Maintenance on my AA 260

Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: Rick 386 On: Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:15 pm

We have had the AA 260 burning 24/7 for the past 7 or 8 years now. So I figure it is time to give the old gal a week off and I'll give her a little TLC.

Just received a new ash cone, new ash pan rollers, and a new coil gasket.

We have the old galvanized expansion tank in the rafters. I must have a leak somewhere since I do have to add water to maintain the pressure during the heating season. Or would the problem be using that style tank ??

There is no spirovent on the AA but there is one on the oil burner. I do run the return through the oil burner just to use it. I do not have room to install one on the AA.

So I'm going to shut it down next weekend and turn on the oil burner.

When I get ready to fire it back up, I will be adding some boiler treatment. Would love to replumb it into a primary/secondary system but do not have the time. It would involve a major replumbing due to the way it is set up right now. But the system does work as is. Probably just not as efficient.....

Any other suggestions???

Rick
Rick 386
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AA 260 heating both sides of twin farmhouse
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL Hyfire II w/ coaltrol in garage
Coal Size/Type: Pea in AA 260, Rice in LL Hyfire II
Other Heating: Gas fired infared at work

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Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: lzaharis On: Fri Sep 18, 2015 5:26 pm

You need to removethe Spirovent.

There are a lot of steel tanks still in use after 50 years with zero problems
according to Dan Holahan from the heating help forum. he has
the same one that was installed in his basement in 1950

I would still have mine if I had known better 33 years ago and never let them
touch it and it would be 62 years old and still hanging from a sistered ceiling joist.

You need to remove the Spirovent.

You must remove it as it should not have been installed in your system.

The spirovent by itself is causing your heating system problems with your steel
expansion tank by venting most all the air in the steel tank out of the spirovent.

As a result of that your water level in the steel expansion tank is very low and the there
is less hot water in the tank to mix with the cold water that "should"be there. The 2/3
of the steel expansion tanks volume that should have water to do the job of absorbing
air is gone. :^(

Your steel expansion tanks job is doing the work of absorbing the air in the water
and gradually releasing it over time with the cold water sinking through the hot water
column rising up into the steel expansion tank.

Automatic air vents are not ment to be used with steel expansion tanks in
hydronic heating systems even in a series plumbed boiler.

Do you have an air purging line-(a vertical pipe length with a boiler drain) to remove
the air in the top of the AA260 and the oil boiler tappings? If not you should add them.

I would not want to add more plumbing than the vertical pipe lengths and boiler drains
to purge trapped air as long as you have the unused pipe tappings in the steam chests of
both boilers.

You probably noticed heating issues with your lower water volume and
higher air volume in the steel tank just after you installed the spirovent too.......

Is your circulating pump pumping into the base of the first boiler or is it pumping
above and away from the boilers?
Last edited by lzaharis on Sat Sep 19, 2015 1:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.
lzaharis
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KAA-4-1 dual fuel boiler
Coal Size/Type: rice
Other Heating: kerosene for dual fuel Keystoker

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: Rob R. On: Fri Sep 18, 2015 6:20 pm

Rick, the Spirovent is probably removing the air that should be trapped in the steel tank. When you first fill the system that steel tank has a big air bubble in it, but over time the air is absorbed into the boiler water and eventually removed by the Spirovent. If it were mine I would just install a nice floor mounted diaphragm tank and retire the rafter model.

Of course you may have a leak as well, but that should be easy to spot by looking for mineral buildup & damp areas. I hate to suggest it, but you should valve off the AA and make sure it doesn't have any internal leaks.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: lzaharis On: Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:56 am

Have you removed the spirovent??
lzaharis
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KAA-4-1 dual fuel boiler
Coal Size/Type: rice
Other Heating: kerosene for dual fuel Keystoker

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: windyhill4.2 On: Mon Sep 21, 2015 9:03 am

Rick 386 wrote:
So I'm going to shut it down next weekend and turn on the oil burner.

Any other suggestions???

Rick
;)
windyhill4.2
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1960 EFM520 installed in truck box
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404 with variable blower
Coal Size/Type: 404-nut, 520 rice ,anthracite for both

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: Rick 386 On: Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:59 pm

lzaharis wrote:Have you removed the spirovent??


Thanks for giving the update Windy.

Yes I'm shutting her down tomorrow. The chimney sweep/inspection is scheduled for Wednesday so everything is working according to the plan.

Here is what is on the oil boiler:
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So how will I eliminate this if I subscribe to the plan ?? Is there an easy fix or will I just have to cut and remove it ?? As you can see, they also included the autofill into this whole schmegagi ..............

As far as other leaks that Rob mentioned.........
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Yeah, there might be a few............

Will be working on it throughout the week. Had to go get some 6" pipe for the oil burner tonight. The AA is piped in with SS but I just bought some cheapo HD pipe to get me through this repair time.

Rick
Rick 386
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AA 260 heating both sides of twin farmhouse
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL Hyfire II w/ coaltrol in garage
Coal Size/Type: Pea in AA 260, Rice in LL Hyfire II
Other Heating: Gas fired infared at work

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: lzaharis On: Sat Sep 26, 2015 11:38 pm

Hello Rick,

All you need to do it let the boiler
cool down, drain off the pressure, drain off the steel tank,
and then drain off enough water from the system
to avoid taking a bath in very hot water before you also
remove the bladder tank and plug the elbow or cap
the short nipple as the steel expansion tank is all you need.

This will enable you to unscrew the spirovent and then
put a pipe plug with teflon tape on the threads
of the plug back in the tapping for the spirovent. Be sure its tight.

I would not worry about removing the air scoop at all as you are
going to want to power purge the air with the circulating pump
through the COLD system and back to the boiler where you
will open the valve to the steel tank and then allow the air
to float up to the steel tank and then you can release it with
the airtrol fitting.

Once you have the air out you can fire up the fossil fuel burner
and purge any additional air and go from there knowing that
you will not lose water unless you have an overpressure forcing
the relief valve to open.

I would also remove the auto fill or park a gate or ball valve in
front of it to prevent the steel tank expasion tank from becoming
water logged.

If you have a water tube gauge on your steel tank you will always know how
much water is in it. My old Steel expansion tank was open to air and it had a
manual fill too from what I remember of it.
Last edited by lzaharis on Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
lzaharis
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KAA-4-1 dual fuel boiler
Coal Size/Type: rice
Other Heating: kerosene for dual fuel Keystoker

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: Rob R. On: Sun Sep 27, 2015 7:30 am

I see an airscoop, but that is not a Spirovent. If you are using the two terms interchangeably that explains it. The vent screwed into the top of the airscoop is called a float vent.

What model is that EFM boiler? Most of them have a 1/2" tapping intended for use with a steel expansion tank...but I still don't see the point of reworking the system to use that old tank. I would leave the oil boiler setup the way it is and just add a diaphragm tank on the AA. Steel tanks require maintenance, and considering the leaks and corrosion on your system, I wonder how solid the tank is.

Rick, do you have acidic water? That copper looks terrible. Hopefully the leaks are a result of poor quality joints and flux residue and not a larger chemistry problem. You need to fix those leaks.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

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Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: lzaharis On: Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:21 am

Am I correct in thinking you have a hot water gravity system there Rick?

Everything worked before with the AA before the autovent and airscoop was
added why remove something that is reliable and has been reliable and worked
very well before the system was modified????

You cannot have an autofill, auto airvent, bladder tank and steel expansion tank together
in one common piped system that has a steel expasion tank as they will always work against
each other resulting in water loss in the steel expansion tank.

It would work if the boilers were parallel or in series but plumbed to bypass each other and segregated
by valving that shut each boilers water and flow away from each other with good valves, piping and
or pumps if needed- but I believe and will assume Rick has a hot water gravity system that we see here
in the images, OOOH Heaven!, second only to one pipe steam!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rick, your copper looks to be as old as mine as it is 33 years old I am getting rid of all my
close boiler copper when the time comes as I have the same corrosion issues.

You might want to look at those B+G diversion valves to see if they are worth repairing with new spring assemblies or simply replacing them-I am not trying to spend your money really.

Once you remove the bladder tank, remove the autovent, block off the autofill valve with
a ball or gate valve you can vent the radiators and have plenty of heat in the house again.

There is no need to rework the expansion tank system if the
boilers are piped in series and the steel tank is intact and useable.
If they had plumbed the oil boiler in without the bladder type expansion tank and
the autovent he would not have an issue.

Removing or blocking the autofill valve with a gate valve or ball valve and
the removing bladder tank will solve that issue with water loss from the steel tank
once the auto vent and bladder tank on the oil boiler is removed with the least amount
of work involved except for repiping the bad copper.

The copper needs work and perhaps some boiler treatment if he is not using a
water softener.

Rick, can you provide us with an image or two or three of the AA with the steel expansion
tank and piping when you have the time?

Do you have a backflow preventer in you water feed line rick??

My off topic question is whether you have seen any sea bass or striped bass
or is it too late in the season for stripers??
lzaharis
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KAA-4-1 dual fuel boiler
Coal Size/Type: rice
Other Heating: kerosene for dual fuel Keystoker

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: Rob R. On: Sun Sep 27, 2015 11:35 am

There is no way that is a gravity system.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: Rick 386 On: Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:44 am

Correct Rob, it is NOT a gravity system.

For the past week of so, we have been getting higher than normal readings of CO setting off the alarms. Thought at first that it was just the weather conditions. After shutting her down by just pulling the flue pipe and capping off the outlet, I come to find out that there was a piece of some type of drive belt that was mixed in with the coal that must have impeded the flow of coal up the auger. The fire pot was almost empty.

That was the good part.........now the bad !!!

Since starting the oil burner I have left all the valves to the AA open to drain off the heat from it. So last night I figure it is time to close some valves to isolate the AA. When I shut off the water to the DHW coil, I was informed in not too nice of terms, that I had also shut off all the water to the shower. While the wife was in it. :mad: Ooppsss...

So as I start really looking everything over, I'm noticing a lot of old leaks that have scaled over, leaking valves, no unions where needed, etc. etc..........

So I discussed this with the wife, and I think I will be replumbing the entire heating systems. Really don't want to go to the expense since everything is working as is, but there are just so many problem areas, I think it is best to just rip it out and start all over again making needed changes to the system.

# 1 will be to have each DHW coil run independent of each other via valves to isolate each from the other.

Then I guess it will be a primary secondary system where each boiler will be plumbed into the loop. I think this will eliminate a lot of the current valves as I will just have a feed and return from each boiler leading to the loops.

I will also be rewiring the AA. Currently it has 2 L4000A controlling it. Not sure how it does that but again, it is working as is. However installing a more up to date control can't be a bad thing......

We only have 2 zones. 1 for each side of this old twin farmhouse.

I'm open to suggestions.....................

Rick
Rick 386
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AA 260 heating both sides of twin farmhouse
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL Hyfire II w/ coaltrol in garage
Coal Size/Type: Pea in AA 260, Rice in LL Hyfire II
Other Heating: Gas fired infared at work

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: lzaharis On: Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:36 pm

Hello Rick,

Eliminating the autovent should be the first thing you do and then
go from there as you can still use the steel expansion tank.

Me, I am replacing the copper rats nest I have with steel pipe as I
will only be using a dual fuel keystoker to make DHW and heat for the house.

About new controls:

The Hydrolevel 3250 plus has been used by Keystoker and oil and gas boiler
manufacturers.

Honeywell has eliminated the triple aquastat which was used by Keystoker
previously according to Don Snow at Keystoker.
.
The hydrolevel folks have a very well written information page and files to down load about
the 3250 Plus and its other products.
lzaharis
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KAA-4-1 dual fuel boiler
Coal Size/Type: rice
Other Heating: kerosene for dual fuel Keystoker

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: StokerDon On: Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:42 pm

Sorry to hear about your plumbing dilemma Rick. No matter how you do it, copper or black iron, it costs a bit of money and quite a bit of time.

But when you're done, it will likely work better that it did before and you won't have to worry about it for a long time.

-Don
StokerDon
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: BairMatic BMC-500 with Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671/EFM S-15 stoker, Van Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: Rick 386 On: Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:01 pm

Don,

It is an old farmhouse. It is what it is.......

When my inlaws first bought the place it had no heat at all. My father in law and his father in law installed an old dynotherm oil burner and just had the 2 zones. I for each side of the house. In fact it had a dirt floor that my father in law dug out and poured a slab to "finish" the basement and increase the ceiling height.

Then about 25 + years ago, he got this AA and then plumbed it in parallel to the oil burner. The plumbing is horrendous trying to tie the 2 together. But as I said it works.

My father in law has been gone for 6 years now. Luckily he showed me how things worked years ago. Money was really tight years ago, so they just did what they had to do. I'm not loaded but I do want to make it easier for the spousal unit to be able to use and diagnose any problems while I'm away hunting, fishing, or snowmobiling.

So I figure a complete revamping of the plumbing coming off either heating unit will be a big plus. The pipes to each side's radiators are fine.

BTW, I do like that Hydrolevel.......

Rick
Rick 386
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AA 260 heating both sides of twin farmhouse
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL Hyfire II w/ coaltrol in garage
Coal Size/Type: Pea in AA 260, Rice in LL Hyfire II
Other Heating: Gas fired infared at work

Re: Maintenance on my AA 260

PostBy: StokerDon On: Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:40 pm

That is a very important point there Rick. If the "Boss" can run it while you are away, it's a good system!

-Don
StokerDon
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: BairMatic BMC-500 with Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671/EFM S-15 stoker, Van Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood

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