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    My second floor is not heating up after installation :( (28 Posts)

  • Boileraches Boileraches @ 4:51 AM
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    My second floor is not heating up after installation :(

    Hello, I am here in need of some help. Well here is my ordeal. I bought a Slantfin GXHA-120DPZ gas boiler. This was to replace a 6 foot Burnham Boiler that ran on Oil and I was hoping to save some money by switching to gas. Anyway hired someone to do the job and they replaced the returns and installed the new boiler. The boiler is running fine and heating up the first floor of our home. We are having issues heating up the second floor. There is one radiator in particular that does not get hot like it used to. It is basically cold  (unless I run for a longer period of time) and the others radiators upstairs do not get as hot as before.  I made sure the radiators were slightly sloped which they were and cleaned the valve. Air seems to be going through it fine and I can feel air blowing through it when the furnace is on. But does not get hot. I will post pictures as soon as I can. Any idea of what it could be? Could it be that I need to raise the temperature since this is a smaller boiler compared to the 6 foot beast that was there previously?  Thermostat is located in the living room which is on the first floor
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 6:57 AM
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    2nd floor cold

    What sort of system is this-1-pipe-2-pipe? Pictures are definitely needed.
    How did you size the new boiler?
    Your new boiler should have no problems heating the radiators, if it was properly chosen; even though the physical size is much smaller.
    What sort of main vents are on the dry returns?--NBC
  • Boileraches Boileraches @ 4:04 PM
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    Size of boiler

    The new boiler was sized based on a heat loss calculation using a slant fin calculator software type. The software based on my measurements and following the instructions said I needed a 87,000 BTU boiler. I also had a UGI contractor come in before then and counted all of my radiators and based his calculation on that. He recommended a Burnham 103,000 BTU. I chose a bigger with a slightly bigger BTU output just in case I needed to heat another room (if I ever needed it).
  • Dave in QCA Dave in QCA @ 4:20 PM
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    Still need more information

    Problem is we don't know whether we're comparing apples to apples or apples to oranges.  Here is why.  The boiler you had installed is rated as follows. 
    GXHA-120 has a firing rate, or input of 120,000 BTU — It has a DOE capacity for steam or gross output of 97,000 BTU, and a Steam NET rating of 73,000BTU and a rating of 304 sq ft steam.
    The Input is how much heat goes into the boiler.  The DOE rating is how many BTU in steam comes out of the boiler.  The Steam net rating had a piping loss and pickup factor in it.  IE, of you add up all of the radiators measure in sq ft, and multiply it by 240 (the amount of heat a sq ft of radiation gives off when filled with steam) then you would pick a boiler with the NET BTU that matches.  Or, even simpler, you add up all of the radiation in the house, then find a boiler that is rated for the same amount of steam sq ft.  Both the Net BTU and sq ft ratings have the piping loss and pickup allowances (34%) built in. 

    Based on your information, we don't know which BTU numbers you are referring to.  Print off the steam survey that was supplied a little lower in this post.  It is an easy thing to do, won't take long.  Get the total number of sq ft, that's what we need to know if you're boiler is truly the correct size.

    Also, please tell us what  kinds of main vents and radiator vents you are using.
    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 November 24, 2012 4:24 PM.
  • Boileraches Boileraches @ 12:57 AM
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    Initial Recommendation

    Sorry the initial recommendation boiler from the company that did the calculation was a Crown Bermuda BSI 103 which from what I can tell, specifications are less than that of the boiler that I have, the shocking thing from your post is that I do not see main vents anywhere on the pipes in the basement. Where would these be located?
    This post was edited by an admin on November 25, 2012 12:58 AM.
  • icesailor icesailor @ 7:12 AM
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    New Boiler:

    If the total connected load of your radiators (Steam) is more than 302 EDR, you probably need a new boiler.
    You picked out what you needed, and found someone to install it for you. If the installer isn't a "Steam Head", and isn't familiar with the intricacies of steam, and it doesn't follow the installation piping diagrams for a steam system for that boiler, it is probably piped improperly.
    The fact that you can hear all that "air" rushing around your system tells me that something is wrong.
    You need to post the EDR of ALL the radiators and photos of the supply and return piping of the boiler for us to help you.
    If you did a heat loss on what the building looses in heat, it is probably wrong unless you compared it to steam EDR and converted it to BTU heat loss which is an unnecessary step.
  • Rod Rod @ 10:15 AM
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    New Boiler Problems

    Hi- As others have mentioned we need to know more about your steam system. Pictures of the new boiler would be a great help. Take them so they include the piping attached to the boiler and from different sides as we need to determine how the boiler was piped.
    The installer should have measured each of your radiators to find the total EDR which determines what size boiler is needed. Do you know if this was done?
    Probably the first thing is to check the EDR and do a new radiator survey. I've attached a work sheet which will help you do this.
    - Rod
    This post was edited by an admin on November 24, 2012 10:19 AM.
  • Dave in QCA Dave in QCA @ 12:46 PM
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    More information needed

    The previous posts have asked for more information, all of which is needed.  Added to that, if this is a one pipe system, did you change any of the vents?   Is the new boiler smaller in capacity than the old boiler?
    Even if you have installed a boiler that is too small for the total corrected radiation, there is hope for correcting your problems, even without getting a different boiler.

    If you have a two pipe system, inlet orifices can allow a boiler to properly heat the system even without the 34-50% pickup factor.

    In one pipe, as long as the mains are vented fast, and the radiators are vented VERY slow, evenness can also be accomplished.  But this means much slower than the current popular venting advice.  See articles by Dave Bunnell.

    But, first we need more information.
    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.
  • Boileraches Boileraches @ 3:57 PM
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    Pictures of New Installation

    Here are some photos of the new installed boiler
  • Boileraches Boileraches @ 4:21 PM
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    Old Boiler Pictures

    This is my old boiler set up here
  • Boileraches Boileraches @ 12:26 AM
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    If you need more pictures or more information please let me know thanks.
  • vaporvac vaporvac @ 1:43 AM
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    measuring EDR

    hello boileraches
    I'm just a homeowner like yourself, but I've been through this myself so i know it can seem lot a lot to absorb. What you should do is, using the pdf that Rod so kindly included, add the radiation of every radiator in your house. This gives you the total radiation in sq ft, which is the only way to determine the correct size of steam boiler.  It doesn't matter what upgrades you've made; the boiler needs to be able to make enough steam to fill the radiators. I believe a heat loss is generally used for Hot water heat. I measured the numbers of sections in each type of radiator in my own house. There is also another pdf showing how to measure edr floating around on this site. This is what you should do first. to see if you boiler is properly sized.
    Then, all the great people on this site can help you figure out how to adjust it to work properly. Good luck.
  • Boileraches Boileraches @ 3:13 AM
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    Boiler sizing chart

    Ok before I go to bed , I took your recommendation and took the measurements needed. Total Square Feet of Radiation: 292.2 x Conversion Factor 240= Total BTUH Load 70,128
  • BobC BobC @ 7:54 AM
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    boiler size ok

    It seems your boiler is pretty well sized to your load so that concern is addressed.

    What pressure is the boiler running at while making steam? The pressure gauge seemed high but I could not read the scale, what is the tab on the front of the pressuretrol set to (in PSI) and what is the white dial inside set to? Steam wants to be at 2 PSI or hopefully less, high pressure causes all kinds of problems.

    When the boiler was installed is it possible the mains slope was inadvertently changed? Condensing steam has to be able to find it's way back to the boiler. Which way do the steam mains slope (towards or away from the boiler) and is that slope consistent over the length of the steam mains?

    I assume this is single pipe steam (a valve at one end of the radiator and a air vent at the other end), what kinds of air vents are on the radiators? In order for steam to fill a radiator, all the air has to be expelled first. For a balanced system you need to vent the steam mains fast and the radiators slowly. Are your main air vents working? If you don't have main vents they have to be added.

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • Bio Bio @ 8:02 AM
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    Main vents

    Post pictures of your Main Vents
  • Dave in QCA Dave in QCA @ 9:12 AM
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    So far So Good!

    I agree with previous posts.    The boiler is a good match for your system.  It might be a good idea to actually clock the meter and confirm that the boiler is burning at the 120,000 BTU/Hr rate that it is supposed to.  It probably is.

    That leaves the vents.  Slow main vents and fast radiator vents will cause the kind of imbalance you are experiencing.  What do you have for main vents, and for radiator vents?
    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 @ 10:41 AM
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    For Now

    Work on the vents, and getting things balanced. Next spring, plan on reworking those tansitions from risers to mains. They are traps, and make wetter steam. I can't tell from the picture, but I can't see a Hartford Loop either. Nothing that can't wait though.
  • Boileraches Boileraches @ 11:48 AM
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    More information

    Thank you guys for your replies:
    Pressure is set at 2 psi. I turned the heat up to make it run. As it is running, it is barely reaching one psi. The mains are slightly sloped away from the boiler but not by much. Level is almost even but its hard to get an accurate level with the asbestos (I don't want to disturb it) on the pipes. As far as the air vent goes, I only saw one and I believe there are supposed to be at least 2. The pipe to the left has one but the one to the right does not and seems like it was never installed. What is your recommendation, greatly appreciate all of your opinions.
  • Bio Bio @ 1:02 PM
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    Lack of venting

    You need more venting, measure the mains in lengh and pipe size and we can tell you what you need one of the is plugged the other is too small or might have shut close, the idea is to fill the mains first and then steam will go up the risers filling all radiators also the Hartford loop is wrong but can probably wait til spring
  • Mark N Mark N @ 1:07 PM
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    Main Vents

    It looks like you have some works to do. You need to put main vents at the end of each main. Do not go to the Home depot. Check out your local plumbing supply house. Get 2 Gorton #1 main vents if they have them. Install them at the end of each main. The main that is plugged can be a problem you have very little room to work. Install a similar arrangement as on the other main. After you have the main venting fixed you will have much quicker steam distribution. Check all the rad vents vents, see if you can blow air through them. If not throw it away and replace. Once you get the rad vents check out your going to need to adjust them to balance the rads out. You basically want the steam to arrive at each rad at the same time. This is achieved by adjusting the venting of the individual rads. Click on the systems tab on the top of the page then select steam. There is much information available there.

    Good Luck
    This post was edited by an admin on November 25, 2012 1:08 PM.
  • Rod Rod @ 2:19 PM
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    Main Vents

    Hi- Good news to hear that your boiler seems to be well matched to your EDR.  Be sure to keep the EDR work sheet as it comes into use from time to time. As other have mentioned your venting seems to be seriously lacking. I don't recognize the main vent in the picture though if it is a Dole brand like the radiator vents, Dole main vents generally have very limited venting capacity. 
    Are the problem radiators on the main with no main vents?
     It looks like you have limited space above the steam main for main vents.  Using an "antler" (see attached drawing)and piping,  you can route them away to a more suitable location. The only consideration is that the vents must be placed so that any water getting to the vents will drain away from them. As Mark mentioned get a couple of Gorton #1(s). Using the "antler" configuration you can always increase you venting capacity by adding another tee and vent combination. The pipe union on the antler makes it easy to do so.
    - Rod
  • Boileraches Boileraches @ 3:17 PM
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    Appreciate the help

    Ok guys appreciate the help. I will wait until tomorrow to get the Gorton #1 at the local supply store since it is closed on Sundays and hopefully try to tackle the problem after work if possible. I will keep you posted as to what happens. The main that is not vented is the one that is not reaching upstairs properly which explains a lot.. Question: the upstairs radiator used to get hot before but there was a lot of hissing in that specific (last radiator of that main) radiator. Was the hissing the venting of the main through the upstairs room?

    Also the first thing I did when trying to resolve this problem was put all of my radiator vents in a pot with vinegar for a while, rinse them in cold water, later I blew air in each of them and made sure they worked, which they did except for one. I did go to home depot and replace the "bad" one. 

    Side Note: Previously I had an HVAC company come to my home. They quoted me $5000.00 to replace the boiler without new returns and without getting rid of my old boiler.  I decided to do some research, bought a boiler, and decided to try and start the install. My buddy who does maintenance in a building tried to tackle the installation with me. We added the 21/2 pipe recommended by the manufactures to the specific length, added the 2 T's you see in the picture and the 21/2 inch pipe going down to the water level. It took us a very long time to do and it was getting cold so I decided to call some independent HVAC guys. After telling them what I needed two of the HVAC guys brought a plumber with them which kind of made me think they didn't know much. Went to Home Depot were I ordered the boiler from and got a recommendation from the salesman for a  master plumber. So since I had to work and winter was creeping among us, he was here doing the installation that you see. He explained to me that I gave him more work since I added the 2 1/2 inch pipes (manufactures recommendation) and that he would have reduced them to 2 inch from the beginning and went from there. Well $2,000 (boiler installation and returns) and 21/2 days later my system was complete. No mention of venting or anything else. Sort of a blessing in disguise that I started the project or he would have reduced my system without following proper procedure. I should have came to this site a long time ago *sigh* I was going to call the plumber to ask him about this but after telling me about the reduction and no mention of venting, I am hesitant of getting any advice from him.
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 4:03 PM
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    Got a picture and explaination of a thread-o-let for this person? It might be a help for him.
  • BobC BobC @ 4:12 PM
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    Yes it is

    Yes that main is trying to vent through that radiator vent; it will vent and the radiator will heat but by that time the thermostat will have been satisfied so you won't see heat.

    You are discovering it's vet hard to find installers who understand steam. Most installations are hot air or forced hot water and the old steam men are dieing off every year. You can find good steam men but it ain't easy.

    If you still have that failed vent, boil it some more; it's probably better than anything HD sells.

    Most of us do a lot of the steam work ourselves and if you want to do that buy "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" that is for sale on this site, it will save you thousands of dollars over the years.

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • kevin kevin @ 8:08 PM
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    new installation

    Is that pipe cut off at the block wall the old oil fill? If so i would remove it, ive herd horror stories of oil companies pumping oil right into basements.
  • Boileraches Boileraches @ 9:17 PM
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    Pipe Plug

    Hey Kevin yes thanks for reminding me will get that out ASAP, i was meaning to do that but got too caught up trying to make my boiler work like it is supposed to. I tried to get that plug on top of the main (See Picture Above) off so I can install the street elbow and proceed with the diagram Rod provided for my vent. Any advice on how to get that sucker out. Tried for a while even went as far as getting a pipe for leverage and spraying an oil based spray that helps with rusty bolts. The thing will not budge. It almost stripped trying to remove it.
  • Boileraches Boileraches @ 10:39 PM
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    Searched the Wall....

    and found similar post with removing plugs. Seems like heating then cooling the plug will be one of my options. Not sure if I want to mess around with the mains during the cold weather (at least the heat works somewhat). I was hoping the plug came out with some force but now I might just have to deal with the cold radiators upstairs for the winter 
  • Rod Rod @ 12:03 AM
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    No Need for a Cold Upstairs This Winter

    Well, if you can't get the plug out you'll have to go to Plan "B" and if that isn't feasible Plan "C".   I just saw Bob's post on the thread-o-let so we'll call that Plan "B"  What you would need is a 1/2 inch thread - o - let installed over a hole in the pipe.  Most welders are familiar with doing this type of installation. You could call around and inquire what it would cost to have a 1/2 inch thread-o-let installed on your pipe.  A hole needs to be drilled in the pipe and the thread-o-let welded in place. (see attached drawing)

     I haven't looked at your pictures and determined the best place to put one in. Ideally it would be just before the end of the main but that may not be practical with the end fitting an the tee going upstairs. An alternate position would be on the drip pipe near the top.
    This needs to be thought out carefully as you need to think about clearance and where your vents will be situated. It also has to be located so it is easy to weld around the thread-o-let.

    If Plan "B" isn't practical, there is always Plan "C". Plan "C" would mean drilling the pipe and tapping a hole for a pipe nipple.  Again 1/2 inch pipe would work fine. ( a 1/2 pipe will support the venting capacity of 2 ea. Gorton #2 (s) which is way more than you need).
     There isn't much material to thread into so that it may be a good idea to strengthen the attached pipe with a fillet using JB Weld which is available in most auto parts stores and also Home Depot. Keep in mind this fitting should never receive more that a 3 PSI pressure! The big thing with using JB Weld is to get clean surfaces so sanding to bare metal is absolutely necessary.
    - Rod
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