auto water feeder not working

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Old 11-07-15, 02:23 PM
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auto water feeder not working

weil-mclain
SGO oil fired natural draft steam boiler.
steam radiators, the old 4' high ones that hiss and they chain you to in the old movies.
tankless hot water.
uni-match universal water feeder. mcdonnell&miller.
model # WF2-U-120

furnace stopped working. i found the water sight glass empty. pushed the red button on the water feeder, could hear water flowing. stopped for a minute. tried again. now it just buzzes.
is there anything i can check, like maybe it is just jammed or plugged up? I see it has a drain, they recommend draining and cleaning a screen. is that worth a try?
i hate to call a tech, just to have him whack with a wrench because it was just stuck. i am pretty good at whacking things with wrenches.
I am not afraid to take the whole thing off and check it, but if you guys are going to tell me that would be a waste of time and i should call the tech, i can save some time.
it is Saturday, i am not calling a tech now. it is unseasonably warm and i have a wood stove. it can wait for Monday
just wanted to check to see if you guys knew of an easy thing to check, or an easy way to troubleshoot to see if it is something besides the water feeder.
thanks..
 
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  #2  
Old 11-07-15, 03:06 PM
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Frank, what kind of service has the boiler had on a regular basis?

STEAM systems should be serviced regularly and the homeowner should know how to 'blow it down' on a regular basis.

It sounds to me as if your system needs a 'going over' by a GOOD STEAM TECH.

Those vents on the radiators should STOP HISSING after the steam hits them. If they continue to hiss the whole time, they need replaced.

Is this a 'new to you' system or have you lived with it for a time? Do you know it's service history?

This book is REQUIRED READING for homeowners with steam heat:

http://www.amazon.com/Got-Steam-Heat.../dp/0974396001
 
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Old 11-07-15, 04:01 PM
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inherited the house from my father, who got it from my grandfather, who built it.
i was using the same tech my grandfather and father used, i didnt realize the dad and grandfather that ran the company had retired and turned the company over to the kids, who raped it. i would find out later, after many service calls, the oil delivery driver was doing the service calls. all the techs bailed.
i switched to a new company who finds a new surprise every time they service it. so , yes, it is serviced regularly, but they might not have found everything that was trashed, yet.
as for the radiators hissing, that is on my list. the problem that is occupying all of my time right now is finding a wall and roof that was about to collapse. after i fix that, i will work on the heating system.
although i will read the link you provided, right now, i was just wondering if there was any thing i could do to the water feeder. either fix it, or be sure it is broken before i call for the tech.
thanks.
 
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Old 11-07-15, 05:06 PM
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There should be bypass piping and a valve around the auto feeder to allow you to add water manually. A properly operating system doesn't use much water but if your air vents are leaking that is a primary source of water loss.

Posting several pictures of the system would allow for better answers. Pictures need to be well lit and in focus to be of any value. High definition pictures hosted on a photo hosting sight like photobucket (but NOT tinypic) are better than posting directly to the forum.
 
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Old 11-07-15, 05:26 PM
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i didnt see bypass piping to manualy feed water. but i will check again and post pics.
 
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Old 11-07-15, 05:38 PM
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oops. sorry. forgot to mention one other small problem. which probably explains the water loss.
something is leaking water. the techs haven't found it yet.
i know that sounds strange, why should it take so long, but the house was built without heat , water or a basement. it was like a summer cottage. built before building codes. built before there was a town. everything was added later. the , i believe they are the return pipes, were installed, then the cement floor was poured. later, those pipes were abandoned and new pipes were laid on top of the floor. since the basement was never supposed to be there, there is always water on the floor because of lack of grading and footing drains.
which is why the techs cant tell if the water around the return pipes is from the furnace or ground water. they have guessed the returns are leaking and need to be replaced. but, that is another project.
i dont have time or money to fix everything at once.
 
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Old 11-07-15, 08:57 PM
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although i will read the link you provided,
That link isn't for reading really... it's for ordering the book that is for reading.

Read that book and you will know more than the techs.

Best of all it will teach you how to spot a knucklehead, and that's VERY important with steam heat.
 
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Old 11-07-15, 11:20 PM
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after i said i would read the link, i realized it was a link to order the book.
so, i will order it, then read it.
 
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Old 11-07-15, 11:26 PM
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so, what stops me from disconnecting the auto water feeder outlet from the furnace, cutting the end off a garden hose, hose clamp the hose to the furnace inlet, and manually fill the furnace?
the low water cut off would still work, wouldnt it? as long as i leave the water feeder electric connected and turn off the water inlet.
only downside would be constantly having to manually feed it, right?
or will i blow myself up?
 
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Old 11-08-15, 08:12 AM
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what stops me from disconnecting the auto water feeder outlet from the furnace, cutting the end off a garden hose, hose clamp the hose to the furnace inlet, and manually fill the furnace?
Nothing... you could do that. I would think that you don't need to cut a hose apart though, you can feed water into a boiler drain valve. Purchase a washing machine hose to use as a 'sex changer.

It seems the low water cutoff part is working... so there's really no danger in that... if you trust that it will continue to work properly, it's up to you really.

The risks are OVERFILLING, and the LWCO NOT WORKING when it should.
 
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Old 11-08-15, 09:55 AM
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i was thinking of filling it manually just to see if the furnace works and holds water.
i was wondering if my leak got a lot worse, auto feeder ran constantly, and burned out.
i am assuming, if i manually fill it with water, turn it off , check it about 24 hours later, and if it is out of water, i have a problem that is too big for you guys to help me with.
 
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Old 11-09-15, 09:03 AM
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forget the auto water feeder

manually filled it with water.
ran fine for a few hours, did laundry, took a shower.
shut it off when i went to work. it was still full of water.
checked about 20 hours later and all the water was gone. it was below the sight glass.
as i said earlier, the basement is more of a crawl space, it is always wet, i cant see a leak, unless it is a big, fast flowing leak. or unless i sit there for a few hours and see which puddle gets bigger.

so, my question is, is it time to give up and call a pro?

i am guessing it cant be something simple like a pipe on the outside? it has to be on the inside, probably a crack in the boiler? I did check the boiler drain, just to make sure it wasnt a leaking valve, that is above the floor. the other pipes are on the floor and i wouldnt be able to see a pin hole leak.

any suggestions, besides give up?
 
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Old 11-14-15, 09:03 AM
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pro comes up. says it is not leaking. gets it working.
now it calls for water when it is not running, several times a day. and it runs when heat and hot water is not being called for.
i ordered "we got steam heat "and the "lost art of steam heating", hopefully they will tell me how to service the furnace because it looks like i am going to have to learn how to do this myself.
 
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Old 11-15-15, 03:32 PM
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Follow all the pipes to and from the boiler. Especially any that are on the ground, or below the ground. as you said the "basement" is always damp. Check the most wet areas, expose them if they are buried . If there are only one or two leaks, you can buy pipe leak clamps to get you through the season. You must know the pipe size to get the right size. If it's too bad you might have to replace some pipe. It takes a special tradesman to be willing to crawl into a crawl space, most of them are spoiled these days. Hopefully this will be an easy fix.
Sid
 
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