1 pipe steam system-water level control problem

Reply

  #1  
Old 02-18-15, 05:09 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 5
Angry 1 pipe steam system-water level control problem

Hi you all! First and foremost thanks for reading my post and I hope you can help.

I have a 1 pipe steam system that has been driving me a little crazy. The water level is always off (very high) and I'm always draining it to bring it back to level and when I check a day later the same thing happens. Well, I decided to sit there with the water leveled as it should be and fired up the boiler. I noticed that the water kept getting lower and lower as the heating cycle went on and then....it happened, the low water level control went on and the burners went off. Then I heard that the water was coming back down through the return pipe into the system. However, the automatic feeder had already been prompted and now the system had water coming in from the feeder and the pipes causing for the water level to go higher then recommended. My question here is why? If the pressuretrol is damaged can this cause the problem? I know that the pig tail pipe is clean and clear and the pressuretrol is set at .5psi cut-in and 1ps cut-out. So, I'm actually at a loss here.

Now, there is something else I should mention. This system was changed a couple of years back. It went from 8 radiators to 5 radiators because the house was split. It was first set up to run 4 radiators on the first floor and 4 on the second floor. Here is where it got interesting. They got rid of the first floor radiators (turned it into a separate unit) and added 1 (non vented radiator) to the attic (3rd floor) to the system. This 5th radiator was added sharing a pipe with one of the other radiators. I am mentioning this because I am not sure if this can have something to do with it. I am not sure why they added a non vented radiator to a system that runs with air vented radiators. Perhaps, this can be a problem? Please if you have any advise I will appreciate it. I am about to call the pros and let them take care of it. Although I was thinking of just replacing the pressuretrol first and then taking it from there. What do you think?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 02-18-15, 05:47 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 2,687
Likes Received: 8
I,
Your pressuretrol is fine. Is there any way to get pics. When your boiler makes steam it sounds like it syphoning up through the main or surging so bad it goes below the LWCO which activates the feeder as you said.
Your near boiler piping could cause this or if your boiler wasn't skimmed when put in the oil on the castings and if the water is dirty it can cause major surging.
Depending what you have for a feeder there are delay settings on there that can be changed to accommodate slow condensate return.
If you can adjust the feeder that can solve one problem, but the other still should be addressed because the boiler should not be shutting down on low water.
Pics would help to see if it's pipe right. Believe me it makes all the difference.
Your pressuretrol is set exactly where it should. As you said, it's not going off on pressure but low water.
One has nothing to do with the other.
 
  #3  
Old 02-18-15, 06:07 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 5
Thank you for your reply. And I'm glad you brought up the "near boiler piping" because this seems to have been done recently with copper pipes and I found that to be a little odd. Anyhow, should the piping near the boiler not be cast-iron? I have two of these systems and the one that works properly has cast-iron pipes near the boiler and pretty much throughout but not this one. It seems they might have taken a short-cut or is this ok?

Below are some of the pics I managed to upload:

Name:  1.jpg
Views: 502
Size:  35.5 KB, Name:  2.jpg
Views: 375
Size:  28.1 KB, Name:  3.jpg
Views: 373
Size:  21.1 KB, Name:  4.jpg
Views: 434
Size:  25.6 KB, Name:  5.jpg
Views: 321
Size:  33.2 KB, Name:  20150218_205223.jpg
Views: 387
Size:  23.4 KB, Name:  7.jpg
Views: 373
Size:  23.7 KB, Name:  20150218_205250.jpg
Views: 336
Size:  22.4 KB, Name:  20150218_205303.jpg
Views: 362
Size:  13.3 KB
 

Last edited by illpapi; 02-18-15 at 06:25 PM.
  #4  
Old 02-18-15, 06:23 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 2,687
Likes Received: 8
In my opinion steam should never be piped in copper. If you look at your warranty some boiler company's, I say some only because I haven't installed all the brands out there, VOID the warranty if there is any copper above the steam line. It expands and contracts at different rates than BI and can cause a boiler to crack. It's just not good practice.
Until you get the pics you're looking for an equilizer line, a Hartford loop on the return.
The best thing to do is follow the manufacturers piping diagram in the back of your book. Hopefully they left it with you. Match that to what he did and you'll probably have your answer.
Good Luck,
 
  #5  
Old 02-18-15, 06:28 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 2,687
Likes Received: 8
You have McDonnell Miller feeder and it should have the delay settings inside.
Can you get pics of the boiler and all the piping coming off and returning.
The little bit of pipe I saw looks like he was doing a hot water system.
I hope it gets better from there.

Edit.
Got the pics. Posting at same time.
 
  #6  
Old 02-18-15, 06:31 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 5
I managed to load the pics so you can see. Again, my other system is done pretty much the same way but with black steel piping. I am pretty sure this system has been operating like this for years (above the recommended water level) and now that I'm the owner I'm afraid it won't last very long costing me a few bucks to get it replaced. Now, I have to decide if I want a plumber to come in and redo the piping and see if that takes care of the problem. As you can see in the pics I have an Utica boiler system. I don't want to wait until this thing dies because then I won't have a choice since this system heats up the apartment to one of my tenants. What do you suggest?

Edit.
And yes the rest of the piping is black steel. They seem to have added the copper for one reason or the other a few years back.
 
  #7  
Old 02-18-15, 06:45 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 5
Any chance that insulating these copper pipes really well might help with the problem? I know it's a long shot but at least for the time being.....maybe?
 
  #8  
Old 02-18-15, 07:00 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 2,687
Likes Received: 8
I,
Your near boiler piping is all wrong. If you check your book you'll see the right way.
He has come up with two mains which is fine and the height (min. 24" from the normal water line, roughly half the gauge glass) is fine. The problem is when you use two mains you must join them together and then take your supply pipe after they're together. Never in between the tees and the your equilizerline, that pipe going down to the return never comes off a tee but is the last thing off the line.
Mains & header and supply should be all 2", at least the main & header and the whatever your matching up to.
Your equilizer gets reduced to 1 1/2" at the elbow going to the return.
On your return line, that blk. 90 el is your Hartford loop. That should be 2" below the normal water line.
There are reasons for all these measurements and sizes or you get troubles like you have.
Your pressuretrol. Look inside at the wheel and what the cover says.
Cut out= cut in + differential. Your cut in is your front reading. Set at .05(lowest setting). Differential is the white wheel inside. Set at 1 or 1 1/2. Your boiler will cut out at 2psi. That is the most you want for pressure. Again there is a reason but this is getting very long.
If interested there is a book by Dan Hollahan.He is the master of steam and well worth the read.
 
  #9  
Old 02-18-15, 07:24 PM
NJT's Avatar
NJT
NJT is offline
Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 23,539
Likes Received: 1
In my opinion steam should never be piped in copper.
That's more than opinion... it's fact.

No copper above the water line!

This the book you mean Spott? Yes, REQUIRED reading!

http://www.amazon.com/Got-Steam-Heat...ave+steam+heat
 
  #10  
Old 02-18-15, 07:42 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 2,687
Likes Received: 8
Trooper,
The one I was thinking of was "The Lost Art Of Steam Heat". Amazon also.
I never read the other one but it might be good.
Anything by Hollahan is worth reading.
As far as opinion Troop, I am trying to develops some of your tact.
 
  #11  
Old 02-18-15, 07:47 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 2,687
Likes Received: 8
I,
Any chance that insulating these copper pipes really well might help with the problem? I know it's a long shot but at least for the time being.....maybe?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it won't change the piping.
The should be insulated but if you plan on changing the pipe the insulation won't fit on the black pipe.
Copper measures OD, BI measures ID.
 
  #12  
Old 02-19-15, 02:31 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 5
Spott,

Thanks for all of your input. After taking a good look at the piping of the system that appears to be working correctly I realized it was done differently. And that it is not just that (the one with the problem) it was done with copper piping but like you have already mentioned the piping was not done the way its required on top of that.
I just get a little overwhelmed at times because I have found so many issues with this home that it really gets me thinking why people take so many damn short-cuts that will cost you in the long run. Its been quite the ride where I keep finding things that need to be corrected and just when I think I am about done something else pops up and I'm at it again. I have invested so much time and money in this home but more time then money since I have been doing a lot of the repairs myself. I just get angry when I think of people just doing a crappy job instead of doing it right the first time. Unbelievable! Well, thanks again and I guess this is another project that will be added to my 'to-do-list'.....sigh...thanks
 
  #13  
Old 02-19-15, 09:23 AM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 2,687
Likes Received: 8
I,
I know sometimes it seems like an uphill battle but at least you've taken some steps to get informed and with the little knowledge you now have I'm sure you won't let it happen again.
Unfortunately steam heating is a thing of the past and today's tradesmen just aren't interested in learning about it.
The shame of it is there are still alot of steam boilers out there with fewer people knowledgeable enough to service them.
The boiler manufacturer tells you exactly how to pipe these if the contractor would just open the manual supplied with every boiler so there is no excuse for poor workmanship except laziness or ego.
I didn't mean to rant but unfortunately what happened to you is becoming the norm and for the money these guys get adds insult to injury when the homeowner pays hard earned money and trust the company to do a proper job.
Good Luck,
 
  #14  
Old 02-19-15, 03:08 PM
NJT's Avatar
NJT
NJT is offline
Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 23,539
Likes Received: 1
As far as opinion Troop, I am trying to develops some of your tact.
HA! Good luck with THAT Spott!

The one I was thinking of was "The Lost Art Of Steam Heat". Amazon also.
I never read the other one but it might be good.
I haven't read "Lost Art...", but was under the impression that it might be a bit higher level. Just now reading the reviews and comments leads me to believe that's true, but both seem to be at a level that a DIY homeowner can understand.

I know that the "We Got..." has the all important information on how to recognize the "knuckleheads" that come to your house, and gives enough knowledge to know when to show them the door. Maybe "Lost Art..." does too?
 
  #15  
Old 02-19-15, 03:17 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 2,687
Likes Received: 8
Trooper,
Probably better for the DIY. I got mine so long a lot of these others weren't out.
I didn't realize the price of the one I got I think doubled. That's how long I've had it. I remember at the time he had like a pocket version also.
He explains things so that almost anybody can understand.
 
  #16  
Old 02-19-15, 03:26 PM
NJT's Avatar
NJT
NJT is offline
Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 23,539
Likes Received: 1
Yeah, Lost Art is a bit more money... I wonder if We Got is a 'subset' of the info that's in Lost Art? Maybe he edited out the more techie stuff and put it in a smaller book?

Dan has a great writing style, actually fun to read!
 
  #17  
Old 02-19-15, 03:36 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 2,687
Likes Received: 8
He's got more stories than Dr Seuss.
 
  #18  
Old 02-19-15, 03:54 PM
NJT's Avatar
NJT
NJT is offline
Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 23,539
Likes Received: 1
It sure would be funny if he wrote a boiler book in the esteemed Dr's style, wouldn't it?
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes