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Joined on September 15, 2010

Last Post on July 15, 2014

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Don't trust 0-30PSI gauge

@ February 28, 2011 2:22 PM in System pressure does not seem to be controled by Pressuretrol

Keep in mind that a 30PSI gauge really isn't very good at the low end of the scale so a reading of 2.5PSi does not mean it's cutting off at 2.5PSI. You might want to ad an auxilliary 3PSI gauge so you can see whet the pressure really is -

A pigtail acts like a trap that prevents the steam from reaching the pressuretrol or a non syphon pressure gauge. the steam pressure pushes on the water trap and that presses on the air colomn between the trap and the control and gauge. If you use a trap instead of a pigtail you might want to fill the trap with a little water because the larger pipes size might mean it takes a long time for water to accumulate in that trap. Make sure that trap really does retain water or you will damage the pressure control and any low pressure gauge.

I've attached a picture to show what my setup looks like using a pigtail as the "trap".


Follow the piping diagram

@ February 26, 2011 2:09 PM in Near Boiler Piping??

i can't see exactly what you have there but make sure they pipe it like the installation manual tells them to. The manual has specific piping instructions on pages 14 through 16, make sure it is piped in threaded steel (NOT COPPER)  and that they use the correct size pipe. To many installers can't handle 2-1/2 or 3" pipe so they like to pipe it all in 2", that will not work right.

If it's done right it should purr like a kitten.


Possiby set wrong?

@ February 26, 2011 10:59 AM in Vaporstat Not Working

Did this vaporstat ever work right on this boiler? It looks like your differential is set higher than the main, that might cause the vaporstat to lock up. Try setting the differential to something less than the main.

Can you actuate the vaporstat by moving the lever that operates the microswitch? It's possible the contacts are welded shut.

Is the vaporstat on a pigtail?

Have you checked that pigtail to be sure it's not plugged?

Check the vaporstat to make sure it's not plugged.


Add pigtails and a low pressure gauge

@ February 22, 2011 4:20 PM in Pressuretrol pigtail issue and upgrading Pressuretrols to Vaporstats

The safety pressuretrol can be left as is because a vaporatat in that position would be a waste of money.

The staging pressure controls should be below 2psi, well below that for the lower two stages, there shouldn't be any reason to go above that pressure. For that you will need vaporstats for these two controllers.

If you keep that piping setup I would put the upper two on pigtails and add a spot for o low pressure gauge (2 or 3 PSI on a pigtail also). I think your right about the upper two controllers not being protected as they are now.


Two more questions

@ February 22, 2011 7:30 AM in wet steam?

After you've answered the other questions, I have a couple more for you. What make and model is that boiler? Another question is what pressure is the boiler running when it's making steam (what is the pressuretrol set to)?

Some boilers require two steam outlets be used for proper operation, but smaller boilers only need one outlet used. Look into the installation manual and see if your model is supposed to use both steam outlets.

Multiple outlets reduce the velocity of the steam leaving the boiler and any water carried up the pipe by that steam. Pressure higher than 1-1/2 to 2PSI makes everything worse.



@ February 20, 2011 8:08 AM in HELP! Cracked hot water housing

I spent decades designing high voltage systems for military use. We used silicone RTV (silastic) to insulate high voltage connections that were not inside the potting material.

The clear RTV will pretty much attach anything to anything else but it out-gasses ascetic acid as it cures so it can be problematic in HV work. It takes a week or more for the stuff to fully out-gas. The white RTV's (Most door and window 100% silicone caulks) does not give off ascetic acid as it cures but it's not as sticky either.

I've never used them as a gasket on steam but I can't think of a reason why they wouldn't both work well, just make sure they are 100% silicone.



@ February 19, 2011 7:37 PM in Just Curious

The swing joint also helps relieve expansion stress to the boiler sections that might result if the two boiler outputs were just piped together.


Silicone rubber sheets

@ February 19, 2011 2:51 PM in HELP! Cracked hot water housing

McMaster Carr does sell silicone rubber sheets, this is for a 12X12 3/32" sheet - just choose the hardness you want.


It ain't kosher but it might just work

@ February 19, 2011 12:17 PM in HELP! Cracked hot water housing

Necessity is the mother of invention.

i assume there are many bolts that held the old one on. As long as you can get all the bolts in I would just make one out of heavy steel and use the high temp RTV as a gasket. Leave a little room on the holes because the expansion rate will be a little different and you don't want to damage the boiler casting.

Make sure the boiler operates at no more than 2 PSI and send all the women to the inlaws.

good luck,


Clean / replace gauge glass

@ February 18, 2011 3:00 PM in New steam heat owner -- question about LWCO maint

Here are some notes from earlier posts on how to get the gauge glass out - hopefully without breaking it.


clean / replace gauge glass
@ December 28, 2010 12:35 PM in How to Clean Out Glass Gauge
To clean out the gauge glass you have to remove it and before doing that you want to have a pair of Gauge Glass Washers on hand and probably a new Gauge glass as well. the process of removing the glass will destroy the gauge glass washers and you may damage the glass while taking it out.

Once you have the washers and a spare gauge glass you can take the old one out but first shut the boiler down and let it cool a bit..

First close the valve above and below the glass to isolate it. Next loosen the hex bonnet nuts that hold the glass in place and slide them towards the middle of the glass. Now you should be able to lift the glass out, it is longer than the open space you have so you have to slide it down into the lower valve so you can tilt the top clear of the top valve. You will see remnants of the old washers on the glass and stuck inside the bonnet nuts. It usually takes a knife or screwdriver to scare the residue out of the bonnet nuts. Clean the glass with some soap and a bottle brush, or just use a new one and clean up the old one as a spare.

To put things back you have to slide a washer onto one end of the glass and then slide both bonnet nuts on; the slide the washer onto the other end of the glass. now you have to put the bottom of this assembly into the lower valve and then tilt the top of the glass to get it into the top valve. Now hold the glass so it is centered in between the two valves and tighten one of the nuts so it engages a couple of valve threads. then tighten the other nut to engage the other valve. Tighten both nuts hand tight and then use a wrench to tighten them another turn or so.

Now open the valves above and below the glass and fire up the boiler. As it comes up to steam you may see some weeping from one of the valve/glass ends, just tighten up that nut enough to shop the weeping. Over the next few days you may have to tighten the bonnet nuts a bit more.


Where to buy
@ December 28, 2010 3:34 PM in How to Clean Out Glass Gauge
You can get both at a local supply house, in the old days the local hardware store carried them but those days are gone. You have to know the diameter and the length you need.

Because the glass fits into both valves the measured length between the nuts is not right, you have to round it up; the measured distance between my tightened bonnet nuts is just under 5" so I needed a 6" gauge glass.

The rubber washers are about 5/16" high, as you tighten the bonnet nuts they compress and seal against the glass.

The gauge glass washers can be had at McMaster Carr -  They sell gauge glass as well - from 8" long on up. If you need a 6" length you have to buy a longer length and then cut it to size.

8" and 12" seem to be common lengths, my Burnham boiler uses a 6" X 5/8" gauge glass and i bought a cut piece from a guy on Ebay (because i didn't want to buy a gauge glass cutter that I would use every 5-10 years).

good enough

@ February 17, 2011 3:39 PM in Steam radiator rating

This is how I figure out the EDR of a radiator when i don't have tables available, it's not 100% accurate but good enough.

Wrap a piece of string around that end tube so you can measure the outside diameter of the tube and then figure out how long all those tubes are. Multiply the total length of the tube by the diameter and that will give you the area of the radiant surface, divide that number by 144 and that will give you the EDR in sq feet.


Have new washers on hand

@ February 15, 2011 4:39 PM in rust blocked automatic feeder?

When you remove a sight glass you stand a good chance of compromising the rubber washers that seal the glass to valve connection. Make sure you have spare washers and a spare glass gauge just in case.

I agree with nbc that it would be easier if you saw it done once before trying to do it yourself during the heating season.


Dole is probably too small

@ February 14, 2011 10:37 AM in main vent

Most systems work best when the main is vented very fast and the radiators relatively slowly. One sign of inadequate main venting is uneven heat. Working at a higher pressure will cost you more in fuel.

How long is the main steam main? the Dole #5 is not a large vent, you would probably be better off with a Gorton #1 or #2depending on the length and diameter of that main.


Not cheap

@ February 13, 2011 5:49 PM in Steam Boiler Keeps Filling Up...

I don't have a hot water coil on my boiler so i can't say what they cost but it ain't gonna be cheap.

Also this board has a rule about not discussing pricing where labor is involved.


No delay for me

@ February 13, 2011 5:05 PM in Oil Usage two pipe steam system

Luckily my Becket AFG has no delay - especially after I put in the new Ignition transformer (original was almost 15 yrs old) . I sought out the transformer because i really don't trust the electronic igniters (I used to design them and i know what can go wrong - ESPECIALLY after the accountants go over the bill of materials).


Should be improved

@ February 13, 2011 4:06 PM in Oil Usage two pipe steam system

Last year i put an elapsed time meter on my oil burner so I could easily track oil usage. Knowing the fuel usage and the degree day data can give you an accurate idea of how well the system is working and let you accurately judge how well any improvements you make to the system are working.

I suspect your improvements will make a nice dent in your fuel usage.


leaky hot water coil?

@ February 13, 2011 4:01 PM in Steam Boiler Keeps Filling Up...

If your domestic hot water comes off this steam boiler the coil might be leaking inside the boiler. If not i suspect the water fill valve does not tirn off compleately.


What pressure?

@ February 12, 2011 10:25 AM in New pressuretrol same problems

What does the pressure gauge read when the boiler stops cycling and just runs continuously? What are the pressuretrol settings? They should be set low - no more than 1-1/2 to 2 PSI.

Take a few pictures of the boiler and include some close ups of the pressuretrol.



@ February 12, 2011 10:20 AM in Oil Usage two pipe steam system

Did you increase the mains venting just this season? You said that decreased the amount of time to get steam into the radiators by about half and you still have to check some steam traps. Between those two I would think you should see a nice drop in fuel usage.

What pressure is the boiler running, it should be below 1.5PSI max. You might have to install a low pressure gauge because the 0-30's are not very good down that low. Also do you know how many sq ft of convectors you have verses the number of sq ft the boiler is rated for?

Is all the piping in the basement insulated? If not your burning fuel to heat that basement.



@ February 11, 2011 6:43 PM in Fast Main Vent, Slow Rad Vents - How Come?

The mains wantb to vent fast so you can get steam to all the radiator pipes at about the same time. If you vent all the radiators very fast there will be two problems.

The radiator pipes are small compared to the steam mains so if you fill them with steam very quickly, the condensing steam that is flowing back to the boiler may well interfere with stem coming up the same pipe on a single pipe system.

Very fast venting often leads to balance problems because the steam will go to the easiest path and not to all the paths if the venting on the radiators is too fast.

Remember ALL these systems were designed for coal fired boilers that produced steam a lot slower than modern boilers do. They were outfitted with VERY slow radiator vents and much slower main vents than we use now.



@ February 11, 2011 11:08 AM in How low can you go?

I visit the boiler on a daily basis just to make sure Mr Murphy is not up to his usual tricks; also I keep a log to track fuel consumption and any water I add to the boiler. I don't trust auto water feeders - in manual valves I trust.

I scanned the Settings page of the instructions that came with the vaporstat and they pretty much explain everythijng. The main setting determines the cutout point while the cutin is determined by the Main minus the Diff setting.

My particular vaporstat is not calibrated very well but it does repeat very well. From other posts I've seen the calibration is not very good on these so a low pressure gauge is essential to set them up correctly.



@ February 11, 2011 10:20 AM in How low can you go?

It is the L608a-1053 which is subtractive.

Your inquiry made me go down and check the actual setting (I was relying on memory - not always the best idea). The Main is set at 1 LB and the Diff is set at 12 oz so my original statement was correct in that the cutout was 4oz off but the cut in was where it should be (16-12=4oz).

I might be able to diddle internally to get the settings and actual to agree but I'm content to let sleeping dogs lie.

The pics show the general setup as well as the specific settings. Sorry about the flashback but I wanted the whole face of the vaporstat to be in focus.

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