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Very busy and loud feed water solenoid

Hello all. I am a steamfitter apprentice and am lucky enough to be managing the apartment building that I live in which has a one pipe steam heating system. What a great experience, hay? This is my third winter in this building, so I do know that this system definitely needs some tlc. I have been given the green light this year by the owner of the building to do some things that need to be done. There was a water hammer problem. I have mostly fixed that by chiseling out a larger hole in a block wall and properly pitching a pipe. The system is much more balanced since I have cleaned and replaced almost all of the vents in the building. There is plenty more to do and I am happy to be doing it... So enough about me. here's what's going on that is a new problem for this year. The solenoid valve on the feed water line is working overtime especially at the start of the heating cycle, and it is very loud when it operates. Bang when it opens and BANG even louder when it closes. I know that it should not be working at all or at least very little. I know that this hammering that I'm hearing may have been there last year but I just didn't notice it because the valve operated so much less and I probably never heard it. So, I bought a steamy deal from this site and got Greening Steam, The Lost Art of Steam Heating, We Got Steam Heat, and A Pocketful of Steam Problems. I have been reading We Got Steam Heat, and I'm kinda leaning towards a partially clogged wet return line... Fill me in fellas, I'm ready to learn.


  • Water feeding frenzy

    Maybe that feeder should be valved off, so the waterline can be more closely monitored. Most likely, you are right that the return is clogged, and you will see the effects of that in the water-line dropping in the glass as it steams.

    Another more remote possibility is over-pressure forcing the water out into the returns. Here is one use for an accurate low-pressure gauge, and it can pinpoint a plugged pigtail, as well as showing the back-pressure of main line venting.--NBC
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,849
    The skinny on water feeders.

    It's actually a good thing that solenoid valves hammer. If a water feeder ever goes off, you want to know about it.

    Think of a water feeder in the same category as a safety relief valve. It should be properly installed, well maintained and tested periodically, but it should never operate unless something goes wrong with the system. They are only there to prevent a bad situation from becoming worse.

    If the feeder is letting water into the boiler, it's either flooding the boiler or going somewhere. If the level appears to be correct, you need to start looking for a leak. If you can't find a leak in the return or loose fittings where steam might be escaping, and there's no puddle under the boiler, you might be looking at a boiler leak above the water line. These are often the most elusive, because they let steam escape into the flueway where it becomes superheated and vented outside.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • RJ_4
    RJ_4 Member Posts: 484
    water feeder

    You can install a press reducing valve ahead of the water feeder.   Bell & Gosset B7, or watts makes several types
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