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Joined on September 15, 2010

Last Post on April 16, 2014

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Mine works fine but at lower vac levels

@ March 21, 2014 8:00 PM in Vaporstat sticking / biasing after vacuum

I have a 0-4 mercury bulb based vaporstat that I have run as low as 12oz high and 4oz low limit and it never faulted. It' also reads very accurately which is probably just the luck of the draw. However my system never went over 1/8 revolution of vacuum on my 0-3 gauge so I don't see the depth of vacuum you are seeing.

I run the low end higher now because I have a cycleguard on the new boiler and want the boiler to come back on as quickly as i can if it does trip the high limit - which it only does on long burns in cold weather or when it comes back from a 3 degree setback in the morning.


Pipes, valves and vents

@ March 20, 2014 9:24 PM in Steam boiler banging, hissing and water noise

Can you see the pipe in the basement that goes from the steam main to the radiator that is banging? It sounds like there is water trapped in that pipe because it's slope might be bad. If the radiator is on the second floor you might have to lift the entire radiator (both ends) to correct the slope of a pipe you can't see.

Make sure that radiator valve is all the way open and try a slower air vent on that radiator; as I said earlier the air valves they sell at HD are not very good.


It should be fine

@ March 20, 2014 8:43 PM in pressuretrol psi gauge relationship?

the 0.1PSI is about 1.6oz of pressure and that is enough to fill the pipes with steam. The vacuum you see when the boiler shuts down is normal and shouldn't bother the gauge.

When the boiler is cold you can manually adjust the gauge zero.


It takes almost zero pressure

@ March 20, 2014 8:30 PM in pressuretrol psi gauge relationship?

to run a steam system if the boiler is closely matched to the radiation. On a real cold morning you might see more pressure especially if you were coming back from a night setback.


What model air vents

@ March 18, 2014 9:48 PM in gorton valve

do you have on the radiators and steam mains?

It's normal for a vacuum to form when the system shuts down but having large enough main vents could help.


gauges fail

@ March 18, 2014 9:25 PM in Two pipe system -return main with vent off mainly sucks in during cycle

It might be worth adding an auxiliary 0-3PSI gauge to the system so you know whats going on. Just make sure it's has a pigtail between it and the boiler.


Boiler water maintenance

@ March 18, 2014 7:21 PM in any risk associated with a properly executed TSP cleaning?

TSP is probably very good for boiler cleaning but to maintain the boiler after it's been cleaned and flushed you might want to look into Steam Master tablets. I started using them about 18 months ago and the boiler in my boiler is just as clear as it was back when I started using the tablets. I just drained a little water to check it last week and the water was clear with s light violet hue, the PH measured at 9.5

If you do decide to use it just ignore the instructions, one tablet is good for a small boiler and two would do for most any home boiler. Make sure there is nothing in the boiler but clean water when you add the tablets.


Short cycling

@ March 18, 2014 6:05 PM in Steam Boiler Short Cycling from Pressure

Has the system venting been examined to see if it's adequate. If the venting rate is too low that can cause cycling as well as an oversized boiler. The boiler can be downfired but there are limits to how low you can go.

Post some pictures so we can see if there are issues with the boiler and near boiler piping that might be causing problems.


Main vents?

@ March 17, 2014 3:57 PM in Steam vents ... how can you check if they're good

These are the last vents on the system? Do you have a large enough main vent on the steam main in the basement? If it's not working or too small it will take a LONG time for a radiator vent to let all the air out. The Heatimer Varivalves can cause problems i would avoid them if possible.

Maid O Mist makes a 5L that comes with an assortment of orifices so you can select the one you want.


It depends

@ March 17, 2014 7:05 AM in pressuretrol psi gauge relationship?

If your boiler is well matched to the radiator load then the system can run happily on ounces of pressure. If the boiler is larger than the radiator load it will build pressure and that is why they put a pressuretrol on the system.

Think about adding an auxiliary 0-3PGI gauge so you can see where the system is operating at, those 0-30 gauges are useless at the low end of the scale.


I agree

@ March 16, 2014 10:25 AM in Easy way to clean pigtail / siphon

The air in that sealed pigtail essentially blocks the steam from getting very far. the bottom of the loop in my pigtail gets very hot but the top of the pigtail never gets more than warm and I'm sure that's just because of the thermal conduction of the brass pigtail.


Bad valve seat

@ March 15, 2014 7:00 PM in pressuretrol psi gauge relationship?

Pressure relief valves are known to leak a bit after being actuated so that may have to be replaced.


Bad gauge

@ March 15, 2014 5:50 PM in pressuretrol psi gauge relationship?

Pressure gauges fail more often than pressuretrols do, replace it.


Glad it's working for you

@ March 15, 2014 2:34 PM in Had a leak and Hercules Boiler Liquid worked

I would use this time to plan out exactly what your going to replace it with. Your a lot better off planning a warm weather replacement then having to do it some night when the bottom is falling out of the thermometer.

Find a good installer and have him install the right sized boiler per the manufacturers piping diagram (at a minimum).


Why I didn't but really did

@ March 13, 2014 10:11 PM in converting oil burner to gas

A couple of years ago my oil tank started to weep and i decided it was time to switch to gas given the difference in fuel costs. My boiler at that time was a Burnham v75 and although it was running fine i knew it was not a long lived boiler.

I decided to replace the boiler but I wanted a wet based boiler so i went with the Smith G8 and a carlin ez-gas power burner and a chimney liner. I decided against an atmospheric boiler because i believe a wet based boiler is more efficient and more reliable. The one very good thing about an atmospheric boiler is that it takes very little power to run so backup power in the event of a power failure is easier. I have only had a power outage once in the last 30 years that lasted a day or more in frigid temperature so I decided to go wtth the odds.

The V8 is also not known for being long lived, I would make sure that boiler was gone over with a fine toothed comb to be sure it's in good shape before converting it. If it is in good shape I would convert it as long as I had faith and confidence in the installer. A good installer is worth a lot more that whatever warranty is left in that boiler.


While checking the pigtail (syphon tube)

@ March 12, 2014 7:02 PM in Help! Left water on filling boiler and now...

With the power to the boiler off at the circuit breaker box unwire and twist off the pressuretrol. After checking the pigtail to be sure it's clear, turn the pressuretrol over and make sure the little hole at the base of the brass fitting on the pressuretrol is clear.


If they worked before the new boiler

@ March 11, 2014 9:01 AM in Question about two pipe system

and stopped working after it's install I can pretty much gaurantee that something about the installation was not done properly. Steam systems are very fussy about horizontal pipe pitch and the near boiler piping. The old boiler may have had a larger steam chest and been a little more forgiving. Post pictures of the boiler and the piping around it so we can see what was done. Stand back a bit so we can see how the piping is configured.

Something changed during the installation and we have to figure out what it was that changed.


Change and add vents first

@ March 7, 2014 9:53 AM in wet steam /vent spitting

Before I started to mess with the boiler piping I would replace that vent with 2ea Gorton #1's and i would find a way to add the same to the other main. That location is fine for the existing vent, you can add vents at the end of the other main or at any convenient spot on the return.

The vents HD sell are usually not very good, your better of with a Gorton or Maid O Mist vent. You can get a Maid O  Mist 5L that comes with 5 different orifices at Amazon for cheap money, that will let you easily change the venting rate.

Have you pulled the pressuretrol off the pigtail and checked to be sure it is clear? If the boiler were running at high pressure that makes everything worse. Ifg you do mess with the boiler piping you would be best off replacing the copper with threaded steel pipe and using both risers into a drop header would be as good as it gets for dry steam.

I would fix the venting and make sure the boiler is operating at low pressure before messing with the boiler piping. You might want to add alow pressure (0-3 PSI) gage to the pigtail along with the pressuretrol so you know what the pressure is; the 0-30 PSI gauge is not very usefull at the low end. Also if your seeing a lot of bounce in the gauge glass a good skimming is in order.



@ March 6, 2014 4:56 PM in wet steam /vent spitting

I'm having trouble visualizing your piping, can you post pictures of where the boiler connects to the mains and the current vent location?

We have had a very cold winter and I suspect frost is pretty deep and that may have moved the ground enough to take an iffy slope and make it bad.


Right on

@ March 6, 2014 7:57 AM in Skyrocketing Electric Rates

A couple of years back I switched suppliers to save 5 cents a kwh (9.9 vs 14.9 cents), everything was fine till the contract period expired and they raise the rates from 9.9 to 22.9 cents in August when the AC was working overtime. It took 60 more days to switch back because of the way the utility commission set things up.

These utilities are all monopolies and they can do just about anything they want because they keep the politicians coffers full. A neighboring town has a municipal light company and their rates are always 20% less that national grids and you never hear about extended power outages after storms; the people who work for that municipal light company know their jobs depend on keeping the taxpayers happy and it works out well for all involved. I suspect the cat they are not paying anybody millions of dollars to run the utility goes a long towards keeping the rates low.


Add a vent?

@ March 6, 2014 7:32 AM in wet steam /vent spitting

What kind of vent are you using on the spitting radiator? A fast vent can make spitting easier. Make sure the piping that feeds that radiator has good pitch back to the boiler and make sure the radiator itself is pitched back towards the supply pipe. Is the piping insulated?

If the near boiler piping is not correct in size and configuration you could well be making wet steam. The one additional radiator should not change things as long as it's not a very large one. Adding a vent onto the main that feeds that radiator can only help matters. If there isn't an easy spot to add one you could drill and tap the pipe near it's end for a 1/8" NPT  radiator vent (Gorton D?) to add a vent.



@ March 5, 2014 9:42 PM in Steam boiler banging, hissing and water noise

The diagram I have attached is the proper way to pipe a steam boiler, the diagram shows both risers being used which is desireable but small boilers can get by with a single riser. The way your boiler is piped almost guarantees you are producing wet steam, if the boiler header was like the diagram you would be getting nice dry steam. That said if it was not banging before that piping is not making it bang now.

Your mains contain over 0.4 cu ft of air each and the present main vent is good for about 0.1 cfm. Each of those vents should be replaced with 2ea Gorton #1 vents per main at a minimum, a single #2 would be better but will cost a bit more than 2ea #1s. You can buy Gorton main vents at Note that the #2 vents have a 1/2" male thread and are quite large, make sure you have enough clearance  to mount them.

Those Home Depot vents are not good, they should be replaced with Gorton, Hoffmans, Ventrites or Maid o mist radiator vents. It's best to vent the mains fast and the radiators slowly, the Home Depot vents seem to always vent at the same rate and that is too fast.

Is the boiler shutting down on low water during operation or only when you drain it? If it's shutting down during normal operation your return pipes might be partially clogged.

Let us know how you make out with checking the level of the pipes and that the pigtail is not blocked.

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