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air valves spitting water not fixed, and more..

I have a 12-section 3 column radiator in the living room. when I have my air valve all the way open and once the steam arrives, it behaves normally at the beginning. then as it progresses, I can start to hear the noise of running water in the radiator, then the water comes out from the air valve eventually, shoot pretty high.

I have another 9-section 3 column radiator in the bedroom. I put it in to replace a tiny slim one which couldn't heat up the room even to 55f when it was very cold outside. as soon as I put it on, it gave me the same problem as the larger one in the living room. the tiny slim one worked fine, never a drop of water.

I did some research online, and I tried to replace the air valves, slope the radiators down towards the supplying pipe. nothing helped. I tried different kind of valves - 2 vent-rite #1, 2 usav-884 and 1 gorton #6. all failed.

I observed the 5-section 2-column radiator in the 2nd bedroom. It worked flawlessly. the steam starts to kick in, the vent let the air out, once it gets hot, the vent closes with a click sound, once it gets colder, it opens and let more air out, then it close again (it sometimes repeats itself a few times even during one heating cycle). I don't hear that click sound with the other two large radiators. so I am guess the air valves i use on them never actually close. maybe they don't get hot enough or not sensitive enough?

Don't know what I did wrong! please help!

also - there is a piece of metal clip on the vent-rite valve falls off. I don't know which way in is correct. I tried both ways but neither made any difference. I cannot find them new in home depot. USAV-884 don't have that clip. also, what does the adjustable dial adjust? the sensitiveness of the valve? or the air flow. I think it is the air flow, but how air flow speed can control the temperature? does this have to do with the length of the heating cycle?

the guy who came to install the radiator insist to use 'pro-dope' pipe joint compound instead of the tape when he seals the pipes, does that make any difference? will that give me problems later? seems like everyone on the internet uses tape.

i live in a condo so I don't have the control of the boiler. I asked the super. he tells me the boiler is fine and no one else has complained. :(

Thank you guys!!


  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    spitting valves

    i am assuming this is 1-pipe, since you mention radiator air vents.

    first check to make sure both inlet valves are fully open. try switching the vents from a misbehaving radiator to a normal one, and see if this makes any difference.

    if you can get some pictures of the boiler and it's piping, post them here, as there maybe a system problem, unknown to the super, who may have been hired not for his steam knowledge, but for some other talent. perhaps the other owners haven't high expectations of their steam systems. the main vents may be inadequate for the whole system, and too much air is vented from the radiators.--nbc
    water from vents

    Water from vents will almost always be a result of too much water in the system or radiator. Air vents are not really designed to shutoff against water. They are designed to let air out and close when the steam reaches the air vent. When there are very mild levels of excess water then the better quality air vents(i.e. Gorton) will do a better job closing off, As NBC mentioned there are two things you can do on your end. First is too make sure that the radiator shutoff valves are fully open. Second is to make sure that the radiator is pitched toward the shutoff valve. There may be issues in the basement that are are causing excess water but there is not much you can do about if the super is not on board. Your only option might be to let the water continue to spit until there is aleak downstairs. Sad that this might be your only solution. Is there any banging noiase? If yes you know for sure that there is a water issue. Good luck
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    who is the super's boss

    if you are an owner, then the whole steam system should be part of the common property of the condo regime, including the radiators in every unit, like the roof.

    a badly balanced system can burn up to 50% cent more fuel than one which is properly maintained.

    if you are renting from the owner, then forward a link to this forum, so he can decide what to do, save or pay.--nbc
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,408
    Slow down the venting

    As steam begins to fill a radiator it will start to condense, in a single pipe steam system that water has to go back down the same pipe that the steam came up. The pipe feeding the radiator is rated for the amount of radiator it can feed, if you put a large radiator on a pipe meant to feed a small radiator it might not be able to handle the condensing rate of the large radiator and that might be the water you hear.

    Try turning the vent rate on the VentRite air valve down to 2 or 3 (1 is off and 6 is maximum) so steam enters the radiator slowly. If you have the vent turned up to a high vent rate you may be making the problem worse.

    It sounds like there are problems with the system in general but see if slowing the venting down helps your problem.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18
    Thanks, and...

    Thanks guys!! for all your input!!

    I do have the shutoff valves all the way open.  It doesn't make any differences. 

    I do notice something just now, the air valves on the smaller radiators get really hot when they close. just as hot as the radiator.  The ones on the large radiators are just warm when the water coming out.

    Bob, I did try to slow down the venting by closing the vent of that 9 section one down below half way (I tried the different settings to find the maximum opening for no water and it is quite low).  it did stop the water coming.  and of cause i only get maybe 6-7 sections hot.  I assume the steam and water mixture are not hot enough to close air valve, when it arrives the vent if the venting is too fast.  So maybe you are right, the supply was not designed for such large ones. but my downstairs neighbor has a 10 section, and the living room one is the original one with the building. 

    now i do remember I heard rattling sound in my neighbor's living room when I visited.  but I don't recall water coming out. 

    So maybe this is a system problem?  Too much water in the system.  A few days ago when he showed me the boiler.  there is a tube that you can see the water level.  He was checking the tube but it was covered with rusty water marks. We both couldn't see any water there.  but he assured me there is no water the boiler would stop working. 

    I do have a more serious problem, the guy who put the radiator on has come back twice already because the pipe he put in keeps hissing out tiny steam.  as the original shutoff valve is lower than the radiator he had to put a connector and a nipple between the valve and the pipe.  as I mentioned he is using joint compound rather than the teflon tape. I don;t know if the approach is problematic or he just didn't tight it enough.

    Thank you!!
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    Send us a picture of this new installation

    When you talk about things being lower than the previous piping, I get suspicious. Send us a picture of the radiator and valve.--NBC
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18

    here are some pics.  it shows both supply valves of the large ones.  the new one has the extension pipe to get around the the main pipe in the middle.  he used a nipple to raise the valve 1-2 inches and used the union to do the extension.  the more immediate problem is there is a tiny leak (air hissing) between the valve and the nipple underneath and a small leak (slow water drops) from the union after the valve.  
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 6,653
    There's nothing intrinsically wrong

    that I can see with that raised valve installation -- although one does sort of have to wonder why it was raised, but I suppose there is a good reason...

    I would want to check and see, though, that the radiator was raised the same amount as that nipple raised the valve.  I can't really tell from the picture.  The potential problem is that the work may have altered the pitch of whatever the riser is attached to.  It may not be a problem.

    That said, however, neither pipe joints nor unions should leak.  Or hiss.  Or anything like that.  With the nipple, it is possible that it just didn't get tightened enough.  It is also possible that it would be better with teflon tape than joint compound.  It is also, unfotunately, that the nipple or valve threads just aren't that good; it is getting harder and harder to find fittings with decent threads, and if they aren't good, it's almost impossible to get them to stop leaking.

    On the union, it may be that the union is misaligned.  Unions are great for joining two pieces of pipe, and they look as though they could compensate for misalignment.  They can't.  I can't really tell from the picture, but I'm wondering if there isn't an alignment error there.  The bit coming out from the valve must be exactly in line -- as close as it can be gotten -- with the nipple coming out from the radiator.  If that isn't the case, fix that first.  Then I've found when tightening unions in a setting like that that it helps to rock the radiator -- very gently! -- while tightening the union.  Also make sure that the mating faces of the union are very clean and not damaged in any way.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • MarkMark Member Posts: 56
    Sorry to derail this thread but...

    What are those rings called and where would I find them?


  • JeffMJeffM Member Posts: 159

    That ring is an escutcheon. They are readily available - any hardware store or big box home improvement place will have them in the plumbing section.
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18
    a bit progress..

    he raised the valve a bit because the new radiator was about 1/2 inch higher than the valve.  so he had to raise it and then raise the radiator accordingly.  it look ugly with two pieces wood underneath.

    today I turned the valve all the way on to cook the paint smell out with the windows open.  I just hang a piece of kitchen towel on the last section and over the air valve to block the water going everywhere.  so I happen to be in the room and heard the noise of the valve closes and opens. with a bit water.  so i know this air valve is working. 

    on that 12 section I never heard it working.....  i still don't know what that piece of metal clip does in the vent-rite valve.  maybe I put it wrongly.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,530
    That ring is an escutcheon.

    I needed four of them. Of course they came in different sizes, but I knew what size I needed: to fit 1/2 inch copper tubing. My hardware store had none. The good local plumbing supply store had only plastic ones that are no @#$% good. They seem to be metal plated plastic, and most of the "metal" peeled off. And the water going through the tubing is at most 135F, so it is not because they got too hot.

    I would like the old metal ones that are two pieces of semicircular steel held together by a rivet. But the guy at the plumbing supply place said they do not make them anymore. Maybe he is right. I ought to search the web or something.
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    1 1/4 Inch Extender Fitting

    Hi- If you want do away with the blocks the radiator now sits on, McMaster Carr  has an extender fitting that works well. (See attached drawing)

    - Rod
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18

    Rod, that's what we were looking for, but we couldn't find it in Home depot.  Thanks!!
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,328
    No surprise

    you need to go to a real plumbing supplier to find these. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Support your local supply house:

    My youngest daughter bought a house in "Southie" (South Boston). Her gas water heater died so I took the day off and replaced it. I picked up a new heater at a Wholesaler I trade with in Hyannis, MA and figured I could get anything I needed (that I didn't have) at the Grand Poo-Bah of Orange stores in Massachusetts, open 24 hours a day and salesperson ell must be bilingual. The one at the old Flower Market off Rt. 93 in South Boston. Their selection is full of holes. While trying to figure out what fittings I could use for what, I noticed three guys in matching work pants and shirts with company logo's on the shirts looking for something while one was on the electronic banana calling back to the office. "They don't have what we need to fix it". Listening to the conversation on one side, they needed a 3/4" Watts #374 30# Pressure relief for a boiler. All I could think of was what losers and a looser company. In the city of Boston, they had to have driven  by at least two plumbing and heating wholesale house that would have at least 6 in a bin with more in boxes. Three guys went to the Orange Store to save how much? My discount has always been greater than the cost of a Watts 374 relief valve at HD.. How much does it cost to send three guys to pick up a relief valve that is as common a fleas on the belly of a dog?

    Those same Wholesalers probably have a tribe of split flange escutcheons in their bins, The one I shop where I work has every size I have ever needed or they get one on the truck that comes on Tuesday.

    Support your local supply house. The good ones stock what sells and you need.
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,349

    are also known as floor & ceiling plates, split-ring escutcheons, hinged floor & ceiling plates, etc. You'll usually find them hanging out with all the little bathroom fittings. Available for 1/2" to 1 1/2" copper.
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S
    3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18
    cut in pressure

    So over the weekend some guy came.  He reduced the cut-in pressure from close to 3 to just over 2.  also he gave me a used but working vent-rite valve.  I put it on the 12-section one and set the dial to 1/3 open.   as the paint on the 9 section still smells, I left the air valve all the way open so it can heat all the way up.

    Now the steam cycle is shorter.  the 12 section one doesn't get the water out before the cycle stops with the air valve is only 1/3 open. downside is that not all the sections are hot.  The 9 section still gets the water out, but it actually shuts off after a while with a click sound.  As i have my windows open to let the smell out, it cools faster so the valve opens again before the next cycle starts.  and once it opens the air comes out with on water, and then it closes again.

    SO that's better.  so he tells me we should further reduce the cut-in pressure and I should have both air valves 100% open so the radiators can heat up faster and i can get all the sections hot.

    Does what he did and said make sense?  what is the cut-in pressure supposed to be set to?  His approach seems to be working but I don't want to make the people on the top floor (3rd) suffer the cold...

    oh and how long this paint smell will completely go away, it has been 5 days since i put the heat on it..... it is annoying... i used those hi-heat spray designed for radiators...
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    Pressure required

    My 3 stories with 55 radiators gets steam everywhere with a pressure of 2 ounces. If it is very cold, then the pressure may go up to 10 ounces.

    If your cut-in pressure is set to 2 psi, then it is too high, as that is the minimum pressure, with the cult-out being the maximum. The conventional pressuretrol is very inaccurate at these low pressures, which only a vaporstat can manage. Whenever the pressure gets aboved a few ounces, excess fuel is being burned to maintain the unneeded pressure. Along with low pressure, massive main (not rad) venting is needed to make sure the boiler does not cycle on and off while pushing the air out.--NBC
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18
    cut in pressure pics

    The one box without glasstop is where he adjusted.  I don't know what is the other box doing... cutout box??

  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,408
    Turn it down more

    The pressuretrol with the clear plastic face looks like it's being used as a secondary safety in case something goes wrong with the other. I would adjust the screw on the grey box so the tab moves as far down as it can, take off the front cover and make sure the wheel is turned down to "1" or lower if possible. That should let the boiler cycle between 1.5 and 0.5 PSI. As others have said pressuretrols are not very accurate but try to set it as low as you can to see if that helps.

    That 12 section radiator may not heat all the way across unless it's a pretty cold day, at this time of year its common for radiators not to heat fully. The key is does the lower pressure help with the spitting issue.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18
    gray box

    Hi Bob,  you mean the box with the metal cover (cut in)?  I saw the guy use the screw driver to adjust a dial on top of that box to lower the needle.  so it should be around 1psi?

  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,408

    Turn that screw so the tab goes as low as it can. If it doeswn't work out you can always set it to where it was before.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18

    Ok,  so it has been set wrongly the.  I will give it a try.  What is the theory behind it then? Does it need to be set higher when it is very cold out there?  We (boston area) have had a pretty brutal winter this year.

  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,408
    lower is usually better

    Steam systems should work just fine at under 1 PSI but pressuretrols don't go below 1.5 so you just set it as low as you can. The systems are usually a lot happier at lower pressure, using low pressure will not cure a system that is piped wrong but it usually helps.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18
    cut out pressure?

    Thanks!!!  but where the cut-out pressure is set?  i cannot find another box...
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18
    edited March 2013
    honeywell main

    I think this box is the cutout control?  apparently someone took the differential part away. so i guess it is just serving as the cut out... so it looks like it is set around 7.5psi, with the cutin is set shy of 2.  Normal?  and what is that little hook on top of the box?


    something like this, but with lower max pressure..(max to 15). there is a pin on the right side of the top
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,408
    Grey box controls the boiler

    That box with the plastic cover appears to be a backup, it does not play any part in normal boiler operation. The grey pressuretrol with the steel front cover controls both the pressure cutout and the cutin for the boiler. It should be set to 0.5PSI cut in on the front with a differential of 1 PSI set by the white wheel inside the box. The cutout is the cut in plus the differential (0.5 + 1 = 1.5 would be the cutout pressure).

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18
    better now

    So, the dial on the cut-in (gray box) now is all the way down to .5 psi.  I don;t know how to ready the differential so I don't know what the cut out is. So far the 9-section is not spitting water anymore even with the air valve 100% open. I cannot hear the running water sound either.  However,  the 12-section still does when I open the air valve all the way, i do hear the running water noise.  then the valve starts to open and close without water. 

    I also found the 12 section one gets heated up faster.  i guess it is closer to the boiler? 

    Thanks for all the help!
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Member Posts: 3,918
    Puzzled the differential

    Is located inside the grey box. It is a white wheel. The clear box is the emergency manual reset pressuretrol.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • puzzled_guypuzzled_guy Member Posts: 18
    white dial

    Yes, I see this white dial, but what reading is it related to?  How can I see what the differentiate is?  I cannot use the pressure gauge as it is not working. 

    it is same or similar to this
This discussion has been closed.


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