My first boiler maintenance, what should I make sure is done?

Discussion in 'Boiler Forum' started by Parin, May 6, 2014.

  1. Parin

    Parin New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    ma
    I have a Burnham ESC4 boiler that is now due for it's first maintenance.

    A short history:
    It was installed by a local outfit that didn't do too well. They installed the lines backwards and redid the install after I read and pointed out what was in the install manual. They did not own combustion testing equipment. The installer fiddled with the gas pressure adjustment, tuning it "by ear". It's run OK, but gas use has been higher than expected. No other professionals have touched it, it was never tweaked. I've thought it's running short cycles at times, but it works ok and never delved into it. It's reading 2,270 hours and 23,481 cycles after three heating seasons or just under 6 minutes per cycle on average.

    What are all the steps that an annual maintenance call should include and is there anything in particular about this model we should be concerned about?
    Last edited: May 6, 2014
  2. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,136
    Location:
    Maine
    Without the proper instruments there is nothing you can do.
  3. Parin

    Parin New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    ma
    I'm not doing it.

    I want to be assured that whoever does it is thorough and am asking what a full maintenance service call includes so that nothing is overlooked, and if Burnham's ESC4 has any quirks or things that we should be concerned about.
    Last edited: May 7, 2014
  4. BadgerBoilerMN

    BadgerBoilerMN Master Hot Water Mpls,MN

    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    More evidence to confirm that the installer is more important than the boiler.

    Though it is not my favorite installation manual, Appendix 'E' page 44 on will get you by. If you don't have the ODR module you wasted money on this boiler. If you do have ODR it should be set up by and experienced technician.

    It should go without saying that every proper boiler replacement starts with an ACCA Manual 'J' heat load analysis and the boiler sized to 150% max of the design load.

    Competent heating contractors own combustion analysis equipment.
  5. nhmaster3015

    nhmaster3015 Master Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    The granite state
    I know that the last thing you want to do is stand behind the technician with a checklist and a mouthful of questions.
  6. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
    2,812
    Location:
    01609
    No kidding.

    The ESC4 is more boiler than 95% of the homes in MA would ever need (105 MBH of outout, really?), and would be more than 2x oversized for a typical 2500 sub-code min house in Pittsfield or Worcester, and more than 3x the load of a pretty tight new code min house that size. But if it isn't being short-cycled to death on zone calls it'll probably do OK. Six minute average burn times aren't an efficiency disaster, but had they installed the ESC3 (the smallest in that line) that would have been more like 10 minutes/burn, with a proportionally fewer number of burn cycles.
  7. Parin

    Parin New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    ma
    I thought we were doing right with this install, even paying a premium price for someone's expertise, but so much went wrong.

    It's heating one floor an old home, about 750 SF. We appreciated two zones with the old system, but the thermostats were wired together making it one zone but I'm not sure that's necessary. It starts with a loud resonating single clap sound about 25 seconds into the cycle which I was told was normal. And I've always questioned the outside vent being about 14" off the ground and it's relationship to the snowline. So there's some luggage I'd like a second opinion on.

    Page 44 of the manual that came with it refers to venting. I don't see an Appendix E anywhere, which book are you referring to?

    And yes, contrary to what we usually do, I do want to be looking over the technicians shoulder and have an understanding of what's going on and know the inspection and service is inclusive.
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  8. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
    2,812
    Location:
    01609
    A really crude sizing WAG:

    Assuming you live near Boston @ ~5600 heating degree days/year, over three heating seasons you've seen about 17,000 heating degree-days. At 105 MBH output x ~2300 hours you're looking at 241.5 MMBTU. That's about 14,200 BTU per degree-day or ~600 BTU per degree-hour for every degree-hour below 65F. At a 99% outside design temp of +10F (suburban Boston ) that's 65F-10F= 55F heating-degrees, for an approximate heat load of about 600 BTU/ degree-hour x 55F degrees= 33,000 BTU/hr.

    If instead you live in say, Amherst that would have been about 20,000 HDD for about 12,000 BTU/HDD, or 500 BTU/degree-hour, and an outside design temp of 0F for 65F heating degrees, and an implied heat load of 65F x 500= 32,500 BTU/hr- not much different. You could look at mid-winter heating bills and look up the exact heating degree-days between meter readings and come up with something a bit closer to reality, but it's not going to be off by more than 30% from those figures (in either direction.) With a zip code and a mid-winter gas bill showing usage and the exact meter reading dates (or the therms/day and the average daily temperature, which some of the gas utilities print on every bill), we could fine-tune that if you like.

    That 33K number less than 1/3 the output of the ESC4, about half the output of the ESC3. That means you have enough boiler to heat the place at temperatures of about -100F, just in case an ice age colder than the last one occurs while you're still living there. ;-) Even the ESC3 would have been overkill (most cast iron boilers are), but would have been the best possible choice within that series.

    Also, a 33 K heat load is a lot for 750' of conditioned space (about 45 BTU/hr per square foot of floor area), implying both high air leakage and minimal insulation, possibly with some single-pane windows? A decently tight 750' older house with at least tight storm windows would normally come in under half that. (For reference, I live in a 2400' 1920s antique 1.5 story bungalow in Worcester that less than 10% more heat load than that, despite being 3x the size.)

    A loud resonating clap is not a normal symptom- it could be a small exhaust explosion inside the venting due to improper air/fuel mixture. This thing needs to be tuned up by somebody with a combustion analyzer who knows how to use it.

    For reference, the 1971-2000 heating degree-day normals for a bunch of MA cities begins on page 11 of this document.
Similar Threads: boiler maintenance
Forum Title Date
Boiler Forum Nat. Gas Boiler Selection Aug 24, 2014
Boiler Forum Ongoing Intermittent Boiler Over Pressure Issue Aug 14, 2014
Boiler Forum Boiler Scale Problem Jul 27, 2014
Boiler Forum Oil Boiler Problem Jul 23, 2014
Boiler Forum diaphram expansion tank location on american standard ng boiler Jun 15, 2014

Share This Page