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How can I test my main vents?


I have a basic question:  I recently installed Gorton #2 vents on both my main vents in a "antler" setup as shown on this website.

I cant say that I have seen a huge improvement in my steam system, so I would like to know, is there a way I can test the Gorton's to make sure they are installed properly and working properly?  Should I expect to hear air pushing out of them, or are there any other basic ways of making sure that they are doing their job.?

If I hold my hand to their opening, should I expect to feel air pushing out?

I have not watched them closely, but I do not recall having heard air streaming our of them during the purging phase of the steam cycle.

Thanks for your help.


  • SteveSteve Member Posts: 234

    You shouldn't see or hear anything, the boiler would drown out what little noise they may make. After the boiler has started running a few minutes put your finger over the hole located at the top. You should be able to feel small amounts of air coming out.

    The vents alone wont necessarily be a magic bullet to fix what ails your boiler. Remember it is a heating 'SYSTEM' and has many parts and details that all have to be done correctly to get the maximum potential from it. It is kind of like giving your car a tune up. Inflating the tires helps a little, as does changing the oil, the air filter etc.

    Are all your pipes insulated? Where is your Ptrol set at? Has the boiler been skimmed, and/or does the water in the site glass look clean?

    In tweaking my new boiler the additional vents helped but surprisingly the biggest improvement happened when I skimmed the boiler clean.
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Steam Burns!

    I wouldn't test a steam orifice by holding my hand in the air/steam stream. Live steam can give you a really bad burn! Use a strip of paper and holding one end, move the other end of the strip into the air/steam stream to check for movement.

    - Rod
  • jpf321jpf321 Member Posts: 1,558
    perhaps a match, lighter, candle

    will be more telling. 
    Entire Site | MAIN WALL | Strictly Steam | Off-Wall

    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

    venting worksheet download | Lost Art Of Steam Heating | my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics | old patents | pipe size chart | Copper Size Chart: K,L,M

  • Dave in QCADave in QCA Member Posts: 1,660
    OH, don't be such a wimp!

    Heck, I just hold my hand by the outlet of the vent.  If steam comes out, I move my hand. 

    Steam + Dave's hand = VERY fast reflexes!

    Hey, kidding!  I think that either the tissue paper or a match flame idea is good.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    I did an open/close test before I installed them

      Hold the vent exactly verticle upright and blow into it with your mouth.  The vent should allow the air to pass.  Then turn it upside down, holding it exactly verticle, and blow into it again.  When upside down it will not allow air to pass.

    There is another way to test without taking them off.  Shut the boiler off and wait for the vents to cool.  Turn the boiler back on, and place your hand on the vent.  If the vent heats up, its working.  Depending on your system, you may have to wait 5 or 10 minutes for it to get hot.  Write down the amount of time it takes to get hot.  Mine are predictable, they get hot in 6 minutes every time.  Thats how I know mine are working.  If mine doesn't get hot in 6 minutes, or never cool off, something is wrong.   Yours may take a longer or shorter amount of time.

    Gerry Gill cut one of these things open and explains how they work in a video 
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