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New steam owner w/ spitting radiators

Hey everyone, I was hoping someone could help me out. My wife and I just moved into a house with steam heating (Dunkirk PVSB-4D) in Buffalo and we're having a couple problems. We have no money for a contractor but I'm very handy in general -- do my own home repairs, build furniture, have worked on my gas lines, etc. Steam is new and foreign to me.

1. My glass sight is leaking. I've seen some posts on how to replace this so I'm going to do that.
2. I have multiple radiators that hiss and spit -- one of them so much you can't stand next to it without getting hit with boiling water bits, even through the radiator cover. I have attached a picture of that trouble maker with the cover off and it's spitting mouth. (My 'CUT IN' is set at 2 psi)

My main problem, that I'm assuming is caused by these things, is that with the really cold weather here, my furnace runs out of water (little red light, furnace shuts off, have to add more water) once every couple of days unless I add water periodically.

Am I correct in assuming that my main problem is caused by those two issues?
What is the solution to issue no 2?

I really appreciate any help I can get!

Comments

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,653
    edited November 2014
    Post pictures of your boiler and piping. The problem rad could possibly be a piping/boiler problem. One thing is for sure, turn that pressure down! Adjust that pressuretrol down as low as it will go on the scale and then open the cover and make sure the white wheel inside is set to 1. You could also have a bad radiator valve, BUT try turning the pressure down first. I will say the vent looks old so it's possible it has gone bad, they don't last forever especially if your system has been running at the higher pressures. If you are planning on doing some of your own work as you say, I would highly recommend buying a couple of books off this site especially "We got steam heat" and The Lost Art of Steam Heating". The second is actually available electronically now for a few dollars less than the paper copy which is nice if you like that.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • tinkertaylor
    tinkertaylor Member Posts: 7
    Here are pictures of boiler and surrounding piping, as well as what I assume is the pressuretrol with its current setting.
    To be clear, are you saying I should remove the cover of the pressuretrol and turn a white wheel to 1?
  • tinkertaylor
    tinkertaylor Member Posts: 7
    I will definitely grab one of those books as well.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,653
    Yes there is one screw on the front of the pressuretrol, loosen that and remove the cover then make sure the wheel is on 1. @Steamhead another Dunkirk. As far as your piping goes, well copper is a huge no no on steam systems. In addition to that you have some piping issues that you should either have fixed or consider fixing yourself. There isn't a proper header. Do this, if you don't have the manual (installer probably threw it away judging by that job) go on the Dunkirk website and look at the manual for that model boiler. Dunkirk has a nice piping diagram that you can look at for comparison to what you have. It will be a good learning tool for you. Also wander off the wall there is a ton of information available on this site. Here are a couple links to get you started. Since it is already winter I wouldn't get into a big piping job, just take care of any low hanging fruit that you can do now to get the system better. When these systems are done right and tuned in it's a wonderful thing! Welcome to the steam club!
    https://heatinghelp.com/systems-help-center/near-boiler-piping-video/
    https://heatinghelp.com/systems-help-center/copper-tubing-and-steam-systems/
    https://heatinghelp.com/systems-help-center/category/steam
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • tinkertaylor
    tinkertaylor Member Posts: 7
    Thanks so much! I appreciate the welcome! I'll definitely read those and start learning. Thanks for all your help.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Insulate your pipes. You could try replacing the radiator vent that's spitting.. could be it's not closing, but more likely due to wet steam.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,565
    I agree with what others have said, the boiler needs to be repiped unfortunately. You should run the pressuretrol as low as possible and correct piping along with proper venting will naturally lower pressure often to the point where the pressuretrol will not have to shut the burner down under normal conditions.

    Are you up to cutting most of that copper out and installing some threaded black iron?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Tolik
    Tolik Member Posts: 73
    ChrisJ said:

    lower pressure often to the point where the pressuretrol will not have to shut the burner down under normal conditions.

    This may be a dumb question but it would be dumber not to ask. What will turn the burner off?

  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,090
    The thermostat.
    ChrisJ
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,653
    Tolik said:

    ChrisJ said:

    lower pressure often to the point where the pressuretrol will not have to shut the burner down under normal conditions.

    This may be a dumb question but it would be dumber not to ask. What will turn the burner off?

    If your system is tuned properly the thermostat will turn it off all the time when it's happy. On a fair amount of systems due to "issues" the pressuretrol will shut it down on high pressure. After that if the thermostat still isn't happy and the pressure drops down the burner kicks back on. If you don't have enough vents or the boiler is over sized or both this can happy a lot. It's not very efficient to run this way. As Chris said you want the presssurtrol to basically function as a safety device and keep the pressure low with proper venting.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ChrisJ
  • tinkertaylor
    tinkertaylor Member Posts: 7
    ChrisJ said:

    I agree with what others have said, the boiler needs to be repiped unfortunately. You should run the pressuretrol as low as possible and correct piping along with proper venting will naturally lower pressure often to the point where the pressuretrol will not have to shut the burner down under normal conditions.

    Are you up to cutting most of that copper out and installing some threaded black iron?

    Thanks everyone for your useful insights! I will do all these things, and I think I'm up for it come Spring, ChrisJ! Luckily the pipes are not copper throughout, and the pipes carrying steam throughout the house are black iron. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,565

    ChrisJ said:

    I agree with what others have said, the boiler needs to be repiped unfortunately. You should run the pressuretrol as low as possible and correct piping along with proper venting will naturally lower pressure often to the point where the pressuretrol will not have to shut the burner down under normal conditions.

    Are you up to cutting most of that copper out and installing some threaded black iron?

    Thanks everyone for your useful insights! I will do all these things, and I think I'm up for it come Spring, ChrisJ! Luckily the pipes are not copper throughout, and the pipes carrying steam throughout the house are black iron. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.
    You'll get nothing, and like it! :)

    On a serious note, the piping around the boiler is extremely important and the fact it's copper isn't the biggest issue. You need a proper header and two appropriately sized risers from the boiler
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • tinkertaylor
    tinkertaylor Member Posts: 7
    I look forward to learning what all that is while reading my book, thanks again!
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,565

    I look forward to learning what all that is while reading my book, thanks again!

    Well,
    Hopefully you didn't miss it but my first line was a caddyshack quote.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • tinkertaylor
    tinkertaylor Member Posts: 7
    Oh I didn't! Well played.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    How long have you been waiting to use that line on HH, ChrisJ? :)
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,565
    vaporvac said:

    How long have you been waiting to use that line on HH, ChrisJ? :)

    A long time. :)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
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