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    Steam System Not Performing (58 Posts)

  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 12:13 PM
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    Steam System Not Performing

    After having enough of high oil bills (1800 gals/yr), finally converted to natural gas. Used a highly regarded guy to perform the conversion. After the conversion, several of my radiators will not warmup. I mean nothing. System was not very balanced in years past anyway, but this situation will be problematic when the weather finally turns cold. The cold radiators are mostly on first floor in the room where the thermostat is located. The system fires up, runs for 2-3 hrs and finally shuts off when call for heat is satisfied. As you can guess, the second floor is very warm and the first floor is cold.

    I have had no luck finding a good steam guy locally (New Bedford, MA). So I bought Dan's book and started reading. I now know enough to be dangerous. Looks like I need some guidance to evaluate what I have and where I need to go. I like the elegance and simplicity of steam and would like to make this system work as originally intended.

    Here are the particulars:

    Burnham V78 Steam Boiler with Carlin EZGas burner. Nameplate data is 249MBTU/hr input, IBR NET 187MBTU/hr, 778 sq feet steam. EZGas burn rate clocked at the meter at 240MBTU/hr. Honeywell pressuretrol set as low as I can after cleaning out the siphon tube (5-15 psi subtractive unit ... should replace this). I calculated all the EDR of my radiators (had to find a 1910 HB Smith catalog as all of my radiators are Princess models which are larger than standard EDR charts). Total installed EDR is 633. Insulation has been removed on the basement pipes but remains on the risers to the second and third floors. I checked the runout and main sizes against the recommendations in Dan's book and I look good for the most part. Venting on my mains use Hoffman 75's (one each main) and a second VentRite on my 3 inch main.

    Biggest concern is to get my three large radiators on the first floor to heat up. One remains stone cold, another gets warm (not all the way to the last section) and then cools off and the last (on a different main) gets luke warm only for a few sections. Without these radiators working, the system takes forever to satisfy the call for heat.

    Any ideas on where to look next? Any recommendations on a goof steam guy in my area? Thanks for listening.
  • Enreynolds Enreynolds @ 12:45 PM
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    I believe

    That you do not have enough Main Venting in your system.  I am assuming that you have a two pipe system, since you did not mention radiator vents.  It is highly probable that you have been paying the fuel company to squeeeeze the air out of your system, given the 2 to 3 hour run time.  I suggest that you take some pictures of your installation from all sides, from a ways back so that piping can be traced.  Also take pictures of both ends of a sample radiator, and any odd looking cast iron objects that may be hanging around the boiler room.  If you are indeed using a  5-15 psi pressuretrol, that should be replaced, most residential steam heating systems are designed  to run at a maximum of 2psi, and usually can run a lot lower for best economy.  One of the best things you could do for yourself would be to purchase one or more of Dan's Books in the Shop section above.  The one you should start with would be "We Got Steam Heat!", which will help you understand your system and what to expect.  Post those pictures, and I am sure someone can help.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 6:20 PM
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    Thanks Eric.

    Sorry about the missing information. The system is a one-pipe parallel flow system so there are no "strange" cast iron objects in the basement ... just the distribution piping. There are no rise drips on the second and third floor takeoffs. The return is a dry return and looks to be properly sized (2 inch). All radiators are vented using a combination of New York Air Valve and VentRite adjustable vents. I have been buying VentRite No1s and replacing a couple of the older vents each year. I can pretty easily blow thru all the vents so I do not believe that they are clogged.

    I will post some pictures in the morning. From what little I know from Dan's book, it looks like the near boiler piping is incorrectly done as the riser to the mains from the header takes off from in between the two boiler taps. There is also a very strange arrangement with a second riser from the header that connects with one of the dry returns and to the same main further upstream. This piping looks original (circa 1911), but it does not make ant sense. Don't want to question a dead man but this piping looks odd to me from a pressure standpoint.
  • BobC BobC @ 6:55 PM
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    Pressure to high?

    I just replaced a V75 boiler on a much smaller system and that boiler would get up to steam in 9 minutes and it would fill all the radiators with steam in 13 minutes. My system operated at 12 oz maximum. I had a Gorton #1 on a short steam main and Hoffman 1A's on all the radiators (set for low venting rates).

    You mentioned your pressuretrol was a 5-15PSI model and maybe that is part of the problem. What does the pressure gauge read when making steam and do you think it's working correctly? A lot of air valves do not operate correctly above a few PSI; they never open back up after first getting hot so more  steam can't get to the radiators. I would start by putting a 1-5 PSI pressuretrol on that system and set it for a maximum of 1.5PSI cutout and then check that all the vents are working - especially the main vents. If your going to have to buy a pressuretrol you might consider a vaporstat instead and set the cut out pressure even lower.

    You said you have 3 mains, how long are they and what sized pipe? It's best to vent the mains as fast as possible and then vent the radiators slowly (but not to slow if they are very large or on upper floors).

    Does the sight glass look reasonable steady (my v75 never moved more that 1/4") and is the water clean? A good skimming might be in order if it's not.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 84,200 BTU, Single pipe steam

    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in

    3PSI gauge
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 8:56 PM
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    Near-boiler Piping

    First off......Main riser? to the mains, implies a steam no-no-Teeing a main riser.A main riser between boiler risers is no-no #2. A dry return back into the header is no-no #3. You should expect to have the boiler re-piped next spring. For the time being,maximum venting of the mains would help get you through this winter.Post the pictures and length and diameter of each main. Someone will be able to give you the necessary venting info for your mains. 
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 5:27 PM
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    Piping Pics

    Here are the pictures of my piping system. As Paul pointed out, I do have some problems with the near boiler piping. The 2.5 inch and 3 inch mains branch off of a single 2.5 inch riser from the header. The 2.5 inch main is 52 feet long and the 3 inch main is 67 feet long. This is measured from the branch to the point where the mains drop to boiler. Also, please note other "main" that takes off from the header, expands to 3 inch which connects to the 3 inch main just upstream of the drop to the boiler and also contracts to a 1.75 inch run to feed a 48 EDR radiator and a 24 EDR radiator and then connecting with the 3 inch main again. There are pictures of those connections as well.

    I am going to order a new 0-5 psig pressuretrol and 0-5 psig gage. Have to start fixing this mess somewhere. Looking forward to your comments. Really want to know what you think of the strange third loop I have.
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 5:47 PM
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    A little bit of everything there.......Most of it wrong.You need a pro to sort that mess out.
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 10:43 PM
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    Many problems

    For the moment, try to increase your main venting, and lower the pressure as much as the pressuretrol will tolerate.
    Next spring, you can start on the rectification of the main piping. Now you can get heat where it should go with a major increase in main venting.--NBC
  • ogs ogs @ 9:51 AM
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    Was the old boiler higher then the new one -- could be your dry return is now wet
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 10:03 AM
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    Not Unexpected

    Thanks to all for your comments. After reading thru Dan's book ("The Lost Art of Steam Heating"), I realized that the piping was a mess, but I was hoping that I missed something.

    I have two immediate questions. First, vaporstat or pressuretrol? I am guessing that I will have to run the system at a higher pressure than desired with the bad piping so the pressuretrol is the better choice for now. My existing one does not do anything since it is the wrong one. Am I correct in thinking this way? I will pick up a new 0-5 psig gage from the local supply house tomorrow.

    Second question is the venting. On my 2.5 inch main (where I have two non-functioning radiators) the elbow where the vent attaches was drilled out to 1/8 NPT and then fittings were used to adapt to the ID threads of the Hoffman. Way too small a vent opening. I am afraid that putting a second Hoffman at this location won't do much given the small vent. Was thinking of drilling out the next elbow upstream (30 inches upstream) to 3/8 NPT and putting the Hoffman there Thoughts on this? On my 3 inch main, I can put the additional Hoffman on a branch ... think I have the headroom for that.

    I will let you know how it works out.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 10:13 AM
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    Old Boiler

    OGS, your post snuck in there while I was typing. There is a section of old boiler leaning up against the chimney in one of the pictures. It was probably 18 inches taller than this one, but it used the same chimney port so it could not have been too much taller. Never saw it, as the Burnham was installed before I bought the house. I do not think that the dry returns are wet. I would think that this would cause some noise and this system runs absolutely silently. Never had a bang.
  • ogs ogs @ 10:19 AM
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    Is that the original base? I had a large commercial job where the contractor removed the boiler that had a higher water line and replaced with a lower water line.
  • Enreynolds Enreynolds @ 10:39 AM
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    It Looks

    like the differences in waterline have been addressed with a false waterline just before the hartford loop, if I am not mistaken.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 10:40 AM
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    Old Base

    OGS ... no, the base is not original. It is just block. There is evidence of another base on the floor. The outline appears to be square which makes sense given the typical arrangement of older boilers. How do you verify that the dry returns stay dry? I would also think that I would really loose water height in my sight glass if indeed my returns were wet. Level in sight glass only drops about 3/4 inch during the firing cycle and is pretty steady.
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 12:45 PM
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    have up-feed, and counter-flow. I guess they couldn't make up their mind.
  • mgmine mgmine @ 10:44 AM
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    Eye opener

    Sorry I can't help with your problem but I see that your pipes aren't insulated. For a real eye opener check this site to see how much fuel is being wasted
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 8:36 PM
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    What Gages?

    So, I head off to the local plumbing supply house. I visited 4 places, two in RI and two MA. No one had a 0-3 psig gage and only one place had a 0-5 psig gage but that gage had no internal syphon nor was is good for steam temperatures. Guess there is not much steam work around here. Will try the local FW Webb in the AM. Any suggestions on where I could get one on line? Want to get a handle on my operating pressure to start this off.

    Also, I was researching pressuretrols and it looks like my best option is a 0-4 psig vaporstat. The same places I asked about the gages had nothing by 5-15 psig pressuretrols. I already have that and its the wrong one (the one I have is new ... replaced a year ago by my oil company service technician ... another guy that did not know steam)! Online ideas?

  • BobC BobC @ 9:52 PM
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    Buy it at

    A lot of people buy low pressure gauges here -  These do not have a syphon tube but as long as it has a pigtail between it and the boiler you will be fine.

    Running the boiler at high pressure makes everything worse in most cases, you end up with water in places it shouldn't be because 5PSI will push water a lot further than 1.5PSI will. Air vents are not happy above a couple of PSI either. I would try a pressuretrol with a lower range (1.5 to 5PSI) or perhaps a vaporstat and increase the main venting at the same time. Pex Supply has them available - Remember you need something that breaks the circuit on pressure rise.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 84,200 BTU, Single pipe steam

    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in

    3PSI gauge
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 10:15 PM
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    Bob - Thanks for the info. Going online now to buy the vaporstat and pressure gage and pigtail. Also, read your recent posts on another thread. Extremely useful explanations ... really appreciate your dedication to teaching us homeowners about steam.

  • Enreynolds Enreynolds @ 10:51 PM
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    Pressure guage

    Joe:  most people are using a low pressure guage without an internal syphon, they are just mounting them above a pigtail to protect them.  Commonly, a tee is placed between the pigtail and the pressuretrol/vaporstat and the the guage is mounted off that tee.  this ensures that your guage is seeing the same pressure as the control.
  • sami sami @ 7:43 AM
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    I installed auto feed on stem one pipe system now it overfilling the the system folding out the radiator
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 11:35 PM
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    Sammy-post your question separately

    Repost this so your question isn't lost.
    In the meantime, turn off the valve to your auto-feeder, and see if that changes the flooding problem.--NBC
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 10:44 AM
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    Added Vaporstat and low pressure gage

    Received the parts this week ... yesterday I installed a 0-4psig vaporstat and 0-5 psig gage. Set the Vstat at 2 and the differential at 1. Because of the way the system has been operating, expected to have the system cycle several times until the call for heat was satisfied. Nope. Boiler ran for 2.5 hrs and the gage did not budge off zero. Did not expect this result. I am getting plenty of steam to the usual 2 radiators on the third floor. How can I get steam to the third floor without some pressure in the boiler? Really confused about this one.

    Also, I have interviewed 4 heating contractors in the last three weeks to get them lined up to fix the near boiler piping and to get the system operating as it should. None of them panned out. I am wondering if there are any experienced steam heat contractors left in southeast Massachusetts.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 12:08 PM
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    Well, the piping is a mess

    and you'll need to have that corrected. The header configuration is completely wrong, so you're likely getting wet steam.

    But when the EZ-Gas was put in, did they thoroughly clean the inside of the boiler?

    For steam contractors, look here:
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    This post was edited by an admin on December 2, 2012 1:50 PM.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 5:05 PM
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    Thanks, Steamhead.

    Yeah, the near boiler piping is a mess and I have no idea what is going on with the large drop header that ties into the dry return portion of the 3-inch main. With steam coming from both directions, I have been thinking that I may be trapping air in there somehow. But why don't I make a measurable head of steam?

    I am experiencing wet steam. On a couple of radiator vents on the 2nd floor, I have to periodically (every few days) take the vents off and empty out the water. No noise, but the rad does not heat until I drain the vent. It will then heat up just fine.

    At install of the EZGas, the installer spent about 1.5 hours cleaning and vacuuming the flue gas passages. He informed me that several of the passages were completely plugged. I did not expect that as I have my boiler cleaned out every year although I did burn alot of oil (1800 gal/yr). Did not see him clean out the firebox.

    Could the boiler be underfired? I have an "N"-sized orifice in the orifice nipple. I could not find "N" in the burn rate chart in the EZGas manual. The boiler was clocked at the meter using the 2 cuft dial at 220-240 MBTU/hr which sounded about right. I will time it again the next time the unit fires.

    Thanks for the contact info for Garity and Sons. Lenox MA is a good 3.5 hour drive away. I will give him a call anyway ... you never know what people would be willing to do to solve a good steam problem!
  • BobC BobC @ 2:17 PM
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    Information please

    You have problems with your piping near the boiler and I hope the installers cleaned out that boiler really well before putting the EZgas on there. Working on the main piping on an old boiler can be problematic in the winter so lets see what we can do to get things working better before tearing any piping apart. All the near boiler and mains should be insulated but lets see if we can get it working better first.

    I have an EZgas on my Smith 8 and everything seems fine, the house heats fine and it's a lot cheaper to run. All of my radiators heat up at about the same time and everything works the way it did on the old setup. My house is a lot smaller but steam really doesn't care how big a house it's installed in as long as the boiler can produce enough steam - and yours seems pretty well matched to the system.

    It seems one of your mains is being starved for steam and we have to rebalance things so everything heats up at about the same time. It's best to vent your mains fast and the radiators slowly.

    Can you make up a list of what air valves are installed on which radiator (what EDR the radiator is) and where that radiator is (distance from boiler and floor) also what main that radiator connects to? Next give the length of each main and the pipe size (circumference will do) so we can see how much air each one contains.That kind of list may make things clearer in your mind as to the system venting.

    With this information we should be able to make a difference that will get the system performing the way it should. In the spring you can consider repiping the near boiler for optimum steam distribution.

    Earlier you asked about the Hoffman that someone had added to an elbow on the main. A 1/8" pipe can handle 1.2 cfm at 1 oz of pressure so you might what to try a Gordon D (or MaidOMist D) at that spot because they can vent 0.33 CFM.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 84,200 BTU, Single pipe steam

    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in

    3PSI gauge
    This post was edited by an admin on December 2, 2012 2:23 PM.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 5:42 PM
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    Thanks BobC

    See my reply to Steamhead about boiler cleaning before the EZGas was installed.

    Understand that we should wait until spring to tackle the piping. Lets hope for another mild winter. In the mean time, I will continue to try to find a steam specialist ... it is taking a long time to find someone and I want to be ready to go in April. Then I can take my time insulating the pipes over the summer.

    I have most of that information now but will need to put it in a reasonable format to share with you guys. What is the best way to do that? Can I attach a MSWord, MSExcel, or PDF file to a post? I will shoot for Wednesday to post that information ... got to go to work to pay for the gas I'm burning.

    Confused about the Gorton D on the 1/8" tapped hole in on of my elbows (2.5 inch main return at the drop to the boiler. You can see it in one of the pictures). If the hole can handle 1.2 cfm, why would I want to put a .33 cfm vent on it? Shouldn't the capacity of the vent be bigger than the orifice capacity? This is the only vent on that main and I have two cold legs off this main (serving a total of 4 radiators on two floors).

    Thanks again for sticking with me on this. More information on Wednesday.
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 6:00 PM
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    "N" Orifice

    Clock it again. Should be about 160000 btus. Letter drill "N" is .302
    This post was edited by an admin on December 2, 2012 6:09 PM.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 6:19 PM
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    Makes Sense

    Thanks, Paul, will do. Installer cautioned me that I cannot use the standard gas meter charts to clock the meter because the street line pressure is 11" H2O. This does not really make sense to me as the gas meter should compensate for line pressure to properly measure gas consumption. Is a call to gas company in order to straighten this out?
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 8:25 PM
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    If, for instance there was 2lb gas coming into the residence (unlikely, but possible),all the gas fixtures in the house would have to have regulators, including the boiler. It would have to be regulated to a max 14" W.C. The meter measures cu ft, and by clocking it, you are coming up with the cf/h and converting that to btu/h. A cf of gas is approx 1000 btus .
    This post was edited by an admin on December 2, 2012 8:44 PM.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 9:43 PM
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    Let me get this straight

    Paul, if I understand what you are saying, the meter will accurately measure cuft of gas passing through the meter independent of the inlet line pressure. The installer was incorrect in applying a correction factor to the measured reading to account for line pressure. If that is the case, then I am probably underfired. BTW, that is the exact meter chart that I am using.
    This post was edited by an admin on December 2, 2012 9:44 PM.
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 9:54 PM
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    What did you clock it at?
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 10:47 PM
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    Measured just over 47 seconds on 2 cuft dial. Pretty repeatable. Right around 153000. Looks like I am underfired quite a bit! Could explain why I cannot get any measurable steam head.
  • BobC BobC @ 7:45 PM
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    PDF file

    I finally found the elbow you were talking about that has the Hoffman 75 mounted on it through a bushed up 1/4" tapping. The hoffman 75 vents at the rate of 0.5CFM so two of them would utilize just about all of a 1/4" tapping. Vents all have a CFM rating but you cant just use an open pipe because it would not close when the steam hit it. The reason I asked for the Mains length is so I could calculate the volume of air and then deduce how much venting you should have on each main. I don't need a precise number a good ballpark would probably suffice.

    You can't upload word or excel files but you should be able to upload a pdf file.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 84,200 BTU, Single pipe steam

    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in

    3PSI gauge
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 10:15 PM
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    Never meant to imply that I should not put a vent in the tapped hole in the elbow. My question was a general one. In general, I would think that you would want the venting capacity of the vents to be greater than the capacity of the piping/fittings to the vent for maximum venting. On second thought, having the tapping be the limiting factor would not be a good thing incase more venting is needed. Making the tapping as large as possible and control the venting by adding vents is a better rule of thumb. I'll increase the tapping size to 1/4NPT and put on a second Hoffman.

    For rough numbers: 3-in main is 94 feet long. 2.5-in main is 69 feet long. This measurement is from the start of the main (after the branch from the header) to the elbow at the drop leg to the boiler (where the two Hoffmans are). There is another 45 feet of 2-in "main" that runs from the header to the 3-in main. Not sure how you handle that one. I do have to evacuate that run too.

    I will detail out the piping with the location/EDR of each radiator takeoff and post a pdf file later this week. Thanks for all your help!
  • BobC BobC @ 10:20 AM
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    More venting

    How long does it take each of your vents to get hot (outlet of the
    boiler to each main vent) from a cool start? You would like all the
    mains to fill with steam quickly and at about the same time. At some
    point in time the near boiler piping has to be insulated and the rest of
    the piping in the cellar should be insulated also to save fuel. I was able to cut
    the time it took my main vent to get hot by about 25% by insulating the
    piping. When you consider how many times a boiler runs during the
    winter that's a lot of fuel I saved.

    With mains that long your going to need more venting. the 94 ft 3" main contains about 4.6 cu ft of air and needs a couple of Gorton #2 vents. The 69 ft 2-1/2 in main contains 2.4 cu ft of air and needs a Gorton #2 in addition to the Hoffman 75. These are starting points for the venting you could need more if the venting backpressure is high.

    How far back from the current vent locations are the last radiator feeds on those mains? Vents are usually put about 2 ft after the last radiator takeoff if feasable. If your vents are a lot more than that distance you might want to see if you can get someone to weld a threaded inlet port on the upper surface of the mains so you can mount vents there, you will need some kind of antler setup to mount more than one vent.

    Main vents and insulation are not cheap but they do pay for themselves in fuel savings. All of the above will help but the piping will have to be addressed in the spring, try and find a good steam pro to go over that piping.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 84,200 BTU, Single pipe steam

    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in

    3PSI gauge
    This post was edited by an admin on December 3, 2012 10:23 AM.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 6:32 PM
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    Here is the Information

    Hello Guys ... Sorry it took so long to put to put this together. Holidays are in full swing and time is at a premium

    Two pdf files are attached. The first one (Steam Piping Runs) is a plan view layout of the piping system. The location of each runout on the mains is located and labeled with a letter. The locations of the vents are also noted. All dimension are in inches. Dimensions have been double checked and are reasonably accurate.

    The second pdf file (EDR and Piping Calcs) contains the details of each radiator, vents used, runout pipe size and length to riser, evaluation of main and runout capacity, boiler particulars and current fining rate. Each radiator is assigned to its runout and referenced to the layout drawing. I hope that I was able to put things together in a way that makes sense to you. What do you make of that mystery loop? The system is basically parallel flow but the addition of the mystery loop makes part of main 2 counterflow. What were they trying to do with this loop?

    My immediate concern is to try to improve the venting so that I can get thru the winter. I have not yet done anything to increase the venting. Everything is as shown.

    Thanks to all for taking a look at this for me. Looks like winter is still several weeks away based on the long range forecast. It has not been too uncomfortable in the house yet. Nothing a fire in the fireplace and a turkey in the oven can't fix ... yet.
  • Dave in QCA Dave in QCA @ 8:18 PM
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    Good Data

    Excellent Data!  And, I believe that unless you made a typographical error, the answer is right under your nose!
    You say you have a v78 boiler that is rated for 249,000 BTU input.  The rest of the ratings of this boiler indicate it is a perfect match for your system. But, the current firing rate of your new burner is about 100,000BtU short.  You have told us that the Burner is burning 153,000BTU/Hr, as clocked at the meter.  It should be 249,000 BTU/HR.   Who put your burner in?  They have it adjusted incorrectly, or it is the wrong model.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 8:56 PM
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    A  21/64 orifice gives you an input of 200,000 btus, net of 160,000 btus and 666sqft of steam. I don't know whether that boiler should be down-fired that much.
  • Dave in QCA Dave in QCA @ 11:02 PM
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    Pickup factor

    Paul, I think you missed the pickup factor.
    200,000 gives a gross output of 160,000.  A steam net of 119403 BTU, and steam sq ft of 498.

    He needs 633 sq ft, which would be a steam net of 151,920 BTU, a Gross output of 203573 BTU and a firing rate of 254,473 BTU.   So, a firing rate of the maximum rate for this boiler of 249,000 would be the way to go.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    This post was edited by an admin on December 9, 2012 11:15 PM.
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 12:28 AM
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    Thanks Dave

    I knew something didn't seem right.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 6:35 PM
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    Academic question

    It appears that I do not understand the nameplate data on my boiler. Based on your calculations, at 249MBH I will not get the steam net 187MBH on the nameplate. Here is what I have:

    D.O.E Heating Capacity: 249 MBH
    Steam Net IBR: 187 MBH
    Water Net IBR: 217 MBH
    Firing Rate Lt Oil: 2.1 GPH
    Relief Valve Capacity: 249 MBH

    Have I been confusing the DOE Capacity with maximum firing rate? A firing rate of 2.1 GPH would indeed mean an input of around 294 MBH. Is this correct? For what it is worth, when I was using oil, the injector was using a 1.65 GPM nozzle at 140 psig. Not sure how to handle that in order to calculate what my input was.

    Would like to understand this further before I get someone in here to correct the firing rate. Also, the Carlin EZGas is rated up to 275 MBH
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 6:15 PM
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    Firing Rate

    The installer I used was recommended by several heating companies. He seems to be the EZGas installer in these parts. I called him back to reset the burn rate once already! When he set the burn rate the second time, he told me that I could not directly measure the gas consumption by clocking the meter because the street gas pressure was higher than the meter works at and a correction factor was needed. That is how he arrived at a 240000 burn rate. Sounded fishy but the guy was well recommended. After looking into it further (Paul48 was a help here) I learned that the installer was mistaken. The N-orifice (.302 dia) is too small and matches up nicely to my clocked burn rate. It is way too low, though! Will get this adjusted shortly.
  • BobC BobC @ 8:48 PM
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    Orifice too small

    If you look at page 7 of the EZGas manual you will see a table that shows what size orifice you need drilled out on that burner vs the BTu input you want. Call the installer and ask why he used the size he did. I would contact Carlin and ask them what size orifice if you have any doubts.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 84,200 BTU, Single pipe steam

    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in

    3PSI gauge
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 6:39 PM
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    Thanks Bob.

    See my replies to Dave in QCA above. I am trying to get a better understanding of boiler nameplate data and my needed firing rate before getting someone in here to correct the problem. It should be noted that prior to converting to gas, my boiler still ran forever and never really warmed up the two radiators that are now cold. Once I get the firing rate straightened out, I will turn my attention to that issue.
  • Rod Rod @ 10:43 PM
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    Where are the drops?

    Hi- I cleaned up your drawing so it is easier to read. Nice work BTW! Where on the system are the drops that connect to the wet return? Of Main #1, Main #2 and the Mystery Loop, how well are they working at this time?
    - Rod
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 6:50 PM
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    Clean schematic

    Rod, thanks for cleaning up the schematic. Grid lines are always a problem but I cannot draw straight line without them! The drops that connect to the wet return are at the locations of V1 on Main 1 and V2 Main 2. The vents are tapped into the downward facing elbow. On Main 1, the tapping is just a 1/8 NPT tapped hole into the side of the elbow ... someone's homer here. On Main 2, the tapping is integral to the elbow ... a proper elbow fitting was used here. The Mystery loop is just another takeoff from the boiler header that connects to Main 2 in the three locations indicated. It connects to the dry return portion of Main 2 about 30 inches upstream of V2 using a 3-inch pipe, to the Main 2 again at runout F and yet again just before runout G. No idea what it is doing, but starving Main 1 of steam.
  • Rod Rod @ 1:04 PM
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    Piping & Slope

    Hi- I’ve been looking over your pictures and drawings and am trying to figure out how the original system was piped.  We normally assume that the “Dead Men” that did the original system were competent and all one has to do to restore the system to proper working order, is to figure out the original system and then remove the “mickey mouse” modifications that were done since then.  In your system there is piping that looks original but it’s very hard to understand the intent as it doesn’t make much sense unless maybe the “Dead Men” installed it during a period of very cold weather and their blood levels contained had too much “antifreeze”.
    The Mains #1 and #2 look pretty straight forward and all that needs to be done is to give them each their own riser connection to the revised header pipe. The “Mystery Loop” and the large connector pipe which I marked “A” is a whole other question. I’ve attached a labeled picture of your piping, looking at the pictures I can guess some of the slope directions but thought the first thing to do would be to verify  them. I put a circled station number on the drawing and if you would just let me know the station number and the direction of slope (“A”or “B”) I’ll put that on the drawing.  
       In the picture JR Piping 01A, I circled the return piping near the boiler. Why it was done this way I have no idea. It should have gone down to the floor level, across and then up to the connection to the equalizer.
    I’m assuming the returns marked “X” and “Y” are the returns for Main #1 and #2.   I’ve also attached your photo which I labeled JR Ping 04. Where is this located on the system?  

    If anyone has an idea as to what the original intent of the large pipe labeled “A” going from the main to the end of the return, please speak up. That one has me completely baffled!
    Overall it does seem that it will be that hard to get things straightened out ounce we figure out what to do with the “Mystery Loop” .
    - Rod
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 5:03 PM
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    The installer is full of it. The meter measures CF, and a CF of NG is 1000 btus(close enough). You are clocking CF used. Even if it was 2lb into the house, he would still have to regulate it down, and the meter would still reflect CF used.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 7:35 PM
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    Firing Rate

    Paul, love your directness. Firing rate was indeed wrong. I had that corrected along with some other things by a real steam professional. Bolier is running at 247MBTH input and all is well.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 7:33 PM
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    Steam Direction

    Rod - Sorry for the late post. I have had a real steam professional in to look over the system. The system is running the best it has since I owned the house. I'll post the results in a separate post. I'll answer your questions about steam direction for completeness sake.

    Referring to the numbers on your latest post, the pipes are sloped:

    1 B to A 2 A to B 3 A to B 4 B to A 5 A to B 6 B to A 7 B to A 8 A to B
    9 B to A 10 B to A 11 A to B
    Pretty much parallel flow.

    You are correct about the pipes labeled X and Y in the first picture. They are indeed the ends of my 2 main loops.

    The location of the connection in the second picture is at location F in the Main 2 loop. It is fed from pipe B in the first picture. It is quite a mess.
  • Rod Rod @ 8:02 PM
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    Hi- I'm glad to hear that you found a pro who knows what they are doing. The reason I was asking about slope is because the 3 inch Pipe "A" is so odd and when you find things like that I've found it is best to go back to "square one"  and not assume anything. The Pipe "A" only makes sense if it was once part of a counterflow system.  As it is now it would seem to be detrimental to the system.   Now that you've got our curiosity up please let us know what the outcome is and how the mystery loop ends up being configured.
    - Rod
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 8:09 PM
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    Many Thanks to All!

    I cannot tell you how satisfied I have been with everyone's help on this board. I took your advice and hired a real steam professional from this board to look over my system. I could not have been any happier with the result. I am not sure what the policy is on identifying who I used, but lets just say he drove a long way from western MA to fix my problems.

    What we ended up doing first was to fix the problems with burner. The boiler was woefully under-fired and the regulator on the EZGas had not been adjusted and needed to be corrected. He installed the correct orifice (.397). Firing rate now set at 247MBTH. Once the burner was adjusted we tackled the piping problems.

    We ended up being convinced that the "Mystery Loop" was a result of two boiler installations gone bad and had been added to the system over the last 50 or so years to "correct " apparent problems with the system. The 3-inch drop header was removed thereby eliminating the back-feeding of Main 2. The other portion of the mystery loop was left in place after much thought. We decided that we would leave this mess in place now as removing it may cause problems in the near boiler piping as both main loops are fed by a single 2 inch riser.

    After replacing a couple of radiator vents and discussing ways to increase the main venting, we fired up the system. Now the two mains fill completely in less than 5 minutes and my radiators fill completely shortly after that. I am now able to maintain temperature in the house with a 30-35 minute cycle, terminating on temperature. That will be a huge energy savings as it took almost 3 hrs to do the same thing prior to the corrections. More importantly, for the first time in my ten years in this house I am comfortable. Temp is relatively even. Rooms that never were comfortable before are now great. I am actually looking forward to my next heating bill! BTW I am running at about 3 oz pressure and have the vaporstat set accordingly.

    Again, thanks to all for your very solid advice and great willingness to help out. And a special thanks to the steam expert in western MA for traveling all the way to New Bedford to correct my problems and to answer all my questions (and there were many). We will tackle the near boiler piping and the remainder of the mystery loop in the spring.

    Happy Holidays to all!
  • SWEI SWEI @ 8:25 PM
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    identifying who

    Please do - it's important for other readers to know that we still have some truly competent professionals out there.
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 8:26 PM
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    Happy result

    I wonder if the expert you choose is registered here under the find a contractor, and if not could he register?--NBC
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 9:41 PM
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    Hi Joe

    Isn't it refreshing to deal with someone that really knows what they are doing? I think I know who you are refering to, but please identify the man and his company.It's appropriate, and take some "after" photos next spring. We have the "before" photos. Warm Wishes and Happy Holidays.
  • JoeRare JoeRare @ 9:55 PM
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    Charles Garrity Plumbing and Heating, Lenox Dale, MA

    Well, since I can identify who I hired to fix my steam system, here it is. Steamhead posted a reply earlier in this thread that included a "Find a Contractor" link to Charles Garrity Plumbing and after contacting them, Mr. Garrity the Younger looked over my information and trekked several hours from home to help me out.

    I cannot say enough good things about the experience. It was everything I expected and more from a registered contractor who contributes to this site. Mr. Garrity is truly a steam professional, but even more importantly from a customer perspective, Mr. Garrity took the time to explain the reasons behind what he decided was the right things to do for my situation. He patiently and thoroughly answered all my questions and did so with a smile. And I asked a lot of questions ... mechanical engineers always want to know the why behind things. We are going to talk some more over the winter about doing additional work in the spring.

    In a nutshell, it was the best money I spent in many a year. I can offer him my highest recommendation ... and many thanks.
  • Charlie from wmass Charlie from wmass @ 10:23 PM
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    Thanks Joe

    It was a pleasure. Glad to help out.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
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