, 06:31 PM
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Ok I will take a better pic of that tomorrow. I will measure that equalizer pipe too. The water feed is a ball valve from the house main line to the back flow preventer and then down tied into the return. It's always closed. Unless you have to fill it.
 
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Old 12-21-14, 07:27 PM
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Here's a video of the downstairs radiator after I shut the upstairs radiator off because it did the same thing all over the floor.

http://youtu.be/Wh-h2-RO2RE
 
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Old 12-21-14, 07:40 PM
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Okay guy I see one real problem. The boiler piping is not correct. The steam must go in one direction. When the steam exits the boiler it will go left and right. The boiler riser should be moved to the right end. Number two it needs skimmed properly. See comfort-calc.net "steam tab" and skimming. All steam caring mains need to be insulated.
Not sure but at that boiler size does the manufacturer require a second boiler riser?
 
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Old 12-21-14, 08:30 PM
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The steam must go in one direction. When the steam exits the boiler it will go left and right. The boiler riser should be moved to the right end.
Only the equalizer is on the other side of the tee... both mains come off tees to the right...



Is it not OK for the equalizer to be in the other direction?

I'm wondering is the horizontal condensate line coming from the right hand main is pitched backward, toward the main? Looks like it to me... but hard to tell in the pic. Slug, can you put a level on that pipe please?


but at that boiler size does the manufacturer require a second boiler riser?
I did check that and according to I&O, no, that size is OK with one 2-1/2" riser.
 
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Old 12-22-14, 12:22 PM
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Ok I got more pics of the return pipes and inside the pressuretroll box..and a couple others as well.. That pipe that goes across from the main to the return is level..








Thank you for all your help!!!
 
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Old 12-22-14, 01:46 PM
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OK, the settings in the PT are actually fine. If anything you could move that white wheel inside to 1.5 (raise it a bit)

There are two mains on your system, let's call them left and right (facing the boiler)

The one on the right is the one with the horizontal condensate pipe (which should be pitched somewhat toward the boiler).

Are the radiators on the LEFT main acting OK ? not flooding ?

Or is it only the ones on that RIGHT main with the horizontal return?


I'm hoping that rbeck will return to answer my question about whether the equalizer being opposite the mains is a no-no. I'm thinking it's OK because there is no steam FLOW in the equalizer, only pressure.


What size pipe is the equalizer ?
 
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Old 12-22-14, 01:47 PM
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One more Q ...

At what point in the heating cycle do the problems begin?
 
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Old 12-22-14, 02:06 PM
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Now that I looked at it all three radiators that have flooded out with water are coming off the right side main that we put insulation on. Equalizer pipe was 1-1/4"

The water starts pushing put about 10min into running it..
 
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Old 12-22-14, 04:46 PM
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Now that I looked at it all three radiators that have flooded out with water are coming off the right side main that we put insulation on. Equalizer pipe was 1-1/4"
As rbeck mentioned, ALL the mains should be insulated... but that's for later...

Did the contractors insulate them because they were never insulated from day one, and they thought that the steam condensing in the main was the problem? If so, they were probably going in the right direction.

The problem is simple enough to define I think: The condensate in that main line isn't making it's way back to the boiler properly.

One of the things that may be aggravating the situation is that horizontal section of condensate pipe dropping from the main and going to the left. For all we know, there may be debris sitting in the tee on the main where it drops down, and falling into that section of pipe. If that pipe is plugged up, even partially, that condensate is not going to get back to the boiler in time...

Then, the steam going up the main runs into the condensate (trying to) coming back and causes water hammering... and pizzing out the vents.

Also, I can't really tell from the pics, but if the Hartford loop is joining the equalizer TOO LOW, when the boiler water level drops below the level that the loop joins, steam will then start pushing into the returns, and the problem will be compounded many times.

I don't think they should have reduced the return into the boiler as much as they did either... that should probably have been a full size pipe coming out.

Oh... one other minor point... safety valves are not to be mounted horizontally. They should have turned that elbow UP, installed the valve, and another elbow DOWN out of the discharge of the safety valve.

To sum up, I believe the first thing I would look at is to see if that horizontal is clear, and can be pitched downward toward the left.

Next, I would take some measurements and make sure that the Hartford loop isn't coming in too low and move it up if necessary.

To add a bit to the above discussion about condensate getting back to the boiler and hitting the steam on the way... take a look at this pic:



It's a little dark, but you can see that the main is pitched down all the way to the riser. Any condensate that doesn't drop into that tee is going to try and get back down into the main header... more potential for hammering. Steam colliding with condensate does not make for a happy system!
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-22-14 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 12-22-14, 05:31 PM
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Thanks agin NJ for your input!! The insulation we installed last week. All the pipes had asbestos on them and we had that removed. I read that they need to be insulated so we ordered it and started doing it ourselves. We emailed the company and are waiting to hear back from them!!
 
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Old 12-22-14, 06:19 PM
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I read that they need to be insulated so we ordered it and started doing it ourselves. We emailed the company
Ordered from the original contractor, or from whom? What was your agreement with the contractor?
 
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Old 12-22-14, 06:36 PM
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We ordered it from a plumbing house. The contractors wanted a lot to do it figured we would save $$ and do it ourselves.
 
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Old 12-23-14, 03:47 PM
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The owner and 5 of his guys were back at my dad's today. I quess they are adding some piping. Have to find out what was said from my sister....
 
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Old 12-23-14, 03:52 PM
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I quess they are adding some piping
Oh boy... let's see what they come up with...

I wonder if they'll add a condensate line from the end of the main back to the boiler.

I guess you didn't have a chance to speak with them before they started?
 
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Old 12-23-14, 04:33 PM
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No my sister was there I couldn't get out of work. I'll ask her what was said.
 
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Old 12-23-14, 07:57 PM
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Inquiring minds want to know! .........................................
 
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Old 12-24-14, 09:02 PM
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Well what that did was add a return pipe from the end of that main back to the return. And they also redused the header size from the boiler and put a elbow in it to try to keep it from sucking up,the water. When I stopped there it seemed like it was working good. All,radiators were hot and he wanted to,let it cool down and come back up to temp again. Well I quess it didn't work like they planned cuz they called and said it's still having problems!!!! Now they want to get the boiler rep in there to see if there's something wrong with the boiler....
 
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Old 12-25-14, 08:16 AM
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I don't think there's anything wrong with the boiler I think
1) it's grossly oversized
2) Installed incorrectly - I don't think the Hartford loop is correct.
 
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Old 12-25-14, 09:51 AM
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Yeah, there's nothing wrong with the boiler.

they also redused the header size from the boiler and put a elbow in it to try to keep it from sucking up,the water.
That was absolutely the wrong thing to do.

Adding the condensate return from the end of the main MIGHT have worked if the main was pitched AWAY from the boiler, but it's not.

They should have been concentrating on that horizontal section of the condensate line off the bottom of that main.

The Hartford Loop looks sorta OK Tom... but if anything is wrong the connection is too low. We never got measurements on how far below the water line it actually is. Also, the return into the boiler should have been kept full size... but it isn't (at least in my opinion) the cause of the problem.

The PROBLEM is that the condensate from that main is not able to get back to the boiler in a timely manner, and IMHO the first place they should be concentrating their efforts is on that horizontal section.

Slugs, can you go and take more pics?
 
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Old 12-25-14, 10:14 AM
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Also, since they don't seem to really 'Got Steam', it's unlikely that they've PROPERLY skimmed the boiler which can cause surging and foaming and wet steam.

Slugs, when the boiler is operating, what does the water in the sight glass do? Does it bounce around, up and down a lot?
 
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Old 12-25-14, 12:05 PM
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When I stopped there it was running and the water was right at the bottom of the sight glass...barely visible. More pics.



 
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Old 12-25-14, 12:31 PM
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Good grief... copper... jeesh... what will they think of next?

Did they actually REDUCE the pipe size of the header? Or leave it the same size and install the 'drop header' only?

And why on earth would there be a steam vent on a condensate line?

Do you know if they at least CHECKED that horizontal section of condensate pipe?

One of the most likely causes that I can see is that condensate line is blocked.

the water was right at the bottom of the sight glass...barely visible
Was water still spurting from the rads?

Or was all that condensate up in the piping?

If you had turned the boiler off at that point, would the water level have come back up in the boiler?

Did you measure the height of the Hartford Loop from the water line of the boiler? Is that connection 2-4" below the water line?
 
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Old 12-25-14, 01:27 PM
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The header size was reduced also. Not sure about the vent, but it was spitting steam and a little water when it was running. Nothing bad I thought. Not sure about the water at the rads. they just called and said it still is not where they want it.. I think if you shut the boiler off the water would come back in the sight glass. Didn't get to measure the height of the loop...
 
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Old 12-25-14, 03:23 PM
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The header size was reduced also.
I have no idea what they were thinking. The boiler manual clearly states 2-1/2" header is required.

it was spitting steam and a little water when it was running. Nothing bad I thought
ANY 'spitting' of steam or water is bad.

Maybe the vents on the radiators are defective?

Vents are only supposed to be open when the system is cool. As soon as steam comes up and hits the vent it is supposed to CLOSE and not hiss or spit.

they just called and said it still is not where they want it..
Who is 'they'? Your folks, or the contractors?
 
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Old 12-25-14, 03:32 PM
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All the vents are new on the rads.

The contractors called and told my sister that. It's was my dad's house he passed away and we are going to be selling it. We just updated the boiler cuz it was so old..
 
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Old 12-27-14, 06:54 AM
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First off the header is mus-piped as I stated earlier. By code a boiler manufacturer must produce boilers that run with 98% dry steam. Dry steam is important for good and efficient operation. The header I see here has steam going to the right, which means condensate runs to the left. The steam will pick up moisture from the condensate and we have wet steam. Wet steam makes it harder to heat due to steam slowing down and prematurely condensing back into condensate thus more water in the system.
I am glad to see you adding insulation to the piping. What you are using for insulation is a bit better than nothing, better if 1-1/2" or better thick.
I thick I see the pitch problem you guys are talking about. I would think it might be OK. That may be counterflow main. The only reason I say that is it appears to have a drip back to the return near the boiler. If in fact the is a counterflow main it would be piped correctly.
It needs to be skimmed properly. If this makes a difference than we know it is a skimming issue and not a piping or system issue.
Check skimming instructions under the steam tab here.
Comfort Calc
 
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Old 12-27-14, 08:53 AM
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Now I see it. The mains should be coming off to the left of the riser between the riser and condensate return. It's backwards, causing wet steam. That link was very informative and clearly shows the mistake in the piping. I still think the Hartford loop connection is a little low.
 
 

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