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Water out of steam air vent

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tmb
tmb Member Posts: 14
Multiple problems. One pipe steam system. Replaced most air vents at each radiator. Boiler water was very dirty. Had to clear plugged pigtail. Skimmed boiler 2 times. Added Boiler Colloid. After a few weeks, system water is clear. System pressure is operating between .5-1.5 psig. Could not get one of the radiators to heat up or if it did would not stay warm after a day or so. I already replaced shutoff valve at radiator and pitched it. Radiator does get hot now, but spits steam/water out. I am also overfeeding boiler. Condensate must not be returning fast enough. Piping for this side of the house is in a crawl space and can't tell if pitched properly. The problem radiator is on the second floor and one of the farthest. There is another radiator on the room next to it, which is equally far and no issues. In the begging this one would not heat also, but heats fine now. Any thoughts?

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  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    - Are the pipes in the crawl space insulated? The steam could be condensing before it gets to that radiator.
    - How are you measuring the system Pressure? Do you have a good 0 -3 PSI gauge on the boiler? The standard 0 30 PSI gauge is simply not accurate enough to be usable.
    - Do you hear any water hammer? You might try to raise that radiator a half inch or so and then re-pitch it. That will raise any horizontal pipes under the floor that may be holding water and allow the water to drain.
  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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    Do not think they are well insulated. 0-30 gauge, it barely rises. I was getting bad water hammer. After skimming and adding Colloid. It is fairly quiet now.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited March 2017
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    You need to drain and flush the boiler. Don't add anything to the water except maybe one or two Steamaster tablets. That colloid changes the characteristics of the water and most likely makes for a wetter steam.
    I would install a 0 -3 PSI gauge so you can see what the pressure really is. This is the one most of us use:
    http://www.valworx.com/product/low-pressure-gauge-25-0-3-psi
    I would try raising the radiator and then re-pitching it. It is likely a pipe that has changed pitch due to some house settling. Maybe this summer, insulate the piping in the crawl space well.
    tmb
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
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    Definitely wash all the Colloid out and refill, adding one steam master tablet if needed.
    A wand may be needed to return the boiler to squeaky clean normal condition.--NBC
    tmb
  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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    Wand? to spray inside boiler?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,433
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    tmb said:

    Wand? to spray inside boiler?

    Yes -- on the water side. Which may be difficult to get at, but worth a try. The idea is to flush any residual oil and crud off the surface of the boiler. Just use pure water!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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    I drained and filled boiler twice. Hopefully will remove most of the colloid. I could not find the gauge and steam master tablets by me yet. The supply tee's off top of boiler. The section of pipe that feeds the right side of the house is in a dirt crawlspace. The line is uninsulated and about 20' in length. It feeds 4 radiators on first floor and 2 on the second. Only the one on the second floor spits water. I did notice today some water spitting out of main Hoffman #75 on condensate return line. I lifted radiator about an inch and then repitched.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Post some pictures of the boiler and the piping above/around it. Sounds like wet steam which may be the result of poor near boiler piping.
  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Not good at all. Your problems are most likely very wet steam. Looks like what is suppose to be the header has a riser out of the boiler, then what is acting like an equalizer, then two mains with maybe a drip leg (can't see if that smaller pipe is tied into the backside of the horizontal pipe or if it is coming back from the end of the one main. Configuration should be a proper header, main, main, then equalizer at the end after the mains. In any case, that small pipe coming from the left of the picture is tied into that drip leg above the water line which means it will get steam, which probably creates some water hammer. It looks like there is (or was) a lot of leaking on the lower end of those wet returns.
    I would suggest you have a Steam Pro look at what can be (or should be) done to correct the problems. Where are you located?
  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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    Eastside of Cleveland. Eastlake OH
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    If you can get @gerry gill to look at your system, you'll be getting one of the best there is! I don't know what his schedule looks like but I'd sure try to get him/his crew out to assess what needs to be done.
  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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    tmb said:


    Smaller line with the main air vent is the return line . Has the 2 returns meeting before trap in return.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited March 2017
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    tmb said:

    tmb said:


    Smaller line with the main air vent is the return line . Has the 2 returns meeting before trap in return.
    Yes, that one return is probably ok but having the other tied into it above the water line is a problem, especially with the vent up above which really ensures steam is getting there and into the second return.
    Also, having that equalizer before the two mains means that when water droplets fall out of the steam, when the equalizer is at the end of the header, after the mains, the water can drop down into the equalizer. With it being before the mains, any water in the steam is probably being carried right down those mains., making for wet steam.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,433
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    Having two dry returns tie together before dropping is acceptable (in fact, rather common) -- if, in fact, they are dry returns and separated from the steam mains by traps, either as crossover traps or on the radiators.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Having two dry returns tie together before dropping is acceptable (in fact, rather common) -- if, in fact, they are dry returns and separated from the steam mains by traps, either as crossover traps or on the radiators.

    @Jamie Hall , he's got a one pipe system.
  • Gsmith
    Gsmith Member Posts: 433
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    Two thoughts: make sure you have good, operable main vents on the ends of your steam mains, the one in your second or third picture looks kinda iffy, and 2) try slowing down the radiator vent on the one that spits-- use a more restrictive vent.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,616
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    Can't tie dry returns together above the water line unless it is two pipe
  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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    Two thoughts: make sure you have good, operable main vents on the ends of your steam mains, the one in your second or third picture looks kinda iffy, and 2) try slowing down the radiator vent on the one that spits-- use a more restrictive vent.

    That main vent is a Hoffman #75. It was replaced after the picture was taken. I have tried changing orfices from most open to the most restrictive, same thing.
  • tmb
    tmb Member Posts: 14
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    Can't tie dry returns together above the water line unless it is two pipe

    So the tee has to be below water line?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    tmb said:

    Can't tie dry returns together above the water line unless it is two pipe

    So the tee has to be below water line?
    Yes, That will take care of one issue.
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    aside from your near boiler piping issues maybe you could insulate your steam mains .Part of your issue has to do with all the condensate forming in your steam mains being they are not insulated ,insulate them with a mimium of 1 inch wall fiber glass insulation ,check the pitch of your mains and also pitch your raditors and make sure your raditor hand valves are completely open .I have seen plenty of spitting under performing raditors all caused by uninsulated steam mainsin unfished baements , even worse when the boiler is not piped correctly but some times just the insulation of the piping is enough to makea difference and acceptable .Properly insulated steam piping makes all the difference in performace of a system aside from putting the heat where u want instead of your basement peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,433
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    Can't tie dry returns together above the water line unless it is two pipe

    I've never managed to figure out why not. Can you illuminate that for me?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Hatterasguy
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
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    Can't tie dry returns together above the water line unless it is two pipe

    I've never managed to figure out why not. Can you illuminate that for me?
    The steam from one dry return can feed back into the other dry return causing hammer and balancing issues.
  • Lordofthering
    Lordofthering Member Posts: 14
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    Bring down your water level to below half site glass level and run your boiler on manual water by turning off automatic water feeder. If you need water add manually. It is likely your auto feeder is overfeeding water. I had tow boiler at my rental which had 3/4 suggested level water still it was causing this issue of pipe hammering, leaking water, high pressure. Everything gone with simple solution after calling 6 different plumbers who could not fix issue.

    Good luck