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for those who have tuned in!

NBC, Rod, Clammy, Mgmine, Paul48 and others, 

thanks for all the advice along the way.   Changes in venting, pitches, insulation, skimming, and repacking of supply valves have all but eliminated most of my problems from an otherwise mess of a steam heat system.    I was able to break free the skim port plug this weekend after getting the right tool for the job and a 3 additional feet of "persuasion".   I slowly skimmed about 15 gallons of water over the course of about 60 to 90 mins.   Not sure that was enough, but it was a start and made noticeable improvement to the noises heard throughout the house.   I still have symptoms of wet steam, though to a much lesser extent, and I am going to try one more thing that i wanted to bounce off people. 

So as i have mentioned before, my problem radiator on my 1 pipe system, (which no longer hammers or spews 10 ounces of water per cycle thanks to all the help) has an 8 foot horizontal run in the floor joists of the second floor, a 10-12 foot drop to the basement,  a 6 ft horizontal run in the basement before making a turn, going a 2 more feet, and tying into the header.  it is all pitched back to the header.  Problem is that my header is pitched the wrong way -  back to the boiler.  My non-expert opinion is that I still have symptoms of wet steam based on the fact that all of the condensate from all the piping and radiator itself on that particular run all drain back to the header.   All other piping for the entire system runs away from header to the wet returns.   If i change the pitch of the header,  it will no doubt take the condensate to the wet return,  but it will be a difficult change to make, and furthermore,  I will still have the issue of needlessly sending the condensate through the header area in order to return to the wet return side.  I can avoid having the condensate pass through that area altogether I believe but wanted to run this by some others.     

in terms of DIY home repair,  the easier fix for me to make is to cut and thread the horizontal run of this problem radiator in the basement and add a vertical drop which would take all condensate from that run back to the wet return instead of back to the header.    I am somewhat limited in what i can do to the header because i don't have a way to cut threads into the larger diameter pipe, plus i don't have any room to raise the left side, so I would actually need to raise the left side and lower the right side of the header at the same time and I am not sure if the net effect would be good since I may end up taking pitch out of the mains and cause other problems.   So back to my idea about the condensate drop in that horizontal problem radiator piping that runs along that back wall behind all that near boiler piping........... 

Question is,  Do i need to be conscious of any dimensions or keeping the vertical drop of the new piping to at least 28 inches or anything else that I wouldnt otherwise think of?  My preference would be to tie in this new condensate drop to the wet return above the current waterline so i don't have to drain the system of its water to work on it?  (assuming of course that i pitch my piping the way the water needs to go).

I mocked up what i am thinking on a picture of my near boiler piping.  the tee at the top is nearly against that back wall and is into the horizontal run of the problem radiator.    The tee in the foreground would be threaded into the wet return piping on the right side of the boiler. 

The right answer may be to change the pitch of the header, but i think this accomplishes nearly the same thing and is far, far easier for me to do as a "hey, lets try this first" type of thing.  



  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59
    just because i was having fun with photoshop ~

    I added these two pictures which show the proposed before/after of the path condensate would take. 
  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59

    can anyone feedback on whether this proposed condensate drip can be tied into my wet return above the waterline as proposed?  I don't see any reason why it would be a problem, but i am no pro. 

  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Member Posts: 3,920
    If you want it to bang and short circut the steam

    then no problem, tie it in that way. All drips need to be tied in below the water line to prevent short cycling of the steam. This is not to be confused with short cycling of a boiler. When the steam short cycles it travels up the return pipes and locks pockets of air in the steam pipes and cause general disruption and noise issues.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59

    I am curious why adding the condensate back into the wet return where i have it diagrammed would be different than if the condensate traveled back down the pipe it is currently travelling down and into a correctly pitched header and ended up in the same place (drained left to right accross header and right into the vertical pipe that is to the right of my header.   

    Thanks for the advice -  this is exactly why i posted before doing it.   Thanks!
  • Mark NMark N Member Posts: 1,035

    Because you want to tie it into the equalizer, that is why it won't work. The condensate may drain down it, but steam will also short circuit from the equalizer into the return and cause all kinds of havoc.
  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59

    Ok, so the plan would become to tee at the same spot on that horizontal run near the back wall, drop it all the way vertically to the floor, and tie it into the piping that is along the ground for my wet return. I would need to drain all the water out of my system to do this, but i assume a good long boil after i refill will eliminate oxygen and minimize rust. I assume i then get that minimum 28 inches of vertical water column in that drop to push its way back into the boiler as needed. Does this sound about right?

    Thanks again.
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067

    Hi- I’m trying to figure out a way to go but first I need a bit more info as I’m a bit confused with the piping. I’ve attached a photo of the boiler with labels.

    Header- You need a functioning header to dry out the steam.

    What I’m trying to establish here is how far you have to raise the header to get a slight pitch towards “A”.

    Question 1-  What is the pitch difference now between “A” and “B” ?

    Question 2-  What is the pitch difference now between “B” and “C” ?

    Question 3-  What is the pitch difference now between “A” and “C” ?

     (On Question 3 to determine this, you may want to use a piece of clear hose filled with water as a level.)

    You don’t have to have much pitch on a header - just enough so it will drain in the proper direction ( “C” to “A”)   I think you could probably do this by lengthening Pipe “H” and putting a pipe hanger from point “B” to the overhead.

    Piping- I’m a bit confused on the piping.

    In the photo  I’ve labeled the pipes I can see as “T”, “U” and “V”.


    1. “T” looks like it connects to “U” - Is that correct?

    2. Does “T” slope towards “U” ?

    3. Does “U” connect to “V” ?


    I’m glad you were able to get the plug out. On skimming - You might try skimming a bit slower. I skim as slowly as I can - at just a trickle.  Get the boiler water hot and then turn off the burner. If you skim with the burner on I find the convection currents churns the surface up too much even its not close to boiling.  Skim a while and then reheat . Skim again -Reheat.

    - Rod
  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59
    Answers for rod

    Hi again rod,

    I will have to get the amount of pitch in the a, b, and c callouts for you when i get a chance to measure, but in general, the are ever gently, but definitely pitching from a to c, not c to a. Now that i have been advised i need to tie into wet return below water line, it may make more sense to start by repitching the header instead. I would do that by breaking the union right at the letter c and getting a longer piece of pipe threaded for the section just above that union. And because my mains are so close to the ceiling, i may have to break the union to the right of letter a, and put a shorter piece in there.

    T and u are misleading, they are not part of my heating system at all, they are a nat gas line that cuts behind my piping on its way over to the hot water heater. However, just beyond and slightly above the letter u, which you can barely see the white insulation on it, is the horzontal pipe that Feeds my problem radiator by extending into that far corner and rising 12 feet to the upstairs. This pipe is the same pipe you call out a v.

    I am happy to skim some more now that the hard part is over in terms of getting that plug loose. I can slow it down, although i was just above a trickle when i did it the first time and i was keeping the water piping hot without taking it to a boil.

    With the header being pitched the wrong way, i thought i could keep that condensate out of there by dropping it out of v before it got back to the v location called out on the drawing and that would help. If i change the pitch of the header, i am still going to get all that condensate from the radiator all the way back through all that piping passing right through location v and then running in the c to a direction in the header. I thougt by dropping it out of there, id get drier steam. Every other radiator in the house is fed off one of the two mains you see extending toward the camera with the insulation on them, and those two mains both have wet returns and therefore, the highpoints of both mains are right there at the header.
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Header Pipe

    Hi-  The slope of the header just has to be towards the equalizer. A 1/4 inch difference between "A" and "C" would work fine. You just want the water to drain in the correct direction and not "pool" in the header. Flowing the wrong way, the steam flow blocks the condensate and it builds up up till there is a enough volume to over come the steam stream and flow back down the riser to the boiler. The build up causes a pool to water to form and the passing steam stream picks up water form the pool. The whole reason for the header is to dry out the steam. (It might be better to call it a water separator!)  The dryer the steam, the more efficiently the system operates.

    The "T" and "U" piping had me confused. You're going to have to drip "V" to stop the water flowing back into the header,  Where you drew it in your picture would be fine but as mentioned you need to drop it down into the Wet Return.

    - Rod
  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59
    edited December 2012
    tie in to wet return

  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59
    edited December 2012
    tie in to wet return

  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59
    edited December 2012
    tie in to wet return

    So this picture was taken around back of my boiler.   In this picture, along that far wall, you can see where the wet return turns down toward the ground with a 90 and then takes another 90 to come  toward the hose bib.    With new information about short circuiting steam,  this is where i need to tie my proposed condensate drip and it is conveniently located almost directly below the "problem" horizontal run that I am going to add the condensate drip to.  This is all in order to keep returning condensate from my problem radiator and problem piping away from my header altogether.  Can i tie my condensate drip into the top 90 which is 16 inches off the ground or the bottom 90 or doesnt it make a difference since they are both below the water line in my boiler.   The picture is a little deceiving,  the bottom tie in would occurr on the floor since the few feet of pipe from that 90 to the hosebib is all right along the floor.  The picture makes it look like it is a few inches off the ground but it is not.  Also deceiving in the picture is that the wet return that is against that backwall 16 inches off the ground is about 2 feet beyond that larger diameter piping that is part of my hartford loop/equalizer piping.    thanks again for your time. 
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Wet Return

    Hi- Just curious- How long is pipe "P" (see attached photo) and how do the other returns attach to it?

    - Rod
  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59
    pipe p

    Pipe p is my wet return. It starts at the end of the main that serves the back of the house and continues around the exterior wall of the basement passing underneath tthe end of the main that serves the front of the house (picking up its condernsate via the vertical pipe between it and the end of the main the is 6 feet above it, then eventually makes its way back to the boiler. I'd say all said and done it is 60 feet with lots of 90s along the way.
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Location of the Drip Pipe

    Hi-  Realize that I'm travelling completely blind on this one as I can't see the area so don't know if this is even practical. I was thinking about the wet return layout and then went back to thinking about  the drip pipe location on the steam main. As I understand it the pipe marked "V1" is connected to the pipe marked "V2"(?). It would seem to me that there would be elbows and short nipples between V1 and V2 so I was that this might be the best area to attach a drip pipe, .Below is a drawing of a possible installation. First you cut the pipe and remove the cut ends from their present fittings.

    All the nipples needed .should be available already cut and threaded. You might have to make one custom nipple though usually you can swing the main over a bit to fit a standard length nipple.  Anyway just a thought.

    - Rod
  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59
    Not too shabby

    For a guy flying blind!

    Yes, v1 and v2 are the same pipe and there are unions and a 90 as called out in your drawing. That is where i intended to tee it off, except just on the v1 side of that 90 since it is more accessible and there is a union right there for me.

    I hope to dive into this job over the weekend, but with the improvements that i gained with adjusting venting and skimming, it might have to wait one more weekend as i also have a bathroom complete torn apart. I will gather the tools and supplies and come back in a few days with an update.

    Thanks to all who tuned in....
  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59

    When i tie the drip pipe into the wet return. It doesnt matter at what height as long as it is below the waterline in my boiler and has 28 inches of vertical above it as measured from the waterline of the boiler up. Is this correct?

    The diagram you provided all happens just above the most recent picture i posted, so i can tie it in at two places, floor level or wet return level.
  • How low to go

    Wet return level and floor level should be the same.--NBC
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Wet Return Layout

    Hi-  You can tie it in at either level as long as it is well below the waterline. As you mentioned the "A" Dimension is 28 inches above the waterline.  I would suspect that your long wet return pipe is going to need replacement sometime in the reasonably near future. Generally with an old black pipe Wet Return, it is easier to replace it than try to clean it out. Since you are attaching the new drip to the Wet Return, I would plan ahead as to how you are going to attach future piping that way you won't find yourself having to go backwards when you do future piping.

         I've drawn up a quick sketch of an ideal return system. It has a ball valve on the pipe connecting the Wet Return to the Equalizer which allows you to isolate the boiler for blow downs and flushing.  There are also ball valves and plugged tees on the drip pipes so that you can shut off the system and by removing the plug from the plugged tee and inserting the hex nipple and hose adapter, and attaching agarden hose to this you can pressure flush the Wet Return lines. A second hose attached to the full port gate valve leads the exhausted water and dirt to a drain.  You should also use plugged tees instead of elbows where it would be beneficial to have a clean out. Since the drip piping and wet returns don't contain steam it acceptable to pipe them in copper.

    It isn't necessary to put in the plugged tees and ball valves, it just makes it much easier to do a flushing. I just drew them in so you could see what your options are.

    - Rod

  • puff_puff_hisspuff_puff_hiss Member Posts: 59
    edited December 2012

    thanks fellas -  god knows how much money i've saved with advice from here.   my local heating guy wanted a blank check to start eliminating issues,  who knows where that would have ended up.   he wanted to start by putting vari vents throughout the entire house to balance it.  maybe that would work, but i got to a similar endpoint on my own.

    so for now,  changing of all the vent sizes, the skimming of the boiler, taking apart of the supply valve on the problem radiator and removing the disk that was blocking flow of condensate,  as well as working on pitch (it had actually been pitched too much in certain places) has gotten me very close to where i want to be.   The system works especially well on cold days when it cycles more frequently and piping does not completely cool off between cycles.    The problem radiator no longer spews 10 ounces of water (or any water for that matter) in any circumstance which is a remarkable improvement.  There is no water hammer anywhere in the system. 

    The work that remains for me is that I am going to add a drip leg as discussed in this thread, and change the pitch of my header.   My main that serves the front of my house has symptons of wet steam as noted when radiators on that main purge themselves of air,  it generally does so with a wet sounding hiss, and the radiators gurgle a bit.  This is noise that can be slept through in most cases so its not terrible noise,  just not silent.    The radiators in the back of the house on the other main come up to heat 100% silently. 

    This has been a success story so far and I greatly appreciate all the feedback along the way.    This is NOT the same heating system that I fired up back in mid OCT.   Hammer so loud that it would make the baby cry,  water literally dumping out of several different radiators ounces at a time, loud hissing,  radiators that would rock back and forth as they heated up, etc.   I almost want to stop messing with it its so close.   but i won't :)   
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