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Down stairs warm upstairs cool

I bought the house this past spring.  I have what i believe is one pipe heating system.  I just cannot balance the heat in the house.  The boiler is in the basement.  The next room is the living room. In the living room there is baseboard not radiators.  baseboard has a pipe going into the baseboard and at the end is what appears to be a not venting vent then the pipe makes a 90 degree angle and goes into the basement and what I believe back into the system.  It also looks like there is some sort of return that goes to the other side of the boiler.  In the kitchen which is next to the living room I have a radiator, which get hot.  As you go to the next floor are the bed rooms.  I one in master bed, guest room, and two in the bathroom.  I have turned off one in the bathroom, they are much bigger than the ones in the master bed and guest room.  When I turned the heat on the baseboard and down stairs radiator are hot.  When i go upstairs the bathroom is basically cold all the way through and the other two are radiators are warm in the first few coils.  I have put new vents on, but I dint really know how to vent them.  I need help it has been in the high 20's low 30's for the month of DEC with a bill well over $200 for a half double.  Please help if you can step by step.

Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    edited December 2010
    Take some pictures

    of the radiators, baseboard and boiler, and post them here. Let's take a look at it............



    Where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • steamin
    steamin Member Posts: 14
    edited December 2010
    Steamin

    It takes forever to download pics, so I used photobucket for uploading it only takes minutes.



    http://s139.photobucket.com/albums/q295/jsanto58/steam/



    I have to take more pics.
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    edited December 2010
    Need more info.

    Hi-  From your pictures it looks like you may have a 1 pipe counterflow steam system with possibly a hot water leg off the boiler. To help us better understand you system I've labeled some of your pictures and posted them below. Here are some questions about the pictures:

    1. Picture #1 -What unit are we looking at?

    2. Picture #2 - What unit are we looking at?

    3. Main Vent Picture-  Note directions marked "A" and "B".  Questions:  Which direction is the boiler?  What is is the other direction? In which direction do the no performing radiators attach to the steam main? What is labeled Main Vent "M" is a large capacity main vent. Are there any other main vents on this steam main? ...and if so what direction are they from the Main Vent "M" in the picture.

    One of the things that would help you a lot is putting some  insulation on the steam pipes.

    'Here is a link to an article on this subject:

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/11/Hot-Tech-Tips/300/Why-you-should-insulate-steam-pipes

    You didn't mention where you are located. We may be able to recommend a steam pro that is local to you.

    - Rod
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    It's cast-iron baseboard

    with a vent at the far end and a return line dropping from under the vent. Where does that return line go? 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • steamin
    steamin Member Posts: 14
    Steaming

    Picture one is the baseboard heat and picture two is the other end of the baseboard heat. And the the way it looks the pipe goes back under the floor and back into the main. The baseboards always get hot first.



    Directon B after the vent does a 90 and runs back into the boiler behind the unit. Direction A goes backwards and hits all the feeds to radiators and baseboards. The main vent is the only vent and it is at the end othe main before it runs back towards the boiler it is after all leads that go to radiators and baseboards. The radiators that do not work are in direction A. It looks like when the baseboard pipes return to main there are pipes that branch off main and go up the wall to radiators.



    It also is very cool in the basement. But even before I changed the vents the bathroom radiator upstairs, which is the farthest from the boiler was getting hot first before the other upstairs radiators.



    I will try to post a video via photobucket for you to watch.



    Finally,

    From the boiler radiator pipes which is one floor above get hot first. Next to the baseboard heater branches thecare pipes that go up stairs to master bed an guest. After that on the main you run into radiator in the kitchen which is the next floor up. There are also branches that run up to bathroom on second floor, which is the farthest way. After that on the main you have a vent. Main then drops at a 90 and runs back to boiler on the opposite side.



    Steamhead:

    After the vent the pipe hits a. 90 and gies about 20 feet back into the other side of the boiler.
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    I just saw one of these knuckle jobs the other day...

    they had 1-pipe system CI baseboard supplied with 1" copper with a 6 ft runout with a drip from the vent end of the bb through a flapper check valve dropping dead vertically back into its own supply...all these pipes were copper... the homeowners had me come over because their pipes were banging...I explained the issue..and told them how it needed to be corrected....



    similarly they had a standard CI tube rad in the kitchen piped in 3/4 copper with a 7 ft horizontal runout...yeah they told me that one banged too.
    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
  • steamin
    steamin Member Posts: 14
    Steamin

    Are you offering advice because I don't understand anything you said? I don't know much about steam heating let alone all the things you have said .
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Steam System

    Hi-  Thanks for answers to my questions. Since you do have a return pipe back to the boiler, I was wrong guessing it was a counterflow system (the drip line on the steam riser threw me off and I didn't see a return in the photos), it sounds like you have a 1 pipe parallel system. I've attached a drawing which I made from your description. Is the direction of the slope of the steam main and return pipe correct?  The return pipe drops down to floor level at some point, do the pipes from the baseboard connect to the return line or go directly back to the boiler?



    Problem Radiators - Did they ever work properly since you have owned the house?  Have you made any changes to these radiators since you've owned the house? - Things like temporarily removing  them to refinish the flooring etc.. What make and model # are the new vents you put on these radiators?

    Have you checked the problem radiators and made sure that the Valve (Tap) on the steam line going into these radiators is fully open? (One a one pipe steam system, this valve must be either fully open or fully closed).

     Have you checked the slope of these radiators? (On a one pipe system the radiator should have a very slight slope towards the inlet steam pipe to encourage the flow of condensate (water) out of the radiator)  If you can you might take some pictures of the problems radiators.

    i might add that I'm an amateur when it comes to steam and Steamhead is a very experienced steam professional just so you know what is behind the advice given.

    I might also mention there are some very good books on residential steam heating available on this website in the "Shop" section at the top of this page. Here is a link to them:

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Super-Deals/14/129/A-Steamy-Deal

    - Rod
  • steamin
    steamin Member Posts: 14
    Steamin

    Rod:

    That is acurate the main runs the same way as you stated.  What is the return?  Is the return the pipe that drops to floor level and runs parrallel?

    The pipes that run to the baseboard return back into the main. Then branch off and go upstairs to radiators.

    They did work ok but not sufficient.  The basement is not very insulated and I would throw out a number and say its prob 60-65 degress down there.

    I have changed the vents in three radiators up stairs.  master,guest and bathroom. They are Durst Corporation, A884 steam radiator vent air valve.

    the valves are turned all the way open.  and slops in the bathroom could be adjusted. 

    Finally:

    I live in Eastern PA near allentown.  I have attached an more accurate sketch.  let me know
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    If the return line coming from the baseboard

    goes back into the steam main, that's wrong. The steam will go up the return line and close the vent, trapping air in the baseboard. The exception is if you add a water seal about 3-feet deep in the return line before it gets back to the steam main. A steam trap won't work in this situation.



    We've gone as far as Easton for steam, so if you can't find anyone in your area, get in touch.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • steamin
    steamin Member Posts: 14
    edited December 2010
    Steamin

    Steamhead:

    The post by Rod Picture #2    What is this picture of?  what type of vent is it?  Is it a ventless vent?  the way it looks the pipe returns into the basement and back in the main.
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Steam System

    Hi- Thanks for the input as it helps me get a better "picture" of your system.

    As Steamhead has mentioned, the return lines from the baseboard back to the mains doesn't work. The returns have to individually be piped down below the waterline and join the "wet return" or it going back to the main go through what is called a "Loop seal". There are diagrams of both these methods and discussion on baseboards which is all covered on Page 98 through 100 in the book in one of the books I mentioned above, "The Lost Art of Steam Heating".  I would really recommend that you get these books as then we can just refer you to a page which would explain it far better that I can in this reply.



     Terkminology: I've attached a drawing of a 1 pipe parallel system that has two mains. The "Risers" carry the steam from the "header" (which your system doesn't have) up to the "steam mains". From here the steam mains slope downhill. The "laterals" which take steam from the steam main to the radiator branch off the main. After the last radiator there is a "Main Vent" ("M" on your system) located on the main. (Each main has its own main vent) Usually after the Main Vent, the piping reduces in size and changes direction back towards the boiler. After the change in direction the piping becomes know as the "Dry Return" and at a certain point will drop straight down to the floor level. This can occur close or far away from the boiler. On some systems the main vents are located on the "Dry Return" just before the piping turns down to the floor. As this pipe comes below the boiler's waterline level it now becomes known as the "Wet Return" and being below the boiler waterline level, is filled with condensate (water).

    Radiator vents- You didn't mention how the radiators were working before you replaced the radiator vents.  I'm not familiar with the Durst A884 radiator vent. It's not one of the more common vents like a Hoffman 1A or a Vent-Rite (which are both adjustable) Radiator vents vary in orifice size and consequently venting capacity. I have no knowledge of the venting capacity of the Durst so don't know what to expect. Do you have one of the old vents that you could try and compare the difference?

    Pressure- At what pressure does you system normally run? It should be 2 PSI and preferably under. Steam systems, oddly, operate better at low pressure -the lower, the better.

     If possible take some pictures of where your return line attaches to the boiler and also where the return lines from the baseboard are attached to the steam main.

    - Rod
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    edited December 2010
    Double Post

  • steamin
    steamin Member Posts: 14
    STEAMIN

    You know I cant really tell where the baseboard lines runs after it exits the heater.  It looks like it runs back down to the main, but there are only 4 pipes on that side.  Two for 1st floor baseboards and 2 for 2nd floor radiators

    The other vents were Hoffman No1A.

    I have one in front of me and i dont know how to adjust them. I can unscrew the top and turn the side where the numbers are located.  I guess i could boil these.  Let me know
  • billschillin
    billschillin Member Posts: 7
    basement boilers

    I'm not a tecnician, but I have a similar situation and consulted with a hydronics engineer who gave me a quick lesson in physics which I applied and like magic I have heat in every radiator.  When I told him I had a basement boiler with all radiators above it he said " which way does steam naturally go? " I said "up" and he said" that's right!! " He told me to set my pressuretrol as low as it would go and when I did, steam found it's way into all of the radiators and the hammering vanished.  It has worked fine ever since ( over 18 years ) I'm not saying you don't have other problems with your system, but I would certainly not rule this out .



    Good luck with your system



    Bill
  • steamin
    steamin Member Posts: 14
    edited December 2010
    Steamin

    BillSchillin:

    Where is the pressuretrol  located at on my boiler?



    Steamhead/Rod: I did have Hoffman's on which I did take off and replace with something from Homedepot.  The Hoffman vents seized and could not turn.  I was able to turn one and put it back on the bathroom radiator on the 2nd floor and since the Hoffman vents more, it got hotter quicker.  I guess I will just buy new Hoffman's 1A. 

    ---also i have taken the vent off the baseboard. they are hoffman #41.  let me know what this vent does for the baseboard?

    Question 1: what type of Insulation do you suggest for the pipes?
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Steam System

    Hi- You didn't mention at what your pressure you system is operating.

    I've attached a labeled picture of your boiler to this post. The items I labeled with a (?)  I'm assuming Low Water Cut Offs though I'm not actually familiar with the models in the picture.

    Vents- It would seem that you are going in the right direction on them. You can try boiling your old vents in vinegar as this sometimes cleans them up. For new Hoffman 1A vents if you can't get them locally, try Pex Supply on the internet.

    http://www.pexsupply.com/Hoffman-401422-1A-1-8-Adjustable-Angle-Steam-Radiator-Air-Valve-3516000-p

    They also have Hoffman 41 convector vents:

    http://www.pexsupply.com/Hoffman-401455-41-1-8-Straight-Steam-Convector-Air-Valve-3518000-p

    The Hoffman 41 convector vent does the same thing as the vent on a radiator. It allows the air to be released so the steam to replace the air. When the steam reaches the vent, the vent closes so that the steam remains in the radiator/convector.



    Insulation-  Gerry Gill, one of the steam pros, recommended getting steam pipe insulation from these guys http://buyinsulationproducts.com/

    Insulation is very competitive and you need to shop around. Also be wary of freight charges as they can really mount up.  More people use a minimum of 1 inch insulation of steam pipes. as this is the most "bang for the buck": Ideally you should probably go with 1 1/2 inch.    McMaster Carr has steam pipe insulation

    http://www.mcmaster.com/#fiberglass-pipe-insulation/=ac6am1

    on page # 3489.  This will give you a good description though I would shop elsewhere with someone that specializes in insulation for the best price level. Good insulation really makes a difference. I think your system probably had asbestos insulation which was stripped recently as it makes the house  easier to sell. Unknowledgeable people "freak out" on asbestos though it is quite safe unless it is loose and crumbly.

     I would keep surveying your system and all the piping in your basement and make up a chart with lengths and pipe sizes as this will help you when you order insulation. Just insulate the steam pipes on the boiler and the steam mains first.  I've attached a chart with the outside circumferences of the different sized pipes which will help you identify the pipe sizes. Piping is sized by the inside diameter ie:  "2 inch pipe" has a 2 inch inside diameter. Also we will need the pipe sizes/lengths of the mains to calculate the amount of main venting you need. I think it may be a benefit to increase the amount of main venting from what you have now.

    - Rod
  • steamin
    steamin Member Posts: 14
    Steaming

    Rod:

    I really don't know where the pressure guage is. There is a pressure guage on the boiler then there is a tiny lever on the boile. Which goes up in small numbers . What is the ideal pressue 1 or 2.



    I measured the size of my main which looks to be 2 1/2 inches. I measured it by putting a tape measure up to the side of the pipe. Is this an ok method to use? Insulation is expensive. Would it be ok to wrap the main with the 3 ft fiberglass insulations and would it be ok to wrap the branches in a fiberglass wrap. They come in 25 ft . Roles. And finally do I have to insulate the return?





    I have n41 vents on the baseboard but it looks like there is a return on the baseboard. It that possible with n41 vent?
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Steam System

    Hi- I've attached another picture of your boiler. The item labeled Note"P" is the boiler pressure gauge. I'm not quite sure what you mean by this- "there is a tiny lever on the boiler. Which goes up in small numbers". If this is what I have labeled in the photo "Note "A" ", it is the adjustable setting on the Pressuretrol.  This adjusts the "cut in" and "cut out" steam pressures on the boiler. The Pressuretrol is a Safety Device  and is NOT something you want to touch unless you KNOW what  exactly what you are doing !!!



    Have you ordered the steam books yet?  I believe I mentioned them in an earlier post. Here is a link to the books you need to get:

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Super-Deals/14/129/A-Steamy-Deal

    They will save you a lot of grief and money. My copies have paid for themselves easily a hundred times over.

    Measuring the pipes-  I would measure the circumference of the pipe by wrapping  a 1 inch strip of paper around the pipe and making a mark where the end of the strip meets the paper. Then remove the strip of paper and measure the marked length. Just guessing the diameter may be inaccurate.



    Insulation-  While any thing helps, I would go with the proper type of fiberglass pipe insulation. It's far more efficient than just wrapping it with "Home Depot" type insulation and also looks professional which makes a BIG difference if you ever plan to sell your house. On of the rules on this website is we don't discuss pricing so I can only say to shop around as insulation pricing is competitive and I wouldn't just buy it from Mc Master Carr. I gave you that link so you could see what sort of insulation is used on steam pipes.

    You're right it isn't cheap but the payback is very good. i know of some homeowners who just bought a box or two every month and got the insulation done that way.

    You only really have to insulate the steam pipes. The returns are optional. Some people insulate the returns and others don't. Insualte the steam boiler pipes first and the steam main (s). After that you can do the lateral pipe from the main to the radiators if you desire.

    Hoffman # 41 convector vent - This is what we were asking you earlier- Where does this return pipe on the baseboard go and how does it terminate ?  The 41 vent's job is to let the air out of the convector pipe and keep the steam in . A convector is sloped from where the steam enters the convector to the other end where the 41 vent is located, The return pipe under the 41 allows the condensate (water) to run back to the boiler. Again I recommend you need to  get "the books" as Dan answers all your questions  like this much better than I could ever do.

    - Rod
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