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steam heat issues

Hi - We moved into a 100 year old house a few months ago and this is our first IL winter.  Our steam radiators were working great the last few days and today they have not turned on at all.  All of our thermostats are on 73 or above and the current temperatures showing are all below 65 or so and dropping.  The boiler is on, how do we get the radiators to come on?  All knobs are on the highest number.  Any ideas?  Thanks

Comments

  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    to be clear...

    you say there is fire burning, but no heat to the rads?

    is this 1-pipe steam or 2-pipe steam? (1-pipe steam has one pipe entering the radiator and no other pipes leaving the radiator)

    do the pipes directly above the boiler get "steam hot"?

    do the valves at the bottom of the radiators get "steam hot"?
    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
  • Rufus1017
    Rufus1017 Member Posts: 3
    more info

    they are one pipe radiators. the boiler is down in the basement far away and none of the radiators throughout the house are heating up.  yes, the boiler is on and appears to be working but for some reason nothing coming out of radiators.  What is weird is that they worked up until yesterday.  the same thing happened a few weeks ago and they didn't work for two days and then they randomly came back on.  thanks
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    the first thing I would try...

    with the system OFF .. unscrew your radiator vents and see if you drain any water out of them ..



    2nd -- have a look at the pitch of your rads .. there is some discussion here about pitch .. http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/128438/Clearing-Obstruction .. you need to make sure the water (condensate) leaves the rad vents and preferably the entire rad.



    3rd -- if manually draining the vents helps and the rads are properly pitched .. perhaps it's time to invest in new rad vents (or boil the ones you have in white vinegar (search this forum for boiling methodology))... I will be posting an excel sheet to assist in determining proper system venting likely tomorrow...it's being review by an Gerry Gill of this Forum right now... and not ready for public release quite yet. Many people on this forum seem to favor Gorton vents. There is only 1 place on the net to purchase these vents, google them up and you'll find them.



    Let us know how it goes ..
    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
  • Rufus1017
    Rufus1017 Member Posts: 3
    thanks

    thanks for the info - while the steps are very detailed, they are still a little over our heads.  we may just hunker down for the night and call the radiator experts in the morning.  we were hoping it was maybe just a switch we missed somewhere.  however, we may come back to this if we aren't able to get any onsite help tomorrow. thank you!
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    try at least one vent...

    try at least one vent .. probably the one in your bedroom :-)  .. with the system off (turn down stat if you need to) .. check your boiler pressure gauge and make sure it reads ZERO...grab a good hold of the radiator vent (the little nubby thing that is halfway up the far side of your radiator).. lefty loosey turn it .. once removed .. shake it out over a couple of pieces of paper towel .. then righty tighty screw it back on .. then turn on system and wait a little while. there is no reason for a service call yet .. just a strong arm .. best if you have some teflon plumbers tape to put on the vent stem before you screw it back in .. but for the moment and for the purposes of the test .. not necessary right now.
    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    edited November 2009
    ummm...did you check

    to see that there is water in the glass tube? is it at least 1/2-3/4 up the tube? no water = no steam and if you system is FIRING without water, this is BAD. If your system is firing without water, you need to 1) shut it down immediately 2) allow boiler to cool completely 3) add water 4) replace your LOW WATER CUT-OFF equipment .. this will require a service call.
    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,657
    edited November 2009
    Where in IL are you?

    There's a real good steam specialist in Amboy- Dave "Boilerpro" Bunnell. Go here:



    http://www.heatinghelp.com/professional/105/Boiler-Professionals-Inc
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • you havnt said

    You havn't said where you are located in Illinois and I'm located in west suburbs of Chicago...
  • RUFUS...PLEASE READ THIS

    ABSOLUTELY DO NOT ADD WATER TO THE BOILER IF NONE IS SHOWING IN THE GAGE GLASS AND THE BOILER IS FIRING.....THE BOILER COULD EXPLODE!!!!!!          If there is no water in the boiler and it is running the boiler can be extremely hot. Adding even the smallest amount of water could cause the water to boil virtually instantly, increasing 1400 times in size and causing the boiler to explode.  Shut the boiler down and call an expert



    Boilerpro
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    agreed

    i neglected to state the obvious and the way it read was not clear...i will edit the post in case anyone else reads it .. my apologies...
    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
  • I can relate....

    Whenever the water appears low, its a natural reaction to add water.  That's my first thought too. 

    Boilerpro
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
This discussion has been closed.