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    Please help with banging steam pipes! (110 Posts)

  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 2:32 PM
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    Please help with banging steam pipes!


    I have a 1964 Peerless steam boiler. The pipes bang
    mercilessly and it's creating a problem for sleeping, particularly for
    my wife. I realize that the banging may be caused by several factors,
    but before re-pitching my radiators or replacing the boiler or any other
    expensive and invasive procedures, I'd like to know if the furnace is
    actually functioning properly.

    I've attached close-up of the
    current controls and a wider shot for your convenience. The heat is currently off so the boiler is "cold."

    Any help would
    be very much appreciated--my marriage may depend on it!
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 3:00 PM
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    Probably not the boiler's fault

    if the pipes are banging, the problem is in the system.

    I see you have a Vaporstat..... is this a Vapor system?
    "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.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 3:09 PM
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    I don't really know anything about the specs, just that it's a two-pipe steam system and the boiler is 50 years old. We've been living with the banging but it's gettin out of hand. I saw somwhere that improper settings may contribute to banging and high bills--which we also have.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 3:11 PM
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    It's probably Vapor

    Post pics of a few rads, including their shutoff valves and whatever devices are on the radiator return connections. Also any devices mounted in the piping around the boiler. See if you can find any names on them. This should point us in the right direction.
    "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 November 17, 2013 3:13 PM.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 3:18 PM
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    No specific equipment

    There didn't seem to be any special devices, but here are more pics. This radiator looks mostly like the rest of them. I can get closer if you need me to.

    Also, if you look at the pressure controls, one of the indicators is up to 4. Is this too high?
    This post was edited by an admin on November 17, 2013 3:20 PM.
  • BobC BobC @ 3:31 PM
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    3.6 PSI?

    Is your pressure gauge broken, does it read zero when the boiler is cold?

    I'm not familiar with that pressure device (Vaporstat?) but if it is the only one on the boiler it seems it's set to about 3.6psi with an 8oz differential. If that is true it sounds much to high for a 2 pipe steam system. Try turning that left control down to 1 lb and see if it helps.

    I would replace the glass in the sight glass so you can better see what is going on and then flush and perhaps skim the boiler. If you flush and skim do it when the boiler is cold or just warm, you don't want to add a lot of fresh water to hot boiler. Bring the boiler up to steam after filling it with water the last time so you drive all the oxygen out of the fresh water.

    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 17, 2013 3:34 PM.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 3:34 PM
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    I can adjust

    Thanks for the advice. I can easily adjust the psi and differential if you think I should.

    I can see the lens fairly well, and I try to keep it at half-level. I've been having to fill it up every day, though. There is a small leak in the basement, but the bucket that's trapping the water doesn't seem to collect nearly enough to have to re-fill every day.

    The pressure gauge is not at 0 when cold. It's still at 10 now and has been off for hours.
    This post was edited by an admin on November 17, 2013 3:35 PM.
  • BobC BobC @ 3:39 PM
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    Adding water daily is bad

    Are any of your return pipes buried under the cellar floor? On a cold day while the boiler is steaming go outside and see if you can sea any steam coming out of the chimney.

    If looks like the sight glass has a leak and that probably indicates a gauge glass washer is shot. If you try and fix this make sure tou have a set of guage glass washers and a new sight glass because it's easy to break them when removing them.

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 3:43 PM
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    Return pipes

    All return pipes are accessible from the full basement. There is no indication of leaks anywhere in the house, and we've been using the system for 18 months. THere is one leak from a pipe that I wrapped in a towel, and the water collects in a bucket on the basement floor. It's not a huge volume, though. The chimney begins in the basement and does not have any pipes running through or near it.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 3:52 PM
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    More Photos

    Here is every device on or near the boiler.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 4:06 PM
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    Looks like you have an Orifice Vapor System

    the simplest form of steam heating there is. It has no traps or other moving parts on the radiators. There are orifices in the radiator supply valves which meter the incoming steam. If the pressure is kept low, steam will only fill the radiators to about 80-90% of their capacity. This keeps steam from reaching the dry return.

    If the steam gets into the dry return, it can cause the banging you hear. It's likely that the pressure is too high or that one or more orifices are missing.

    It is important to vent the steam mains quickly on this system, so the steam will reach the ends of the mains and then rise toward all the radiators at the same time. The dry return must be well vented too.

    Crank that Vaporstat down as far as it will go. You should only need a half-pound or so, with about a 4-ounce differential if your vents are right. You can get orifice plates that you drill out to the proper size from Tunstall.
    "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 November 17, 2013 4:08 PM.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 4:08 PM
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    RIght now?

    Should I do that immediately, and then turn the system on? Is a half pound really enough? I'm happy to take your advice, it's just that I don't have a thorough understanding of what you said. :)
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 4:10 PM
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    then tell us what effect it had.

    To see if steam is getting into the dry (overhead) return lines, simply feel them. You'll know if they're steam-hot ;-)
    "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.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 4:15 PM
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    Before I do,

    Before I turn it on, I just want to be clear: is this the setting you recommended?
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 4:47 PM
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    Tried it.

    I did as you said. The boiler operated normally--and the banging started like clockwork. Should I run it a few cycles to see if it helps, or should the problem have been solved immediately?

    I'm happy to hire a heating expert to solve the banging problem, but I'm concerned that they may recommend a new system, a water conversion, or even ducting--all of which have been suggested by so-called "professionals."

    As an aside,  even if we don't get the banging figured out, should I still leave the boiler set at the new levels you suggested? What are the benefits of doing so?
  • Steve Steve @ 5:21 PM
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    Besides the other excellent advice from the pros here I would add pipe insulation. Bare pipes go thru a large temp range which causes a lot of thermal expansion and contraction which in turn can cause a lot of banging. Insulating the pipes with 1" thick pipe insulation also increases system efficiency. Insulate the joints too.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 12:05 AM
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    Those were the right settings

    since that didn't seem to help, there are other problems we haven't found yet.

    The gauge is bad and needs to be replaced. That's pretty straightforward though.

    Where are you located?
    "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 November 18, 2013 12:07 AM.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 12:59 PM
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    Thanks, I'm in Buffalo NY
  • BobC BobC @ 4:07 PM
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    The reason I asked you to look at the chimney is if there is a leak in the boiler it might be leaking into the fire chamber and the flame is turning the leak into steam so you might not spot a leak at the base of the boiler. Is there a lot of rust at the base of the boiler?  Make sure it's a cold day and the boiler is actively making steam, if you see white smoke it's probably steam and there is only one place that steam can be coming from.

    At some point your pressure gauge should be replaced so you know what's going on in the boiler. You might want to a a second 0-3PSI gauge onto your existing pigtail that is feeding the vaporstat because that system should probably be operating at ounces not pounds of pressure.

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • vaporvac vaporvac @ 5:42 PM
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    That radiator is exactly like mine with the orifices and no traps. I have a Trane Vaporvaccum system. Steamhead is one of the bast pros on this site (I"m a fellow homeowner}, so feel happy he's giving you advice. Low pressure is necessary regardless of your system's other issues. The Empire State building works between 2-3 lbs.
    However, i'm chiming in because I'm seeing the reading as 10 on vacuum, It's hard to get a good look, but I think one side is pounds and the other says vac. That's also how mine is, so if that's true you may have a vapor vacuum system which is considered the Cadillac of steam systems and known for its even soft heat . However, it should read zero when cold and if it doesn't budge from that it's probably clogged. This is well worth the time to get it right; don't consider replacing it. Do the valves on the rads have a name on them? Ditto for the insulation and steam coming out the chimney.
    This post was edited by an admin on November 17, 2013 5:47 PM.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 5:59 PM
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    The valves have either been painted over or have broken handles, necessitating the use of a wrench to turn them. They work, though.

    Of course, I'd be happy to keep the boiler if I can, but the heating bills are enormous and the banging is becoming a real quality of life problem for us. I realize the boiler itself doesn't make the pipes bang, but the cost is also killing us and it's fifty years old.
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 6:25 PM
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    Square One Question

    You say you have owned the place for 18 months. Has it always been banging, or is this something new that just started this year?
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 6:29 PM
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    Also, could you take a picture the shows the near boiler piping from top to bottom. Stand so the picture includes the main at the top, and the top and bottom of those long pipes that drop down and have the U (the 2 90s with the close nipple between them and that little leg that goes down from it) on the bottom. Try to get as much of that into one picture as possible.
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 9:07 PM
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    I have this same gague on my system. It should read zero when cold with no pressure. Needle moves to the right when the system has a positive PSI and is pressurized. Readings to the left of zero indicate inches of hq vacuum, not PSI. So, in this picture it is sitting at 10" or vacuum.

    If it sits like that by default when the system is cold, you should remove it, clean it, and calibrate it. If its exactly the same as mine (it looks exactly the same but I dontt know if they made different models with the same identical look or not), you can clean it out and adjust the zero point by turning a ring and shaft on the probe coming out of the back of the unit. Most likely though, you have gunk built up around the probe and stem and cleaning it real good will make it return to zero on it's own.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 9:58 PM
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    Yes, the pipes have been banging since day one. We tried ignoring it,
    and then it got warm and we forgot about it, and then we never got
    around to calling a heating technician. Now I'm about to pull my hair
    out because it's such a blow to our quality of life. Imagine having
    roofers coming over every night at 1 am, 3 am, and 5 am and banging the
    crap out of your house. It's terrible.
  • BobC BobC @ 9:30 PM
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    How does it heat

    It appears that reducing the pressure did not quiet your anvil symphony.

    How does the system heat (aside from te chorus), do all the radiators heat up and do they all heat up at about the same time? If there is a radiator that does not heat and the valve is open it might be wise to inspect it's supply pipe to make sure there are no sags that might have puddles in them that would collapse the steam and could cause water hammer.

    When you ran the boiler after setting the pressure lower did you notice any difference in the operation of the boiler. Did it cycle on pressure or did anything sound different before the chorus master set up his hammers?

    Another issue is you have a non-functioning pressure gauge so we don't know if the pressure in the boiler is 0.5 pounds or 5 pounds. I would get that gauge working asap and i would make sure the pigtail on your vaporstat is not clogged. We have to know what the pressure is inside that boiler and we have to know if the vaporstat is doing it;'s job.

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 10:01 PM
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    To answer your questions:

    The system heats well. All the radiators in the house get hot, including the two in the attic.

    After changing the pressure, I did not notice a difference in the operation of the boiler. The banging started at the same time it always does--approximately 7-10 minutes after the boiler has turned on.

    I would be glad to have a pro replace the pressure gauge, but it's so hard finding somebody who actually know what they're talking about vis-a-vis steam heating systems. Any recommendations for somebody in Buffalo, NY?
  • Boiler wrestler Boiler wrestler @ 10:09 PM
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    Marital bliss

    Take heart and don't get discouraged, your problems though loud and annoying are not "normal" and can be resolved with some work. The high fuel bills and banging are symptoms of related problems.  Lots of good advice given already. 

    Check the pressure(guage, pigtail clear) If the pigtail is plugged adjusting the vaporstat will do nothing as it can't see the pressure in the boiler. Are all hand valves still orificed? Is the main venting functional?

    I would like to see more pictures on the near boiler piping and any main vents you can find in the basement ceiling.

    Have you tried the "Find a Contractor" link above?
    This post was edited by an admin on November 17, 2013 10:14 PM.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 10:22 PM
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    I'm afraid I don't know what you mean by the "hand valves being orificed." I also don't really know what you mean by vent.

    I sound like a rube. I'm pretty handy, but steam heat systems are way beyond my expertise.

    What do you mean by "main vent?"

    I've attached as many photos as I could.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 9:37 AM
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    Also, I tried the find a contractor button, but there doesn't seem to be anybody listed that's near me. I'm in Buffalo, NY.
  • steamedchicago steamedchicago @ 11:05 PM
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    orifce valves

    Orifice valve means that there's a plate in the valve, or between the valve and the radiator.  A hole is drilled in the plate.  The size of the hole depends on the size of the radiator, and the design operating pressure. Instead of allowing the full diameter of the pipe to supply the radiator, they limit the amount of steam that reaches the radiator.  That means there doesn't have to be a thermostatic trap on the return, because the rate of steam flow into the radiator is slow enough that the radiator will condense it all.   If steam reaches the return side, bad things can happen, including lots of banging. 

    A main vent is a thermostatic air vent on the stem mains in the basement.  Look at Steamhead's signature picture up the thread.  That's a whole bunch of them (presumably in a pretty big system...).  The purpose of the main vents is to let air out of the mains, so steam can get to the radiators faster and more evenly. 
  • SchenleySeven SchenleySeven @ 11:25 PM
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    Buy the book

    You need to buy the book The Lost Art of Steam Heating in the Shop section, to learn about your heating system and to understand the advise from the pros here. Consider it a Christmas present to your house, and to your wife!
    One pipe steam, 1970's Columbia COU700 boiler (188K btuh & 785 sq.ft. steam), Beckett RF with 2.00 80A nozzle, Pressuretrol cut in 0.5 with 2.0 diff, 3 mains (two are vented with Gorton #2, third has no vent!), pipes mostly insulated, 32 radiators.

    Bock 32E water heater, Bock M-SR burner with .75 80A nozzle.
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 12:06 AM
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    Starting Simple

    When the boiler is running, do you hear air been expelled from the vents in the basement? If so, do they spew water? Do they shut off and stop venting air after a certain period of time, or do they expel air for the entire boiler cycle?

    How long does your boiler run during a cycle? Does the cycle complete because the thermostat is happy, or because you reached the high pressure limit? Test this by turning the thermostat way up and watching the boiler. How long does it run before it shuts off? Does it shut down at any point or does it just keep running endlessly? If the boiler is able to reach cut out pressure and shutdown, how long does it take before the boiler fires back up and run again? What does you pressure gauge say during these boiler cycles?

    When it is running, doe the water in your site glass bounce up and down like crazy? Does the water line drop way down and stay there, like you are running low on water? While the boiler is running doe the autofill ever kick in and add water to the boiler?

    I know this is a lot, but it will help a great deal to assist with finding the problem. Your near boiler piping is really configured poorly, but we might be able to get the system running better and with less noise and banging. With this extra info we can start to offer some theories and suggestions.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 8:41 AM
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    I do not hear any air being expelled, nor do I see any spewing water.

    The boiler seems to run continuously, but that was when I was at almost 4PSI. Of course, it shuts off when the desired temperature is reached, but it does occasionally shut off and on during the heating process. The pressure gauge seems to be broken, so it's constantly at 10.

    When it is running, the wated does bounce but only a bit. When the rads are completely hot, the water level is low. When they're cool, it is where it's supposed to be. There is no autofill, so I have to manually add water. I usually have to do this once every day or two during the winter--total pain in the ass. However, I can't imagine where the water is escaping, as there are no indication of leaks in walls, ceilings, etc. except for one leak in the basement, which drips into a bucket. It's not a big enough leak to account for the water loss though. There is one additional steam leak--in the downstairs bathroom. I usually wrap a towel around the valve and it mitigates the water loss. However, steam does escape into the bathroom.
  • Ban Ban @ 9:02 AM
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    Vapor leak

    I imagine, as others have stated, that you could be losing steam through your chimney via a cracked or rusted boiler. Check to see if you are seeing excessive water vapor coming out of the chimney when the system is on. Please take a photo of the chimney when the system is on. Attached is a photo of excessive steam coming out of the chimney due to a cracked boiler.
    Richard Ban

    Detroit, Michigan (Dunham 2-pipe vacuum)
    This post was edited by an admin on November 18, 2013 9:05 AM.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 9:05 AM
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    System is on, just checked the chimney, and there's nothing coming out of it--but it's not a particularly cold day today.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 9:30 AM
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    New information

    I have some new information.

    Since turing the psi down to 0.5, the system seems to be heating slower than it normally does. The furnace is shutting off and on more than it used to (at 4 psi), but the time it takes to heat the rads seems to be much longer than it used to be. It would stand to reason that the longer it takes to heat, the more fuel I'm using. This concerns me, as the banging and high bills are the two things I need to solve.

    Any thoughts?
  • Steve Steve @ 9:40 AM
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    Do you see any vents on the pipes that drain back to the boiler? (see link) Could not see any in the pics you posted. If you do not have any or the ones that are there are clogged then that would explain a lot of your problem. Without them it would be like trying to breath thru a straw with the end blocked. Higher pressure from the boiler is trying to push steam thru the rads.
    There are other styles besides these.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 9:47 AM
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    Don't think so

    I don't see any vents like that. Here is a photo of some return pipes, as well as the only radiator in the house with a valve on the left hand side.
  • Steve Steve @ 10:09 AM
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    The vent on that radiator is upside down and will not vent that way. Unscrew it and with it pointing up blow thru it. It may allow air to pass thru AND steam which would be a bad thing and would explain why it was turned upside down.
    The radiator that is leaking steam in the bathroom is stuck open and should be replaced.
    Judging by your woes I would replace all the radiator vents. Gortons are a favorite here and are what I have in my house. But do not put new vents on the rads until you have fixed the venting problem on the return pipes in the basement (assuming there are any to be found) It is possible that vents were never installed (or removed) from the return pipes. Perhaps a plumber long ago figured the rads could handle it.

    The Gorton #1 & 2 would be used in the basement. The others are for radiators.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 1:05 PM
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    No vents except the one

    in the bathroom. The little rad with the upside down vent.
  • Ban Ban @ 9:45 AM
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    Water loss

    Your still losing water. Why? It is either leaking out of a pipe or being lost in water vapor.
    Richard Ban

    Detroit, Michigan (Dunham 2-pipe vacuum)
  • Rod Rod @ 10:59 AM
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    Orifice Plate

    Hi- Attached is a picture of a valve with an orifice plate.
    - Rod
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 11:02 AM
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    DOn't know

    Don't know if they have orifice plates, but I can say with certainty that every radiator in my house has a valve that looks like that, at least from the outside. They all seem to work, that is to say they all move. Some of them are missing handles, so I use a wrench. I have them all completely open, except for one of two in the master bedroom, which gets too hot if they're both on.
  • vaporvac vaporvac @ 11:31 AM
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    2 diffferent rads! Answers to ?s.

    From your latest pic it appears you have two different rads. The first you showed has no traps or vents and is probably orificed. The second one has both a trap and vent. These may have been added later (by a knucklehead) to make up for the lack of Main venting, or these rads may have been put in at a different time. Most vaporvacuum systems didn't have vents as it would affect pulling a vaccum.  I mention it because they require different things to get them working properly.

    It seems like you may have a few problems, which may be independent.
     1.  You're losing water. You may not see  a leak if it's in the the boiler, just the vapor through the chimney on a cold day. I had this and it meant I needed a new boiler, but it didn't affect  pipe banging.
    2. You have a clogged pressure gauge. How can you know what happening inside the boiler.
    3. Main vent(s) . You may not have any, but they may also be hidden behind any new walls or a ceiling in the basement. They loo like a bullet or a cat food can turned on its side. If you're not getting rid of the air fast enough the boiler will short cycle as it builds pressure more quickly.
     Did you ever check to see if  if steam is getting into the dry (overhead) return lines as suggested by Steamhead?  He said to simply feel them. You'll know if they're steam-hot ;-)
    Is the banging at the pipes near the boiler?
    Where are you located? There may be someone nearby to help trouble shoot these problem and help you fix them.
    You should get The Lost Art book, even if you hire this out.
    This post was edited by an admin on November 18, 2013 11:43 AM.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 1:06 PM
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    Yes, I checked the return lines and they were not hot.
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 11:35 AM
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    As stated above, your vent is upside down. When the vent is upside down it closes. When it's closed, no air can escape from the radiator. Try turning your vents so they "point" up and are perpendicular to the floor. If all your vents are like this. it would account for nearly all of the issues you are complaining of.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 1:03 PM
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    Only one is like that

    The little rad with the vent is the only one with a vent. The other all look the this:
  • N/A @ 11:47 AM

    by the way

    The boiler is piped wrong since the replacement and accounts 80 percent of your problems.. you'll know when you get the steamy deal books from this site.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 1:07 PM
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    I assume you mean the 1964 replacement? So would a competent contractor be able to reverse the damage? Is it highly involved?
  • N/A @ 2:14 PM

    good steam pro

    Good steam pro can bring it back to orginal system.. be warned, won't be the cheapest...
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 6:15 PM
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    Thanks. I would love to hear some rough numbers if possible for this kind of job. Even if it's for the Baltimore area, it could give me an idea. On a side note, do you suppose replacing the system with hot water or replacing the steam boiler would be worth the resulting efficiency?
  • vaporvac vaporvac @ 2:46 PM
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    Bull headed Tee

     I think rjb may have missed that part of your post, but he is a professional and correct that your boiler is piped wrong. I think maybe noone mentioned it because sometimes with these old boilers with large steam chests it can still work OK. Othertimes, not so much. Basically, the riser to the main header should NOT be between the two boiler risers. It makes wet steam among other problems.  The pros may be able to comment on other piping issues.
     If you need a new boiler or decide to re-pipe this one, a competent steam person will be able to fix it. With a new boiler they MUST use the proper piping for it to work.
  • N/A @ 2:57 PM


    Reduced steaming chest started around the early 60's , about when the package engineering took over the shipping.. back to this job... new Weil McLain EGH boiler would work with double drop risers into extra sized header... other original 'loop' pipe would stay but cleaned.. believe that's needed 'cool' the condesadate to help create a slight vaccum on system.. its all in the LAOSH book. Other real steam pros here, plz correct me if I'm wrong on the latter.. thks
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 4:50 PM
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    New Problem

    Hello again.

    I've noticed that since turning the pressure down, it's taking much longer to bring the temperature in the house up. Now the boiler fires up intermittently, whereas it used to run constantly when under higher pressure. The rads don't seem to be getting as hot as they used to. The banging is still happening, although it seems to have gotten ever-so-slightly less severe. Still too loud to sleep, for sure.

    What is the reason for the increased heating time, and is it resulting in a longer burn and in turn more gas being used? Should I have expected the heating time to be slower?

    Thanks, folks. You're all very helpful. I would run an entirely new steam or hot water system if I thought it was a sound investment. Honestly, I'd rather sell the house than spend $10k that might have lackluster returns.
    This post was edited by an admin on November 18, 2013 5:00 PM.
  • N/A @ 5:23 PM


    Then you have venting problem or somewhere crossover venting(s) got removed or plugged.. are u able to find a pro from top of this site listing in your area?
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 6:13 PM
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    I'm afraid not. I'm in Buffalo, NY and couldn't find anybody within 50 miles
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 5:53 PM
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    Does anyone else wonder how water is getting back into the boiler once it enters those two long vertical pipes connected as a U on the bottom. If water flows out of the header and into the "middle" leg of that contraption, how is it getting out of there and back into the wet return?

    It seems to me those pipes would have to fill completely before header water flowed back into the wet return. However, once they are full, how is the dry return water going to overcome those 3 large columns of water to get back to the boiler? I'm having trouble understanding the physics of that setup and it looks to me like those returns would always have a considerable amount of water in them. Am I missing something?
  • N/A @ 5:56 PM


    Think 'p' trap... one drop of water enter in one end... one drop will comes out on other end..
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 6:19 PM
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    Got that part

    I get that, but that means the trap part is always full. So when the boiler fires, and the wet return water level rises even just a little bit, that whole rig is full of water. With the boiler off and cold, there would be some room for water to move from one leg to the other. But when it's steaming wouldn't the water level in that wet leg rise enough to fill the entire thing with water, then prevent water in the returns from getting back to the boiler?
  • N/A @ 6:24 PM

    not if

    Not if ya running the system in ozs.and partial vaccum... when ya running in lbs.. ya gonna be screwed.. gonna go back to the LAOSH again... favorite fall book reading
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 7:26 PM
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    My Point

    That's my point rjb. With a broken gauge and a pressuretrol running off the same pigtail / boiler port, could that be the problem? Perhaps the system is over pressurized and staying flooded?
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 7:10 PM
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    Update and more photos


    Some of the return lines are feeling warm. I can grasp them, so they're not "steam hot," but I thought this might be important.

    Also, I found these pipes in three separate places along the foundation walls. Thought they might be important, too.

    On another topic, all of my radiators have ornate covers on them. Is this reducing my efficiency? It would seem that the heat would travel better without them, but perhaps they were installed because steam rads get so hot...
    This post was edited by an admin on November 18, 2013 7:31 PM.
  • vaporvac vaporvac @ 8:09 PM
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    If you search the Wall and Resources/systems lit. you will find a couple of great articles on the effect of rad covers. They can increase or decrease the apparent radiation depending on their design. I live in a big drafty house, so i retrofitted mine a bit to put out more heat. Amazing difference! No sense paying Duke! I also put reflective backing behind the rads. Even the colour and sheen of paint can affect how much heat they radiate.

    If your boiler has a hole you have no choice but to replace it, but let's try to find some main venting first and unplug that guage! It may still last the winter or at least long enough to figure out a replacement.
    You'll have to email someone privately as they don't discuss pricing on this forum.

    p.s. Your vaccum system is designed to give a similar efficiency as HW since water boils below 212 under a vacuum. I assume you have a big house and forced air would leave you freezing, in general and cost $$$ to put in, as would a HW conversion. When I considered that for my system (before I knew what I had) noone would guarantee it.
  • Rod Rod @ 1:14 AM
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    Loop Seal at the End of the Steam Main

    Hi- The “U” shaped piping in the 3 pictures you just posted, are called “ loop seals”. They allow the condensate (water ) from the steam that condenses in the steam main, to flow through to the return main and back to the boiler. However their job is to also stop steam from flowing to the return  main. If you have 3 of these it would indicate you have 3 steam mains.  It doesn’t appear that you have any main vents on your steam mains  .If you had them they would be located on the steam main close to Loop Seal just before the piping goes into the Loop. Any sign that they were ever there?

    The lack of main vents on the steam mains will really slow up the distribution of steam to your radiators as all the air in the Steam mains must go through the tiny radiator orifices and exit out the return main's vent.  This is probably why the pressure setting  was turned  way up because people got tired of steam reaching the radiators so slowly.
       Venting the steam main through the radiators is a hold over from the coal burning days and should have been updated when the original boiler was replaced with a gas boiler.
    On a coal fired boiler it took a long time for the fire to build up heat and steam to be produced. This allowed plenty of time for air to slowly move through the orifices and out of the system. Once the coal fire was started it was then probably maintained right through the whole heating season so that there was always some steam in the system.
     A modern burner is like a flame thrower - Full ON - OFF - Full On - etc. Heat and steam build much more quickly so it’s far more important to get the air out of the steam main as quickly as possible. Hence the need for having high capacity venting on the steam mains.  
    I’ve attached a diagram of how the mains in your system seem to be laid out.  It’s like a ladder with the sides being the steam and return mains and the radiators installed on the rungs between.  In the diagram I made the base of the loop wider so the layout would be clearer. In reality as you can see in the photos, the sides of the loop are close together

    In the diagram the and pictures the high end of the loop is the Steam Main and the lower end of the loop is the Return Main (see “A” and “B” in the diagram)   See where the returns mains lead and see if you can find a vent on the return main. It may be just an open pipe and not have vent. Look at any pipe off the Return Main that doesn’t attach to a radiator. It will probably be near the boiler after the last radiator return line joins the return main.
    - Rod
  • gcp13 gcp13 @ 8:26 AM
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    Punch list

    When does the banging start? Just as the steam leaves the boiler,
    While the radiators are heating up or when the condensate comes
    back to boiler
    1 flush low water cutoff
    2 clean pigtail
    3 replace gauge
    4 clean sight glass an make sure it's not clogged
    At the boiler
    5 remove caps at bottoms of each water seal
    And flush out all piping
    If the return piping (trap seals) are partially
    Clogged water condensate will back up
    Cause banging and slow heating
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 9:10 AM
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    The banging starts when the rads begin to fill with steam. It lasts longer and is quieter with lower pressure. It is louder and faster when the pressure is set high.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 9:09 AM
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    End of my rope

    Thanks for all the help. Had another night of banging and no sleep last night.

    It would seem that I have a choice between loud banging and slow heating radiators, or VERY loud banging and radiators that heat normally.

    I am getting to the point where I simply want to hire somebody to SOLVE this problem once and for all. Whether it's installing vents, a new boiler, whatever. The problem is, there are so many know-nothing blowhards out there, that I'm very worried about finding somebody qualified who will stand by his work and not ignore my phone calls.

    I have also considered drastic solutions like ripping the whole damn system out and replacing it with hot water or forced air. Of course I'd rather not, but I'm at my wit's end. I'm in Buffalo, NY and I can't find anybody who knows anything about steam. I would rather sell the house than live with constant banging and high heat bills for another season. Seriously.

    Does anybody have any contacts in Buffalo that they can point me toward?
  • BobC BobC @ 10:12 AM
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    Buy the book

    There have to be some good steam men in your area, that is prime steam country. Try asking friends and neighbors for their recommendations.

    If I were you I would order "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" from this site, it's very well written and will give you all the information you need to know what is wrong with your system. At that point you could tell a good plumber exactly what you want done if you can't find a steam pro. We cannot see what you see so you have to educate yourself on how steam systems work.

    Next I would check the steam mains to make sure there isn't a good place you could mount some air venting. How many steam mains do you have, what size pipe and how long are they?

    After that I would installing a auxiliary 0-3 PSI gauge and try that boiler at a few ounces of pressure, right now you have no idea of what pressre it is running at. The fact it heats slower BUT it sounds like its shutting down on pressure tells me the vaporstat you have is seeing the actual boiler pressure - whatever that might be.

    The loss of water is very serious unless it comes back after the boiler shuts down and cools a bit. that may mean the returns and loop seals have to be taken apart and snaked out.

    Do any of the radiators seem to heat faster than others at this lower pressure setting? If they do and they are on the same steam main that may be an important clue.

    How much will it cost to fix the system? It could be hundreds or it could be thousands, installing a new boiler before you understand why the system is not working correctly might just be pouring money down the drain. This is going to be expensive so you need to understand it before you undertake it - buy the book!

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 10:23 AM
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    I will

    I would be happy to buy the book, but my guess is that I will still have to hire a contractor to assist me. Yeah, you'd think there would be a lot of steam guys up here. However, the term "dead men" really seems to apply. They're mostly 97% Heil/Trane/Goodman forced air service technicians that don't know squat about anything installed before 1990.

    I would gladly pay hundreds of dollars to have the problem mitigated, and I'd probably pay thousands if it were fixed. However, $450 heating bills when we only keep the temperature at 62 degrees is absurd. I literally could pocket 40k profit if I sold the house tomorrow, and the only way I'll stay is if the heating situation is resolved permanently.

    The loss of water seems to be less since the pressure was turned down. Yes, it fills up again after it cools but there is still some loss.

    If I could get an idea of what $500, $2500, $5000, $10,000 would buy me, I'd be better equipped to move forward.
  • mcsteamy mcsteamy @ 1:38 PM
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    Take it one step...

    at a time.  I had a good long post typed out, but forgot just how... finnicky... this particular forum software is, and lost if when I click one of your pictures.  Not retyping the whole thing.   But here's the short version:

    You've got some good advice from professionals.  Now follow it.  Order the book.  Read it.  I just finished re-reading it again this week.  Lot's of good stuff in there, and it is not at all difficult to be more "book educated" than 80% of the "steam" service people that will look at your system.  You won't ever be able to match their skills, but matching the diagnostic and design abilities of many so-called "pros"?  Not hard.  (Of course, then you have the regulars on here... and you just don't stand a chance there!)

    So do what you've been told:  Replace your pressure gauge NOW since you are potentially wasting everyone's time if you cannot establish what pressure the system is running at.

    Turning the pressure down will not increase your fuel bills.  It did decrease the banging at least, so that's a start. 

    You need to add main vents.  If you cannot find a good place to put them without tearing things apart, you can drill and tap into a fitting or, less ideally, into a pipe at the end of the mains. 

    Your banging is probably a result of water hammer.  Is it coming from the pipes in the basement, or from the radiators themselves?  Is it just one pipe banging, or all of them?  Can you isolate the banging?

    Water hammer means you have water where it is not supposed to be OR you have steam where it is not supposed to be.  The bang is a slug of water being propelled by steam at high velocity into the end of a pipe run.  Since you state that the banging begins when the radiators BEGIN to fill
    with steam and BEFORE any of them are full of steam, it doesn't seem
    like the orifices are the problem, but I could be wrong.  At four pounds, you had lots of steam everywhere it was not supposed to be.  If you are, in fact, under a pound now, the banging sounds like it is starting before steam has a chance to get where it is not supposed to be.  Therefore, it seems likely your problem is water (condensate) where it is not supposed to be.

    Here's my wild guess:  Check pitch on all steam-carrying pipes in basement to be sure they slope the right way, and that there are no droopy or unpitched steam-carrying pipes.  Check pitch on all radiators to ensure that they are pitched TOWARD the "exit" pipe opposite the valve so that condensate is not dumping back down the steam pipes.  INSULATE your steam-carrying pipes in the basement.  Even some fiberglass wrap insulation would help. 

    Think:  Why do I have water (which is condensed steam) where it is not supposed to be?  Four pounds of steam was more than enough to blow all the water our of those loop seals and cause a good bang.  Was that the cause of the noise?  Maybe not all of it, but probably some of it.  My guess is once you get that pressure confirmed below a pound and have the right pitch on pipes and radiators, a lot of your noise problem will go away.
    This post was edited by an admin on November 19, 2013 1:48 PM.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 1:48 PM
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    Thanks for your thorough reply!

    -The return pipes in the basement are all pitched toward the boiler. The supply pipes are all insulated with asbestos.

    -The pipes bang all over the house, including in the basement and around the rads, but it's worst and longest duration below and around the master bedroom (bad luck, I suppose--as I can sleep through the night in the small bedroom with the door closed).

    -I'm happy to replace the pressure gauge. Is it a DIY project or do I need assistance? I'm embarrassed to say that I'm not particularly handy. In addition, I'll gladly pay somebody to install the main vents you suggest.

    UPDATE: I checked the chimney again. There is no steam coming out, but there are "heat waves" and the chimney is very warm to the touch from inside the basement.
    FYI, I've attached a photo of the water level. It shows a one-day loss of water. I marked the level I keep it at with black sharpie.
    This post was edited by an admin on November 19, 2013 1:50 PM.
  • vaporvac vaporvac @ 2:47 PM
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    Clean guage, not replace...hopefully!

    The gauge is probably NOT the's the the pipe feeding it ie. the pigtail, that's probably clogged. Those old guages were ususally VERY accurate and unavailable today..  You have a vacuum system of sorts and need something to show the vacuum as well as the pressure so DON't replace it until you are SURE it's non=functioning.  ff you feel comfortable doing it, it can be a diy job and folks here can walk you through it. step=by=step, but it sounds like you should make a small list of the most important changes and find someone to do them, ie.. clean pigtail, instally vents, flush out returns.

    It's frustrating, but what else have you done so far besides lower the pressure? Maybe you have some friends who are handy or know a good plumber that can has the necessary skills that could be guided through the process. It's a start. You have a great system...ripping it out to replace would cost much more than fixing it.
  • BobC BobC @ 3:05 PM
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    Add don't replace

    Trying to clean the old gauge makes sense but even when it's working it's useless for measuring low pressure. Adding a second 0-3 PSI  low pressure gauge would allow the user to see exactly what pressure re the boiler was trying to operate at.

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • mcsteamy mcsteamy @ 3:25 PM
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    No pigtail...

    That's an internal syphon gauge and appears to be properly screwed directly into the boiler.  You can try to clean it by unscrewing it (turn the whole gauge counterclockwise, but don't force it--you do NOT want to snap it off) and cleaning out the hole in the back, but that's about it.

    To replace the gauge you need to find another internal siphon gauge.  Probably easier to mount another low pressure gauge on a pigtail that trying to find an interal syphon gauge to buy.  ENFM makes one, don't know who sells them.  Mine's shot too.
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 4:59 PM
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    Two Gauges

    All of the new combination gauges are 30 - 60 psi. You're better off to run a vacuum gauge and a pressure gauge separate. Certain gauge manufactures make them so there is no adverse affect on opposite pressure. Meaning the pressure gauge isn't damaged when vacuum is applied, and the vacuum gauge isn't damaged under pressure. I've yet to find a combination gauge with low pressure on the positive side, anything like 5 psi or so.
  • MDNLansing MDNLansing @ 1:58 PM
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    Water hammer is caused by steam and water crashing into each other. The cause of the PROBLEM is not know at this point, but the cause of the noise is certain.

    No matter what, you need some vents on you mains. Vents are needed even if you install a new system and replace everything. I would start there.

    You don;t need a steam pro to install some main vents. A good qualified plumber can do it. Find a plumber that will let you tell him what to install, how many to install, and where to install them. Make sure he knows upfront and in the beginning that you are hiring him to do a specific task of which you will provide all the details.

    Once you get to a point that you are ready to call a plumber and pay him to do a little work, let us know. People here will be able to tell you exactly where to install them, and what kind to install.

    Venting the mains might not eliminate all of the problems, but it will make it better, and it is something that needs to be done no matter what. Start simple, with one thing, and work your way up. Don;t try to tackle this problem by solving every single issue pointed out here. While all of them are valid, right now I think you just need a single change, make some progress, and move on to another change until this is ironed out.
  • Double D Double D @ 6:36 AM
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    Just curious cbscinta1

    What did you finally end up doing on this system?
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 7:49 AM
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    Finding a good steam man

    I missed this thread at the time, but here is now the method to use for finding the local expert.
    Go to the wholesale supply houses selling parts, and boilers for steam systems, and ask for the names of those local installers, (and their reputations!). That should give a short list from which to select someone to do the work.
    The problem had by the original poster here, could have been easily fixed, if he had applied himself more diligently to identifying the problems from advice given here, and then finding the right person to make those repairs. It takes more than looking in the yellow pages under steam, and getting the first person out to start work. The homeowner should learn enough to be the prime diagnostician.--NBC
  • BobC BobC @ 8:23 AM
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    You are absolutely right

    A homeowner has to know enough so he can ask the right question and to tell if the person he is talking to knows what he is talking about. Finding a qualified steam person isn't easy but it's very important.

    i suspect a lot of the homeowners on this board do there own work because it's hard to find a good steam man in some areas. With Dan's books and the advice of the members of this site there is a tremendous font of knowledge that can be tapped. Anybody who wants to understand a steam system should own The Lost Art of Steam Heat that can be bought under the SHOP tab on this site.

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • Double D Double D @ 9:25 AM
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    Great input NBC & BobC

    Sad to see this system go if that's what ended up happening.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 4:52 PM
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    Not solved yet

    Hi everybody,

    No, I have not replaced the boiler or done any work to the system. The holidays got in the way, and I'm just now getting to a point where I can pay more attention to the problem.

    Pipes are still banging, my most recent bill was $600 (set at 63 degrees), and I still have not found anybody local to help me. I've called a few place, but they never respond--even when I indicate I may want a new boiler. Furthermore, this house has no insulation and is not adequately sealed, so I'm not sure that solving the boiler problems would actually reduce my gas consumption.

    There was one man who responded from this forum, but I'm sorry to say that I misplaced his email. He indicated that he had several other jobs he was working on and probably didn't have the time, but I wouldn't mind getting back in touch with him if he's reading this.

    In the end, my ideal solution is to bring in a qualified pro and paying a reasonable fee to have all of these issues corrected once and for all.
  • gcp13 gcp13 @ 7:56 PM
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    While you set the pressure lower is a good thing you need to Make sure the pipe going from pressuretrol to the low water cutoff is clear & not blocked.
    It should be checked every year
    If it's blocked ,I'm sure it is, setting the pressure lower has no effect
    Clean the pigtail or replace it and replace the gauge
    Then you know what's going on
    Looks like the bottom of sight glass is leaking as we'll
    If your other leak is on wet return/trap seal you could have steam getting into the return and causing banging.
    Air vent on bathroom radiator was a quick fix that should be removed
    Try to seal the leaks even with flexible seal tape or something to see if this helps
    Then get it replaced correctly
    Banging noise after radiators start to heat indicate steam getting into returns
    Could be pressure pushing water out of returns
    1st thing clean pigtail and hole where it goes into low water cutoff
    Stop leaks then run cycles to test
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 1:16 PM
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    Thanks guys

    A few candid thoughts:

    First of all, I'd like to give a shout out to Rod on this forum, who did take quite a bit of time explaining things to me a few months back via email. He is a wealth of information and I'm grateful to him for helping me to understand the mechanics.

    I also appreciate all the advice on this forum, particularly that of the DIY variety.  To get so many replies was heartening, and it's a testament to the vast knowledge on display here. However, it's time for me to acknowledge the fact that I'm not going to fix this myself. I simply don't have the time or inclination to disassemble, patch, fix, replace, install, or inspect anything. I'm finished with it. For various reasons, I will most likely never again purchase a property with a steam system, so pursuing a DIY approach holds little value for me. You might as well ask me to remove my own appendix.

    What I would like is to hire a qualified pro to get the system running as it should be or, barring that, replacing the system. I'm very disappointed at the lack of response I've received to my phone inquiries, which is why I've re-posted here. My needs are simple and straight-forward:

    1. I want my winter heating bills to be $300 or less when the thermostat is set at 67 degrees, and for the house to be the same temperature throughout.

    2. I never want to hear water hammer again for as long as I live.

    3. I want somebody else to make this happen. I've read the articles, I've educated myself, and I want to hire a professional anyway.

    Now, this may not ultimately be a problem that a steam pro can solve alone. I may need more insulation. I may need a new boiler (which I would gladly buy if I had a guarantee that it would work as I desire). I may need an entirely new heating system. It may be that the 2700 square foot 1926 Colonial that I live in is simply too large and poorly designed to heat efficiently in the depths of a Buffalo winter. I don't know the answer. What I do know is that I've been trying to offer money to people to help me and none of them seem to be interested. I know the polar vortex kept a lot of people busy, but to not even acknowledge a potential customer is lousy and frustrating. I'm forced to conclude that they're either all rich, dumb, or lack the requisite skills and are too gutless to tell me. Maybe I should have sounded more desperate. Who knows?

    The bottom line is that if I can't find somebody to assist me, I will simply sell the house, take the profit, and go live somewhere else. I'd rather stay where I am, but if I can't heat a home efficiently, I don't want to live there. Period. A man's house is his sanctuary, it's not supposed to cause him stress. That's what jobs and wives are for.

    If anybody can recommend a qualified steam guy (or girl--you never know) in the Western New York area (Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls) that answers their phone and needs work, feel free to email me. I'll keep hanging out on the forum and am still happy to read whatever advice you wish to offer.

    Thanks again for reading!
  • Jamie Hall Jamie Hall @ 7:11 PM
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    Well, sounds like...

    you're about to give up, and I can't say I wholly blame you.  Finding competent help can be a problem.

    I'm sorry we couldn't help you more!

    I will comment on one of your numbered points, though: you want a 2700 square foot house in Buffalo New York to heat for $300 for the year.

    Is that 2014 dollars?  or 1950 dollars?  It might be remotely possible to do it with a house which was at or near 100 percent solar.  Otherwise, my friend... not going to happen.  Just very roughly that translates to an effective overall R value for the structure of better than 30...

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 7:25 PM
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    I have done it

    Yes, it is quite possible to heat that size of a house for less than
    $300. I have done it before with similar specs, but never with a steam
    system. I believe the key to making this work lies in the proper
    adjustment, repair, etc of the system, up to and including a new boiler.

    This winter is a different story, what with the polar vortex
    and all, but a typical Buffalo winter has run me $310 in the coldest
    months in 2600 sq ft (forced air), $190 in 1700 sq ft. (hot water), and
    $150 in 1300 sq ft (forced air). This is over the past 9 years.
  • quack24 quack24 @ 7:38 PM
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    A month or the whole winter?
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 7:39 PM
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    It now occurs to me that the above poster thought I mean $300 for the whole winter. What I meant was $300 per month max for winter months (December-March).

    To give you an idea of how much I want to reduce my consumption, my latest bill was $600.
    This post was edited by an admin on January 26, 2014 7:40 PM.
  • Jamie Hall Jamie Hall @ 9:13 PM
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    that's different.  $300 a month might be achievable!  Sorry I misinterpreted.

    And if it is achievable, it's achievable with steam.  Let's not give up yet.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 1:46 PM
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    For the first time in what seems like ages, the sky in Buffalo is blue. Coincidentally or not, today I first noticed what seemed to be a lot of exhaust coming out of the chimney. I don't know if this is because it's -10 degrees here today, or if it means the boiler is cracked. It is now overcast, and I can't see anything coming out. I am still filling the boiler daily.

    I can't say if this has been happening all along, but I can say that this is the first time I've noticed it.
    This post was edited by an admin on January 28, 2014 1:46 PM.
  • Steve Steve @ 1:48 PM
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    Is the exhaust mostly white? If so it is likely a cracked boiler
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 1:50 PM
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    From what I remember (I saw it this morning as I drove away from the house) yes, it seemed white. However, I often see white exhaust on all the houses in my neighborhood, and I'm sure most of them have forced air/hot water.

    I assume a cracked boiler needs replacement and cannot be repaired?
  • Steve Steve @ 1:57 PM
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    A cracked boiler is terminal. However if it is still heating the house you should be able to limp thru the winter. Then you can take your time in the spring/summer getting everything fixed right and drastically increase the efficiency of the system.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 2:00 PM
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    In the meantime, is there a particular diagnostic that must be performed to determine definitely that the boiler is cracked, or does it need to be disassembled?
  • Steve Steve @ 2:05 PM
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    I defer

    That Q to the pros here.
    However I can tell you there is no disassembling any old boiler except with a sledge hammer.
    I am just a homeowner with a steam system that has learned a lot here. Although I should mention that I am a licensed contractor so I know my way around buildings.
  • Double D Double D @ 2:06 PM
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    Fill it to the top.

    See if any water drips down onto the burners or floor while the burner is on. If it's leaking you may also hear it as the water reaches the leak, assuming it has one.
  • Double D Double D @ 2:10 PM
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    Top and draft hood only

    need to be removed. You can get a pretty clear view between the sections searching for a leak.  
  • Double D Double D @ 2:23 PM
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    Discontinued Peerless series 61 manual

    Page 6 shows the draft hood which needs to be removed for inspection.
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 2:44 PM
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    I have a video of the chimney, but was unable to upload it. Any suggestions from Admin?
    This post was edited by an admin on January 28, 2014 2:51 PM.
  • H3809 H3809 @ 3:48 PM
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    Post it to youtube then paste the link here
  • cbscinta1 cbscinta1 @ 3:53 PM
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  • Double D Double D @ 3:59 PM
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    I'm not seeing anything excessive

    How about anyone else?
  • BobC BobC @ 6:32 PM
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    Is it

    about the same as neighboes burning the same fuel? If it is your probably ok. If you do the overfilling test, do it hen the boiler is on;y warm (not steaming hot). Let it sit for several hours and check for any signs of a leak, then drain it down to the normal level and make some steam to drive off ant oxygen in the water.

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

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

    3PSI gauge
  • mgmine mgmine @ 11:03 AM
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    leaking boiler

    I had a leaky boiler a few years back the way I found it was from the advice from this forum. I looked at the chimney and saw white smoke. The real tip off however was that I had to add water every day. If you are adding a lot of water then you have a problem.
  • Are All Your Radiator Valves

    Open all the way. If some are closed or partially closed, that can cause Banging. Call Utica Boilers for a list of qualified steam installers near you.

    Thanks, Bob Gagnon
  • JStar JStar @ 9:27 PM
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    Seriously....there are no good steam men in Buffalo? Isn't there a lot of steam up there?
    - Joe Starosielec

    Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.

    Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.
    Consultation anywhere.
    (Formerly "ecuacool")
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 1:03 AM
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    if you can't find anyone close, get in touch. I've been known to travel when a steam heating consultation is needed. Might have to wait until spring though, the way things are going here in Baltimore.

    You don't need a completely new heating system, just someone who knows how to work with it.
    "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.
  • vaporvac vaporvac @ 2:24 AM
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    Pitch perfect?

    I'm a homeowner like yourself with an orificed vaporvacuum system. I also had merciless banging that shook the whole house especially when coming from any sort of setback. I've always kept the pressures low with a vaporstat. We could isolate the banging to one pipe and it ended up it was 2+" out of pitch. When we fixed it more 1/2 gallon of water came out! So, have you been able to determine where exactly the banging takes place and have you checked the pitch of your pipes?

    The noise is caused by the steam and condensate colliding so if your pressure is low, get a good level and check it out. It can be a very easy fix.I can't believe I waited so long to fix it. Colleen
  • Double D Double D @ 7:11 AM
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    Correct me if I'm wrong...

    Shouldn't that Hartford connection be below the boiler water line closer to that plugged tee at the bottom? I doubt the top of that U is filled with water.
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 7:22 AM
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    The local list

    From Utica boilers for Buffalo: their list of installers

    Anytime you hear banging from a steam system, you are hearing the sound of wasted energy, with higher fuel bills. Time to start interviewing some of these people.--NBC
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