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Hot water radiator used for steam help

KayMac
KayMac Member Posts: 12
There is a radiator in my bedroom that must've been a hot water radiator in its previous life because the air vent is at the top. The vent was originally installed horizontally and when the contractor moved it to install new hardwood floor they snapped it off. Before I knew any better I replaced it with a vent from HD. When the heat comes on in the morning it screeches like an angry cat but does heat completely. I have to wake up early enough for work (5:30 am) so every minute is precious. Is there a way I can keep the vent where it is but replace it with something quieter? I have been reading through the site and there was a suggestion that a slower valve (#4) would help.

I'm new here and a little background. I grew up with steam radiators here on Long Island (60's) and remember having to feed water every week but never, ever remember my parents draining water from the system, the watch glass was always pretty rusty and the radiators were very noisy. I've been a homeowner since 1978 but sadly have no recollection of the heating system of my first house except that it was oil and it worked. My second house was a big 1926 colonial with oil heat and hot water radiators, I converted to gas in the 90's and except for issues with the circulators and bleeding the radiators once a year I never heard a peep from the system for 30 years. There was a small cottage built 1917 in the back with gas heat and hot water radiators that I rented. At the time I was never curious about the heating history of these houses.

Just moved and downsized to a small 1941 cape with one pipe steam. There is a coal slot in the garage so it was originally heated with coal, converted to oil and then in 2000 changed to gas. The previous owners removed the insulation from the mains that caused it to sag and I will have to have someone adjust that. They also removed the radiator in the first floor bathroom and I will deal with that in the future too. The pipe is still there under the floor so hopefully I can put a radiator back in (wall hung would be nice) or possibly electric baseboard whatever is easier.

I miss my huge silent hot water radiators as well as the quality of workmanship in my old house. Getting this steam system tuned up is a challenge. My first night here the heat came on and the radiators spit and screamed like a horror movie. I made it through last winter and then replaced all the clogged and mismatched air vents, most installed at weird angles. I upgraded the thermostat from Lux Pro to Honeywell VisionPro set for steam. I also repacked the valves that were hissing and leaking water. After all the years of neglect the radiators and covers were very rusty. I tossed the covers and cleaned up the radiators with a wire brush, I'll paint them next summer.

Not sure how but thankfully I found this site and read and learned a lot from all you good folks on the Wall. I ordered the books (A Steamy Deal) and got them the next day, that made me think they were pretty serious about service here (Thank you Marianne). After reading the books (my favorite was greening steam) I found the courage to head downstairs with a screw driver and turn the pressuretrol down. It was set at 1.5 cut in and 3 cut out, that quieted everything down a lot. I also just insulated the mains with 1" fiberglass and the basement is much cooler. I think the pressure gauge is broken. That is a picture when the system is off it looks like it is stuck. I have uploaded pictures and look forward to your suggestions and help.

Comments

  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,182
    Turning down the pressure was a good move. How long are your steam mains and what kind if vent is on them? make sure the piping all has consistent slope (no sags!) and everything is pitched correctly. Sags can cause water to pool and that can collapse steam in the pipe and can contribute to wet steam.

    What kind of air vents are on the radiators? Are these cast iron radiators and do the all have pitch towards the input valve and make sure all the valves are open fully.

    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
    KayMac
  • When you have got the venting and pressure problems solved, then you may have to solve the bad piping on the boiler, to make it a perfect system. For the moment, just concentrate on making what you have work as well as it can.--NBC
    KayMac
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,515
    Make sure that pigtail that your Pressuretrol is mounted on is not plugged with gunk. Even though you turned the pressure down, if that pigtail is plugged, it can let the the pressure climb well beyond the settings. Also, if you look at the radiator, about a third of the way up, there is a round plug there. That is where you steam vent should be. If you can move the vent to that location and put that plug in where the vent is currently located, I think it will be quieter. As has been said, you need to make sure you also have enough Main Venting on the steam Mains.
    KayMac
  • KayMac
    KayMac Member Posts: 12
    Thank you all your quick replies. I did have someone come in last month before the heating season and he changed the thermocouple. Should he also have checked the pressuretrol? I also asked him about changing the main vents and he said he would prefer not to unless there was a problem. Perhaps I need to get someone new.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,515
    Yes, he should have checked the Pressuretrol and the Pigtail AND he should have checked the vents. My suspicion is you will probably need some additional main venting (either a larger main vent like a Gorton #2 or multiple Gorton #1's) but you need to get someone in who is not afraid of a steam system and knows them. Look in the "Find a Contractor" tab on this site. Maybe someone on here services your area.
    KayMac
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Where are you located?
  • KayMac
    KayMac Member Posts: 12
    Malverne, Long Island
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Try contacting @johnny or @jstar either one can help you out.
  • KayMac
    KayMac Member Posts: 12
    I called and left a message with the contractor located in Malverne. Thanks for all the help. Going to be a long winter made even longer if I don't get things straightened out.
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 2,624
    Thanks, RobG, but I'm a NYC Master Plumber license holder and that doesn't permit me to work in Long Island.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, Master Plumber
    in New York
    in New Jersey
    for Consulting Work
    or take his class.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    JohnNY said:

    Thanks, RobG, but I'm a NYC Master Plumber license holder and that doesn't permit me to work in Long Island.

    Which is just plain bizarre...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    RobGZman
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    PS -- I mean that it's bizarre that a man with your qualifications can't work on Long Island.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    RobGZman
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    How on earth does that work? I can understand state licensing requirements. In Virginia we have to pull the permits in the county / town where the work is being performed but the license is for the state. Is NYC treated like the District of Columbia, its own entity?
    Zman
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    NYC, Chicago, and even Los Angeles implemented their own codes before either the states or the national entities did. Every one of them is still bigger than most states.
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