Joined on November 24, 2007
Last Post on March 6, 2014
@ January 26, 2011 4:54 AM in Wheres my water goingbesides clammy's excellent advice, on the leak possibility, i would also check for a clogged pigtail, which may have allowed the pressure to get unnaturally high.
have you tried the" find a contractor here"? type in your location, as the zip-code feature may not work properly.--nbc
@ January 26, 2011 4:48 AM in Steam boiler sizingwhy not move this to the "strictly steam" here?--nbc
@ January 26, 2011 4:43 AM in half of the pipes in basement not getting steamyou can turn the system off, and when cool, remove the vent, and re-fire. when steam comes out the vent opening, you know that the pipe has no obstructions in it, such as a sag, or water puddle, preventing the air from escaping so the steam can move. in this case, you need a new vent. be ready to turn the boiler off as soon as you see steam.
if you see no steam, then check the pitch of the pipe with a level. in a complicated pipe run, it helps to put masking tape on the pipe, withe arrows marking the direction of downward slope. on my system, i had an area where the arrows were pointing towards each other! it helped that these areas of dry return had not yet been insulated, but if yours are, then maybe a nail at each end of the level will pierce the insulation enough to give you a reading.--nbc
@ January 25, 2011 11:08 PM in What is this?that is an early air vent, i believe from a vapor system. if you do a search for "ham" here there will be more information. the first bulbous thing in your picture is the low water cut off for your boiler, and it should be blown down weekly to show that it is able to protect your boiler against a low water situation.
i suggest you buy "the lost art of steam heating" at the shop here, and you can learn how to maintain your system.--nbc
@ January 23, 2011 6:52 PM in have i runined my air vents?unscrew the top, and remove the disk and it will be a regular 75, though probably still not enough, so i would put on an antler, with an additional gorton #2.
one thing you can look forward to is lower fuel cost, when you put on the gorton, and even lower, when you re-pipe the supply pipes for the boiler. many here have done that themselves [in summertime].--nbc
@ January 23, 2011 2:52 PM in Air vent questionis your system steam or hot water? that appears to be a vent for a hot water radiator, which will not work on steam. if you have a hot water system, then i suggest you repost on "the wall", and not in "strictly steam".--nbc
@ January 22, 2011 11:25 PM in Iranian heatingit is so nice to see other people "on the other side of the fence" as just like us!
we can so often get caught up in the politics, and therefore not see that there is a competent hydronics professional just doing his job of keeping his clients warm.
i wonder how he would react to steam if he were visiting.--nbc
@ January 21, 2011 7:30 PM in boiler platethanks for posting these. without the asbestos, you can see the wonderful details.
when are we going to be able to have an old boilers calendar, complete with pictures of their grizzled old attendants? forget the tee-shirts, i want a calendar!--nbc
@ January 21, 2011 7:15 PM in 2 pipe steam problemis it some sort of vent, or check valve to relieve vacuum?--nbc
@ January 21, 2011 7:12 PM in heating basement radiatorsif there were no traps in the system, then there probably should be no traps in the system! there are some old systems which need no traps, as the inlet valves metered the flow of steam so that only that amount which could be condensed was let in. these old vapor systems worked extremely well on about 2 ounces of steam pressure.
show us some pictures of the boiler, and its piping, and the radiators, and valves.
as far as the radiators in the basement, if they are below the boiler, then they probably worked on thermosyphon/gravity from the hot water in the boiler, and they too need only a few ounces of pressure to avoid condensate backing up in the returns.--nbc
@ January 21, 2011 5:42 PM in "Normal" Heating Cycle times...maybe we need a new burner design, which like coal would never really shut off completely. in between major cycles, it would simmer.
the controls would have to make allowance for this, because steam would be established in a few seconds!--nbc
@ January 21, 2011 5:37 PM in Steam close to radiator, but leaves me coldthat valve can be inspected for a dropped disk by removing the bonnet, just under the handle, and packing nut. unfortunately, the boiler would have to be turned off completely, while doing this. the advantage is that this does not break the seal of the union of spud to valve.
perhaps you can get your landlord to take more interest in this, if he thought his pipes might freeze. ask him if his insurance is up to date on water damage.--nbc
@ January 21, 2011 5:27 PM in Sizing up STEAMthat pressure is much too high. for any pressure over a few ounces, the money spent on maintaining it at that pressure, goes straight to hugo chavez, and you know what he would like to do with the money!
as i have said before, these heat-timer/tekmar controllers cannot compensate for a system with "deferred maintenance". i recommend the following steps:
1.put on a good low pressure gauge [gaugestore.com 0-15 ounces]; with a pair of vaporstats [0-16 ounces]. the second vaporstat will control the hi-lo-hi on the burner.
2.increase the venting of the system. put on enough large main vents [plus one] to reduce the back-pressure during the initial air removal to 2 ounces. set the vaporstat to go to low fire at 6 ounces. your risers may have vents at the top, or they may loop back down to be vented in the basement. the gauge will show you what is still in need of more venting.
3.if replacing the boiler, you may want to read the excellent boilerpro article about undersizing the boiler, which only along with increased venting can reduce fuel consumption. i will try to find a link too it. get a meter on your makeup feed water so you know how much new water is being added.--nbc
here it is:
@ January 21, 2011 5:07 PM in New radiator fountain after new boilerthe mfg's rep should be able to help by pointing out from the source of authority that it is wrong [at least i know that our local area peerless rep would, and has].--nbc
@ January 21, 2011 10:32 AM in Steam a "Dying Art"?in your list of things to do to get your system back in its as new condition, put on a good low-pressure gauge [gaugestore.com 0-3 psi].
when installed on the pressuretrol pigtail, the pressure you see during various stages of operation will enable you to diagnose problems, such as lack of adequate venting.
sooner or later you will probably need a vaporstat, for more precise pressure control, so why not sooner rather than later?
we will enjoy your pictures of the boiler, and its piping, and the house if you can manage it!
in a similar situation, though with the added complexity of boiler replacement, our fuel use went down by a third, and you will notice a big difference after correcting any problems this site will help you identify.--nbc
@ January 20, 2011 4:43 PM in "Normal" Heating Cycle times...if you have the perfect system, completely matched to the load, and it is firing on a design temp day; it will never build much pressure. if the same boiler is firing on a warmer than design temp day, it will build some pressure, and may cycle on the pressure control. if there were no main vents in the system, then the back-pressure resulting from the air being evicted through the radiator vents, assisted by the gas company, would cause the boiler to cycle on pressure.
it is for these variables, that the ideal boiler would contain a modulating burner, controlled by pressure. at the start of firing, the burner would be on high, and as the pressure rose to 3 ounces, would then switch to low. as the temperature fell outside, the pressure would begin to fall in the system, and the burner would switch to high in order to maintain the pressure.
therefore, how over-sized could the boiler be assuming the presence of a modulating burner? my guess is 50% as the low burn rate is about 60% of the high burn. also do a search for boilerpro's excellent treatise on boiler sizing.--nbc
@ January 20, 2011 12:40 AM in Steam stumper...either they are saying "peel me a grape", or the panting in those rads could be indicating uninsulated piping.
there could also be a problem with the relationship of venting capacity between the radiator vents, and the main vents. if your main vents are not up to the job, then all the air flow will try to escape [aided by the gas company at great expense] by way of the radiator vents. any water being carried along can end up in the vent, and close it with the internal float. so no venting there = no steam coming up!.
try to fire the boiler, with an assistant whose hand is on the switch for quick turning off. take off the vent, while it is off, and then switch it on. i bet you will see steam in those rads. make sure not to allow the steam to flow out the vent tapping for more than a few seconds as it can remove all the wallpaper in minutes!--nbc
@ January 19, 2011 7:23 PM in to much oilwhen i did a search for that here, i came up with this:
haven't really read it thoroughly, but maybe you can.
these vapor systems can be very sensitive to pressure, so are you sure the 0-15 psi gauge works? we also have a very low opinion of the standard vaporstat. if you had a 0-15 ounce gauge, and a vaporstat,, you might see that at say 8 ounces pressure the traps somehow locked shut on overpressure.
do you have any pictures of the boiler piping? how is the waterline during steaming?
any chance of a leak above the waterline? if you had access to an infrared camera, you could see the progress of the steam from cold
if you can see whether the air removal is being restricted, you may find the solution..--nbc
@ January 19, 2011 6:26 AM in Boiler Bluesif the boiler is still a current model, there may be replacement sections available. see if you can find the distributor for your area for smith boilers, and ask him who has installed smith boilers before. if your guardian angel has been working overtime, maybe the leak is from one of the nipples, which are easily replaced.
COMFORT SALES AGENCY INC (Main Office)
7103 MARINE RD., HWY 143 EAST
PO BOX 483
EDWARDSVILLE , IL 62025, US
as with cars, the spare parts are probably almost as expensive as a new model, but the piping would need minimal modification. however is the current piping done well enough to keep?
if you choose a new replacement, then make sure it is sized to the radiation, and not just to what was there before.
post a picture of the boiler and piping here and we may see something good or bad about it.--nbc
@ January 18, 2011 11:52 PM in No Main Vents?use a level to determine the slope of your main. if it is sloping up away from the boiler, then it is a counter-flow, and the vent should be on the end. if it is sloping down from the header, and back around towards the dry return, the it is a parallel flow, and the vent should be at the end of the dry return.
every system needs some way for the air to get out of the main pipes, and since the radiator vents are not up to the job, without a lot of expensive help from the fuel company, main vents are needed. so it is well worth the digging in to the ceiling.--nbc
@ January 18, 2011 11:22 PM in How to choose the right mains air vent replacementyou seem to have a counter-flow system, with the main vent at the end of the main. is there only 1 main?
if so, you could spend some time calculating what make and model, would be the correct vent, based on the length and diameter of the main pipe, or you could just get the biggest main vent available [gorton #2], and start saving right away. you will not have wasted any money in my opinion, because by over-sizing, you will keep the escape air velocity very low, thus speeding up the arrival of steam. if there is a second main, then you must put on the same amount of venting, otherwise, there will be a noticeable difference in the speed of the 2 mains. try pexsupply.com for the vent.--nbc
@ January 17, 2011 11:22 PM in dirty water and chemicalsyou could try the method recommended by peerless boilers, which we used on startup: use arm&hammer washing soda. the instructions follow here:
G. CLEAN THE BOILER
1. Clean the boiler as described below no later than
one week after the initial start-up. Cleaning will be
more effective if the boiler operates a day or two to
loosen sediment and impurities in the system.
2. The boiler must be cleaned to remove any
accumulation of oil, grease, sludge, etc. that may be
in the system. These substances can cause foaming
and surging of the boiler water, producing an
unstable water line and water carryover to the system.
3. The piping for a skim valve must be done as shown
in Section 5, “Pipe the Boiler,” of this manual, with
the skim valve mounted off of one of the end riser
4. Connect a 2 inch drain line off of the skim valve, run
to a point of safe discharge.
5. Close all valves to the system. Provide a means of
continuous fresh water to the boiler for the cleaning
6. Use common washing soda (such as Arm and
Hammer Super Washing Soda). Mix the soda with
water in a 10 quart (9.5 liter) pail and pour into the
boiler through the safety valve tapping. Use a
proportion of one (1) pound (.5 kg) of washing soda
for each 800 square feet (74 m²) EDR net boiler rating.
7. Open the skim valve. Fill the boiler until water begins
to flow out the valve.
8. Turn burners on and allow the boiler water to heat
up to just below steaming [180 to 200ºF (82 to
93ºC)]. Cycle the burners to maintain temperature
during skimming. Do not allow the boiler to steam.
Steaming mixes up the contaminants in the water
instead of floating them at the surface.
9. Open the make-up water valve to continuously feed
water to the boiler. Allow water to flow out of the
10. Continue skimming the boiler until the water flowing
from the skim tapping flows clear. This will take
some time, possibly several hours for a dirty system.
11. After skimming is complete, close the skim valve and
turn off the boiler.
12. Close the make-up water valve and open the boiler
13. Drain the boiler completely. Then refill and drain
again one or two times to make sure all of the soda
has been washed out.
14. Restore piping to normal. Pipe a nipple and cap in
the skim valve.
15. Note: If the gauge glass becomes dirty again, this
indicates more contaminants have worked loose in
the system. Repeat the cleaning and skimming
process as needed to clean the system.
Cleaning the boiler requires the use of very hot water
and corrosive chemicals. Use care when handling to
Do not leave the boiler unattended while firing.
Take great care not to allow the water level to drop
below the bottom of the gauge glass or to allow fresh
water make-up to flow in too fast. This will avoid the
possibility of causing the boiler sections to fractture.