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improperly placed main vent?

Brian_74
Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
I'm trying to match up what I'm learning from The Lost Art with my own heating system. I was wondering whether the main vents are improperly placed. I'm focusing on the one on the non-insulated run. It's on a T (bad, right?) but I wonder if the 90° elbow and 16'' run minimizes the end-of-the-run problems. I'd like to think that my system was installed by deadmen who knew.



Here's a diagram. Any help would be appreciated.





Vent

| 16''

| 112''

----------------------------------
1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.

Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,660
    I've seen worse

    But the question I have is, how much pipe do they have to vent? is that what you meant by the following?



    Vent



    | 16''



    | 112''
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    edited November 2009
    sorry, I wasn't clear.

    I couldn't get the "diagram" to stay as I typed it in. The idea was that the pipe from the vent to the elbow is 16'' and then it's a 112'' run to the next elbow. The pipe has an O.D. of 1.25''. I'm describing the one without insulation in the photograph, btw.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Main Vent Location

    Hi Brian - When you think of "The Deadmen", you have to think that people basically weren't that much different than today. If you put them in 3 groups -Master-craftsmen, Average and Idiots,  I'm sure they weren't all in the Master-craftsmen group. The only difference I can see between those days and now is the group distribution percentages seemed to have changed big time! :)



    As to your venting.  What you now have is fairly typical- it works. It also simpler for the installer to do especially back then when they didn't have much in the way of power tools. Having the vents on the main is optimum as there is more piping

    capacity for the air/steam than on the smaller pipe as the vents are now. You have to remember that Air and Steam share the pipe with condensate -Air and Steam in the top half and condensate (water) on the bottom half.  At the beginning of the steam cycle  with the lots of condensate being produced by the cold pipes, the air/steam capacity in the smaller pipe is rather restricted. I know several people that moved the vents to the main and found it was an improvement. How are your main vents working at this time?

    Looking at your pictures - I was wondering where do the pipes lead? They should drop into the wet return (below the waterline) before joining.

    I have also attached a piping chart. I find it really useful in figuring out pipe sizes.

    - Rod

     
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    edited November 2009
    Thanks, Rod.

    I appreciate your helpful comments--and the reminder that not everyone in the 1920s was a master craftsman. :-)



    I'm going to post pictures of what the pipes do after the vents. I didn't understand where some people move their vents to. I thought my were on the mains, but I'd be the first to admit that I'm not sure exactly what a main is. Is it something more than not a branch?The pipe with the valve is the fresh water line (apologies if that's obvious).



    Right now, the main vent on the non-insulated pipe is spitting. I'm doing daily if not twice daily blow downs to see if cleaner water might take care of the problem. I think that the vents might also be the wrong ones and perhaps past their useful life. They're Hoffman 76As, which seems to be NLA. I found one older posting here that described them as for coal fired systems, which mine might have been.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Main and Returns

    It took me a while too to figure out which pipe was which. In these old houses the piping doesn't always quite match the diagrams in The Lost Art....."  I have a attached one of your pictures and have labeled the appropriate parts.

    The "Mains" are the larger pipes that carry the steam to the "Laterals" which run from the main to the radiators. In a parallel steam system. (Parallel system means that in the main, the steam and the condensate travel the same direction).technically after the last lateral on the main the piping becomes the "Dry Return". However name change is usually done when the larger pipe (the main) changes is reduced to a smaller pipe (the dry return).  You will notice in the picture that the pipe is called the "Dry Return" above the Boiler's Water Level and the "Wet Return" below the Boiler's Water Level even though they are the same pipe!  The Wet Return then goes all the way continuous to where it joins the Hartford Loop on the Boiler. 



    Main Vents - Your main vents are actually not on the main but on the dry return. As I mentioned this is pretty standard practice even today.  Your vent,the Hoffman 76 is originally a vacuum vent and is the same as a Hoffman 75 after`you remove a disk inside. This I imagine has already been done. You might remove your vents and boil them in vinegar as they get rather crudded up over time and this in some cases can clean them.

    Most of the pros on here are using Gorton  for the main vents. The Gorton Main vents come in two sizes: The #1 and the #2. The Gorton #1 is about the size of a can of cat food on its side and the Gorton #2 is about the size of an old wind up alarm clock. I mention the sizes as quite often one has a problem with clearance above the pipe.

    In venting capacity the Gorton # 2 is about 2 times more than a Hoffman #75 and 3 times more than a Gorton #1. A post the other day suggested that Pex Supply on the internet was a good source for Gortons. 

    Here is a link to a great article on main venting which might be of interest to you. Its on Gerry Gill's website,who is one of the top steam pros on this board.

    http://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/webapp/GetPage?pid=415

    If you are considering boiling your vents I'd consider getting a back up replacement before you do it, especially this time of year.

    - Rod
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Incredibly helpful!

    Thanks, Rod. Labeling my setup was very helpful. I think I'm getting it now.



    I appreciate the warning about clearance. I was looking at the Hoffman catalogue, just because that's what's there now. I didn't notice any specs for distance to ceiling. One of the photos on Gerry Gill's site showed the Gortons really close to the ceiling (or subfloor). Is there some rule of thumb about how far away from wood the vents should be or does it not matter?



    The article on Maximizing Venting was very helpful, too. Is there a formula for calculating how many and what kind of vents to use? Would it be okay to just add a "tree" of two or three vents where my main vent is now or should it really be on the main?
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Vents

    There are no clearance rules or anything like that though you might want to consider if there could be any damage from moisture if a vent got stuck open.You could put up a piece of plastic or tin if you were worried about this. (This isn't a big deal just something to consider).  A lot of times the vents have to go right up between the joists.  You might look back a week or so as I posted a drawing on a "menorah & antler" venting setup. As for calculating venting needs there  is a booklet written by Gerry Gill and Steve Pajek called "Balancing Steam Systems" which is available on this website. It's downloadable and found at the following link:

    .http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Books/5/146/Balancing-Steam-Systems-Using-a-Vent-Capacity-Chart-by-Gerry-Gill-and-Steve-Pajek

    It shows most of the major brands and models of vents and lists of their venting capacities. It also gives the formulas and figures for finding volume of your system. After you get your main vents working well ,it will tell you how to go about balancing your radiators.  I refer to it all the time.



    While you can under vent, it is almost impossible to over vent and the only damage you'll do overventing is to your wallet. I think I'd just put some new vents in the location they are now. Once you get the rest of your system operating the way you want, then you might consider moving them onto the end of the main as a "fine tune", i don't know the length of your main so I can't recommend how much venting you need.  Since you have Hoffman 75s (6) already there I think I'd be inclined to replace them with 3 Gorton # 1s on each main. That  would give you about nearly double the venting of the Hoffman 75s for about the same price as replacing the 75 on each main. Pex Supply, on the internet, has both Hoffmans and Gortons so you might want to check there.



    One of the things I would suggest is to time your system. Make a note of the time when you start the system cold to the time it makes steam. (Feel the risers going up to the mains for when they get hot. Then time how long it takes for steam to get to the ends of the mains. You can tell by feeling them. Be careful! Steam pipes can get hot!

    Also time how long it takes steam to reach each radiator (feel the inlet pipe)and how long it takes for each radiator's vent to close.You won't be able top do this by just monitoring one steam cycle.  The idea is to establish a basis for comparison. That way when you make a change, by doing a new timing, you can see whether the change is a benefit or not.  The whole idea is to make steam and then get it to the radiators as quickly as possible and maximum venting allows you to do this.

    - Rod
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Much better than what I was thinking.

    Thanks for the great info and suggestions, Rod. I had been thinking about doing some calculations based on gas usage and degree heating days to try to gauge how many vents I needed. Your way is much better. And makes more sense. I wouldn't be surprised if I discovered that some of my radiator traps are bad in the process. But that's the subject for another post.



    Thanks again for all your help,



    Brian
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • 2 pipe system?

    Radiator traps?  You didn't mention that and I was assuming from the picture that this was a 1 pipe system. Not that it makes a difference so far as to the venting. You'll want to carefully check all your traps as all have to be operational for the system to work properly. There are rebuild replacement parts available for many of the traps so you don't necessarily have to buy new traps.

    - Rod
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Pretty sure it is.

    Just to make sure I'm right: each radiator has two pipes, one coming in near the top of the radiator, and the other coming at the bottom on the opposite end. The higher pipe has a valve. The lower pipe has what I think is a trap. There are no vents on the radiators themselves.



    The traps say "The Ideal Heating Equipment Co., Cleveland." I think these are NLA, so it's good to hear that rebuild kits might be available.



    Going back to venting: should I use multiple vents on both dry returns? As I understand it, there are two loops. One loop of piping carries steam from the boiler to the laterals. Any "leftover" steam then goes back to the boiler through one of the dry returns. The other dry return gathers the condensate from the radiators and sends it back to the boiler. I was thinking that it's more important to maximally vent this loop than the first one. Am I wrong about that? Should they both be equally vented?
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Vapor System

    Hi Brian-  It sounds to me that you have a vapor system. It is definitely two pipe and  the Hoffman 76 valve, which we were thinking was a mistake, makes sense in a vapor system.  I envy you .Vapor systems are the Cadillac of the steam systems.

    I imagine that it has now been converted to a standard 2 pipe system and with that in mind the venting that was proposed in that location is still probably fine. I guess what I'm thinking is that it would be great to return it to a vapor system. If you haven't done it already I'd survey the system and see where the piping goes and take pictures of the boiler piping and any odd ball parts and fittings. That will help identify the system and whether it is restorable.  Your system generally should look like the one on page 126, left column, of  "The Lost Art..." do the vents as they are now seem to be located in the right place?

    - Rod
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    edited November 2009
    Just when I thought I was understanding this...

    Hi Rod, thanks for sticking with me on this. It had occurred to me that I might have a vapor system. Not for any good reason, just because I wasn't sure. When I looked through the Lost Art, I think my eyes crossed when I saw how many different kinds of vapor systems there are.



    Anyway, I think that my system is more like the diagram on the top right of page 126. Both of the vents are the Hoffman 76As. There's no F&T trap like there is on the left side diagram.



    I looked around for anything weird. There's no expansion tank anywhere (I've been in the attic, too). There's no pump or any other gizmo. The house was built at near the end of the "vapor era" in 1929, so it certainly could be a vapor system, or like you said, a former vapor system. I took a picture of the only odd thing I could think of. There are three caped fittings (is that the right word?) on the boiler. Two of them are on the left side of the picture. One is at the very bottom. The bigger plug is behind the sight glass. The only other weird thing I could think of is that the floor near one of the radiators on the second floor gets warm. The warm area starts about 2 feet from the radiator (i.e., it's not the radiator warming the floor around it). Did they ever put tanks between floors? My dog likes that spot a lot.



    Do you think it's a vapor system still? I'm really getting into this.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Unknown
    edited November 2009
    Piping

    Hi Brian - It would seem this is some sort of vapor / vacuum setup. The Hoffman 76s are vacuum vents and if you look in the attached picture of the boiler, the gauge marked "X" reads pressure AND vacuum. Is this gauge working? On the same picture I noticed a marking on the glass tube marked "Z".  What is this? I also see that you waterline and marked it  "Y".   How do you determine the level of the boiler water? I guess what I'm thinking that it unusual to have marks on a sight glass and since there doesn't sem to be a mark at the current level of the boiler water, is "Z" the "correct" water level tht someone marked in the past?  If you place the waterlevel at the "Z" mark does the boiler run out of water and shut off?

    The other picture I attached does the labeling look right?  "A" looks like a check valve and I'm not sure what "B" is. Does "B" look like an ordinary Tee fitting or does it look like a check valve too?

    It would seem you don't have a Hartford Loop so that makes your system quite early.

    The fittings on the boiler you noticed i don't believe have any purpose other than to just shut off a boiler port. The "warm spot" that you dog likes could be a couple of things. It could be a steam leak or just where the steam pipe touches the wood.

    The steam traps were built in Cleveland. Are you located anywhere near there?

    Since you don't have a Hartford loop I'm rather inquisitive about the reat of our boiler piping. Could you take some pictures of the piping around the boiler and how it connects to the mains?   I'm just trying to get a feel of your whole system.

    -Rod
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,968
    Once a vapour...

    always a vapour system!  Or at least recoverable, unless someone has really messed up your return piping.  You should have the steam mains running along, then dry returns running back to the boiler -- and wet returns, down at floor level, bringing the condensate back.  If you do have that you're good to go.  You may find crossover traps joining the ends of the steam mains and the dry returns.  They are rather important.



    Low pressure.  Keep it below a pound certainly, and below 10 ounces if you can.



    Water levels.  Vapour systems can be very sensitive to water levels out in the system.



    Venting.  As we've been saying, you can't over vent.  However, and it's a big however, some vapour systems do NOT like to have vents at the ends of the mains, but work best with all their venting concentrated at the end of the dry returns at the boiler.  In fact some -- such as those with a Hoffman Differential Loop -- may not work properly at all unless all the venting is right at the loop.  Something to watch.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    More information about my system

    You know how people say that the camera adds 10 pounds? I think it also adds mess. My basement doesn't seem this bad in person. Really.



    I believe the gauge does work, although I never noticed that it also measures vacuum. I think that it has only moved a little toward positive pressure. It's too warm now for the heat to be on, but I'll check tonight when I imagine it will be firing.



    You're right that Z is just what someone marked in the past. I've probably misunderstood what a water level line is. I thought it meant "Don't let the water get below this line" but I think you're telling me that it means "Keep the water at this line." I've let it be a bit high because I've been doing frequent blow downs to get rid of the rust from the summer. I have not been adding water. It just started out high.



    I don't think that running at the Z point makes the boiler shut off. In fact, I'm almost certain it does not. The low level shut off does work. I check it at least weekly.



    I don't know what to say about A. I looked at hundreds of images of check valves online, and couldn't find one that looks like that. It's certainly more than just a clean out. The bottom is two semi-circles.



    B looks like more than a T fitting to me. There's a bolt or something perpendicular to the return portion. I'll try to snap a photo of it. It's in a tight spot, though.



    I'm actually between Dayton and Cincinnati. I thought that Cincinnati had at least one steam heating company, and I would imagine Dayton did, too. Why I have Cleveland parts is a mystery to me.



    Here are some piping photos. Let me know if I'm not photographing what you're asking for.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Piping

    Hi Brian-

     Thanks for the addition pictures. Cold Boiler Water Line- I think I'd try it a the mark "Z". This looks about where it should normally be on the sight glass.During operation the waterline will drop down towards the bottom of the sight glas but should be still visible.

    i would try level "Z" and see how it works. You don't want your boiler over filled as this will result in wet steam. Modern boiler are "sensitive " to high water levels as they don't have steam domes like the old pot boilers and if the waterline is too close to the top of the boiler water gets sucked up into the steam resulting in wet steam. As you have probably noticed you don't have a exit riser/header/equalizer of the Hartford Loop to dry out the steam so water level becomes more critical.

    Do you have any  information on your boiler? What Make? What model etc?  There should be a placard somewhere on the boiler.



    I blew up "A" on the wet return and I'm pretty sure that it's a one way valve (check valve) Notice the pin where the check piece swings.

    I've attached a couple of you pictures labeled. I'm a bit confused as you seem to have multiple mains yet one return from the main.  In Picture 4A  -  "A" is a obviously a main is "B" a lateral to a radiator? What are "C" and "D" ? 

    IN Picture 5A - What is "E" in the background connected to? I also marked what I thought was the high pressure relief valve (safety valve) is this where it is?



    I'm still trying to figure out you piping- mains and dry returns. I also have a some information for you and I thought rather than clog up this thread if you could send me your email I could send it on to you. My email is:  teacher4442 @ hotmail.com

    - Rod
  • Piping

    Hi Brian-

     Thanks for the addition pictures. Cold Boiler Water Line- I think I'd try it a the mark "Z". This looks about where it should normally be on the sight glass.During operation the waterline will drop down towards the bottom of the sight glas but should be still visible.

    i would try level "Z" and see how it works. You don't want your boiler over filled as this will result in wet steam. Modern boiler are "sensitive " to high water levels as they don't have steam domes like the old pot boilers and if the waterline is too close to the top of the boiler water gets sucked up into the steam resulting in wet steam. As you have probably noticed you don't have a exit riser/header/equalizer of the Hartford Loop to dry out the steam so water level becomes more critical.

    Do you have any  information on your boiler? What Make? What model etc?  There should be a placard somewhere on the boiler.



    I blew up "A" on the wet return and I'm pretty sure that it's a one way valve (check valve) Notice the pin where the check piece swings.

    I've attached a couple of you pictures labeled. I'm a bit confused as you seem to have multiple mains yet one return from the main.  In Picture 4A  -  "A" is a obviously a main is "B" a lateral to a radiator? What are "C" and "D" ? 

    IN Picture 5A - What is "E" in the background connected to? I also marked what I thought was the high pressure relief valve (safety valve) is this where it is?



    I'm still trying to figure out you piping- mains and dry returns. I also have a some information for you and I thought rather than clog up this thread if you could send me your email I could send it on to you. My email is:  teacher4442 @ hotmail.com

    - Rod
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    check valve?

    Here are some close ups of the "A" valve. Is it a check valve? I've tried to photograph the other valve but so far, no luck getting a clear picture. I'll try again tomorrow.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Unknown
    edited November 2009
    Check valve

    Yep- That's a check valve. Your system has to have one as otherwise since your boiler doesn't have an  Equalizer, the pressure in the boiler would then  force the water down and back up the return and cause the LWCO to shut down the burner. I'm pretty convinced the other fitting is just a regular` Tee.

    - Rod
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    more information about my system. Part 2

    Hi Rod,



    Thanks for the advice about the water level. I'll try that. I'll also post some more pictures, hopefully later today.



    About photo 4a: A and B are actually the same pipe. The gap in insulation between A and B is a plugged Tee. The insulation gap after B is where the gas pipe is. It's too close to pipe A-B-C to insulate.



    C is a continuation of A-B; it's just a larger diameter pipe. The price for the insulation for that pipe was quite high, so I improvised.



    D is flexible ducting for the air conditioning.



    Just out of the photo, C branches off, first in a T and then in an elbow. After the elbow, you get E in the other photo.



    I have assumed that the device in 4B is a safety. I'll try to get a close-up of the information stamped on it and post that.



    Sorry to be brief. Just swamped with less interesting stuff. I'll send you an email, Rod.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    crossover traps?

    Thanks for the help, Jamie. How do I know if someone has really messed up the returns? Also, what's a crossover trap? I tried looking for pictures of them online but couldn't find any. Is there another name for them?
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,968
    Crossover traps

    are ordinary thermostatic traps -- just like the ones on the radiator outlets -- which connect the end of the steam main to the end of the dry return.  Their purpose is to vent air out of the steam main into the dry return, so it can get back to the main vent at the boiler.  I've never seen one on a regular two pipe system -- only on vapour systems.



    Look in The Lost Art.  It has a very good chapter describing most (not all!) of the vapour systems out there and how they were meant to work.  It also has a good chapter or two on regular two pipe systems, and how they were supposed to work.



    I think you really have two different sets of problems here.  First go, I would locate all the heating pipes and figure out what they were meant to do.  If it is a vapour system, you will have steam mains and dry returns, both more or less at ceiling level in the basement.  Radiator feed from the main to the top of the radiator, return from the bottom of the radiator to the dry return.  As I said earlier, there may be a crossover trap from a steam main to its corresponding dry return.



    Then... you should find vertical pipes from both the steam mains and the dry returns which go down to floor level, or nearly so, to a wet return.  This is not always always the case -- some small systems used counterflow steam mains and pitched both the dry returns and the steam mains back to the boiler, but those were rare.  These vertical pipes are called drips, and allow any condensate which gets into either the dry return -- which should have only air or condensate, never steam (well, hardly ever...) or the steam main to get back to the wet return.  It is absolutely essential that the wet return be below the water level in the boiler everywhere!  The connections between the drips and the wet return MUST be below the boiler water line -- something that sometimes gets messed up when new boilers are installed.



    That should pretty well take care of everything except the near boiler piping.



    In general vapour systems depended on low pressure and an adequate B dimension to get condensate back into the boiler.  If the pressure in the system somehow got too high, there was an assortment of fascinating gadgets which would briefly let steam into the dry return, shutting the vents and giving you an A dimension momentarily, which would get the condensate back.  That's why the main vent(s) on a vapour system must be on the dry return at the boiler and nowhere else -- otherwise these contraptions won't work.



    The near boiler piping, from what I can judge from the comments and photos, frankly sounds wonky.  It was mentioned that there may not be an equalizer, nor a Hartford Loop -- and that there is a check valve.  All of these are problems and will need to be addressed. 
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,660
    edited November 2009
    The "Ideal" Vapor System

    can be found in the Library, under the heading "Older Steam Heating Systems". Here's the link:



    http://www.heatinghelp.com/files/articles/1388/65.pdf



    As our host would say, it pays to wander off the Wall.



    From the looks of it, the Ideal system did not use crossover traps. Venting the steam mains properly would be done by adding main vents in the usual manner. It did use a Return Trap/Alternating Receiver, which would explain the check valves.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,968
    Thank you

    good buddy!  Overlooked that Ideal system... sigh.  I seem to have trouble remembering all the variations...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,968
    But a question...

    Quite likely I'm missing something (it's happened before), but a question: if there is a vent open elsewhere on the dry return, would the pressure in the alternating receiver be able to build up when the float rose and the alternating valve switched from vent to steam?  Seems to me that that's essential to making the thing work.  Same question applies, in a different way, the Hoffman Differential Loop...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,660
    edited November 2009
    Nope

    it would still work. On a BRT/AR, the valve mechanism closes the receiver vent (whether it goes to the dry return or to atmosphere) at the same time it opens the steam valve. So this allows pressure to build, forcing the water back to the boiler, and the steam does not go into the dry return unless the vent valve is bad.



    On a Differential Loop, it works differently. Pressure does not generally build until all or most radiator traps are closed. When the Loop blows over, the steam closes the main air vent and then injects enough pressure into the dry return that the water can go back to the boiler.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Unknown
    edited November 2009
    Ideal System

    Thanks Steamhead for directing us to the info on the Ideal System. Having a diagram really answers a lot of questions.

    I've been trying to help Brian out on this. (I know - The Blind leading the Blind! :).



    What it seems he has now is a replacement boiler from probably the 50s. The return on the main and the return on the dry return are vented with Hoffman 76s just as they drop straight down into the wet return.  There is no Hartford Loop and there is a check valve on the Wet Return.  The Alternative Return Trap seems to have disappeared - probably with the replacement boiler installation 50 years ago.



    Is it possible / beneficial to put it back in operation as a vapor system?  If viable, what would need to be to done to do this?   The present boiler has probably a few more years and then needs to be replaced. If you were putting in a new system with a Drop Header and Hartford Loop, is there any special considerations that need to be done?



    The radiator traps are rather interesting and I don''t know what you do about parts if you needed them. Suggestions on a replacement trap?



    These old systems really are neat!  I think if I ever buy another house I'm going to find the steam system first and then consider the house secondary.



    Frank, Thanks for your help. I know Brian will appreciate any suggestions and I appreciate the knowledge you share with all of us.

    - Rod
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    Frank

    You know I've tried to find the articles on old steam systems, but haven't been able find them. Just figured out it's because I was looking under "Steam" in the library, not "Old". Silly me.



    Thanks.
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Cool! But now what?

    Thanks, Steamhead! I've been poking around "off the wall" a bit, but I didn't stumble across that file. Very helpful. My radiator traps do look like the one in fig. 3 (before it got sliced in half), and the valves resemble those in fig. 5, although without the elephant's trunk pointer.



    The pamphlet talks about "when the system is operating under a few ounces of pressure." I couldn't figure out whether that was just a description of a condition or whether that's what the system should be set at. Right now, my Pressurtrol is at 1 LB. Should I lower it?



    Feel free to send me to The Lost Art or some other thread. I'm new enough at this that I don't yet know what applies to my system and what doesn't.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    You read my mind...and then some

    Thanks for asking all the right questions, Rod. I'm curious to hear the answers.



    I have two more photographs to share. One is of the plaque in the boiler. The two numbers that you might not be able to read from the photo are input and output. They are 210,000 and 168,000. Does that mean my boiler is 80% efficient?



    The other photograph is my best attempt to show you what I thought was weird about the fitting between the two wet returns. The part I thought was strange is that bolt-like knob on the top left of the picture.



    About the safety on top of the boiler. It reads: Conbraco, size = 3/4, PSI = 15, lbs./hr = 410.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,968
    The lovely thing

    about the old vapour systems and modern technology is that we no longer have to worry about a coal fire getting out of hand and building pressure in the system!  That's really what a lot of the more fascinating gadgetry was all about.



    They were intended to run on very low pressures -- ounces per square inch (my Hoffman equipped system, for example, runs between 8 and 2 ounces per square inch) and we now have the technology to control them in those ranges: the Vaporstat, a rather pricey but well built low range pressuretrol from Honeywell.  Ideally (sorry) you would want to control your Ideal system somewhere in that same range, but that means burying a Vaporstat.  If it is working OK at 1 psi, you probably can leave it alone -- but when you do get a new boiler, do get a Vaporstat to control it.



    The safety valve rating is required by code; the 3/4 inch is the size, the 15 psi is the pressure rating (half the test pressure of the boiler), and the 410 is the capacity which it can vent.  It's fine.



    The Lost Art of Steam Heating is a book by our host, Dan, which is about the finest reference to the quirks and foilbles of steam heat around.  You can get it from this site, under "Shop" at the top.  Well worth every penny...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Lowering my pressure

    Thanks, Jamie. Right now, I'm trying to reduce the hammering. I insulated the pipes last year, per The Lost Art…. Once it cools enough for the boiler to kick on again, I'm going to do some blow-downs to get the water level down and to remove some of the rust in the boiler. Maybe that will take care of the hammering.



    Let's say it does. Wouldn't lowering the pressure save on fuel? How would I know if I lowered it too much?



    I've read The Lost Art a couple of times now. It doesn't show, I know. Sometimes I re-read it just to get enthusiastic about the system again. I also have We've Got Steam Heat. I think I need something in between. By the way, the Ideal Vapour system isn't in The Lost Art, at least not in the index.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,660
    That fitting between the two drips

    is a check valve. I'd remove the flapper from inside the valve, it's not needed any more.



    The other check valve should be replaced by a Hartford Loop.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,968
    edited November 2009
    Pressure

    There are a few times when it's possible to run too low a pressure -- very large systems may need up to a couple of pounds, and there are some arrangements of F&T traps which may need more pressure (most of them are in The Lost Art -- great book, isn't it?!).  But your system probably isn't one of them -- the biggest problem is getting reliable operation at low pressures.  Somewhere in there I'm sure you mentioned if you are using a Vaporstat or a Pressuretrol.  If a Vaporstat, I'd probably try for a range of 2 to 4 ounces to 10 ounces or so (10 ounce main (cutout) and 6 to 8 differential).  Pressuretrol... well, try a half pound cut in, and 1 pound differential (additive).  That's a little high for vapour -- it would make my Hoffman Differential Loop quite active! -- but it should work OK.  How would you know if you got it too low?  Something somewhere wouldn't heat.  But that's unlikely.  Main thing with a Pressuretrol is to observe it, and make sure that it does cut back in when the pressure drops.



    Lowering the pressure may save some fuel; I wouldn't care to be dogmatic about that.  What it may really do is help keep water from backing up somewhere it shouldn't be -- and that could quiet things down!



    The Ideal system -- along with a host of other oddities -- is described under Resources/Library on this site, under 'Old'.  Those old boys had some fun dreaming up contraptions!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Vaporstat

    Thanks, Jamie. I'll have to try lowing the pressure. I think I've got my homework cut out for me between this and Rod's suggestion about heating times. I believe I have a Pressuretrol. How difficult it is to convert to a Vaporstat and would it pay for itself? I saw from some other recent threads that they go for about $200.



    Thanks again,



    Brian, who's off to study up on vapor systems.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Boiler Manual

    Brian- Did you get the manual for your boiler i emailed you?

    - Rod
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,968
    Other than shelling out the cash

    for the Vaporstat, it's really easy.  It can either go on the same pigtail as the Pressuretrol (use a T, two nipples, and two 90s) or it can just replace the Pressurestat.  For a better job, it's not so hard to replace the pigtail while you're at it -- use red brass rather than iron; won't clog so easily or so fast...



    Will it pay for itself?  I wouldn't care to say... that's one of those imponderables.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Yes, thanks!

    Hi Rod, I did get the files. Thanks so much. Work has keep me away from fun stuff.



    I really appreciate your help,



    Brian
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Wrapping my head around the imponderables

    Thanks, Jamie. I was hoping that some of this would be easy. Since my Pressuretrol seems to be working, I think I'll see what I can do with it.



    I appreciate your help!



    Brian
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Eliminating the check valve

    Thanks, Steamhead. Would I need to eliminate it even if I were going to "restore" the system to a true vapor system?
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
This discussion has been closed.