Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Just how bad is this...

I've been reading through Lost Art, as I extend a pipe to include two new radiators, and I believe that I have discovered a Bullhead T.  (I labeled it "A") 



In addition, the three rooms being heated by my new run are not warming up anywhere near fast enough, and I believe it is because of the weird way it connects to the head (below everything else, I labeled it "B".)



I have always noticed that the water in the boiler does surge, just like Dan said, never realized it was a problem.



But will I need to get into these fittings and correct this?  I'm nervous to do so, because I live in Northern Michigan, and there's just nobody I can find to help who knows about steam (except for my friends here!)  This means I'm doing the work.



I need to get heat down the pipe that connects to "B", and of course it's all connected, but before I go and start tearing into work that was build by the Dead Men, I wanted permission from professionals.



The system is hammering only during early morning cold startups since I hooked up the extra rooms, and it's happening at the boiler itself...  assuming this is related...



Many thanks...

Comments

  • bull head tee?

    try putting some insulation on the bare pipes, and maybe that will reduce the water-hammer for the moment.

    check the installation instructions for your boiler, and see how your piping compares to what is specified. many times the manufacturer will also sell a header piping kit with all the precut lengths you need to make the connections. this would be a perfect use for the drop-header!--nbc
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,567
    from my research .. this is pretty bad ..

    and it's not surprise that you're complaining about your "B" connection exactly the same as these folks are complaining...

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/129902/2-pipe-half-house-not-heating

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/130033/Improper-piping



    please provide at least 2 more pics .. each side of the boiler from the floor to the bottom of the pics you have already provided ..



    do see if you can find the Install & Operation manual for your boiler .. or at least tell us the brand and model and maybe we can find it.



    Northern MI or the U.P.? I spent some time in Marquette, MI a few years back.
    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
  • RAF
    RAF Member Posts: 65
    What ?

    Not bad for gravity hot water system is it? ;-)

    Or hay is that a dyslexic drop header?
  • RAF
    RAF Member Posts: 65
    Drop Headers

    Take a look at some of the other threads here you will find some great examples of what your piping should look like.

    And yes they do make a nipple kit for your boiler it will have everything you need to pipe as manufacture recommends for near boiler piping.
  • Unknown
    edited February 2010
    Piping Needs Changing

    Hi- I was looking at your pictures and while, as others have mentioned, the risers to the mains need to reconfigured, I also suspect from what little I can see in the photo that your near boiler piping has some serious problems. While the present pictures don't actually show it but from the location of the piping  it would appear than the boiler exit risers maybe opposing each other ? (Page 51  TLAOSH - Diagram and text in lower right hand corner.) Could you take some more pictures from different angle around the boiler of the boiler piping so we can check that out.  What is the make and model of your boiler?   The fact you have "The Lost Art...."(TLAOSH) will make it lot easier as we can refer you to pages in it for information.

    Your basic piping (the Deadmen's) looks good so with just a little bit of piping reconfiguration you should get straightened out.

    - Rod
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    More pics incoming!

    Thanks already for all the help!  I'm on my lunch break here at work, so I don't have Lost art, or access to my camera and basement for more pics, but will send them as soon as I get home.



    Sounds like this pipe is generating quite a lot of discussion.  It branched off the riser just like this, I did extend it up because the pink line in the new pic is the ground level and the pipe goes into the crawlspace.  I already had to spend a week literally tunneling Hogan's Heroes style nearly 30 feet to get access  for that steam main and the dry return. 



    So the one I circled needs to be re-done, at least?



    I am downloading the manual from Utica right now to look at their diagrams.
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    Whereabouts-

    I'm a troll.  We're in Traverse City.  Marquette is gorgeous, but remote, and certainly not for the faint of heart, eh?
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    edited February 2010
    Boiler risers opposing each other...

    Thanks Rod,



    My learning curve on the language of steam heat is still kicking in, but I believe you are correct, the risers point straight at each other, and meet in the middle where the supply takes off.  Here is the correct pic from the owner's manual:  (Utica PEG 187, bought in 2003, paid thousands to have it installed, incorrectly, apparently...)



    I also see that they are 2" pipes, not 2.5" as the manual recommends.



    Looks like the supply needs to be moved off to the side.  Someone mentioned a drop header?  So I would take it up as high as I can, and drop back down to the existing supply lines?  I think I can do that, but it doesn't sound like a minor adjustment...
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,567
    i made my exit in early Dec of that year

    i made my exit in early Dec of that year .. so i'm not sure I felt the worst of it... 
    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: 1,567
    study ....

    Study the pics on Mr. Gill's website of his various installs .. specifically this job where it uses END risers http://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/webapp/GetPage?pid=221



    the piping in the manual is clear .. the most important rules as I understand them:

    1) make sure that steam is always running in the same direction left to right or right to left

    2) make sure you never give the steam a dead end with 2 choices (a bull head with left or right)

    3) Apparently based on this thread and the others i posted above .. don't expect steam is going to magically go into a branched pipe on a vertical section .. instead expect the majority of steam is going to whoosh right by the opening and go straight up

    4) make sure your piping is sized is at least as big or bigger than the I&O manual calls for in order to really "dry out" your steam
    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
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    edited February 2010
    New Pics!

    My hindsight is getting clearer, which is helping me see where to go from here.



    Here are the requested pics of the sides of the boiler:





    I believe I see how I can modify the system slightly to put the supply off to the side where it belongs, and also eliminate both Bullhead T's, AND the ugly up and down main labled "A" by connecting it to one of the two main 2" supply lines (they cross over each other, not sure how I didn't think of that in the first place, except that the Dead Men hadn't thought to do that either, apparently.  I'll look at some more pictures, and draw a picture of the plan before I attempt.



    Again, as was said earlier, the idea is that we don't slam steam into steam, or steam into a T that forces it to decide left or right.



    In regards to the water hammer, it also occurred to me that I forgot to skim off the top of the boiler after hooking up all these new pipes, so I'm sure there is some oil in there... I skimmed it off extensively tonight.  We'll see how she sounds in the morning!  (I'll be installing installation shortly, soon as I have all the pipes in the right place.
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,567
    seems like

    seems like you get the general principals .. i look forward to seeing them (or the proposal of them) in action.



    love the shout out for the website!
    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
  • Piping Configuration

    Hi- I looked over your pictures and made some sketches on your pictures of a possible piping configuration. I’m not sure how well it would actually fit as I can’t tell distances and clearances from your pictures. It uses a dropheader which is the best way to go. The two elbows on  each boiler exit riser make it really easy to fit the boiler exit risers to the header as they adjust to slight longness or shortness of the header and also they make sure there is no pressure put on the boiler sections.  While most factory drawings suggest a minimum of 24 inches between the boiler waterline and the bottom of the header,  Dan suggests allowing a minimum 24 inches from the top of the boiler to  the top of the boiler exit risers. (The drop header can go lower) This ensures that you get dry steam which is the “Holy Grail” of steam as dry steam carries more btus than wet steam which makes a much more efficient system. Skimming also makes a big difference in reducing wet steam. You may find you have to skim several times as more oil may work its way from the piping down to the boiler water. You also generally have to skim every time you do work on the piping.

    One should generally avoid bullheaded tees though the deadmen were able to get away with them in some cases as the boilers in those days used coal which was a slow steady heat and not the “flame thrower” burner system we use now for heating the boiler water.

    On the sketch I think you can connect all three mains to the header. Two risers (“A”& “B”)  on one side of the flue and the third riser ( “C” ) on the other side of the flue.  On the connect of the Wet Return to the Hartford Loop make sure to use a close nipple. It’s also a good idea to put a ball valve on the section of the Wet Return as it helps when you want to blow down the boiler to clean out the crud.  Make sure the header has slope so that all the condensate drains to the Equalizer pipe.

    I’ve also attached a picture of header which though on a different type of boiler would be something similar to the one I sketched out. I don’t know who did this one as I saved it a long time along but I suspect it was Gerry Gill as it uses connecting flanges. JPF gave you a link to Gerry Gill’s website. You might want to study the pictures of drop headers there as Gerry Gill’s dropheaders are works of art and you can learn a lot studying them. I might also mention to use a lot of pipe unions as this makes the piping configurations much easier to put together.

    Please keep in mind that the sketches are just to give you an idea of what is possible rather than a definite recommendation.  You‘ll have to determine what is really practical by playing around a bit with the different possibilities. Like your picture ! Looks like you have the tools you need.

    - Rod
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    edited February 2010
    I'm naming my next child Rod!

    THANK YOU!  I hope it's a boy....  Oh, and we'll  have twins, his brother will be JPF321...



    How about this idea?  Looking at it, I think I can eliminate the red pipe by running it the 2" blue pipe.  Since the blue and red pipes are already connected, I could just re-do the bullhead T by running the supply into it a slightly different place. 



    That way, we've got one pipe coming off the Hartford Loop (correctly this time) and everything is hooked up, with no collisions of steam, no steam banging into Bullhead T's, and no steam that has to make a 90 degree turn (that's the red pipe as it is now) when all it really wants to do is go straight up.



    The drop header looks very, very cool, but this way seemed a little simpler to me, and is exactly what is in the install manual from Utica.  If there are no drawbacks to having one supply, I think this is what I'll shoot for.



    It seems like the most simple, easy to implement plan; even material cost should be low!   But will it work???
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,567
    can you extend your sketch

    to the complete mains system? including showing the returns .. there may be a better way to do it ... i'm not particularly excited about all the left and right branching that you have going on .. if you have 5 branched mains .. do you have 5 returns? or is it all countercurrent return?
    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
  • Dropheader

    Hi again- I put together some more notes that may be of help to you. I didn’t realize that you had so many piping branches. On piping- I modified your drawing with letters and arrows.  Note the arrows -These designate the direction the piping should be sloped so that condensate can drain.  I’m assuming that all of the branches are parallel flow, that is, the steam and condensate flow the same way and that each has its own dry return and each has a main vent at where the main ends just before it turns into the dry return.  (The vent can also be located on the dry return)



    Header- Keep in mind that factory drawing configurations are the minimum rather than the optimum. I would still use a drop header configuration. It’s just the cost of a couple more elbows which is easily made up by the labor saving when attaching it to the boiler. Here's an opinion of a pro who has just stared using a dropheader: http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/129890/Drop-Header-What-are-you-kidding#p1189170



    Benefits of Using a Dropheader:

    1. Easy to install

    2. Adjusts easily to slight differences in piper length. Using Side Tees you have to got tocut the pipe lengths perfectly.

    3. Side Tees put pressure on the boiler sections when the header expands. The drop header connection is a perfect fit non stress joint and it is also capable of movement. (See #2)

    4.  Drop header helps  keep the condensate out of the steam stream as steam enters from the top of the header rather than the side where the steam stream blows right into the condensate.. (See attached drawing - Header Side Tee)

    5. When using Side Tees on the header you are limited to the riser pipes coming off the header at 90 degrees. Using a dropheader with the boiler risers entering the top, you can angle the risers (Note “H”) and gain more space (Area “X”) on the header for risers to the mains. (See attached Header Drawing -Drawing of Angled Riser Connection)

    Normally you would keep them at 90 degrees but since you aren’t laying out the system from scratch and the spacing may be tight, this gives you another option. Having different length piping doesn’t seem to affect anything.



    Notes on Header Drawing

    I’m not sure exactly how much space you have on the header so this might not fit in. I drew in a spare tee so that case you later needed to add a second riser it could be easily done.. The one riser to the mains you have outlined should be ok, I’m just pointing out other possible option.

    Make sure the elbow on the Equalizer end of the header is full size and don’t reducer the size until you are in the vertical plane so not condensate can be trapped.

    Thanks for the kudos. I'm not sure if I would name someone "Rod" if I lived in Michigan. Michigan is bit too close to Illinois and the name "Rod " isn't too popular there! :)

    I'm "on the road" for the next week so I don't know if I'll be on the "Wall" much. I'll try to check once in a while. It sounds like you have a good plan so it shouldn't be too hard to get your system straightened out.

    - Rod
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    What the rest of it looks like...

    I don't have a way of modifying the drawing on this PC, but there are four wet returns.  If you look at Rod's modification of my drawing, here's where stuff goes:



    A:  This run currently only supplies one radiator, although it could supply a second one in the living room (usually shut off, because it just heats up the living room and shuts down the system leaving the rest of the house cold.  )  Very short, only goes about 7' from the boiler, wet return.



    B:  Goes to a large radiator in the parlour, and a small one in an upstairs bedroom.  The whole line extends only maybe 10-15' from the boiler, wet return at the end.



    C:  Single radiator in the kitchen (also heats living room since they are next to each other.  The only branch that does not have a wet return, it's just one radiator, to it's not really a supply main, it's a (nuts, forgot what they are called...  runout?)



    D.  This supplies our bedroom, the bathroom, the upstairs hallway, and an upstairs bedroom.  Wet return at the end.



    E.  The back end of the house that was added on in the 1930's but was mostly unheated until last month.  Three radiators back there with a dry return through the crawl space that then drops to a wet return.



    JPF, sounds like you would prefer to see two risers off the header, probably one going in each direction?  That would be a pretty easy modification as well.



    If the drop header makes it more efficient, it may be worth a shot, I have a feeling a significant amount of propane has been wasted sending stem crashing into itself over the past 7 years.
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,567
    i guess my suggestion...

    i guess my suggestion would be to try to make a split loop that would loop around your basement in 2 main branches .. 1 for "front" 1 for "back" .. but this would mean probably redoing all of your basement piping .. then "join" them (below the waterline) together at the "far end" to a single wet return that would run back to your boiler.



    this is how mine is configured .. my boiler is central basement on left side .. i have 1 main which loops around front and one headed to back .. then join up at central basement on right side "opposite boiler" and then a single wet return heads back to the boiler. apparently with the growing popularity of oil in the 50's many single loop basements were split into 2-half loops such as mine.



    it sounds as if several of your branches feed only 1 rad or 2 rads .. it's all a matter of your enthusiasm. you can always repipe near boiler and see how that goes given your current proposal and then reconsider the basement loop idea for next heating season with limited changes to the near boiler pipes.
    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
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    Recruiting a friend, we're going to try it!

    Okay- I'm going for it!  A good friend of mine is in the heating/cooling business (primarily on the refrigeration side of things, but he's got a pipe threader, and 13 years of experience working with pipes), so we're going to give it a shot.



    I'm going to try for the drop header, and we'll have at least two supply risers going up to the two sides of the basement.  Maybe three if there is space, like Rod had in his first picture.  There really isn't any reason not to do it that way, and it seems like that would be a great way to get dry steam out of the boiler.



    Finally, do I need to worry about pitching the drop header down back toward the return, or is the water already going that way because the steam is pushing it in that direction?



    Thanks!
  • The Header Needs Slope

    Your header needs slope -1 inch in 20 ft towards the equalizer pipe. Anywhere there is condensate (which means everywhere in your boiler piping!) there needs to be slope to "encourage" the condensate to flow in the direction you want it to back to the boiler. Level piping causes problems!

    Your decision to use two risers from the  header to the mains is a good idea and should result in better steam distribution.

    - Rod
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    Before....

    Finally took the plunge with my buddy Ben last night.  Thank goodness he had an electric pipe threader.



    Here's before...
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    edited March 2010
    Here is AFTER!!!

    This took about seven hours, and my kids were praying for us.  We didn't break anything, and every time we thought we had run out of a fitting we needed, we found what we needed to get the job done.



    I fired up the system, and nothing exploded, and we have heat!



    Unfortunately, I had to shut things down and go to bed (12:30 AM at that point, and the alarm usually goes off at 5:30), so I will have to give a full report tonight when I get home.



    The only thing I couldn't manage was the close nipple on the wet return, it's not a close, but it is very close to close!
  • Lookin' Good!

    Congratulations on a nice job. Piping looks good! Those tall headers are going to give you nice dry steam! Dry steam carries more btus so that should make a difference to your comfort and efficiency. I imagine you'll need to do several skimmings with all that new piping to get all the oil and contaminates out of the system. How is the system working now? What improvements do you notice?

    - Rod
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    edited March 2010
    Not quite what I hoped

    Well Rod, this is completely confusing, but this is running much worse than before…



    Basically everything in the house is heating up EXCEPT for the first riser, which goes to the back of the house, which was the whole purpose of my work over the past couple of months.



    I must have goofed something up somehow.  Here’s what happened.  (oh, and I named the risers/mains after A, B, and C, as per your drawing.)  I’m really sorry this is so long, but I wanted to get every possible detail for you.



    5:02  Turned on boiler.  Living room thermostat temp at 68 degrees.

    5:11  Two main raisers are warming up quickly.

    5:12 Drop header warms up very quickly.

    5:13  Riser “A” heats up as steam goes to the first run (in blue, to back of the house.)

    5:14  Risers “B” (in green, biggest # or radiators) and “C” (four more radiators) quickly fill with steam.  The run connected to A has now traveled about 4’ and has turned 90 degrees toward the back of the house.



    See test.pdf for what happens between 5:14 and 5:59.



    5:59 system shuts off, living room is now 72 degrees.



    I did some quick rough math in the basement, to see how fast the steam is going. 



    Main “A” is travelling about 4’ a minute toward the back of the house, it is a 1.5” pipe going through a crawl space to three radiators.  Each of those radiators is double vented with Gorton “D’s”, and due to the distance it goes I have a Gorton #1 right before each of the closer radiators (see pics), and a Gorton #2 at the farthest fitting, right before the radiator.  It travels 40’, and then has a 1” dry return that goes back to the basement and drops to a wet return.  It obviously doesn't keep moving at 4'/minute through the crawl space, no idea why.



    Main “B” is a 2” pipe that travels the greatest distance and has the largest number of radiators to feed. It seems to heat up at the rate of about 5’/minute.   It has a Gorton #2 at the end.   It travels 41 feet before shooting down to a wet return.  One of the bedroom radiators is currently shut off.



    Main “C” is half 2”, and a little bit of 1.5” that supplies four radiators.  One end (parlor/shut off bedroom side) has a Gorton #1, and the other side (living room/shut off

    bedroom) has no main venting and only vents on the radiators.  These pipes are tough to access, and I couldn’t calculate how fast the steam was going, but it is short (roughly two 12’ sections going in opposite directions) and very close to the radiator.



    The system ran for a total of about 1 hour.  This raised the temperature of the living room by 4 degrees, and all the radiators in the house filled up quickly.  EXCEPT for Main A.  Only the first radiator had steam by the end of the hour, and only one section filled up.  The other two radiators were stone cold, and the steam had not even reached the pipes that feed them yet. 



    Here is all the data I could gather, click the TEST.pdf.  Pics too.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,195
    Vents need to be vertical

    also the radiator valves need to be vertical. Have you thought you maybe venting too much? Insulating the pipe in the crawl space is needed. Are you sure of your pipe sizing and dimensions at your boiler? 4" per minute is awful slow.
    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: 14,838
    Something's wrong with main "A"

    check for improper pitch first, especially where it goes thru the crawlspace. You shouldn't need that much venting to make it work. 



    That drop header looks nice! The only thing I would have done differently is to make the horizontal portion 2-1/2" or 3". This would slow the steam velocity therein even more. A lot of guys only have threaders that thread up to 2", but a header can be built with a couple runs of pre-cut nipples. That's how Gordon and I do it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    edited March 2010
    Pitch and venting

    Thanks for the compliment, that means more than you can imagine coming from you guys, and me being just a homeowner with a wrench, determination, and a book.  Well, that and no other options. 



    The pitch should be spot on, I just did this run last month, and it drops 1" every 20' or even a little more, I made sure the water heads down hill to the dry return, and then downhill again back to the boiler.



    I was reading up on venting in Lost Art, and I thought the idea was to use extra vents where needed to get the air out faster on those long runs, instead of slowing the rest of the house down to a crawl and wasting time/money.  What would be a more appropriate number and size of vents?  (Based on the rest of the system, it seems like the one Gorton #2 at the end would suffice.)  Oh, and I know about the vertical, I'm picking up a street elbow to go vertical on that one Gorton #1 tomorrow.



    Just for kicks, I shut the valves off on all the other radiators in the house, and fired it up.  All three of the radiators on Main "A" had steam in 13 minutes.  So my theory about a dead animal in the pipe is crossed off.



    Sorry to hear about the valves being wrong, I didn't realize you couldn't do that, the Dead Men did it all over the place in the rest of the house, I copied them...



    Oh, and that 4" a minute should have been four FEET a minute.  I've got about 10' of pipe in the basement on Main A, and it got really hot real fast through the basement.  The crawlspace is not too cold right now, it was actually in the 50's today.  I will absolutely insulate, but I am not done yet, so I didn't want to put on insulation and then have to tear it all off to fix something.
  • You're Making Progress

    Don't get discouraged! You're making good progress as now you have a boiler system which is capable of producing good dry steam. How's the boiler waterline? Is it surging a lot? Have you skimmed it yet? This can make a big difference to the steam production. Does your system build pressure?



    I'm still on the road and haven't had a chance to look over all the notes and figure out the piping. I'll try to get a chance to do this tomorrow.



    I think your venting setup probably needs to be reconfigured.  Somewhere Dan mentions an old steam adage "vent the mains quickly and the radiators slowly". I always sort of think of the mains as a street in a housing track and the houses on the street as radiators. The driveways are the laterals that connect the houses (radiators)  to the "street" (main).  Normally the idea is to have the main vents at the end of the street and have vents of the size so that the steam can quickly push the air to the end of the street and out the vents. Once the street is full of steam, the steam can then enter the driveways and move into the houses.  In the case of your system, you have main vents on the "drive ways" next to the house.  While one would think this would work okay there could be some possible problems with it. As Charlie mentioned you could be over venting and this is misdirecting the steam.

    As mentioned you'll need to put the radiator valve upright.  Unfortunately they too had  "knuckleheads" back in the days of the "Deadmen".

    - Rod
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,195
    They do make horizontal radiator valves

    They have a gate valve configuration. The elbow will work but I am thinking some pipe plugs may do you more good. SKIM SKIM and Skim again. A bit of TSP type clean can cut through a lot of the oil and make it easier to get the boiler cleaned out.
    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
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    horizontal valves

    That's good to know, because at this point, changing the pipe or jacking up the radiators are not good options!
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    I can tell you WHERE it happens-

    I can't tell you why, but I can tell you where this is happening.  This morning, I turned on the boiler and jumped in the crawl space to follow the heat.



    The steam made rapid progress down Main A UNTIL it reached the first runout to the large radiator, about 30 feet from the boiler.  Then everything slowed down to a crawl, both going down the runout ( maybe 5 feet long) and extending down the rest of the main (probably another ten feet total, with one more runout toward the end, and a short runout that basically goes up into the final radiator.  The final two radiators didn't get any heat at all again.  It took about 20 minutes from the fireup of the boiler to get steam to that first runout, but the subsequent 30 minutes of run time was not enough to move the steam the last 10 feet to the other two radiators, and only 1.5 sections of the first radiator got warm.



    I'm drawing a picture of this section of pipe, and I will color code it with pipe diameters, and label where each vent is.



    The hardest thing about this is that the system WAS working, until I changed the header.  I know the header is now correct, but SOMETHING about this has created or revealed another problem.  It's mind boggeling to think that a 90 degree T shooting off to the left of the middle of the only raiser on the old system got all three of those radiators good and hot, but this vastly superior setup gets almost no steam back there.   It's just crazy.



    I have skimmed, and will continue to do that, of course as more oil works its way out. I know that can cause problems, but I don't think it can cause problems on only one section of the system.  I have to believe the problem is in the way that the pipes go out there.   The pitch looks fine, it is definitely going down the way it should, and again, the pipes back here have not changed sine the header fix.
  • Unknown
    edited March 2010
    Valves & Skimming

    For straight valves - If your local guy doesn't have them, try Pex Supply http://www.pexsupply.com/  Look under Radiator valves. There is a difference between valves for hot water and valves for steam. Make sure the valves you get are for steam. Both steam and hot water valves may look identical from the outside, it has to do with internal machining/configuration. The hot water valves can cause water hammer when used for steam.

    Skimming- You can do either a "hot skim" or a "cold skim". I cold skim as I think the oil is more likely to collect on the surface oil the boiler water when the water is cooler.

    How you hot skim - There is a good description on hot skimming on Page 20 in the June 2009 issue of Oil Heating Magazine. The head

    tech from Weil McLain gives a detailed instruction of how to skim /

    clean a boiler.



    http://www.epaperflip.com/aglaia/viewer.aspx?docid=9beef5d931a94544990269f771411ad1

    How you cold skim -

    With the boiler cold (cool) open the skim port and place a 5 gal.

    plastic bucket under the port to catch the runoff. Open the fresh water

    valve supplying the boiler and slowly flood the boiler till the boiler

    water runs out the skim port. The water should just trickle out- the

    slower, the better. (What you're doing is skimming off the tiny bit of oil on the surface of the water) I fill the 5 gal bucket in about two hours so that

    should give you an idea of how slow it should be. After you have finished

    skimming close the skim port and turn on the burner till the boiler

    makes steam. You should ALWAYS boil the boiler water after you add fresh

    water to the boiler as the heating drives off dissolved oxygen which

    can damage your boiler. You may have to repeat skimming several times

    till you get a "happy" no bouncing water level. Let the boiler run a day

    or two between skimmings. As Charlie mentioned, you may want to use TSP to help remove the oil.

    - Rod
  • Polycarp
    Polycarp Member Posts: 135
    step one

    When you changed the header, you changed the nature of the steam paths.  Steam is always going to follow the easiest path.  It sounds like, though you improved the quality of your steam, you may have made the path down main "A" harder.



    I think the first thing that you should do is shut down the big mud room venting.  Two D's and a G1 are a lot of venting for that little run-out.  It wouldn't surprize me if, despite the big vent at the end of the main, this is still the easiest path for the steam to push the air out.  I would shut off the radiator and remove the G1 and see what impact that has.  My guess is that you have made that such an easy path, that the steam is going to completely fill that before heading the rest of the way down the main.  I think the G1 might just be overkill in that location to start with.



    In the end, you might just have to give the steam some extra motivation to take main A through balancing the venting on the mains.
  • Unknown
    edited March 2010
    Extraordinary Venting

    I agree with the others, I think the root of your radiator problems is an extraordinary amount of extra venting.  Just on the "A" main you have the total equivalent of 11 ea. Gorton #1s !   Do you also have large amounts of venting on Main "B" and "C" ?  



    Radiators-  Common radiator vents like the adjustable Hoffman 1A (wide open) and the Gorton # 6,eachhave less than half the venting capacity of a Gorton # 1 and while there are larger capacity radiator vents, these two vents (Hoffman 1A (maximum setting) and Gorton # 6) are considered to have fairly high radiator venting capacity. (While I think of it, you may want to get Steve Pajek and Gerry Gill’s Venting Book. It has all the venting capacities of the different common vents plus a lot of info on balancing. Next to TLAOSH, it’s the book I use the most. You can download it as an “E” book

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



    I have an idea of what is happening in your system but I’m not sure how best to explain it. I find that when you have a problem it helps to go back to basics. Let’s first consider what is supposed to happen in your steam system.  The burner comes on, brings the water to the boil and produces steam. The steam as it builds slight pressure, pushes the air out of the main through the main vents. The main vents allow the cold air to escape (to an area of low pressure outside) the Main Steam pipe but close when steam reaches them.  It is important to remember that cold air can travel BOTH WAYS unless steam has reached the main vent and has closed it. After the main vents have closed, the steam then seeks other areas of low pressure and enters the radiators by pushing the air in the radiators out through the radiator vents. Radiator vents work the same as Main Vents in that they close when steam reaches them and they also allow air to pass BOTH WAYS. The only main difference between a Main Vent and a Radiator Vent is the Radiator Vent has a smaller venting capacity.



    The motivator in the above paragraph is steam moving from an area of high pressure in the boiler to low pressure of the outside air at the vents. Let’s now consider another factor, that of condensing steam.  Steam condenses instantly and goes from a volume of a CUBIC FOOT of steam to a volume of CUBIC INCH of water. This produces a huge vacuum meaning a huge area of low pressure. Normally steam would rush in to fill this vacuum but if the main vents aren’t already closed, air will also rush back into the main through the open vents  Normally the insulation on the main slows down this condensing and the steam is able to overcome the air rushing in and reach and close the main vents. However if air is also entering from large vents on the radiators (the Gorton #1s and the “D”s ) the area of low pressure is filled by cold air and the steam is overcome and stops moving.  I think this is what is occurring in your system.



    Something similar happens in the radiators. Steam condenses forming a vacuum which can be satisfied by either steam from the 1 1 /2 inch diameter steam lateral or by air entering the radiator through a tiny vent hole. The steam  obviously will win out. Once the air is out of the mains and radiators the vacuum that the condensing steam produces, is what makes the steam to continue to enter  the radiators. As the radiators heat up and the room warms up the condensing will slow down. I think the approach on Main “A” would be to put a main vent in the proper location (See notes on drawing) and eliminate excess venting so large volumes of air couldn’t replace the vacuum in the pipe.



    I’ve attached a picture and your drawing with notes added. Thinking about what is mentioned above. If Main "B" and "C" have large venting ( areas of low pressure) thinking as steam molecule,  why go through "A" that is reduced, (see attached picture) when you can go more easily through "B" and "C" mains to low pressure?  Reducing this venting capacity on “B” and “C”mains on should allow more steam to enter “A” .  Also if the condensing vacuum of “A” isn’t filled by outside air, this should encourage the movement of steam into Main “A”.



    Things I would consider:

    1. Place main vents at the end of the mains after the last radiator lateral.  Ideally these are about 15 inches from the end of the main though in a lot of cases this isn’t practical so you might want to consider an “antler” arrangement .  I haven’t calculated it out but I would think a Gorton #2 or 2 or 3 Gorton # 1s would be plenty on each main.

    2.You need to get the radiator inlet valves oriented properly and remove the Gorton #1s on the lateral lines. (You could  possibly experiment in the futrue with adding more venting but I’d get the system working first before I considered that.)

    3. On the radiators- put smaller capacity vents - You might want to use an adjustable vent like a Hoffman 1A

    4. As has been mentioned earlier, insulation on the mains would be a big help as right now they are just one big radiator. You;ll be surprosed how much the difference of 1 inch of insulation can make to the system.

     

    I’m not sure how this would be best approached as you really need to do the whole system at once. Maybe first thing would be to relocate the main vents to their proper  position and remove the Gorton #1s and use a pipe plug to close where the Gorton #1s were located.  At this point you probably would have and indication as to whether you were going in a positive direction. You could then change the radiator vents a few at a time but  balance the radiator new venting between the different  mains.

    It would probably be worth it to get Gerry Gill’s venting book and calculate each individual radiator’s EDR . The book shows you how to calculate venting and that would give you a better idea of what sort of venting you need. I attached a sheet to help you figure the EDR if you don’t already have those figures.

    - Rod

     
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    Tried again

    As always, fantastic advice Rod, that makes sends.  Here's what I tried first:



    *  I took the Gorton 1's off the two lines that had them, I had to leave the Gorton #2 on because there is no way to put it on the main line yet without cutting out and getting a union and the pipes threaded.  Can I put the vent on the dry return to get it 15" away from the last runout?



    *  Main B has a Gorton 2 on the end, took it off an plugged it to encourage steam into Main A.



    *  Main C has a Gorton 1 at on end, and nothing on the other (very close to boiler).  I took off the Gorton 1 and plugged it.



    *  Finally, I also closed off the big radiator in the living room to allow the system to run longer since that's where the thermostat is.



    It's still not right, though, the system ran for an hour and a half, and the steam was just reaching the Sun Room and Family room.  There were three sections of the Mud Room radiators hot, which is an improvement, but not enough.



    I was pretty surprised by this, I thought removing that big vent on the end of Main B would surely encourage steam down Main A, but it didn't really seem to make a difference.



    RE the Hoffman's...  The guy who first did our system used those, and I dn't kow why, but they CONSTANTLY got filled with water and would stop working.   After several months of this (I think I even made a post here about this seven years ago), someone suggested we try Gorton vents, which I've used with no problems since.  The Hoffman's went off on ebay.
  • Unknown
    edited March 2010
    Mains First.

    Hi again- Yes, the Hoffman radiator vents would get flooded. Your old header system was producing lots of wet steam and the steam was dragging water along with it. (See attached drawing)



    As I mentioned in my earlier posts with so much venting what you have is many multiple mains.

    The practice of putting extra venting with each radiator might work okay in New York apartment building where there is unlimited steam from a central heating plant but in you system I think the boiler is just overwhelmed by so much venting. You might get away with doing it on a single radiator or two but not multiple radiators.



    Mains- Let's start with the basics. Lets deal with the steam mains first. You have to have mains and the mains have to be well vented. We want steam to fill the mains as quickly as possible and to do that, we have to get the air out of the way by releasing it through the main vents. Steam moves at 30 + MPH so should reach the end of the main fairly quickly. If the air can get out the main, the only other thing preventing the steam from reaching the vents is lack of insulation on the mains. If the steam is condensing (in large amounts) in the main it will take a long time to reach the vent as it has to heat the main and keep it heated all the way to the vent before some steam can reach the vent and close the vent. This is why insulation on the mains is so important. You need a minimum of 1 " pipe insulation on the mains. The idea is to prevent the steam condensing in the mains and to get it into the radiators where it can heat the rooms.



    I think the first thing I would try to do is see if you can get steam to fill all the mains. To do this we need to shut off all the radiators and remove /plug any vents that aren't controlled by the tap on the radiator. Basically for this test, what we are doing is eliminating all the radiators from the system. I realize you don't have main vents on some of the mains so maybe we canl fake a "main vent" using the last radiator on the main (farthest away from the boiler) by using either/and/or that radiators vent as a "main vent". If these last radiator have an extra vent on the steam pipe coming in use that vent as the "main Vent" and shut of the radiator. Then turn on the boiler and check when steam gets to risers "A", "B" and "C" at the header and then time how long it takes to get to the "main vent" at the end of each main. Check that the main closes and record the time. BE CAREFUL! Live steam can give you a BAD BURN! The best way to check the vent's operation is to cut a strip of paper and hold it by one end and dangle the other end in the air stream coming out of the vent hole. That way you can detect when the vent closes. As the main vents close, steam pressure should build and the boiler should cut off at about 2 PSI or slightly under. Once we get the mains and main venting straightened out we can setup the radiators. Let's leave that to another post and see first how the main test works out.



    Main vents - I've attached a drawing of the ideal main vent setup. The "ideal" is that you need to have the main vents AFTER the last radiator and 15 inches from the end of the main where it does a 90 degree and connects with the dry return. As there is a lot of condensate collected form the radiators up the line that can be moving pretty rapidly down the pipe if the vent is too close to the end of the main the condensate slamming into the end could go up into the vents and damage them. The 15 inches is an "ideal". Mostly you just do the best you can in the circumstances. On a lot of steam systems the vent a tee is used on the end of the main instead of an elbow and the vent is mounted on the tee. Not ideal but fairly common. In this case you can use an "antler" and try to remote the vents away from the tee a bit.



    Ideally the main vents are at the end of the main though they also can be placed near the end of the dry return. (See attached system drawing) This might work better for you in your situation.



    On my previous post I attached a boiler sizing chart. It might be a big help if we knew the sizes of the radiators on each main and also it would be a good idea to check the total EDR to see how the boiler's output matches it.

    - Rod
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,838
    How does the boiler's rating compare

    to the amount of installed radiation? 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    Let me check...

    Sorry, we had company from "out of town" (Indonesia, actually) all weekend, which slowed me down. 



    I really want to go through Rod's sheet and do all the calcs, give me a day and I'll have that. 



    On the bright side, I can see now that the ENTIRE system is overvented with Gorton D's all over the place.   It's too bad I ditched all the Hoffman 1a's on eBay, now that my steam is drier I will probably be buying a box or two back! 



    In the meantime, since they are not available locally, I have found a way to CONVERT a Gorton D into a Gorton 5.  I will not give away this amazing discovery, except to say that it involves masking tape and a finishing nail...  And it through a little trial and error, the system is beginning to balance out.



    I'll do the math, though, and get a better picture before I go any farther.   The masking tape was a quick and free idea, that seems to confirm, and oh, it was also free.
  • Marcus Mead_4
    Marcus Mead_4 Member Posts: 53
    Seeing success, light at the end of the crawl space!

    Hi Rod and everyone!



    House guests kept coming, and my wife doesn't like me scaring them by crawling through the crawl space...



    But I'm having success!!!  You've been absolutely right, by adjusting the venting throughout the system (keeping main vents fast, slowing down the radiators on Mains B and C, and taking off all the extra main vents on Main A) has made the system work close to what it should.  We're actually getting a little too much heat to the back of the house now, so I can look at increasing the venting in other places to balance things out further.



    I think I will order a box of the Hoffman 1a's to help with this, it's too bad I sold all the ones that the contractor guy installed, but like we've said, his piping was wrong, so we got wet steam, and they just flooded.  Should have known it wasn't the vent's fault!  One defective vent, maybe, but all of them? Flag on the play there!



    Rod-  thanks for the head's up on the steam burning me, and thankfully I have yet to learn that the hard way.  The mains are filling equally and quickly now, thanks, and I have also had good luck using a match to check vents and see if they are open or closed.  A lit match, that is.  I think I found a way to get the last main vent for Main A down where it belongs, and about 10 inches is the best I can do.  That's pretty close to ideal, anyway!



    I've attached the Boiler Sizing Chart, and an updated map of the house with the EDR's of each radiator.  It would appear that, if I did this right, we need about 100,000 BTU's from the boiler. 



    Our boiler is 187,000 BTU's.  Did our guy size it by, as Dan said in the book, measuring the door to the basement and ordering the biggest that would fit?  That would be one last retroactive kick in the pants from him, now that I just removed all his piping and reinstalled the boiler.  Should I remove half of my burners (yes, I am kidding), seems like it would be wasteful to have something twice as big as needed.
This discussion has been closed.