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2 Pipe Steam System - Water Hammer - No Trap - Some Side Vents

I made the title long enough to really narrow this down. I just purchased (2 months ago) an 84 y/o home in NJ. This has a 2 pipe steam system with a newer boiler. Since It is really just starting to get cold I am noticing a few problem.



First problem is a water hammer leading to a spare bedroom radiator. This radiator appears to only be getting half hot. Which lead to another problem. There are three different configurations between the radiators.



First is no trap with an inlet and outlet pipe on 5 of the radiators. Second is an inlet and outlet with a trap on one of the radiators. Third is an inlet and outlet with no trap however with small adjustable vents.



Any help on what is going on would be great. They are all Peerless radiators, with a peerless boiler. If appears to have a vent right about the boiler.

Comments

  • 2-pipe problems

    maybe you can take another pic of the boiler piping, so we can see it rightside up. i don't see an equalizer or hartford loop. the equalizer would dry the steam.

    after everyone has had a chance to see the piping, then i would put some rolls of fiberglass insulation on the pipes as a temporary measure, and see if that helps.

     having a vaporstat is good, but do you have a low-pressure gauge to verify the settings?

    the main vent is too old, and too small to let much air out without burning extra fuel, so that would be one task to perform soon.--nbc
  • JoeA1979
    JoeA1979 Member Posts: 12
    edited November 2012
    A few more

    "maybe you can take another pic of the boiler piping, so we can see it rightside up. i don't see an equalizer or hartford loop. the equalizer would dry the steam."



    I added some better pictures below.



    "after everyone has had a chance to see the piping, then i would put some rolls of fiberglass insulation on the pipes as a temporary measure, and see if that helps."



    I was thinking of adding the insulation prior to even starting the system for the year. Out of curiosity what problem would this address besides being more efficient?



    "having a vaporstat is good, but do you have a low-pressure gauge to verify the settings?"



    I thought the low pressure gauge was the one beside it? I am guessing I am wrong.



    the main vent is too old, and too small to let much air out without burning extra fuel, so that would be one task to perform soon.--nbc
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Steam System

    Hi- Well for starters who ever did your boiler piping obviously didn't read the manual.. Do you have the Installation manual? There is no reason for the vents. Most probably on the radiators that don't have traps you have orifices in the inlet valve(s)

    - Rod
  • JoeA1979
    JoeA1979 Member Posts: 12
    Manual is not in the unit

    Well now that I am nervous, I went and searched the unit for the manual. I dont appear to have it (in the unit). I found the number is G-561, time for some googling.
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    I&O Manual

    Hi Joe- Attached is the manual which I believe goes with your boiler. Look on Page 14 &15.   Which model do you have?  You can find that information on the manufacturer's plate on the boiler.

       This link will take you to a video on the importance of the proper configuration of the boiler piping:

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/107/Steam-Heating/118/Steam-boiler-near-boiler-piping

    - Rod
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    Rod

    I don't think anybody has read directions for the last 60 years, for everything to be that screwed up.The new boiler is just the latest knuckle-headed addition.
  • JoeA1979
    JoeA1979 Member Posts: 12
    Model

    I appreciate the help on the manual. Im getting ready to watch the video.



    I believe the Model is G-561

    Boiler - 61-05-SPRK-SP
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    I&O Manual for Peerless 61

    Hi - From the numbers you have a Peerless 61 attached is the I&O manual for that boiler. Page 11 has the specifications for the boiler.

    As you can see they are very similar.

    - Rod
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    2 Pipe Steam System

    Hi- As you can see the earlier 61 manual is very minimal. At this point it may be better to wait until spring before taking on the near boiler piping. The vents on the radiators aren't necessary and would lead one to suspect the Main Vents are very marginal or lacking.

    Attached is a drawing of two typical 2 pipe system configurations and how they are vented. See if you can determine which configuration you have.



      I might also recommend the Shop Section of this website which has some very good books on residential steam systems. Start with "We Got Steam Heat!" 

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Steam-Heating-Books/25/61/We-Got-Steam-Heat-A-Homeowners-Guide-to-Peaceful-Coexistence

    And I would also get "The Lost Art of Steam Heating"  Here the link to it:

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Steam-Heating-Books/25/68/Lost-Art-Of-Steam-Heating

    Both are written so the homeowner new to steam can understand them. It also helps that when you ask a question we can refer you to a certain page in the books as Dan explains the concepts far better than we can. You might also want to take a look at what is known as "Off the Wall" in the Resources and Systems section at the top of this page. Dan has a lot of articles of steam systems there.

    - Rod
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Steam

    Holy crow! Where to begin?



    You have a total cluster of bad piping and mismatched systems. Is only the one radiator not working well? Do you have a picture of that radiator and the piping that leads to it from the basement?
  • JoeA1979
    JoeA1979 Member Posts: 12
    Rod & Jstar

    The piping up to the radiator I will try to get a picture of tonight.  The radiator itself is like the “plain” radiator shown above.  Meaning it has no vent and no trap.  It is just and inlet pipe, inlet valve, elbow and outlet pipe. 

     

    My main concern of some of the comments would be “Is the system/house safe in the given configuration?”.  Is this something that needs to be immediately addressed?  I just ordered the book, I guess that may help.   



    Jstar - being that you are in Metuchen, can you recommend any pro's in the south jersey area?  Im guessing the original installation company wouldnt be responsible?
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Orifice System

    Hi Joe-  From what we can see there is nothing "dangerous" about your steam system. Your system and house is safe from a safety standpoint! It just has some serious problems which prevent it from operating efficiently.



    To quote a post I made earlier this week to a person with a two pipe system in practically the same situation as yours, "What usually has happened in these situations is that the original

    installers knew what they were doing but since then, what we (for

    politeness) call “knuckleheads”, who didn’t have a clue as to what they

    were doing, made “mickey mouse” modifications to your system.  What

    needs to be done is to remove the “modifications” which will then get

    your steam system operating economically and comfortably."



       The two pipe system is the "Cadillac" of the steam systems. Setup properly it operates very well and one of the main benefits is that you can adjust the inlet valves of each individual radiator to control the heat in that room which is something you can't do with a one pipe system. (On a one pipe system the inlet valve has to be fully on or fully off!)



    On a one pipe system there is a vent on the radiator which allows the air to escape but closes when steam reaches it. On a two pipe system, steam enters the radiator by way of the inlet pipe. Air and condensate (water) leave by way of the outlet pipe. Since we want the steam to remain in the radiator we use a "trap" on the outlet pipe to keep steam in the radiator.

    Some 2 pipe systems (like yours) don't have traps! They use orifices that are sized to the individual radiator so that radiator fills with just the amount of steam it can handle and therefore there is no need for a trap as there is no excess steam leaving the radiator. The orifice is either contained in a special type on inlet valve or more commonly is a "plate" in pipe going into the radiator. The orifices are individually sized to match  the steam capacity of the radiator. (The special inlet valves have an adjustable orifice)   I've attached a picture of a inlet valve with an orifice plate.

    The orifice plate system was the ultimate of the two pipe systems.  When rejuvenating their two pipe systems, a lot of people now are installing orifices rather than rebuild/replacing their old traps.



    Besides the piping problems with the near boiler piping, I think your other problems is with venting. I think that's why someone has mistakenly put vents on your radiators. This is something you would do if it was a Hot Water system and the radiators were full of water. It makes no sense on a two pipe steam system!  Take a close look at your steam piping. What we are looking for are main vents. These will look like a large "bullet" pointing straight up or look like a large can of cat food on its side. They will usually be near the ends of the mains or on the return piping. See if you can locate them or a position where they may have been originally located. (Some "knucklehead" may have removed them!)

    - Rod
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    Rod

    F&T Traps?
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Pro

    I travel to all of NJ. Go through my company info and give me a call. We can set up an assessment meeting.
  • JoeA1979
    JoeA1979 Member Posts: 12
    Update

    Since I've ordered the book I have learned a lot. I insulated all the pipe with fiberglass roll insulation. The reason for that is I may need to remove it eventually to add main vents. First night and the water hammer is (fingers crossed) 90% cured.



    I no realize their are no main vents. The only went is at the end of the return line. This can't be a good this. Also found a Hoffman main vent laying on the shelf.



    Problem 2: I have no Hartford loop. This concerns me from a safety aspect. Opinons
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,488
    Not to worry...

    at least right now.  Next spring, maybe.  The Hartford loop -- assuming it's piped correctly -- prevents water from leaving the boiler in the event of a leak in the returns.  Back in the bad old days of coal fired boilers, this could be a real disaster, as there was no automatic way to shut the fire off if the water level dropped.  Nowadays, however, there are low water cutoffs (you'll see the abbreviation "LWCO" all over this site) the job of which is to do just exactly that.



    What you should do, if you haven't, is to check and be sure that a) you do have a LWCO on the boiler and b) that it works...



    Which is not to say that you shouldn't pipe in a Hartford loop when you get the chance.  You should.  But the lack of it doesn't have to keep you up nights worrying -- assuming that the LWCO is there and working.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    edited August 2014
    UPDATE

    We finally did some work on this system.



    We installed orifice plates in every radiator. There were no existing orifices or return traps of any sort. Steam must have been running through the entire return, causing a lot of water hammer. The system ran for 20-30 minutes without a single sound.



    We also installed a 2-stage gas control valve to help smooth out the nearly 90% oversized boiler. The pressure hovers around 4oz.



    Can't wait to see how it runs this winter.