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2 pipe, half house not heating

andyz
andyz Member Posts: 18
2 pipe gravity feed, 2 mains (75ft) vented at end of main, dropping to wet return (below water level). Main vent above boiler where dry returns combine.



One side main, all rads hot, dry return hot. The other main... rads hot at top only, dry returns (all rads) are cold. (Classic trapped air ) Replaced main vents, the same, added more vents, same problem. Been suggested problem with radiator traps... but not sure what I have, attached photo of outlet.... explanation? Could all the traps be faulty???

Any other ideas... could the drain main be blocked? Hartford loop hot all the way back to boiler.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,777
    Vapour system

    There were a number of vapour systems which did not use steam traps; from the picture of that outlet, I'm very much of the mind that this is one of them, though I wouldn't care to say which one.  It doesn't really matter, though: any vapour system, but particularly one of the ones without traps, must -- absolutely must -- run on very low pressure.  Not more than 8 ounces, and less if you can manage it.  Further, they had calibrated inlet valves, so that just so much steam as would condense could get into a radiator, and no more.  A too open inlet valve may be part of the problem; excess pressure may be the major source of the problem.



    One might think that having all the radiators on one main hot, and that return hot, would be a good thing.  Probably not, in fact.  What it may mean is that one (or more) of the radiators on that return is passing steam through to the return.  This it should not do.  Perhaps either the pressure is too high or the inlet is too open on one or more of the radiators -- or both.



    If you have not already done so, try lowering the pressure to no more than 8 ounces (you'll need a vaporstat to do this; a pressuretrol just won't cut it).  Then on the side where everything gets hot, find the radiator which gets hot through it's whole length first, and try closing its inlet valve some.



    And let us know what happens!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,028
    Also

    make sure there isn't a water pocket in the dry return before it gets to the vent.



    If you were air, how would you get out of that part of the system?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,567
    how about some pics....

    of your boiler piping ... and splits between the 2 mains .. steamhead once picked up a piping problem that caused one main to stay forever cold... did the system as piped ever work? if it ever worked, what changed?
    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
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    I'll try this

    What you say makes sense, the system was upgraded to a new gas fired boiler in the 90's (originally oil), but the pipe work has not changed. The boiler has a Pressuretrol, and the system runs about 1-3psi... yes I can't get it any lower, could be the newer installer did not recognize this as a vapor system (FYI when I bought this house 3 years ago the pressure was cranked way up... fancy that?).

    The hot main does blow some water from time to time out of the end of main vent (that's how this all began, so maybe we do have steam getting in there. I will try you suggestions and take some pix of the pipe and get back... Thanks much
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    Pipe layout at boiler

    Here is the near boiler layout. The main that supplies the non heating side of the house is on the left (B) along with it's associated dry return and common vent.



    I have cranked the pressuretrol down as far as I can, I am see 1-2psi (gauge is useless 30-0-30



    There is one small radiator that gets hot (in and out) real quick on the A leg. I have cranked down (to about 50%) all the rads on the hot side, and there is a slight improvement (bedroom rad now about 60% full Vs 30%)



    So if this is a Vapor system, at sometime my boiler was upgraded (mistakenly) with a Pressuretrol, so where can I find vapor stat and this a straight swop for the pressuretrol.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,200
    Not that simple of a cure

    You have some piping issues way beyond simply changing to a vapor stat. more piping photos would be helpful. What type of pipe is under that wrapping?
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,028
    edited February 2010
    The dry returns

    should not get steam-hot. Warm is OK, that's the condensate coming back. But no steam in those pipes. 



    Do your radiators have traps in their outlet piping? If so, one or more could be bad. Check the piping in the basement under the main floor, I've seen traps installed there and they're easy to miss.



    If there are no traps, the rads either have water-seals in the outlet bushings, or orifices in their supply valves. In both cases the pressure needs to be lower, in Vaporstat range.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    dry returns hot

    The A side return (where all rads are hot) the dry return is what I would say is glowing rad hot, suggesting steam. Now what I call the problems side B (minimal heat in ALL rads of this leg) the dry return is cold... all rads get about 30-50% hot.



    There are no traps on the radiator outlets. So I suspect water seals, not sure about orifices in the supply vales, interesting before me) several supply vales were replaced, as far as I know they are just regular steam valves.



    Is this imbalance between the two legs the possible cause for keep all the steam out of the other leg... the cool side main is really hot, the steam just cannot "fill" the rads.



    Quite a puzzle... thanks for you suggestions and any further help, much appreciated.
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    elbow

    That return elbow looks like a Richardson. The valves were set to only let through 80% of the steam the radiator could handle. If that is the case you'd need to throttle back on the new valves so that those radiators only get about 80% hot. I'd guess that if the system ran long enough maybe all would get hot.



    Just a thought.
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    Piping

    Under the wrapping is 2" steel pipe. Here are some more photos. Hard part is trying to get the pressure low enough without making the boiler short cycle.



    From what I understand this system has worked fine for 20+ years, what has changed.. a failed main air vent (on the hot side)... that's it. SOme new main rad valves a few years back.



    Here is another oddity, when the file shouts off the "cold rad leg" sucks air in through the end of main vents, but the hot rad side does nothing, even with new identical air vents



    Thanks for any suggestions
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    You may have something here

    You know, that makes sense... if the system runs all day, eventually more heat seems to be getting in, I will try and throttle the rads back a bit and see what happens.



    Thanks
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    RIchardson

    The original valves were located at the top of the radiator. The valve had a long handle. There was a pin in the face plate. That pin was placed where it is by the installer to limit the amount of steam going into the radiator.



    As those valves got older they started to leak around the stem and get a little sloppy in their movement. Make sure the original valves that are still there aren't turned past the stops. I've had to close the valve all the way down and then reopen it to the stop and no more. Even if the stop is too low to hit the handle.
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    here

    This is info on the Richardson Vapor system:



    http://www.heatinghelp.com/files/articles/1395/28.pdf



    Where are you located?
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,567
    edited February 2010
    piping fixes

    Main B should not be bullhead from the riser for main A .. it should be its own riser .. I attach some pictures of what should be a fairly easy change .. perhaps using 2 pcs of 45deg Elbow...you piping also looks a bit small although you don't say anywhere what the brand and model of your boiler is.



    fyi, my fix might be helpful, but it still violates the rules of having the steam travel in the same direction .. i'm trying to find a boiler that has 2 side end taps that is well piped ..



    FOUND ONE .. From Mr. Gill's Website .. [url=http://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/webapp/GetPage?pid=221]http://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/webapp/GetPage?pid=221 .. notice how there are no risers to mains until AFTER the boiler risers .. this means that all steam is moving from LEFT to RIGHT .. and his main risers are in the extreme right .. AFTER the 2nd boiler riser.



    AFTER A 2nd LOOK .. i realized that your tapping are on top of your boiler .. you should strive to pipe it more like this (Also from Mr. Gills Website) http://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/wahelper/GetImage?id=78534



    Lastly, if in the future you could upload your photos in higher resolution (larger size) that would be helpful.
    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
  • Where are the Pipes?

    While there is obviously some piping problems with the near boiler piping, I'm a bit confused about the other pipes going through the house.  We have two steam mains leaving the boiler and following one steam main at a time, we should have two mains (a Steam Main and a Return Main) ending in the Wet Return (unless there is a Crossover Trap which doesn't seem to be used with this type of system) There should be a main vent on the end of the Dry Return Main (see attached drawing) and also a main vent on the end of the Steam Main (though this wasn't probably needed in the "coal days" but would be very beneficial now)



    With the two Steam Mains, we should have two pairs of pipes (4 pipes total) ending up in the Wet Return. 

    Present Piping- From what we can gather from the pictures, there is one vent and one drip pipe to the Wet Return serving two return pipes.  The first question is : Are these return pipes from the Steam Mains or the Dry Return Mains?  The second question is: Where are the other pipes?   Trace down each Steam Main and let us know where the piping goes and how it terminates (should be in the Wet Return per the drawings)  Then trace down each Return Main let us know how they terminate (should be in the Wet Return per the drawings)

    Once you get the piping straightened out you should have a system which is very comfortable and economic. You might want to take a look in the "Find a Professional" at the top of the page, scroll down to the "States" Listings and see if there is a Steam Pro listed near you.  Let us know what you find with the piping.

    - Rod
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    Thanks, valuable info

    First off, thanks for all the help, I work on a lot of old properties and steam heat is often a major discussion I have with owners.



    I am going to work through all your comments and see how they perform, it may take me a while, and I will get back with my results



    FYI the boiler is a Peerless Series 61 (G-1161) 400,000 BTU's (AGA Output) with an updated Honeywell Pressuretol and automatic water feeder.



    I have tried several "professionals" in the area, they are all numb nuts! but will see what the web site can turn up.
  • 1dodson
    1dodson Member Posts: 13
    Great Post - Looks like my system

    Wow what a great post, especially the info about the Richardson Valves.  I think this is identical to my system.   Richardson inlet valves and no check valves in the outlet.  Mine is working great except for one stubborn radiator that was re-piped during a  remodel by the former owner. 



    I had to replace the old Richardson Valve (since the packing was bad) with a standard steam valve.  I had no idea the Richardsons were calibrated but I assumed the pointer was used for something.  No luck so far so my next step is to check the outlet for a ball check valve. 
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    Richardson system

    I not 100% sure this is a Richardson System, but may be a variation or something that was modified over the years.

    Firstly, inlet and outlet are at opposite ends of the radiators, secondly my "air-expeller is now a modern vent at the end of the dry main above the boiler.

    Checking the entire house, no old valves exist, I guess maybe some thought those old leakers had to go (I don't think valves were made in China in 1912?).

    So how do you replace calibrated valves, is there such a thing?



    I am in Jenkintown PA, just outside Philly.
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    pipes

    The inlet would be at the top of one side of the radiator, the return on the bottom of the outside.



    I've never seen an original air vent from a Richardson. A regular main vent does the same thing, but without a vacuum check in it.



    IF that is the only main vent it could probably use more. I recently added vents on a fairly large system in a house. Put vents at the end of each main (4 mains) and at the end of each return (4).



    I don't know where you'd get original type valves for that unit. To calibrate what you have you'd probably have to shut the down most of the way and then start opening them slowly, with the heat calling, until most of the radiator is hot, like steam hot.



    Probably a tedious process.
  • Unknown
    edited February 2010
    Radiator Vent?

    In one of the pictures you posted, the radiator has a vent. This isn't a normal as all the air is supposed to vent out through the return pipe and out through the vent on the Return Main. 

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

    Amazing. I looked at that picture and didn't even notice the  vent. That's not supposed to be there.
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    oh

    I see that in the pics they are on the same side of the radiator. I don't think that matters.
  • Richardson Elbow

    If this in fact is a Richardson system, there is a trap already built into the elbow.

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/files/articles/1395/28.pdf
  • 1dodson
    1dodson Member Posts: 13
    Radiator Vents

    All of my radiators have these vents and the system seems to be working fine.  Here is another pic. 
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    Ya got me

    Is that a vent on both sides of the radiator?



    The only two pipe vented systems I've seen pictures of have both the supply and return on the bottom of the radiator.



    Need some experts to chime in on this one.
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    Not my Rads

    This is not my rad, this is Mr Dodsons "prize" and other than the steam vents it looks like a Richardson system, the valves are right, but those vents NO... may be a later mod to cure partial heating (my problem). The traps are in the return elbow, so there should be no vent on the rads



    I am going to try to shut off one leg and see if the other leg lights up, it's just a matter of seeing where the steam goes.
  • Steam Mains & Return Mains

    have you found out where your two steam mains and two return mains terminate yet?
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    Steam Mains

    The two main terminate into a copper Hartford Loop. The mains end a few feet apart and then drop down to floor level, where they join into the return wet pipework back to the boiler. There is a vent at the end of each main.



    The dry loops return to the boiler and join together with an air vent above, they then drop down and feed back into the boiler, you can see this on my boiler picture.
  • Unknown
    edited February 2010
    Split the Returns

    Thanks for  the info on the Steam Mains as it clears up the question of how the mains are routed.

    As long as they join in the Wet Return well below the water line, they are okay.  However, I would change the way your dry returns are run.  As they are now, they are joined together and then vented by a single vent before dropping into the Wet Return. They shouldn't be joined but just individually drop into the Wet Return (like the mains are now) and each should have its own individual vent.

    The route of the steam should be from each steam main through your radiator and then  through the dry return as condensate.  The way it is setup now (with the joined returns) is that air/steam from one return can bleed over and balance the other return so the pressure differential in the second return (which is what moves the steam) is terminated. Also with the one vent if steam from Return "A" reaches the vent before the air is out of Return "B" the air has no place to escape and can block steam from entering the "B" side.



    As has been mentioned there also seems to be some problems with the piping near your boiler, If you could take some more pictures of your boiler's header piping from different sides so it shows how it connects to the boiler and to the equalizer it would help a lot.

    (A previous picture just shows the top of the boiler and pipes, but not how they are connected to the boiler). I think with just a few minor changes in piping of the return and possibly the boiler, you'll have a much more efficiently running system.

    - Rod
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    Now this makes sense

    Rod, you are the man!

    This (along with other contributions) finally all begins to make sense in regard to what is going on. I will be back at the house later this week and take some better photos and post here.

    Just looking at how the mains and returns vent you can see what you say is exactly what is happening.
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    Update. Shut off good side, bad side now hot.

    Just and update. I shut all the rads from the (working) A leg and surprise, the previously half warm rads off the B leg are piping hot. I will try cracking a few of the rads one by one on the A leg and see how this affects things.



    Right now I am shoveling snow ..again!
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,567
    glad to hear it ...

    but completely expected .. you do realize that the only way to truly fix the problem will be to fix that branched main and tie it into the horizontal rather than vertical section. and don't forget that if you have 1-pipe steam .. a radiator must be either fully open or fully closed .. there is no such thing as half-open in 1-pipe.



    jpf
    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
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    nope

    According to his post he has 2 pipe.



    Glad to hear you are closing in on the issues.
  • Unknown
    edited February 2010
    Piping Needs to be Changed

    Hi Again-  Sorry to hear you are getting more snow. We're expecting more this weekend though the temperature is unusually high so it maybe rain. Just keep in mind that spring is (supposedly) on its way!

    Thanks for the kudos though I don't deserve them as I was just passing along what I have learned from Dan and the Steam Pros, who graciously share their  knowledge on this board.



    The result of shutting down your "good side" and that then the "bad side" works, shows the problems of the "combined return"  Splitting and venting the returns individually should correct that.  I had a chance to blow up and take a look at your boiler header and you have a some problems there. The two exit risers coming out of the boiler are connected wrong. (If you have "The Lost Art this is discussed on Page 51) As they are configured now the steam streams coming out of the boiler oppose each other and collision between the steam streams and with the steam stream and the condensate. The result is inefficiency and the dreaded "wet steam". Correcting this and giving each main ("X" & "Y" ) its own individual riser pipe from the header to the main, should make a much more efficient system both from the comfort and economic standpoint.

    - Rod
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    Near Boiler Plumbing- Manufacturers take

    Look at the diagram from the original Peerless Manual. It shows more or less what they have installed, so even the manufacturers get it wrong. One fault however is that for my size boiler Peerless say use 2" outlets and 3" header supply (1.5" equalizer). Who ever plumbed my boiler used only 2" for the header supply (same as mains). Another poster directed me to a super setup : (http://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/wahelper/GetImage?id=78534) which looks like 4"... I wish he lived nearer me!
  • So much for Boiler Manuals

    It's hard to believe that a manufacturer would make such an elementary mistake. They must have been thinking hot water at the time rather than steam. Are there any other drawings in the manual that show it this way? Yes, Gerry Gill designs some very righteous headers! Here's another link that shows a piping correction he did to a boiler that had opposing boiler exit risers. http://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/webapp/GetPage?pid=221
  • andyz
    andyz Member Posts: 18
    Near Boiler Plumbing- Manufacturers take

    See this info from the Peerless Steam Survey doc (this is a very useful form for people to understand their systems... and would have a been a great help to whoever installed my system wrong.



    See the updated page from Peerless compared to the orginal.
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