Steam out of chimney? ? ?

A little history is necessary:
In 1995 our 80-year-old six-unit apartment building replaced our furnace-boiler. From the start steam came out of the chimney. That seemed to grow worse until 2004, when the steam got really bad and soon the boiler broke down.
We replaced the boiler -- and there was no steam at all. The new one was much more efficient.
But this morning when the temperature dipped down into the single digits, I saw steam coming out of the chimney for the first time. It wasn't a great deal, but enough to cause a little alarm.
I'd love to hear from anyone who has had experience in this sort of thing.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ray Jenkins wrote:

Steam? Or condensed water vapor?
If actually steam, your boiler's broke.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

What type of fuel? Natural gas contains water, as does al combustion air, but seeing water vapor out of a chimney is very common. If the exit temperature of the exhausts gasses are not hot enough, you can actually get rain inside the chimney.
If you have a steam boiler and it gets bad, it could be a leak, but given the circumstances, my guess is just natural condensation of the vapor in the stack.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sorry, Ed, I didn't mean to send the message to your personal address.
We have just converted to natural gas for our steam boiler, but I hadn't observed any steam -- or whatever -- before today.
There's no moisture at all in the furnace room itself -- which I guess is a good sign.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not a problem.

I forget the percentage, but when methane burns, one of the products of combustion is water. The colder the outdoor temperature the more visible the vapor will be as it will condense faster in a more compact formation. Our boilers at work do the same thing but since they are 5 million Btu they make a much larger plume than you'd see in a residential system. My guess is that everything is OK and you are just seeing the natural process.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ray Jenkins wrote:

The colder it is, the more any water vapor will condense. It was about 10 degrees last night when I dropped SWMBO off to drive my old car home from the garage (was having some annoying oil leaks addressed) at that temp fresh car exhaust looks like you have a blown head gasket. Unless it continues after it warms up, I wouldn't worry.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ray Jenkins wrote:

That's heat loss. Put a lid on the chimney.
--
<<//--------------------\>>
Van Chocstraw
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Do you have auto water feed, if so turn it off and monitor level- pressure, but gas emits alot of water vapor and it looks like steam when cold out.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

When you drive your car during very cold weather, do you see steam coming from it's chimney (or exhaust pipe)? It's the same thing. Look around. Every chimney, flue pipe, exhaust pipe whatever will be like this, especially when it is cold outside. As long as it isn't raining inside of the chimney like Ed P. says, due to the exhaust gas being too cool or the chimney being too big, it is probably normal.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Update --
The smoke/vapor now seems slightly darkish. Previously it seemed to be white and dark. But it has subsided a good deal.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 17 Jan 2009 05:18:16 -0500, "Ray Jenkins"

The other night my sewer froze when the outdoor temp got to MINUS 39 deg. F. I let some water out of the sink, and the toilet overflowed and the water ran into the heat register. The furnace was running almost continuously and I soon noticed condensation everywhere. I opened the rear door to run a hose outside to the sewer pipe cleanout, to pump some hot water into the pipe. (this happens at least once every winter). When I opened the door, there was a cloud of steam coming out the door like a huge cloud. I never seen anything like that. Of course the door had to remain open about an inch for the hose, so the steam kept pouring out the door. There are actually 2 doors, since there is an unheated porch on the back, and that tin porch ceiling became coated with thick frost.
Yes, I did get the pipe opened again after over 2 hours of fighting with it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jimw wrote:

I was in this pub on a Chistmas Eve about a decade ago. There were so many folk inside that the door (in the link) had to be left open all evening to remove the heat. As I approached the pub, there was a massive cloud of steam that continued to billow from the inside. The outside temperature was just sub zero (c). The moisture was from the seething populace inside!
http://www.stangeandco.co.uk/CottageLoaf.htm
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

And a week later the 5 yr old boiler failed from lack of water
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

WHERE IS BUBBA, WE NEED A LEARNERS-STUDENT OPINION. Us Home suckers dont know squat BUBBA
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.