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HELP! New to steam and have some issues

As my title suggests I'm new to steam and am trying to learn as much as possible. I've purchased the "steamy" deal and I'm about halfway through We Got Steam.

The scoop: I have water hammer, gurgling, uneven heating, and various other things happening.

The Goods: I just bought a house with a Burnham commercial oil boiler that was installed about a year or two ago. I have a 2 pipe steam system, but many of the radiators have vents on them in addition to the steam traps. From what I'm finding this is not as it should be. In the cellar area near the furnace I have 3 main vents sometimes at the very end of the pipe which also doesn't sound right. The water hammer originates at the nearest radiator (above a main vent) and spreads for a several minutes horizontally and vertically before it silences.

I have a pipe in cement that is leaking which needs to be jackhammered and then repaired, and I gotta get the trap/vent situation in order. I also need to re-insulate the pipes they worked on when installing the new system. I don't want to spend any more money on knuckleheads, and I just want to get this right. I'm not even sure if the system was installed correctly. The pressure was set to just over 5 psi. I just set that back on both pressurtrols to rest on 2 psi last night. The water hammer is still there. I just don't know exactly where to begin on the venting deal. Should I plug them all since it's a 2 pipe system and just worry about the steam traps?

What info and pics do you need from me to help address this? Are there any steam pros near the Eastern Panhandle of WV??? Any help would be appreciated!
twice the boiler I need, short cycling, atrocious near boiler piping, excessive fuel consumption, water hammer throughout...you name it I got it in my system O_o

Comments

  • Dave in QCADave in QCA Posts: 1,739Member
    edited November 2013
    Pictures please

    Pictures will help a LOT so that we can see the boiler install and the components and type of system you have. You say you have traps, so it's probably a vapor system, intended to run at 8 oz or less.



    Your situation sounds somewhat like mine. I bought a place with a 2-pipe system and someone had installed vents on about half the radiators. Many traps were failed closed, main were failed open. I started with trap repair and removed the vents.... then went on from there.



    The step by step process is pretty much chronicled at

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/131216/The-Best-Heating-System

    The trials and errors of my project may be of some help to you.



    Post some pictures as soon as you can. There are at least a dozen people on here who will do a great job of helping you out.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • BobCBobC Posts: 5,018Member
    Pics

    Post pics of the boiler from all sides that have pipes coming out of them, stand far enough back so we can see the boiler header, hartford loop, etc.



    Check the slope on the steam mains and the radiator runouts. Are there any return pipes that connect together above the boiler waterline?



    What pressure is the boiler running at and is the waterline steady?



    Does the water appear to be reasonably clean, any signs of oil in the water? Has the boiler been skimmed?



    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
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Two Pipe Steam System

    Hi As Dave mentioned ,pictures would be a great help. Take them from back away so they include the boiler and the piping connected to it as that allows us to trace the piping configuration. We can zoom in if we need to see detail. You're lucky that you have a 2 pipe system as these are the "Cadillac" of the steam systems and they can be tuned for optimum comfort and efficiency.

    - Rod
  • Pics...

    First of all, thank you guys for responding so quickly. It's really appreciated. Dave in QCA, I'll check out your link! I attached several pics, but let me know if you can't see what you need to see. My cellar is extremely dark and I was working with a single drop light. That and the system is about a 16" into the ground and the back is on the foundation wall.

    The bottom of both pressuretrol levers is now resting on 2 psi, and I noticed when the system fired up last night the water level bounced a bit maybe 1.75" at the most. I drained off several gallons of water from both valves on 11/17 as it was quite dark and sludgy. By the time I finished with both valves the water ran pretty clear. The system had been running for 2 weeks prior to that, though.

    Additionally, on 11/22 the installer serviced the boiler and apparently drained some water again apparently thinking I hadn't already done so. I'm not sure if it was that dark or what. When I spoke with him about the water hammer issue he mentioned it could possibly need skimmed. How do you tell if oil is in the water?



    Jon
    twice the boiler I need, short cycling, atrocious near boiler piping, excessive fuel consumption, water hammer throughout...you name it I got it in my system O_o
  • Dave in QCADave in QCA Posts: 1,739Member
    Beautiful V-9 Boiler - Ugly Install

    Nice pics of the boiler. The Burnham v-9 is a great boiler, a real work horse. However, the manner in which the boiler risers are connected to the header is BAD. At a minimum, the risers should enter the side of the header. Best, they should rise up, then go sideways with a swing joint and drop into the top of the header. This will allow the water to drain back to the equalizer and yield very dry steam. Also, the building main connections to the header must NOT be between the boiler risers.



    How does the return piping come back. Is there a return trap? An air eliminator? Condensate pump? That's something we need to see too.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • newbie questions

    Hey Dave, I don't mean to be difficult, but since I'm new to this I may ask a bunch of questions. I kind of need you to walk me through some of this stuff. Would the return piping and all of that stuff be in the back side of the boiler from what you can see in my pictures? I'm familiar with a condensate pump on HVAC systems, but I haven't seen anything like it at all. I'll look again, though, and try to send some better pics.



    Since the burner was just recently installed (and hopefully under warranty), how should I bring up the fact that this was not sufficiently installed? Would the installation manual show this to be the correct manner of installation that they failed to utilize?
    twice the boiler I need, short cycling, atrocious near boiler piping, excessive fuel consumption, water hammer throughout...you name it I got it in my system O_o
  • BobCBobC Posts: 5,018Member
    V90 manual

    This link will take you to the manual on the boiler -



    http://www.burnhamcommercial.com/products/forced-draft-boilers/v9a/io/manual.pdf



    The steam piping starts on page 37. Depending on exactly what boiler you have the piping requirements tell you what size piping should have been used and how many boiler risers should be used. Burnham does not do a very good job with the drawing on this model so don't be afraid to ask if you don't understand something.



    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
  • livinthesteamdreamlivinthesteamdream Posts: 41Member
    edited November 2013
    more pics

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'll be out of town for a week so I wanted to take pics and post them before heading out. Dave, I posted several pics that I hope will show you what you asked for. I see what you mean about the risers, and from what I've read the steam mains coming off those should be towards the rear past both risers as opposed to in between the risers--again for dry steam. Is that correct? I guess that header/riser/main area needs to be completely re-plumbed, correct? 

    To answer your other questions, I didn't see a condensate pump--only what I presume to be the Hartford loop to the rear of the boiler. It's very tight and tough to get a good pic. Let me know if you need something better.

    I also posted pics of the only vents I can see in the cellar. There is one more, but it's tough to get a pic of. None of these are near the beginning of the main or more than 12-16" back from the ends as Dan recommends so it appears as though I will need to plumb some in, correct? If so, where would I do that? Additionally, staying on the venting issue, should I remove all the air vents or should I repack/replace all the steam traps first? If I do that, do I need to wait until the heating season is over?

    I'm sorry I have so many questions! I've tried numerous people locally to no avail. Again, HAPPY THANKGSIVING!
    twice the boiler I need, short cycling, atrocious near boiler piping, excessive fuel consumption, water hammer throughout...you name it I got it in my system O_o
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,373Member
    Eastern Panhandle of WV?

    That's not too far from Baltimore. Click our company name below for contact info.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • MDNLansingMDNLansing Posts: 297Member
    Start Simple

    Best to start and keep it simple. Make sure your radiators are pitched properly and get those traps working. Once the traps work you can determine if the vents are needed or not. On some old systems that have been tweaked over the years you might need them on some radiators. Once the rads are good, move on to the mains. Get them venting as fast as possible. If there is any place you will get a good return on investment, it's there. Even if you need to hire a plumber to tap the mains it's worth it. They should go on the end of the mains and each main should have at least one. I have installed several on mine and balanced them so they all close at the same time. Once you get the mains tapped with a hole you can install an antler and put the vents on it. This makes it easy to add and remove them as needed. To have good quiet steam, you have to get the air out, the steam in, and make sure it's all flowing the proper direction. I would focus on that stuff before addressing the boiler piping. It is certainly a mess, but probably not something you want to deal with right now with house heat being a must. The other stuff you can do right now and see some immediate results. Remember, the water hammer is caused by water and steam mixing when it shouldn't. Think like the steam and try to understand where it is going and what it is doing in the pipe. Once the water flows freely back to the boiler, and the air vents properly from the system, most of the hammer should go away.
  • steam trap questions

    @ All Steamed Up that is great news. You're probably about 1.5-2 hours away depending upon traffic. I can't find anyone locally with this experience so if I can't get the installer to correct the installation (highly likely) I will give you a call!



    @ MDN is there any specific type of trap that I should go with or stay away from? Should I replace or should I try to repack? Any insight would be great !
    twice the boiler I need, short cycling, atrocious near boiler piping, excessive fuel consumption, water hammer throughout...you name it I got it in my system O_o
  • Steam trap/radiator inlet orifices questions

    Good morning. I'm still trying to figure out where to start with the steam trap issue. How do I test those to see if they work or should I just replace all of them since I'm sure they haven't been replaced in close to a decade? Would the Watts 0036046 work for these or can anyone suggest a kit to repack these if that is possible? I have about 25 rads so replacing all of those at roughly $50 a pop would not be fun.

    Additionally, I was reading about the radiator inlet orifices. Does anyone have any experience with those? If I went the orifice route what action would I take on the steam traps? Thanks again for your assistance! -Jon
    twice the boiler I need, short cycling, atrocious near boiler piping, excessive fuel consumption, water hammer throughout...you name it I got it in my system O_o
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