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    Only 1/2 of my house seems to get any heat - help? (22 Posts)

  • kristink kristink @ 8:26 PM
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    Only 1/2 of my house seems to get any heat - help?

    Hi All,
    I live in an 80 year old house with steam heat.  We have very new, very large boiler system but 1/2 of the house doesn't get any heat.  There are 2 main trunks off the boiler and the pipe to the cold part does seem to get warm.  The pipes going up to each of the cold part radiators are cold where they come out of the floorboards.  Is there any easy fix to this?  It's also a bit difficult to tell if the valves are actually on since the radiators seem to be original to the house and have no markings at all.

    Thanks very much
    K
  • Hap_Hazzard Hap_Hazzard @ 8:39 PM
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    Check your vents?

    Each main branch should have a vent located somewhere near the end. These vents allow air to escape so the steam can fill the main and then flow out to the radiators.

    Also check to make sure the radiator valves are all turned on. They should be turned counter-clockwise as far as they will go.

    If you still can't get even heating, post some pictures of your system and we'll take it from there.
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S

    3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • BobC BobC @ 8:39 PM
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    new install

    If you turn the valves full counterclock wise it will be open.

    Did the old boiler heat ok?

    If this is single pipe steam, did they replace all the radiator vents when the new boiler was installed?

    Did they replace the vents on the steam main(s)?

    Is there any banging in the pipes?

    Can you post pictures of the boiler and the piping around it?

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • kristink2 kristink2 @ 6:42 AM
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    reply

    Hi

    To answer some of the questions:

    - Yes, there's often lots of banging
    - the boiler was replaced before we bought the house - it's our first winter in the house - it appeared to have heat on the inspection (after new boiler put in) but now?
    - Not sure what a main line vent should look like?

    here's some pics of the system...
  • BobC BobC @ 8:15 AM
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    2 pipe system?

    Do your radiators have one pipe feeding them with an air vent on the other end or is there a pipe on each end? The piping looks like it might be a 2 pipe system.

    One picture shows a pressure of 4 PSI, that is to high especially if it's a 2 pipe system. You have 2 pressuretrols and I assume one is a safety and the other is the actual pressure control. Please take a closer shot of the two pressuretrols and take a side shot of the boiler header so we can see if that is piped correctly..

    It looks like the left one is the high pressure safety and the left is the actual pressure control because the tab on the front dial is pretty much all the way down (but I might be misreading things because the picture isn't clear). Take the front cover off with the screw on the front and make sure the white dial inside is set to one. Steam systems like low pressure and two pipe systems usually require low pressure to work. The pressure should not be more than 2 PSI and preferably less.

    Main vents sit at the ends of the mains or just before the return pipe turns down towards the floor but you might have return traps if it's a two pipe system. The vents can be silver colored bullets or look like a catfood can on edge depending on what kind.

    Does the water in the sight glass bounce up and down a lot when making steam? If it does it means the boiler water may have oils in it and has to be skimmed, do you know if you have a skim port?

    Bob
    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 November 10, 2013 8:19 AM.
  • Dave in QCA Dave in QCA @ 9:23 AM
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    2-pipe

    From the first picture posted that shows the boiler, in the background I can see two devices. The larger appears to be a return trap and the higher and smaller device appears to be a vent/trap device.

    If so, we need to see pictures of your radiators showing the inlet valve and outlet connection and/or trap in close detail. Also, photograph the two devices that I have just mentioned. Photograph up close so that we can see the writing that is stamped in the metal, or copy it down yourself and post it.

    It appears that you have a 2-pipe vapor system. Your problems may lay in the piping or other issues. Need more information to tell

    The boiler is a Weil-McLain model ?80, or a 380, 480, or 580. I'm pretty sure that it is not larger than that. It should have been marked on the front label as to which model it is. If not, measure the overall cabinet from the front to the back. I have the installation manual setting hear on the top of my desk and I can look up the measurements.

    The outlet piping does not appear to be have been done according to the manual, but if they used two risers when only one was required, it might be sufficient.
    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.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • gcp13 gcp13 @ 9:34 AM
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    Start simple

    Main vents will improve your system
    But first things first. On the cold radiators make sure the valves are open
    Take a picture of radiator so we can find out if it's 1 or 2 pipe
    If valves are open try turning up thermostat
    Higher to see if it just takes longer if so it could be a venting problem.
    If it's two pipe you could have a clogged return for the side
    of the house that's not heating.
    If it's one pipe check to see if air vent was painted over the hole on top
    Sometimes just tapping the side of the vent you can free up a stuck
    Vent, very easy to replace vent to rule out any question
    This post was edited by an admin on November 10, 2013 9:38 AM.
  • Dave in QCA Dave in QCA @ 9:36 AM
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    IMICO

    Looks like it might be an IMICO systme with Dewey devices. ???
    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.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • gcp13 gcp13 @ 9:46 AM
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    Hoffman 30 with vent reciever

    I should've looked at the photo first
    Looks like a Hoffman 30 with a vent receiver most likely a two pipe
    System with steam traps
    Check return piping in basement
    You may have a Dunham system with modulating radiator valves
  • Dave in QCA Dave in QCA @ 10:05 AM
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    Hey Jamie!!!

    Jamie has a Hoffman 2-pipe system running on a Weil-McLain 80 series boiler, a 580 as I recall. He needs to weigh in on this thread too.
    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.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • JStar JStar @ 10:22 AM
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    Steam

    Definitely 2-pipe.

    Water hammer and uneven heating? The survey says....bad traps!
    - Joe Starosielec
    732-494-4357
    j.star@thatcherhvac.com
    http://thatcherhvac
    http://facebook.com/thatcherhvac


    Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.

    Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.
    Consultation anywhere.
    (Formerly "ecuacool")
  • kristink2 kristink2 @ 4:26 AM
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    Update

    Hi all,
    Thanks for the help.  Some updates:
    - I think we have a 2 pipe system (one that carries steam, then returns cold water?)
    - We've had the heating folks out twice:
    -first one found the water level too high - drained out multiple gallons.  He thought we might have a faulty automatic fill valve as the cause.  (heat still very uneven)
    - one week later, checked the fill level on the boiler tank, overfull again.  2nd guy came out - drained off more water.  He thinks it might be a return problem rather than a valve problem.  My question is - if the valve automatic filler is still working fine - why would the water overfill?
    with the temp on the thermostat turned way up - we do get heat to most of the distal radiators. 
    The 2nd gentleman did not recognize the radiators (they are old) and couldn't find the vents on the radiators.
    I'll post pics when i get home.
  • BobC BobC @ 8:39 AM
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    Autofill of return?

    Is there a valve before the auto fill that you can turn off?

    If you turn that valve off the autofill will not be able to add water. You should do this when you can spend time watchg the boiler during the steaming cycle to see if the water in the sight glass slowly goes down as the steaming progresses and if it gets low enough for the auto feeder to ask for water or for the LWCO to shut the boiler down.

    If the water lever slowly decreases it's telling you water is having trouble finding it's way back to the boiler. If you wait a couple of hours and the water slowly comes back up (with the boiler off) it means the return has to be cleaned or replaced.

    If the water level is fine during a steaming cycle with the auto fill valved off it may indicate there is a slight leak on the autofill valve seat that is letting water seep past into the boiler. Keep checking the boiler for the next few days with the autofill valved off to make sure the water level is ok.

    In either case it has to be found and fixed, fresh water is not conducive to long boiler life.

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • kristink2 kristink2 @ 8:41 AM
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    autofill off, water level down

    Hi,
    with the autofill off for the past 2 days -i've checked and:
    yesterday - the water level was mid-level, moved up and down a bit with steam working

    today - water level was below the safe level and the boiler had automatically turned off (whew, one thing that is working well). I added a bit more water to the tank by turning back on the autofill.

    want to confirm that this is what i think it is:

    Sounds like poor return to the tank? Not sure how often the usual tank needs a bit more water. It didn't take much more water to bring the boiler back on so likely not much needed in the tank.

    Should i keep the autofill off right now and just keep checking the water level and adding more until the whole thing is fixed?

    Also - my oil company has been the one fixing things so far - is this how we should keep going or should we find an expert (and how????? - I've checked the listings - there aren't any in the CT area)

    thanks again to all!
  • kristink2 kristink2 @ 9:04 AM
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    update further

    Okay, more update

    After the water level had dropped (with autofill off) and i re-turned on the water and hence boiler - we had much faster and more even heating (radiators that have never been warm ar now warm). oh and the water level is very gently moving up and down with boiler on.

    I'm hoping that this is the good news that this is mostly an autofill problem and not a re-plumbing the entire steam collection system problem but not sure. At least i can make heat in my house now.

    Any further thoughts?
  • kristink2 kristink2 @ 9:16 AM
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    even more

    Sorry to keep updating - spending my morning watching the boiler.

    During a cycle - the pressure gets to 5psi, then the pressure control kicks in and shuts off the boiler until pressure has dropped. Is this usual or a sign of a problem?

    I think we are getting there. Some radiators (seems to be the furthest on the line) are still not warm but more of them are than 3 days ago....

    thanks all
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 9:34 AM
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    Too Much

    Leave the autofill off and dial down the pressure to no more than 3 psi, preferably 2.5 or less. Lower the high limit on the prssuretrol so the boiler cuts out no more than 3 psi.

    Over pressure can cause your system to flood, so less water is in the tank. Then, the autofill will add more water causing the system of overfill. Autofill adds water, but it doesn't remove it if too much is present. It can actually add too much water to your system. Not to mention, it does this while the boiler is firing and hot which is not a great idea. You can crack a boiler section real easy by adding cold water to a hot boiler that's low on water.

    If you don;t know how to decrease the pressure, post a picture of your pressuretrol and someone will help you.
  • BobC BobC @ 10:12 AM
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    Lower is better

    5 PSI is much too high, especially for a 2 pipe system, adjust it down to 1.5 or 2 PSI max. They heat the empire state building with less than 3 PSI.

    Do you have insulation on the steam mains and radiator runouts? Insulation will lower your fuel costs and reduce the amount of condensation produced. Make sure the piping in the basement has the correct slope and no low spots that might collect water.

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • kristink2 kristink2 @ 12:26 PM
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    pressure controls

    Hi, here's the pressure controllers - i think the one on the L is the max pressure - it is set to 5psi, boiler turned off after 5psi was reached.
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 1:15 PM
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    Post Adjustment

    Looks like the unit on the left is the high limit. Whichever pressuretrol is set higher will be the cut out. To me, it looks like the left is set to 3 psi and the right is set to .5 psi.

    Did you take these pictures after you adjusted the cut out, or is this how they were originally? It looks like the cut out is set to 3 psi in the pics. If it is set to 3 psi, but the boiler is running to 5 psi, you'll have to tinker with the cut out until the boiler actually shuts down at 3 psi.

    Once you get it to shut off at 3, lower it a little more to get around 2.5 or 2 psi in the end like Bob C stated above.
  • BobC BobC @ 1:15 PM
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    one should be a safety

    Usually those two pressuretrols are wired in series so the one set for 5 PSI is a safety for the real pressure control which looks like it's set for 2 PSI. It's possible there is something wrong (disconnected linkage) with the pressuretrol that is set to 2 PSI because that one should be regulating your boiler UNLESS you have a staged firing setup where the boiler fires high till there is some pressure and switches to low fire to just keep the boiler slowly making steam.

    If it is just a safety with the other pressuretrol doing the actual pressure control they have to be looked at to make sure they are both working and that they are correctly wired.

    The gauge might by faulty, does the pressure gauge read zero when the boiler is cold or just warm?

    What kind of oil gun do you have?

    Bob

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • kristink2 kristink2 @ 10:01 PM
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    getting there

    Okay, by shutting off the autovalve and just monitoring by eye - we have acheived heat in most of the house.  A few (perhaps important) details remain:
    1) in one of the main rooms, only 1 of the radiators gets warm (it actually gets very hot) but the other 3 do not.  We've double checked that they are turned on.
    2) The remaining room without heat is above the garage and in one radiator I can hear hissing suggestive of steam attempting to come to the radiator but the other one has none.  Neither get warm.
    3) i'm alerted to each time the boiler is on since 10 minutes after the boiler turns on, the pipes begin to announce the coming of heat with very loud clanging.
    4) should we try to fix the auto-fill or is it most likely due to slow return of water?  (the water level does return to the same level but just after the boiler is off its a bit lower).
    If we are planning on selling in 1 year - is it worth fixing or just patching?
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