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No pressure? (and a few other questions)
I have been following the forum for a while now and I have learned quite a bit. I also bought copies of "We got steam heat" and "the lost art of steam heat." I have gotten to the point now where I have a few questions that I hope some of you might have answers for.
First of all, I have a one-pipe steam system. The boiler is a NG fired Weil McLain EG65. I have two separate loops coming off the header, one for the north half of the house, one for the south half. Main vents are located at the end of the dry returns.
We have 11 radiators of various sizes spread out over 3 floors.
When we bought the house the system didn't work very well. I have taken a number of steps to try to improve the situation:
1. Increased main vents using the "antler" technique. (pictured) Each loop now has two Gorton G1s and one of the main vents I found on there (some chinese-made thing).
2. Took off pigtail, completely cleaned, replaced 0-30psi gauge with a 0-5psi
3. Replaced most of the radiator vents. Now mostly heat-timer varivalves and dole varivents with a few hoffman 40s on the rads that got too hot.
4. replace junk thermostat that would only allow the option of 8 cycles per hour with a nice honeywell one set to 1 CPH.
5. Started (but haven't yet completed) insulating basement steam pipes with fiberglass pipewrap
6. Had the steam mains with asbestos insulation fully encapsulated by EPA certified group.
7. Increased pitch on kitchen radiator (previously didnt work at all)
Now for the questions:
1. As you can see from the picture we have a Honeywell Pressuretrol. The system has never once cycled on pressure. I was concerned about this, thus the installation of the low pressure gauge. I have sat there through the entire burn cycle and the needle never moves. If you stare closely, you could maybe imagine it quivering a bit, but we are talking less than 1 oz of pressure. Steam is definitely being produced and the rads are getting hot. On these cold days lately, some of my 18 section rads are getting hot all the way across.
What does lack of movement of the needle mean? Is it not moving because I am still pushing air out of the system even by the end of the boiler cycle? Is there a leak somewhere that I am missing? (low water cutoff rarely/never cycles). Do I need more main venting or faster rad venting?
Of note, the Gorton G1s close at about the 15 minute mark (which I think means steam has reached the end of the main). Is this too slow, do I need even more venting?
2. What do you all think about the design of the header/equalizer? It is an unusual shape that I have not seen in any other pictures on this forum. The header itself seems to be a custom made piece with a plug next to the two risers for the mains. What is this for? A pressure gauge? A vent?
3. Who do you recommend as a HVAC contractor with steam expertise in the St. Louis area? I am willing/have done a lot of work on the system myself, but there are some tasks I would prefer be done by a pro.
Thanks! I look forward to all of your comments!