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One-Pipe Steam System -- couple of questions

Bought a house last year, found this site (great site with so much knowledge) and began to do as much as I can to optimize my heating system and want to make it efficient as possible. It looks like it has been neglected for years. :(

So the previous owner (maybe contractor did this) tapped into the header and welded a pipe that leads to the kitchen radiator. It is circled red on the picture. It looks terrible and not correct on many levels. I've been receiving a couple of quotes from local plumbers already.
But what I want to the proper way to re-pipe this, so I can make sure the plumber does the right thing. I assume they will have to tie it back into the main pipe correct?

Second question: There are only two vents (yellow squares), the one at the end of the return pipe is a Gorton #4 and i'm not sure what is the other one (looks to be a hoffman). Not sure if I have adequate venting on my system (hissing radiators around the house), I think the Gorton #4 is clogged and thinking about to replace it.

I can provide more pictures if needed.

Thanks everyone!

Richie

Comments

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    That Gorton #4 is way too small to vent your main. If you have the head room, you should put Gorton # 2 's on the end of each main. You will probably need to build an antler to mount multiple gortons on. On average about one for each 20 feet of main (The main is the 2 inch pipe that runs down or around your basement that the radiator runs come off of). As for that welded kitchen pipe, that should have been tied somewhere along the horizontal main, like the rest of the radiator runs. The way it is now, it is stealing steam from the rest of the system and I'm sure getting hot FAST. No way to balance the system with that there. Also lets condensate run back into the header. You probably get some banging?
  • astrob0y
    astrob0y Member Posts: 12
    I shut the valve on the kitchen radiator because yes it was causing balance issues. I tried to balance system as much as I can by adjusting the vents on each radiator. No banging until as of recent, maybe because I messed with the valves and caused it to be unbalanced.

    I'll look into replacing the current Gorton #4 with a #2. Correct me if i'm wrong but not sure if I am able to add additional vents myself or it requires a plumber.

    Also, I need to look into pipe insulation! :#
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    edited November 2014
    What radiator vent is on the kitchen radiator? If it's getting too hot, try a #4. But like Fred said, the condensate from the kitchen radiator is dripping back into your header and some of it if probably being pushed up into the main. Balance the system by taking care of the main vents first. Vent the mains fast, and the radiators slow. If you are somewhat handy you should be able to handle adding vents. There might be some tricks required to loosen a bushing on nipple at the old vent. Check back here and someone can give you some tips if you need it.

    You might want to consider a bigger sized header if you have someone come in there to redo that kitchen takeoff.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    You do want to insulate those pipes. Balance won't cause banging, water somewhere along the mains or in the radiator runs or radiators will when the steam hits it. Make sure all your radiator runs and mains have good pitch and make sure your radiators have a slight tilt back towards the inlet valve so that water can drain back to the boiler. You can use a couple quarters or shims on the end of the radiator furthest from the inlet side. Also, make sure the radiator valves are all the way open or all the way closed. on a one pipe system, there is no middle ground. You adjust the amount of heat at the radiator with the size of vent you use on the radiator.
    It is really simple to build an antler. It is just several 1/2 or 3/4 inch nipples and some elbows. Mount it right where you take the old vents off and the mount the new vents onto the antler assembly you made. Search in the library here and you will find lots of examples, I'm sure. Others will probably post some pictures for you onn this thread as well.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    edited November 2014
  • astrob0y
    astrob0y Member Posts: 12
    Thanks for the replies, I will double check the pitch on the radiators and look into building an antler. I get a lot of hissing from bunch of the radiators when the cycle begins.

    I will talk to the plumber again and make sure that he is tying the kitchen piping into the horizontal main. I figured that was the proper way, thanks for the reassurance.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    That hissing at the radiators is a good indication that you don't have sufficient vents on the mains or that the pressure is too high or a combination of both. I can't see the Pressuretrol from the pictures you posted but make sure the Cut-In is set at .5psi and the differential (should be a white wheel inside the Pressuretrol) is set at 1PSI so that your total max pressure does not go above 1.5psi (Cut-in + Differential) assumming you have an additive Pressuretrol (should say under the cover). That Preessuretrol should be mounted on a pigtail (curled 1/4 inch pipe). Make sure that pipe is not plugged up with gunk. They do get plugged and should be cleaned at least at the start of each heating season. Don't be intimidated by taking the Pressuretrol off of that pipe to clean it. Just take the 2 wires off of the terminals and use a wrench on the brass hex fitting that mounts it to the pipe and turn it off. Take the pipe off and wash it out and remount everything. It's a 20 minute job but very important that that devise is working properly as it is a safety devise that prevents your boiler from gaining too much pressure. It will shut the burner down at around 1.5psi if it ever get that high. Under normal circumstances the pressure should stay well below that except maybe when you are trying to recover from a 4+ degree setback or when it is really ccold outside. It is a good idea to add a 3psi pressure gauge on that pigtail using a brass Tee. That will let you se what is actually happening pressure-wise. The 0-30psi that is probably mounted on your boiler is worthless as it probably doesn't even move when you are dealing in ounces of pressure but is required to be there to satisfy most outdated local codes.
  • astrob0y
    astrob0y Member Posts: 12
    The Cut-In is set to .5psi but looks like the Differential is set to 3psi! How do I adjust the Pressuretrol? Do I just push it down to the 1psi mark? I'll take off the pigtail next weekend and check it out to see how dirty it is.

    Yes it is a 0-30 psi gauge on here. :'(

    Thanks !
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,401
    On the top of the case you will see two adjustment screws, adjust the main screw down to lower the pressure.

    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
  • astrob0y
    astrob0y Member Posts: 12
    edited November 2014
    Thanks Bob, I will adjust it to 1PSI.

    Thanks again Fred and Abracadabra.


    Can I add Gorton #1's over Gorton #2? Also can anyone recommend any 3PSI gauges? Would something like this work? http://www.amazon.com/Kodiak-Controls-KC25-3-Pressure-Gauge/dp/B00H9ZWLZG/ref=pd_sim_sbs_hi_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=07WSKFN5R42VRJHTVQ9Z
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,409
    I bought mine here at the advice of people from this site. They are a little bit more money, but they are nice gauges. At these low pressures it's worth it to invest in a nice gauge for accuracy.
    http://www.valworx.com/category/low-pressure-gauges-25-lower-mount
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    astrob0y said:

    Thanks Bob, I will adjust it to 1PSI.

    Thanks again Fred and Abracadabra.


    Can I add Gorton #1's over Gorton #2? Also can anyone recommend any 3PSI gauges? Would something like this work? http://www.amazon.com/Kodiak-Controls-KC25-3-Pressure-Gauge/dp/B00H9ZWLZG/ref=pd_sim_sbs_hi_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=07WSKFN5R42VRJHTVQ9Z

    3 Gorton #1s will vent a bit less than 1 Gorton #2. If you have room, use the Gorton #2s otherwise you'll need 3x as many Gorton #1s.

    That gauge looks fine.
    Tolik
  • astrob0y
    astrob0y Member Posts: 12
    Oh wow I didn't know that. Will go with Gorton #2 then.

    Here's current setup, should I remove the Gorton #4 (think it's clogged but needs to be replaced anyways), plug it, remove the current antler and build a new antler with two Gorton #2?




  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,409
    The hockey puck looking vent appears to be a radiator vent and really doesn't belong on the main. If you can get the other vent out ok that is a good spot for a new Gorton vent it's nice and high which helps keep it out of harms way. Some of us wish we had height like that available! Since you have so much room a Gorton #2 is definitely the way to go.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • astrob0y
    astrob0y Member Posts: 12
    Thanks for the reply, which vent are you referring to as the hockey puck? the Gorton #4 or that hoffman up high? lol

    I'll keep in mind to rebuild the antler high. Will one Gorton #2 suffice or will need two?
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,409
    the hockey puck is the #4 down low. Those are for radiators and is actually the smallest Gorton you can get. It isn't doing much, is in a bad place and basically has no business being on that main. I would take it out and plug that hole. How many vents you need is a function of how long and what size your mains are. A general rule of thumb is 1 Gorton #2 for every 20' of 2" pipe.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Tolik
  • astrob0y
    astrob0y Member Posts: 12
    Just had the plumber repiped the pipe leading to the kitchen radiator and read that when there is new piping it is usually a good idea to skim the boiler due to oil being introduced into the boiler. Also I don't know when the last time it has been skimmed so I thought it would be good experience to do it myself.

    Is that the skim port in the picture?
  • Captain Who
    Captain Who Member Posts: 452
    Don't know if anybody told you yet or not, but from the picture of your pressuretrol I can see that it is a Subtractive Differential, so you want to set the Main to 1.5 (currently 3?) and set the differential to 1.0 (currently approx. 0.4). That should give you a cut-out of 1.5psi (instead of 3 psi) and a cut-in of 0.5 psi (instead of 2.6 psi).
    dennis53
  • Captain Who
    Captain Who Member Posts: 452
    You can skim it from there, but there may be a larger port that the mfg may have designed to be the skim port. It may be on the other side of the boiler. Obviously somebody has set that one in your picture up for skimming because of the ball valve being there. You want to get a cap for that ball valve for safety purposes so somebody doesn't open that up and then while the boiler is running it can spill steam into the boiler room. Also, that pressure relief valve should be in the vertical orientation instead of horizontal, and there should be an elbow on its outlet with a long pipe going to within 6 inches of the floor.
  • I think If that connection between the dry return is lower than 5 feet from the waterline of the boiler, then 2.5 # pressure in the boiler will raise the water in the returns high enough to cover it with water, and venting will cease-yet another reason to lower the pressure!--NBC
  • astrob0y
    astrob0y Member Posts: 12
    Yeah I will definitely adjust that tonight!
    I will try to skim from that port. I don't recall any other port on there but I'll double check when I get home tonight.

    Thanks!
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    edited December 2014
    That is the skim port but you should wait a couple weeks before skimming to give the oils in that new pipe time to make its way back to the boiler
  • astrob0y
    astrob0y Member Posts: 12
    After skimming the boiler the system is running much better. Had some hammering before. Took me about 2 hours to skim it (think it's a 2 1/2 gal bucket, filled it twice)
    Here are some pictures

    before


    during


    after


    ran the boiler right after i finished skimming.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,401
    Sometimes it takes several skimming sessions to get rid of all the oils. You may have to go back at it in a week or so, see how it goes.

    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
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,401
    You just have to keep skimming till the water is oil free, I think it took me 6 sessions to get mine clean.

    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
  • astrob0y
    astrob0y Member Posts: 12
    BobC said:

    Sometimes it takes several skimming sessions to get rid of all the oils. You may have to go back at it in a week or so, see how it goes.

    Bob

    Yeah I was thinking to skim it again in two weeks. I will upgrade my main vents soon as well so probably another one after that. :o
  • astrob0y
    astrob0y Member Posts: 12
    I finally upgraded my main vents with a Gorton #2 and #1. the 2" main is just about 20 ft and then it goes down to a 1" pipe which is close to 20 ft as well. I haven't taken out the Gorton #4 on there yet, I'm not sure how to plug that little hole (1/8").




    Although the [most] radiator vents are still hissing after the new main vents. Should I have opt for two #2's? All the radiators have I believe vent-rite #1 installed on them, I will have to report back with the radiator sizes and the settings on the vent-rites.

    Last thing to do is to buy some pipe insulation, I have the quote from a company near me so I'll probably pick it up in a week or two!
  • Captain Who
    Captain Who Member Posts: 452
    Those vents are at the end of a long uninsulated dry return and you have quite a lot of offset with the length of piping for the vent "tree". It will be interesting to see how it works. It will definitely close a bit later and open a bit sooner than if the vents were closer to the return piping.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    Since the vents are at the end of the returns, I would put another Gorton #2 on there, along with the #2 and #1 you have on there already. As for plugging the 1/8" hole, just buy a 1/8" plug from any hardware or plumbing supply house.