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Joined on November 22, 2008

Last Post on January 18, 2011

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@ January 18, 2011 5:07 PM in Spitting Air Vents

but it just seems like it's a vent closing too late. I've got some Gorton's on order so I'll be able to swap it out and see.

It's only 1 of 2

@ January 18, 2011 4:57 PM in Spitting Air Vents

Hi Charlie,

The waterline isn't perfectly steady, and it definitely bounces up and down when I do the weekly blowdown.

The vents are at the drop, but about 1 foot above it and then at a right angle. It's a very short menora. There are two Hoffman's there, and only one has the problem and like the original poster, not every time.

Similar situation

@ January 18, 2011 4:15 PM in Spitting Air Vents

I'm not sure if this helps, but I'm having a similar problem, although with Hoffman 75s. Mine were installed less than a year ago and one does occasionally let out water. I've found that if I catch it when it's just starting, a tap with a mallet stops it. I did the boil in vinegar route, which solved the problem for about a week, maybe 10 days. My sight glass shows no surging, so if we're having the same problem, it's caused by something else. Of course, you should take care of the surging.

long shot

@ January 12, 2011 11:44 AM in Removing Steam Radiator

One of my radiators once made a rattling noise. It turned out to be a piece of the valve had broken off inside the housing. Once I removed the broken piece (I think there's a photograph of it on the wall somewhere), no more rattling. I think it would be easier to check for that than to move the radiator. BUT my radiator was in my own house where I could turn off the boiler while I took apart the valve. The last thing you want is to have the boiler turn on while the valve is open. Given an unhelpful landlord, perhaps that's not possible. Have you tried using a stethoscope to isolate the source of the problem? I used a mechanic's version on mine. Even a rod of some kind might help.

Personally, I would be worried about disconnecting a radiator on a system over which I have no control. What are you going to do if the valve doesn't work and the boiler fires up?

cycling due to pressure

@ January 10, 2011 8:22 AM in Is there an "Ideal" Steam Heat Cycle duration?

Your system as a device (probably a pressuretrol, but possibly a vaporstat) that will shut off the boiler if it reaches a preset pressure. It won't turn it on again until the pressure is below a certain threshold. A boiler can reach the pressure limit before satisfying the thermostat. It will therefore turn on again once the pressure has gone down sufficiently. This is called cycling on pressure.

Why 15# relief valve

@ December 16, 2010 10:24 PM in Pressure too High

At first I thought the 30# gauge was a hold over from the olde days, but according to TLAOSH, residential steam went from 60 psi to 2 psi pretty quickly. I guess folks realized that not blowing up was good for business (see pp. 15-16).

So I figure that either the 30# is related to the 15# and we just need to know why it's 15#, or there's something about 30# gauges that makes them cheaper or more durable than 25# gauges, or it's a historical accident. Maybe some old timer just used an auto tire pressure gauge and that's what started it, but I'm pretty sure the old cars ran at 50-60psi tire pressure.

Sorry. I eliminated a possibility or two but don't have an answer.

It's was funny

@ December 15, 2010 8:10 PM in pressure gauge

but as Jamie pointed out above, the 30psi gauge is required by code.

What did you use on the threads? It looks yellowish.

My mistake, Jamie

@ December 15, 2010 7:35 PM in What happens below the cut-in pressure?

I was trying to see if I understood you (I didn't). Sorry that I confused matters, but it looks like it led to the right answer.

Aaah, I think I get it.

@ December 15, 2010 7:34 PM in What happens below the cut-in pressure?

Thanks, Rod. I think I get it now. Just to be sure, here's what I think happens. If the pressuretrol had only one setting (cut off), then it would shut off the burner at say 1 psi (if the thermostat were still calling for heat and the LWCO said it was ok). But only seconds later, the pressure would drop below that cut off point and so the burner would go back on. The differential is what tells the boiler to wait a bit before starting the burner back up (and assuming the thermostat is still calling for heat, and LWCO says it's ok). Is that right?

Does this mean

@ December 15, 2010 12:37 PM in What happens below the cut-in pressure?

that the cut-in pressure is what starts the cycle clock?

That's what I thought

@ December 15, 2010 12:11 PM in What happens below the cut-in pressure?

But then why mess with the two adjustments if there's really only one thing to adjust? In other words, why doesn't the pressutrol have one setting and it's the cut-out?

What happens below the cut-in pressure?

@ December 15, 2010 11:52 AM in What happens below the cut-in pressure?

Maybe it's the frigid temps (we just made it to 8°F) but just realized that I don't know what the pressutrol is doing when the pressure is below the cut in.

Just to be sure I'm using the right terms: on an additive pressutrol, the cut-out pressure is the sum of the cut-in plus the differential. The cut-in is set on the outside; the differential requires removing the cover of the pressutrol. The pressutrol turns off the burner when the cut-out pressure is reached. When the pressure is between the cut-in and cut-out pressures, it lets the burner fire if the thermostat calls for heat. What does it do when the pressure is below the cut-in?

You're welcome!

@ December 13, 2010 9:44 PM in Steam return leak

I think you'd need to measure the water temp and not the pipe, since the pipe acts as a heat sink.

I don't know if it's true, but I've read in some plumbing forums about people ruining PVC drain pipes by pouring boiling water down them to clear away a clog. I can't believe it's true since lots of folks drain pasta in their sinks. But it is something to think about since a PVC return would be experiencing that kind of use up maybe as much as 8 hours/day on the coldest days.

TLAOSH p. 142

@ December 13, 2010 8:38 PM in Steam return leak

I was curious, so I looked up what Dan says about traps. I might have misunderstood him, but on p. 142 of TLAOSH, it sounds to me like traps open around 180-200°, still too hot for PVC. And of course if a trap ever fails open, you'd have quite a PVC melted mess on your hands.

I read that

@ December 13, 2010 8:19 PM in Steam return leak

I did read your post. I have a two pipe system myself. The traps on each radiator block the steam until it condenses. It's given up its latent heat to the room, but it can still be close to 212. It's not going to be under 140. But this is an empirical question that's easily solved. Why don't you measure the temp?

don't think so

@ December 13, 2010 7:14 PM in Steam return leak

I'm not a pro, but I believe the maximum service temp for PVC is 140°F. In theory at least, the water in the returns is close to 212°F, so I'm thinking this won't work.

or a silent helper

@ December 13, 2010 4:46 PM in Water level keeps dropping

Any chance someone else touches the boiler? Someone could be doing the weekly LWCO blowdowns.

I'm guessing it's more likely to be a leak. As someone else recently posted, it's important to keep in mind that the signs of a steam leak often differ from those of a water leak. Look for white powdery residue.

Also, I recently had a main vent get stuck open. That caused the boiler to lose water. The smell of the steamed underflooring was my first clue. You might want to hang out in the boiler room next time yours cycles on.

how's this?

@ December 12, 2010 10:47 AM in steam heating enthusiasts christmas list.

I've circled the two nuts in yellow. With the boiler cool, you would first close the valves, then remove the two vertical rods that protect the glass (just push them up and out). Then loosen the nuts and remove the tube. Be careful as the tube might be hot and the ends might be sharp.

At least on mine

@ December 12, 2010 9:25 AM in steam heating enthusiasts christmas list.

You just close the knobs, then loosen the brass nuts at both ends of the glass, and then gently remove the tube. Yours might be different. Maybe someone else can help.

looks like a wing nut

@ December 12, 2010 9:10 AM in steam heating enthusiasts christmas list.

I'm not sure it's worth messing with, but at the bottom on the brass fitting should be what looks like a wing nut. It's hollow in the center, where the water will come out (in theory) if you loosen it.

Be sure to wait until the boiler has cooled. The brass and glass can get surprisingly hot.

I figured now was a bad time

@ December 11, 2010 5:29 PM in group consulting

Thanks, Steamhead. February sounds perfect. I'll see if I can find out who might be interested.

close the knobs

@ December 11, 2010 5:27 PM in steam heating enthusiasts christmas list.

Your sight glass should have knobs above and below it. Shut them. There's probably a petcock on the bottom. If you're lucky, you can open it and drain the little bit of water that's in the sight glass. If you're like me, you'll put a bucket underneath to keep the floor dry.
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