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Noisy Steam Radiator Struggles - HELP!

Hi Everyone,

I've been reading a ton of posts on here but I still can't seem to find out why my radiator is having issues.

Here is a timeline of events and "facts" that I can provide.

1. Furnace was replaced 2 months ago
2. Radiator in living room (issue radiator) apparently has always heated up last, 14 verticals wide (not sure if correct term for sizing)
3. T-stat is located in living room
4. Radiator noise was EXTREMELY loud after new furnace install, and I mean scary.
5. Relief valve was replaced by plumber after install 2 days after- seemed to fix loud noises
6. Slightly noisy up until a few days ago
7. Extreme noise is back
8. Cleaned out old relief valve(adjustable) with vinegar and swamped back in, worked initially, they started squiring water 12+ inches in air. Radiator never heated up.
9. Cleaned out new valve (non adjustable) and swamped back in for old valve
10. Last Night - more clanking. Relief valve sounds almost like someone breathing. A steady slow pshhhh then loud exhale for about 10-15 seconds, this continues for several minutes then stops. Minutes later a huge exhale that lasts 45+ seconds.
11. Radiator heats up first 2-3 verticals only after 90 minutes+ of running, rest of the floor is HOT.
12. All other radiators 1 bathroom, 1 closet, 2 bedrooms are cranking soon after furnace starts.
13. Third Floor unit - zoned for that floor alone, less than 1000 SF.
14. Sometimes after furnace is off the radiator gets a large burst of air/sometimes team and heats up. This is after furnace stops calling.
15. I checked the pitch of the radiator. Is there too much of a pitch? I think we are currently at 2% incline but will double check with a level later today.
16. I have not run the furnace with relief valve off yet
17. 2 on/off valves and one coupling are slightly leaking in other room, still cranking hot entire time.

I can pictures of basement system later this evening if needed.

I would love to get your thoughts on this.

Thank you in advance

Matthew

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,918
    Terminology here, Matthew -- what you are calling a relief valve is properly a vent, and they are used -- as yours is -- on single pipe steam systems on the radiator to let air out so the steam can get in. There are -- or should be -- larger vents on the steam mains in the basement, but we'll leave that for the moment.

    From your description, it sounds as though you may have two unrelated problems. First, I suspect that your steam pressure may be set too high -- possibly way too high. On the boiler there is a control called a pressuretrol, which controls when the boiler shuts off as pressure builds. It should be set to turn the boiler off at no more than 1.8 psi, and back on again when the pressure drops to about 0.8 psi. Can you check and see if you can find such a control, and describe it -- or better yet, post a picture of it?

    The other problem sounds -- the noises, lack of heat, and "breathing" noises -- very like a problem with the pitch of the pipes leading to that radiator -- not the radiator itself. The thing to do is to find the pipes which lead from the steam main in the basement to the radiator, and then make sure that they are either vertical or slope back towards the steam main. Any low spots will pool water, and give exactly the problems you are describing.

    Also make sure that the on/off valves are fully open -- on all the radiators. They are not used for control on one pipe steam, but only for servicing.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    matthewb84
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    i agree with the other posts. Has that boiler been skimmed? Skimming is done to remove the oils that get introduced when major work is done. The oils cause a very unstable water line and can lead to all sorts of bad behavior.

    Did the installer install a skim port? If he did this is something you can do yourself. Many installers don't skim because it takes hours and may have to be done several times.

    Post pictures of the boiler and piping from several angles so we can see how it was put together.

    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
    matthewb84
  • matthewb84
    matthewb84 Member Posts: 27
    Hi Jamie and Bob,

    Thanks for the help so far.

    I will take pictures this evening and post for everyone to review.

    Matthew
  • matthewb84
    matthewb84 Member Posts: 27
    UPDATE:

    Return Vent is open during entire cycle, see water stain on ground (is this normal). Water and air spraying almost entire time.

    Most of the banging occurs once the boiler hits max PSI and shuts down, banging begins almost immediately.

    You can see PSI is up to 5 and water in the view glass is fairly low...

    It also looks like the main and return pipe are pitched the wrong way, low end to the elbow about 2 degrees.

    Thoughts.
















  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,918
    Pressuretrol is set way too high! There are two screws on the top -- the right hand one is the main. Turn that so that the indicator is just below the figure 2. Then turn the left hand one so that the indicator is on 1.

    The water in the sight glass is low -- you can add to about the half way mark when the boiler is off.

    Now for the bad news: that vent is toast. You will need a new vent for that -- get a good one (Gorton, Maid-o-mist, Vent-rite) which is moderately slow and put that on. But don't do that until you reset the pressuretrol -- at the pressure you were running, it also would die an early death.

    The smaller diameter horizontal pipe in several pictures may be pitched wrong or just flat. Check it's pitch with a good level. If it is wrong, fixing it it going to be a chore... but you need to figure out how to do it, even if it is just level.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Skim new boiler install
    Verify pressure is at or below 1.5psi
    Ensure proper main venting
    MilanD
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    Your pressure is much too high. Adjust the main down to below 2PSI and the differential down to 0.5PSI and see how it works.

    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
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    -Main vents should close as soon as steam hits them. If they are staying open, they are bad and need to be replaced. What type are they? You need good, large vents on the mains so they vent quickly.
    - Turn that Pressuretrol down. The Main scale should be set to 1.5 or 2 PSI max and the Differential should be set to 1 PSI
    - The water in the sight glass looks yellow. Does that water bounce more the 1/2 to 3/4" when boiler is running? I don't see a skim port on that boiler. Has it ever been skimmed? If not, and the water bounces a lot, a good skim is needed.
    - The mains should pitch towards the end of the main where they drop down to the wet return. Highest point at the boiler.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,667
    start with your pressuretrol, it's set too high
    the main is set at 5, dial it down to just under 2,
    the diff on the left is set around 1.5, leave it for now unless advised by others,
    water in the glass looks dirty bad,
    I don't see a skim port though,
    you might try draining the cool boiler, not hot, and refilling,
    that might be a cleaner or treatment in there,
    see what the lower pressure does for you first.
    known to beat dead horses
  • matthewb84
    matthewb84 Member Posts: 27
    Is the skim vent on the back side?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542

    Is the skim vent on the back side?

    It could be. It should be a tapping (hopefully with a ball valve or at least a 1" or 1.25" nipple on it) above the water line of the boiler.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,667
    no,
    that's your safety pressure valve,
    and it should be turned so its valve stem is vertical,
    put a tee where the 90 is with the safety on the tee, up,
    then add a ball valve, with a plug,
    you could then skim from that but it is smaller than the guys here like,
    have the plug for the ball valve for when not in use skimming as a extra safe
    known to beat dead horses
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,667
    oh,
    and get a brass 90 and nipple to plumb that copper leg from the safety valve back to the floor
    known to beat dead horses
  • matthewb84
    matthewb84 Member Posts: 27
    Ok Great - thanks everyone. I rent this place so the landlord called the plumber who installed this, (eek) hopefully everything will be corrected this time around.

    I'll update with any progress when they come tomorrow afternoon.



  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,456
    Boiler needs multiple skims to get the oils out.
    Lower the pressuretrol to something more reasonable like 1.5 to 2 PSI.

    Sounds like you need some decent main vents and likely faster radiator vents on all radiators as well.

    Also have him fix the pressure relief, the stem must be vertical.
    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
  • matthewb84
    matthewb84 Member Posts: 27
    Ok- so the landlords "guy" came. He admitted he is just an install guy, mainly plumbing and normally doesn't touch anything else to do with furnaces/boilers. Reason why the PSI was set to 5 - that was the out of box factory setting.

    I eventually convinced him to turn down the PSI 2 with a 1 diff.

    Noise seems to be entirely gone. So far so good at least, system is off now so we will see later when it gets cold.

    Water is terribly dirty we drained some to check it out.

    I'm not sure I will be able to get him to fix the relief or the main vent but he says he is coming back Saturday to skim. Ill speak with the landlord about getting a service guy out here.

    As far as the vents on the radiators can you recommend one for the radiator that isn't getting hot, something to get that air out quicker. I hope this change will make a big difference.

    Keep you posted about the noise, tried to upload a voice file for you to enjoy but it won't seem to upload.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Get the main venting fixed first and make sure you have enough main venting. That may resolve that radiator not getting hot. Also, check that radiator and make sure it is pitched back towards the supply pipe end of the radiator and check the pipe that feeds that radiator, in the basement. Make sure it is pitched back towards the main. If it is a second floor radiator, lift the entire radiator a half inch or so, if you can, and then re-pitch the radiator. That little bit of lift will add a little pitch to any horizontal pipe under the floor but above the first floor ceiling. Skimming, by itself may aid in getting steam to that radiator as well.