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Joined on September 2, 2009

Last Post on January 30, 2014

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@ January 30, 2014 11:58 AM in smaller rads not heating

thanks chris - very helpful info.

more water?

@ January 30, 2014 10:10 AM in smaller rads not heating

just so i understand, more make up water with the gortons? that's interesting!

getting on a tangent here, but i think it relates to the vents: i see all the posts stating how little make up water a properly operating system should be demanding. over the past couple seasons, i've replaced sections of the main that were rotten (prior owner did not insulate). i thought i found all the leaks. but the system is still taking on make up water (via autofeeder) on a regular basis. it's improved, but still leaking. and there is no clear evidence of where.

this leads be back to the rad vents. assuming i've corrected my piping, are the 1A's prone to leak? even when operating "properly"?

were they older?

@ January 30, 2014 9:48 AM in smaller rads not heating

were those 1A's older? or did you have trouble with newer ones as well?
over time, i've swapped out older with newer, had some issues with newer ones, went back to older ones that i cleaned, etc, etc. ugh. this is just a general observation.

the issue i have now seems to have started since it's been really cold, and the system is cycling more often. not sure that has anything to do with it. these particular rads are not on the longer run outs.


@ January 30, 2014 9:17 AM in smaller rads not heating

sorry for delay... here are some pics of the boiler, near boiler piping, and the system vents... i don't have a pic of the problem rad, as it's in a tenant's apartment, but like i said, the rad is pitched properly, and the vent itself seems ok (i've tried a spare to be sure).
the system vents are positioned at the ends of the returns, and I have four positioned at the ends of longer branches from the mains (two vents on each). i've experimented over the last couple season, and this vent arrangement/sizing allows fairly even heating in the building.

valves fully open

@ January 29, 2014 5:37 PM in smaller rads not heating

sorry, should of stated that. yep, valves are fully open.

smaller rads not heating

@ January 29, 2014 5:15 PM in smaller rads not heating

i have smaller rads that are behaving strangely, the rad vents (hoffman 1As) are quickly filling with condensate, rendering them inoperable. the rads go cold unless i remove and drain them, but the cycle quickly repeats. of course, as soon as i remove the vent, the rad gets hot, and i get steam out of the vent port. i cleaned the vents out with a little soapy water thinking they are becoming clogged with debris, but i don't think that's the issue, as it continues to occur. this is happening only on a few smaller radiators, one in particular. they are pitched properly for drainage. everything else in the system (other larger rads, main vents, etc) is running pretty smoothly. i'm speculating that the rads themselves might be clogged, and are filling up with condensate, but is there anything else i should be considering?
my system is one-pipe steam, dunkirk boiler, main runs insulated, pressurtrol control, etc.

Repair Complete

@ December 6, 2012 8:54 PM in Recommendation for Main Repair

got the new section piped in. as of this pic, still have a couple hangars to add and insulation... so far all the joints are tight.
couldn't resist slicing a couple sections of the old pipe... the wall along the bottom had deteriorated to less than half the width, and had blown right through in a few spots where the water had pooled.... sure am glad i replaced the whole section.
thanks to for the advice.

downsize main?

@ December 3, 2012 3:44 PM in Recommendation for Main Repair

i've decided to replace the entire 14' section, and i've got a plan to pipe in a end of main drip and return, which will address the water collection issue.

but i'm thinking that i do not need to replace that length of main with 2" pipe. this section  serves the last two radiators, representing 18% of the connected load for this main.

can i use 1-1/2 for this final run instead? it's simplier... and of course less expensive for the fittings.

where the water collects

@ December 2, 2012 4:01 PM in Recommendation for Main Repair

very helpful posts. yes, that reducing T is where the water
collects. need to fix the real problem here.

this is concurrent flow for the main.  the whole section (including
reducing t and short 1-1/2" length) is about 14', 8' of it is unsupported. this
is what you see in the accompanying pic. the main is pitched to the final
elbow, BUT the small run outs are pitched back to the main, contributing to the

I had considered cutting the section about 4' back from the reducing T. see
close up pic of pipe condition. it's rusty and pitted on the surface, but seems
solid. however, I uncovered the next closest fitting (see pic) and contrary to
my earlier post, I think have enough room work should I choose to remove the
whole section.

I like the idea of running 2" pipe to the end. I’m thinking I need to add
a drip at the end though, to give condensate from the counter-flow run outs and
any leftover from the main someplace to go. perhaps replace the final elbow
with a T with an eccentric reducing fitting and then drop and connect in to the
dry return? open to ideas on how to re-pipe this sucker so I don’t have to
revisit this issue.

tough spot

@ December 2, 2012 12:12 PM in Recommendation for Main Repair

thanks NBC. i should have included in my earlier post that the location of the next fitting 12' away is right next to a masonry wall, making your recommended approach that much more of a challenge (see pic)... it's a tough spot to make the cuts you suggest. so i think i can only hope that enough heat and torque will release that fitting. the flip side of re-threading is problematic too, as you point out. ugh. am i missing something? is there another approach?

Recommendation for Main Repair

@ November 30, 2012 11:38 AM in Recommendation for Main Repair

I'm considering a 2" main repair; the section is at the end of the main - see pics. The system has been losing water, and this seems to be the place where it's happening... the last section of the main and the last two 1-1/2" run-outs appear to be rotten. (Insulation was added a just few years ago. I removed it for these pics.)

My plan was to cut the main back about 2' from the last T (where a wrap repair had been attempted), and re-thread using a manual threader. The main is about 7' above the floor, and I have about 3" clearance from some copper piping that runs alongside the main. My local tool rental shop has a 4-wheel cutter that should allow me to sever the pipe in its current position. (I'll need to sawzall the run outs since they weren't installed with unions...)

The other option is to attempt removal of the main back to the closest junction, a T about 12' closer to the boiler. This section runs through two masonry walls, and would be challenging to pull out and expensive to reinstall new.

I suppose if the threading fails, I could then proceed to removing the big section, but I’d rather just pick the right approach to begin with. Thoughts, input, recommendations are welcome and appreciated.


couple thoughts

@ October 10, 2012 11:47 AM in Water hammer in dry return...

- test the hoffman 4A on the return. is it venting at the start of a cycle?
- is the dry return where you get the hammer properly pitched back towards the boiler?
- if these two items are not issues, perhaps the vertical segment of the return is not a properly sized, such that condensate fills it and backs up into the horizontal portion. this might be complected y the check valve if also is not operating properly

i'm not sure if changing the location of where the dry return drops into the loop would make a difference. but i'm not a pro, and perhaps one can comment on any inherent flaws in the design of your return/loop system. 

i have dry returns, but a simpler design, where both dry returns (in attached pic they are in the background, equalizer in the foreground) drop vertically and thereby become wet. they then link together form the bottom of the loop. no check valve.

hope this helps.

be careful with hydrolevel autofeeder

@ October 9, 2012 1:05 PM in uh oh . . .

i loved my VXT auto feeder. at first.
then i discovered it was leaking (only a couple years old) - albeit slowly... but i ended up with a flooded boiler. so this thread seemed very familiar.
it took some time, but hydro-level honored their warranty, and i replaced it... but i agree with others here - an auto feeder can be a false sense of security...
not saying you'll have that issue if you go with a VXT, but it is another link in the chain that can break. just FYI.

move them?

@ October 9, 2012 12:43 PM in return vent sizing

thanks nbc...
so what's your take on this? is it worth relocating all the vents to the dry returns?
or maybe just add a couple #1s there and see how it goes?

my main vent location

@ October 9, 2012 11:00 AM in return vent sizing

so fixing my friend's main vents i had gotten me to thinking about the physical location of the main vents on my one-pipe steam system. it's a 225K dunkirk, covering four apartments and about 3000 sf of livable space. it's always been a challenge balancing the system. it's not bad, but i'm always fussing with it. i laughed when NBC said i'd end up with a pile of radiator vents - yep - i've been there. i wondered if it made a difference if i added vents to the returns in addition to the ones located at the ends of the mains themselves. so i temporarily re-purposed the low pressure gauge (0-20 oz) i have paired with my vapor-stat and measured the back pressure at both dry return locations (pic attached). much to my surprise, the needle hardly moved during the venting phase (which for me is more like 8-10 minutes from a cold start). maybe a 1/2 an ounce. that's it.

so what does this mean? is the system sufficiently vented? would adding additional vents to the dry returns be overkill?

and, does it even matter where they are located? i see a lot of sense in installing them at the dry return location, for reasons stated in this thread... i went through a lot of work to install the main vents at the ends of the mains. but could i have accomplished the same thing by installing them on the dry returns near the boiler instead?

new main vents installed

@ October 9, 2012 10:31 AM in return vent sizing

hello -
a follow up on my first issue... i replaced the main vents as advised on my buddy's small system, worked like a charm! pics attached. however, someone had turned the pressuretrol all the way up, damaging the radiator vents, all but one is functioning, so i've ordered hoffman 40's to replace them as NBC suggested. thanks!

i'll post separately on my main vent issue...

return vents?

@ September 29, 2012 12:31 AM in return vent sizing

Thanks NBC. Any thoughts on the positioning of vents on the returns on a system that already has the mains vented?

return vent sizing

@ September 28, 2012 3:04 PM in return vent sizing

hi all -

two issues:

i'm assiting a friend with turning up a one-pipe system (small sucker for about a 1800 sf home, about 22 feet of 2" main, and baout 15' of 1.5" main). 2 vents are located at the ends of the dry returns (poor little buggers.. pics attached). the run outs do not have returns, only on the mains themselves. that's it. 

so i;'m planning on replacing the return vents pictured with Gorton #1's, but would ask:
- is that enough?
- should i isolate the vents from the elbows to the loop (as is suggested in this thread:

next issue:

this matter got me thinking about my own system, where i do not have the dry returns with their own vents. I installed locations for them, so they are easily added, but I chose to vent the mains near the end of the runs. so, as a more general question, is venting on dry return where you otherwise have venting on the mains a good idea? my system runs well, but if opening up the dry returns to venting gets me condensate returning that much faster, i think i'd like to try it.

shaken all over

@ December 11, 2011 3:22 PM in Hoffman 1A Shelf Life?

hey thanks crash. yea, i know exactly what you mean... i've come up with my own method to make sure I wasn't accidentally covering up the orifice.. i like your method bit better ;-)

the "new" ones I installed, when I shake them, don't sound like the float is moving around freely. they stay shut, even after a heat cycle. case in point, I removed one from a rad that was stone cold during prior cycles, started a new heat cycle, and with the open value port, that un-restricted rad became red hot in minutes. of course I had to mop up all the condensate from the floor ;-) Pretty weird.

Hoffman 1A Shelf Life?

@ December 11, 2011 2:13 PM in Hoffman 1A Shelf Life?

I bought a lot of 1As off ebay, and it looks like they are old stock - the date code says J01 - which i assume is Jan 2001. I've had trouble with a few of them... Do 1A's have a shelf life?

tall hoffman

@ December 11, 2011 2:09 PM in Defective Gorton#1?

thanks rod - your post reminded me that the 75 is taller in stature than the gorton (i think), and i have some ceiling height constraints; the smaller gortons were a better fit. if the replacement is a problem, i may go this direction though... thx.

cleaned, but

@ December 11, 2011 12:05 AM in Defective Gorton#1?

still wide open... steam pouring out of it. sending it back to pex supply. i wish my local suppliers carried these.  i know the gortons are preferable, but what is an equivalent Hoffman to a #1?
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