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Help finding professional rochester, ny

Hello everyone:

Any thoughts on finding a steam professional out in Rochester, NY?  I asked earlier this year after buying a 1920s home with steam.  The Find a Professional shows nothing for our area.

Genesee Heating is available to me (that was the last suggestion), but they are commercial service only.  They can sell me parts only.  I have the ability to change parts out, but my issue is balancing my system.  My second and third floors are varying quite a bit in temperature.

I tried the local Landmark Society, and the list they gave me was one guy who retired this past year.  Apparently, anyone who purports to fix steam in our area actually goes to him for advice!

I would appreciate any help that can be provided.

By the way, I found a great insulating product for my house that is a paint additive - <a href="http://www.insuladd.com. ">http://www.insuladd.com. </a> I have a stucco house, so blown in insulation would have been a repair nightmare.  I had to paint the interior of the house anyway, so this was no added work.  It actually thickened the paint so that doing the ceilings had a bit less splatter.  It cost about 10 bucks a gallon to add it.  I hope this may help someone else, as I know that was certainly part of my problem in this home.


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,715
    Pat, what type of system do you have

    One-pipe? Vapor?

    I'd come up, but it's a bit of a hike from Baltimore. Still, if you can't find anyone, I do like road trips......
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • new house with steam

    why not list any symptoms of bad operation here with some pictures of the near boiler piping, and then all the experts [of which steamhead is one of the top dogs]  can chime in.

    generally with steam, in properly maintained condition, you can expect the steam to arrive at all the radiators at the same time. if there are any hot spots or cold spots then it would indicate the need for maintainance, much of which can be done by the thoughtful do-it-your-selfer, with a little guidence, and encouragement from a steam expert.

    one way to evaluate the advice given here is to do a search by poster, and you will see advice previously given. you can then get a confident "feel" for the advice you could receive from that person, and feel better about following that advice [ did i use "advice" too often?].

    when i was replacing my steam boiler, i did not realize how well these old systems could function, until i came to this site. once i had the confidence in the system having been well designed for coal in the begining {1885}, and then having been knuckleheaded in 1952 with the first gas boiler,  i could find the early piping faults, and correct them.--nbc
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,892
    Of course...

    if you can persuade Steamhead to come, you've got the best solution!  However, I might add to Nick's comment that you can sometimes find a really classy plumber in your area who doesn't necessarily know steam, but who does know how to spin pipe (no insult, guys, no insult intended!!! -- just I know that there are a lot of first class plumbers out there who don't do threaded pipe any more -- no call for it, really) and is willing to learn something new, and have him help you with the bits you may not want to do yourself.  Between him, Dan's books, and the Wall, you should be able to get the system working just fine if you don't want to do the work yourself!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Wayne Heid
    Wayne Heid Member Posts: 49
    edited September 2009
    Steam help in Rochester

    Pat, I'm a licensed plumbing contractor in Rochester specializing in hydronics, including steam. I'd be happy to talk in more detail.

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,715
    Another Steam Guy!

    Welcome, Wayne!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Patrick McGrath
    Patrick McGrath Member Posts: 59
    Thanks everyone

    Hi all -

    Nicolas, You gave me help earlier in the year, and I appreciated it a lot.

    I called Wayne on the phone, and he is coming on Wednesday.  He seems like a good guy, but we may need your help anyway, so I hope you don't mind some more questions.

    I posted pictures of my system earlier this year.  It is a hybrid one and two pipe system.  My original issues were a bang in the radiator on the third floor (which I now believe was moved in a renovation, as it is on an interior wall and has newer piping running through a wall/closet behind it), and very little heat in a bedroom (actually, the system was quite imbalanced).  The third floor radiator is currently off.  Strangely, I last left off before the warm weather with the banging gone, but I had mistakenly replaced the Hoffman main vents with Hoffman vacuum vents.  I put Hoffman main air vents on to replace the wrong ones, and the banging returned!  Is it possible that I have some odd sort of need for vacuum vents for mains?  I still have them in my possession.  Nicolas told me that a disc in the vacuum vent could have been removed to make an air vent, but I missed his post...that was unfortunate for the wallet!

    Since this time, I have found an unhooked radiator tucked away in the third floor, and I also found a capped pipe in the floor near a window.  My money says they yanked out that other radiator so that they could fit a queen size bed in that room.  I may have Wayne drag out the other radiator and attach it and see what happens.  I may have him put the old one back where it goes, too!

    The one radiator that does not work well is, of course, in my 2 year old daughter's room on the second floor.  The house will be at 68-72 degrees, and her room will be 58 degrees.  I have to run a space heater to even get it to 65.  Steam gets to the radiator (you can feel it inside the radiator, but not on the outside).  The times it has actually gotten hot on the outside has been infrequent, but I think I recall it being pretty nasty and cold, so the boiler may have had a nice long cycle. 

    By the way, I have replaced all of the vents on the radiators.  I have thermostatic vents on the three most dominant radiators (which are the first three on the chain, if you will, from the boiler).  This was on the suggestion of the commercial steam company.  I haven't noticed them being appreciatively less warm, but they are quiet now!  You couldn't hear the tv when the first radiator got going for how loud the air escape was.

    I will take some new pics, guys, to show you what is up.
  • 4Barrel
    4Barrel Member Posts: 125
    Help for Buffalo too...

    Hi Patrick - Jeff here in Buffalo, NY. I'd be interested in your experience with Wayne, as i may contact him to see if he'd be willing to come to Buffalo. I am on a tight timeline for boiler replacement, so i have been relying on the approach Jamie outlines earlier in this thread. I have located a good local resource to assist with my install - a "pipe threader" as Jamie suggested, and my supplier is experienced enough with steam to help out, although due to his position, he might be considered a bit biased. he's a good man though, so i don't think he's steering me wrong on the purchase of the new boiler. good luck, and i'll keep an eye on your posts...
  • Patrick McGrath
    Patrick McGrath Member Posts: 59
    75 or 75h?

    Hi guys:

    So, Wayne stopped by last night.  We did a walkthrough of the system, and I happened to show him the Hoffman main vents that I was directed to purchase by a local company. 

    As you may recall, I originally bought the Hoffman 76 (Nicolas mentioned that these can be modified pretty simply to non-vacuum by taking the top off and removing the small disk, which I may need to do).  I now have Hoffman 75H main vents, and Wayne was concerned that I still have the wrong equipment, but was not altogether confident of that.  He said there are two types of Hoffman 75 vents, and one is for high pressure.  Does 75H stand for high pressure?

    Not a total loss, seeing as I can still use the 76 vents, however with the modification that Nicolas suggested.  I am looking on google to see if I can find the difference.


  • Patrick McGrath
    Patrick McGrath Member Posts: 59
    Ugh...75, not 75H

    Ok, so I called Buckpitt in Rochester after finding info on the 75 vs 75H.  The 75H is for high pressure systems, as it is good up to 10 psi.  The 75 is good up to 3 psi.  Buckpitt does not stock the 75 valves, as he told me that they don't get much call for them, and he believed they were interchangeable.  However, I believe that that the 75 begins to vent at .3 psi, while the 75H is .7.  Not so good for residential steam at .5 psi.  They will not take them back since they have been installed.

    So, I have begun a nice collection of copper that does me no good.

    Nicolas!  What is your preferred main vent?  I recall it was not a Hoffman type, and I bow down to your superior knowledge.

    Yours in a multitude of vents (maybe they sell display cases),

  • Patrick McGrath
    Patrick McGrath Member Posts: 59
    Gorton valves

    Well, spend a bit of time searching the posts, and you find Gorton!

    Nicolas, should I follow the diagram on their website?  Looks pretty simple, and I could return the thermostatic valves at $110 a shot.

    Do you agree with the Gorton 1 and Gorton 2 placement in the link below?  Or should I get 2 Gorton 2 valves?

    Oddly, the house pictured in the link below follows my setup pretty closely.


  • Gorton Main Vents

    Hi Pat-

     Just some more info for you.

    Gorton #2s have 3 times the venting capacity of a Gorton #1 and 2 times the venting capacity of a Hoffman #75. Check around the internet for Gortons #2s for availability.

     We had another discussion on main vents which might be of interest to you. Look in the Steam Section under the topic "Boiler Replacement Qs" and my post on "Main Vents". There is a drawing there on "Menorahs" & "Antlers" which might be of help. You can start with one Gorton #2 and add more if necessary.

    - Rod
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,715
    Pat, you need to measure

    the length and diameter of each of your steam mains. With that info we can tell you what vents you need. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Patrick McGrath
    Patrick McGrath Member Posts: 59
    Interesting! Partial fix so far

    Hello all:

    I called Gorton up (by the way, Steamhead, Ken says hello to you) and they walked me through what to purchase to balance my system.  Amazingly, he suggested that I buy everything through Pexsupply.com, as it had better pricing, and he told me that they would honor any issues with the materials, as Pexsupply wasn't too good about taking back returns.  He suggested starting with two Gorton #2s, and I purchased about 14 different radiator valves for my 11 radiators so I had some room to play around with them.

    It was going to be 44 degrees up in Rochester last night, so on a lark I dismantled the Hoffman 46 valves, removed the disk as instructed by Nicolas some time ago, and put them on the mains.  I had some banging in the system in the attic, but it did go away over the course of the night.  Additionally, I had a hot radiator in my daughter's room!!!!!  This is big news around our house, so forgive my enthusiasm.  After reading about the "menorah" setup, I am considering putting the Gorton #2's and these vents on the same main to really vent the system.  As I am vested in making this work, I would also be party to purchasing more #2s if need be.  Steamhead's picture in his sig line makes me a bit envious of the venting that is happening at that location.

    Steamhead, I will measure the piping today.  I am not so good about understanding the diameter of pipes, but I will do my best.

    The advice I have received here has been invaluable.  I thank you, and my family thanks you for a warm night's rest.
  • Measuring Pipe Size

    Hi Pat -

       I'm attaching a pipe sizing chart which maybe of help to you. I've found it very helpful as it has the circumference of the different sizes  listed so you can measure the pipe in place and don't have to guess the OD.  Very simply put, pipe size refers the internal diameter so the outer diameter is always  bigger.

    - Rod
  • Jim Bennett
    Jim Bennett Member Posts: 607
    75 not 75H

    I believe you can still use the 75H on your system. Your system pressure will always be below the drop away pressure, so it will be able to open. You can not use the 75 on a higher pressure system as it would close and never reopen.

    Here is a question posted on Hoffman's site regarding this. Hope it helps.

    Q: Do you have any detailed documentation on selecting air valve for a steam main riser? Specifically 75 vs 75H. What exactly is the significance of "drop-away pressure?" We want to be sure we understand this before ordering valves.

    A: The internal mechanism of the Model 75 & 75H

    units is a float that causes a pin to seat when water causes the float

    to rise. The pin will stay seated as long as the pressure is greater

    than the listed 'drop-away' pressure. The pressure must be less than

    the listed pressure (Model 75 - 3 psig; Model - 10 psig) for the weight

    of the float to cause the float and pin to 'drop away' from the seat.

    That is the term: "drop-away" pressure. If you have additional

    questions, or need to obtain these units, contact our manufacturer's

    representative organization for your area.
    Jim Bennett
This discussion has been closed.