Joined on September 15, 2010
Last Post on March 7, 2014
@ January 26, 2014 11:28 AM in Varivalve issues!can be useful for specific problems but they are not a panacea and should not be used on many systems. Most systems work best with fast main venting and slow radiator venting. That way the steam can arrive at all the radiators simultaneously and heat everything at about the same time.
Varivalves can be handy to solve specific problems but they are known for having problems when there is a lot of water present in a steam system. The faster you vent, the more condensate you are likely to make and if you have any pitch problems in the piping it's a perfect recipe for fountaining vents.
All horizontal piping in the system should be checked with a level to be sure the piping is pitched so any water can find it's way back to the boiler. radiators should be checked with a level to be sure they are pitched so water can drain out towards the steam supply pipe. Next find out what pressure the boiler is running at when making steam it should be 2 PSI or less. Has the pigtail at the base of the pressuretrol been checked to be sure it's clear? If that plugs up the boiler might be running at higher pressure than it should and that makes all problems worse.
Also is the boiler piping correct and does it agree with the manufacture's piping diagram in the install manual?
@ January 26, 2014 9:40 AM in Utica Boiler water level is offDo you have an autofeeder on the boiler that might be leaking by? Or the steam return is slow and the feeder is adding water when it gets low and then when the returning water does find it's way back your boiler is overfilled.
Do you use the boiler to heat your domestic hot water, if so the coil might have a pinhole leak.
@ January 25, 2014 9:10 PM in Forgot to put water in the pigtailWhen I installed my 0-3 Wika on the old Burnham v75 I forgot to fill the pigtail before mounting the gauge. I remembered it a few days later and checked the pigtail and it never gets all that hot. The area screwed into the boiler is very hot but the part near the T that feeds the gauge and vaporstat is just warm
The gauge and vaporstat have been moved to my Sith boiler and are both doing fine after four years of faithful service.
@ January 25, 2014 3:30 PM in Leaking radiator valveThose vents are usually not available at the big box stores, try a hardware store or a supply house. If you can't find them locally you can try Amazon or pexsupply.com.
You should have someone accurately measure your pressure and get it down below 2PSi and hopefully lower. You main vents should be changed to something that will clear out all the air in the mains in two minutes or less.
@ January 25, 2014 7:45 AM in Oil furnace won't light!!It could be a clogged filter, clogged oil line, bad ignition transformer, carbon buildup, a bad primary control, etc. DO NOT KEEP PUSHING THE RED BUTTON! That may just put a lot of oil in the combustion chamber and if it does light off you will be very sorry.
Call the guy back and have him go through the troubleshooting steps to figure out whats wrong.
@ January 25, 2014 7:34 AM in Leaking radiator valveSome people have problems with the Hoffman !A getting blocked by water but they are not known for acting like fountains. One problem they do have is a very sloppy adjustment mechanism, much to sloppy for the price they charge. You might be better served with a Gorton or Maid O Mist air vent, I like the MOM 5L that comes with 5 orifices in the box because it's very easy to change the vent rates on them.
You should consider installing an auxiliary 0-3 PSI low pressure gauge on your boiler so you know what pressure your running at. Do your radiators all hiss a lot? That could indicate high pressure or the need for more main venting.Venting the radiators slowly and the mains fast works best for most folks.
@ January 24, 2014 10:05 PM in Leaking radiator valveThe radiator has to pitch towards the pipe that feeds it, You don't need a lot of pitch but you have to have some. Also check the pipe underneath to see if that has pitch. If you can't tell, you may have to raise both ends and maybe raise one end more than the another. The air vent on that radiator will have to be cleaned or replaced.
I have a 1/4" plywood shim on my living room radiator just to get a little pitch on mine and it's happy for 30 years now.
@ January 24, 2014 9:55 PM in Replacement air for combustion?a 4" dryer vent (flap removed) in a basement window pane and ran some 4" duct over to my shrouded EZ-Gas burner to cut down the draft I used to feel when she fired. It cut the draft by about 75%. My boiler is A LOT smaller than the one your talking about.
I have a friend that did his basement over years ago and ended up with an enclosed boiler room that was about 8 ft sq in the corner of the house which was very heavily sealed and insulated. He had a small single hung window in that corner, I told him to open it 1/2", and pin it so the gas fired boiler and HWH could breath. No drafts in that house at all.
@ January 23, 2014 9:34 PM in Steam radiators leaking waterHave you tried tightening the nuts? If your sure it's leaking at the nuts and tightening doesn't work the joint may have to taken apart and cleaned. Then when things are properly lined up it can be tightened again.
What pressure is the system running at when making steam? You should only have to add water occasionally, if it's more than once a month there may be other leaks you haven't found.
@ January 23, 2014 9:05 PM in Hot 2nd Floor RoomsThe Dole vents are maybe 10X to small to do the job, you need to install larger main vents.
In the room with the thermostat you could try a Hoffman #40 which is a nice small vent, if you want something adjustable buy the Maid O Mist that comes with 5 orifices so you can change the vent rate easily.
@ January 23, 2014 8:10 PM in Steam radiators leaking waterThe water on the sight glass should be about halfway up the glass, if you can't see the waterline you might have to much water in the system. Has anyone been called in to look at the system and is it possible the closed the valves around the sight glass?
@ January 23, 2014 6:44 PM in Need a steam guy near Binghamton, NYI'm glad proper skimming after getting the boiler repiped solved your problems. Thanks for letting us know how it all turned out.
@ January 23, 2014 8:44 AM in Hot 2nd Floor RoomsThe vent can work perfectly but if it's too small it can cause uneven heating. Are the radiators that are slow to heat near the end of the steam main?
Generally you want to vent the mains fast and the radiators slowly. A dole #4 is a slow vent, how long is your steam main?
@ January 22, 2014 9:51 AM in First time homeowner - need help understanding my steam heating systemYou will need lots of Gorton #2's to handle 100 ft of mains unless there is main trap someplace. Remember a 3/4" pipe will only handle 4 gorton #2's and a 1/2" is good for 2 and change..
@ January 22, 2014 7:28 AM in First time homeowner - need help understanding my steam heating systemDepending on how long your steam main is that vent should be replaced with a Gorton #1 or Maid O Mist #1 if it's 15 ft long, or a Gorton #2 if it's a lot longer. If your in between you could use two of the smaller #1's. The Gorton #2 (1.1cfm) vents almost 4X faster than the #1's (0.33cfm) do and costs about 3X what the #1 does.
With a new boiler you should not have to worry about a leak in the boiler but I would keep an eye on the chimney just in case. Fix any leaks you can find in unions and valve stems, if you have a number of them they can add up. In the meantime make sure you bring the system up to steam anytime you add water, that will drive off any oxygen in the water.
Next get someone to start working on the piping (after the winter) to get rid of the copper patchwork because it will kill that boiler over time.
@ January 21, 2014 10:19 PM in New main vents, but mains seem unbalancedInsulate any piping you can reach and get the pressure down to 1.5 PSI or less; that should save a little off the bill.
I just finished adding a fresh air intake to my boiler and I've noticed less drafts when the boiler is firing. Insulate anything you can (attic sill plate, etc. Other than that hunt down and kill any and all drafts!
@ January 21, 2014 9:46 PM in New main vents, but mains seem unbalancedI glossed over the fact you had the vent off (my bad) but the key would be if main one is acting differently than main 2. If you were to replace the boiler the near boiler piping would be completely different. Old boilers have huge steam chests compared to anything made today; the key would be has the system ever worked right to your knowledge?
The fact the two mains act differently is an important clue. A building that old has settled and the settling might have changed things.
@ January 21, 2014 9:38 PM in First time homeowner - need help understanding my steam heating systemIf you have to fill the boiler that often you have a major leak somewhere. Do you have any buried returns in the basement? If you don't, the leak could be inside the boiler into the firebox.
Go out and look at your chimney while the boiler is making steam and under some pressure, if you see a large plume coming out of your chimney you may have a lek in the boiler that is falling into the firebox and turning into steam. If your in doubt, look at the neighbors chimney and see if your plume is larger than theirs.
@ January 21, 2014 9:17 PM in New main vents, but mains seem unbalancedIt seems you have water sitting someplace that maybe condensing the steam from what you said -
Edit: in fact the gurgling from the "slow" main suggests that there was a
lot of condensation, supporting the idea that this one was slower
because it was colder, only because it had the slow vent on it just
I couldn't tell from your pictures, do the two boiler risers feed different mains? It looks like you don't have a boiler header or equalizer but that might just be the angle of the pictures. If what i said is true then the boiler piping itself could be responsible for what your experiencing.
@ January 21, 2014 10:46 AM in New main vents, but mains seem unbalancedIf your mains are both about 60 ft long and if I assume they are 2-1/2" pipe, each main has about 2 cubic ft of air in it so you probably need at least 2ea Gorton #2 on each main.Can you tell how far the steam gets on the slow main?
Steam will follow the path of least resistance so it seems you have less resistance on the fast main that you do on the slow main. make sure all the radiator vents on the slow main are all working and stretch a string along the slow main to check for any dips. A dip will collect water and cause the steam to collapse, it might or might not bang when doing so. Make sure the radiators are pitched toward the steam supply pipe.
How long does it take the steam to get to the end of the fast main normally? Is there a lot of hissing from the radiator vents when making steam? Lowering the pressure would probably be a good thing to do, try adjusting it down to 2 and 1 or 0.5 and see if that makes a difference. You can buy a low pressure gauge from -
You should not need any more than 1.5PSI to run a steam system and lower is better. If you add one of these make sure you do it on the end of a pigtail, you could just T off the pressuretrol fitting to add another gauge. While doing this make sure the pigtail is clear, they tend to gunk up over time and then the gauges and pressuretrol can no longer see whats going on inside the boiler.
@ January 21, 2014 8:35 AM in Issues with & Replacement of Honeywell L8148E AquastatMolex board connectors are known for developing cracked solder joints, it's often because of a small solder pad that does not allow everything to heat up properly in the soldering process. If you look closely you might see a faint black ring around the joint, cleaning and resoldering the joint usually works.
Manufacturers often use the cheap tin contacts in them and they are prone to corrosion and loosening up with vibration and thermal cycling. For a dime they could have used a decent bronze phosphor contact but the bean counters are adamantly against that.
@ January 21, 2014 8:12 AM in New main vents, but mains seem unbalancedHow long is each main and are they sloped properly along the whole length? What pressure is the boiler operating at when producing steam? I assume this is single pipe steam, what kind of radiator vents are you using?
Post some pictures showing the boiler and the piping around it (stand back so we get a sense of how the system is configured), also post pictures of the mains and vents.