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Joined on September 15, 2010

Last Post on April 16, 2014

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Get a level

@ March 5, 2014 8:44 AM in Steam boiler banging, hissing and water noise

The boiler piping isn't correct but that has not changed so lets concentrate on what might have changed. Steam hammer is caused when steam comes across sitting water, that causes the steam to collapse and that is the bang you hear.

Put a level on all the radiators and make sure there is a little pitch so water can drain back out of the radiators.You can use quarters to raise the radiator feet up a little if you have to, if you need more lift cut some strips of plywood and use that if you need 3/8" or more. Next use the level on all the horizontal pipes in the basement and make sure they all have pitch so water can find it's way back to the boiler, houses settle and something may not be pitched right.

A Ventrite 75 is pretty low capacity, how long are the steam mains and about what sized pipe? It's best to vent the mains very fast and the radiators slowly, you probably need a faster main vent. What kind or air vents are on the radiators?

That relief valve should be replaced because a leaking valve can slowly build up crud that prevents it's operation if there was a pressure problem, Also the pigtail under the pressuretrol should be checked to be sure it's not blocked (this should be done every year). The 0-30 PSI gauge is pretty useless down at the 1-2 pound rage where your boiler should be running, think about adding an auxilliary 0-3 PSI gauge so you can see exactly what pressure the boiler is running at.

The sight glass is leaking at the bottom of the gauge, get some rubber gauge glass washers and then clean or replace that gauge glass. I would also flush out the boiler to get rid of all the rusty water. This should be done when the boiler is cold or just warm with the power off. After the flush while your filling the boiler back up, turn the power back on and make sure the boiler does not start till the water level actuates the float in the low water cutoff. That low water cutoff should be disassembled and cleaned every year or two. After all this run the boiler up to steam to drive off any oxygen in the fresh boiler water.


Probably worth it

@ March 4, 2014 11:41 AM in Carlin Gas Conversion or new oil tank?

The fuel savings alone probably make it worth it, My smith with the carlin EZ-Gas saved me about 45% last year over my Burnham V75 on oil. I changed mine out because of a tank that was beginning to weep and that Burnhas was not known for a long life so i ditched it at the same time.  Your boiler isn't much different than mine so you should see something like 40% savings.

If your in western Mass  have Charles Garrity take a look at it. The quality of gas company installs can be very spotty, you would be better off having someone who knows steam look at it. -


This is just an approximation

@ March 4, 2014 9:33 AM in Anyone know the EDR for this antique radiator?

The EDR is determined by the surface area of the radiator so if you take a piece of string and put it around a column at a few different points and measure the circumference and then average those circumferences you will have an average of the columns circumference over it's length.

You said it's 39" high so lets subtract 4" from that; that gets us 35" so multiply that by the average circumference and that will tell you how many sq inches each column has. Dived that number by 144 to find out how many sq ft each column is and multiply that by the number of columns to get the EDR for that radiator.

That will get you pretty close to the EDR of that radiator, it's not perfect but should be good enough.


I talked to them

@ March 2, 2014 7:49 AM in Beating a dead horse.

when i replaced my v75 boiler and was going to switch to gas. I told the salesman i was interested in using a Megasteam on gas and he told me that would void the warranty on the boiler because it was not certified for gas. He sounded apologetic about it so I suspect this rule is coming from on high and may have more to do with legal issues than anything else.

I ended up installing a Smith with the Ez-Gas on it. The only people still using oil are those with no other option. With all the problems we read about with the IN series gas steam boilers I'm afraid Burnham will be reduced to selling buggy whips soon.



@ March 2, 2014 7:35 AM in So many problems...would be grateful for any help

It would help if you posted some pictures of the boiler and the piping around it so we can identify any problems that might be causing your problems.

When the water level drops, does it ever seem to come back up when the boilers been off for a while? If the water is really leaving we are talking about gallons of water and you would think the cause would become apparent. Do any of the boiler return pipes go into the cement? If they do there could be a leak where you can't see. A boiler that new should never develop a leak but it can happen so do have the boiler overfilled to be sure that is not the problem. Also make sure the pressure is below 2 PSI and have the pigtail under the pressuretrol checked to make sure it is clear.


Adjust them carefully

@ March 1, 2014 6:52 PM in Help me ballance my 1 pipe steam Please!

The boiler can't put water into the steam pipes but the near boiler piping can, is it piped according to the diagram in the installation manual? If your in doubt post some pictures of the boiler and near boiler piping.

I would not try drilling the Hoffman 40's out. A little water is normal as long as it does not prevent it from working, sometimes you get a bubble of water that seems to stop the vent from working and that is not good. The Hoffman #1 can get water bound at higher vent rates, they are probably best used at the low end of the range.

If you take the hex top off the adjustable cap and remove the cap, you can see that the slop in the hole makes it all to easy to vary the vent rate because  of the slop.  Try loosening the hex adjustment and keep the cap centered as you tighten it down after setting the vent rate. Set the vents so they are at 1 making sure to keep everything centered as you tighten it up.

Try setting them all low and then try increasing the vent rates in the rooms that seem slow to heat. Assuming the slow vents are working you might consider the Maid O Mist for the ones that need faster venting.

Are all the horizontal pipes in the basement pitched correctly and consistently? What pressure is the boiler running at when making steam?


Hoffmans not easy to adjust

@ March 1, 2014 10:25 AM in Help me ballance my 1 pipe steam Please!

If the guy's name was Frank he knew exactly what he was talking about. Have you checked the pipes in the basement to be sure they have the correct slope, also check all the radiators with a level to make sure there is a slight slope towards the input pipe. Do the slow heating radiators all come off the same section of steam main? It sounds like you may have some water sitting in a pipe that is collapsing the steam that is why it's important to check all the piping in the basement.

The Hoffman adjustable vents are not easy to adjust because the adjustment is very sloppy so it's hard to guess what the vent rate might be when you adjust them. Try using Maid O Mist 5L air vent that comes with 5 different orifices.

Use the smallest orifice in all the rooms that are too warm and larger orifices in the rooms that are cool. Be careful with the radiator in the room with the thermostat, that usually wants a slow air vent on it so it does not shut the system down to early BUT all suystems are different so you have to experiment.

The Burnham V8 boiler is not a very long lived boiler, if it dies and they give you a new block for short money it will still cost a bundle to get it installed. I would not install another V8 block. If they offer you a deal on the megasteam that is a very good boiler but they will void your warranty if you put a gas gun on it. Your best bet would be to install a Smith or Slant Fin wet based boiler with a power gas gun (EZ Gas is one brand) on it.


Monitor it

@ February 28, 2014 9:13 PM in I figured out how to calibrate a Pressuretrol!

That adjustment can work but sometimes it causes the pressuretrol to trip but never turn back on. Monitor it for several heating cycles to make sure it's working ok.


replace it

@ February 28, 2014 12:47 PM in Repair Main Vent

I lost a Hoffman 75 the same way, couldn't fix it so I replaced it.


Tape this above the keyboard

@ February 28, 2014 7:34 AM in Apologies and explanation


Was it well cleaned frst

@ February 27, 2014 7:09 AM in PEX SYSTEM

I had a new Smith boiler installed with a carlin power gas burner prior to the last heating season; I studied all the requirements before having the work done so I would know what to ask for.

Everything I've read emphasizes how important it it is to thoroughly clean both the chimney and boiler/furnace before installing a conversion burner. It is also important that everything be cleaned again after the first season. When was that conversion burner installed? Did they install a stainless steel liner and is this an interior or exterior chimney?

Were you able to confirm the rest of the flue is clear? Get that pipe repaired asap.


EDR should equal sq ft of steam

@ February 26, 2014 1:29 PM in Short Cycling

The boilers sq ft of steam should equal the EDR of the radiators if possible because that includes a 30% allowance for piping. If you add another allowance for piping you will be oversized.


looks suspect

@ February 26, 2014 11:08 AM in Need Help - New Gas Boiler for Steam System Problems

That boiler does not look like it is piped correctly, compare the piping you have with the diagram on the installation manual. Take the insulation off the pipes on the boiler header and take some pictures, it looks like they reduced pipe sizes on the header but it's hard to see with the insulation on the pipes. After the insulation is off take some pictures from further back so we can see the configuration of the piping better. Try to take pictures from a few different angles to help us see what is going on.

Did they ever skim the boiler after it was installed?
Is the water in the sight glass fluctuating a lot when making steam?
What pressure is the boiler running at when making steam?

A boiler should only need water added on a very occasional basis, have you seen any signs of a leak?

Where are you located, you really need to find someone that knows steam to look at that boiler and correct the problems. If the installer won't respond your better off to get it working right and then go after the installer to try and recover some of your money but that may not happen.

Is that foam insulation on the pipes?

The best thing you can do

@ February 25, 2014 10:26 AM in Sort of a random question (painting)

for a steam boiler is to make sure it gets piped correctly. It's not cheap but considering it can last 20 - 30 years you want to make sure it's done right.

The next thing is to find out why the old one failed and do what it takes to make sure that cause is fixed. If you don't correct the cause for failure, the new one will fail the same way but quicker because new boilers use thinner cast iron.

In my opinion painting a boiler block is a waste of time because they fail from the inside out. Put the effort into having it piped correctly and make sure you don't have any water quality issues.


Try this

@ February 22, 2014 8:21 PM in Thermostat calling for heat; boiler does not come on

Try pushing down on the box beam just below the pressure scale where I marked it, if the boiler comes on it means the pressuretrol is faulty. By pressing that beam down you should cause the switch to make.

ERROR - don't push down, try prying it up to force the pressure plunger down a bit

You could try taking the pressuretrol off the pigtail and make sure the base of the pressuretrol is clear and also make sure the pigtail is clear as well.


Not there

@ February 22, 2014 4:17 PM in loud banging after oil->gas conversion can't sleep

That is a flue damper that restricts air flow through the boiler when the boiler isn't firing. This old ilustration identifies the common location of a main air venton a single pipe steam system.



@ February 22, 2014 3:44 PM in loud banging after oil->gas conversion can't sleep

A main vents job is to expel all the air in the boiler and steam main so steam can fill the mains. It;'s important that this air be expelled quickly so steam will be available  to all the radiators at the same time.

Someplace along the main there should be a spot to mount a main vent. They are usually located towards the end of the main. Some look like a large version of a radiator vent and others look like a tuna can on edge.

I see what looks like a wet return running along the floor, if you follow that back to where it goes up and joins the steam main you may find a main vent in that general area. One usually finds a main vent towards the end of each steam main.


They can cause problems

@ February 22, 2014 12:38 PM in loud banging after oil->gas conversion can't sleep

Varivalves can cause more problems than they fix if they are not used carefully. The best practice is to vent the mains very fast and the radiators slowly. You might try adjusting the lever on the varivalves down to the low end. At some point you might be best off replacing them with Gortons, Hoffmans, or Maid o Mist vents. Don't use the cheapo's they sell at the big box stores.

What kind of vents are on your steam mains and were they replaced with the new boiler?


Not right

@ February 22, 2014 7:17 AM in loud banging after oil->gas conversion can't sleep

but it can be fixed. I agree with everything NBC has gone over, the piping is not optimal and should be configured like the layout in the manual. The equalizer line that comes down to the boiler return should be at least 1-1/4" pipe and it should drop straight down off the boiler header (which is misconfigured). It can angle over after it's dropped down and it would be best if that drop could be 1-1/2" pipe and then reduce and be angled (for a nice steady water line).

You are probably seeing a lot of movement in the gauge glass and it looks like there may still be some oil in the system. It will take several long slow skimming sessions to get that oil out of the boiler, the installer should have installed a full sized skim port and valve so that can be done. Skimming has to be done anytime a boiler is changed or any work is done to the piping, it has to be done very slow so the oils can float off a calm water surface, it should take a few hours to fill a 5 gallon bucket. You ope the skim valve fully and just trickle water into the boiler to slowly raise the water level to the skim port.

Make sure none of the steam mains were moved during the install, use a level to make sure the mains all have proper slope and that there are are no dips that MIGHT TRAP WATER. If steam comes across standing water it will collapse and that can cause the bang you hear.


It's not piped correctly

@ February 20, 2014 9:20 PM in A little advice on a new steam system please

But before tackling that, is this system running at 7 PSI? A steam system will run fine at 2 PSI or (hopefully) less.

Skimming can be done cold or hot but should be done VERY slowly, it should take a couple of hours to draw off a 5 gallon bucket and the water should never get up to a boil while skimming. The key is to draw water slowly off a calm water surface.

If there is no fitting on the main for a main vent you cal drill and tap to put one in. Ideally the vent should be after the last radiator runout and should be as high as possible.

Is this a counterflow system? If it is you may have to get creative because the end of the main might be pretty tight.



@ February 20, 2014 2:21 PM in Pictures of existing system that needs replacement

My iMac can't access those links.


Anything changed recently?

@ February 20, 2014 9:44 AM in 815 arco air eliminator eruption

Has anything been done recently that might have caused the piping to shift?

Also if your presuretrol were not sensing the pressure in the boiler because of a clogged pigtail your pressure might be higher than it should be. A system like that should be running at very low pressure, do you know what pressure it's running at and do you trust your pressure gauge?

Something has changed and you have to figure out what that might be.

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