Joined on September 15, 2010
Last Post on December 7, 2013
@ November 19, 2013 1:58 PM in One of the many reasons...I grew up in Quincy, Mass and can remember the USS Long Beach (CGN-9), being built at the Fore River ship yard in the 60's. As a teenager I can remember watching that ship come by the beach and thinking how grand she looked. That yard built the Wasp before WWII and a lot of other fighting vessels before and after the war as well.
The shipyard has been closed now for at least 20 years, all those jobs are gone Most of the guys i grew up with finished high school and went into the military, some of them never came back. That was a different time and it's one I miss, most people were willing to put their lives on the line for this country.
@ November 19, 2013 10:12 AM in Please help with banging steam pipes!There have to be some good steam men in your area, that is prime steam country. Try asking friends and neighbors for their recommendations.
If I were you I would order "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" from this site, it's very well written and will give you all the information you need to know what is wrong with your system. At that point you could tell a good plumber exactly what you want done if you can't find a steam pro. We cannot see what you see so you have to educate yourself on how steam systems work.
Next I would check the steam mains to make sure there isn't a good place you could mount some air venting. How many steam mains do you have, what size pipe and how long are they?
After that I would installing a auxiliary 0-3 PSI gauge and try that boiler at a few ounces of pressure, right now you have no idea of what pressre it is running at. The fact it heats slower BUT it sounds like its shutting down on pressure tells me the vaporstat you have is seeing the actual boiler pressure - whatever that might be.
The loss of water is very serious unless it comes back after the boiler shuts down and cools a bit. that may mean the returns and loop seals have to be taken apart and snaked out.
Do any of the radiators seem to heat faster than others at this lower pressure setting? If they do and they are on the same steam main that may be an important clue.
How much will it cost to fix the system? It could be hundreds or it could be thousands, installing a new boiler before you understand why the system is not working correctly might just be pouring money down the drain. This is going to be expensive so you need to understand it before you undertake it - buy the book!
@ November 17, 2013 9:30 PM in Please help with banging steam pipes!It appears that reducing the pressure did not quiet your anvil symphony.
How does the system heat (aside from te chorus), do all the radiators heat up and do they all heat up at about the same time? If there is a radiator that does not heat and the valve is open it might be wise to inspect it's supply pipe to make sure there are no sags that might have puddles in them that would collapse the steam and could cause water hammer.
When you ran the boiler after setting the pressure lower did you notice any difference in the operation of the boiler. Did it cycle on pressure or did anything sound different before the chorus master set up his hammers?
Another issue is you have a non-functioning pressure gauge so we don't know if the pressure in the boiler is 0.5 pounds or 5 pounds. I would get that gauge working asap and i would make sure the pigtail on your vaporstat is not clogged. We have to know what the pressure is inside that boiler and we have to know if the vaporstat is doing it;'s job.
@ November 17, 2013 4:07 PM in Please help with banging steam pipes!The reason I asked you to look at the chimney is if there is a leak in the boiler it might be leaking into the fire chamber and the flame is turning the leak into steam so you might not spot a leak at the base of the boiler. Is there a lot of rust at the base of the boiler? Make sure it's a cold day and the boiler is actively making steam, if you see white smoke it's probably steam and there is only one place that steam can be coming from.
At some point your pressure gauge should be replaced so you know what's going on in the boiler. You might want to a a second 0-3PSI gauge onto your existing pigtail that is feeding the vaporstat because that system should probably be operating at ounces not pounds of pressure.
@ November 17, 2013 3:39 PM in Please help with banging steam pipes!Are any of your return pipes buried under the cellar floor? On a cold day while the boiler is steaming go outside and see if you can sea any steam coming out of the chimney.
If looks like the sight glass has a leak and that probably indicates a gauge glass washer is shot. If you try and fix this make sure tou have a set of guage glass washers and a new sight glass because it's easy to break them when removing them.
@ November 17, 2013 3:31 PM in Please help with banging steam pipes!Is your pressure gauge broken, does it read zero when the boiler is cold?
I'm not familiar with that pressure device (Vaporstat?) but if it is the only one on the boiler it seems it's set to about 3.6psi with an 8oz differential. If that is true it sounds much to high for a 2 pipe steam system. Try turning that left control down to 1 lb and see if it helps.
I would replace the glass in the sight glass so you can better see what is going on and then flush and perhaps skim the boiler. If you flush and skim do it when the boiler is cold or just warm, you don't want to add a lot of fresh water to hot boiler. Bring the boiler up to steam after filling it with water the last time so you drive all the oxygen out of the fresh water.
@ November 17, 2013 2:21 PM in Skimming without a skim portDo you see a lot of bouncing in the sight glass that makes you think you have oils in the boiler water? The boiler water might just be dirty. If the waterline appears stable you might try draining and filling the boiler a couple of times till the water appears to be pretty clean.This should be done when the boiler is cold or just warm -n you don't want to be adding a lot of cold water to a hot boiler. When you refill the boiler the last time you want to bring it up to steam to drive off the oxygen in the water.
To answer your original question you can use the upper gauge glass port to skim from if you think you have oils in the water. If you have a valve at the base of the lower cock you can close the lower gauge glass cock and then open up that valve at the base of the lower cock and then when you SLOWLY add water to the boiler it will come out of the top gauge glass port and down through the glass and out to a bucket. The top port is best because it gives you a chance to get any oils that might be clinging to the boiler walls.
When your done you might consider adding a steam master tablet to the boiler to keep the water clean if you can figure out how to get it in there.
@ November 16, 2013 1:15 PM in Only 1/2 of my house seems to get any heat - help?Usually those two pressuretrols are wired in series so the one set for 5 PSI is a safety for the real pressure control which looks like it's set for 2 PSI. It's possible there is something wrong (disconnected linkage) with the pressuretrol that is set to 2 PSI because that one should be regulating your boiler UNLESS you have a staged firing setup where the boiler fires high till there is some pressure and switches to low fire to just keep the boiler slowly making steam.
If it is just a safety with the other pressuretrol doing the actual pressure control they have to be looked at to make sure they are both working and that they are correctly wired.
The gauge might by faulty, does the pressure gauge read zero when the boiler is cold or just warm?
What kind of oil gun do you have?
@ November 16, 2013 10:17 AM in Radiators fill with waterThere are screws on the top surface of the pressuretrol that you can adjust, set the main at 2 or lower and the differential to one. The differential may be a white wheel behind the front cover.
@ November 16, 2013 10:12 AM in Only 1/2 of my house seems to get any heat - help?5 PSI is much too high, especially for a 2 pipe system, adjust it down to 1.5 or 2 PSI max. They heat the empire state building with less than 3 PSI.
Do you have insulation on the steam mains and radiator runouts? Insulation will lower your fuel costs and reduce the amount of condensation produced. Make sure the piping in the basement has the correct slope and no low spots that might collect water.
@ November 16, 2013 7:42 AM in Radiators fill with waterAfter you have followed the path Nicholas laid out for you to find out where that water is going, tell us what kind of vents you have on those radiators and on your steam main. If your pressure is to high and you have Heat Timer Varivents, the combination is known to squirt water if the vent rate is set too high.
@ November 16, 2013 7:31 AM in Proper Boiler Water LevelWhere is the top of the hartford loop in reference to the water line?
If the hartford loop is much closer than 2" from the waterline that might account for strange noises. Measure up from the blocks the boiler is sitting on to the top of the hartford loop and compare it to the waterline.
@ November 15, 2013 8:50 PM in No mains on one pipe counterflow system - what about a large vent on the radiator?all that counts is that the system operates the way you want it to. Just monitor it when we get those frigid blasts we all know we are in store for; if it still works they you want your done.
My house has a very short main that just goes around the chimney in the center of the basement. That means my shortest radiator runout is 9 ft, the ones on the second floor are 16 to 20 ft. I use faster than normal venting on my radiators because i have a lot of air in those runouts but I have the system working the way I want for my specific conditions.
@ November 15, 2013 6:21 PM in No mains on one pipe counterflow system - what about a large vent on the radiator?We have not had really cold weather yet and it's not unusual for radiators to not heat all the way across at this time of year. Watch how the system works when we get a good prolonged cold snap to make sure you don't have to adjust the venting. The heat would probably be more even if you could find a spot for a main vent but see how what have now works out.
I've used the MOM's for a while now and find they operate fine for me.
@ November 15, 2013 10:03 AM in Water clarity for steam boilers - how clear should it be?Most aquarium test kits have very small ranges, you need something that can test up to 11 or 12 and as Chris said you want to keep the PH between 8 and 11. I picked up a bottle of test strips for about $15 from AMAZON that covers a range of 4-12. An electronic tester would be nice but I'm not sure it's worth it for just this.
@ November 15, 2013 8:39 AM in Only 1/2 of my house seems to get any heat - help?Is there a valve before the auto fill that you can turn off?
If you turn that valve off the autofill will not be able to add water. You should do this when you can spend time watchg the boiler during the steaming cycle to see if the water in the sight glass slowly goes down as the steaming progresses and if it gets low enough for the auto feeder to ask for water or for the LWCO to shut the boiler down.
If the water lever slowly decreases it's telling you water is having trouble finding it's way back to the boiler. If you wait a couple of hours and the water slowly comes back up (with the boiler off) it means the return has to be cleaned or replaced.
If the water level is fine during a steaming cycle with the auto fill valved off it may indicate there is a slight leak on the autofill valve seat that is letting water seep past into the boiler. Keep checking the boiler for the next few days with the autofill valved off to make sure the water level is ok.
In either case it has to be found and fixed, fresh water is not conducive to long boiler life.
@ November 15, 2013 8:26 AM in Water clarity for steam boilers - how clear should it be?Well it looks like your washing worked out well.
I have a Smith G8-3 boiler and the one steammaster tablet I used brought my PH up to 11 and the water has a very light violet tinge to it, I drained a couple of gallons and added water to bring that down to 10. That tablet was added a year ago and the water is still as clean as a whisle in the sight glass and out of the mud leg of the boiler.
@ November 14, 2013 8:29 PM in Wheres the water going?I know you can replace sections on the boiler but it's a lot of work and costs a lot to have someone do it for you, also if one section goes another might be ready to go very soon.
How old is the boiler?
It could be the kind of leak that doesn't show up till the boiler gets good and hot and under a little pressure. Spend a little time with it and watch it while it's making steam.
@ November 14, 2013 10:27 AM in Main Vent Replacement FrequencyA good main vent should last many years, if yours are plugging up with dsdiment you have a water quality issue. Sometimes you can clean out the sediment by boiling the vent in white vinegar for 10-15 minutes or just soaking it in some CLR.
@ November 14, 2013 8:10 AM in Steam help please.. need some sleep!The main setting of the pressuretrol should be 2 psI max and the diferential should be 1 psi, usually both are set as low as they can go.
Steam boilers are rated in BTU's and sq ft of steam. For optimum operation the boilers sq ft of steam should match the EDR (sq ft of radiation) of your radiators. If you tell us the model number of your boiler (In-?) and describe each of your radiators we can tell you how close you are.
List each radiators height, width, depth in inches; and the number of columns deep it is and how many columns wide it is.Also tell us what kind of vent each radiator has on it.
The short cycling you are experiencing can also be cause by inadequate main venting so give us an idea of how long your steam mains re and what size the pipe is (you can just measure the pipe circumference).
If you do have a secnd return pipe tied above the water line that can cause all kinds of problems with the water level which might trip the low water cut off. Does your gauge glass water line bounce around a lot while making steam? Also have you checked in you manual to see where your skim port should be?
@ November 13, 2013 7:24 PM in Wheres the water going?Yu may have a hole or crack at the waterline of the boiler and it is letting water leak into the fire chamber. You can verify it by overfilling the boiler by 4 or five inches and waiting to see where the water comes out.This should be done when the boiler is switched off and not hot. You may have to pull off a side panel to find the actual hole or crack.
If it is in the boiler itself and not a pipe that goes into the boiler it's toast. There is no reliable way to patch it that will last.
I hope I'm wrong,
@ November 13, 2013 5:10 PM in Steam help please.. need some sleep!That might be a tie in for the vent but I can't see the top of the pipe to be sure.
It looks like you have a Gorton #1 there and that is good for a 2" main 12 - 15 ft or so long.