Joined on September 17, 2009
Last Post on December 4, 2013
@ December 4, 2013 10:20 PM in water loop bypassHi- 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.
@ December 3, 2013 8:26 PM in Got an estimateHi- 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.
@ December 2, 2013 8:28 PM in Help, mainly water hammer, but other questionsHi- 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?
@ December 2, 2013 7:08 PM in Help, mainly water hammer, but other questionsHi- 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?
@ 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.
@ December 1, 2013 4:37 PM in No heat on last radsHi- 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?
@ December 1, 2013 12:08 PM in Midco Low-Nox Burner Performance ReportHi 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.
@ 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.
@ November 30, 2013 2:31 PM in Help with shutting off living room radiatorHi- 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.
@ November 30, 2013 9:29 AM in Hydrolevel VXT alternative installHi- 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.
@ 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.
@ November 26, 2013 12:52 PM in HELP! New to steam and have some issuesHi 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.
@ November 25, 2013 10:19 PM in Quick EDR checkHi- I've attached a form that will help you on the EDR. You might want to use this sheet to check your other numbers.
@ November 25, 2013 10:09 PM in Comments On Boiler InstallationWow! 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.
@ November 25, 2013 5:13 PM in Weil-McLain EGH ratings loweredHi 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.
@ November 25, 2013 4:27 PM in Air Vents for ConvectorsHi - 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
@ November 25, 2013 1:27 PM in Weil-McLain EGH ratings loweredHi 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?
@ November 24, 2013 9:18 PM in Need advice on TSV for 1 port steamHi- 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.
@ November 24, 2013 7:57 PM in Need advice on TSV for 1 port steamHi- You can buy replacement knobs at most heating supply companies. That's a much easier way to go (cost /hassle) than to replace the valve.
Attached is a pdf I put together on 1 Pipe steam TRVs. When comparing different makes price wise be sure to check what is included. Macon TRVs come with the vent and on Danfoss, the vent is extra.
@ November 24, 2013 6:39 PM in How far can you downfire an Independence IN5?HI NY Plumber-
I'm a homeowner and I leave burners (gas & oil) to the pros. My inquiry was to help another home owner whose installer blew the calculations for a new boiler by adding a "pickup factor" and then using the IBR net ratings which already have the pickup factor calculated in which resulted in a way oversized boiler.
If it were me I'd try the manifold pressure first as it is less hassle /cost and if that wasn't satisfactory, swap burner orifices. In the same post on the Steam Board http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/147993/How-Much-Can-You-Downfire-an-IN5
one of the posters, Big Al, mentioned that he swapped out the orifices
"For natural gas at normal elevations, these boilers come with #45 (pink)
orifices, part number 822711. #47 (white) orifices, part number
822710, will downfire the boiler about 10% compared to the #45. I made
that change on my boiler and it went a long way to quieting the
nasty hissing radiator vent issue I was experiencing. (Yes, I had
already vented the snot out of the main.) I clocked the gas meter
before and after to confirm the reduction in gas use. I also did before
and after flue gas analysis which confirmed that the boiler was still
Even with reducing the firing 10% it's still way oversized.
@ November 24, 2013 2:06 PM in I Have a lot of Classic Steam ProblemsHi Pete-
I wouldn’t spend too much time comparing your piping layout with your neighbor’s as duplicating your neighbor’s isn’t necessary to achieve a working system even though the house plans may be similar.
We need to know more about your system. When you take pictures take them from back away so see are able to trace out your piping. How many steam mains do you have? Are any of the radiators getting hot (even warm) ? Have you a skim port on your boiler and has the boiler been skimmed? Take some more pictures of the boiler from different angles and include the return and piping around the boiler.
1.The present header configuration has the riser to the steam main coming off between the two risers from the boiler . This cause the two steam streams from the boiler to collide and produces very wet steam. The steam piping on the boiler needs to be reconfigured. If you boiler hasn’t been skimmed skimming it might help too. Looking in the water sight glass on the boiler what is the waterline doing when the boiler is running? Much motion up and down?
2. Pressure - the maximum pressure of a residential steam system should not go over 2 PSI. It sounds as though someone in the past raised the pressure in a mistaken approach that raising the pressure would heat up the radiators.
2. Vari Vents cause more problems than they cure. They were improperly installed to try to cure the problems caused by the lack of main venting. I would replace them with radiator vents which have a much smaller venting capacity. An old steam heating adage- “Vent your Mains Fast and your Radiators slowly!”
3. As you have already concluded your system needs main vents. A rough drawing of your system would help out along with the length of the mains and pipe sizes. As for location of the main vents -(going away fro the boiler) either just after where the last radiator lateral comes off the main or on the dry return before they drop down to floor level into the Wet Return. It looks like that in your pictures a radiator lateral comes off the end of the steam main. In that case put the Main vent before the end of the main and use a slightly larger radiator vent.
4. As to the “top of the riser vents” - I would let that go at the moment. You will probably find that adequate main venting is all the is necessary in the venting compartment.
5, Insulation- At this point I wouldn’t bother.
Main Vents and radiator vents can be got at your local heating supply or from Pex Supply on the internet. Let us know the size of your mains and we can calculate how much venting you need.
Have you measured the EDR of your radiators? I’ve attached a form which helps you do this . Knowing the EDR of each radiator helps determine what size vent that radiator needs.