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My new-to-me steam system.

Kahooli
Kahooli Member Posts: 112
https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B4UzDZ2eO6gKSWV0VHpnT0FrM1U

I bought a house in really rough shape. I've been working on some of the major systems like getting working plumbing and modernizing as much of the electrical as possible without ripping plaster down. Sealing windows and doors against the elements. etc.

Well it's soon to be winter in Ohio, I'll be moving in soon, and I knew nothing about steam heating systems.
I bought The Lost Art and scoured the resources of this site and others.

I suspected the main vents to be leaking due to the amount of rusty film on the outside of them. I also saw their location is not in accordance with either DH or the boiler manufacturer's recommendations. Took the vents off, one passed air easily when upside down. The other somewhat sealed. Boiled bother in vinegar, lot's of junk came out, not much luck in getting either to appear functional. For this winter, I am leaving the location alone, but I have added an "antler" to try to protect the new Gorton#2's from any water hammer at the end of the dry return. I left room to add more vents in parallel as the main's will take a while to vent even with a #2 on each leg. (I have a spreadsheet I'll have to upload with all the pipe sizes and lengths)

I cranked the pressuretrol cut in and delta down to the boiler's recommendations (I noted the original settings). (this will likely get adjusted a bit to balance things.

As can be seen in the photo album the headers are copper. Again, gonna have to stay this way for this winter. At least the dimensions and pipe size all followed the minimums set forth by the boiler manufacturer. I ordered the rolled ASJ insulation to insulate the headers and connections to the main. 2" thick for the 2.5" sections, 1.5" thick for where it goes down to 2"/1.5" pipe. I hope ill be able to reuse the insulation when/if I convert from the copper header to a fancy steel drop header.
The mains slope adequately from the beginning all the way to the dry return. I can't tell if there are any sags due to the asbestos wrap :neutral: But hey, at least they're insulated! Each copper connection to the mains has sagged a bit and one has a low spot at a 90. The joists above boiler have some old termite damage that allowed the pipe support to sag a bit. So I'll be putting a support in to try to remove the sag in the copper, and possibly cut out the double 90 connection and replace it with two 45s. I don't want to have water hammer at all, least of all that close to the boiler.
( yes, those joists will all be getting sistered and jacked true again, but Rome wasn't built in a day)

I have a number of replacement radiator valves, radiator air vents, TRVs for the bedrooms, etc on the way.

Anyway, This thread will serve as a bit of a journal/blog of me getting this steam sytem tip top again. More later!


Comments

  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,470
    My house was built in 1918 so I understand what your dealing with, I've been here for 35 years and still fixing things. It sounds like your heading in the right direction, if you can find and fix the low hanging fruit you should be ok for this heating season. Finding and sealing air leaks is the best bang for your buck as far as the building envelope goes.

    Keep us informed on your progress.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    @Kahooli , where do you live in Ohio?
    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
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    It may be too late if the insulation is already ordered, but iron pipe size has a larger OD than copper. The insulation for the 2.5" copper might fit on the 2" IPS etc. FWIW
  • Kahooli
    Kahooli Member Posts: 112
    @vaporvac Cincinnati
    @JUGHNE I know that it's larger, I was thinking I might be able to peel out a layer. :cheap:
    JUGHNE
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    I'm in Cinncinati, as well! I'm just a homeowner with a 2-pipe Trane VaporVacuum system, but with the help of everyone here I was able to get my system running great and planned, designed and installed wonderful twinned replacement boilers with new piping. Kremig is the place for insulation. I posted about them prior with info on who to ask for to get a discount. Feel free to ask away... I'm pretty familiar with what the area has to offer in terms of material and personnel.
    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
  • Kahooli
    Kahooli Member Posts: 112
    not the cleanest job, but I learned a bit for next time.
    https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B4UzDZ2eO6gKM2ZKV1NpRU14X0U?usp=sharing
  • Kahooli
    Kahooli Member Posts: 112
    Fired it up for the first time earlier this week. Took about 10 mins from call till the main vents closed (I bought a couple big mouths at the recommendation of this forum). The two mains have one BM and one G#2. Took about another 10-15 mins till the third floor radiators got steam. They have very old vents so I will monitor them for leaks, but hey- they work.
    I replaced all vents on the second floor, each room heats about the same time despite being on different mains.
    The radiator in the breakfast nook has a cheap $6 Menard's vent and my goodness it vented fast and put out a tonne of heat. The under-sink kitchen radiator is on an uninsulated leg into the garage. It heats slowly despite having a varivent on it. lots of steam condensing in the pipe. Ill have to figure out how to insulate it... its just plaster over wire mesh lath for "insulation".
    The newer gorton 40s (preexisting) in the living room rads vent really slow. REALLY SLOW. 2nd floor rads were hot across all columns before the living room ones closed their vents.

    I really need to find and purchase a radiator for the dining room.
    I don't know why they removed it, but the rest of the house hit 70s while the dining room was still 60. I think they may have removed it, relocated the thermostat there, in an attempt to get the rest of the house hot.

    Well, the failed main vents, failing radiator vents, uninsulated copper headers, poorly pitched rads, etc probably were the root of their issues. I want my dining room radiator back! Gah! This system WILL be balanced before the end of the year :wink:
    And it'll be sup[er comfy.

  • Kahooli
    Kahooli Member Posts: 112
    Oh right. No banging and water hammer. One valve leaks a bit, I think I caused it when I moved it to level it (I'll try re-seating the nipple)
    And pressure never registered on the gauge while I did that test. I need to add a 5lb gauge at some point.

    On start up, I swear the water line surged up 4 inches at least, above the sight glass. Sight glass got mucked up when it started running.The boiler water is very dirty. So I'm not sure if what I saw was just an illusion. I swear the water line was way too high after it turned on.
    I drained the mud leg, boiler return, and front drain of the heavy gunk before and after I ran the boiler (didn't let any fresh water in after the cycle)

    Anything I can do to clean it out before the heating season? Any needed chemicals that help? The auto-feed is straight from GCWW into the drop down from dry to wet return after the vents. I intend to monitor how much water is added during the real heating season after I move in next weekend.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,877
    It probably needs to be skimmed -- which is a horribly tedious process, but can work wonders. The various oils sit on top of the water, naturally, and interfere with the boiling. There should be a skim port on the boiler (but I wouldn't bet on it), and the procedure is simple enough -- open that port and, with the boiler just on the simmer point (you'll have to control that by hand) and the water level just high enough to let a slow stream out of the port, let it run that way for an hour or so. Add a little fresh water as needed to keep the water level right for that slow stream. As I say, tedious. But probably worth it...

    Some people here swear by various chemicals. Some people here swear at them. You'll have to take that for yourself! I don't like to use any chemicals at all, and have never needed to.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,470
    If the boiler water is really dirty I would drain and refill it a couple of times to try and get rid of the crud (do this when the boiler is just warm or cold). When you fill it up for the last time run the boiler up to steam for a while to drive off any oxygen in the fresh water. Then you can do a skim as Jamie suggested.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Kahooli
    Kahooli Member Posts: 112
    I will try skimming/flushing the boiler today. Im pretty sure there's no convenient skim port sadly. I could remove a header plug as the pipe come out of the boiler with a tee, not an elbow. But I'm not sure I have a wrench and cheater bar big enough for that job. Nor do I want to fark something up and not have heat!

    Also. I think I made an error in my venting, sadly. I didn't realize that the Big Mouth had a capacity greater than a 1/2" pipe. I currently have a 3/4 pipe teed to two 1/2, one to the BM one to a #2. I will have to change it out to a 3/4 soon. Originally I was going to have 2 #2's where this would have been fine. Darn.
    Ah well, it's only a few dollars worth of fittings. Ill find a way to reuse them.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Kahooli said:

    I will try skimming/flushing the boiler today. Im pretty sure there's no convenient skim port sadly. I could remove a header plug as the pipe come out of the boiler with a tee, not an elbow. But I'm not sure I have a wrench and cheater bar big enough for that job. Nor do I want to fark something up and not have heat!

    Also. I think I made an error in my venting, sadly. I didn't realize that the Big Mouth had a capacity greater than a 1/2" pipe. I currently have a 3/4 pipe teed to two 1/2, one to the BM one to a #2. I will have to change it out to a 3/4 soon. Originally I was going to have 2 #2's where this would have been fine. Darn.
    Ah well, it's only a few dollars worth of fittings. Ill find a way to reuse them.

    A 1/2" pipe will vent 4.8 CFM at 3 ounces of pressure. That is more than enough for a bigmouth that vents 3.6 CFM @ 3 ounces. That 1/2" pipe should be fine.
  • adambnyc
    adambnyc Member Posts: 260
    Might I recommend the Gerry gill wand to clean out your boiler. You build it yourself. You should find the skim port on your boiler and see if you can get it open.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=q1tw9rz-pUk
  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    Kahooli said:



    Also. I think I made an error in my venting, sadly. I didn't realize that the Big Mouth had a capacity greater than a 1/2" pipe. I currently have a 3/4 pipe teed to two 1/2, one to the BM one to a #2. I will have to change it out to a 3/4 soon. Originally I was going to have 2 #2's where this would have been fine. Darn.
    Ah well, it's only a few dollars worth of fittings. Ill find a way to reuse them.

    As Fred said, 1/2" pipe is plenty. The real restriction is the tailpiece where it's hexagonal. I also have a 1/2" tailpiece that I can swap out but in this case it's probably easier if you give the Big Mouth a 3/4" pipe and leave the 1/2" pipe for the Gorton.

    Since you have both on there...see how long it takes for each to vent your main by themselves.
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ