Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Re-invent the pigtail?

Question for all you steam gurus

A common piece of advice here to address a boiler that's not acting right it to check/clean the pigtail (assuming all other settings and stuff is good).

If pigtails clogging are such a common occurrence (and mine happened to be gunked up as well), is there a better alternative to the standard? Is there such thing as a 1/2" pigtail, and would it be less likely to clog? I understand it's purpose, it just seems like for something with such a common failure point there may be a better way.

Comments

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    edited January 2017
    A lot of the Pros have started (or been) using a manifold, much like a mini drop header for the Pressuretrols, Vaporstats, and gauges. The drop allows condensate to build up in the manifold protecting the components from steam. They put Tees and plugs on the ends that allow them to be washed out without taking them off of the boiler and they use 1/2 or 3/4" nipples/fittings to build them. I think that's a much better option. Having said that, they still need periodic cleaning.
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 871
    Don't think you will ever get a solution that will not eventually clog, I do like the manifold idea though, makes cleaning much easier, and much less likely to clog.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,863
    delta T said:

    Don't think you will ever get a solution that will not eventually clog, I do like the manifold idea though, makes cleaning much easier, and much less likely to clog.

    My solution will never clog.
    But @Fred is inherently against it.

    The only downside to my solution is the code required pigtail, Pressuretrol and 30 PSIG is still necessarily, only because of code.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Johnson_Rod
    Johnson_Rod Member Posts: 31
    @Fred - does the setup you describe meet code? I'd be interested to see how that looks.

    @delta T - I didn't have avoiding maintenance altogether in mind. Just something that might be less like to clog between maintenance or easier to maintain.

    @ChrisJ -- your set up is just a straight nipple like 18+ inches or something, right? Is it still 1/4"? Why won't that clog vs a pigtail and why is Fred against it?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,863
    edited January 2017

    @Fred - does the setup you describe meet code? I'd be interested to see how that looks.

    @delta T - I didn't have avoiding maintenance altogether in mind. Just something that might be less like to clog between maintenance or easier to maintain.

    @ChrisJ -- your set up is just a straight nipple like 18+ inches or something, right? Is it still 1/4"? Why won't that clog vs a pigtail and why is Fred against it?

    I can't speak for Fred, but I believe he is against it just because it's "new".

    It won't clog because it doesn't hold water. Mine is 1/2" but I don't see why 1/4" wouldn't work as long as it's long enough to keep the devices cool. I wouldn't be surprised if 12" is long enough. I went with 18" because it's what I had on hand and I had plenty of room for it.

    I had to use a 0.015" snubber from McMaster as my 1 ounce gauge and 1 ounce pressure switch were way too sensitive to the pressure fluctuations in the boiler. It basically made the needle vibrate all over the place. Part number : 3820K27 in 0.015".

    I doubt a snubber would be needed with a 3 PSI, or even a 1 PSI gauge.

    The way to test is put it together and fire up the boiler. While it's making steam feel the vertical pipe. It should stay cold near the controls. If it gets warm I would want to extend it. If it gets hot you likely have an air leak.

    Please remember you still need the pigtail, pressuretrol and 30 PSIG gauge as per code. This does not replace them.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    @Johnson_Rod , You can see a manifold install in this recent installion: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/160880/a-baby-eighty#latest
    As to code, I'm sure every local code is written a little differently and I'm not even sure they require a pigtail. I would suspect most will say something to the effect that the "Safety and/or control devices having potential exposure to steam must be protected by a water/condensate loop." I would be very surprised if many codes specifically say "must use a pigail"

    As it relates to @ChrisJ 's straight pipe, I'm not opposed to it. I just feel that he uses an air buffer to protect the control he has mounted on it and they can leak, air just as easily (maybe easier) as a condensate loop and damage the control with steam. Coupled with that, he has his Pressuretrol still mounted to a pigtail which I realize is a backup safety control but still has the pigtail issue and needs to be cleaned to be an effective backup. I think maybe my biggest concern was where he connected it, on the same connection with his Pressure Relief valve. My thinking was that those valves have the potential to leak as they get older, some so small that they never drip on the floor just a bit of steam that may go unnoticed for a while. That breach seems like it could allow the protective air pocket out of that stand pipe.certainly, if the PRV actually needed to blow, I would think the controls on that steam pipe would definitely be subject to exposure. But that's just my tendency to be extra cautious.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,278


    Easy clean pigtail.....still have to remove devices to do complete check out.
    ChrisJSailahdelta TMilanD
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,863
    edited January 2017
    Fred said:

    @Johnson_Rod , You can see a manifold install in this recent installion: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/160880/a-baby-eighty#latest
    As to code, I'm sure every local code is written a little differently and I'm not even sure they require a pigtail. I would suspect most will say something to the effect that the "Safety and/or control devices having potential exposure to steam must be protected by a water/condensate loop." I would be very surprised if many codes specifically say "must use a pigail"

    As it relates to @ChrisJ 's straight pipe, I'm not opposed to it. I just feel that he uses an air buffer to protect the control he has mounted on it and they can leak, air just as easily (maybe easier) as a condensate loop and damage the control with steam. Coupled with that, he has his Pressuretrol still mounted to a pigtail which I realize is a backup safety control but still has the pigtail issue and needs to be cleaned to be an effective backup. I think maybe my biggest concern was where he connected it, on the same connection with his Pressure Relief valve. My thinking was that those valves have the potential to leak as they get older, some so small that they never drip on the floor just a bit of steam that may go unnoticed for a while. That breach seems like it could allow the protective air pocket out of that stand pipe.certainly, if the PRV actually needed to blow, I would think the controls on that steam pipe would definitely be subject to exposure. But that's just my tendency to be extra cautious.

    There's an 18" air gap above the pressure relief valve. If the relief valve leaked it would have zero effect on the air trap.

    Secondly, how dare you suggest my pressure relief would ever be left leaking!. Now I'm hurt! I'm taking you off the Christmas list.

    Third, if there was enough pressure to trip a 15 PSIG pressure relief, steam damaging my 1 ounce pressure switch and gauge would be the least of my concerns.

    You have to remember Fred, those secondary controls are there to do a job and it has nothing to do with safety. If they get damaged, all well, they get replaced. It's not the end of the world.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    edited January 2017
    @ChrisJ , God forbid you ever leave home and something goes drastically wrong! As I said, I understand why you did it, I just don't think the average HO will watch for signs of a problem like most of us do. Most put it on, turn it on and walk away until the house seems colder than usual. I know you feel that 18" air trap won't be lost, under any circumstance but I guess I'm one who believes almost anything is possible, given the right set of circumstances. Apologies for suggesting your PRV might have a leak and go unnoticed. :'(
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,752
    edited January 2017
    Best way I've found to mount pigtails so they don't get plugged is to put them on top of the boiler. This way, unless there is some serious wave action or the boiler gets flooded, no dirt will wash into them. Here is one example:

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/153445/boiler-replacement-on-larger-webster-type-r-system-finally-ready-to-post
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    ChrisJ
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,863
    Steamhead said:

    Best way I've found to mount pigtails so they don't get plugged is to put them on top of the boiler. This way, unless there is some serious wave action or the boiler gets flooded, no dirt will wash into them. Here is one example:

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

    @Steamhead Can a pigtail be plumbed into a steam main close to the boiler as long as there's no isolation valves per code?

    Seems like the "cleanest" spot would be at the beginning of a main just after the header.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,752
    Sure you could, but I don't know if that would meet Code.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,863
    Steamhead said:

    Sure you could, but I don't know if that would meet Code.

    That's why I said per code. :)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • LionA29
    LionA29 Member Posts: 255
    @Steamhead thank you for your recommendation of the "pigtail" location setup.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,331
    ChrisJ said:


    @Steamhead Can a pigtail be plumbed into a steam main close to the boiler as long as there's no isolation valves per code?

    I was wondering that myself. If I was mounting auxiliary controls (as opposed to say a manual reset limit) like a pressure transducer for modulation or a hi/low vaporstat, wouldn't the header be a fine place for it? Away from the filthy boiler water, & maybe a better sense of "system" pressure as well.

    Good idea? Bad idea? I want to be educated!