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Webster System (in wall) Maintenance

Hello Everyone,

Last summer I bought a home with Webster System radiators (convectors) that are recessed in the wall as described in this catalog ( The home was built in 1952 and the current boiler was installed in 1993. I doubt that any maintenance has been preformed since then. Steam heat is very unusual in this part of Jersey and it took me a while to find someone who would agree to come out and service the boiler. They did a basic flush and systems check, but I have been learning a lot more reading the resources on this site.

The heat seems to be working well. I have heard a little knocking but not too often. Reading the forums it seems it would be wise to replace the thermostatic traps on the radiators. Is this something I should wait till spring and do it all at once? There are a lot of them and he system has 2 zones. I suppose I could do the smaller zone and see how it goes. How do I choose a replacement part, I really have no idea where to start?

I also think the water level is far to high on the boiler, but thats a question for another post. Thank you for any advice you may have.


  • BobCBobC Posts: 5,071Member
    Have you tested the traps? when the radiator is hot the output side of the trap should be 10-15 degrees less than the input.

    Some pictures of the traps would help. One of the members of this board works at Barnes and Jones so he will know what you need.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 6,548Member
    Pictures of the boiler, near boiler piping and steam traps will help. The MFG. name can usually be found on the trap.

    Radiator traps should all be replaced at the same time otherwise an existing bad trap could ruin the new traps. I would suggest a copy of Dan's book "the lost art of steam heating"
  • tcnjdelucatcnjdeluca Posts: 29Member
    I will take some pictures tomorrow. On the traps, is there a 'housing' who's interior can changed out, or does the entire thing need to be taken off the radiator and replaced?
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 12,128Member
    Most traps are built so that the cover can be taken off (sometimes with some difficulty!) and the interior cartridge can be replaced. No problem. @Sailah has all that information -- he makes them.

    It pays, though, to make sure that you have failed traps before going to the trouble and expense of replacing them; the ones I have in the system I care for were installed in 1930 and they're still good.
    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
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,573Member
    If that's "Webster System Radiation", the trap housings are cast integral with the unit. They cannot be removed. But they take the same replacement kit as the Webster 02H traps, and these are readily available.
    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.
  • tcnjdelucatcnjdeluca Posts: 29Member
    Yes I believe it is the "Webster System Radiation" I suppose the first thing to do is wait for a day when the radiators are nice and hot and test each trap. Then shut down the system and replace the faulty ones. Thanks for your help everyone!!

  • BobCBobC Posts: 5,071Member
    Use a brush and a vacuum so the air can flow freely. When testing the outlet temperature try and get a few inches down on the outlet pipe and make the the color of the area your shooting is the same. IR temperature guns are sensitive to an objects color and reflectance, if in doubt cover both target areas with some painters tape.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
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