Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

A little advice on a new steam system please

Hello. I have been reading a lot of the threads on here lately and have learned quite a bit. I had a friend of mine install a new steam boiler in my house back in August. It's been nothing but problems since. Its a single pipe system with no parallel returns. Right near the boiler the pipes tee off to return the condensate back to the boiler. I've had a heating company come out to troubleshoot and they want to install returns and a Hartford loop at great expense. The instruction book says a single pipe system is ok but it recommends 3" piping and I have 2". However, it did work with the old boiler. There are also other issues with the piping. I'm not too familiar with the terminology so I'll post pics and you'll see what I'm talking about.



The main issue is that 3 of the 8 radiators have been spitting water on the floors and the water is surging. The boiler has a speed skimming port on the side and I have skimmed about 40 gallons of nasty water @ 7psi. At this point the radiators have stopped spitting and when I open the steam relief valve a nice steady flow of steam comes out. Before, it was a violent water and steam mix shooting out so I'm thinking the skimming has worked but the water is still surging. At this point when I skim the water it is quite dirty but there doesn't seem to be an oil slick on top anymore. Should this water be clean ? Is it possible that improper piping could cause water surge ? It only surges when first fired and when it gets good and hot it seems to calm down and only moves about a 1/2" or so in the sight glass. And one more thing, the instructions call for an air vent near the end of the runs and none are installed right now. Is it possible to drill and tap a hole in the pipes to accept a valve or do i need to have them cut and threaded to accept a tee ? I am a millwright so i have a lot of experience working on mechanical equipment. However, I usually have an engineer to advise me. With proper guidance I'm certain i can get this thing running right. Any insight would be awesome.

Comments

  • fixitguy
    fixitguy Member Posts: 90
    wowie zowie

    Where do you start? I don't think I've seen knuckleheading quite this bad maybe ever. well maybe once or twice. Cutting corners never pays. Your friend did you no favor. Your best bet is to get a qualified professional to do the job right. The sweetness of low price is easily overwhelmed by the bitterness of poor quality. This is why steam is a speciality.
  • Chapstick
    Chapstick Member Posts: 64
    In defense

    In his defense, he did reuse the existing piping. Not that makes it right though. The pro's disagree with the factory specs. They may be good but i trust the manufacturer more than them.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,309
    edited February 2014
    It's not piped correctly

    But before tackling that, is this system running at 7 PSI? A steam system will run fine at 2 PSI or (hopefully) less.



    Skimming can be done cold or hot but should be done VERY slowly, it should take a couple of hours to draw off a 5 gallon bucket and the water should never get up to a boil while skimming. The key is to draw water slowly off a calm water surface.



    If there is no fitting on the main for a main vent you cal drill and tap to put one in. Ideally the vent should be after the last radiator runout and should be as high as possible.



    Is this a counterflow system? If it is you may have to get creative because the end of the main might be pretty tight.



    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
  • Chapstick
    Chapstick Member Posts: 64
    I forgot to mention....

    I only set at 7psi for skimming as per the manufacturers recommendation. I put it back at 1.5psi. And yes, it's a counter flow system.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,973
    Well let's see here...

    the best thing to do for the near boiler piping will be to get hold of the manual for that boiler -- if you don't have it, give us the make and model number and we may be able to find a link for it -- and get the boiler piped correctly.  You need an equalizer -- I don't see one -- and the header is probably at least a size too small, and too low.  Getting that fixed will help matters a lot.  If there are cold returns at all, you also need a Hartford Loop.



    Get the pressure down -- 2 psi is ample.  1.5 psi cutout is better, if your pressuretrol will go that low.  1 psi differential.



    You do need vents on the ends of the main, but as a millwright you shouldn't have much trouble drilling and tapping (NPT) for them.  They go on top of the main, about a foot before the end, and the nipple they go on should raise them about a foot above the main, if you have the headroom.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Chapstick
    Chapstick Member Posts: 64
    Thanks for the help.

    Thanks man, I do in fact have the manual and i posted a diagram from it illustrating the proper way to pipe it configured for a counter flow system. There is no mention of a hartford loop so im assuming it isnt necessary in this particular situation. Had I known what I know now i would've done the entire thing myself. But being naive, I believed him at face value saying he's a "boiler expert". And then I looked at the instructions and realized what had happened.
  • Double D
    Double D Member Posts: 414
    Maybe not necessary

    but your local inspector (if you have one) and your insurance company will say the Hartford Loop is required. Here's a drawing that will help you with some decisions when it come to re-piping your boiler. If this one doesn't give you enough info to get it piped properly, start a new thread titled "Counter-flow System piping help"  and post more pictures at different angles getting as much as you can in the picture.

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/files/posts/18191/Counterflow%20Piping%20Configuations.pdf
    danFromNJ
  • We will be your engineers...

    But best to wait until spring.

    It would be a good idea to get a 0-3 psi gauge, and put that on a tee with the pressuretrol, and the useless 0-30 psi gauge. This will tell you how the main venting is, and that could be improved before the end of winter, and should stop the spitting.

    During the hot months, we can guide you through the reworking of the header, and supply pipes, as well as installing a second riser from the boiler.

    Next winter as you are silently toasty warm, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you made the old system work as it once did when first installed!--NBC
  • Chapstick
    Chapstick Member Posts: 64
    Sounds awesome.

    I will do my best to track down a pipe threader and acquire all of the tools that i will need. I'll come back when I have everything together and it's warm out. Thanks for all the help guys.
  • Chapstick
    Chapstick Member Posts: 64
    Wow. I just stumbled upon this thread. I've learned so much since I wrote this. I hired somebody to fix this issue and he put a half assed bandaid on it and I actually just got around to repiping all of the near boiler piping. It runs like a champ and I cut the gas usage by over 50 percent.

    One thing though, as per the boiler manufacturers specs, on a counter flow single pipe system this boiler doesn't require a Hartford loop or an equalizer pipe so I piped a return straight into each side of the boiler. It works very well now. It doesn't pick up even an ounce of pressure before the thermostat is satisfied.

    After I was finished though I began to think that since there is no mud leg all of the nasty pipe crud is dumping right into the boiler. This cannot be good for it. Do you think I should go rent the threader again and put in mud legs for each side of the boiler ? Seems like a good idea to me. Tons of work though.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,350
    Are you still flushing out a lot of mud?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Chapstick
    Chapstick Member Posts: 64
    I haven't checked on it since the install a couple weeks ago. I flushed it out 5-6 times until it was crystal clear and then added some boiler additive. It was pretty funky at first and got better each time.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,350
    Check it again. If it's clean, or nearly so, you shouldn't need mud legs.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Chapstick
    Chapstick Member Posts: 64
    Thanks. I'll do just that.
    Dave0176