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Seeking the wisdom of the Dead Men RE: 2-Pipe Steam

Hello all. I've read many of your posts over the last year. Glad to have found a knowledgeable group.

I bought a 1930 5, 500 sf English Tudor complete with original: single pane leaded windows; slate roof and un-insulated brick construction. We have got a 2-pipe steam system. Lots of Warren Webster components. I've seen some old literature that makes me think it is a Type R system. I don't know exactly what that implies but thought it worthy of mention.

The house was a bank foreclosure. The bank shut the gas off in November and shut the water off the following March (after neighbors saw water spraying against a basement window). The original system was likely coal so the boiler is in a deep pit, which collected much of the water. Although painful, the existing 6 year old boiler was replaced (gas train was full of water). I picked the boiler based on connected load (I.e. edr of radiators and convectors of what is in the house now). System is up and running but there is still a lot to do to green it. I am planning to replace all of the steam trap innards and either the F&T trap innards (preferred) or the whole trap. I suspect other things could be added to the system to improve efficiency.

At first I had issues getting even heat. The core of the house is nice but the extremities are significantly cooler. I am able to get all of the radiators hot but to do it I had to use a Lux thermostat with cycle and swing controls. This has caused fewer, longer cycles. There is one air vent very close to the boiler but no others, which I suspect is an area of improvement. The header breaks off into three directions, each covering a third of the house. At the end of each of these three runs (in the basement) there is a Warren Webster F&T (026TD or 026TD-1) but there are no air vents (just what the F&Ts offer - which are not making any obvious noise that would indicate any air is getting out - not sure is this is normal). There is some pipe knocking in the area. I am planning to replace all of the traps and vents as I am sure they could us it.

Question 1. Shouldn't there be air vents every 20 feet or so along the header, and with or without additional vents along the pipe are the F&T traps sufficient for venting air? These sections of pipe are slow to heat up and prior to modifying the thermostat they would not get hot.

Question 2. There is one (second floor) radiator that shows signs of a cold freeze (i.e the bottom tension rod has broken away from the cast iron sections and there is a crack in one section. I pulled this radiator out and was surprised to find how much water was in it (maybe a little over a gallon - made a pretty decent mess). This would indicate to me that condensate is not properly leaving that radiator - meaning the Warren Webster 712HB steam trap is broken (and unusually broken in the closed position). Is this how you guys see it? I looked at the trap and it has the diaphragm innards - does this indicate an original or significantly dated trap?

Question 3. Looking for some advice of approaching how to get the system running correctly (efficiently) - my current plan is to:
A. Inventory all that I've got and replace all of the traps with the capsules (based on the few that I've opened they appear to be diaphragms - I don't see a great deal of info on these online so I am guessing the capsules (Barnes and Jones or Tunstal) are the "new" way to go - maybe one of you can shed some light on that issue as well.
B. Insulate a few sections of pipe in the basement that are currently un-insulated (in hopes of greater efficiency and in an effort to quiet noisy pipes).
C. Add air vents per Question 1 - in an effort to even the heat.


There are a whole bunch of other things I could ask or write about here but I don't want my first post to be over whelming so I've given sort of an introduction. I have attached a couple pics to give a flavor - will post more if interested...imageimageimageimageimage
Robert Roles, P.E.

Comments

  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,179
    Well, you definitely have the Cadillac of heating in that house. Excellent sunset pic, by the way.

    The Webster Type R system had both an air trap (sometimes several air traps) and a Return Trap. The Return Trap is placed near the boiler, and is basically a steam-powered pump that can return the condensate to the boiler if its pressure gets too high. Without the Return Trap it was called the Modulation system.

    Those F&T traps will need to be replaced, which will involve some piping changes. Most times when you try to take them apart, the bolts break off. To determine how much air venting you need, post the length and diameter of each of your steam mains. Sometimes an F&T trap's venting is fine, sometimes you need more.

    Sounds like the frozen radiator had a bad trap that allowed water to accumulate in it. That's pretty much the only way a steam rad can freeze. The Webster company is long gone, so the B&J or Tunstall parts are the way to go.

    And insulate those steam pipes as best you can.

    Post some pics of the boiler area and some radiators as well. We love this stuff.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • RNJRolesRNJRoles Member Posts: 4
    Thank you Steamhead -

    Sure enough I've got a vent trap and a return trap near the boiler - that's what brought me to the Type R conclusion. These things a pretty substantial. I've attached pics.
    Robert Roles, P.E.
  • SailahSailah Member Posts: 826
    Hi Robert, I think we spoke recently. Those old Webster traps are beasts, we have the thermostatic elements for them but the floats are long gone. I think Steamhead and Gordo are pretty experienced with them, that's who we did the rebuild for I sent the youtube link.

    I believe those have enough ports on them you might be able to test to atmosphere using a bucket underneath a street elbow to catch the condensate.

    I'm also happy to test any diaphragms or cage units you suspect are bad. If they are diaphragms they would typically fail open, bellows would fail closed.
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
  • RNJRolesRNJRoles Member Posts: 4
    Thanks Sailah - yes we did speak. Thanks a bunch for the help. I'll have a look at traps and see what I can do to test.

    I think I need to check my nomenclature. See Pics - Diaphragm or bellows? I wanted to say diaphragm because of the thin round shape but there is some accordion folds - and I am pretty sure this failed closed as its the only way I can see a radiator freezing.

    This is from a Warren Webster 712HB.
    Robert Roles, P.E.
  • PMJPMJ Member Posts: 1,050
    Robert, I can't really see but is there an automatic damper on that flue? I have a 2 pipe system in 1926 construction same as yours. Putting one on made a huge difference in my place.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,179
    RNJRoles said:

    Thanks Sailah - yes we did speak. Thanks a bunch for the help. I'll have a look at traps and see what I can do to test.

    I think I need to check my nomenclature. See Pics - Diaphragm or bellows? I wanted to say diaphragm because of the thin round shape but there is some accordion folds - and I am pretty sure this failed closed as its the only way I can see a radiator freezing.

    This is from a Warren Webster 712HB.

    That is a diaphragm-type trap element. A bellows type would be taller, not as big around and have a lot more corrugations.

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • SailahSailah Member Posts: 826
    What steam head said
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
  • ChapstickChapstick Member Posts: 64
    Nice house Robert. I love old houses myself. I hope you make lots of money !
  • ChapstickChapstick Member Posts: 64
    I was just contemplating on jumping on a 1864 Italianate mansion. Place was sick, all original plaster crowns and marble fireplaces. Truly a beautiful home. I chickened out. Too much $$$. I'm finished doing old homes.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,500
    Anyone who loves antique homes is Neverdone doing old homes. :)
    vaporvacCanucker
  • RNJRolesRNJRoles Member Posts: 4

    That is a diaphragm-type trap element. A bellows type would be taller, not as big around and have a lot more corrugations.



    Thank you - so whats the right thing to do? Stick with diaphragms (are they still available) or swap everything out for capsules? What are the pros and cons?
    Robert Roles, P.E.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,179
    Go with the capsule kits- that's pretty much all you can get anymore.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc

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