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Steam trap replacement?

I have owned a house with a 2 pipe steam system for about 25 year.  I have never replaced any radiator steam traps (No 8 Hoffman). Heating seems to be okay.  Some hammering at times.  Should I (i) replace all the traps (ii) install inlet orifices (iii) do nothing or (iv) do something else? 


  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Fix the Traps.

    Hi - You might first want to consider getting a steam pro to look at your system and determine what needs to be tuned up. Look in the "Find a Professional" at the top of the page and see if one is located near you. There are some really good steam pros listed there!

    The chances are that you have some traps that aren't working. The radiators may still heat but you'll be using more fuel. There are several ways to check trap operation. I use a infrared Ryobi thermometer that I got from Home Depot (the $69.00 one)  If the radiator trap is working properly there will be a different of temperature between the inlet and outlet pipes on the trap. If it is stuck open, the temperature will be close to the same.

     Traps usually don't have to be replaced as parts are available to rebuild most traps: Here are some sources:

    Source for complete traps & parts:

    State Supply


    Rebuild parts for Steam Traps (Thermostatic,  F&T)

    Barnes & Jones




    Orifices are a possibility but I would get your steam system operating optimally first  before considering them.  If you don't have them already, you might want to get Dan Holohan's books on steam heating. These are available in the "Shop" at the top of this page. Start with "We Got Steam Heat" http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Books/5/61/We-Got-Steam-Heat-A-Homeowners-Guide-to-Peaceful-Coexistence

    With a bit of maintenance, tuning and "tweaking" you can get a two pipe steam system running very quietly,comfortably and economically.

    - Rod
  • Make sure they are working.....

    as Rod Said.  However, if there are some blowing by, I would opt for supply orifices to eliminate current trap repairs and future trap repairs, if they will work on your system.  They can be especially helpful because they can allow you to rebalance the system to current heatings needs ( maybe you replaced windows or insulated an attic) and can allow the boiler to be downsized closer to current needs or operated with modulating input.  Both of these are real fuel savers.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert

    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
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