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Rick
Rick, Construction Supervisor
Category: Plumbing
Satisfied Customers: 21172
Experience:  Licensed Master plumber with 40+ yrs. experience.
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Steam boilers are taking on water. Water is not returning to

Customer Question

Steam boilers are taking on water. Water is not returning to the boilers so when it calls for heat, it adds more water to the system. Then water travels up into radiators and they begin clanging. Somewhere these 2 boilers are connected, so after the water travels up into the radiators, it then goes further up a pipe into the attic and spews out the water up there. Made 2 cuts into the attic floor (solid wood floor) to locate the pipe. Need to make another cut to locate this pipe.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Plumbing
Expert:  Rick replied 7 months ago.

Welcome to Just Answer, my name is ***** ***** I will do my best to help you with your issue. If my initial response doesn’t answer your question then let me know and we can continue our conversation.

If this is indeed a steam system water does not travel up into upper floors, steam yes water (condensate) no. It is possible for water to come out of steam vents if the system is flooded.
What I suspect is happening is that you have a clogged return most likely at the boiler and condensate is not finding its way back to the boiler and is backing up into the system.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
when the boilers took on water for an extended period (manual feed valve may have been partially open to allow water to enter system), as I stated before, the site glasses were both full and water traveled up a pipe and spewed water up against the wood floor in attic. Then the water came down thru the walls and also filled globes on 2 bedroom ceiling fixtures with water. The globes were on same side of house (floor plan is same in upper and lower units of duplex). Still need to cut into attic floor in add'l spots to locate this pipe (made 2 cuts, no pipe found yet). Maybe this is a pipe that has a pressure relief valve at the end of it that is malfunctioning. If you say return system is clogged, what do you suggest doing to unclog them? Which pipes would you start with? There's a double looped pipe on each boiler where I believe the water passes thru on the way back to the boilers. Is this a good place to start looking for the clog?
Expert:  Rick replied 7 months ago.

Pressure relief valve is on the boiler not a pipe on an upper floor. I wouldn't waste any time looking for pipes on upper floors. You need to start with pulling the return manifold apart at the boiler. If it was piped right there should be a nipple and cap off the end of the manifold that you can remove to clean/flush it out. I don't know what you mean by a double looped pipe (Hartford loop?) but that's on the supply. You need to check the returns which are connected to the bottom of the boiler not the top.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
when the boilers took on water for an extended period (manual feed valve may have been partially open to allow water to enter system), as I stated before, the site glasses were both full and water traveled up a pipe and spewed water up against the wood floor in attic. Then the water came down thru the walls and also filled globes on 2 bedroom ceiling fixtures with water. The globes were on same side of house (floor plan is same in upper and lower units of duplex). Still need to cut into attic floor in add'l spots to locate this pipe (made 2 cuts, no pipe found yet). Maybe this is a pipe that has a pressure relief valve at the end of it that is malfunctioning. If you say return system is clogged, what do you suggest doing to unclog them? Which pipes would you start with? There's a double looped pipe on each boiler where I believe the water passes thru on the way back to the boilers. Is this a good place to start looking for the clog?Can we keep this discussion open so I can go over there (about 10 mins. away) and take some pictures so you can see the loop I'm talking about?
Expert:  Rick replied 7 months ago.

Ok

Expert:  Rick replied 7 months ago.

How did this turn out?