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Steam Radiators Single Pipe NO VENTS

YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
edited December 2016 in Oil Heating
Our house is 100ish, with original coal burning ARCO boiler converted to oil. House has been in wife's family since 1975. I remember father in law saying they had had ALL the radiator vents replaced at the same time but removed ALL of them because it heated better that way. I've other issues that I'm working on but I just wanted to know what having no radiator vents at all will cause. I've got a total of 12 radiators in a 2 story house. Upstairs heats beautifully if not to well. Downstairs we currently have 1 radiator that just barely isn't COLD. Another is ICE COLD. I'm working on getting a new main vent to see if that helps with that issue. The radiator that is just barely not cold used to heat very well, the other has been ice cold for years.
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Comments

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,651Member
    I'm having some trouble visualising how it heats at all -- but steam is a little strange sometimes, and what one thinks won't work at all does, at least after a fashion.

    I think the first thing I would do is see if you can put a regular radiator vent on that one radiator which is ice cold. Size doesn't matter at this point. And see what happens. Make sure the valve to the radiator is open!

    Then go from there depending on what you see -- so report back, please!
    Jamie



    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
  • adambnycadambnyc Posts: 258Member
    edited December 2016
    All steam radiators need to vent. Did he remove the vents and plug the vent hole or remove the vent and leave the hole wide open? Both are bad.

    As your boiler heats water and creates steam, that steam travels up all your piping to the rads. As the steam pushes thru the pipes, the air that is sitting in the pipes gets pushed out thru vents on your mains and vents on your rads. You get that familiar gentle whistle sound as the air is pushed out of the piping by the steam.

    Now the steam hits your rads. They start to heat up until the very last zone on your rads heats up. When the hot steam hits the vent on the rad, it shuts the venting so no steam can escape. The radiator is now fully hot and no longer needs steam.

    The steam will now continue to travel to the rest of your rads and the same process will happen until the rad heats up completely OR the thermostat is satisfied and stops calling for heat.

    No vent on the rad and an open port will cause steam to race to the rad too fast and may cause water hammer due to wet steam. Also this represents a dangerous situation as steam is free to escape the radiator and can hurt someone/cause property damage.

    No vent on the rad and port closed. Rad will never get hot. Steam can't travel to the rad because there is no venting to push the trapped air.

    Make sense?


    I also made an assumption that this is a one pipe steam system. Is this the case or does every rad have two pipes?
  • adambnycadambnyc Posts: 258Member
    Pictures of the rads would help
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    1 pipe system. All radiators wide open.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    edited December 2016
    @Jamie Hall I've done that in the past. I've found one adjustable Hoffman radiator vent & it made no change. I've just put it on the upstairs bathroom radiator since I'm fairly certain it is on same pipe as these 2 non heating radiators. I'll see if that changes things any. All valves are fully open. That's one thing I've definitely learned from all the reading I've done.
  • AbracadabraAbracadabra Posts: 1,948Member
    edited December 2016
    Not having vents on the radiators and leaving the vent port on the radiator completely open is dangerous and could be fatal.

    See the story about the two kids that died in New York.

    What's the EDR of all the radiators in the home. What's the EDR rating of the boiler?
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,778Member
    IIRC, there was a particular radiator that had a hidden vent?
    There was a pin hole the size of paper clip wire that would get painted over and stop air venting.
    The hole was designed into the trade mark or logo of the manufacturer.

    I believe the story included a trip to the Dentist! ;)

    Vents could have been added and removed over time with these holes doing their job some of the time.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    edited December 2016
    @Abracadabra do you have a link? This system has been running like this for no less than 15 yrs. Not saying it's safe, just saying its been running this way.
    What is EDR?
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,117Member
    Bet these radiators have "In-Airid" vents. Go here:

    https://heatinghelp.com/blog/doctor-bobs-radiator/
    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
  • adambnycadambnyc Posts: 258Member
    > @Yankneck said:
    > 1 pipe system. All radiators wide open.

    I think you and I may be talking about different things here. I'm not taking about the actual valve that the steam is coming from which would be on the lower left or right of the rad.

    I'm talking about the 1/4" threaded hole ( I think it's 1/4", someone keep me honest) that the vent would normally screw into. Normally on the upper right/left of a rad.

    Pictures would help.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,651Member
    Learn something every day! Thanks, @Steamhead !
    Jamie



    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
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    > @adambnyc said:
    > > @Yankneck said:
    > > 1 pipe system. All radiators wide open.
    >
    > I think you and I may be talking about different things here. I'm not taking about the actual valve that the steam is coming from which would be on the lower left or right of the rad.
    >
    > I'm talking about the 1/4" threaded hole ( I think it's 1/4", someone keep me honest) that the vent would normally screw into. Normally on the upper right/left of a rad.
    >
    > Pictures would help.
    >
    >

    We are in deed talking about the same thing. All vents removed & left wide open.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    > @Steamhead said:
    > Bet these radiators have "In-Airid" vents. Go here:
    >
    > https://heatinghelp.com/blog/doctor-bobs-radiator/

    Not the case here. I have the hole for the vents to be threaded in on all of the radiators, they were just left wide open.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    So with the vents wide open. Will that cause the radiators to loose their heat faster causing the boiler to run much more often causing much higher fuel consumption/cost?
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,778Member
    You must not be developing much pressure at all or steam would be showing up.
    If the thermostat has a bad heat anticipator it could be short cycling the boiler burner.
    How long does the burner run at any one time?
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,117Member
    As others have said, this is an extremely bad idea. Some of those holes are probably discharging steam. This requires that additional fresh water be added to the boiler, which will shorten its life. Then there's the scalding hazard.

    This is also causing your unbalance problem. With such big holes on all the radiators, the steam will go toward those closest to the boiler. You want the big hole as part of a vent at the end of the steam main, so the steam will fill the main first.

    The Vent-Rite #1 vent should work on most of your bedroom radiators, and will allow you to adjust them easily. For the main living area, depending on the size of the radiators there you'd probably want a Hoffman #40 unless one of them is considerably bigger than the rest- then I'd use a Gorton #5.

    For the main vents- how long are your steam mains, and what pipe size?
    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
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    edited December 2016
    > @Steamhead said:
    > As others have said, this is an extremely bad idea. Some of those holes are probably discharging steam. This requires that additional fresh water be added to the boiler, which will shorten its life. Then there's the scalding hazard.
    >
    > This is also causing your unbalance problem. With such big holes on all the radiators, the steam will go toward those closest to the boiler. You want the big hole as part of a vent at the end of the steam main, so the steam will fill the main first.
    >
    > The Vent-Rite #1 vent should work on most of your bedroom radiators, and will allow you to adjust them easily. For the main living area, depending on the size of the radiators there you'd probably want a Hoffman #40 unless one of them is considerably bigger than the rest- then I'd use a Gorton #5.
    >
    > For the main vents- how long are your steam mains, and what pipe size?

    Is there a reason the adjustable vents shouldn't be used on all the radiators? I get radiator pictures & main length when I get back home. I've pictures of the boiler itself, the antique it is if they might help anything. I know I've got some pitch issues in the return, but haven't acquired any new/different issues since the slope issues started.
  • FredFred Posts: 7,910Member
    edited December 2016
    Where are you located? I can't imagine running a one pipe steam system with radiators that have no vents on them and the vent hole open. I have to believe that the radiators might be so large, relative to heat loss that the steam condenses well before it gets to that end of the radiator? Do any of them get hot all the way across? Do you have any vents on the main(s)? Is the boiler/burner rated to match the EDR of the rads? ( Equivalence of direct radiation (EDR) is a standardized comparison method for estimating the output ability of space-heating radiators and convectors.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    @Fred the 5 radiators upstairs get hot all the way across. The 2 in living room & 1 in dining room get hot all the way across. The downstairs bathroom and kitchen are the 2 that are being contancerous right now. The Monster in the hallway (13 tubes) gets hot about half way. There are vents on the Mains. No idea when changed last as they're the same ones that were here when I came in the picture 14 yrs ago.
  • jumperjumper Posts: 1,348Member
    What Fred says makes sense to me. Oversized rads condense steam before it reaches hole.

    Since steam is lighter than air why can't steam drive air all the way down to vented main? Why do radiators need vents?
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,778Member
    Burner may be short cycling, rads exhale air and then inhale between cycles. Something changed that 2 rads not getting their share of steam.
    Had a T-stat with shorted heat anticipator, would fire boiler for less than a minute, be off for several minutes and repeat. Never built pressure to speak of. Had rad vents but never heard them working, most were bad anyway. New T-stat with longer run cycles..... then needed new rad vents.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    edited December 2016
    If I'm measuring mains correctly, 1 is 72' & the other is about 46'. The shorter of the 2 is the main that feeds the 2 radiators that are hardly heating/not heating. It is the main with the Hoffman 3C. I can't really make out what the other main vent is. I know it says Quick Vent no 815 & possibly Ideal.
    The white radiator is kitchen & practically never gets hot, the grey radiator is bathroom & this yr hasn't been getting hot but used to & the other radiator is the beast in the hall that heats about half way across & has been that way for yrs.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    > @JUGHNE said:
    > Burner may be short cycling, rads exhale air and then inhale between cycles. Something changed that 2 rads not getting their share of steam.
    > Had a T-stat with shorted heat anticipator, would fire boiler for less than a minute, be off for several minutes and repeat. Never built pressure to speak of. Had rad vents but never heard them working, most were bad anyway. New T-stat with longer run cycles..... then needed new rad vents.

    When burner runs, it runs usually 15-30 minutes depending on how cold it is. The colder it is the longer it runs. Keep thermostat set at 68 usually but it's in a drafty room, all rooms drafty.
  • adambnycadambnyc Posts: 258Member
    Wow, you really don't have any vents on those rads. I think you should consider adding vari vents to those.

    I suspect the rads that don't get hot simply don't receive steam because the rads without the vents are the path of least resistance and remain that way.

    With the proper vent installed on those rads, they will get just as hot as now, in the same time as they do now. The difference is that when they get fully hot the vent will shut and direct the steam to the rads that don't get hot.

    System just needs balancing with the proper vents.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    What is most effective but cost effective adjustable vent? I've seen several but not really sure.
    I was looking at these http://www.supplyhouse.com/Varivalve-VAAV-Varivalve-Adjustable-Angle-Air-Valve-3840000-p
    Is there any same or better but same price or cheaper?
  • AbracadabraAbracadabra Posts: 1,948Member
    You need some better main venting.
    The radiators without the vents on them are stealing steam from the radiators not getting any.
    Please add vents to all your radiators. I don't want to hear another story of kids suffocating in their sleep due to steam.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    @Abracadabra can't say as I've ever heard of that. They have humidifiers that put steam into the air. Only heating injury we've ever had in our house involved a kerosene heater & tripping & bumping into it. Are you able to provide link as I just can't fathom how someone could suffocate from these radiators. I'm wanting to get vents in them just trying to make sure buy a decent correct one.
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,971Member
    Those varivalves can cause problems, if your trying to keep price down try the Maid O Mist 5L.

    https://www.amazon.com/OMIST-0220-5L-Angle-Steam-Valve/dp/B003DV3AGE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482011185&sr=8-1&keywords=maid+o+mist+5l

    You can start with the smallest orifices and use larger ones on radiators that need help.

    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
  • FredFred Posts: 7,910Member
    @Yankneck here's the link to the most rtrecent kids that dies when the radiator vent blew off:
    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-radiator-explosion-kills-toddlers-article-1.2901985

    And here's a link to Vent Rite adjustable vents. Much better than the Heat timer vents you are looking at:
    http://www.hvacrsupplynow.com/VENT-RITE-1-STEAM-AIR-VALVES-ADJUSTABLE_p_1787.html
  • adambnycadambnyc Posts: 258Member
    I've had A lot of success with the vent rite 1's. I bought them from same place. Good price.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,778Member
    Maybe more connected radiation than boiler capacity, steam never makes to the end of any radiator. They partially heat and shut off T-stat.

    Struck out twice so far on this post.....no In-Airid vents and not short cycling....... :/

    Those holes for air vents should be 1/8" pipe size. I would buy a small bottle brush to clean the threads and also black nipple 1/8" by 2" long and use it to clean the threads with a little in and out action. If you don't find any vents you can put plugs in the holes of the hot rads just to see if the cold ones heat up. This would be only a temporary test. You can use a mirror to see if steam is coming out of the holes. Until you get vents I would not run the system without returning it to the way it was this morning. Steam will displace air and it has suffocated people, just recently as the news story above indicates.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    @JUGHNE only change I made today was I added 1 vent to an upstairs radiator. System has ran this way for more than 15 yrs like this. We keep a decent distance from the radiators, don't let stuff pike up around them, keep a daily eye on the water level on cold days. We've learned how to function with it in its current state, just trying to improve it's output/efficiency.

    What I'm not understanding in all this is the upstairs rads that run off this main heat WONDERFULLY, how is it the downstairs ones aren't. I guess I'll have to look at where the riser is in comparison to the split offs for these 2 troublesome rads.
  • AbracadabraAbracadabra Posts: 1,948Member
    Yankneck said:

    @Abracadabra can't say as I've ever heard of that. They have humidifiers that put steam into the air. Only heating injury we've ever had in our house involved a kerosene heater & tripping & bumping into it. Are you able to provide link as I just can't fathom how someone could suffocate from these radiators. I'm wanting to get vents in them just trying to make sure buy a decent correct one.

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/160133/2-children-killed-in-radiator-mishap-in-bronx-apartment/p1
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    @Abracadabra learn something new everyday day eh. I can't ever remember seeing steam but maybe a very few times coming out of any of these radiators.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    edited December 2016
    > @Yankneck said:
    > > @JUGHNE said:
    > > Burner may be short cycling, rads exhale air and then inhale between cycles. Something changed that 2 rads not getting their share of steam.


    This has been an ongoing issue for years. I can only remember the kitchen radiator getting heated once or twice in the last 14 years. IDK before that. The bathroom radiator has been finicky off & on over the years. Sometimes it's hot when boiler running, sometimes it's not.
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    So just figured out that right now it is taking about 35-40 minutes to raise temp on thermostat 3 degrees.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,651Member
    Yankneck said:

    So just figured out that right now it is taking about 35-40 minutes to raise temp on thermostat 3 degrees.

    Not bad. Not bad at all. Takes the place I care for about twice that. Which is the problem with setbacks...
    Jamie



    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
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    Anyone familiar with these Vents? http://www.consumersplumbing.com/site/consumers/productdetail.exc?cmd=630_view_prod&isApp=true&page=1&co_id=630&item_id=139579&prod_id=6859

    I'm aware you get what you pay for, but for short term anyone know for fact they suck or give em a shot since the price is good & can replace over the summer with better vents.
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,971Member
    They are poorly made and several people have had them split. For about $5-6 more you can buy maid o mist 5L vents with 5 orifices in the box. For $10-12 more you could get Ventrite #1's.

    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
  • YankneckYankneck Posts: 22Member
    @BobC Thank You
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