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Grrr, trying to find experianced steam heat help!

mchema Member Posts: 37
Well I just go massively ripped off. My husband and I could not get our main vents off. Sooo we finally bit the bullet and had a plumber come out that had steam heat "experience." Oh he got the mains off and he put the new ones on. Mind you I was told to put 4 vents per main. He told me that was not necessary and I was wasting money. So I listen to him and an hour later and much less in my bank account the system is still squealing through cycles. I'm putting the other vents on! I'm just mad I let him talk me out of putting the others on.... He seemed to know some things about steam. But he had never seen a Gorton #2 valve and my mains were up on 6 inch nipples. Due to clearance issue in the rafters on the one main he just wanted to get rid of the nipple all together and put the main into the main pipe. I said NO b/c I have read that having them up helps keep water hammering at bay... He just looked at me annoyed and went to his truck to get an adaptor to make the vent fit in the space. Then he was all smiles when he handed me the bill... I about fell over at the price! 


  • Big-Al_2
    Big-Al_2 Member Posts: 263
    I hope you didn't get ripped off.

    I can't say whether or not you were overcharged, but running a plumbing

    and heating business is expensive, and the time a service tech is on a

    particular job doesn't necessarily reflect all the overhead and travel

    expense related to the particular service call.  A hefty bill doesn't always mean that they even made money on the job. 

    I just paid a fitter to help me add a new radiator.  He had some unexpected problems with the existing piping and the job took a lot longer than we both had imagined.  He gave me a break on the hours he charged, and the bill was still hard to swallow . . . many hundreds more than  what I originally expected the job would cost.  Was I fairly treated? Absolutely!

    That being said, there are plenty of knuckleheads and unscrupulous business people out there.  I do hope you didn't get ripped off.  Getting radiator vents quiet can be a puzzle.  The brand and size of the individual vents makes a big difference, as does the system pressure.  My own steam system has gobs of main venting, but a couple of the radiator vents are still too noisy.  I've tried all kinds of stuff to make it better, and it IS better, but still less than ideal.  I've concluded that my boiler is oversized and that's that.  Unless I add about four more radiators, it's just going to make too much steam.  Now I have the venting working so the last two radiators to receive steam are in unused rooms, and they are the ones that vent noisily.  When the boiler goes bad in another twenty years, I hope whoever lives in my house has read Dan's books and makes sure to get a smaller boiler.  Until then . . .well . . . at least the radiators in the bedrooms are quiet.
  • mchema
    mchema Member Posts: 37

    $200 for a half hour of work. I had the parts... All he did was get the mains off and used my parts (vents, piping) except for one small 2 inch pipe with a nut. I would say that is a bit expensive. Also, the company was 5 min from my house... 
  • Big-Al_2
    Big-Al_2 Member Posts: 263
    I stand corrected.

    Call them up, calmly explain the situation, and ask for a more realistic price.

    If that doesn't work, call the BBB.
  • CJL
    CJL Member Posts: 7
    Good Help Is Hard To Find

    I used a person who I found by using this site under:"Find a Professional". The person talked a good talk, but when it came time to do the work I found that his workers were less than knowledgeable about steam heating systems. I always ask about price before I have work done and ask for the worst case scenario

     When I challenged him on a few suggestions that his worker had made he made some ridiculous excuse for his worker. After the work was complete my system was not running right and he had to send another person out to fix the mistakes the original worker had made. Remarkably he tried to charge me for the second visit. I did not pay the bill when I received it in the mail and have not heard from the person since.

    Always ask the price up front and never pay until you have had a chance to see if the work measures up to your standards.
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