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OT: any steam heat wizards here?

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  • #61
    Originally posted by Rich Carlstedt View Post
    Also my last Question, which I asked long ago ( #16) and for some reason everyone is arguing pressure gauges.??
    YOU do not get steam until 212 Degrees F...so the pressure gauge discussion is for nought !
    What is the temperature of the water ?
    All the boilers I worked on had a temp and pressure gauge .
    If you don't have one, go to the kitchen and get one and stick it on the top of the boiler......PROBLEM SOLVED
    NO 212 means you have a burner and /OR control problem

    Rich
    Yes ! Temperature is a key point not mentioned. You could call it the #1 requirement.

    Also, I would like to see a pic of the automatic water fill mechanism. Hopefully its not a auto fill as used on hot water systems. Steam boilers are NOT filled, only partially, their auto fill devices are float type to maintain the proper water level (not full) .

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    • #62
      Originally posted by reggie_obe View Post

      Hoist the sails men! Cutty Sark sails once again!
      Or Captain Morgan!!

      Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician

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      • #63
        Reason why residential steam is no longer popular is high maintainence. I wonder if maintainence was performed on this unit. Is water column clear? Was blown down performed? Even a small leak will plug a boiler with hard water conditions. What fuel? Oil burners are notorious for fouling boilers. Servicer should check for efficient combustion, stack temp, etc. Difficult to get full picture without being onsite. Sometimes a chimney will get partially obstructed with bird nest and cause poor draft. Excuse for repeating what others have said.

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        • #64
          One would suppose that with the boiler firing continuously, that the water would have to heat up. But, so far there is no evidence that the fire has been looked at to see if it is working correctly. The "technician" can be discounted, as he seems not to be very interested, at least according to the OP. The tech may have decided that the OP is an idiot, and shows up only to collect the fee, not to actually check anything.

          Water level is important. I asked, early on, about the sight glass being plugged, and we were "told" that it is fine. Not sure that is accurate. If not, it would explain a lot.

          If the boiler was overfilled to the extent that the water was up in the risers, that could account for the risers getting "warm", but no steam.

          And there is reason to suspect that, since the broken gauge was stated to be possibly due to a water issue provoked by something a tenant did. If a bunch of radiators ended up full of water, and then were drained back, that could overfill the system. The not-too-clear description of that problem suggested something of the sort.



          CNC machines only go through the motions

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          • #65
            Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
            One would suppose that with the boiler firing continuously, that the water would have to heat up. But, so far there is no evidence that the fire has been looked at to see if it is working correctly. The "technician" can be discounted, as he seems not to be very interested, at least according to the OP. The tech may have decided that the OP is an idiot, and shows up only to collect the fee, not to actually check anything.

            Water level is important. I asked, early on, about the sight glass being plugged, and we were "told" that it is fine. Not sure that is accurate. If not, it would explain a lot.

            If the boiler was overfilled to the extent that the water was up in the risers, that could account for the risers getting "warm", but no steam.

            And there is reason to suspect that, since the broken gauge was stated to be possibly due to a water issue provoked by something a tenant did. If a bunch of radiators ended up full of water, and then were drained back, that could overfill the system. The not-too-clear description of that problem suggested something of the sort.


            Ditto, there is more to the story than the tech is a idiot... If so he would not be employed, not in my shop for sure! The OP seems to not post relevant details. If everyone in the building has access to the boiler, then Anything could be possible!! Sparky is correct the fill and LWCO are or should be float operated.
            Last edited by wmgeorge; 01-17-2022, 12:02 PM.
            Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician

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            • #66
              The tech is not (necessarily) an idiot.....although the way it is going, "idiot child" is sounding better as a name for him. I think he may have decided the OP is the idiot, and just not be listening anymore.

              IF the tech believed the OP, which I do not think he does, he would go through the steps to check all the things being discussed here. And the system would be working PDQ.

              "More to the story"....... Yeah, for sure..... like all the stuff we asked about and for which there is no answer forthcoming.
              CNC machines only go through the motions

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              • #67
                Wow. I appreciate the attempts to help, but at some point you gotta trust that I've been pretty immersed in this and have chased the obvious. Some of the things stated here are just wrong, or for different equipment.
                • Residential steam does not have a temp gauge like hydronic does. It would serve no purpose, water boils when it boils.
                • There's several different types of low water cutoffs, some require blowdown. Mine doesn't.
                • The sight gauge is fine. I regularly check and clean it. you can see the level bob as the water boils. So there's no water level issue.
                • The autofill and it's meter seems fine, so there's no water or steam leak in the system
                • I replaced the broken 0-30psi gauge over a year ago, before the service tech ever saw this boiler. Just was an old pic I had that was easy to post showing it was 0-30
                • This boiler is a hybrid, a gas burner on an oil style boiler. It creates a fan powered single flame similar to an oil boiler rather than having rows of jets under rows of cast iron exchangers like a gas unit.
                • I've not said no heat is getting to rads, I've said it's erratic, and there's no measurable pressure so you can't balance where it goes as a steam system is designed to do.
                I've cleared most of the obvious causes. The tech wants to replace the returns, but to me the issue of 'conservation of energy' is the key clue. If the gas were being properly burned, it would boil the damn water and the heat would be in the building somewhere! So it's not. There's some heat, but not proportional to the gas being burned. I think it's going up the flue incompletely combusted.
                Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                • #68
                  Your post above shows a lack of basic boiler knowledge, all LWCOs have (or should have) a blow down especially in a commercial building such as yours. So the boiler was not new in 2012 just the burner updated to gas. They more than likely grandfathered in the rest. Seems fine does not equate to being checked by someone who knows what they are doing. No pressure equals no steam and that is what gives you the heat. Has the burner control system been checked other than it seems ok? I have not seen a LP boiler without a Temperature and Pressure gauge 0-15 would be my choice.

                  It appears also we are only getting part of the story.... your side.

                  TTD TRIDICATOR - Winters Instruments | Digital Gauge | Pressure Gauge
                  Last edited by wmgeorge; 01-17-2022, 01:40 PM.
                  Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician

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                  • #69
                    Originally posted by wmgeorge View Post
                    Your post above shows a lack of basic boiler knowledge, all LWCOs have (or should have) a blow down especially in a commercial building such as yours. So the boiler was not new in 2012 just the burner updated to gas. They more than likely grandfathered in the rest. Seems fine does not equate to being checked by someone who knows what they are doing. No pressure equals no steam and that is what gives you the heat. Has the burner control system been checked other than it seems ok? I have not seen a LP boiler without a Temperature and Pressure gauge 0-15 would be my choice.

                    It appears also we are only getting part of the story.... your side.
                    I appreciate your trying to help George, but your knowledge is limited. You're making big untrue statements. Like of course you can have steam without pressure, if the steam never is sufficient to reach the vents to close them. Same with the LWCO, you experienced one kind, and are denying the existence of the type you have no experience with.
                    Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                    • #70
                      Originally posted by gellfex View Post

                      I appreciate your trying to help George, but your knowledge is limited. You're making big untrue statements. Like of course you can have steam without pressure, if the steam never is sufficient to reach the vents to close them. Same with the LWCO, you experienced one kind, and are denying the existence of the type you have no experience with.
                      Steam without pressure. Where and the hell did you see that?

                      Your talking to a guy with 30 years in the field running service and 12 more years teaching with the blessings of my Local Plumbers and Steamfitters union..... what is your background?
                      Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician

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                      • #71
                        Originally posted by wmgeorge View Post

                        Your talking to a guy with 30 years in the field running service and 12 more years teaching with the blessings of my Local Plumbers and Steamfitters union..... what is your background?
                        My background is reading all I can and asking questions rather than relying on a legacy set of data and erroneous assumptions. For starters, a low water cutoff blowdown is only applicable to float type LWCOs. It is not needed for a probe type LWCO. You seem not to know this. Nor do you know that temp and low pressure gauges are not standard on these boilers. All you'd have to do is google pics of residential steam boilers and 99% of what you'd see is just a 0-30 psi gauge, because that's code. Code requires a gauge at lease 2x the max working pressure of the boiler, which is typically 15psi, also the setting of the pressure relief valve. Lastly you made an assumption (rather than asking) that the burner was an update to an old boiler. Incorrect. The installer recommended this configuration as it had several advantages, including slightly higher efficiency, for only a few hundred more of equipment cost.
                        Last edited by gellfex; 01-17-2022, 02:41 PM.
                        Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                        • #72
                          If the sight glass level is moving, then a couple things are known.... 1) it's almost surely clear....2) You ARE boiling water.

                          Statements have been inconsistent and contradictory...... Doubt that there is boiling, vs "the water in the gauge bobs as the water boils".............. "there is heat in the risers, but not elsewhere" vs "the radiators get hot but it's erratic".......

                          What else has been said that is not quite what it seems?

                          You never said whether the radiator vents are hissing when steam is up but the radiators are not yet hot. They should be, are they?

                          BTW, replacing some pipe may not be too stupid, your tech may not be entirely an "idiot child" after all..... A steam system is almost like tidewater..... The system gets hot, with water in it, then the system lets a lot of air in while it is still fairly hot, but not dry, and it repeats that over and over for decades. Perfect conditions for rusting.

                          The pipes are overwhelmingly likely to be "iron" pipe, so they rust. There is likely to be rust coming down the risers as the pipes shed particles. That is fairly likely to collect in at least the horizontal pipes. It can produce a good deal of blockage. Not only that, but the blockage is at the bottom of the pipe, which can block return of the condensed water, leading to pooling of water into big "condensers" in those pipes. If there is enough, it could even lead to an almost complete blockage, and a 'water lock" that prevents steam from going into pipes.

                          That all sounds like at least a partial explanation of your erratic distribution, and even some of the issues with water levels etc that you mentioned in connection with the tenant and the gauge.

                          Rust might also block the vent valve on the main pipe that is supposed to let steam get to the risers.

                          You might let him break open one of the pipes and see.

                          Steam and pressure?

                          Of course you can have steam without pressure.

                          Start with a pot on the stove. It boils, but no gauge pressure possible.

                          A boiler with steam up, but all the vents open would not have pressure enough to register, in all probability. Not for a while, anyhow. Eventually there will be some, after the pipes to the radiators are hot and stream is getting to the radiator vents to close them.. SEEING that pressure on a 30 lb gauge is not impossible, but may not be accurate. One lb is 3% of full scale, not in the "sweet spot" of accuracy for most "commercial quality" gauges.
                          CNC machines only go through the motions

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                          • #73
                            Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                            If the sight glass level is moving, then a couple things are known.... 1) it's almost surely clear....2) You ARE boiling water.

                            Statements have been inconsistent and contradictory...... Doubt that there is boiling, vs "the water in the gauge bobs as the water boils".............. "there is heat in the risers, but not elsewhere" vs "the radiators get hot but it's erratic".......

                            What else has been said that is not quite what it seems?

                            You never said whether the radiator vents are hissing when steam is up but the radiators are not yet hot. They should be, are they?
                            .
                            Like George, you filled in some data yourself. I never said 'no steam', just no pressure. Some risers and rads get heat, some don't. sometimes the heat in a riser bypasses a rad and heats a rad upstairs! It's clear there's not enough steam to fill the whole system, the question is why. Gas is flowing, so either gas is not burning or heat is escaping. There's no water or steam leaks, and yet the heat is not present in the house.

                            No matter what artifacts there might be in the piping, if the gas is actually burning properly the heat would exist somewhere! If the pipes were blocked the return water would be stopped and the LWCO would stop the burner. It keeps burning gas, and keeps generating a marginal amount of steam, not quite enough to distribute the heat properly, but enough to keep the house usually in the mid to high 60s barring a real cold snap. But it shouldn't be firing continually to achieve that marginal performance! It's not my place to say that's good enough since I'm not a slumlord. "At least 68 degrees between the hours of 6 am through 11 pm, and at least 65 degrees between the hours of 11 pm through 6 am." is state law.
                            Last edited by gellfex; 01-17-2022, 03:06 PM.
                            Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                            • #74
                              Since your boiler and system is so ancient is I am surprised it has a modern probe LWCO? Your the one that said the boiler had been updated with a new burner. Your getting so confused and my guess you have been dinking with the system and have it screwed up and blamed the Tech who recommended a two pipe return to prevent the water logging issues.

                              Please post here when you get it fixed, because I am done wasting time on you and I am sure others are tired also.

                              Yes Jerry I agree, old steam pipes that may of had air and no boiler treatment might have rust scaling off, but this guy knows it all, has the answers so I am washing my hands of him.
                              Oh PS again, the LWCO will not trip with low water... IF the fill system as Sparkly noted is a float system perhaps not on the probe depending... keeps the boiler Filled.
                              Last edited by wmgeorge; 01-17-2022, 03:17 PM.
                              Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician

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                              • #75
                                Originally posted by gellfex View Post
                                Like George, you filled in some data yourself. I never said 'no steam',.....................I'm not a slumlord. "At least 68 degrees between the hours of 6 am through 11 pm, and at least 65 degrees between the hours of 11 pm through 6 am." is state law.
                                And STILL no indication as to whether the radiators are hissing as they should................................
                                CNC machines only go through the motions

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