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pin hole leak in return line

I have a one pipe steam heat system in my 100 year old house and I recently discovered a pin hole in the return line in my basement. Is there any way to fix a pin hole leak or do I need to replace the entire length of pipe?

Comments

  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    There are ways, but pinholes rarely form in ones. I would suggest a temporary patch using silicone tape or epoxy so you can make it through the heating season. Once the weather warms up, further investigation (low pressure testing of the isolated return system) would be a good idea.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,328
    SWEI is absolutely right -- where there is a pinhole, there will be pinholes. Multiple. I have seen a return turn itself into a very passable sieve...

    The good news is that when you do go to replace it this spring, presuming that it is a wet return, you can do it in copper if you like.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.
    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,072
    Many inexpensive pipe clamps are available - check link below. Put on one of these and you will have plenty of time to plan the replacement.

    http://www.mcmaster.com/#pipe-repair-clamps/=w1ez3s
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
  • Larry_52
    Larry_52 Member Posts: 181
    Piece of split radiator hose and hose clamp will work. Power clamps like listed on McMaster Carr are great but a little over kill for a temp repair pin hole on a wet return. Are you adding a lot of make up water to the boiler?
  • geoffray
    geoffray Member Posts: 6
    Thanks for all the advice. Are you sure that i can replace the section of pipe with the pin hole with copper? It's 16 feet long so i would bet that would save me a ton of cash.
  • geoffray
    geoffray Member Posts: 6
    I'm not sure how much water is being added as i have an auto feeder. I have a garbage can under the hole and it seems to collect 3 or 4 cups of water per week when the heat is running a lot.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,620
    edited February 2015
    A wet return can be run in copper, a wet return is below the water line of the boiler. What you have there in the picture is a dry return so you should NOT run that in copper as steam can get into that pipe. Once it goes below the water line you can transition to copper. Are you sure that is a return pipe in the picture? It looks big for a return pipe and in the back I can see what appears to be a take off for a radiator.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • geoffray
    geoffray Member Posts: 6
    Now that you say that, I see that it does appear to feed several more radiators after the pin hole. So my calling it a return was incorrect.
    Can i still use one of the clamps mentioned above as a temporary fix?
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,620
    As a temporary I don't see a huge issue. You definitely need to get it fixed in warmer weather and for sure use black pipe and cast iron fittings. Having a leak in a main like that is unusual. I would do a system evaluation for proper slope and make sure you are making nice dry steam. It could just be a fluke, but it's always good to make sure everything is okay.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • geoffray
    geoffray Member Posts: 6
    Will do. I'm pretty sure the pipe was sagging in that area when i bought the house in 2008. I bought the Heating Help book and used some pipe hangers to adjust the angle myself and got rid of some banging in the process.
    How can i make sure i am making dry steam?
    Does anyone have a recommendation for a steam pro in northern new jersey?
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,620
    The sagging most likely was the issue, water laying in those pipes can be a killer. The dry steam is really a function of boiler piping. If your steam was too wet you would probably know it already in the function of the system. In NJ this is who you call without question. @JStar
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/thatcher-heating-and-air-conditioning
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
    RobG
  • geoffray
    geoffray Member Posts: 6
    Thanks for all your help KC Jones. I will definitely reach out to them.
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