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Balancing One-Pipe Steam Systems

HeatingHelp
HeatingHelp Posts: 366
edited June 2017 in THE MAIN WALL

Balancing One-Pipe Steam Systems

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Comments

  • Billo
    Billo Member Posts: 4
    I heard that adding or PH or raising the PH level of the water prevents further corrosion in old pipes. is this true? And if I clean out the boiler and flush the water does this affect the PH level in the water. I had a Weil McLain boiler installed a few months ago the mechanic who installed it did clean it and skim it but the water is still dirty. Should I expect the mechanic keep coming back to clean it? or is this something I need to do? Also he raised the pressuretrol setting to about 5 the reading on the gauge is at 8lbs. I don't know why he did this but it doesn't seem right after what I have been reading in this article.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    @Billo you might want to start a new discussion about this, but you might need a new "mechanic". Your boiler doesn't need more than 1psi to provide heat. You don't want a high pH, that will lead to scaling and foaming. Flushing the boiler will return the pH to your supply water level. It needs to be tested.
    IronmanRomanGK_26986764589delta T
  • Billo
    Billo Member Posts: 4
    I had a new boiler installed and since have had many problems. As previously mentioned it has been flushed it about 3 or 4 times and skimmed? (To be honest I don't understand what skimming is?)

    The mechanic added PH to the system, after which I noticed the water was foaming, I guess too much PH? At the time I had no idea what foaming meant. It was flushed it again because, I complained the water was dirty and foaming in the tube. Vinegar was added to clean the system? Or the low water cut off sensor? I am not sure which. A couple of weeks, after the vinegar was added the tube got so dirty it needed to be scraped out. Then he added a boiler cleaner, it is better, but still a bit dirty, and it looks like there may be still be some foaming in the tube. I would like to test the water PH (where can I buy a test kit?)

    In the middle of all of this, he raised the pressuretrol setting to 5 (the reading on the gauge when making steam was 8lbs) because I complained, the system was not still not running correctly and short cycling. After reading the articles on this site, I realise that this is not only too high, and not good for the boiler, but probably also wasting fuel. I have since lowered the setting to 1lb.

    I would like someone else to look at the system to see if it needs further adjustments. Also not sure if auto feed is not filling correctly. Can anyone recommend a steam boiler Mechanic on Long Island New york.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    Search here on the site under find a pro. A couple of excellent guys on LI. @EzzyT is one of them.

    Sounds like a few things going on. Boiler should not foam - can be ph can be needing skimming. Start a new thread under "strictly steam" and also read up there- lots of answers to your questions are already there.
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 2,624
    MilanD said:

    Search here on the site under find a pro. A couple of excellent guys on LI. @EzzyT is one of them.



    I thought Ezzy is in NJ.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, Master Plumber
    in New York
    in New Jersey
    for Consulting Work
    or take his class.
    Canucker
  • MickyLee
    MickyLee Member Posts: 1
    My problem is turning off the heat when the weather is hot. I live in a 12 unit apartment bldg where the steam boiler comes on 6 hrs in the morning and again in the evening all year long. A few years after replacing the shutoff valve, it no longer shuts off. Some people say you should leave the shutoff valve fully open all of the time. Do I need to replace the shutoff valve that often?
    celluliteradio
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    Try turning the vent upside down. Most vents if you do that will close and not let the air out -- nor the steam in. The shutoff valve really isn't meant for that...

    Why on earth are they running the boiler in the summer? Sigh...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • 3435_Steam
    3435_Steam Member Posts: 2
    I have a one-pipe system. The old boiler has a capacity of 325,000 sq feet (EDR's). The actual radiator square footage is 125,000 EDRs. The old boiler works fine. Wer're dealing with calcium build up and need to replace. The books say to reduce the size of the boiler. However, contractors are saying that often there are flooding issues with downsizing. The boiler is smaller, needs the same amount of water, the return water is the same, but because the size of the boiler is small, the fresh water kicks in and it can be difficult to regulate. One contractor said that he installed a fresh water regulator but it was a bear to regulate correctly and took him a week to adjust. I was told you couldn't have a condensate return tank on a one-pipe system. I'm okay with about anything but making the wrong decision. Should I match the EDR's or should I continue with the same size boiler that works fine? FYI -- We have 33 original radiators with two removed. It's a high-end building and the original system was installed correctly. In other words, it's balanced. Few minor issues, nothing major.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373

    I have a one-pipe system. The old boiler has a capacity of 325,000 sq feet (EDR's). The actual radiator square footage is 125,000 EDRs. The old boiler works fine. Wer're dealing with calcium build up and need to replace. The books say to reduce the size of the boiler. However, contractors are saying that often there are flooding issues with downsizing. The boiler is smaller, needs the same amount of water, the return water is the same, but because the size of the boiler is small, the fresh water kicks in and it can be difficult to regulate. One contractor said that he installed a fresh water regulator but it was a bear to regulate correctly and took him a week to adjust. I was told you couldn't have a condensate return tank on a one-pipe system. I'm okay with about anything but making the wrong decision. Should I match the EDR's or should I continue with the same size boiler that works fine? FYI -- We have 33 original radiators with two removed. It's a high-end building and the original system was installed correctly. In other words, it's balanced. Few minor issues, nothing major.

    This really should have been a new thread...

    That said. The EDR rating of the boiler should match the EDR rating of the radiation. In this case, 125,000. So we'll start there.

    Calcium buildup? Say again? You shouldn't be getting a calcium (or anything else) buildup unless you are adding a lot of water to the system -- and if you are adding a lot of water, you need to find the leaks and fix them. More than a gallon a week on a system the size of yours is too much.

    You can have a condensate return tank on a one pipe system -- but you shouldn't need one. Problems with newer boilers -- which are, I grant you, smaller -- along these lines usually seem to be related to one of two other problems: slow returns (wet returns can sludge up and need to be flushed out) or excess pressure, which backs water up into the system from the boiler. I wouldn't be at all surprised if you have both problems.

    Regulating fresh water levels is related, but shouldn't be a problem and certainly shouldn't take a week of fiddling. Assuming we are talking here about an automatic water feeder -- first place, as I noted above, if you are adding more than about a gallon a week, you have leaks which you need to find and fix before you do anything else. Second place, the feeder doesn't -- or shouldn't -- think about feeding unless the water in the boiler is low, and if there are no leaks, that's a slow return problem -- and that can be fixed in most cases by cleaning the returns and getting the pressure down where it belongs, and then adjusting the feeder for the proper time delay.

    Check "Find a Contractor" on this site for someone who actually understands steam systems and get them to come and look at your setup. Or just tell us where you are located, and we may know someone in your area.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Jackmartin
  • 3435_Steam
    3435_Steam Member Posts: 2
    We're in Washington, DC. The water is hard and is scaling. Welcome any recommendations. Thanks.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,625
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/washington-d-c-metrosuburban-area-steam-heating-experts
    This is the only person you should call, seriously this is your contractor.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    KC_Jones said:

    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/washington-d-c-metrosuburban-area-steam-heating-experts
    This is the only person you should call, seriously this is your contractor.

    Indeed. Dan is one of the best for steam, and he can help you get all straight.

    As I said above, if you aren't adding much water the water in your are really shouldn't be a problem -- and if you are, you have a leak somewhere. Dan will find it..
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796

    I have a one-pipe system. The old boiler has a capacity of 325,000 sq feet (EDR's). The actual radiator square footage is 125,000 EDRs. The old boiler works fine. Wer're dealing with calcium build up and need to replace. The books say to reduce the size of the boiler. However, contractors are saying that often there are flooding issues with downsizing. The boiler is smaller, needs the same amount of water, the return water is the same, but because the size of the boiler is small, the fresh water kicks in and it can be difficult to regulate. One contractor said that he installed a fresh water regulator but it was a bear to regulate correctly and took him a week to adjust. I was told you couldn't have a condensate return tank on a one-pipe system. I'm okay with about anything but making the wrong decision. Should I match the EDR's or should I continue with the same size boiler that works fine? FYI -- We have 33 original radiators with two removed. It's a high-end building and the original system was installed correctly. In other words, it's balanced. Few minor issues, nothing major.

    This really should have been a new thread...

    That said. The EDR rating of the boiler should match the EDR rating of the radiation. In this case, 125,000. So we'll start there.

    Calcium buildup? Say again? You shouldn't be getting a calcium (or anything else) buildup unless you are adding a lot of water to the system -- and if you are adding a lot of water, you need to find the leaks and fix them. More than a gallon a week on a system the size of yours is too much.

    You can have a condensate return tank on a one pipe system -- but you shouldn't need one. Problems with newer boilers -- which are, I grant you, smaller -- along these lines usually seem to be related to one of two other problems: slow returns (wet returns can sludge up and need to be flushed out) or excess pressure, which backs water up into the system from the boiler. I wouldn't be at all surprised if you have both problems.

    Regulating fresh water levels is related, but shouldn't be a problem and certainly shouldn't take a week of fiddling. Assuming we are talking here about an automatic water feeder -- first place, as I noted above, if you are adding more than about a gallon a week, you have leaks which you need to find and fix before you do anything else. Second place, the feeder doesn't -- or shouldn't -- think about feeding unless the water in the boiler is low, and if there are no leaks, that's a slow return problem -- and that can be fixed in most cases by cleaning the returns and getting the pressure down where it belongs, and then adjusting the feeder for the proper time delay.

    Check "Find a Contractor" on this site for someone who actually understands steam systems and get them to come and look at your setup. Or just tell us where you are located, and we may know someone in your area.
    I totally agree what J H said ...order yourself a book called the color of steam from peerless, it's a good short read, with a steam survey at the end...
  • kyledryan
    kyledryan Member Posts: 6
    can anyone recommend a good quality 3/4 threaded Wye strainer to put inline before my Hoffman #75 main vent?? every year my main vent gets cruddy on me, and doesn't seal properly. it spews lots of dirty water in the bucket beneath,
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,625
    kyledryan said:

    can anyone recommend a good quality 3/4 threaded Wye strainer to put inline before my Hoffman #75 main vent?? every year my main vent gets cruddy on me, and doesn't seal properly. it spews lots of dirty water in the bucket beneath,

    While there is nothing wrong with a strainer, if you are getting that amount of crud and water at your main vent I suggest you have other problems.

    Pictures of your vent piping and boiler piping would help determine what issues you might have.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • kyledryan
    kyledryan Member Posts: 6
    It's at the end of the line/return line. It takes a 90 degree turn about 9 inches from the vent riser, and also reduces in diameter at that elbow....
  • kyledryan
    kyledryan Member Posts: 6
    thanks for your help!
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,175
    Is that the only vent on the main?
    What pressure do you run and what is the control adjusted to?
  • kyledryan
    kyledryan Member Posts: 6
    That is the only vent on that main. It's at the end of the loop. The gauge/pressure meter has been stuck at 5psi for a few years. Was told not to bother replacing it, because they fail regularly. Attached is pics of what it's set to.

    Thanks for any help you give!
  • HotanCool
    HotanCool Member Posts: 53
    Replace the gauge anyway. Easy and not expensive. Or take the old one out and see if it's plugged. Pressure trol looks ok.
  • HotanCool
    HotanCool Member Posts: 53
    Billo said:

    I heard that adding or PH or raising the PH level of the water prevents further corrosion in old pipes. is this true? And if I clean out the boiler and flush the water does this affect the PH level in the water. I had a Weil McLain boiler installed a few months ago the mechanic who installed it did clean it and skim it but the water is still dirty. Should I expect the mechanic keep coming back to clean it? or is this something I need to do? Also he raised the pressuretrol setting to about 5 the reading on the gauge is at 8lbs. I don't know why he did this but it doesn't seem right after what I have been reading in this article.

    5 psi! Enough grounds to find some one else.
  • kyledryan
    kyledryan Member Posts: 6
    yes, will do. any recommendations on a good quality replacement gauge?
  • kyledryan
    kyledryan Member Posts: 6
    no recommandations on a good quality wye strainer?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    No recommendations on a strainer. However, you are contemplating fixing the symptom, not the problem. You need to find out how cruddy water is getting to the vent location. In a steam system which is operating properly, the vents should only see air and steam, and on rare occasions (should be very rare indeed) perhaps some condensate. None of which should carry anything which can clog a vent.

    Could your system be running at a high enough pressure to back boiler water up to the level of the vent? Although the pressuretrol does look as though it is set properly, is the internal dial for differential set to 1? Or is it set higher? And is the pressuretrol actually functioning? Is the pigtail clear? Without a good low pressure gauge, you really don't know...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    JUGHNE
  • rickster359
    rickster359 Member Posts: 2
    I have an old sears homart steam boiler installed in 1956;it has a dry return and is rated for 140k btu input.
    It also has a small cylindrical tank attached to the steam supply main and then slanted slightly downwards and
    piped on the opposite end back down to below water line on the boiler with hartford loop included.When new boiler
    is installed is it necessary to have a new tank installed in the same manner?
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,425
    Some pictures would help to identify it.
    Have you done a radiator survey to size the boiler correctly?
    Search for EDR here, for details.--NBC
  • justin12
    justin12 Member Posts: 1
    I have what I would describe as two steam pipe loops in the basement. Steam pipe comes from boiler, splits into two. One pipe heads to the front of the house, feeds radiators, then main vent and condensate return. Second loop heads to back of house, feeds radiators, no main vent, and condensate return. Returns join up and feed back to boiler.

    Should the second loop also have a main vent?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,373
    Yes -- but let me ask: do the two returns join up above or below the water line? And are they true dry returns, or are the extensions of the steam main? Makes a BIG difference.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,175
    If the returns connect together above the water line and also share that single vent......the faster side will get the steam to the vent and close it. The slower side may stay air bound and not heat well as the rad vents will have to vent the air that would have gone out it's own isolated return air vent.
  • LS123
    LS123 Member Posts: 339
    @DanHolohan ... thank you so very much for information on steam system enhancements. I have a 70 years plus old coal steam boiler converted to oil fired steam. I was going to change to hot water and learned that its cheaper and better option to maintain the system I have ( I learned that from heatinghelp forum) the system is sold so far and I intend to keep it. thanks agaian Mr. Holohan!
    @LS123
    Steam Heat Enthusiast
    -- In Learning Mode --
    " Trust But Verify " Suzanne Massie, an American scholar
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,199
    Thanks, @LS123. I appreciate you. 
    Retired and loving it.
  • LS123
    LS123 Member Posts: 339
    @DanHolohan most welcome ! Thank you for sharing so much of your knowledge... cant wait to read your book! best! @LS123
    @LS123
    Steam Heat Enthusiast
    -- In Learning Mode --
    " Trust But Verify " Suzanne Massie, an American scholar
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