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System balancing help

Hello folks,



To give a bit of background, I just moved into a house with single pipe steam heating system. The system was loud (water hammer and hissing) and inefficient. First order of business was to insulate all of the pipes in the basement. This largely cut out all water hammer issues and helped to heat the house fairly evenly.



Second order of business was to change the vents. I had a single Vent Rite #75 at the end of each main (33ft per 2" main which reduced to 1.25" for probably the last 15ft of each). According to the charts, the Vent Rites vented at about .113 cfm. These were replaced with dual Gorton #1s on an antler configuration. This creates roughly 6X the venting capacity and they way I figure it on paper, should roughly vent the entire mains in about a minute.



Now, the radiators:



I have 9. 4 downstairs, 5 upstairs. My house is fairly square so there are not any really out of place rads. To put their size in perspective, downstairs I have one 12 section rad by the TS. The three others are 8 section. Upstairs I have a 12 section in the master BR, 5 section in the bathroom and hallway and 8 section in the two small bedrooms.



The vents on them were a mixed bag of Dole variable adjusting and Hoffman 1a's which must have replaced some of the old Doles at some point. They were pretty loud, with the standard clicking sounds you get with that type of vent.



So, I figured what the hell and ordered fixed rate Gortons for all the radiators. I read both vent fast and vent slow theories (generally pretty confusing), spoke to Ken at Gorton, and with his suggestions and some wizardry decided upon the following:



Gorton 4 for the downstairs TS rad, 5's for the other downstairs. 5's for the small bathroom and hallway rads upstairs, 6's for the medium sized BR rads, and a single C for the master.



Last night the mains were put in and it was the first run. I cranked the heat up to 68 because I wanted to see how they did through the night. I noticed that the vent in my room hissed constantly, almost breathing the entire night. The bathroom and hall rads were mostly cold. Downstairs rads seemed OK. I understand that there is no truly quiet steam system, but tell me what is wrong here. How can I get the bedroom rad to vent and then stop. It seemed to be hissing even when cold. I thinking the Hoffman 1a was quieter and hissed less, but maybe I just woke up a lot last night. Are fixed vents too tricky to dial in or should they be more consistent in venting capacity through the house?



Let me know your thoughts guys......

Comments

  • David Nadle
    David Nadle Member Posts: 624
    Hissing

    If you had hissing problems before, new vents are not going to fix it. You're probably making wet steam. How does the water look, and how is the boiler piped?



    Gorton #5 is still a pretty slow vent. Apparently too slow for your bath and hall rads. Try #6 there. A #6 might be quieter than a C in your bedroom too. You'll have a nice box of spares by the time you're through...
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    edited January 2012
    The way I balanced mine

     was, I used the venting handbook that I told you about in the other thread.  If that is the way that you are going to do yours, the first thing is to figure out how much air you have in your radiators and risers.  Start with a diagram something like the one pictured below.  You might want to show the air separately radiator/riser.  I have mine combined in the picture.  Then, using the 3 oz scale, select your vent based upon the amount of air you need to remove.  A silent steam system is possible. 



    From what you have described, it sounds like the boiler is not running long enough.  Have you tried to simply turn the thermostat up to 70? 







     
  • Steam heat is supposed to be nearly silent....

    If it is making noise, there is something wrong.  Your breathing vent may be water laying in a pipe leading to that radiator or a steam main.  This also could be why the two other radiators are not heating.   I would also check to see if thermostat is set to steam heating (if electronic) or has a long anticipator setting which steam heat usually requires for proper operation.  Hissing vents indicate something is still not right.  Usually, it is an oversized boiler, which may be able to be downfired, but it could be due to the thermostat not being set right either.  To give you some perspective on radiator vent sizing, the 4 is about 50% bigger than old fashioned steam coal era radiator vents, the 5 is 500% bigger and the C is 1600% bigger. 
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    edited January 2012
    Responses....

    Thanks for all the comments so far:



    DN - I dont think there is a problem with wet steam, but I could be wrong.  I am definitely not getting any spitting.  Just more the sound of the vents releasing air.  This would be fine if it wasnt doing it 20 times in an evening for clips of 20 min at a time (slight exaggeration).  You may be right with the vents (#5s) being too slow upstairs as I did not have a heating problem with the 1a's and Doles in there.



    Crash - I did order the manual.  Was helpful with the tables for vent rates, but the diagrams were basically illegible.  Thanks for your schema, it looks a lot easier to read.  However I know that some pipes run through the floors and I have no idea how to really measure any of the pipes that lead upstairs.  Downstairs is very easy due to proximity.  There is definitely an "art" to my thermostat.  65 basically the boiler hardly runs, 68-70 it fires like crazy for what seems to be short intervals.  Over 70 and we are cooking turkeys on the radiators.



    Boilerpro - Would pitching the rads help at all or could it really be an issue with the pipes themselves?  I wouldnt know where to begin there.  As for the rads, I did check with a level and some are nearly flat, some barely crack the line...barely.  As for the thermostat, I am not sure.  Its one of those old honeywell dial jobs.  For the boiler size, its been there for 30 years, but I am not sure if it is too big or not, how might I tell?  I can certainly post the output when I get home.  I think the heat not getting to the bathroom and hall is more a matter of vent sizing because it wasnt a problem with the old vents.  Could the "C" in the bedroom be hogging the steam?  Im fine to do some trial and error, but it can get pricey so I am hoping for any guidance there....
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    edited January 2012
    EDR first

    You will need to know what the EDR of your radiators is first.  Here is a shortcut to the file you need.  [u][color=#810081]http://www.heatinghelp.com/files/posts/9911/Boiler%20Sizing%20Chart.pdf[/color][/u] 



    The pipes that run through the walls and floors can be estimated.  Measure what you can see coming out of the main in the basement, then you know how high your ceiling is in the main floor 8 or 10 feet, then add a few feet for the second floor runout, and thats one riser measured.  You will need the pipe size of each riser also.  There is not much air in a riser but still it needs to be counted.  How much air inside the radiators and risers is covered in the back of the handbook.   



    The round Honeywell thermostat is a good one for steam.  I have the same one.  One little hair of an adjustment can make a very big change.  This first picture shows a change from setting 1.2 to .8  The graph represents my boiler starting and stopping.  From the way you described how your boiler is running, your anticipator might be set for .8

    The second picture is an example of on 23, off 53.  The last picture is the T87 showing the anticipator adjustment setting. 
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    Thanks

    Crash - This is good stuff.  I am going to check when I get home.  It seems like that could be the culprit (the boiler not firing long enough to vent the radiators) and then shutting and firing again.  I will post my findings in a few hours.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Boilerpro is the pro here

      He suggested to check for oversized boiler first.  The way you do that is by measuring the EDR and comparing that to the ratings on the boiler. 



    The anticipator might be set the way it is for a reason.  Don't adjust it until you have all the facts.
  • Lots of cycling.....

    If you are hearing the vents a lot venting air out and then in quite often, I'd look at the anticipator setting.  Crash really has some good stuff here.  I usually set it for the longest cycle (1.2).  If the temperature is moving up and down uncomfortably on each cycle, then I gradually reduce the setting until comfort is achieved.  I would check the boiler size...30 years is typically the end of the line for most boilers so it would be good to be ready with all the sizing info when you need to replace it.  Nearly universally, steam boilers, like nearly all heating and cooling equipment are oversized.  The only exceptions are likely to be in progressive states that have strict code requirements regarding proper sizing of equipment.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    Anticipator

    I forgot that the round Honeywell is for the hot water base board heating in the addition of my house. I have a rectangular Honeywell TS for the steam portion. As a note, my boiler also does double duty heating the exchanger for the hot water baseboard system. Not sure if that could have any effect. Also I am on Nat Gas. Going to have to investigate things more thoroughly this weekend. I'll post some pics tonight.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    What is

     the model number of your steam thermostat?  If it is one of the newer models, it might not have an anticipator.  The newer thermostats have something called CPH (cycles per hour).  A common problem here on the wall is, a lot of times the thermostat installer does not set the CPH to steam.  Usually, they are shipped from the factory pre-set to forced air.  Forced air settings normally do not work very well with steam.  Yours may be an exception to the rule.



    My knowledge of mixed systems (steam with water loop and dual thermostat) is limited.  So therefore my thoughts on venting, anticipators, and CPH settings, are irrelevent.  I commented on this thread under the assumption that you had a simple one-pipe steam system. 
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    CPH for mixed system.

    Not only am I not a steam expert, I am not even a heating professional. And I have a hot water heating system. One zone is radiant slab, the other is baseboard.



    When I finally took the trouble to understand my system (digital thermostats for the zones), I set the radiant slab zone to one cycle per hour to get the best results. The thermostat for the baseboard zone recommended something like 3 cycles per hour for hot water, but I found I got better results with one cycle per hour up there too. Perhaps because I have outdoor reset and it is better if the system runs as close to continuously as it can, so that, in actuality, the thermostats stop calling for heat only if the outdoor temperature increases rapidly, which sometimes happens, or when the boiler will not modulate down far enough.
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    Honeywell

    Thermostat model is: TS 822 A1005  it is followed by the number "1" in a circle and 8016 whatever that means.

    Another night with the new vents and I notice that a lot of the noise also occurs when the radiator has gone cold, which I am to assume this is when the vacuum forms?  All part of the radiator "breathing".

    I will do a comprehensive audit of the EDR, boiler specs, and everything tonight.  Anything to alleviate the vent hissing will help me sleep....

    If an oversize boiler is the culprit, then I will have to defer to the pro's.  I am sure at over 30 years old my boiler is on its final days, but it still fires like a champ so if I can get a few more seasons out of it that would be nice.  However, sleep time is precious and invaluable.
  • David Nadle
    David Nadle Member Posts: 624
    Hissing or breathing?

    If the vents are hissing at the start of the cycle it could be that they're handling work that should be done by the main vents. Make sure the main vents are working and add more if needed.



    But from what you describe it sounds like the vents are "breathing" at the start, with a punctuated exhale and a noisy inhale. Again, I think this points to wet steam. When the iron is cold the steam is condensing too fast and pulling a strong vacuum.
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    Wet Steam?

    How do you control the moisture of the steam? Looks like there could be an unlimited amount of sources to this problem. Who wants some free radiators??
  • David Nadle
    David Nadle Member Posts: 624
    Clean the water

    Most likely the problem is the water itself. It may have oil in it, or it may be too alkaline. It could be a bad pipe job. If you're serious about solving the problem you can find much information about wet steam, skimming, etc. by searching this forum.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    I was just reading

    the manual for the TS822A  http://www.alpinehomeair.com/related/T822D1024-ProductData.pdf  From what I can see, this might not be the best for steam.  
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    Honeywell

    Interesting find. Mine is similar except probably 30 years old. I did not see any adjustment options inside it. I know there is a modern digital Honeywell Vision Pro 8000 TS that is recommended here on the board for steam systems. Maybe worth a look. Would love some basic programming options. Still have to check on boiler size as well.
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    edited January 2012
    The specs for my heating system

    Ok, I went through and mapped and measured everything. I also plugged the values for the radiators and runouts into an Excel file I found here on the wall.



    I am not sure if I did it right as I wasn't sure if I was supposed to include the main pipe length or the riser to the 2nd floor (9ft. approx for all the 2nd Fl Rads). So, the runout length on the table does not include the main to boiler length or the riser.



    My boiler is a Utica Steam and this data was on the front:



    375 Sq. Ft

    90,000 BTU Hr

    120,000 Capacity

    150,000 AGA Input



    Pressuretrol set at 0.5 / 2.0 Diff



    Thermostat is an older Honeywell TS 822A (which looks like it is not adjustable).

    All radiators have 3.0 sq ft of radiation per section.



    Let me know what you folks think. Like I said before, I am not getting an issue with water hammer, just a lot of "breathing" or slow hissing with the vents upstairs.



    The boiler also runs a hot water baseboard system for the Family Room (which was an addition to the house).



    Thanks
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    edited January 2012
    Nice system, very symetrical

      I laid a little voodoo on your pdf's.  This site likes jpeg better.  If you want to try some voodoo of your own, open the pdf in adobe, then click on the snapshot tool, select the outline of the image (this automaticly copies it), then open up Microsoft Paint, click on edit, scroll down to paste, click on paste.  Then while inside the paint program, save the file as a jpeg.  Then you can upload to here and it will display.
  • avmech_2
    avmech_2 Member Posts: 5
    Chart

    Where was the venting chart? That looks like really good info!



    John
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    Venting table

    Hi John,



    I'll have to look for it. It was a link on one of the members signatures. You could also probably email the fellow as his address is on the table.
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    Boiler size? Thermostat? Vents? Wet Steam?

    Any thoughts by the pros here on how to alleviate some of the constant air hissing i am getting in my bedroom. I really don't care about the downstairs radiators, but it's driving me crazy. Is it normal for a radiator to release air for 30-40 min straight? I swapped the Gorton C with the 1A last night (Hoffman) @ vent size 6 just to see how it behaved and it was certainly worse as the vent clicked open and close for what it seemed like every 30 seconds.



    If its a boiler size issue than there isn't much I can do and will have to ask what is the quietest vent on the market. Should I be venting faster or slower than I currently am? Could the vent sizes on the other radiators be making the problem worse?



    Sorry for all the questions. I had hoped that installing bigger main vents was going to help, but it didnt seem to do anything.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,914
    quiet

    In my opinion its going to be hard if not impossible to get quieter than a Gorton C.  Your only other hope may be a heat-timer varivent but chances are you will have problems with spitting and they typically don't last.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • David Nadle
    David Nadle Member Posts: 624
    Things to try

    1. Turn the pressuretrol differential down to 1.0. Everything's louder at 2.5 PSI.

    2. While the boiler is firing look for a surging waterline in the gauge glass, moisture droplets above the waterline, or water dripping down from above. If you see any of that you should skim the boiler.

    3. Set the steam thermostat very low to keep it off, and set the water thermostat very high to run a long time. If you hear noise from the vents then I think the control system is flawed.

    4. Set the water thermostat very low or off for a few days and see if things get quieter. Use a portable heater in that room during the test if you can.

    I recommend you change one thing at a time and allow enough run time to observe any change in behavior.

     
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    Thanks

    Good idea.  I will try some of those this week.  I suppose process of elimination is the best course of action.

    What I also found interesting, was that after I calculated all the air to vent in all my pipes & radiators, the CFM to vent was pretty tight between all the radiators.  Due to the smaller diameter pipes for the upstairs versus downstairs, the volume ranges were between 0.15-0.20 for all radiators (with the exception of the tiny bathroom and hall rad).  3min @ 3oz., roughly all radiators would receive a Gorton #5.  @ 1oz its mostly C's & 6's.  Is it preferable to use the 3oz measure?
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Yes

     it is preferrable to use the 1oz scale for the main vents, the 2oz scale for the risers if it turns out that they need venting, and the 3oz scale for radiators.  The reason for this is to encourage the steam to go to the main vent first, the risers second, and the radiators last.



    You have made it quite clear that the Master radiator is the one bothering your peace and quiet.  I have a couple questions for you. 



    1- Are LR SE, Master, Guest BR, and Thermo Rm all hissing and making noise?

    2- Are you getting the same type of noises on the other side of the home LR E, Nursery, LR NE, Bath? 
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    Main 1 vs Main 2 and other observations....

    I came home from work and went around and felt all the rads. Rads (on North Side) were still warm, South Side were cold (Bedroom, Guest, etc). I just cranked up the heat from a mild setback and observed what was going on. Both the main vents seemed to be doing their job and closed off under 2 min. The fire on the boiler kicked on and off three times within the span of about 7-10 min. Not sure if this is normal?



    *Also a strange thing happens. Sometimes when I turn the thermostat it wont kick the boiler off. If I touch the wires (which look like a rat nest) on the boiler, the gas will fire up. Makes me wonder if there is a problem with the thermostat system, loose connection, or something like that. Also, there is a consistent buzz sound coming from the Honeywell TS mounting on the boiler.



    Anyway, I also swapped vents around on rads and made sure they all jived with the recommended 3oz spec sheet. I dialed down the diff to 1.5 from 2.0.



    We will see tonight how things run, but I think its time to bring in a Steam PRO and just get a thorough system audit for piece of mind.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    I was going to

    suggest going back to Boilerpro's second suggestion which was to check for water laying around in the mains. Make sure they have some slope. 
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    Pitch

    Looks good. I cant speak for whats under the floor on the 2nd story though.
  • SteamBeez
    SteamBeez Member Posts: 30
    Im getting better at this....

    David,

    I think you are on to something.  After last nights observations and some additional reading this morning, there is most likely an issue with the water.  There was significant surging happening in the glass when the boiler was firing.  The water level dropped almost entirely out of the glass and then was back at the water line.  I do blow down the system weekly and have noticed it bouncing before during operation, but I thought it was relatively normal.  Looks like any movment more than an inch could indicate the water needs to be skimmed.  Now I just need to see if this is something that I can tackle or if I need to bring in the expert.
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    .

    Not sure if this was asked, or mentioned. Are the pipes insulated?
This discussion has been closed.