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Please help me figure out my new steam system

Oz
Oz Member Posts: 8
I purchased a condo (my first) earlier this year and this is my first heating season living in it. I am not at surprised at the condition of the heating system. It passed inspection but I have a sneaky feeling that some things are just not right. Based on the many threads I've read of this forum (great site, btw!), I can say that I have a one pipe gas fired steam system. Beyond that, I'm at a loss. Before, I continue, I should say that I have ordered "the steam book". I'm just waiting for delivery any day now, but before it comes, I thought I'd ask a few questions. I hope the attached pictures give a better idea of my questions. My pipes are the insulated ones (looks like my unit is the only one with insulated pipes!), they kind of cross my neighbors pipes, so hopefully you can make out which are mine.



1) why is there an air valve (vent-rite #1) on one of the pipes, yet it looks like the valve is closed? It's set at 1. Seems really odd. That valve is also quite cruddy. Should I replace it? I tried opening it but it seemed stuck, so I didn't push it.



2) is the water in the boiler water gauge supposed to be that murky?



3) the radiators are quiet for the most part with the exception of the one in one of my bedroom. They all seem to be well balanced, so no hot or cold spots. The bedroom one had a Maid o' Mist #D vent that used to whistle, hiss, and spit. After many days of sleep deprivation and about 4 trips to HD and Lowes, trying different replacement valves, I gave up and ordered a heat timer Varivalve. The test will be tonight to see if that is quieter. I gather that the verdict is mixed on this vent but i hope it is at least better that what was there before. I also have a Gorton #D on order so i can put that in instead. Fingers crossed. My question here is why would they put such a large vent inside the unit and close up the vent in the basement? And in a bedroom? This is the room farthest from the boiler, so could that be the reason? The radiator in the room with the thermostat has #4 vent and that seems to be just fine.



UPDATE: The main problem with the M-o-M vents was the whooshing sound that they make when the boiler starts up in the morning. It's the sound of a strong breeze. After about 5-6 times whooshing, it quiets down to a hiss and some spitting, then all goes quiet. The Varivalve vent does exactly the same, which leads me to think this is not a vent issue but a system issue. Am I on the right track?



4) The thermostat. I installed a Honeywell RTH7500D. I just checked to make sure that it's set for 1 cycle per hour (learned from this forum!) Is there anything else to be aware of when using a thermostat with this kind of heating system? Does a thermostat provide any significant cost savings? FYI, I usually set the weekday temperature schedule at 68-64-71-64.



I would appreciate any input. I plan to have a steam pro come in at some point because 3 of the 4 radiators need new valves (broken handles and lots of corrosion), but I would like have a basic idea of what else needs to be fixed before calling them in. Thank you.

Comments

  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,381
    Vent in cellar looks rough

    That vent in the cellar is being used as a main vent. The main air vent is supposed to vent all the air ot of the boiler and steam main quickly so the steam can then feed the radiator feed pipes. That vent looks to be in bad shape and is not really suited as a main vent does it work?For now I would replace it with a Gorton D but the plug that vent screws into should be removed and a real vent should be installed. That piping looks to be in tough shape so I would not attempt it at this time of year.



    Boiler water should be clean, the boiler needs to be flushed and perhaps skimmed, always bring the system up to steam whenever adding fresh water to it.



    Ideally radiator vents should be slow while the main vent should be fast. A D vent is very fast and maybe that was put there to help out the vent being used on your steam main but without looking at your system it's hard to say. varivalves usually cause more problems then they solve, what exactly was the old valve doing?



    That thermostat should work fine on steam.



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Oz
    Oz Member Posts: 8
    Replaced with Gorton D

    Thanks for the response. Replaced the crusty ventrite with Gorton D. Less hissing but not eliminated. You're right, the opening in pipe is not large enough for a main vent. Not sure why previous owners did this because all our other neighbors' systems have real main vents. Is there an even bigger vent than a Gorton D I can use in the meantime before I get a pro to install a real vent. I heard Varivalve moves more air. Can I use that at the largest setting?
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,381
    maybe

    Varivalves are problematic because they don't have floats in them so they can turn into sprinklers. You could try it but be prepared for spraying water



    I don't think that tapping is rated for much more than 0.34 cfm so a larger vent may not do much good. You will have to get someone in there and get a larger port installed, 3/4 would be nice but 1/2" would do.



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Oz
    Oz Member Posts: 8
    Got it

    That's too bad. I'm surprised previous owners lived with this obvious mistake for so many years. Thanks so much for your help.
  • Setback on new thermostat

    Do a search here for setback, and you will see many opinions on whether setbacks save any fuel. Obviously, several days setback will save some fuel, but it's hard to tell about a few hours. One thing is certain, in your under vented system, the noisy radiator vents will be more apparent as the system recovers from a big setback.

    Probably, if your insulation, is good, and your heat loss low, a setback will not save much.

    Getting your venting up to maximum capacity, with very low back-pressure will provide the greatest savings, when coupled with low pressure. Any short-cycling, or noise from the vents is a sign of money up the chimney.--NBC
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