Joined on November 24, 2007
Last Post on May 20, 2013
@ October 19, 2009 6:33 PM in Main Vent Installationthe vents may not work, if they are not vertical, for the blow through test. did you perhaps hold them horizontally? if so try again. that distance should be ok.
perhaps shaking them in soapy water will open them up, or.......the dishwasher!--nbc
@ October 19, 2009 3:28 PM in Main Vent Installationif the vents are less than 24 in. above the waterline, and you have high pressure, they could have taken a bath, as the water rose in the return. or maybe the returns are clogged.
they seem to be adequately protected from a water-hammered slug of water shooting at their sensitive parts from the horizontal, or the vertical piping. they should never be on that elbow-just offset a bit.
give them a soak in white vinegar for a few hours, followed by some soapy water, and they will probably revive.--nbc
@ October 19, 2009 3:20 PM in Is one Steam boiler better than the restit's too bad he took offence. if i were he, i would hope that an informed customer, is easier to deal with, explain things to, etc. as long as he will follow the mfg's instructions as a minimum, [including a permanent skimming port] i think you will be OK.
don't forget how advantageous a vaporstat, and good low-pressure gauge would be as well!-nbc
@ October 19, 2009 11:53 AM in Steam Radiator Problemi think that you really need main vents, as the capacity of the radiator vents is only large enough to handle the air in the riser and radiator, when you are on a short "burn" in moderate weather. usually these main vents are on the dry return just before it drops down to the wet return on the way back to the boiler.
also check the steam lines leading to the cold rads for a "sag" in which could form a pond of water, blocking the air from getting out. use a level, and put tape on the pipes with arrows indicating direction of downward pitch. if you see arrows pointing towards each other, then you know you have a low spot!--nbc
@ October 18, 2009 10:41 PM in Steam Radiator Problemis this 1-pipe steam or 2-pipe? by replacing the vents, are you referring to the main air vents, which do all the work?
if those main vents are new, and very ample; then you may have an over-pressure problem. this may be caused by a clogged pigtail, not allowing the pressuretrol to "feel" the pressure. check to see that you are at or below 1PSI. if you have trouble reading the standard gauge, then i would suggest getting a good low pressure gauge [gaugestore.com 0-2 PSI].
the other thing to check, would be the pitch of the steam pipes leading to the troubled area. if there is a low spot in the pipe, the air will not be able to escape through the main vents [not rad vents], and so no steam can rise up to the rads.
i would suggest you get the "bible" of steam heating here, so you can be more able to diagnose problems as they arise--"the lost art of steam heating".--nbc
@ October 18, 2009 12:28 AM in Steam main ventingi think your diagnosis is correct-at least one of your vents is not functioning properly. in addition, you should check the pressure of your system, and keep it at 1 PSI or less. the hissing could indicate too much pressure.
when you order another vent, such as a gorton #2 [my favorite!], you may want to order two of them at the same time, to save on postage. as you can never be over vented, you are not wasting money, by buying more than you need. you will immediately notice a difference, when you have replaced them both. for the longer main use an antler, and keep the old gorton on that one [if you can blow through it].--nbc
@ October 17, 2009 8:33 PM in LWCOif you can access the mcdonell-miller website, you can find the exploded drawings for your LWCO. this will enable you to disassemble the unit, and find the problem. thank god you tested it, and discovered this problem so early in the season!! probably the float is hung up on some detritus which was not able to be flushed out. the mechanism is pretty simple and robust, but of course can be effectected by rusty grunge. of course the boiler will be out of service during the repair.--nbc
@ October 17, 2009 4:14 PM in Steam Radiator Shooting watercould the pigtail, on which sits the pressuretrol, be clogged, not allowing the true pressure to be "felt"? that high pressure won't be good for the vents!--nbc
@ October 17, 2009 7:19 AM in Switching Steam System to Warm Water Boiler or Window Heat Pumps?don't forget to list any mfg's names, or pix of trademarks/logos on these radiator and main traps/vents etc, so your system can be identified more easily. that may point the way, as to where to look for various components.
you might want to keep your steam-hot water heater, and use it in the winter only.--nbc
@ October 17, 2009 7:10 AM in Solar Decathlon online scoreboardhow expensive is a clothesline, for those 10 loads of washing ?
great contest. this [and the eco-electric car race] is what all the universities should be doing, instead of spending mega-bucks on football!--nbc
@ October 16, 2009 2:44 AM in Switching Steam System to Warm Water Boiler or Window Heat Pumps?great pix! i am sure you would benefit from a different pressure control known as a vaporstat. its range is 0-16 OZ.-about 1/10 of the range the old pressuretrol is sometimes running up to now. that plus a good low pressure gauge [0-15 OZ gaugestore.com] will give you the control of, AND the indication of correct pressure. probably each boiler will need its own.
it is possible that this system has an operating range of 2-6 OZ! it is also possible that the burner can be modulated in response to the boiler load: 0 degrees outside=full burn; 40 degrees=75% burn, all controlled by pressure.
it could be that the traps are not working because the pressure is so high. the book will give you an idea as to what to look for in the basement, and maybe the attic, as far as inoperative venting devices. usually these can have their innards renewed. they may not all be bad, but 10 psi is high, for those devices to withstand.
once the air is being reliably removed, as steam is rising through the pipes, it would be time to verify the means of temperature control. it could be as simple as a good steam-rated thermostat in a place where it is free from outside air. even better would be the outside reset boiler control such as a tekmar 279 which fires the boiler in response to outside temperature swings, and monitors the inside temperature as well.
i will guess that you will be amazed how such an old system can work so well, when you have worked out all the bugs , in addition to noticeably lower gas bills!! if you are handy, you can learn how to do much yourself, and you will become fascinated by improving your own system, and by steam heat in general,...as are all of us!!--nbc
@ October 15, 2009 9:53 PM in Boiler routine maintenancemy theory with boiler water is--never give your boiler additives- like any good theory, there are exceptions, if you have well water, with excess chlorides, or other chemicals you may need some treatment. those of use on town water are usually safe.
your boiler should have 2 more drains, 1 for the wet returns, and 2 for the boiler drain itself. a monthly draining of these 2 will prevent build up of gook inside the lower part of the boiler sections, and the return piping.--nbc
@ October 15, 2009 9:42 PM in steam boiler high pressure cutoff working??this is where a good low pressure gauge [gaugestore.com 0-2 psi] will be required. sometimes the pressuretrol can run out of control, with disastrous results for the air vents-both main and radiator. get the pressure down below 1 psi, and see which of them have survived. the pressure relief valve will not blow off until you get to 15 psi, or whatever it is rated for.--nbc
@ October 15, 2009 4:18 PM in Steam system expertsthere should be insulation on all the steam pipes to prevent both heat loss and excessive condensation, before the steam gets to the radiators. this could be a contributing factor in the banging.
i would suggest getting a good low pressure gauge [gaugestore.com 0-3 psi] and putting it on the same pigtail, [AKA syphon loop] so you can be sure that the pressure is as low as possible with that type of pressuretrol, which can overshoot. sometimes the pigtail can get plugged up, and therefore prevents the control from "feeling" the pressure.
the steam piping is different to say the least, and i do not see a hartford loop, which is usually required to be next to the boiler as part of the return. i will be interested to read others views on the piping.
i would verify the pressure first, and insulate the supply pipes [if only with fiberglass batts as a temporary fix].
can't remember now when the water-hammer occurs-end of cycle, or beginning, but "the lost art of steam heating" goes into the causes of each type, parts of which are on this site, in the resources.--nbc
@ October 15, 2009 3:03 PM in Danfoss Thermostattry a google search, and pex supply, patriot supply, and state supply.--nbc
@ October 15, 2009 3:00 PM in Is one Steam boiler better than the restthere is quite a bit of difference in the square area of pipe, in that extra 1/2 in, but give w-m tech support a call to discuss it.--nbc
@ October 15, 2009 2:34 PM in Is one Steam boiler better than the restyou may be able to get replacement sections for your smith. if you decide to replace the boiler completely, make sure to size it to the radiator total, Dan's book,"the lost art of steam heating" goes into how that is done. make sure you have a stocking distributor for any new boiler you buy, and since you will probably have it professionally installed, your installer may have good reasons for preferring one over another.
i have elastomeric seals on my peerless and no trouble yet.
better get a vaporstat, and a low pressure gauge right off the bat, instead of waiting until the winter is half over. and don't forget the mainline vents, and a skimming port!--nbc
@ October 15, 2009 12:40 PM in Steam system expertsyou may have a rare iron fireman system, sensitive to over pressure. can you post pictures of:
boiler with pressure gauge and control.
steam piping coming out of boiler.
valves etc. on radiators, with mfg's marks.
here is a link to the steam balancing co of nyc:
and also to one of the most experienced contributors here, based in nyc:
@ October 15, 2009 5:14 AM in Switching Steam System to Warm Water Boiler or Window Heat Pumps?[url=http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/95/Problems-that-plague-ALL-steam-systems/97/Theres-too-much-heat-in-the-building]http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/95/Problems-that-plague-ALL-steam-systems/97/Theres-too-much-heat-in-the-building
here is a description of some problems with steam systems. this comes from a book available here, which should be in the library of any steam system owner, "the lost art of steam heating"
looking at a picture of one of the rooms in the hotel, i get the impression from the shape of the steam trap, that the system may well require much lower pressures than 1 psi to operate as originally designed, but more pictures would show more clearly which type of system it is.
the aim in your case would be to get the steam to "arrive" at all radiators at the same time. that is not happening now, and as a result, some areas are overheating. this could be the result of the vents not getting the air out of the pipes,quickly enough.
why not give us more details of : boiler type, pressure gauge/control type, and main "timer" control, mfg's of valves, and traps, as well as pictures of any old components still in the building, even though disconnected.
you will be amazed how well old steam systems can perform-quiet, comfortable, economical, and responsive.--nbc
@ October 15, 2009 4:32 AM in Help me warm up!contact your landlord. those settings can only retard, or speed up the arrival of steam from the boiler. unfortunately, that vent can not turn on the boiler. that control must be somewhere else. as you have steam heat, please post on the "strictly steam" area here.
if your landlord is having steam/boiler problems , we can certainly help.--nbc
@ October 14, 2009 7:29 PM in Switching Steam System to Warm Water Boiler or Window Heat Pumps?i think the height of your hotel would make the pressures of a hot-water system too great for the old pipes, however there is no reason the existing steam system should not perform much better than your description of it's present condition. after all would the original owner/builder of the hotel have been satisfied with the system behaving this way, when he took posession after construction.
without knowing every particular yet, i can see the possibility of a new control system, such as a tekmar 279, with several indoor, and one outdoor sensor. in addition, i think the boilers could be staged, by pressure so that in very mild cool weather, the 2 boilers would fire, together to "get up to speed", and then the system would coast along with the single boiler.
is the system 2-pipe, or 1-pipe? i think the over-heating might be due to over-pressure [are you sure it is 1 psi?], and/or a faulty control system. naturally you can imagine the reaction of that original owner, if he heard any banging at all! some systems at that time were designed for 2 oz!
how are the fuel costs?
let us know what sort of system you have, and the means of control, and the information obtained on this site [from 200 cumulative years of steam experience] will get things straightened out!
remember a picture is worth a thousand words, and may identify a curious component.--nbc
@ October 14, 2009 4:57 PM in sealing radiator connectioni have had good luck with a steel-wool cleaning of the mating faces of the union. make sure no traces of steel wool particles are left. sometimes the riser can sink down, when disconnected, and cause a crooked joint. levering up the valve, while rejoining is usually successful. maybe your pressure is too high?--nbc