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Any Norther NJ steam experts (morris county)

rbmrbm Member Posts: 6
HI All



Ive gone through 5 local plumbers and none can handle my steam heat properly. Only 1 had even seen/worked on a system like mine 1st hand!   Desperately looking for a plumber in the area that knows what they are doing. I'm in Madison NJ. Morris County in Norther NJ.



At this point Ive been told I need a ton of very expensive work and I dont have total confidence in these guys.



Ill post up more detail on my problems this weekend when I can take some pictures. 



Quick issue summary 100 year old house. 2 pipe system 4 main vents. hodge podge of radiators in the house. Most are not vented. 3/10 are newer replacements and are vented. No visasble steam traps. Replaced the 4 main vents and they do not stop blowing wet steam. Poor heat on the 2nd floor and all around inefficient.

Comments

  • hodge-podge

    i would look at your pressure while firing, while you are taking those pictures. the non-functioning main vents could most likely be due to over-pressure. you will probably need a good low-pressure gauge from gaugestore.com as the code required 0-30 psi gauge is useles for diagnostics.

    most 2-pipe systems do not use radiator vents, and most work best on a pressure of less than 1.5 psi [basic functionality], down to 2 onces[economy and comfort].--nbc
  • jimmythegreekjimmythegreek Member Posts: 51
    pics

    post some pics of your near boiler piping.  Im in the same county as you and had a hard time finding help.  theres a guy clammy on here from jerzey that is good, could try looking him up.  Im not a master with 2 pipe, sounds like you got a hybrid system, 2 pipe with a 1 pipe branch. 
  • moneypitfeedermoneypitfeeder Member Posts: 235
    question

    Have you tried to break the coupling from the supply valve to any of the 2 pipe rads? Is there a small metal disk with a hole drilled in it in there? (if properly sized you won't necessarily need a trap). Do the rads that have vents have 2 pipes as well? Or do you have some 1 pipes added in? If your mains are blowing tons of wet steam you really need to post near boiler pics for the pros on here, they are great at letting you know where deficiencies lie.
    steam newbie
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Steam Pro - Northern NJ

    Hi- There is a steam pro from northern NJ steam pro who is a member of this board and goes by the nickname "Clammy".  Go to the "Search the Wall" button at the right hand side near the top of this page and click on it. Then in the Search window type "Clammy in the author box. That will take you to a post by Clammy. Click on his name and you can send an email to him.  He occasionally has posted pictures of boiler /piping installations that he has done and he does very nice work.

    - Rod
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,326
    edited February 2011
    Yes, call Clammy

    he's one of the best. I don't seem to have his number, but if you follow this link and click Contact User, you can e-mail him. Tell him we sent you.



    http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum/profile/592/clammy
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • rbmrbm Member Posts: 6
    system and pics

    system:

    Header feeds a single 2 inch mainline. Header is copper to the ceiling and on the return back to where the delivery and return lines reconnect into a single pipe returning into the boiler (pretty much whats contained in the boiler room). The mainline splits to the two sides of the house behind a sealed area of the ceiling Id need to cut into to see. the return pipe begins after the first radiator on the line. delivery pipe is 1.5 inch iron and return is 1 inch.



    7 convection radiators with fins behind grates. One of which looks to have had a vent valve drilled, which I captured in a pic. the rest of the them are all the same with no valves. One of these original radiators upstairs was replaced with that cast iron one in the pics. It has a valve in the top right. There are 2 newer small convection radiators in the bathrooms. these have vent valves on the feed pipe. They used to vent/hiss a lot whenever the system was on but since we changed the basement valves rarely do anymore. In the kitchen there is a large free standing cast iron. No valve but a knob on feed pipe for turning on off. There are also two similar design cast iron, but flatter, hanging from the ceiling of the basement and garage. both also have knobs but I cant budge either. All of these kick off heat so I assume the are open.



    The water level usually is about half way on the glass level on the boiler. The auto feed for new water kicks on at least once a week since so much wet steam is venting. Thats only when Im home and notice so prob more frequently. Pressure gauge usually reads between 1-4. Before we started changing valves it was consistantly closer to 8.
  • rbmrbm Member Posts: 6
    history

    history:

    We bought the house in June so first heating season. First bill in november was very high so I started calling plumbers for help. first plumber had no idea. Second plumber spent 30 minutes on the phone being explained how the 2 pipe system works. He pointed out the header issues and recommended we insulate the pipes (The previous owners at some point removed most of the asbestos insulation and never replaced it.) Also said we should prob change out the valves as they looked very old.



    Insulation helped a lot with getting the house warmer but bills are still high. Pilot thermocoupler died on the coldest day of the year in late January so while the plumber was fixing that I had him change out the 4 main valves, all #1's 2 gorton and 2 maid'o'mist. Now the two mainline vents (right side of the house) I highlighted in the pics are cranking wet steam whenever the system is firing. The closeup actual captured that but you can see also the water stains in all the pics.
  • rbmrbm Member Posts: 6
    RE: moneypit questions

    moneypitfeeder - Im not comfortable opening any of the pipes myself and none of the plumbers have suggested trying that. All the radiators are 2 pipes, even the ones with vents. 
  • jimmythegreekjimmythegreek Member Posts: 51
    my advice

    All the plumbers who ran from that system did you a HUGE favor, they would have taken your money for nothing.  If your not a steam pro you would have no idea what your looking at!  You need alot of work there, all that copper from the boiler up has to go, and you need a proper header with an equalizer and hartford loop all in iron pipe.  You do have an equalizer and loop/mud leg, but its not supposed to look like that and come off the main in that fashion, your sucking up tons of water.  I would bet that if you started with a proper iron repipe on the near boiler and got that pressure down to less than 2psi, you would be impressed.  I beleive your main vents are toast due to the high pressure, they will prob never work right again.  After you get the near boiler piped correctly and get the copper outta there (good scrap value BTW prob a couple hundred worth) you can then address the rads individually and see whats working and not, change valves/and balance that system.  Im right in your neck of the woods and this is common around here.  All the big outfits know very little, unless they got an oldtimer that knows his stuff on steam
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,326
    edited February 2011
    What Jimmy said

    that header configuration is sending water up into the system with the steam. We call it a "colliding header" since the steam comes into the tee from both directions and then fights to get out the side of the tee. Whoever piped it that way shouldn't be in the business.



    For a boiler using two steam outlets, the best configuration by far is a "drop header". This allows higher risers, which dries out the steam even more, and is much easier to put together. Go here to see what a drop header looks like- you have several pages of pics to choose from:



    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article-categories/164/Steam-Piping



    The system itself looks like Vapor, but the ceiling rad is hooked up as one-pipe. Unusual to say the least. Are there any radiators there that are original to the house? If so are they hooked up with two pipes or just one?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • rbmrbm Member Posts: 6
    steamhead

    I have no idea what is original or not. From the looks the radiators hung

    in the ceiling are the oldest and prob original. Not sure you can tell from the pics but they are piped like all the others as 2 pipe, feed on the side with the knob and then a return coming out of the other end. The plumbers who have inspected said all the radiators are connected as 2 pipe. They also thought these are prob original.
  • jimmythegreekjimmythegreek Member Posts: 51
    i see something telltale

    Im gonna guess that by those pics this was originally a 2 pipe VENTED steam system, kinda rare but theyre out there.  I say this because after reviewing your pics of the rads u have, I only really see one radiator that looks originally piped.  If im walking into the unknown I try to find something original and go from there.  In your case almost every rad has been repiped or played with in those pics you posted except for one.  In the last post of pics you put up, the first pic in the upper left has (what looks to be) a long radiator with 1 1/2" supply pipe and a 1" return line with an extension in prob 3/8" up to an oldschool vent.  This is the most original type of rad I see in your pics.  In the second to last pics you posted it is the last picture with the words FEED with an arrow pointing left on it.  If this is the case your never gonna have good efficient heat the way those other rads are piped, most of them are in copper and the risers off the mains in pics you posted show the fiddling of the past.  Those ceiling rads are old, but the piping is not original if you look closely.  Theres a good atricle to read on here I'll find the link and post it in a min. 
  • jimmythegreekjimmythegreek Member Posts: 51
    edited February 2011
    heres the link

    read this

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/11/Hot-Tech-Tips/280/Two-Pipe-Air-Vent-Steam-Heating



    basically the old vented 2 pipes were done before steam traps were around or popular.  They used a larger supply pipe and a smaller return pipe so steam went the easiest route and no trap was needed.  good heating system if its right and vented well



    Hey Steamhead I posted 20 min before you and ur post is above mine?  haha 
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,326
    Couldn't see

    the return line from the ceiling rad in the pic.



    But in that same pic, the main dry return is considerably smaller than the steam main. That's why I think this is/was Vapor- on a 2-pipe air-vent system, the main dry returns would only have been one size smaller than the steam mains.



    Also, the pipes connecting to the rads would have been larger.



    With no traps on the rads, this may have been some sort of Orifice system. If this is correct, none of the radiation should have vents on it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
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