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Discovered Only One Main Vent - Can You Help Me Tune My One Pipe System?

I've attached a diagram of my one pipe steam system.  I have read through We Got Steam Heat, and have a few questions. 

First, here is a quick description: Off the Peerless boiler (about 16 years old) are two 2 1/2" mains, the west main (~19' from the boiler) and east main (16').  The 14 steam pipes coming off the mains are either 1 3/4" or 1 1/4" in diameter.  The system heats 11 radiators and we have 3 capped off steam pipes.  The rads are beautiful, ornate cast iron that we are sandblasting, priming, and painting with Rustoleum Hammered Spray Copper.  They are each vented with Heat-Timer Varivents.

Our house is about 2,900 sq. ft, although in one room we use a gas stove.  We have recently insulated with a combination of closed cell foam in the basement and dense pack cellulose in the walls and ceiling cavity (we have a flat top home).  We live in Vermont and it was -50 below 0 with wind chill one day last week!  Our walls are evaluated at R-17 (this is most likely optimistic) and our attic cavity at R-40.  All windows are argon gas vinyl replacements of average quality.

I discovered that there is only one main vent on the whole system!  It's a Vent Rite No. 7 on the east main.  There is no main vent on the west main.  Can you all help me figure out what to put on the mains (Gorton No. 2s?) and how many?

About insulation: I know I have to insulate the mains.  I also have to insulate the steam pipes coming off the mains right?  What about the two returns?

Why did the dead guys use a mix of 1 3/4" pipe and 1 1/4" pipe? 

What, if anything, should I do with the dead end capped pipes?

Given that our house is now air sealed, could our boiler be oversized?  I want to get an outdoor air intake for it.  Our contractor who cleans the furnace says it has plenty of life in it and is relatively efficient.  I'll post pictures tonight.

Thanks in advance for all your help!  I love this site!

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  • Venting

    Hi-  Got to make this a rush answer I'm on my way out the door.

    Dead ends- Don't worry about them. you may want them somewhere in the future

    1 1/4 & 1 3/4 pipes - Don't know hat to tell you about these other than it's better than having them too small.

    Main vents - I think the reason you have Vari vents (which are very "aggressive") is to make up for lack of main venting. Here is a link to a great site on venting. Take a look around the site as you can learn a lot. Gerry Gill is a steam super pro http://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/webapp/GetPage?pid=415

    You might also want to get his ebook on "balancing". It's downloadable from the Shop above.  I use it as much as I use "The Lost Art..."  Here's the direct link.


    With all the added insulation you now probably have an oversized boiler. Since you have added /removed radiators you might want to do another EDR survey. I've attached a sheet that might be of help to you.  Pipe insulation wise- Obviously, " the more - the merrier" however 1 inch gives the "best bang for the buck". (see attached insulation diagram by David Nadle)

    - Rod
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,689
    oversized boiler?

    well, probably slightly, with three radiators out -- but probably not enough to worry about replacing it.  What counts is the EDR of the installed radiation, not the heat loss of the house.  What your nice insulation will do is reduce the length of time the boiler has to run to keep things warm.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Should I replace the Vent-Rite with a Gorton #2?

    I'm not sure when those three steam lines were capped, we inheirited the system like that. 

    I noticed that the Vent-Rite main quick vent (must be a  no. 75 or 77) is on the shorter of the two mains (the 16' line versus the 19' line).  It is also placed at the elbow just before it dips to the return line.  There's not t-valve either.  I wonder if it's gunked up.

    Should we consider an outdoor air duct supplying air to the furnace given all that air sealing that has taken place?

    Think I should swap out main vents and see what happens?  How does one best measure the time it takes to heat?

    Thanks for all your help!

    p.s. How do you include pictures in your post?  I'll add them tonight if I can figure it out...
  • Unknown
    edited February 2010

    Your main vent is probably a #77. A Gorton #1 is about 75% bigger than a #77 and a Gorton #2 is three times the size of a Gorton #1. From the posts on the Wall they seem to be having some manufacturing problems lately with the Gorton # 2s so it might be better just to use a couple of Gorton #1s on an "antler" (see attached drawing).

    To post pictures -  Just below the message box you're writing in, you will see the

    words "File Attachment.  Use the "Browse" button to the right of this and find the file you want to attach to your message. If you want to add multiple files use the "+ Add Another File" button for each file you wish to attach. This website will only accept files in jpg or pdf format.

    Timing the system -  Pick strategic points on the system and use these each time when timing the system.  The riser going up to the main (use the same spot on the riser each time).   The main vents (or the end of the main if you don't have main vents). Each radiator on the pipe between the valve and the radiator. It's also no a bad idea to time how long it takes to get each radiator filled with steam. The start point for each timing is fromn the moment the burner turns on. You'll probably want to do a couple of sets of timing. the first from a cold start (boiler and piping cold) and then from a warm start (boiler and piping warm)  You can easily feel the heat when the steam reaches the point you are checking.  "Santa" brought me a Ryobi

    Tek4 Infrared Thermometer which she got from Home Depot for about $60. Besides being a great toy, it has a lot of practical uses and makes doing an accurate heat measurements a snap.

    Cold air makeup- That depends on how tight your house is. A pro burner guy should be able to tell you if you need extra air from readings on his combustion instruments.

    - Rod
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Thanks Rod!

    For a simple residential application like mine, should I consider venting both mains, or work with just the one main that is vented?

    I confirmed that the main vent is a Vent-Rite no. 75.  I've included a picture of the main vent, our boiler, and where there may have been a main vent in the past, where the entry radiator presently is piped.  Also is a picture of the entry radiator, a Rococo, painted in Rustoleum Hammered Spray Copper.  It's a beauty!
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Few more pics...

    I added a picture of the west main, most of the action is at the end where the pipe returns.  The second picture is of a 1 1/4" pipe going to the den radiator.  How do you insulate a pipe like this when it is nearly touching the joist above it?  The third is another picture of the Rococo in copper. The final is what our house looked like on MLK day.
  • Nice Radiator!

    Neat pictures!  The radiator looks great! I can see why you are so proud of it. I wish mine looked like that. It looks like you have a lot of snow!

    In answer to your questions - You really should have main venting on all your mains. Is there a place on the main with no vent, to add a vent?  The #75 is has quite a bit smaller venting capacity than the #77. One Gorton #1 has about 3 times the venting capacity of the #75. 

    Insulation - Don't worry about the beam, just do the best you can. Insulation does make a BIG difference. I just had my near boiler piping exposed and I could notice the difference when I added insulation to even that small a section. Here's link to an article by Dan on insulation which might be of interest to you.


    Near Boiler Piping-  I looked at your picture of you boiler and your boiler piping looks really "strange". Could you up load some more picture of your boiler so we could look at them more closely? Also what make and model is your boiler?

    - Rod
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    I'll take more photos this weekend.

    Thanks again Rod.  I'll take more photos of the boiler this weekend and have a look at the west main to see if there is an obvious location to place a main vent.  Ideally, the vent would be 12" to 15" from the end of the run, correct? 

    If it can't be placed there, is it better to locate the vent on the return side (beyond the four radiator supply pipes) or before the four supply pipes (are supply pipes called risers?).

    I've been trying to figure out where it's most economical to purchase 1" insulation for all my pipes in the basement.  Stuff is expensive!  My heating contractor was nice enough to give the insulation I have for free - it came from a commercial tear out job.  Much of the pipe insulation is 2 1/2".  Can you think of a good way I could use the 2 1/2" on the smaller diameter pipe in combination with fiberglass batts?

    Where I can't fit the 1" pipe insulation, I'll trying wrapping the pipe in fiberglass batts and duct tape.  Is it worth buying all the 1" pieces for the elbows and joints on the main lines or should I wrap those in fiberglass batts?  We hope to pass this house on to our kids, and I want to do it right the first time, but have a limited budget.

    I'll take some more shots of other radiators we having refinished at present.  We are lucky to have found a house which such beautiful rads!
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Could I put a main vent here?

    The most obvious place to put a main vent would be right above the 1 1/4" pipe supply the entry radiator, shown in this picture.  Would this work well?  If I could get 6" of height above that radiator's return, would we be all set? 
  • venting location

    the best place would be at the ends of the dry returns, just before they drop down below the waterline, and become "wet". that way, all the air in the mains will be out.

    if you can take some more pictures of the return piping [both of them] then we can see a possible location.--nbc
  • Vents & Insulation

    I'd just go ahead and use the location in the picture (above the tee) for the new main vent.

    While it isn't ideal place(15 inches back or as NBC mentioned an alternate position on the dry return), it is available and would seem fairly easy to install. I've seen main vents work fine in far more unsuitable places and if it does become a problem you can always move it.

     I'd put it on an antler with and elbow or two which would help prevent water reaching it. Use a pipe union (as in the previous antler diagram) as this allows you to make it up on a bench and also makes it easy to take off for maintenance or adding addition vents.  If you can, orient the antler so that the condensate (water) running down the Main has to turn 180 degrees to get into the antler. Also make sure the antler has a bit of pitch so that any water in the vent piping drains back into the main.

    Insulation-  If you have a lot of extra 2 1/2 insulation go ahead and use it on the small pipes. I'd see if I could find some thin insulation at the Home Depot/Lowes to fill in the gap. That type of thing you just have to experiment a bit to see what will work and the best method to install it. I'd do the steam pipes first - meaning the mains and then possibly the laterals from the mains to the radiators. (A lot of people just do the Steam Mains)

    While it might be ideal to install all the insulation at the same time, it's sometimes easier economically and time wise to do it a section at a time. What I would do is to plan it out carefully first. If you're going to insulate the straights first and the fittings later, get one fitting cover for each type of fitting your going to insulate and use it as a spacer so the straight lengths on either side of the fitting are properly spaced so that the fitting cover when it is installed just fits perfectly. This way you avoid a lot of cutting, filling and adjusting when you install the covers at a later time. 

     For more info on insulation for pipe and fittings try McMaster Carr [url=http://www.mcmaster.com/]http://www.mcmaster.com/    For fittings - In the Find window, in the upper left hand corner, type in the number

    3490 as that will taker you to page 3490 in the catalog. Scroll down

    the page to the pvc covered insulation for fittings. I've just given McMaster Carr's  website as it is a good reference for info etc.  Their pricing is reasonable though you should be able to get a much better deal from one of the big insulation suppliers. (I've seen some pricing that was 50% less of what McMaster was quoting)  One of the posters on the Wall got good pricing  from All State Insulation http://www.allstateinsulation.com/  Keep in mind shipping costs can be a BIG factor. I'd look at Mc Master for description and pricing and then check with All State for an idea of a good price and then see what you can do locally. 

    - Rod 
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Number of main vents?

    Thanks Rod.  Very helpful.  I have a couple more questions.  Would you recommend two No. 1 Gortons on both the east and west mains (for a total of 4 for the system)? 

    Concerning insulation, should I use the 2 1/2" diameter insulation to insulate the main returns as well?  If not, where do you stop insulating the mains?  It seams that the returns should be insulated if a vent was on a return line close to the boiler.  Otherwise, wouldn't you lose a lot of steam to condensation as it made its way to the main vents?

    Great idea about placing the fittings first.  That makes sense.
  • MarkZeh
    MarkZeh Member Posts: 21
    discovered only one main vent

    K, the Wall offers a venting guide that shows air flow rate by vent/manf. I used this for my system and worked great. Remove vent from (looks like) 3/4" fitting leaving port open and start boiler (have 3/4" plug and gloves ready), choose a spot not too far from the boiler as your 'zero point' to feel w/ bare hand when steam comes up and starts to race to end of main line w/o vent. As soon as you feel steam at the zero point start a timer, measure time it takes for steam to get to end and start to exit 3/4" openning(plug port before steam pors out),. That time will be best time you can acheive to vent main. Knowing pipe dia you can determine the amount of air that was displaced by the steam and how quickly this was achieved giving you the air flow rate. This is the air flow rate you're looking for in a main line vent. In the end, I used two #2 Gortons and a smaller Hoffman 1A (45' of 2" main pipe) and came to within 5-10sec difference from measured 5:30min open port time. You should have no issues. That guide is awesome. As for insulation, try insulationexpress.com, great service and prices. Unheated crawl space as I have in one area, went w/ 2" fiber insulation. Did the trick. good luck and best regards.

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,262
    edited February 2010
    Start with

    one Gorton #2 on each main. I doubt you'll need more. The location in the pic should work fine.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Sounds good. Thanks for the description.

    Mark, thanks for the description.  Should I leave all my radiator vents as they are for this exercise?  Out of curiosity, what happens if you use vents that are oversized?  Is it just a cost issue associated with more expensive main vents?

    Thanks for the insulation link - I'll check them out!
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53

    Mark, did you mean expressinsulation.com?
  • Unknown
    edited February 2010

    Vent Calculations -

    West Main - 19 ft. of 2 1/2 Pipe = 0.57 cu. ft.

    East Main   - 16 ft of 2 1/2 Pipe = 0.48 cu. ft.

    Venting Capacity of a Gorton #1 @ 1oz of pressure  = 0.330 cu. ft. /minute

    West Main w/ 1 Gorton #1 = 1 min. 49 sec.   2 Gorton #1s = 54 sec.

    East  Main  w /1 Gorton # 1 = 1 min. 27 sec.  2 Gorton #1s = 43 1/2  sec.

    (Venting figures used are from Gerry Gill's excellent vent balancing book which I mentioned earlier)

    You could probably get away with using just one Gorton #1 per main though I think I'd use 2 per main ( redundancy and better venting)

    Insulation- You are right- if the vents were on the dry return it would pay to insulate the dry returns also. If one isn't insulating the dry returns (and vents are located on the end of the mains) I'd carry the insulation of the mains slightly past the main vent location.   The priority should be to insulate the steam pipes first and then the dry and wet return though it would seem that most people (including me) don't do the dry and wet returns. I've been thinking about it as theoretically the less heat you lose from the condensate, the less btus (fuel) you need to bring it back to a boil (make steam) If you have extra "free" insulation after doing the steam pipes I'd use it on the returns other wise it's questionable whether the payback is worth it.

    Edit: I posted this before reading Steamhead's reply. Steamhead is one of the Super Steam  Pros on this board so I would definitely defer to his suggestions.

    - Rod
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    edited February 2010
    Sizing T's for insulation

    My mains are 2 1/2".  When I size insulation for the t-fitting and elbows, like those in the picture below, do I move up to a 3" sizing?

    Sorry, the picture is not uploading.  It's the same picture that contains the main vent in an earlier post...
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    More pictures of boiler and water heater

    Some close up shots of the boiler.  What does the internal siphon do.  The gauge shot at 16 psi was at its peak before the furnace shut off.  How do I find out how much pressure is running through my system?
  • Boiler Problems

    Hi K -  Wow! You have some serious problems with your boiler!

    Pressure- If the gauge is working and correct, your boiler pressure is way TOO HIGH!

    A residential boiler should never be above 2 PSI maximum at any time. The normal is a cut in pressure of 0.5 PSI and a differential of 1.5 PSI. (A lot of people get the system to operate at less than this). With a steam system - Lower = Better.   Excess pressure is destroying your vents!  Excess pressure = excess fuel used as it needs fuel to build pressure.


    If the gauge is working and the pressure is really too high then the problem is with the Pressuretrol (the gray Honeywell control box). The pipe and pigtail going from it to the boiler maybe plugged up so this is the first thing you should check. It is generally easier to just replace the pigtail and piping than to take the trouble to clean them out. If you replace them get a replacement made from bronze (also called red brass) If your local heating place doesn't have them look on Mc Master Carr. I've got mine from there and they have an good assortment of configurations. You might also consider adding another pressure gauge (0 -3 PSI)

    If cleaning the line doesn't fix the problem then you may need a new pressuretrol. If you do need a new pressuretrol then you might consider getting a  vaporstat instead.

    Any way the first thing to do is to figure out why you pressure is so high.

    Boiler piping - I'm not quite sure how to describe your boiler piping. It's sort of a dual Hartford Loop. I haven't seen it done this way before. The installer obviously didn't read the manual as it's no where near what the factory specifications call for. Do you have the installation manual? If so look, on Page 6 and Table 3.1 and 3.2. The piping should be similar the sketch in 3.2.

    I've attached a couple of pictures of a Peerless ECT so you can get an idea of what the boiler piping should look like. The piping on these boiler incorporate a dropheader which produces the driest steam.  For more on boiler piping - Here's a link to a good video: http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/107/Steam-Heating/118/Steam-boiler-near-boiler-piping.

    You need to fix the high pressure problem right away. Correcting the boiler piping can wait until it warms up. I'm not sure what the operational differences would be between the present configuration and a corrected configuration. It should be more efficient. Quite frankly I'm rather surprised your system is doing as well as it apparently is. That maybe one of the reason the pressure is so high. Whom ever originally installed it may have cranked the pressure up as it was the only way they could get the system to work.All this is quite easy to get straightened out. Just work through an item at a time. If you need the the I&O manual let me know. I have this same model boiler.

    - Rod
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Can O' Worms

    Sigh.   I was afraid you were going to say something like that.  The previous owner of the house was a carpenter and he and his buddies took many liberties when it came to areas out of their expertise.  When we bought the house, we learned that they were burning 2,000 gallons of oil during the heating season.  The house was essentially unisulated - walls were hollow, very minimal insulation in the attic, antique exterior doors with open keyholes, etc.  With the considerable cellulose and spray foam investment, last season we burned 900 gallons of oil.

    On the bright side, I love pursuing efficiency!  I'm going to speak with my heating contractor (and I wonder why he did not point this out before - I do trust him), about your suggestions.  Can you help me prioritize?

    No. 1 - Replace the pigtail with a bronze pigtail and replace the piping from the pressuretrol to the boiler.  Order a 0-3 psi pressure gauge.  If replacing  the pigtail and piping works, I should notice a significant drop in pressure demonstrated by the gauge I photographed.

    No. 2 - If that doesn't work, replace the pressuretrol with a vaporstat.

    No. 3 - Purchase and install 4 No. 1 Gorton main quick vents - 2 on each main line.

    No. 4 - Completely insulate all mains and do what I can on the smaller pipes.

    No. 5 - After the heating season has ended, consider repiping the system at the boiler.

    Does that sound about right?  Hopefully we'll see a significant difference in a our fuel usage. 

    Here's another one: My indirect water heater is turned up to the maximum.  Is this necessary?  See photos...  You guys rock!  Thanks Rod!
  • TomM
    TomM Posts: 233
    gauge check

    you can check your gauge the easy way.  check the pressure gauge when the boiler is cold, and if it reads any psi, its toast. .
    beautiful Conshohocken PA
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    My indirect water heater is turned up to the maximum. Is this necessary?

    I am a homeowner, not a professional.

    I have an indirect hot water heater of another brand. They suggest running 190F water from the boiler through it when it calls for heat. It recovered in about 5 minutes when I did that, with the boiler never getting over 170F when doing that. So I lowered it to 170F.

    The thermostat on the water heater has a mark where the manufacturer says to set it first. That produced water so hot it was off the scale on my thermometer. So I run mine  many divisions below that, so it comes out at  between 120F and 125F at the nearest hot water tap.

    If you are not getting enough hot water, consider the following possibilities.

    1.) Is it deliberately set that high (to kill bacteria, perhaps) and you have a temperature reducing valve between the hot water heater and the taps to reduce the temperature at the delivery points? It may be OK the way it is. Even if that is the case, it may be a bit expensive to run that way.

    2.) Is the output temperature from your boiler insufficiently hot (see specification of your water heater)? What is the boiler water temperature set at when the house is not calling for heat, but when the hot water heater is calling for heat?

    3.)  Is the circulator for the hot water heater too small? Or the pipe diameter too small?

    Mine is around 38 gallons and requires 1" pipe and a Taco 007-IFC circulator. Some people have recommended an even larger circulator, but I am a light user of hot water, so that is sufficient for me.

    4.) Are the pipes connecting the hot water heater to the boiler uninsulated? I insulated mine.
  • Unknown
    edited February 2010
    Boiler Fixes

    Hi K - It sounds as though you are in about the same situation as I was. I have an old family house and for years the steam system worked rather marginally. When I took over the responsibility for having the maintenance done, I was determined to get the heating system finally straightened out. The heating contractor who had worked on it regularly for years was constantly telling me "I needed to up grade the system as steam heating is obsolete."  I was getting pretty frustrated as the oil bills were very high and the system never worked properly. It finally came to a head one day when the contractor made a remark about steam that didn't jibe with what I knew from my physics class in high school. At that point I decided I'd better learn something about steam heating. After digging in to steam a bit I came to the initial  conclusion that the contractor had been ripping us off for years. It wasn't until I found this website and heard other people's stories I realized that my contractor just really didn't have a clue about steam heating and how it works. We now have an agreement. He takes care of the burner end (he's a great burner guy!)  and I take care of the steam end. I've tried to teach him about steam but he relates to pressure water too much I think to understand steam. We now get along very well and he calls me once in a while when he has a steam problem he needs help with. Sort of the blind leading the blind! Sorry for being long winded but thought I better mention my experience in case you developed negative thoughts about your contractor. The basic fact is there aren't many people out there, homeowners and many heating professionals that have a clue as to how steam heating works.

    Your "to do" list -  This looks like a pretty good approach. Most people here are getting their 0-3PSI gauges at the gauge store and are using the #33020 gauge. [url=http://www.gaugestore.com/prodinfo.asp?number=33020 ]http://www.gaugestore.com/prodinfo.asp?number=33020  I attached a picture of this gauge installed. Leave the old gauge in place as a 0-30 PSI gauge is required for insurance/code purposes though for practical  purposes it's useless.  I forgot to answer this in my last post - an "internal syphon " is a gauge used for steam with an internal "pigtail" built in. It basically saves the boiler manufacturer having to pay for a pigtail.

    Water Heater - I'm not really quite sure what to tell you on this as I'm not that familar with the method of hooking water heaters to boilers.and I really can't trace out the water piping that well in your pictures.  I'm surprised they didn't use the water coil in the boiler (See attached picture marked "A" .  The item marked  "B" appears to be some type of temperature  sensor?

    Boiler Piping-  I would plan my boiler piping very carefully. Make sure you study and save the dropheader pictures I sent earlier as these should be a big help to you. The guys that did these,Garry, Clammy and RonJr are artists! Note the tall risers coming out of the boiler. These really help produce dry steam. Dry steam is more efficient than wet steam for, as Dan says, "it allows more btus to get on the steam train".  When you're planning the header and piping take into consideration your next replacement boiler. If you plan it carfully all that should need to be done is just change the boiler risers. I still have a lot of years left in my present boiler though I'm waiting for a practical 2 stage or modulated oil burner for residential use which I think we'll see shortly. If we caould just recover the 33 % pickup factor it would be a great saving.  You mentioned you have "We Got Steam Heat" and if you don't already have it you might want to get "The Lost Art of Steam Heating " as it deals more with the rules of system design and boiler sizing.(plus a lot of other good stuff!)   Let us know what happens when you get your steam pressure lowered. You may find you run into some more problems as raising the steam pressure is the first thing a knucklehead does if he has a problem with the system. I'll then just be a matter of finding the problems and fixing them properly and once you get the system "tweeked" you'll be very happy with it.

    - Rod
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    First question answered...

    My heating contractor confirmed that my furnace's psi gauge is not working.  He is going to install a new brass pigtail with the 0-3 psi gauge I just ordered and thinks the system should work fine at 1.5 psi.  He is also going to install a Gorton no. 1 on each of the mains.  I hope to get the insulation ordered this week and get the system working to its best ability soon thereafter!

    Thanks Wallers!  Rod, you have been especially helpful.  Thank you.

    I'll report back when it's all said and done...
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Furnace running for 20 minutes produces only half an ounce of pressure!

    My plumber thinks part of the problem (of my high fuel bills) is that the nozzle supplying oil to my Peerless furnace is too small.  His guess is that it's 1.0 to 1.25 gallons p/hour.  He's going to try replacing it with a 1.5 gph nozzle, hoping that we can reach 1.5 psi in 15 minutes or so. 

    Does this sound right?  Note, this is a new plumber that my GC stands by, so he wasn't the one how tuned the system pre-heating season...
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 797
    At 1/2 oz Pressure

    Do your radiators heat up?  Do they heat up evenly?

    Even so, 1.5psi is most likely too much pressure.

    It's not the pressure that heats your building, it's the hidden heat within the steam that does the job. 

    You need just enough pressure to get the air out of your pipes and radiators.  You will find that that pressure is extremely low.

    Having said that, it may be possible that your current nozzle size IS too small.  However,  I wouldn't expect a such massive increase in pressure with the proposed nozzle change.

    Will this fellow set up your burner with combustion test equipment or "by eye"?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Yes, the rads heat evenly, but 20 minutes is a long time...

    Maybe I should install the main vents and insulation before having my heating contractor swap out the oil nozzle.  He is using a test kit, that is how he confirmed the internal syphon gauge was misreading. 
  • Why Burn more Fuel?

    Hi K- I think you should be using the burner nozzle that was designed for your boiler and if a change was suggested I'd want a detailed explanation of how burning more fuel per hour was going to save me money. Check your data plate on you boiler and then look on Page 16 of the EC/ETC I&O Manual . It has the complete info as to how your model's burner should be setup.  If you don't have your copy you can download one at this link:


    The Beckett burner on the 04 boiler can be fired up to 1.75 gal /hr. I'm not sure just how your guy figures you will save money by burning more fuel  per hour, however, burners are outside my area of knowledge though if it were me I'd want an complete explanation as to where the benefit was coming from. I'd get your main venting straightened out first and also the boiler piping before I'd fool around with the burner settings other than to make sure the burner as it is now setup is working properly. If the radiators are heating fine at this point why mess with them. Your lack of main venting has to be slowing down things a bit so that would be one of the first things I would take care of.  Don't get hung up on pressure. Building pressure uses fuel and also with a well balanced system you won't build much pressure as the boiler could be perfectly matched to the radiators. Go with Gordo's advice as he is one of the super pros on this board.

    - Rod
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Thanks Gordo and Rod

    I downloaded my boilers manual - thanks Rod.  It's a Peerless ECT-04-125, and the 125 represents the specific gph - 1.25!  The nozzle is right sized according to the manual.  Sticking with our original plan - Gorton No. 1 quick vents on each main and pipe insulation!
  • Pressure Rise

    Hi K-  If the non building of steam pressure is what is bothering you, keep in mind that by insulating of your steam piping, it will slow down the amount of steam be used (condensing) in the piping and resulting surplus should cause a rise in the steam pressure.

    - Rod
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,094
    How Long?

    How long do you think your boiler should run to heat your house?  Actually 20 minutes is quite good.  You say your heat bills are high.  Compared to what.  Your house is on the large size and you live where it is quite cold.  These things don't lead to low heat bills.  You state that you did alot to tighten up your house.  Have a new heat loss survey done.  Reduce the amount of radiation you have to meet that new heat loss and get a smaller boiler.  That will lead to lower heat bills.  I have 0-3psi gauge on my boiler and my whole house heats and the needle barely moves.  Good luck.

  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Calculated my radiation in square feet at 498

    11 rads with total sq. ft of radiation = 497.8

    Total BTUH load = 119,472

    Peerless ECT-04-125 output = 151,000

    Boiler output is 26% greater than BTUH load, or BTUH load is about 80% of boiler capacity.

    I also discovered my mains are 2" internal diameter, not 2 1/2" like I previously thought. 

    If I have 2 Gorton No. 2 main vents, at 1.1 cfm each, I'll have 2.2 cfm of total main venting capacity.  To fill the mains quickly, I'll try reducing my Heat-Timer Varivalves to an average of 10% capacity, or 0.068 cfm.  With 11 rads, they will have total venting of 0.75 cfm.  Then the mains will have about 3x the venting capacity of the rads.  Does this sound reasonable? 
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Gorton No. 2 Air Eliminator - Only in 1/2" thread?

    I found these at pexsupply.com, my local suppliers only sell Dole and Vent Rite vents.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,262
    If the mains are only 16 and 19 feet long

    you can vent them with Gorton #1 vents. if you want to use #2 vents, install them with 3/4"x1/2" bushings. We do this all the time. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • K Penniman
    K Penniman Member Posts: 53
    Steamhead - originally you recommended Gorton No. 2s.

    Will G1s get the job done just as well as G2s given my EDR and radiator venting scenario above?  I can't remember, what is the G1 CFM rated?
This discussion has been closed.