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Base-Ray, Baseray, Base Ray in one pipe steam

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Hi all.

Need some perspective here.
This house, which has probably been had by everyone with a wrench on Long Island, has some issues.

We bought the house with a dead boiler, and with near zero time to learn a thing, had a local plumber replace it with the same unit (pics). WM 175btu.

I knew I had jokers when they said it wasn’t important to walk through the house. When I was told that water hammer will work itself out, and ‘the vents are probably fine’ when I asked a day after install, I found this site, bought some books, and went to work.

I solved many of the issues immediately correcting radiator pitch, changing vents (vari valve, kinda regret…somewhat), and insulating with 1” fiberglass. I also found a ROTTED riser to second floor rad BLOWING steam while tracking a leaking waste stack (prob from steam hitting it, it’s a vertical drop..). I did a temp repair cutting out the rotted section (4”) and replacing with a car radiator hose and 4 hose clamps. That helped enormously, of course.

This allowed to lower pstat to about ½ and 1, in/out. Nice change.

I replaced main vents with a single Gorton 1 (on advice of local plumbing supply shop) on end of each main. I have a feeling you will ALL feel differently, after what I’ve read here so far.

Mains are 2”. One is about 18’, the other nearly 40’. I hear air exiting at about 1 minute on the long run, same on short run.

QUESTION:
First floor has 3 BASE-RAY baseboards, each with a return pipe going to (I think) dry returns. There is a steam trap on each return – yet each has a vent on the radiator. Is this right? PS – I removed the vents and plugged, that DID not help – mostly cold rad’s), I reversed.
One return pipe (3/4”), gets steam hot, and bangs like hell about halfway to 2/3 through the cycle.
BaseRay return winds down to trap (Hoffman 17), goes a foot into a corner (bangs HERE), and runs (6’) to return. This pipe is barely pitched towards the return, by the way. I don’t think that steam is passing the trap from return pie, but pipe is HOT.

The BaseRay in the living room never fully heats, though it’s 10’ long and away from the tstat. The trap on that one looks a hundred years old, and only shows ARCO. I’ve never felt this rad get hot all over.

Should these just get piped back to wet return and use rad vents?

I don’t want to be the next guy to abandon the original engineering here; just the opposite actually.

Thank you all in advance, for your time in replying. Please see pics.

Adam





Comments

  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    None of your JPG's loaded.

    If the house has steam, it probably is older if it has Base ray. It must have worked once until the boiler died when the previous owner sold it.

    If the boiler was replaced, it was probably replaced by a Wethead, claiming to be a Steamhead. Its probably wrong. If when the Wethead was done, and it was banging and clanking, he/she did an unacceptable job. I doubt that the original owners put up with that racket.

    Please try to post the photos again. Some here enjoy the entertainment and like to help resolve issues.

    If the I/O manual for the new boiler is there (which is should be), look and see if it is piped like the manufacturer says it must be.

    If the supply is piped with copper tube, the installer is a Wethead.

    IMO.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
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    I think the forum is having problems with images the past couple of days. If you want, post the images up to imgur or photobucket and post the link here.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,750
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    Dan said the image issue has been fixed so the OP should be good to re-post the pictures.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • handbanana
    handbanana Member Posts: 24
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    Ok cool, re-posting now.
    Looks kinda weird, please let me if this worked.







  • handbanana
    handbanana Member Posts: 24
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    sorry for sideways boiler pics
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
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    I'm wondering if the traps are bad, if you only get get in the rads with the vents on.
  • handbanana
    handbanana Member Posts: 24
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    Previous owner was using the house as a rental and cheaped it everywhere. By the size of the rot in the riser that I mentioned, it's not possible that this system was working well, before I got here. See pics.
    All steel pipe, except for copper return near boiler. Actually, I'd like to replace the entire wet return, it's old as the house. Can/should I use copper?



  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
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    for wet returns, copper is ok.
  • handbanana
    handbanana Member Posts: 24
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    yeah traps were the first thing I thought of once I knew what I was looking at. Would that account for steam entering return? Account for water hammer?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Is it just the picture or is that return in your second picture, and maybe even the third picture pitched the wrong way?
  • handbanana
    handbanana Member Posts: 24
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    Fred - good eye.
    Description reflecting new pics:
    The black return with the bronze Hoffman 17 is pitched SLIGHTLY towards the elbow. From the elbow towards dry return is pitched a bit more..approx 3/8" over 6'. Hammers at elbow.

    The white return from lr baseboard drops down at a 45, to straight drop to horizontal ( with ARCO trap) to return.
    After checking, the horizontal return (arco) is slightly pitched TOWARD T of vertical pipe. This base ray never fully heats.
    All mains pitch toward boiler.

    I've read that baseray returns can go directly to wet return and use rad vents. As kc said, vents may have been added to mask a problem, like the gaping hole in the one riser. I hope others aren't like that, I haven't opened those walls yet.
  • handbanana
    handbanana Member Posts: 24
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    sorry Abracadabra, gave KC credit for your comment re vents/traps
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,675
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    BaseRay can go to a wet return, but it doesn't have to. If it does, it needs a vent; if it doesn't, it doesn't. that said -- if the traps are remote, such as yours are, the pipes leading to them from the BaseRay must have a strong pitch towards the trap. Level, or worse, pitched back, and they will hammer (usually... water hammer plays by its own rules, seems to me). Worse, condensate lying in the flat pipe will restrict the flow of air out of the radiator or BaseRay. This may be part of your problem.

    The boiler piping is ... not really right. Leave it be until spring, or at least until this Siberian weather goes back to Russia where it belongs.

    Copper is fine for wet returns. Not for anywhere above the water line, though.

    Dry returns must be vented -- not just steam mains.

    You'll get it fixed up!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    If you can get some more pitch, in the right direction on those returns, that will likely take care of the hammer issue.
  • handbanana
    handbanana Member Posts: 24
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    ok guys, this is very helpful, thanks again.

    Jamie - if possible, could you tell me what is not right with the boiler piping?

    Your point about remote traps and pitch make perfect sense, especially water blocking air. Funny thing is, I never hear a thing from this run, and (again) that baseRay never gets hot past halfway. EVEN with vent all the way open (varivalve).

    The dine (black return) baseray gets hot, but I get hammer in the elbow past the trap. Again, I bet pitch is the problem.

    PS - a testament to the fact that insulation works - tangibly: This hammer started AFTER I INSULATED! Never a peep before.
    Those returns should remain uninsulated - correct?

    Any more about steam entering the return?

    Where do I vent dry returns? The vents seem to be at the end of the main, but also at the top of the return. There is another short run after the vent on the long run.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU

  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
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    The LR return level picture shows your return pitched incorrectly. You show condensate flow going from right to left, but the left side is pitched higher than the right.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    The one obvious error with the boiler piping is that the second main is tee's off of the same riser as the first main. Each of those mains should be tied into the header individually.
    j a_2
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,675
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    Couple of comments here --

    The returns don't need to be insulated -- they should never have steam in them. If they do, it is either a bad trap or, sometimes, a wet return or water seal which is too high for a newer boiler. I'd look at bad traps first.

    Actually the boiler piping isn't that bad. The only ting I'm not really happy with is that you have a relatively short header, then it drops down and goes over to the vertical equalizer. But I doubt that it will give you problems that way, so I'd leave it be.

    Oddly the dry return venting is pretty flexible, so long as the venting is after the last radiator return. Much more flexible than a steam main venting! The only exceptions are some vapour systems, but not to worry about that here.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • handbanana
    handbanana Member Posts: 24
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    so, Abra, do you agree that this could result in a half heated baseray? I get ZERO hammer from this run.

    How can I confirm traps are working? The dine and kitchen (which I haven't mentioned, same deal so why repeat) traps look newer, that lr one is ancient
  • handbanana
    handbanana Member Posts: 24
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    I need to read this when I get home tonight. Running out for work.
    Kinda can't wait. This is fascinating.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    edited February 2015
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    so, Abra, do you agree that this could result in a half heated baseray? I get ZERO hammer from this run.

    I like to fix problems as they are found. And if it fixes the issue, so much the better. If there's water sitting in that return and it is actually pitched the wrong way, it could reduce the venting in that run and consequently lead to slower heating of that baseray.


    How can I confirm traps are working? The dine and kitchen (which I haven't mentioned, same deal so why repeat) traps look newer, that lr one is ancient

    You should have a temperature differential across the trap. Hot side should be 210-220, cold side should be a bit below that maybe 170-180. If it's same temp in and out then trap is stuck open. If the trap isn't getting hot then it's probably stuck closed.

    This is somewhere a IR camera comes in real handy. You can do a quick check using a laser thermometer, but with an IR picture it'll be real obvious.
    handbanana
  • handbanana
    handbanana Member Posts: 24
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    Guys this is great thanks again. I'm gonna digest this all and make some changes asap. Starting with pitch and traps.

    If anyone needs any FREE home audio and video advice, I'd love to pay it back. Not looking for jobs, just want to offer something in return. Hope it's not inappropriate here.

    I'll close this
  • handbanana
    handbanana Member Posts: 24
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    Hit post by accident. Will close this as answered. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions.

    Take care.
    Adam