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Header setup question.

jeffmesa Member Posts: 2
edited November 2014 in Strictly Steam
I'm having a bunch of issues with my one pipe, conterflow? heat. I'm going to start from the botttom and work my way up. Moved in a year ago and am new to steam heat. The header pipes are copper and they go into iron pipes. There is something that may be a vent, but i dont think it is even in the right place, if it is even a vent. There is one pipe that comes out the boiler that elbows and leads to two T's. The first T goes to the lowest pipe, and continues to another T where one side goes to the an upper pipe and the other side goes back down to the boiler. The lower and upper pipes both have returns that lead back to the bottom pipe that goes back to the boiler. The return pipe that leads off the upper pipe has a silver bullet looking thing that may be a vent, but i does not look like a gorton #1 or any of the other vents ive seen mentioned in connection with main vents. From diagrams that if looked at and setups ive read about it seems close the a counterflow system but then what would be the main return in those systems seems to be sending steam out in this system. i made a little diagram and took pictures, any input is good input, im afraid this was done by a novice becuase it seems to me it is sending out steam in two directions.

If there is no problem with this setup where should a main vent be added?


  • Eric_32
    Eric_32 Member Posts: 267
    edited November 2014
    Yes there are a few things wrong with that near boiler piping. Do those two lines that go out to feed the radiators both connect together at the end or do they remain separate? If they connect together, is the pitch consistant in going the same direction the whole way around the basement, with the lowest point being that lower pipe connected to the 1st tee?

    If like in your hand drawn picture, they are the two ends of the same pipe, that's probably a good thing. It looks like the top one is pitching away from the boiler and lower one is pitching back to it. If so, I would cut out all that copper, remove the cap off that second riser on the top of the boiler, connect them both into a proper header possibly dropped, with the equalizer at the end. Use only that top main as a supply. That lower line connected to the first tee, would get a main vent on it and then drop down into a wet return below the water line.

    To me it looks like that lower line is a dry return piped wrong. It should have a vent on it and turn down into a wet return.
  • jeffmesa
    jeffmesa Member Posts: 2
    I appreciate the response.

    Yes, they connect and the pitch is consistent. I'm going to look towards redoing the header, thanks for the game plan. I'm in the north east and temps are in the 20s, so down time is key, if I wanted to do a temporary fix, could I remove the T to the lower pipe close that up, vent it and use the smaller pipe that goes to the hartford loop as the return? What about the line that runs off the upper to the hartford loop, should i eventually get rid of that as well? For the time being, I understand that copper dissipates heat quickly, could/should I insulate the copper pipes?
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,412
    edited November 2014
    that vent is a ventrite 35 or it's equivalent, it is from the coal burning era when boilers simmered for most of the day, it
    's not much use on gas or oil fired boilers.

    The first thing I would do is to replace that vent with a Gorton #2 (one vent for about every 20 ft of 2" steam main), if you can't get them locally try -

    Note that vent has a 1/2" male thread and it wants to be mounted up on a pipe nipple. If you need more that one you will have to build an antler.

    Next what kind of vents are on the radiators? You want to vent the mains very fast and the radiators slowly so steam arrives at all of them at the same time. Once you have good main venting and correctly sized radiator vents see if any of your issues have been addressed.

    What are the specific problems you are having? The near boiler piping should be replaced (threaded steel for the steam, copper is ok for below the waterline), you should have a good steam man go over the system, it won't be cheap but the fuel savings and comfort are worth it. Where are you ?

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Eric_32
    Eric_32 Member Posts: 267
    The vent on the dry return (1st line which is lower) would have to be located before it turns down, cut in on the black steel side, best is about 10-15" back before the turn down. The drain on the higher supply is fine going down to the wet return but the vent there is useless.

    Can you post a picture of how it connects down low?

    The vent right off the supply is going to close when it gets hot.... basically as soon as steam leaves the boiler, leaving the whole main to vent thru the radiator vents. The vent has to be located at the end of the main which would be just before the lower line turns down.

    If you leave both drains connected, steam will cross over and close the main vent on the return line. They should not be connected together but down low below the water line, will prevent steam crossing over.