Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Im up all night with stress, help me "super dan holohan!"

matthew_rogers
matthew_rogers Member Posts: 33
edited January 2016 in Strictly Steam
I Fixed sub ground leak, now super water hammer after a couple hours

Back story data:
Older system looks installed by a home owner in mid 70s.
Piping seems odd (sizing changes, pitches are rather level) but has worked for decades
I Just bought the house, this is 1st winter in it.
Steam system changed in early90s to sepparate 1st floor heating to hydronic.
Steam system now just heats the tennant unit upstairs 2nd fl & 3rd fl.
System was sepparated using copper pipe 3/4" to deliver steam
System has a 1" copper pipe delivering steam to the attic.
System heated slowly (10 mins) but it did heat up and it did so quietly.
System remained quiet to the best of my knowledge over the years and never acted up during tests.
There are 4 small radiators on second floor, and 1 long one in the attic bedroom

Last few weeks:
Getting cold, and tenants running boiler
Refilling constantly revealed All the sub basement slab wet returns were leaking.
I spent weeks cutting concrete, re-threading, re-piping and pitching
I included deep pits to drain the 2 wet returns (a left and a right) as needed in the future.
Fresh water in, drained iut some serious crud and fired it up.
Sight glass water moves a bit but doesnt jump. No condesation. Mild discolouration.
Oil burner cleaning serivice said its an older 90s boiler but its in excellent shape.

Problem:
after a couole hours i checked the boiler again
i noticed the low water level and could hear raging boiling water inside.
Then the auto feeder began to fill it up
Then the branch to the 3rd floor began to bang violently. (This line is 1" copper)

Im up all night stressing. House cold. And want to do my part before calling plumber because dan holohan taught me how the principles involved are like so many intuitive things we kearned as children. Thanks for the inspiration and for helping make so many of these thing clearer and clearer in your writings and videos.

Tomorrow i will check all radiator pitches

N.b. The banging 1" copper line is the only line in the basement that i can see that has a main vent on it.
N.b. I have not checked the water ph

Help?

Comments

  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    edited January 2016
    Is this one-pipe or two?
    Probably a good skimming is in order, after all that new pipe work. The oils have finally risen into the boiler, and are causing violent boiling throwing lots of water up into the system.
    The pigtail may also be plugged allowing the pressure to get too high.
    Turn off the valve to the auto feed, so you know if you have permanent water loss still.--NBC
  • matthew_rogers
    matthew_rogers Member Posts: 33
    #1 i have a one pipe steam system

    #2 have not skimmed yet (but i considered testing the water from the boiler on the stove to boil it and see if it foams before i set up a skim tap) (i assumed that had to be performed on the skimmed water only... am i correct? [yes i know oil floats])

    #3 i very much to know if my pigtail is crystal clean also!... ive not checked it yet, good idea.... if its plugged i thought there was a safety to override boiler function. i figured if it fired up, it was communicating with the pressuretrol. right?/wrong?

    #4 i did already cut the power to the boiler during the super-rock-drum-solo it started playing. then drained a bit of the new feed water. since the water is now cooled it has all returned to the sight glass. since i drained some i no longer can tell if i lost water during running. I will be performing that test after everybody wakes up (it is 3am here now). to clarify: i assume your last troubleshooting idea suggests a leak might occur during the boil up in the walls where i cant see them. might i have vents that are stuck open?

    thanks a ton for replying to my msg, no one replied to my last post. i appreciate your time!
  • New England SteamWorks
    New England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,502
    1. True or false: As far as you now, everything was quiet until you replaced the leaky returns?

    2. As always, photos of boiler and it's piping would be a great help.

    3. Definitely skim and clean the pigtail

    4. Turn off the auto-feeder & run. After cycle or low-water cut-off, wait to see if water returns to original level or if low-water level remains.

    5. "System was separated using copper pipe 3/4" to deliver steam System has a 1" copper pipe delivering steam to the attic."
    More detail please.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    New piping installed?
    Skim boiler.
    End of story.
  • matthew_rogers
    matthew_rogers Member Posts: 33

    1. True or false: As far as you now, everything was quiet until you replaced the leaky returns?

    2. As always, photos of boiler and it's piping would be a great help.

    3. Definitely skim and clean the pigtail

    4. Turn off the auto-feeder & run. After cycle or low-water cut-off, wait to see if water returns to original level or if low-water level remains.

    5. "System was separated using copper pipe 3/4" to deliver steam System has a 1" copper pipe delivering steam to the attic."
    More detail please.

    #1 true= quiet system
    #2 can i upload a short vid?
    #3 working on skimming and cleaning now. not done yet. lots of old stuck pipes. and rust screws i'm taking care not to ruin
    #4 i have not tried the recycle yet seeing as i started cleaning and did not want to work with boiling water. shall i do this test first in your opinion?
    #5 true and false= system separated with diverse pipe sizes. overall, 3/4 copper was used to change over to hydronic 1st fl AND to pipe to the steam on 2nd floor! 3rd floor attic is 1" copper

    I want to replace all steam lines to manufacture specs and dan Holohans written advice, but right now i have to get through till spring. thats my agenda for now... perfection and redo it all in may when things warm up around here
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,901
    The fundamental problem -- there may be others -- is that a 1" pipe -- of any material is too small -- way too small -- for the heating load. One radiator you might get away with it -- on two pipe. More than one? You have condensate going one way and steam the other, and all of it in that tiny little pipe.

    I don't think so...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • matthew_rogers
    matthew_rogers Member Posts: 33

    The fundamental problem -- there may be others -- is that a 1" pipe -- of any material is too small -- way too small -- for the heating load.

    i completely agree and also hate what im seeing here
    but in this existing system has been running fine but had large sub-slab leaks. All leaks are fixed now. but boiler not skimmed yet.
    ---i will be bringing all pipes back to 2" and 1.25" as manufacture requires, but till then i have a cold house and tenants. i'm hoping to stop the banging and get through till spring weather conditions.

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Keep skimming and make sure the pressure is as low as you can get it and that the Pressuretrol/pigtail are not clogged. I am amazed it worked, at all, with piping that size. I'm guessing you have the pressure cranked up trying to push steam through those small pipes and that pressure is preventing the condensate from returning to the boiler. It is already handicapped with 3/4" and 1" pipe.
    JUGHNE
  • matthew_rogers
    matthew_rogers Member Posts: 33
    Fred said:

    I'm guessing you have the pressure cranked up trying to push steam through those small pipes and that pressure is preventing the condensate from returning to the boiler.

    i did not crank the pressure up to push the steam.
    but had a breakthrough today thanks to the forum, holohan's books, and lots of thinking:
    the pressure was already at 2lbs. and running fine until i replaced the clogged wet returns. i know the systems are designed to run at that max.

    but since i removed all the clogged pipes the water was not restricted anymore and is happy now running at 1/2 pound!



  • matthew_rogers
    matthew_rogers Member Posts: 33
    update after two straight days of stress and work and studying up. Thank you to those who have been helping me troubleshoot this pipe-drumsolo i have had.

    the latest:
    pigtail spotless clean, some very minor dirt but not anymore.
    gauges working, flowtrol working, waterlines working, drains working. ph normal.

    lots of freed junk from the fresh water running through the pipes. some packing the low water cutoff drain valve (more on that later)

    i have not skimmed yet due to the fact that i thoroughly cleaned all pipes and fittings with acetone prior to assembly.

    I lowered the flowtrol to .5 lb
    water levels have not changed once water has cooled.
    and ruled out that the flowtrol was broken
    ruled out that the LWCO was clogged

    my theory: the water poundage was set to 2lbs because the wet returns were packed with gunk. once this has been free'd up, the poundage was way too high for my system. (although 2lbs was great before, since i have changed the flow i needed go back to the setting's basics.

    this seems to have done the trick for tonight. i can sleep.
    i will switch the drain valve in the type67 LWCO and open the relief to add some boiler conditioner tomorrow. water is clean, not bouncing too much and tenants had heat held at 60 degrees tonight. up until the boiler shut off 1hr ago, but i think that is the thermostat doing its job.... frankly, every time it starts and stops my brain is on high alert :)

    final point, im very hesitant to open a 30yr old skim port that never has been opened before... the diagram shows a rubber gasket behind the plate. id hate to weaken it.
  • matthew_rogers
    matthew_rogers Member Posts: 33
    everything is working perfectly for last couple days.

    update:
    #1 removed and replaced blow off valve while introducing a pipe configuration that acts as a funnel for boiler cleaner on one side and blow off on the other.

    #2 introduced boiler cleaner (liquid form)

    #3 maintained boiler pressure at 1/2 lb vs 2 where it WAS set.

    #4 removed old leaking pipe ad portions of the Low Water Cut Off and replaced with ball valve and new pipe

    #5 replaced oil supply line to bring up to code specs and feed it down the new trench i've built

    #6 thermostat functioning as it should but programming is overriding user settings (for now)

    #7 pigtail clean, pressure reading accurately

    #8 pipes are undersized leading to the radiators but no more shaking at current moment.

    everyone happy and sleeping through the night.

    Thanks for feedback to the few folks that offered assistance.