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Steam Supply Valve Leaking - Question

Hi Guys,

I searched google and this site and couldn't find a clear answer to my question. Today I noticed that one of my supply valves is leaking (along with a bunch of my radiator vents, I changed my thermostat from 1 cph to 6 cph, so my system actually reaches the max of the pressuretrol of 1.5-1.7 psi-ish). Anyway, it is not leaking from the stem, the picture below shows where it is leaking. My question is: is there a gasket there? Or are there pipe threads?



I tried tightening it,and it did nothing. I'd like to get this fixed, but would rather have the parts in hand before taking it apart. Thanks for looking!



Valve doesn't have a brand name on it, only "Taiwan."

Comments

  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Teflon Tape:

    It's too bad that the installer didn't use that useless Teflon tape he used on the threads of the union and used it on the place it is leaking on the valve.

    Before I install any fitting like that with a "ground joint" seal, I take them apart and wrap a turn or two of Teflon Pipe tape on the threads and flat of the valve part. Then some quality pipe sealer like Rectorseal 100.

    Find a really snug fitting open end wrench. It might have to be a metric one. Adjustable open end wrenches can be problematic. Pipe wrenches can squish the flats. Do it carefully. If you get it out, tape the male threads.



    While you're at it, take a 12" piece of tape and twirl it around between your fingers to make a 12" rope. Wrap it around the stem of the valve and use some pipe seal. it will stop the leak on the stem joint between the packing nut. Goop the threads so it comes apart the next time.
  • McSwiggin
    McSwiggin Member Posts: 37
    Teflon Tape

    Thanks IceSailor. Just so I'm clear, I should put teflon tape and pipe dope on the threads and between where the two parts meet?



    Will the dope contaminate the boiler water? Why use both tape and dope? Is it just a belts and suspenders approach?
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,090
    6 CPH

    Why would you adjust the CPH setting from 1 to 6 to reach the max of the pressuretrol? This makes no sense. Why do you want to cycle on pressure?
  • McSwiggin
    McSwiggin Member Posts: 37
    Oops - I meant I changed from 6 to 1 cph

    I meant I changed from 6cph to 1cph. Sorry. When it was at 6cph the thermostat was turning the boiler on and off, at 1 cph the pressuretrol cycles the boiler.
  • lza
    lza Member Posts: 40
    More leaking valves!

    McSwiggin,



    More leaking valves, huh?!    That part of the valve, the yoke, does not have a gasket.  It seats brass on brass.  What I would do is shut down the boiler, then get ready to take it apart.  You might need to spray it with some lubricant, then take a crescent wrench, spud wrench, or pipe wrench (if you don't mind marring the brass) and unthread the yoke.  After you have it apart, you'll be able to see for yourself where the mating surfaces are, so clean them up well with water and a rag or what not, then look for any damage. 



    If it looks kosher, you can put it back together.  You can put a little dab of anti-sieze on the threads, but NOT the mating surfaces!  Some may have the opinion that its good to put anti-sieze or pipe dope on this surface to help seal, but it was machined to seal metal on metal.  Anything you put on there may have little bits of grime or particles that will prevent a good seal.   But like I said, some will disagree, so feel free to try it for yourself.  It doesn't do any harm to do your own test.  Tighten it back up and test it with steam!



     If it still leaks after all that, then you'll probably want to replace the valve.   That will mean pulling out the spud (the portion of the valve that threads into the radiator).  Sometimes you can use a generic "radiator spud wrench" that you can find at a plumbing supply house, or maybe Home Cheapo.  Pasco is a plumbing manufacturer for speciality tools and misc stuff and that's probably what you will find at a plumbing supply house for a spud wrench. It is this big clunky thing that's graduated for different sizes of spuds; it probably won't be a good fit, but might work.  If you shine a flashlight down in there, you'll be able to tell what shape of a tool you'll need to remove it.  Maybe its a square, maybe its got two little tiny knobs opposite each other, maybe its a hex, maybe its something completely different!   If all your valves are the same manufacturer and look to be the same  exact valve, maybe its worth it to try to find the right spud tool.  Or you can do it this way:  Take a sawzall and cut the spud nut off.  That's the freely spinning union nut on the valve.  You'll need to grab it with a pair of vise grips or channel locks and make a couple of cuts all the way through.  Once you can pry it off, that gives you room to unthread the spud from the radiator!  Of wait, before you go through all that, you'll want to find a new hand valve and make sure you have a spud wrench to fit that valve!   Your best bet will be to go to a plumbing supply house and ask if they have both.  And then make sure the dimensions of the new valve are going to match the dimensions of the old valve!  Now its getting to be a bit of a headache, and you're thinking I'll just live with that stupid leak!  Or I'll just seal it with some red silicone! 
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,090
    Cycling on Pressure.

    Is your boiler oversized or under vented? The preferable way to operate is the boiler cycles on and off with the thermostat. Your pressure should never be more than a few ounces when running to maintain temp. On a long run coming out of a set back it may cut out on pressure.
  • McSwiggin
    McSwiggin Member Posts: 37
    Cleaning and pressure

    Thanks Iza. I'll take it apart and try cleaning it. I was able to tighten it pretty easily, so I should be able to take it apart. I'm guessing you were joking about the red silicone, but I can make some silicone or teflon gaskets at work if I need to. Removing the valve from the radiator probably won't be a problem. The valve is threaded and there is a large nut on the radiator. So far I have been able to take apart at least 3 other radiators using a pipe wrench. I'm more worried about the other side of the valve, the connection to the feed.



    Mark, it shuts off on pressure after a deep set back. I've got to reprogram,but I'm kind of experimenting to see what the difference is. Right now it is set to 57 at night, 62 in the morning, 57 during the day, then 64 when we get home. Only two more weeks of that, then I'm going to set it to a constant 64.



    Boiler is not oversized, my radiators measure 86640 BTU/hr, boiler IBR rating is 97500. I just replaced 2 of my main vents with Gorton #2's (each of which measure 0.5 cubic feet). I'm picking up all new ventrite #1's for all my radiators tonight. So venting my mains should be fine, but I can not say for my radiators, hopefully the new vents will help.
  • lza
    lza Member Posts: 40
    Just another opinion

    McSwiggin,



    See its true--Icesailor is telling you to put some pipe dope on the mating surfaces, I'm telling you not to!  I never put anything on metal on metal mating surfaces, although I've worked with plenty of steamfitters who did.  Try it for yourself.



    As for the spud nut, instead of teflon I would use anti-sieze.  But that's just personal preference. The teflon tape is meant to be a "lubricant" and help you tighten up the threads easier, so in my opinion its fine to use at that spot.  I use anti-sieze because I want make it easier to take apart, although with brass on brass there is not usually much metal siezing. 
  • McSwiggin
    McSwiggin Member Posts: 37
    Dang it!!

    Just took the portion apart that was leaking and there was a gasket that just crumbled. Now I've gotta figure out what to do. I can't leave it open, and I can't leave the heat off. I think I'll head to the plumbing supply store and see if they can bail my butt out. Otherwise I'll have to figure out how to get a gasket in there.
  • lza
    lza Member Posts: 40
    Never listen to...

    McSwiggin,



    Sorry, I was absolutely wrong!



    You could:



    -Find another gasket, or make a temporary gasket with some high temp silicone Permatex (but which would take 24 hrs to cure, so not such a great idea)

    -Replace the hand valve

    -And/or cap off the line until you can replace the hand valve or find a new gasket. 

    -Or not listen to another bit of crappy advice from me



    But I'm glad to have been able to help impart this important lesson on repairing anything old: anticipate the worst, and have a backup plan ready!
  • McSwiggin
    McSwiggin Member Posts: 37
    Got an o-ring

    Went to the pluming supply, got an o-ring. Not sure what material it is though, but hopefully it will hold until I can order something new. I doubt I'll find the correct gasket, but I don't see why an EPDM o-ring wouldn't work.



    I think the valve is from Home Depot (pics online look similar to mine). Worst case I have to buy the valve to swipe the gasket, or just buy a better quality valve (best option if the o-ring doesn't work). Actually, I should go look at all my valves. If I have a few that are the same size then it wouldn't be such a bad idea to have a quality valve as a spare.
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,090
    edited December 2013
    Steam Hand Valve

    Do yourself a favor and get a quality hand valve. Hoffman Specialty has a model 185c. Check your local plumbing supply houses. Also that one on your rad looks to be a hot water valve not a steam valve.
  • McSwiggin
    McSwiggin Member Posts: 37
    New Valve

    Yikes! Now I see why they went with the Home Depot valve, the price I saw for the hoffman was significantly more. Here is the valve I believe they used from Home Depot: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-1-1-4-in-Steam-Radiator-Angle-Valve-A1091F/202246283#



    According to the description it is for steam, that's assuming that they got the description correct and that is the actual valve that I have.



    I will consider buying a new valve from my plumbing supply place, that way hopefully they will sell a rebuild kit for it as well.
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,090
    Steam Hand Valve

    Check out pexsuppy.com, they sell Matco-Norca radiator valves. Not sure if their quality is any better than the ones from Home Depot.
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