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Possible issue

Above this area on the first floor, are 2 recessed radiators side by side in kitchen that is only heating when air vent is unscrewed, then put back in. One side of radiator is coming from end is the supply main (which is pitching away from boiler) and opposite side of radiator is going into beginning of return main (which is pitched toward boiler) I unscrewed 1.25 cap on the vertical and removed massive amounts of scale and mud, but was expecting it to be filled with condensate. You think new boiler will fill that sucker up, Im thinking about repiping it

Comments

  • MDNLansingMDNLansing Posts: 297Member
    Where to

    Where does that pipe go to the right behind the washing machine. Is that a wet return?
  • Possible issue

    looks like it USED to be one. If you look carefully, theres a 1.25 cap just touching the washer. There had to of been a wet return there in the past, now, its just capped off
  • MDNLansingMDNLansing Posts: 297Member
    Air Lock

    That won;t vent properly. That connection is essentially a water trap. The vertical pipes will eventually fill up with water. Once they do, condensate will move from one pipe to the other, but air doesn't have a chance. So, right now with water in there the radiator isn't venting. When you remove the screw, air can leave the radiator, steam can enter, and all is good. With the screw in, air is trapped in the radiator which means steam can't get in.



    Is this a vacuum system or just a regular 2 pipe system? Where does the second pipe connect to the radiator, on the bottom or in the middle?
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,048Member
    That looks to me

    like a Tudor system water seal. Read about the Tudor system here:



    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/163/Older-Steam-Heating-Systems/1302/European-Heating-Systems-circa-1907



    If I'm right, this system has or should have a central vent on the dry return near the boiler. Can you find that and post a pic?
    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
  • Possible issue

    right off the bull of that tee, then rising up in the dark there, is a gortons #1 vent. Most of the elements in this 2 story home is cast iron basebord excluding the kitchen, the cast iron baseboard only have 1 regulating valve, not 2. DAMN Steamhead, you helped me out ALOT HERE MAN. Thanks for sharing this info!!
  • Possible issue

    right off the bull of that tee, then rising up in the dark there, is a gortons #1 vent. Most of the elements in this 2 story home is cast iron basebord excluding the kitchen, the cast iron baseboard only have 1 regulating valve, not 2. DAMN Steamhead, you helped me out ALOT HERE MAN. Thanks for sharing this info!!
  • MDNLansingMDNLansing Posts: 297Member
    Altered

    This is (or more properly WAS) a vacuum system. The reason I asked about the short pipe was that in this type of system that "trap" would connect to the wet return below the water line. The system would have vented from one single location, most likely with a condensation tank below those returns with the Gorton, and a vacuum vent on top. I have an intact system similar to this. It appears though based on your pictures that it has been modified over the years. I'm not sure you can restore it to original the way the near boiler piping has been changed. You might get lucky and find parts on the net you can restore, but it's probably not going to ever be back to original condition again.



    If you're not restoring it, work on the basics. Get the mains venting, either to the atmosphere or using those return lines to the vent. Then, get the radiators venting. All the radiators would have originally vented through those return pipes. Condensate would flow in either the take off or the return.



    Something to keep in mind with this is the central vent. That vent stays open until it gets hot. Now if the system has been tweaked you might not be venting the mains and radiators into the return lines. So, if the mains don't vent into that return, it takes a lot longer for steam to reach the vent. Thus it stays open longer and your system struggles to reach max pressure because the vent doesn't close. These systems really needed everything to vent centrally because by time the steam leaves the radiator and makes it to the common vent it's cooled too much to close it. I would recommend one of two things. Either get all the radiators and mains to vent in the original return lines, or vent everything to the atmosphere and remove the central vent. If only the radiators are venting into the return the Gorton won't ever close and the system will run much longer than needed. It will be a real fuel pig if it can't close the vent.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,048Member
    edited November 2013
    That vent is probably bad

    if you can do so without disturbing the asbestos, remove and check it.



    This system should run at VERY low pressure. You need a Vaporstat on the boiler instead of the usual Pressuretrol to keep it at a low enough level. This keeps the steam from reaching the dry returns.



    The radiators/baseboards should not have vents on them at all. The air vents thru the dry (overhead) return line to where that Gorton #1 is. If some don't vent, you may have water pockets in their return lines.



    Here's a thread from several years ago describing a similar system we ran into:



    http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/130735/Tudor-Vapor-System-in-Easton-PA



    Where are you located? We might know someone near you who can help.
    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
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,548Member
    Um... well... maybe

    Many vapour systems-- and the system in question here may have been one -- were designed so that, if all was working as it should work, steam never made it past the radiators.  Either they were equipped with an orifice or variable valve to allow only enough steam to enter that could be condensed, or they were equipped with any one of a bewildering array of contraptions to prevent steam from leaving the radiator, but allowing air and water to leave freely (the most common being a simple thermostatic/float trap on the outlet).



    Air was handled in the dry return.  Air from the main was allowed to reach the dry return through a crossover trap (that same thermostatic/float type trap) at the end of the steam mains, which allowed air from the mains to vent rapidly into the dry returns.  Condensate was handled partly in the dry returns in some systems, but eventually -- in virtually all of them -- was handled by the wet returns, which connected directly to the boiler at the Hartford Loop (no fancy tanks/pumps/widgets/check valves).



    Some systems had the dry return vented directly to the atmosphere through an open pipe, but most had some sort of centrally located vent to allow air to escape from the dry returns.



    Now... the only time pressure should build beyond the few ounces required to establish flow in the mains is when all the radiators are condensing at maximum capacity and all the traps, if used, are closed.  At that point the vapourstat should shut off the boiler; if it doesn't you are wasting fuel.



    Some systems -- most commonly Hoffman Equipped -- had various ingenious devices to direct live steam into the dry returns to pressurize them and force the condensate back into the boiler if the pressure rose too high (the Hoffman Differential Loop is one such gadget).  Those needed a vent which would close on steam located at the boiler, and no other vents whatsoever anywhere else in the system.
    Jamie



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



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • MDNLansingMDNLansing Posts: 297Member
    "Improvements"

    I agree Jamie, for all original systems. What I am referring to is the "upgrades" to these systems. They all (this one included) seem to now have a central thermostatic vent that's been added. Mine had this same issue. Someone added a Hoffman to vent above the condensate tank. That's all well and good except you have to get steam to that vent to close it. Because they're installed on top of a return stack they never really fill with water and close like the old ones did. So, you end up with a mixed system that never closes the vent. Add to this the fact that an old pressuretrol and you have serious over run issues. Since most old mechanical pressurtrols won;t cut out until 2 psi, they never shutdown. Mine wouldn't reach 2 psi without closing the central return vent. And, with only the radiators venting to it, the steam was condensed and cooled by time it got there.



    I was able to fix a lot of my issues by dual venting the mains. All the radiators vent to the return, and the mains vent to the return and the atmosphere. So, my mains vent to the atmosphere and then close. When the vents close they continue venting into the returns. This allows enough steam to reach the central vent to close it. Once I had it balanced properly I was able to get the system to seal up and build pressure after about 6-8 mins. This is sufficient time to get steam into the radiators and condensate flowing back.



    In a perfect world you could restore all of the components and run nice and efficiently with a low fire, but that's tough to do on a hacked up system. I plan to achieve this, but in the interim I had to modify it to quiet down the hammer and gas bills. I agree with what your saying about how it originally operated, but once that's disturbed you have to figure something else out. For me, and I would suppose most others, using the mains to get steam to the central vent is an effective way of building pressure. You can get that done without too much work and further damage to the system. Otherwise, you could scrap the central vent and shoot the air to the atmosphere for both the radiators and mains.
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