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Wet steam

I've recently purchased a 1924 large home with what appears to be (after reading Dan's amazing book) a vapor coal steam system (it has both wet and dry returns) converted to oil, and then to gas in 1986. The home was in foreclosure and sat vacant for three years, and I have no info from the previous owner. It is a two pipe system with f and t traps at the end of each main and a condensate pump. It has 7 mains, 5 of which work beautifully. Two of the mains create massive amount of condensate- more than the f and t can quickly get back to the boiler. These two line are the closest to the boiler and they are lower than the rest of the lines. In the worst line, the condensate is so massive that it prevents any steam from ever reaching some of the radiators at the very end of the line. If I run the system to heat the rest of the house with the lines that work, I just fill this line with water. To drain the line, I connected a hose to the blow down- the hose ran for almost two hours!! The worst part is that the water only drains if there is pressure on the system, so as I am draining I am making more condensate at the same time. If there is no pressure on the system, the water stops draining pretty quickly so I assume it is all out, but as soon as the boiler turns on, more water flies out, so this is why I think the system needs pressure to fully drain this line. I think the issue is the near boiler piping. It looks original, and after watching Dan's video, I know that there should be two risers to slow the velocity and limit the water coming out of the boiler. On my boiler, there is a single very large pipe coming out of the boiler, but it does have a massive equalizer, so I would think it would catch and return the water. (perhaps okay for this 1986 Weil-McClane?). I notice that the two supply lines that have excessive condensate come off the side and then dip down as they leave the main supply from the boiler. The five lines that work well and deliver dry steam take off (or are off-shoots) from the top side of the main, so the steam is still traveling up vs down on the other two lines. It takes a long time for the condensate to return from these supply lines, and the automatic water feeder is feeding water. If I could get the massive condensate back quickly, the automatic feeder wouldn't have to feed. It doesn't come back because the 3/4" f and t has such a tiny opening. Noticing that the two lines dip down, is it possible that this massive condensate is an intentional design feature to get the water back to the boiler quickly on start-up and the 3/4" f and t is the wrong size or even the wrong apparatus? In other words, if I had a larger f and t that could get this water back, it seems that even with a first time cold start, my water would be back quickly and new water would not be added. The other reason I feel the condensate that forms in this line could be an intentional design is because the line is 150' long/3" pipe with only 10 radiators. On another similar 150' run of 3" pipe in the house, there are 19 radiators (and this line works well). In other words, maybe my steam is actually dry and the water is not coming from the boiler's wet steam. Maybe there is just way too much steam and not enough radiators to accept and condense/return this amount and it needs to be collected at the end of the supply and returned more quickly. If so, was putting so few radiators on such a large/long line done intentionally (maybe the extra water went into a hot water system or some other machinery running on hot water?). Anyway, I am confused and frustrated. I don't want to change the near boiler piping if it is not the problem, and even if it is the problem, I really don't know that I should invest the money for re-piping a boiler that I am not confident has much life left. Plus, surely this system worked at some point- which is why there must be something i am missing. I do know this system takes on tons of new water in it's current state and has probably done so for years prior to my ownership, so I am concerned about the boiler damage/buildup. Finally, I do feel that there must have been a larger f and t or some sort of condensate collector at the end of the main. What was there when I purchased the home was what looked to be a relatively new 3/4" f and t, and it was installed upside down. Therefore, I don't think the last person working on this system understood it. Any thoughts or ideas on how to get all of this condensate from the steam supply line back to my boiler quickly would be appreciated and thoughts on whether the condensate issue is near boiler piping vs. something else would help. If there is another issue that can cause wet steam or excessive condensate in the supply line, please share. Thank you.

Comments

  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    I forgot to mention I am in NC, and very few professionals seem to understand the system. I've had six professionals advise that I crank the pressure to 5 LB, and set the pressuretrol for cut in at 3 LB because it need to keep a high pressure at all times. One guy told me to crank the pressure up to 5 LB and remove all of the radiator steam traps because the f and t would catch it all, and even it if didn't, 5 LB of pressure in a return line was not enough to cause a problem any way. .
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,471
    Can you tell if the two mains that are not working have been worked on or repiped (maybe during a past renovation) after the system was installed? The reason i ask is having a steam line drop down and then rise up forms a trap that will collect water and steam can't get beyond that. Supply lines should be pitched so any condensate can easily drain all the way back to the boiler.

    Are you sure it's the supply line that is dipping and not the return line?

    A vapor system usually wants to run at very low pressure - 8 to 10oz. take some pictures of the problem lines so we can see whats going on. Pictures of the boiler and the piping around will help also.

    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
    boilerstudent
  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    We probably need some visuals. There is no way that the condensate rushing out of the main is from collapsing steam in that small of a main.

    We routinely use a 3/4" F&T to drip 6" mains that are much longer than yours. From memory they will drip couple hundred lbs an hour.

    It feels to me like you are pushing water out of the boiler into the mains and making your F&T process it back to boiler. I'd work on verifying this is happening or the cause for so much water to be hitting that trap. I'm guessing your problems will become more manageable from there.

    Post pics of your system including boiler piping and the experts will chime in.
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
    boilerstudent
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    Bob C- I will add photos to help. My description was misleading. The line dips down just a few inches, straightens back out to be parallel to and then remains straight horizontal at that level. After posting, I also realized that the low number of radiators is probably equivalent to 15-17 because they are very large. This is a main that forms a three sided loop heating a room that is 30 x 50. Photos of the majority of the loop are hard to get- it is in the crawl space. I have also realized my returns may be clogged.
    Sailah- how can I verify that the water is coming out of the boiler? Photos coming in just a moment.
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    One more thing- when the radiators do get hot, most of the return lines are cold. There is a 76H vent at the end of the return line, but I feel air can't get past it if all the water from the f and t is filling the pipe. Therefore I don't know if my return lines are physically clogged or if they are just air locked. Any advice on how to determine if a return line is clogged and how to locate the clog? I have read the advice on flushing the returns on the forum, but I don't see anything about locating a clogged area.
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    we were able to flush the return lines today- all clear.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    edited December 2016
    I'd bet those F&T traps have failed, and are not draining condensate at all.

    This sounds like a Vapor system. Have you found any manufacturer's info on the original radiator valves and traps, and any other real old hardware in the system?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    The radiator valves have mostly been placed with Hoffman 17C, but some of the ones that look original are 512HB. A repair person removed and cleaned/checked the f and t trap. It looked new compared to the rest and this one was the one that was upside down. I can remove the discharge line at the f and t to make sure water is coming through while the system is running?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    That's a Webster system.

    Can you post a pic of the upside-down trap?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    boilerstudent
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    Yes, I can get one later today. It is a Hoffman H-style 3/4" 15 psi max. I have realized that the reason the two runs of main step down (first photo shows line on the right stepping down) is because the home has two sunken rooms that are entered off the foyer down three steps. (one room on each side, and these are the two runs with lots of condensate in supply). So the supply lines step down to match the step down of the floors. If I am thinking correctly, any and all water that may be coming off the boiler and any start up condensation in the supply line will never flow back to the boiler. I do feel this is the issue, because if the near boiler piping were causing wet steam, all the lines would be full of water. Therefore, I feel all of the start up condensate is all stuck in the supply. If the there is a lot of water, new steam would just condense, so to add to the problem, I probably have no pressure to push the water through the f and t. I am just getting a passive dribble when the float raises. I suppose there was a boiler return trap before, but now the 3/4" f and t's opening is too small to let this amount of water back. So, if the supply lines are pitched away from the boiler, is there some sort of larger collection mechanism, or would a 2" f and t be the solution?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,910
    Can you figure out. just looking at the piping, how any condensate in those two stepped down lines is/was supposed to get back to the boiler? I would have expected a drip to a wet return -- and a corresponding vent -- or possibly an F&T which could go to a dry return, if there is enough elevation...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    At the end of the main there is a 3/4" f and t that connects to a dry horizontal dry return with a 76H vent at the end of the dry return that then turns down to connect with the wet return just before going into the condensate pump. I feel like if there is so much water totally filling the end of main that the air cannot get out of the vent in the f and t. I know normally the 3/4" f and t would only handle the end of main condensate, but since this has to handle all of the 150' long main's condensate plus any water coming in from the boiler, wouldn't I need a larger f and t? I also thought that maybe I should put a 75 vent at the discharge side of the f and t?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    I'd use a Gorton #2 there. And you definitely need to have the vent on the outlet side of the trap, otherwise condensate might back up into the vent. See this thread for a more-detailed discussion:

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/153445/boiler-replacement-on-larger-webster-type-r-system-finally-ready-to-post

    Note that if we were doing that job now, as well as a couple others, we'd use a B&J Big Mouth as the crossover trap rather than that super-expensive Nicholson. I wouldn't use a Big Mouth as a vent downstream of the F&T, since it doesn't have a float that can close against water like the Gorton does.

    State Supply and others sell Gortons online.

    Also, that Hoffman #76H vacuum vent can hold water up in the system so it doesn't return properly. Another reason to switch to the Gorton.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    So are you saying use two Gorton #2s? One to replace the existing 76H and a second one actually attached to the f and t at the discharge side?
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    Also, what is a b amd j big mouth? An f and t trap or a vent? I think an f and t. So, are you saying ideally I should have the b and j big mouth f and t with a Gorton #2? What is the part number for big mouth?
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    Amazon. Type in "big mouth vent".

    3/4 FT traps should be plenty big to handle condensate on 2 inch line. I have 3 of them, 2 on 2.5 inch 180 ft mains. @Sailah who is a pro mentione this in the comment above. 6 inch lines draining on 3/4 FT.

    What you are seeing is most certainly sagging lines issue. If water drains back only under pressurized system, pitch is wrong somewhere. I didn't see you mentioned water hammer. If there is a pipe filled 100%, it will create a plug, in essence, so steam wont even go there.

    If there is too much pitch issue to correct, you can possibly tee off the low point in the sagging line, install a new FT there, then pitch and run a new return from that point down to wet return.

    Also, if you are needing make up water so much, after you correct the pitch issue, you may need a condensate tank. The system I have has 3 loops that are about 180 ft each, 2 2.5 inch mains and one 2 inch. Boiler is LGB 7. And we have FT traps plus Warren Webster 78 before all the return lines go to the 50 gal condensate tank. There isn't enough room for wet returns to hold enough water so 50 gal tank was a must.

    You may have a few issues going on, esp. If 1980s boiler was installed smaller than the original 1920s one. Fix pitch, maybe add a 3/4 17c (t trap) in conjuction with FT and start there.

    Best of luck!
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    Here is 2 pics explaining what I meant: 1st one shows Hoffman FT in conjuction with Warren Webster 78 at the end of the 2 mains. Dry returns reduce from 2.5 to 2 inch and then 1 inch pipe into FT and WW78. The 2nd shows piping for Hoffman 17c at the beginning of mains to catch any water if it makes it to there.

    If your main is sagging, you could install a tee at the bottm of the sag, and make this type of piping to carry condensate back to boiler, pitching it correctly.
    boilerstudent
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    Thank you. I followed most of that, but you lost me on the WW78. Is that an older trap that is equivalent tto a 3/4" 17c? So where you have the ww78 I would have the 17c? Two more questions please- when instructed to place a Gorton #2 on discharge side of f and t, does that mean on the pipe of the return after the f and t, or literally on the f and t- on the discharge side connectd to the extra discharge that the hoffman f and t has? That seems an easy place to put it. Also, if the thermostat of the f and t has failed closed and won't let air out, it would be good to have the Gorton #2 right on the f and t. Is that right? And thank you to all who are providing answers- it is amazing that professionals would be so willing to help!!
  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    Just to unconfuse a few things.

    What Steamhead is referring to when he says "we'd use a BJ big mouth as a crossover". That is a special trap, not a vent, that we make for a few pros. That is what we call a 1/2" crossover trap, part number BJ-2CR. You would pipe that similar to a regular radiator trap. It has the same size orifice as the Big Mouth so it vents very well. But it's piped inlet and discharges to outlet. I make them in both 1/2" & 3/4" NPT. The crossover trap differs from the Big Mouth in that the crossover trap has a brass seat for durability, the Big Mouth has a silicone Oring sealing surface because it would vent into your basement and no one wants drips.

    When most people here refer to the Big Mouth, they are using them as vents in single pipe steam systems. They look the same and function almost the same. These are available through the Heating Help storefront above. The Crossover traps you would need to order from me.

    I'm having a hard time visualizing why this FT can't keep up. Can you post a picture of it? And the surrounding piping? I do not think you need a larger FT trap. Id figure out why you are pushing so much water to it, correct that and that trap should work fine. I can test the trap for you if you can live without it or supply you with a new faceplate but I really think you have too much water and throwing parts at it won't fix that.
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
    MilanDb_bz
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited December 2016
    WW78 is a warren webster thermostatic trap. It has a bigger chamber than 17c. The orifice on the inside may also be slightly larger on the original equipment. I rebuilt both of them this summer and if I remember correcty, using MEPCO parts, only difference was size of the spring on them. Trap part was the same size. Thus, venting/draining capacity should be the same on Hoffman 17c and WW78, at least as a rebuilt kit from MEPCO. If you look at one of my pics, 17c seems to be quite fine for draining any water left on the 2.5 inch main take-off by the boiler.

    I believe what @Sailah is describing doing is same thing, just different trap model: big mouth BJ-2CR. He is more knowledgeable about placement. I have them both piped in at the end of each main off a tee, and you can see how in the pic above.

    Also, note that you don't need much pitch for the condensate to return by gravity. If you can correct that on your system, i think a lot of your issues will be solved, all else working to spec (main venting and rad venting).

    Finally, I really think it's possible that the boiler will need the condensate return tank. You didn't tell us what sq.ft. of the building was, but you did mention 17 large rads on one loop (if I read that correctly), which means you have at least 3 times that in rads, no? Our Weil McLane LGB 7 boiler has 8+7+15 rads of various sizes (sorry, I don't have EDR on it - various sizes) on 3 loops, 180ft ea loop, and i need at least 35 extra gallons of water from the condensate tank when system is fully fired up and heating. Your boiler seems a bit larger than LGB 7, so there is, probably, a bit more water capacity in it. However, if your EDR is large, you may not have enough space in your pipes wet return for all the water needed to run the system. Your water feeder will take on more fresh water before the condensate starts coming back, and now you see more water then wet return have capacity for. That's why you see water coming out of vents and not coming through your FT traps, and why the system is still taking on fresh water. FTs all my be waterlogged from water that's backed up, this willl create a smaller capacity for the system, higher boiler op pressure will then push this water out your vents, and so on in a loop.

    I really thing a 50 or 75 gal condensate return tank will solve your problem.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    And while you are at it, make sure all your FT traps are rebuilt. It is almost a rule, esp. when you say there aren't many experts on steam in your neck of the wokds, that those are shot.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    MilanD said:

    It is almost a rule, esp. when you say there aren't many experts on steam in your neck of the woods, that those are shot.

    Which is probably why it can't keep up.

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited December 2016
    What I've seen, FT traps fail open, or are so gunked up that they stay propped open. I still think wet returns are undersized. But you are right @Steamhead. Service the FT traps and make sure they are working. I figure though, if they are failed closed, no amount of pressure would push water through them. But definitely no harm in opening them up and replacing the guts and the cover (faster than a rebuild, and not much more expensive if you consider taking time to rebuild and keep the cover).

    Then, check the pitch. If you can't correct it, build a new return from low point, as I described earlier.

    Then you'll know if you need a condensate tank. It really depends on the capaicty of the pipes in the wet return, or even the dry return after the last rad, or main vent, that could park extra condensate without creating issue (if not more than 3 feet above boiler water line bc of hydrostatic pressure increase coild raise boiler water level). I still think, if the rebuilt FT traps and pitch of the returns doesn't fix it, condensate tank will be the key here if there turns out to be excess water that has no place to go but out of the vents.

    We all know old timers knew how to install these systems. Mistakes are created over time by less than knowledgeable "experts" and gravity pulling down on pipes, floors, rads...Key will be making sure piping, venting and pitch is to spec as it was in 1920. Then, accomodating for difference created by newer boiler (amount of steam created by a boiler that may be smaller than the original).

    Best of luck!
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    Thank you- I will check pitch of pipes. Please hang in there with me on this long post. Lots of info and lots of questions, and I will get more photos eventually- I am posting photos of the second line that fills with water, and I will get more of this original one the next time I am there.
    So, the new thermometer on the boiler is usually between 170-175- I assume there is vacuum in the boiler because I do get hot radiators, but is this vacuum normal/desirable or is this an issue? Is this a problem, should it get to 212?
    I do have a condensate pump already- I do not know how many gallons, but it looks very small. Maybe 10-15 gallons. I am not at the home today- not living there yet, and it's 40 min away. Otherwise, I would get photos for all of you. The entire system (which is Webster vapor) is heating 17,400 square feet) (11.2K first floor, 6.2K second and approx 70 rads. I do think that prior to the condensate pump there was a vacuum pump- maybe this is my issue- I need vacuum pump? Then again, maybe it was there and was wrong, so it was removed. Who knows with so many hands on this in the past. I think there was a vacuum pump because I think that the larger vapor systems had vacuum pumps, and there is a series of vertical and a horizontal double "u" pipes originating from a small pipe off the boiler main with a check valve along the wall that looks like what Dan described as vacuum equilibrium piping in this discussion. http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/152876/vacuum-pump-strange-happening and page 191 of his book. You can see that piping in the photos I already posted earlier- it is above and to the left of the green chair. You can see a tiny portion of the condensate pump. The terminal end of that "u" piping WAS connected to the condensate pump at the overflow outlet, but a few weeks ago a professional said it was all wrong. He said it was unnecessary and was probably was used a long time ago. (this made no sense to me because it was obviously intentionally reconnected to the condensate pump when it was installed). I thought the way it was originally piped was fine because instead of extra water in the condensate pump immediately draining out, it had several feet of vertical piping on the wall to travel through prior to dumping, so it was like having extra water and increasing the capacity of the small condensate pump. It also looked like a water trap for steam in case the check valve on the equilibrium pipe failed. So he said it was all wrong, and without my approval disconnected it. At the end of the disconnected pipe that had been going into the condensate pump, he plugged the end (in case the check valve at the top failed and steam would shoot out at leg level), and then he ran a new condensate pump overflow line straight out of the condensate pump to a floor drain. And by the way, between the check valve that is on the boiler side of the "'u" configured pipes and the boiler, there is a hand valve which I was told to keep off. I was told it originally prevented steam from going into the condensate pump since the pipes were incorrectly (according to him) going to the condensate pump to which I replied "isn't that what the check valve does", to which he replied, "it's a double safety". Last week, after reading discussions here, I realized that the boiler needed a vacuum breaker and that by unplugging the end of the pipe he had plugged and opening the valve he had instructed me to leave closed, I would have a vacuum breaker. So I removed the plug on the bottom of the u-pipes and opened the valve on the boiler side of the check valve to act as a vacuum breaker. (but was that wrong? do I need the vacuum?) At this point, I thought the boiler temp would go up, but it didn't. As I am typing, I feel that perhaps that line needs to be hooked back up to the condensate pump as it originally was prior to two weeks ago. As Dan discussed, if a stronger vacuum forms on the radiator side of the radiator traps, that makes everything flow backwards. (but I would think unplugging the pipe would solve that) When I I read that discussion, Dan was referring to a system with a vacuum pump, so I was not sure this applied to my system with only a condensate pump which is open to the atmosphere. So I thought that if I just unplugged the pipe and opened it to the atmosphere, it would at least act as a vacuum breaker for the boiler. Perhaps this is my problem? I will get photos of that as well.
    So, back to the Gorton #2s. I know I will replace the two 76H vents at the end of the two dry returns with Gorton #2s. Do I also need to add Gorton #2s to the extra discharge port of the f and t traps? (in case thermostat failed closed- I think Dan mentions doing that for better main venting, but that is in the chapter for one pipe gravity return, so I was't sure that applied to two pipe vapor).
    Regarding rebuilding the f and t traps- last week they were all removed, cleaned and thermostats checked (not checked to see if they respond to temperature, checked to see if they move- they were a bit rusty). I was told they were all okay. Should I not trust this assessment and rebuild? I assume rebuild means buy new thermostat? Float/pins looked okay- no holes in floats and pins seated after cleaning.
    Sailah- regarding all of the water. Most of the radiators are not heating up or they do heat, but the return pipe on the individual radiator is cold. Or the radiator is cold but the supply pipe is hot with a cold hand valve. The main return is cold at the end (most of it under crawl space, so I can't say at what point it gets cold). So I think I have a combination of failed radiator traps, bad hand valves, and since the steam is not getting into the radiators and back out through the return that all of my steam is just staying in and condensing in the supply pipe. I think the supply pipe is so waterlogged that eventually none of the radiators get steam. None of the water gets back, boiler feeds water, more steam to condense in the supply. Since this is happening in just 2 of the 7 mains, the system keeps running, and it's regularly adding water because the boiler keeps firing. I only just realized this was happening. To make matters worse, the "professional" said that I needed massive pressure to push the water out. In fact, I have had six professionals tell me this- even when I show them Dan's book, they say this "never above 2 lb" rule doesn't apply because old pipes have crud and friction, so I have to overcome this. His solution was this- pressuretrol settings (which I had at max 2, cut in .5) were reset to cut out at 5 and cut in at 3. I've now read and learned that even with the boiler not running, with vapor, the steam will still come in the radiators as long as the pressure gets low enough to let the air out. So I was running on high pressure for several days- just creating more water. When I drained the supply line, it ran for almost two hours after 4-5 days of running the system. Finally, I understand that this amount of water leads one to believe the boiler can be supplying wet steam.
    I think I need to start with replacing all the radiator traps for all radiators on this main and check hand valves. I had hoped to get the steam everywhere so that I could check the temps on either side of the traps to determine which ones were failing instead of replacing all. This leads to the question of the best rebuild for 512 HB (I think BJ1998 (needs new top) but tunstall and hercules have one too that I think I can keep the original top with). My traps on the radiators are a combination of 512HB and newer hoffman 17c. Some of the radiators are very large. I was told 17c will work on any/all radiators- is this true? Finally I am not replacing the 512HB with new 17c because they are inset into a wall, and I can not get them off hence the rebuild.
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    Sorry for the long previous post, it's hard to describe all the issues, but basically here are my questions.
    On 12/8, Sailah said I may be pushing water out of the boiler and I should verify that.
    1. How do I verify that I am or am not pushing water out of the boiler?
    2. Based on my photos of the boiler, does the near boiler piping look okay?
    3. I will put Gorton #2s at the end of the two dry returns, do I also connect them to the actual f and t at the extra discharge port? I think Dan recommends that in his book, but maybe this was just for one pipe gravity without f and t for air removal.
    4. In the second main that also has water, the discharge piping from the f and t is lower than the return it connects too, so there is a step up which is a water leg. (photo attached). The f and t discharge pipe is connected to a pipe that also has another f and t draining into it. There is a check valve between the two so that the water from the higher f and t does not go into the lower one, but wouldn't the water pressure of the higher f and t prevent the check valve from opening to allow the first f and t to drain? I was told this water leg and the pipe with two f and t traps on the same line was not a problem because the pressurized f and t can kick water up 52 feet, so that the lack of gravity return at this section is okay- is this true? It seems to me that when the system goes cold, residual condensate would sit in this water leg and prevent air from leaving on start up, but perhaps the pressure of the steam pushing the air will push the water through? All the pros say it is okay. I have photo of that on this post.
    5. Do I need to re-connect the terminal end of the equalizer "u" pattern piping that was previously connected and is now open to atmosphere back to condensate the pump?
    6. Do I need a vacuum pump of it was originally there or is a condensate pump okay, and is a 10 gallon pump okay? And if pump should hold more, how much more? (hoping this will be okay- assuming all this worked at some point) If it is important to know, how would I tell if it was originally operated with a vacuum pump?
    7. 4 radiators in the home have been disconnected- is this a problem and should I reconnect?
    8. How do I determine what is wrong with the hand valve? Meaning, if I have a hot supply that goes cold at the open valve, if it is not working, why? could it be debris, or once it's shot it must be replaced? or can it be rebuilt? I reviewed the 1922 Webster manual from the library. I have the Webster type W Modulation Valve shown on page 250 (photo attached) The manual says it is all brass except the disc, but the manual doesn't say what the disc is made of. Is the disc what goes bad, and is it replaceable?
    9. How do I clean and improve the hand valves that do work? WD-40 okay to use?
    10. Is it normal for boiler temp to never get above 180?
    11. Dan mentioned a main vent just off the boiler, up high and hard to see on the vapor systems. Does anyone have a photo of exactly what to look for and where that would be?
    12. How do I test an f and t trap?
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    Wow. This system is definitely above my pay grade... And I completely missed this was a vacuum system.

    For one pipe gravity, I'm sort of knowledgeable, from a user side. Vacuum systems, I am afraid I can't help much. Water boils at lower temp due to vacuum, is all I know. What IT has to look like with pipes and controls, no idea. The boiler is in a vacuum, pipes to rads and rads too, and after the rad trap, there should be vacuum too, otherwise it would create air flow in the other direction and fill the rad with air? Vacuum has to exist across the entire system. I remember reading about it, that it had a lot of parts to it that can go wrong, but frankly, glossed over it. If the rule is that high pressure goes to low, on a vacuum system wouldn't you need even greater vacuum on the return side, no? And now, I'm just guessing, so I'll stop here as not to confuse. I am probably totally wrong.

    If experts here can't help like this, perhaps you can arrange a skype session with someone here and walk them through your basement.

    If you have some loops that are working, see how they are piped, vented and drained, and see if it differs on loops that don't work. That's what I'd do.

    You have one nice challenge on your hands. Good luck with it.
    boilerstudent
  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    That's a big house.

    Can't respond to everything at the moment but will to a few points. The FT can lift the condensate but it's a question of motive power. They do much better when they gravity feed, and yours at start up have to push a slug of water uphill. The air can't evacuate because you have water locked the trap. So you are really handicapping those traps by making them lift anything esp at lower pressures. At 15 psi, sure, but at lower pressures it is difficult to lift esp at startup.

    Those are hoffman FT 53 traps. You can throw new thermostats on them, no way to tell if they are working by looking at the elements. Same with the float. It's far easier to just put a new faceplate on them. But I would tackle your water problem first and figure out how to pitch pipes and get that condensate to drain so you aren't water locking the traps.

    The WW 512HB does not require a new cover just the cage unit 1998. I make the Hercules parts for State Supply so unless you find them cheaper they are identical. Give me a call and I can recommend a distributor in your area for pricing.

    What happens when you open the blowdown valve next to the trap while the system is running? Steam? Lots of water?


    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
    boilerstudent
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    When I open the blowdown valve next to the trap while the system is running I get water and then eventually steam. There are two lines that have lots of water and the amount of water depends on how long the system has been running. For the photos I attached, the FT on the left will run from a hose for 10 minutes before I get steam if the system has been on for a couple of hours. The one on the right is just a little water then steam. Seems to be working fine. The worst one, meaning it collects massive water and barely has any radiators heating with minimal condensate return in the return line, which you do not have a photo of will drain water from the blow down for an hour or two. The water will run constantly even if the sytem is not running. Then towards the end, the water only comes up if the boiler is on. When the boiler stops the water stops. Then finally, if the boiler runs long enough, all the water will evacuate, steam will come. When I close the blowdown and go back, it's full of water again. At that point the condensate will be returning water from the other 5 lines, but not enough, so the automatic water feeder is feeding new water. I am very concerned with all the new water. From what I have read, it can ruin my boiler, correctd? And if it has been doing this prior to my ownership, maybe there is a leak inside where I can't see it. I think I am supposed to check for steam out the chimney and I haven't done that. There's so much to check! And for the worst FT water problem, the one that you don't have a photo of yet, that FT piping is gravity- nothing holding it up. Last week, for all of the lines, after the steam puffed out I would then get a vacuum sucking in. I am not sure if removing the plug and opening that valve at the equilibrium piping eliminated that. Is it normal for boiler to be in vacuum without a vacuum pump in the system or does this mean something is wrong? Or is this just normal when the boiler shuts off and the steam begins to condense
    and shrink back?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    So if I'm understanding this correctly, the main that ends up at "F&T #1" is one of the ones that doesn't heat properly?

    Does the trap at the end of the other main that doesn't heat well, also have to push condensate uphill?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    That is correct. The main that ends up at FT #1 has two radiators (both upstairs) that often are cold when all the others on that main are hot.
    The trap at the end of the other main that barely heats and has tons of water does not push condensate uphill. Even if I had photos it would be hard to see it all in one photo because the return lines travel through a wall into the boiler room. So that FT drains into a dry return that comes back to the boiler. It turns down 90 degrees to enter the wet return right beside the main dry return that also turns down at 90 degrees. So before the condensate pump there are two return lines coming in. You can see it to the right of the boiler in the very first photo I sent a few days ago. I notice the pipe coming into the condensate pump does not look like it has any downward pitch like illustrations in Dan's book. It does not have a water leg like he warns for boiler feed, but it seems to be exactly parallel to the floor, not pitched down. Could that be a problem?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    Probably not. I'd say the trap needs repair.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • boilerstudent
    boilerstudent Member Posts: 17
    does repair mean new faceplate like Sailah suggested? Order from state supply?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    Correct on both counts.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    boilerstudent