Locating leak in boiler


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Old 05-31-17, 04:50 PM
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Locating leak in boiler

Hey guys, my 1st post here. Looks like a great forum ! I posted a short video clip of my Oil Burner Leaking. (My sister took this video while she was vacationing at my cabin/house up in northern Maine, while I was/am not there......so I have not seen whats causing this) I will be making the six hour drive up soon to see whats going on, but in the mean time......

What are my chances of this leak being something other than the tank ?

This is a seasonal home.....we rarely use from Nov-April, so over the winter we shut off the water pump, and drain the tank, and open up the valves to let all the water and vapor out.

When she arrived at camp, our 1st use of this year, she closed the valves, turned on the water pump, and the system immediately started leaking as you can see here.

The system is between 10-15 years old and hardly ever used......few times a year over the Spring,Summer,Autumn. As discussed, we completely drain the system prior to the cold weather of the winter. Other issue I am wondering that may have a role in this, is I am noticing sediment in the water upon arrival especially when first getting up there in the spring. We get our water from a well fwiw.

I need to figure out WHY this happened, but I suppose I will start with WHAT exactly has happened.

As you can see the flow is pretty steady. The leak is coming from the back, right hand corner side of the unit. Any chance this is something other than a crack in tank ?

https://youtu.be/7J5Qx4dIpDQ Name:  ob.jpg
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Last edited by PJmax; 05-31-17 at 07:31 PM. Reason: reoriented/resized picture
  #2  
Old 05-31-17, 07:38 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

That's where you see the water coming out but the leak could be anywhere.

I see heat tape on the pipe. Is that boiler in a place where it could freeze ?
Do you actually drain the boiler tank too ?
 
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Old 05-31-17, 09:38 PM
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Thanks Pj

yes, it's in a basement, in Northern Maine. Occasionally we are there in Winter, and use that heat tape simply as a precausion (allthough i doubt it does much). We do drain the entire system of water thru three different valves on the lower/front/side of the unit. We also use an air compressor to blow as much out as we can prior to "shutting down camp" in the Autumn. We may have failed to use the air compressor to blow out the system last Autumn, and on several other occasions, but Im not sure, seeing that we leave all the valves open, that this would be reason. (i could be wrong tho). we attached plastic tubes to the ends of these three valves, that run into a drain, so anything that drips out after we leave exits the house.

This is a cabin my farther built. Sadly, he passed away shortly after it was completed. He had set this all up, the boiler was new, and he walked me thru how to maintain it and the "winter shut down" process. Ive been running as described fot the last six years with no issues, till now. Last Autumn I noticed a miniscule amount of water in the same place. Opened the back panel, didnt see any obvious leak, and didnt think too much of it. Shortly after, shut it down for winter. Now this

Im hoping to get lucky, and discover its not the tank, but preparing for worst case senario. (its a long ride getting up there).

P.S. > Ive been told that operating an oil burner like this is not ideal, and that we should have gone with forced hot air system. I have what I have tho at this point.

Txs for the reply, and additional advise appreciated. (about this specific issue) or maintaing the system in general.

I know one thing I will be doing no matter what, and thats a sediment filter fwiw.
 
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Old 05-31-17, 10:26 PM
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If your going to have a boiler in a cold climate where the house is shut down, then antifreeze is your answer.

The boiler may be shot and it may have froze over the winter and cracked the block.

Youll have to take the jacket off and find the actual leak. That video shows us nothing really..

1.So you antifreeze the boiler water. This gets tested yearly with a PH test. You have to make sure the antifreeze levels are correct. You then never have to drain the boiler.
2. You do have to shut the well down and drain the tank. And blow out the lines.
3. Youll have to disconnect the water feed to boiler and blow that line out too.

If someone goes to the home in the winter with the water off and winterized, the boiler will still run as long as it maintained pressure.
 
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Old 06-01-17, 12:16 AM
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Txs Lawrosa,

moving forward, i will do this. i know we put a certain type of antifreeze into the toilet, and the washer. regrettably, its been years since any was put into the boiler. its never been done on my watch. i had thought because i was draining the boiler, that the antifreeze was not necessary ?? perhaps this was a costly error on my part

how/why would the block crack, if the system was drained ? i presume in that case not all water got out ? i had been told keeping the valves open would help prevent this. moving forward i will take advantage of the antfreeze method reguardless. txs for that tip.

i am educating myself on this stuff as we speak. so txs for the help.

two other basic questions. first, you say the boiler could be turned on and run upon arrival in the winter, even with tank and water still shut off. would this provide heat to the basebords, but just no hot water ? in other words, is that antifreeze mix running thru the baseboard pipes ?

also, (i know it doesnt) and i think its based on pressure, but what stops the antifreeze from getting mixed into shower/kitchen sink water ?

my lack of detailed understanding of how these systems work may have led me to false conclusions about being able to maintain the system by simply draining all the water out.

im trying to get educated now. txs. ( costly lesson tho .
 

Last edited by ZenForest; 06-01-17 at 01:05 AM.
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Old 06-01-17, 01:32 AM
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would this provide heat to the baseboards, but just no hot water ?
Correct.

The anti freeze is in the main jacket of the boiler as well as the baseboard pipes. If your boiler supplies your domestic hot water then it has a coil that is submerged inside it. That coil heats the water thru direct transfer of heat but doesn't allow the water supplies to mix.
 
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Old 06-01-17, 07:34 AM
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The boiler is under its own pressure. Seperate from your water pressure. Once filled and valve shut There usually is no reason to add water to the boiler. And with antifreeze its preferred to fill boiler and shut off incoming fill..

Tankless coil for hot water is on the domestic side.


[ATTACH=CONFIG]81441[/ATTACH]
 
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Old 06-01-17, 08:44 AM
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Thanks Lawrosa,

The diagram is very helpful. Ive learned a bit in the last 24hrs on this subject, but still getting educated.

(I learned from my sister, that at one point, we had an issue with the coil. Something failed, that caused steam to come out of one of the valves, and they replaced the coil and all was good.....I was previously unaware of this)

Is it at all possible that this coil or the feed into is it whats sprung a leak, or are there any other possible leak sources, or am I almost 100% looking at a tank leak ? (Im prepared for worst, hopeful for better

When you mention earlier that someone arriving in winter could turn on the boiler (w/Antifreeze solution) and run the heat so long as the system maintained pressure........what happens when/if it loses pressure ? How does one restore pressure to the system ?

Also, does the supply feed go directly into the boiler tank ? Im a bit unclear on how/why I would disconnect and blow that line out if the water supply was shut off, but we are leaving the boiler full.

Im planning on going up and taking a look at the system myself, and will have a professional come over and take a look as well.

I have a feeling that at one point we put Antifreeze in the system, but after my Dad passed away, we continued to drain the system prior to each winter and never put Antifreeze back in. I thought draining the system tho, would prevent any cracks due to freezing.....and we were running fine for several years now, till this......

Also, I think we have a sediment issue that could be causing issues....I am looking into a sediment filter or something to stop that. I get sediment in the toilet, as well as bathroom and kitchen faucet upon arrival each spring, so I guess I should presume its in the burner too.....

Lastly, whats the proper PSI level for most of these to run at ? We only run baseboards on one, fairly small floor. Upstairs bedrooms get heat from wood stove.

Txs again for the help !
 
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Old 06-01-17, 11:43 AM
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.what happens when/if it loses pressure ? How does one restore pressure to the system ?
You need to add water too it...


Is it at all possible that this coil or the feed into is it whats sprung a leak, or are there any other possible leak sources, or am I almost 100% looking at a tank leak ? (Im prepared for worst, hopeful for better
You need to identify the leak.. It could be a simple relief valve issue.. We need to see where the actual leak is to help at all.


Also, does the supply feed go directly into the boiler tank ? Im a bit unclear on how/why I would disconnect and blow that line out if the water supply was shut off, but we are leaving the boiler full.

Because when you winterize the home your draining the water lines. The water line to the boiler needs to be shut off. You would shut the blue handle off here. Before so increase pressure a bit in the boiler to say 20psi. you dont go over 30 psi or relief valve will trip.

Then disconnect union , blow line out to boiler.

[ATTACH=CONFIG]81449[/ATTACH]
 
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Old 06-01-17, 05:10 PM
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Hydronic heat is not the best with winter climates where the house is unattended for extended periods. Installing anti-freeze is necessary, but that also has its problems - toxicity, inattention, increased leakage, etc. Adding electric heat tracing coils to the piping, as has been done for your system, is troublesome - What if the power goes off? You would need to add heat tracing throughout your system.

Best to just completely drain and purge the system in the fall. Or, give up on hydronic heating.
 
 

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