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Empty or Full?

I'm not sure of the proper terminology for the piping here. To me, it looks like a plumbing trap, so thats what I'll call it here until someone corrects me.

The pipe on the bottom left is a steam main from the boiler, top left is a dry return back to the boiler, pipe on the right is the other steam main from the boiler.

My question is regarding this "trap" in the middle of the mains. It has a plug in the bottom of it for draining. Should I keep this "trap" empty, of should it hold water for a reason? If it's meant to be dry I will put a valve on it and pipe it to a drain. It it's meant to stay wet I'll just leave it alone.


  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 11,161
    It's a "water seal"

    which works like a sink drain trap by holding some water. Never seen that arrangement, though- generally the steam main is on top, draining into a return and the line coming in from the opposite side is isolated from the other one by the water seal.

    Is this on your Eddy system?
    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.
  • Yes It Is

    This is original to the Eddy system. I spoke with the grandson of the man that installed this system. The guy has worked on this system before and was very familiar with it being that he is a third generation steam guy in a small town. He said that the Eddy Company was based here in Michigan and a rep came on site at the time the system was designed and installed. No plumbers around here knew about their system, so they sent someone to help them.

    Because of that, I know everything is piped as the Eddy Co wanted and it is in fact all original. It's interesting that they piped this backward of what you have seen before. I know this would have been spec by the company itself. Either their system needed this trap to be designed like this, or it was engineered on the fly and they just didn't know exactly what would work better. Either way, it was installed in 1909 and still works great today. I'm changing the boiler out next summer, but the piping and Eddy components are staying the same.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 11,161
    Tell him

    he will be welcome on the Wall!
    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.
  • I'll see what I can do

    He's in his 60's and doesn't own a cell phone, so I'm unsure of his desire to use internet blogs. But I can say this, he was thrilled when I told him I wanted him to teach me as much as he could about my system, and others in town that were different. Our town has many houses that just simply have no option other than steam heat. Installing any other system would ruin the 100+ year old character by running duckwork and such. Those of us that own the older original houses with historical significance are careful to restore them, not remodel them. He has been more than happy to start teaching me so "these old house can stay warm. Cold houses are empty houses" was his exact quote to me.

    I'll talk to him about this wall, and see what his computer skills are like. If he doesn't use them but is willing to learn, I'll get him on here and teach him along the way for sure.

    Of you're interested in seeing the house, here it is. It was the former Governors Mansion of Michigan and built by Sara Scott, the sister of R.E. Olds, founder of Oldsmobile. Construction started in about 1906 and finished in about 1909.
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,337

    The woodwork in that house is beautiful and could not be replicated today. The wood is no longer available and the number of people who can execute that level of craftsmanship is growing less every day.

    To often I've beautiful old homes torn down to make way for another box full of condo's. It's good to see something like that preserved.

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

    The wood is a big reason we bought the home. Its not easy and cheap owning a house like this, but we love this place. Some days waking up here feels like a dream. Everything in this home was built to be the best, and it shows. Nearly everything original with the house is still here, including the steam pipes :). We talked about what it would take to restore a home like this for a long time and finally decided to pull the trigger. I just couldn't watch a house like this fall apart piece by piece over the years of sitting empty and being ignored.
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