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short cycling boiler -- one-pipe steam

Daniel_3 Member Posts: 543
You'll wanna contact a man by the name of "Steamhead". He is partners in crime with a man named "Gordo". They form "All Steamed Up Inc." You'll find them in the find a professional section of this website.


  • Drew_9
    Drew_9 Member Posts: 2
    short cycling boiler -- single pipe steam

    This is our second winter in our row home with single pipe steam and trying to figure the thing out. When we turn on our heat, the boiler burns for a long while while the radiators begin to heat, but then it starts short-cycling, cutting on and off every 3-5 minutes. I suspect it's a pressure issue due to an oversized boiler (ours appears to be almost twice as big as several of our neighbors). We also don't have main vents (there's no evidence that there ever were any) and one radiator was removed from the system long before we moved in. Finally, one small bathroom radiator does not heat because it was improperly re-piped at the wrong pitch by a previous owner. I've adjusted the pressuretrol all the way down, but it has not helped. The water level is fine and the water appears to be clean.

    I know this is a lot, but what I really want to know is if there is some way to adjust our current boiler to produce less pressure. Can't really afford a new one at this point. Also, I'd like to know if having main vents installed and getting the small radiator piped correctly would really help with the issue.

    Thanks for any advice.
  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,398
    Short Cycling

    Your 3-5 minutes does not sound that bad after the place is warmed. Could be longer and perhaps your building is over-sized.

    When you say that it is twice as large as several of your neighbors, I assume you mean your neighbors' boilers. If it is larger than several of your neighbors, that is one big boiler unless your neighbors are pygmies. ;)

    Is your piping well-insulated?

    Main vents will help speed the delivery of steam for sure. That goes for that bathroom radiator. Main vents vent the mains (duh!) and the radiator vents vent the radiators and the piping serving that radiator. (Maybe another duh!) But the point is, do not rely on radiator vents to vent your mains. Too much to expect.

    Before I would replace the boiler I would look into installing good vents and maybe invest in a nice vaporstat which will operate the boiler in the range of ounces of pressure. If and when you replace the boiler, properly sized to the radiation and with correct near-boiler piping, you can retain the vaporstat (and vents of course) for the new installation.
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • Drew_9
    Drew_9 Member Posts: 2

    You're right -- it's the neighbors' boilers that are much smaller than ours, not the neighbors themselves!

    Thanks for your advice. Good to know that this doesn't sound like a serious short cycling issue.

    Our piping is not insulated at all at this point. I've measured it for insulation, but haven't located a place to buy it yet. I'm in Baltimore; so, if anyone knows a good supplier, please let me know.

    Will look into getting the vaporstat and main vents as well.

  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,398
    I second the Steamhead motion

    This is your lucky day. One of the best practitioners of the Lost Art is in your city. He makes many of us wish that, A. We had steam heat and B. Lived in Baltimore.
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • V8toilet_3
    V8toilet_3 Member Posts: 15

    These people have good prices on insulation since you'll soon find out that fiberglass insulation is expensive. http://expressinsulation.com/fiberglass_insulation.html

    You should get the 1" insulation.
  • Thanks, guys!

    Drew, give us a call on 410-321-8116. If we're out of the office, leave a message and we'll get back to you ASAP.

    Gordo and Steamhead

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
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