New boiler question (issue)

The damper vent motor on our steam boiler started buzzing (it's still buzzing with the heat off).  Picture of the thing below.  Is this dangerous ,or potentially dangerous, such that I need someone to come over today?


The answer ranges from dangerous, to more costly if it breaks other stuff, to its ok for a couple of weeks and then fix it when the pension check comes in. 

Call and ask who you would'a called to fix it and don't waste time waiting for an answer here. If its dangerous, you don't want to wait.


I've been told by one plumber so far that it's not dangerous and can wait till after the weekend but happy to hear from one of the other plumber participants here.  Will err on side of caution.


I found a 2 second at least temporary fix on Youtube that worked.  


I'm curious. Do you know if the motor was trying to close the damper but unable to? 

Years ago the damper on my boiler properly opened when the thermostat called for heat but then it wouldn't stay open. I could hear it creak open, the jets fire up and then almost immediately the damper click shut which immediately shut down the firing of the boiler (safety feature).

I ended up having to keep the damper always open (so I could have heat in the house) until I could get it replaced. 


steel said:

I'm curious. Do you know if the motor was trying to close the damper but unable to? 

Years ago the damper on my boiler properly opened when the thermostat called for heat but then it wouldn't stay open. I could hear it creak open, the jets fire up and then almost immediately the damper click shut which immediately shut down the firing of the boiler (safety feature).

I ended up having to keep the damper always open (so I could have heat in the house) until I could get it replaced. 

 The fix was to manually turn the shaft a little with pliers after which the motor opened the shaft the rest of the way by itself and fully opened the vent.  The YT video guy mentioned that he had to keep doing the fix or else leave the vent open via a manual switch setting, which I think is what you are talking about.  If I have to keep it open manually until a plumber can come to, I assume, replace the motor, I'll do that. Jut happy we re not getting blown up or poisoned by gas.  Love YT.

Thanks people for chiming in


Interesting. Thank you for the answer.


bub said:

 The fix was to manually turn the shaft a little with pliers after which the motor opened the shaft the rest of the way by itself and fully opened the vent.  The YT video guy mentioned that he had to keep doing the fix or else leave the vent open via a manual switch setting, which I think is what you are talking about.  If I have to keep it open manually until a plumber can come to, I assume, replace the motor, I'll do that. Jut happy we re not getting blown up or poisoned by gas.  Love YT.

Thanks people for chiming in

These motors are inexpensive and easy to replace. Picked one up at Palmers a few years ago for like 35 bucks if memory serves.


Steel

FYI, when I went down today, the motor was buzzing but the damper was stuck in the open position.  So I turned the switch to "manual" like you did, which leaves the damper set on open and it immediately stopped the buzzing.  If its going to be stuck in the open position anyway, might as well stop the buzzing until I can get a plumber over here.     


Thank you sir for the update. I love it when home infrastructure question OPs let us know what happened!


Those things are far more trouble than they're worth. 


master_plvmber said:

Those things are far more trouble than they're worth. 

 Is there an alternative?   Just leave it open all the time?


bub said:

 Is there an alternative?   Just leave it open all the time?

 Yep 


bub said:

master_plvmber said:

Those things are far more trouble than they're worth. 

 Is there an alternative?   Just leave it open all the time?

My opinion is that if it's there, it should work. If it honest work, the long term move is to fix/replace it or remove from the flue piping. You don't want it to close on you and create a problem. What vent dampers do is add 1%-2% seasonal efficiency of the boiler. They have some other unintended benefits, like keep the chimney warmer than if it weren't there (warm chimneys flow better), but they cost hundreds of dollars to replace and they always eventually fail. 


The guy on the Youtube video that showed the simple temporary fix said that if your chimney is not lined and you leave the damper in the open position, you might develop some kind of condensation damage in the chimney (or in the boiler, not sure what he meant).  If you tell me it's not a real concern, I'm happy to just get rid of the thing or leave it in the open position which, effectively, is getting rid of it.  I don't want to send $100 plus on a new motor if its going to jam again in 2 or 3 years.

Thanks for providing your thoughts about this. 


Unfortunately, condensation in a brick-and-mortar chimney is always a concern. It's an infrequent problem but it certainly does happen and when it does it's got to be fixed right away. Usually that means a chimney liner, which costs several thousand dollars. 


master_plvmber said:

Unfortunately, condensation in a brick-and-mortar chimney is always a concern. It's an infrequent problem but it certainly does happen and when it does it's got to be fixed right away. Usually that means a chimney liner, which costs several thousand dollars. 

 Thanks for the continued input.  I have guys coming this week to look at the motor.  Is it fair to say that leaving the damper open for the last week or so is not creating (or increasing) a serious risk of condensation damage, even if that risk exists for other reasons?  I don't even know if the chimney is lined.  I'll ask them to check.  I've lived here for 28 years.  If the chimney is unlined and there has been condensation damage, I can't say that I've noticed anything.  How does it show?


By the way Master P, I think your guys installed my boiler.


bub said:

By the way Master P, I think your guys installed my boiler.

 Great! I hope we're maintaining it too.




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