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The Wall


Joined on September 17, 2009

Last Post on December 7, 2013

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@ December 7, 2013 1:49 PM in Does ventrite make a good main vent?

 Quality wise Ventrite makes very good vents. I use the Ventrite #1 (s) on most of my radiators, especially the large ones. I've found that the ability to completely shut the Ventrite off by using the zero setting is really nice to have in the spring and fall when you may want to limit the heating out put of some radiators.
As for the Main Vents I would stick to Gortons # 1 or #2 or the Hoffman #75
Venting Capacity wise roughly::
3 Gorton #1  = 1 Gorton #2
2 Hoffman #75 = 1 Gorton #2
3 Ventrite #35 = 1 Gorton #1
2 Ventrite #77 = slightly more than 1 Gorton #1
I've attached a Ventrite brochure below.
- Rod

Pressuretrol Settings

@ December 7, 2013 8:51 AM in Pressuretrol setting

Hi-  "I thought I just read the higher the pressure the more you slow down the steam"
From a design point this is true and using a Vaporstat with 2 pipe vapor system, you can operate at ounces of pressure. However with a 1 pipe system has its limits and can't operate that low so set the maximum at 2PSI and the differential at 1 or 1 1/2 to start with initially. As you get to know your system better, you might be able to creep it down a bit from there though you'll have to change your control to a Vaporstat as Pressuretrols get very unreliable at lower settings.
- Rod

Radiator Venting

@ December 6, 2013 10:09 PM in Pressuretrol setting

Hi-  We need to know more about your system. How many steam mains do you have?
Do each individual steam main have a Main Vent(s)?  What make and model are they? (you mentioned Gortons) 
 While Vari Valves have their uses, they sometimes cause more problems that they fix. Try this:
 1.  If you have good high capacity main vents, try setting all the Vari Vents on the radiators to their MINIMUM setting.  A Vari Vents minimum setting is about the same as a Gorton #5 radiator vent.
2.   If you don't have large capacity main vents, try setting just  the vari vent on the last  radiator on each steam main  wide open. (Maximum Setting)  Set all other radiator's vent to the minimum.
 Let us know if 1 or 2  above makes a difference.

Pressuretrol- Residential  steam systems run at a maiximum pressure of 2 PSI.  If your pressuretrol is subtractive, set the Main to 2 PSI and the Differential to 1 or 1 1/2

Pressuretrol Setting

@ December 6, 2013 8:02 PM in Resources on best testing/setting for single steam pressuretrol setting?

 Hi- Go with Jamie's recommendations. He's very experienced.   Residential steam systems operate at a maximum of 2 PSI  (Even the Empire State Building's maximum is 3 PSI) 
Set the Main scale at "2"   and the Differential scale at "1".   That means when the thermostat starts the burner, that the pressure will build to 2 PSI before the Pressuretrol shuts the burner off.  As the pressure drops, the pressuretrol will then turn on the burner  when the pressure reaches 1 PSI. This cycling between 1 PSI and 2 PSI will continue until the temperature setting on the thermostat is satisfied.  If you want to try a sightly longer cycle you can change the Differential to "1.5" but leave the Main at "2".  That means it will cycle between 1/2 PSI and 2 PSI.
- Rod

Water Temperature Gauge

@ December 4, 2013 10:20 PM in water loop bypass

Hi-  Yes, You need a temperature gauge.  They're pretty cheap and are very handy to have in the system. Here's a link to one:
Be sure to look at the specs and Question and Answer section as that will give you an idea of the fittings you will need to install it.
- Rod

Piping Problems

@ December 3, 2013 8:26 PM in Got an estimate

Hi- As JStar mentioned, one of this board's rules is we don't discuss pricing.
Post some pictures of your boiler so we can see what need to be done. Take the pictures from back aways so that they include the piping so we can see how the piping is configured.
- Rod

Main Vents

@ December 2, 2013 8:28 PM in Help, mainly water hammer, but other questions

Hi- What you are calling a "pressure release valve" is what is know as a main vent. The purpose of the main vent is to allow air to escape from boiler piping but not steam. When the burner turns on and steam starts being produced the steam forces the air in the pipes out the main vent but when the steam reaches the vent, the main vent closes and keeps the steam from escaping.  Each steam main needs to have a main vent. If it is a long steam main it may have multiple steam vents.  The main vents are usually located at the farthest end of the main from the boiler and a lot of main vents are located on the return piping just before it drops down to floor level.  Your vents appear to be located on the return piping. Do all you mains have a main vent(s)?
Here is a good link to how main vents work:
This website is Gerry Gill's, a very experienced Cleveland steam pro. Look around the site as there is  a lot of good information on residential steam systems.

I noticed that your steam piping doesn't have insulation. Insulation really saves on fuel so yo may want to consider insulating  the steam piping sometime in the future.
Here is an article by Dan on the benefits of insulation:
There is a lot more good information on insulation in past posts on the Wall.
Do you know about sloping your radiators?
- Rod

Water Hammer

@ December 2, 2013 7:08 PM in Help, mainly water hammer, but other questions

Hi-  Welcome to the Wall! I looked over your pictures and the labeling you have done appears to be correct. I've posted you pictures below with some added labels.
The Boiler Piping looks reasonable. There seems to be some sort of fitting (other than the pipe union) on the equalizer pipe though I can't see what it is?

Do you have main vents? If so what type are they and have they been serviced lately?
Banging - Where does it occur? in the radiators? In the boiler? When does it occur? At the beginning of the heat cycle (when the burner comes on)? Midle of the heat cycle? End of the heat cycle (When the burner shuts off) ?

Could you post a picture of the boiler piping where the risers from the Header connect to the mains. Take the picture from farther back so we can trace out the piping.

Skimming- Has there been work done on the boiler recently? How is the water line in th glass sight tube behaving? Is it bouncing a lot when the burner is on?
What other questions do you have? 
- Rod

Boiler Piping Problems

@ December 1, 2013 11:47 PM in NEW BOILER IS BANGING! HELP!

Hi- Like others have said your boiler piping leaves a lot to be desired.
The header pipe's job is to separate water from the steam, which "dries" the steam.  Steam and water droplets from the boiler, enter the header pipe via the Boiler Risers. Steam rises to the top of the header pipe and water precipitates to the bottom of the header pipe and returns to the boiler by way of the Equalizer pipe.  As your boiler piping is configured now (see attached  photo) the water from Riser "A" runs down the bottom of the header pipe and drops straight into Riser "B" where it mixes with the steam rising from Riser "B" and carries up into the steam mains as wet steam.  The boiler risers should enter the header pipe from the side or better still from the top. (See the installation manual Page 29)

Here is a video on the importance of near boiler piping:

From the photo of your radiator it would appear that you have an orifice vapor system  Follow Steamhead’s advice as he is an expert on these old systems.
- Rod

No Heat in Last Rads

@ December 1, 2013 4:37 PM in No heat on last rads

Hi- I would help us if you could post a picture and any information /markings of the vents at the end of each run. Also what make  /model vents do you have on your radiators?
- Rod

Performance Figures

@ December 1, 2013 12:08 PM in Midco Low-Nox Burner Performance Report

Hi Mark- Thanks for posting the figures. Fascinating!    On the Pre heat cycle -Can you see areas of physical system improvement that might help - Like adding/increasing  boiler/ return insulation?   From an insulation standpoint it generally seems that the return piping is ignored and I'm just wondering if we are missing "low hanging fruit" here.
- Rod

Main Vent Operation

@ December 1, 2013 11:43 AM in Do I need a main vent that opens soon after pressuretrol cuts off burner?

Hi- Here's a couple of links which might be of interest to you.
According to Gerry Gill, the Gorton #2 starts closing at a relatively low temperature.
I've often thought that it might be an idea to include a Hoffman 75 with a string of Gortons
I don't know what temperature a Hoffman 75 closes at but it is higher than the Gortons and may be close to that radiator steam trap which is around 180 deg.
- Rod

Shutting Off Radiator

@ November 30, 2013 2:31 PM in Help with shutting off living room radiator

Hi- If this is a one pipe steam radiator ( only one pipe attached to the radiator) there should be a radiator vent on the opposite end of the radiator from where the pipe is attached.
The vent will look like silver bullet pointing straight up. Turn the vent so that the "bullet" i facing straight down and this should shut off the steam to the radiator. If the vent looks like a can of cat food on its side you can try turning the vetn upside down but it isn't as affective as shutting off the steam as turning the bullet type upside down. Post a picture of the radiator (showing the fittings on both ends ) as this will give us a better idea of what type of steam system you have.

Stick to the Suggested Layout.

@ November 30, 2013 9:29 AM in Hydrolevel VXT alternative install

Hi- Isolation valves are just that, they isolate! If you don't have a valve installed on both sides of the unit, it isn't isolated. One reason for  the valves and unions is so you can remove the VXT for serving or replacement without affecting your ability to add water to the boiler. Another reason is, that without the isolation valve on the output side, you couldn't service the VXT (clean the filter etc., having the line open) with the steam system operating unless the unit was above the "A" dimension.
- Rod

Proper Boiler Piping Configuration

@ November 29, 2013 2:31 PM in need help with one pipe steam system,, rookie!

Hi- Unfortunately the installer didn't bother to read the installation manual. Here's a good video of Dan's which outlines how the near boiler piping should be configured
Have the person that did the installation correct it.
- Rod

Two Pipe Steam System

@ November 26, 2013 12:52 PM in HELP! New to steam and have some issues

Hi As Dave mentioned ,pictures would be a great help. Take them from back away so they include the boiler and the piping connected to it as that allows us to trace the piping configuration. We can zoom in if we need to see detail. You're lucky that you have a 2 pipe system as these are the "Cadillac" of the steam systems and they can be tuned for optimum comfort and efficiency.
- Rod

EDR Form

@ November 25, 2013 10:19 PM in Quick EDR check

Hi- I've attached a form that will help you on the EDR. You might want to use this sheet to check your other numbers.
- Rod

Big Problems with Boiler Piping

@ November 25, 2013 10:09 PM in Comments On Boiler Installation

Wow! Well I’ll give you an “A” for originality but other than that what you have won’t work very well (if at all) for steam. You have to realize that there is a lot more to piping a steam system than just joining “A” to “B” with a piece of pipe.  The piping all has a specific purpose and has to be sized and configured  properly to work satisfactorily.

There are a lot of resources available on this website to help you.  This link will take you to a video on the importance of proper boiler piping:

There are also a lot of good books on steam heating in the Shop section of this website. I would recommend you get a book called “The Lost Art of Steam Heating” as this tells you what you need to know about steam systems and piping configuration. Here’s a link to it:

The purpose of the header is to act as a water separator which removes water from the steam producing what is known as  “Dry Steam”.  “Dry Steam” is desired as it is much more efficient than what is known as “Wet Steam”.  The proper sizes of the piping, the heights, configuration and slopes of the pipes are very important to achieve this goal. The configuration of the return piping is important to the efficient operation of the system also.

Let us know the make and model of your boiler and what problems you are having understanding the Installation instructions and perhaps we can help you. You might also want to take a look at Chris J’s pictures of this own boiler installation which can be reached from the links at the bottom of his poet. Take a look at his boiler piping as this is a great example of how to do it right.
- Rod

Pin Boilers

@ November 25, 2013 5:13 PM in Weil-McLain EGH ratings lowered

Hi Dave - I brought this subject up as I thought you might be considering retro fitting your boiler with the baffles. The increased efficiency is nice though one hope’s Weil McLain has also considered any possible downside to the changes. If the baffles are only installed between the pins below the waterline, what this does temperature wise to the pin area above the waterline I have no idea.
     I too noticed the Utica SF doesn’t have any pins above the waterline. The I&O manual doesn’t show that model boiler block as a dual use (steam & water) so unless the block shows up somewhere else in the company’s boiler line, it seems dedicated to steam only. That makes one wonder about the dual use boiler blocks that do have pins above the waterline. Is using that type of boiler for steam detrimental to the overall longevity of the boiler?

   On the Megasteam - If I was Burnham, I’d give MarkS a free Megasteam block to play with. One of the rumors that was floating around as to why Burnham  wasn’t offering the Megasteam with a gas option  was that the efficiency numbers were lower with gas power burner.  It would be very interesting to see what a Megasteam  with the Midco burner would do.
- Rod

Air Vents for Convectors

@ November 25, 2013 4:27 PM in Air Vents for Convectors

Hi -   If the convector in now heating completely across, a bigger vent won’t make a difference. All the vent does is let the air out so the steam can get in. A bigger vent might accomplish this a bit faster but this can cause problems too if the large amount of condensate (water)  produced interferes with the steam entering the radiator. I have several convector radiators and use a Hoffman 41 vent  (straight 1/8"  attachment) on them.  What you are experiencing is why mixing convectors and conventional cast iron radiators is frowned upon as the cast iron radiators have much more “coasting time” than the convectors which leaves the rooms the convectors are located in, cooler than the rooms with conventional radiators.
       If your thermostat has a adjustable cycle function, what you might want to do is adjust the cycles from 1 per hour (the normal setting for steam systems) to 2 or even 3 per hour and see if that makes things more comfortable for you
- Rod

Adding Baffles to a Pin Boiler?

@ November 25, 2013 1:27 PM in Weil-McLain EGH ratings lowered

Hi Dave- As far as longevity is concerned, I'm wondering whether the baffle plates are all that good of an idea on a pin boiler. Would this greatly increase the temperature of the casting above the waterline?  I was thinking about this the other day when MarkS mentioned that he had installed "T" baffles in his boiler. (See the attached brochure and patent which Chris J found)   Thoughts?

1 Pipe Steam TRVs

@ November 24, 2013 9:18 PM in Need advice on TSV for 1 port steam

Hi- While I've seen them around I don't have any experience with the Honeywell though I imagine they must have a vacuum breaker of some kind if they're going to work for 1pipe steam. Note that the actuator is extra. I have both Macon & Danfoss TRVs which are about equal quality though I would give a slight edge to the Macon. Try the one of the Honeywell and either the Macon or Danfoss and see which one you like the best.

Keep in mind that TRVs just control overheating, they don't increase heat in cold rooms.
In your situation I would decrease the venting in the downstairs rooms as this would make more steam available for the upstairs.  You may also want to take a look at your main venting as it sounds as though your radiators may be sequentially heating. With sequential heating, the radiators closest to the boiler get steam first and then as steam moves through the system, the radiators on the second floor and then the third.  What you want is for the steam to reach the end of the steam mains before it starts entering the radiators. That way all the radiators receive steam at the same time.   With sequencing, the radiators on the first floor get steam first which heats the room that the thermostat is located in. Its setting satisfied, the thermostat then shuts off the burner before the radiators on the second floor receive the steam they need.
- Rod
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