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Water hammer Pictures and a video

Good Morning!

So here is my story, I just bought this house about 3 weeks ago and have been having a difficult experience with the system.  The house is a 3000sf stone home in Eastern PA, in this home lives a 500,000 btu weil mclain 578 boiler.  The boiler appears to be heating the house well, I haven't noticed any issues with radiators etc not heating. 

 I have however noticed the loud water-hammer on short cycles when I leave the temp of the home at a constant setting for about 20-30 seconds each fire. If I turn the system down at night and heat the home up 4-5 degree swing in the morning, the system gets violent hammer, so bad that I now leave the system at a constant temperature.  I have also burned through more then 125 gal of oil in two weeks, (Its been pretty mild outside). 

The system is a two pipe system that appears to have its issues, what I can say is that the hammer seems to be localized around the grouping of main valves and an area where all of the condensate localizes to the boiler (These areas are in the same location).  I have had different degrees of heating contractors who have zero clue.   One did make some good points, insisting that the condensate pump on the back of the boiler shouldn't be there and claiming likely issues with the condensate piping in the basement.  Here are the pictures and a link to a quick video of me walking the basment, let me know your thoughts. 

Video - <a href="http://youtu.be/HwA8GCIYpvU">http://youtu.be/HwA8GCIYpvU</a>

Pictures - <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/113522531848219169252/Boiler?authuser=0&feat=directlink">https://picasaweb.google.com/113522531848219169252/Boiler?authuser=0&feat=directlink</a>

Thanks in advance!

Comments

  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,777
    Trane Vapor System

    You have a great old Trane Vapor system.  Your guy was correct, the condensate pump is not needed.  However, a careful evaluation of the Trane components and the associated piping is necessary for blindly removing it.  I think I can tell what is going on in the piping, but there are still too many things that are not visible or cannot be determined with certainty because of being just out of the view of the camera.



    Also, the video comes up as "private" and we cannot view it.



    Your problem CAN be corrected.  This is NOT normal.  You have a great system that should operate nearly silently.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • kmh5147
    kmh5147 Member Posts: 20
    Video

    Alright, the video should be public now!
  • kmh5147
    kmh5147 Member Posts: 20
    edited November 2012
    x

  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,777
    edited November 2012
    Trane System Information

    Here is a link to a pdf file here in the Heating Help Library.  http://www.heatinghelp.com/files/articles/1392/26.pdf   Read the whole thing, it will be helpful to you, but especially, see pages 11 and 13.



    The noisey pipe that drops from the steam to the return line behind your boiler, is part of the necessary piping for the Trane Direct Return Trap, located in you hallway.  In order for this device to work properly, it requires the check valves that are located in the line down by the floor and also property steam connections, etc.  The purpose of the direct return trap is to return condensate to the boiler when the boiler pressure is high enough that it would prevent it from returning by gravity alone.  Under low pressures, probably up to 1 PSI, the condensate will return by gravity alone.  1 PSI in the boiler will cause the condensate return to back up about 32 inches.  So, if your condensate lines are at least 32" above the boiler you are fine.



    So, when this boiler was installed along with the condensate tank, the contracted did not understand or know what the Trane Direct Return trap was, or how it functioned.  He also overlooked that part of this setup is a steam connection down to the wet return, which he piped directly into a vented condenstate resceiver.  There is a about a 3" rise in the piping at the connection to the tank, but as soon as there is a few ounces of steam pressure it is going to be enough to push steam through that line and it will HAMMER like mad!  As you have observed.   Ha!



    The installer also inserted a F&T trap out in the hallway in the drip from the steam main to the return line.  This is not needed either as long as the return trap is functioning correctly because it connects to the return piping after the check valve which prevents it from pressurising the return lines, but allows condensate dripping from the steam main to return back to the boiler, the wet return piping at this point being the same pressure as the boiler.



    Also, the contractor installed a check valve in the Hartford loop, the wrong spot for that.



    You need to get a good steam contractor, someone who understands this type of system, and remove the condensate pump and any other minor knuckle headed work, tie in the water feeder correctly, remove the F&T trap, perhaps install a vapor stat to provide very low pressure control, 8 ounces is plenty of pressure on this system.   You will love this vapor heat system when it is working correctly!!!
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • kmh5147
    kmh5147 Member Posts: 20
    All steamed up

    Thankfully someone from "All Steamed Up" is going to be paying a visit in mid January, its just a long time for my mind to turn and the pipes to clank, spooking the dog and baby.  We wrapped in a bunch of money into the mortgage to install a mini split type system through the whole house for backup heat and AC.... also a clarion gas gun for the w-m 578,  I didnt think this system had any problems.  At least they weren't disclosed to me..... too bad, I would have thought more about work to this system back then.



    Thanks for the thoughts!  Hopefully I can get this all resolved! 
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,777
    In Good Hands!

    Well, regarding disclosure, it is likely that the previous owner thought that it was normal to clang and hammer. 



    You will be in the hands of the best of the best with All Steamed Up, Frank (Steamhead) and Gordo!!



    They may also be able to offer advice on your A/C projects and save some money.  In my experience, mini splits are one of the most expensive ways to go, and while they may be the best solution in a few places, they are pretty obstrusive in historic homes, as I am guessing you may have.



    Other possibilities are a conventional system with the air handler in the attic and air supplies in the ceilings -- easy on the 2nd floor and possible on the first often by dropping through closets.   If the house layout does not cooperate for that, the mini-duct high velocity systems are also a good solution.  I.E. Spacepak or Unico.  The equipment is more expensive but installation can be less costly, resulting in a good value.



    All depends on the layout of your house, and what spaces are available.



    As far as heat, when you get this system straightened out, install a gas gun, you may be amazed just how economical and comfortable this system is.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • kmh5147
    kmh5147 Member Posts: 20
    AC

    Minisplits can be intrusive I agree, however if you do them right.... they can be less so then the common duct handler or high velocity.  What I have planned is a Fujitsu inverter system, and all of the units will be "Duct" basically what this allows me to do is hide the minispit unit. The units will be in the knee walls on the third floor to supply ac and heat to the 2nd floor rooms and in the basement ceiling and other hidden places for the first floor. They allow less then 3 feet of duct on the supply, and a little more on the return also allowing me zones easily.  It is a bit more expensive, but very efficient and it's much easier to hide a small diameter freon line then large duct work.

    At any rate, I really hope the heating system gets worked out, I appreciate the incite you've provided thus far!
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,777
    A Good Plan Indeed!

    Oh, That kind of Mini Split!  Very good indeed.  It sounds like you have done your homework, and in fact it is an approach that I may have to look into myself.  Future work may involve restoring the first two floors (6 apartments) back to the original single family configuration at the Best Mansion.  It's construction, all masonry walls with reinforced conrete floor decks, does not lend itself to and easy solution for AC.



    Thank you for the idea!!!



    Also, regarding your vapor system, those were originally designed with checks on the vents, so that the air could go out, but not re-enter.  Once the fire shut off and the steam condensed, it would pull a vacuum of 5-10" Mercury.  This effectly lowered the boiling temperature of the water and therefore the vapor continued for circulate at a moderated temparature for a while.  When the boiler restarts, boiling commences at a lower temperature and circulation is established VERY quickly because there is very little or no air to be expelled.  The Vapor-Vacuum systems were the cadillac of heating, having the best characteristics of hot water and the best characteristics of steam.



    There were many systems, each with their own little peculiarity.  The big names were Dunham, Trane, Hoffman, and Moline, but there were probably 1-2 dozen of them, that mostly accomplished the same end. 



    I'm in the middle of a boiler replacement project, and the system will be restored to vacuum operation when the work is done.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    Looking/sounding familiar

    Well, this all looks AND sounds familiar. I, too have a Trane VaporVacuum system and it clangs like !@#$ at the same place.when coming up from a set back or cold start. I figure I'll get to that after a installing a new boiler. Feel lucky that you have one of the best to help you with your system. Five hours away is the nearest to me anyone works.

    The video was great
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
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