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No Main Vents in Two Pipe Condensate Pump System
I haven't posted in a long time, not since 2008 when I got a lot of great help from the wall crowd on some major work we did on a 5 story condo steam heat system (replaced all traps, installed trvs, new boiler, insulated, etc.). And i've also gone through all of Dan's books and loved every page.
So here's the story: The heating system has been working great. No complaints at all. Seems to heat pretty fast too.
But I have a confession to make -- the issue of main vents for our system was one i never fully grasped. And the fact is, we have no main vents in our system.
I've started to get an itch to do some more optimization on our system to try to lower our pressure (we are currently running at about 2-5 psi without pressuretrols to measure low psi). So my plan is to get good low pressure pressuretrols and try to reduce pressure.
BUT BUT before I start all that, I want to understand if we need to have main vents installed.
SO.. here is what we have now: It's a two-pipe system with a condensate return pump.
The condensate return pump has it's own vent, and then right before the return line goes into the pump, a pipe tee's off up 8 feet or so and is just open to the air. (it's actually a very funky situation at the end of that pipe, where it has about 3 openings that used to be closeable, and then a spigot). See photo attached.
I wonder about the history of that strange open air "vent" pipe.. Here's what I can tell you about it, before I got to work fixing our heating system, so many of the traps were failed open, that tons of steam was coming back into the boiler room through the return line, and escaping out of that pipe, filling the room with steam. And i could see people had tried to close off that pipe in an attempt to "keep the steam from escaping". BUT after we fixed all of the building traps, etc. I am *extremely* proud to say that not a drop of steam is coming back through that return line, so it's just air.
There are several F+T traps around the ground floor if that's of any interest, but like i said no "Main Vents" other than what I've described at the condensate pump area.
I assume that that one pipe at the return line "IS" the way air is getting out of our system.
So I guess my questions are all about air venting and main vents:
Is that open pipe enough to vent the air even if i try to cut the pressure down to 1psi, etc? Why are normal main vents mechanical "trap"-like things, and yet we have an open pipe here that seems to be serving same purpose? does it have to do with the fact that its at the "wet return" level? Would we see much benefit from having "main vents" installed?
ps. in the photo it may look like the open pipe thing is connected to another big pipe at the very upper right but that's just an illusion. the pipe just rises up from the return line and makes a 90 degree right hand turn and is just purely open to the air all the way across despite all of the funky fixtures on it (what were they thinking!?)