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Steam Heating Woes, new owner please help

Hi All, I am reading Dan H.'s got steam heat book, very good stuff, but it's taking me a little bit to read. I'm not a book kind of guy.

Anyways, i am a new home owner and i have steam heat.

Here are my problems, maybe someone can give me suggestions as to what to do first and where to begin. (I rather do everything myself, unless it really calls for a professional)

I have a gas steam boiler by new yorker. It was set to 9psi cut in and 5 differential. I have an additive honeywell pressuretrol. I have brought down the psi to .5 cut in and 1 differential.

I have 4 radiators and all 3 heats up evenly except one! the living room one, this one is closest to the boiler but it looks like the previous owner used copper pipe and painted it grey. I assume it is cooper/brass because the on off knob connected to it is reddish brown. All the other ones are thick steel that you can see and feel. In the basement you can clearly tell this thin skinny tube is the one that leads up the the living room radiator.

Some radiators the on off knob does nothing but that can be a later fix, i left them all in the full open position.

The problematic radiator, has water churning and flowing sound. Burn water is constantly spitting out of the air vent. (I changed every air vent with Home depot one)

The pipe directly under the radiator is horizontal and it has the water hammer that shakes the house. I suspect a bad pitch but dont want to tear open the sheet rock yet.

It shakes so violently only at start up.

The T joint where the copper pipe goes into steel is leaking, rusty and i can hear steam hissing through it.

cliff notes,

gas steam boiler by new yorker

honeywell p404a additive pressuretol

boiler set at 9psi cut in 5 differential wheel

copper pipe

horizontial pipe water hammer violently

air vent spit/constant stream of brown water

T joint/fitting leaking water and steam/air

closes radiator gets hot last.

on off knobs dont work (on some)

Pitch is slightly going back to the pipe side, but i lifted it up higher, is there a too much pitch setting?

boiler has no oil sludge tap

edit - one pipe steam system. water gauge bounces but i already drained it till it was cleared but couldnt skim since no skim tap.

edit 2 - water level cold 1/2, water level hot boiler off 3/4, boiler on and heat on 1/3

Also, i am not sure if i read correctly or not about main vents. I do not have any main vent in the basement, i followed the pipes and do not see any. Unless they are inside the sheet rock.

sorry for the long first post!

I did as much research as i could and i only read half the book, up to the 2 pipe system. Winter/snow is coming so i want to get this fixed asap.

I am a new homeowner with no knowledge of this, learning as i go, but i am very mechanically inclined and learn quick...

Thank you for reading, please help me save my old steam heat!


  • post

    Post pictures of the boiler and near pipings... as well piping to promblemic radiator.. you did the right corrective step by lower the pressurtrol setting..
  • mr2liam
    mr2liam Member Posts: 2
    my pictues

    darn i lost my post,

    pictures of radiator air vent, the new knob thing, copper tubing that foes down to the basement.

    then the T fitting that is leaky, i temporary wrapped.

    left and right side of the boiler. the right side has copper tubing going to the back and into a bathroom drain. also a valve that doesnt release anything.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,289
    Some things...

    are easier than others.  Water hammer in a particular pipe?  Water spitting out of the vent the pipe feeds?  Newer copper installation?  Guilty as charged.  I don't have my copy of Lost Art handy -- maybe someone else does -- but that pipe will need to be reinstalled -- preferably in black iron -- from the leaking T to the radiator, and pitched so that the condensate can drain back easily to the main.  Not that big a job, but it may not be one that a handyman might want to attempt (for instance, pipe may need to be threaded).

    The vent that is spitting water is probably shot; they can take some abuse, but not that much -- but don't bother to do anything about it until you fix the pipe.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
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