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I figured out why my Hoffman 1As get water in them!

ChrisJ
ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
So after a year of dealing with this random problem I finally realize what was going on.



First, the current style of Hoffman 1A does, in my opinion have a design flaw that causes them to get water in the vent orifice and stop heating.

However, 5 of my radiators aggrevate this problem.  Almost every one of my 10 Hoffman 1As has ended up not letting the radiator to heat over the past year.  However 5 of them have been far worse, at times stopping several times a month.



What do these 5 radiators have in common?  Very long horizontal runouts until they go vertical.  Almost ever one has 8 to 10 feet of horizontal pipe off of the main until it goes up into the house.  All of the rads which come almost directly off of the mains rarely if ever have a problem.

Now I don't know if these pipes are pitched right, but I know they never bang.  So I've made the decision to try and swap the 5 out with Gorton's and see how she goes.  The Gorton's dont appear to hold water like the Hoffman 1A does.

I'm also going to do what I can to beef up insulation on these runouts.
Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

Comments

  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    edited December 2012
    Been there

    I have the same problem. My 2" steam main is about 12 ft long, A Gorton #1 lets it fill up with stem nice and fast.It circles the chimney and then all the radiators have a minimum if 10 ft horizontal run outs till they head up to the living space - 1st and 2nd floor.



    Insulation helps some but it's no cure all. I'm guessing that long counterflow run just allows ample opportunity for the steam to pick up moisture. I'm using MOM's on the worst offenders now, we'll see how those work out - just be aware you have to rethread them before using them.



    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
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    MOM

    Yea, I read the thread about rethreading the MOMs.  Wow, thats a weird sentence.

    Anyway, I've decided to go with Gorton's.  I figured, I blew a lot of money on 12 Hoffman 1As trying to get the best, why stop now.  :(
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
    Gorton Vent

    All of my rads have gorton vents. A few years back I had an issue with the second rad in my bedroom. Every once in a while it would not heat. I removed the vent dumped out a little water and it would work fine again. I tried swapping vents, slightly tilting the rad and still had the same problem. Finally I raised the whole rad I put 1/2" blocks under the legs. Since doing this I've not had this issue again.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,849
    Sinking radiators

    icesailor had a post a few weeks ago about this. He explained why this happens as a result of shrinking of the framing over time.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    Raising the radiator

    Why would raising the entire radiator equally effect anything? That seems really odd no?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
    Lifting Rad

    I'm not sure why but it worked and cost nothing. I assume the condensate is draining better.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    Ah

    That makes sense then, lifting it also lifted the pipe under it.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,208
    don't like branches

    Unless there are radiators other than by exterior walls I don't understand why horizontal runs, except for the main, are used with steam.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    Crawl spaces

    No choice in this house as sometime between 1874 and 1892 there were a few additions done over crawl spaces. Then around 1924 steam heat was installed. The steam mains follow the original foundation in the basement and then go out into one of the crawl spaces. In order to put radiators along the outside walls over 2 of the crawl spaces these long horizontal runs had to be done.



    I guess it was how it is today, you can't always do things by the book working in older buildings, but you usually can make things work some way or another. Four of these long runs have 1" vertical pipes going down into 1 1/4" horizontal runs, though as I said the horizontal runs are around 10 feet long each. Each horizontal run goes to a single radiator, none are split.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    Cutting

    Well I finally decided to say screw it and cut open one of my 1 year old Hoffman 1As.  Not sure if someone already did this but here are my pictures.



    It looks like it has a LOT less room inside than a Gorton and the fact that the valve seat doesn't simply go straight up and out, but goes over to the side and then up a small hole off to the side on the top probably doesn't help.  Also I don't see how there could be much clearence around the, I think its refered to as a pintle?



    Currently have two Gorton's in use on two of my problematic radiators, waiting for more to come in the mail.  So far so good though.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    edited December 2012
    one more

    This one didn't make the last post.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    Resting on their laurels?

    It doesn't look as robust as i hoped it would be and I'm not sure the design is what it takes to insure reliable operation over time for the price.



    I wonder what the Hoffman 75 main vent looks like inside?



    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
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    Hoffman 75

    Glad you asked.



    Gerry Gill cut one open at one point.



    http://youtu.be/cRn_flWLNok





    Gerry has quite a few videos which are very helpful.

    http://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/webapp/GetPage?pid=619
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    More pictures

    Decided to cut open a old USAV vent that was here when we bought the house.



    Its very similar to the Hoffman except there is a lot more room around and over the float.  Also, the design of the vent allows it to almost completely drain where the Hoffman by nature holds a fair amount of water at the bottom.



    That drain finger thing, is only in the threaded part of the valve, it doesn't seem to do much really.



    The USAV acts MUCH faster to heat than the hoffman, but I have a feeling it also vents a lot slower and who knows how good of a seal it produces.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
    Hoffman Vent

    There is a diagram on pg 110 of the LAOSH of the Hoffman #1A compare it to what you have. You will find that the Gortons also hold a little water in the bottom. Have you ever though of using straight shank vents with a 90 degree elbow on the rad? Straight shank vents would completely drain.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    Differences

    Thanks Mark,



    From what I see the new float has a straight pin at the top which is rounded while the picture in LAOSH has a pin with a ball at the top. Also, and we all hate this, the cap in the picture seems to just fit around the top while the new caps have a ton of slop causing the adjustment to not really work right.



    One thing I really don't get is what that tongue is suppose to do. I thought it had to do with draining water back into the radiator, but I just don't see how it would do anything.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    edited December 2012
    Really weird

    I've noticed something and decided I should add it to the thread.



    All of my radiators are Kohler hot water large tube radiators, well except one but thats moot right now.

    Since starting up the system with the Hoffman 1A vents all radiators always behaved the same.  Steam would slowly heat the rad across the top and then the center would fill in slowly and the bottom was last.  The vents practically never get hot, unless the system runs for a while like during a recovery, than they snap shut a few times.



    I have two Gorton's in use now, a #5 and a #6.  Keep in mind a #6 is approx the same speed as a Hoffman 1A wide open.  These two radiators heat TOTALLY different than they did with the Hoffman vents.  The steam heats the bottom and top and the vent gets hot every cycle.  The radiators have no problem heating, in fact the one with the #5 almost completely heats as its in cold room so I'm trying to warm things up.  After the top and bottom heat the center slowly fills in and if it runs long enough the entire rad is cooking.



    Why, or how would two different brand vents which should be the same speed, cause a radiator to heat in a completely different pattern?



    Seems really bizzare to me and I didn't want to post about it until I saw it do it a bunch of times.  The other 8 radiators are still heating in the same pattern as always, top first, then slowly bleeds down.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    No issues

    After more than a week of highs in the low 30s and lows in the teens I have not had a single problem with the Gorton vents in place of the Hoffman 1As.  I have 6 Gorton's installed 5 of which were the ones I constantly had problems with. 



    System has also been doing its 3 degree recovery every morning while its 17-20F outside and not a sign of a sniffling wet vent to be found.





    Attached picture was taken at 6:50AM while it was 17F outside during a recovery.  This radiator was a constant problem before with the 1A installed.  Currently has a Gorton 6 installed and I have no idea how our cat is pushed up against it like she was because it was cooking!  Vent shut and completely heated top to bottom all the way across.



    I complained to ITT about the issue with the 1A vent including the sloppy adjustment cap.  They responded and wanted more information about the system which I supplied them with.  Have not heard back yet.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ToddB
    ToddB Posts: 75
    Long horizontal runouts

    I use Hoffman 1A vents on all of my radiators, several of which are connected to long horizontal runouts. I have not had any problems with water or rads not heating. I have all of my rads vented slowly at a 1 or 2 setting (which I find to be practically the same). Could your problem could be related to the venting rate if set faster?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    Faster?

    Hi Todd,



    Not sure honestly.   I currently have 2 Gorton 5s, 2 Gorton 6s and two Gorton Cs in use without a single problem.  Though they are a different design so for all I know the faster speeds could have been causing the problems.  The four 1As I'm still using are set fairly low, in fact two of them are as slow as I could get them.  These are the four which have either never given me problems that I can remember so even if they have it must not have been often.



    Something I noticed this morning which I guess has always been there is it seems like I get bursts of pressure while the radiators are heating.  When the boiler first fires up if I'm sitting by a radiator I get a burst of air a few times, nothing loud but noticeable.  I assume this is when the main vents all close its its very early in the cycle.  Then if you listen closely you can hear the vents breathing in bursts, not steady.   I doubt this is coming from the boiler as my water level is fairly steady as is my 3PSI gauge.  Maybe its normal, I don't know.  Sitting by one of the radiators that has a Gorton C on it I could hear it breath out then stop, then start again and stop over and over.  The mains have good pitch on them as do most of the runouts.



    Maybe its a hint to finish insulating the pipes, I have a huge amount of it done but not all of it.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ToddB
    ToddB Posts: 75
    Breathing

    I do think that I have heard my 1As and 1Bs breathing once they first start to vent, but then they go quiet, so I can't say that I have paid attention after that. Same as you, my main vents close pretty quickly, usually within 3 minutes of the boiler firing, and I can hear them snap shut in unison - both mains are the same length. I run at less than one ounce of pressure and once I am steaming the 3 psi gauge needle barely moves and the water level fluctuates +/- 1/4", like you.



    I have 1Bs on street elbows at two locations where there are adjacent walls obstructing installation. One is a wall hung radiator, and I did not want to have to remove the rad to take off the old, non-functioning Gorton. I thought that the 1B and elbow combination would have been better than the 1A for draining, but I find that I get a small amount of water in the elbow. It is never enough to stop the rads from heating (one is in the control room), but water nonetheless.



    As far as insulating the pipes, I have one small section of main that is less than 6" long that I just noticed this weekend was not insulated. Why, I 'm not sure - I bought the house with the insulation already installed. I get a slight pinging noise at that location when steaming, so that shows you the importance of good insulation.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    Insulation

    Yours had insulation when you bought the house!?



    Where is the fun in that?  :)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ToddB
    ToddB Posts: 75
    Insulation

    Yup, even the returns were insulated. I would have gone thicker, but that will be a future project. None of the elbows and tees were insulated if that makes you feel better - I still have to do that. The previous owner was an older woman - either she did a lot of research and was well educated or she made wise decisions when choosing contractors. Based upon my experiences so far with the replacement boiler that she had put in, she had good contractors.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    Radiator type

    Todd,

    What kind of radiators do you have?  All but one of mine are large tube, one is thin tube hot water radiators being used as single pipe steam.  All but the one are original to the system from 1924 when the steam heat was installed in the house.

    I found it very strange when I removed two of the 1As and found NO water in the bottom of them yet 3 others on the same day had a ton in them.  Makes me wonder, what is really going on.  One of the dry ones was set to around 3 or 4 the other dry one was wide open at 6.



    I'm glad the Gorton's have not had any problems but I do want to know why the 1As were doing this.  There has to be a reason just like there has to be a reason 2 of them were bone dry that day.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • conversiontime
    conversiontime Member Posts: 87
    set faulty ones to max venting

    Just a FYI, several weeks ago I took the two problematic hoffman 1as that kept getting condensation vaccuum and switched them out to the farthest rads, and set venting at the 5-6 setting as fiddling around had indicated something with the top cap/adjuster is not quite right. It has been a month and they have not vacumm sealed again, but do whistle quite a bit more than necessary. Who knows what the issue is but definitely seems related to the venting cap. Must say I cleaned some of my old USAV crapola vents, and they are working just as well on other rads since I decided not worth spending the cash on hoffman 1as.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    Fastest venting

    Hi,



    I tried this, in fact two of the most problematic ones were set wide open from the start on my furthest rads. These two rads now have Gorton Cs on them which of course are a lot faster than a 1A, but also have not had any issues since the switch.



    I need to do a new drawing of my layout that shows approx pipe lengths.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ToddB
    ToddB Posts: 75
    Radiators

    - American Corto 5 tube, 26" high in living room, sunroom, and 2 bedrooms (1928 originals)

    - American Sunrad (5" x 20") recessed in dining room and kitchen (part of 1940's remodel)

    - American 9-B wall radiator in vestibule (1928 original)

    - Weil-McLain Junior Cameo 4 tube, 19" high in bathroom and 1 bedroom (1950's replacements)



    I only know this offhand because I computed air volumes for balancing this past weekend.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    edited January 2013
    How long

    Todd,



    How long are the horizontal runouts you have?



    The ones that cause problems the most for me, are around 10 foot horizontal with 1 1/4" pipe and then go to the second floor so I guess around 9-10 feet vertically with 1" pipe. The vertical sections arn't insulated as they pass through rooms. That gives me around 20 feet of pipe each. I think I said this earlier, I'm becoming one of those people that repeats themselves 10 times because they forget. :\
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ToddB
    ToddB Posts: 75
    Lengths

    The longest runout for a second floor tube radiator is about 10' with a riser of about 10'. The longest runout for a first floor radiator (convector) is about 10' with about a 3' riser. Runouts and risers for these locations are 1 1/4" dia. Runouts and risers are only insulated in the basement. All of the other runouts are 5' and less and typically 1 1/4" dia.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    Using more water?

    So far its been almost 2 months since switching to Gorton vents and I have not had a single problem with them.  Every radiator always heats the same and they never ever get water in the vent orifice which is nice.



    What I have noticed though is a increase in water loss.  I am not sure if this is simply because its been colder and I've been keeping the house warmer as well as venting some radiators faster.  Or if its because I have two TRVs installed which often raises the pressure of the system slightly (3 lines up on the 3.0 Wika gauge).  Or if its because Gortons may loose more steam than the Hoffman's.  I cannot find any leaks and I am adding water every 2 weeks or so.



    Perhaps when the more mild weather comes back it will slow up, for now I have no idea what to really think.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
    Water Loss

    Chris you state that you are now adding water every 2 weeks. How much are you losing? I have Gorton vents on my system and don't find my water loss to be severe. I lose usually about 1/2" in the gauge glass over about a months time. I measured how much water that is and it comes out to 32oz.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    how much

    Mark,



    I'm not sure how much but I don't let it drop 1/2" in the gauge glass. I start to get nervous around 1/4" and add before firing the burner up. Or if I feel its low and I just happen to be down there right when it fires up I'll add some. I think the most was when we had lows around 4F and it was running every other hour for a good 35-40 minutes at a time.



    I've been too lazy to measure how much it is, I probably should do that at one point. Its a WM EG45 and I think it holds around 12 gallons not counting the piping.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,849
    I'm about the same.

    With the colder weather, my water level has been dropping about 1/4" every week, so I've been blowing down the gauge glass and topping it back up about that often.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
    Water Level

    Getting nervous about what? Will you go off on low water if you don't keep the water level topped off?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,447
    edited February 2013
    nervous

    Nervous about things I've heard about exposing more surface to heat and causing corrosion as well as reduced efficiency.



    My LWCO never trips except when I test it, I think when I'm 1/4" low my level is still a good 2" high in the gauge glass during any cycle.



    I'm not going to lie, I'm very anal and paranoid about my boiler, its water level, water losses and water condition. Probably to the point that its stupid and I know that. :)





    On another note, all of my 1A's are currently in the hands of a division of Hoffman\ITT for testing. They felt there was no obvious reason for the 1As to have the problem I was experiencing after I supplied them with all of the information on my system.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
    The Kinks

    "Paranoia will destroy ya" or your boiler. Chris relax you've addressed the issues that caused the last 2 boilers at your house to fail prematurely.
This discussion has been closed.