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Near Boiler Piping

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FXProglJr
FXProglJr Member Posts: 83
edited August 2017 in Strictly Steam
I must say that our trusted oil delivery/service company installed a new boiler (Peerless ECT-04) in Grandpa's house many years ago. Everything seemed fine. But, when I inherited the house a few years back and started checking things, I found that the 2nd floor apartment was always much warmer (around 8 degrees) than the 1st floor apartment even though they both had approx. the same EDR/sq. ft of radiators. I tried all sorts of things to correct it (some of you may remember my earlier posts - and thanks to all that helped). I'm sure the system is better now, but I never solved the problem. Well, I should have found and watched Dan's video a long time ago because I just checked what I should have started with - near boiler piping - and found a problem.

It seems that my boiler should have two 2" risers, but I only have one. Question #1 - how bad is this for my system operation?

I could correct this without disturbing the existing header piping too much by extending the header a bit, sliding the boiler down a bit, adding the second riser and moving the equalizer connection to the other end of the header (see attached sketches/photos). This would mean that the upper portion of the equalizer connection would be at approx. 45 degree angle (NOTE: The bottom portion of the equalizer and its connections to the boiler would remain unchanged). Question #2 - does this pose any problem?





Comments

  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
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    The second riser would be nice, but that's not your problem. You have a balancing problem. The steam is taking the path of least resistance.
    MilanD
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,742
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    Agreed.
    I looked through some of your older posts, but didn't see anywhere that you posted what kind and how many main vents you have as well as what kind and size of rad vents you are using.

    Have you measured the mains to calculate how much main venting you need? If you post the dimensions of your mains we could help with that.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
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    In general you want to vent the steam mains fas and the radiators slowly. That allows steam to become available to the radiators at about the same time.

    Radiators should be vented according to the volume (EDR is a good metric for the radiators and any uninsulated pipe feeding it must be considered) of the radiator itself and the piping that connects it to the steam main. Unless you are very experienced it might be best to use variable vents, vent the lowest volume pairs very slowly and use slightly faster venting rates to those pairs with greater volumes.

    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
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    Balancing of mains... also, do a heat loss calculation on 2nd fl and compare to edr. I'm curious if 2nd fl has excess edr and should slow down rad venting (making it be a smaller rad via slow venting), while increasing your 1st floor venting? Just a thought...
  • FXProglJr
    FXProglJr Member Posts: 83
    edited August 2017
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    I'll try to answer everyone's questions.

    At first I thought the problem was with the radiators - too many or too big on the 2nd floor or too few or too small on the 1st floor but that doesn't seem to be the problem. There are 0.27 EDR/sq. ft. in the 2nd fl. apartment and 0.24 EDR/sq. ft on the 1st floor - a bit lower, but I don't think enough to cause the such a big difference in temps between the apts. (see radiator layouts below)

    Then I started playing with the radiator vents. I put all slow (small holes) on the 2nd floor and all fast (large holes) on the 1st floor. That didn't make a difference, but I did notice water spitting out of the vents on the 1st floor, so I put in vents with slightly smaller holes. That stopped the spitting.

    Then I moved to the mains. The furnace is in the middle of the 45' long house and there is a main going to the front of the house and another to the back of the house for each floor. All of the mains are 1-1/2". I replaced all of the main vents with Gorton #1's - no change. Then I added a 2nd Gorton #1 to the 1st floor main with 4 of its 5 radiators fed from it - no change. Now I have a Gorton #2 on that end and there is still no change. So I don't think main venting is the problem



  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    Well, as far as BTU/EDR need for heat loss, it really will depend on type of construction, what R values are where, etc... in general, you have 2 floors, one has unheated basement below, the other has open to outside roof above... you should really do a heat loss to see. Off the top of my head, 2nd floor EDR should be significantly less than 1st floor - but I may be wrong here, as it depends on no. of windows, doors, insulation, etc... Without heat loss calc and plugging in all the variables, I am just guessing.

    One thought: when is the house built? If it was in 1910s-1920s, they may have in fact sized the system to heat bedrooms with the windows open, or to keep it warmer up there when the coal fire dies down over night... who knows!

    If everything is venting as it should and you tried all you could, you need to look at what pressures do you operate when the system is on? This sounds to me a lot (spitting vents??) that you have an oversized boiler and that you are cycling on high pressure until tstat is satisfied. This can throw everything out of whack.

    Last resort - throw some thick blankets over 1/2 of the rads upstairs and play with that, or put a rad covers over them. Covers will cut the output by 20-30% and this alone may solve your issue, and blanket is a cheap way to accomplish the same result.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    One last thought: did you fire the boiler from cold and measure how soon the steam reaches the end of each main, and in which order? You can do this with a helper, and by taking off all main vents. Then, make sure you balance the mains, keeping in mind you want all mains to get hot equally.

    Then, did you notice which radiators get hot first? It is also quite possible that as steam is converted back to water (and collapses in volume by 1,700 times) it will create a vacuum that will suck in more and more steam, thus exacerbating the problem. Throw a blanket on those overheating rads - at some point they'll stop condensing (like a thermos, latent heat will stay captured inside and seep out slowly), and steam from the boiler will go to other places.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    MilanD said:

    Throw a blanket on those overheating rads - at some point they'll stop condensing (like a thermos, latent heat will stay captured inside and seep out slowly), and steam from the boiler will go to other places.

    BTW, I call this - poor-man's rad cozy, without moving parts. Google 'radiator labs cozy'. Some high-tech solution to this very problem!
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
    edited August 2017
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    If the pipe runs are long, you may need several Gorton #2's, or one big mouth vent on each end.
    Look on a good low pressure gauge, and you should see the venting taking place at a couple of ounces, as the air is pushed out with no resistance, [back-pressure].
    Some more insulation on the header would help as well.--NBC
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,218
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    I bet the attic was insulated and now the radiators are way too big.
    I use Ventrite or Tunstall vents for nearly all applications. The lowest settings on these vents is very low to off and the highest are also quite low when compared to Gortons, Maid of mist, and especially Heat timers. If small vents don't work, then TRV's are the way to go....actually they should be installed on nearly all the radiators anyway, except the one by the thermostat.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
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    If your Basement Piping Diagram is at all accurate, you need to straighten out those returns. Each main needs its own return, and they should only tie together below the water line.
    FXProglJr
  • FXProglJr
    FXProglJr Member Posts: 83
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    Thanks Paul. Yes, the piping diagrams are accurate. The returns from the mains at the front of the house are tied together just below the ends of the mains. From there, they drop to the floor (below the water line) and return to the furnace. And the returns from the mains at the rear of the house run near the ceiling (slightly pitched) and are joined together about 1/2 way back to the furnace and before they drop to the floor on their way back to the furnace.

    Now that I think about it, this could allow steam to pass between mains through the returns (and create the unbalance mentioned above). Could this be my problem?
  • FXProglJr
    FXProglJr Member Posts: 83
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    As for the main venting......all the mains are 1-1/2" and the longest main is about 25'. When the furnace starts, if I go to the ends of the mains and hold them, both get steam at the same time so I don't think that's a problem.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
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    Even if the ends of the mains get hot at the same time, the important timing is: do the radiators get steam all at the same time?
    Equally cold pats of butter on plates on top of the radiators should all melt at the same time, (in a perfect system). An IR attachment for your smartphone will be helpful here, if you are on a low fat, no butter diet.
    This is where the main vents play such an important role in filling all the mains first quickly, at zero back pressure, leaving the rad vents with higher resistance to allow the radiators to all fill at the same time.
    Having a low pressure 3 PSI in ounces gauge makes this easier.
    You should really be balancing the cumulative mains back pressure, (2 ounces), against the total radiator back pressure, (slightly higher), NBC
  • New England SteamWorks
    New England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,520
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    FXProglJr said:

    Now that I think about it, this could allow steam to pass between mains through the returns (and create the unbalance mentioned above). Could this be my problem?

    If any of your returns are tied together above the waterline it could certainly be your problem. Returns need a water seal.

    Also, you stated that the ends of the returns get hot at the same time, but you did not mention how long it took for them to get hot. Important data that inquiring minds would like to know.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
    FXProglJr
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,077
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    Steam could be returning thru the shorter main/return first and crossing over into the longer piping there by closing its main vents and trapping air within that long main.
    Each return has to have it's "feet" under enough water so as to not affect the other return/main.
    FXProglJr
  • FXProglJr
    FXProglJr Member Posts: 83
    edited August 2017
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    Thanks much guys....I'm working to move all the return connections down to below the water line (good thing Grandpa left a lot of pipe threading equipment!). I'll come back to this thread after the heating season starts and let everyone know what happened. I'd like to proceed changing only one thing at a time so that I'll know what actually, finally fixes the problem.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,077
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    It sounds like you have some wet returns.
    IIWM I would check the condition of that pipe on the floor and maybe replace. Add clean out valves at each end for flushing in the future.
    Also add a tee at the end of each main (4) for venting if they are not already there.
    Each end of main return can go down to the floor to the wet return wherever it is, not necessarily back at the boiler. They just need separated by the water seal.
    I would fix all this before adding the 2nd steam riser, IMO.
  • FXProglJr
    FXProglJr Member Posts: 83
    edited August 2017
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    Thanks JUGHNE......the pipe on the floor is not in the best shape, but since most of it is behind a wall (semi-finished basement), I'll hold off on replacing it.........means to flush is already there.....mains already have tees.....and I'm working on changing the return layout to:
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,077
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    Your design for adding another steam riser from the boiler should be reviewed.
    The usual order is riser.....riser.....steam main.....steam main....equalizer.
    You have shown both mains connected between 2 steam risers.

    This is shown in your boiler I&O book and is I believe the standard setup.

    If you were to attack the 4" fittings I would assume you would want to go by the book. IIWM or my job I would try the return repair and see how much improvement is achieved.
  • FXProglJr
    FXProglJr Member Posts: 83
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    I must be missing something......the NEW LAYOUT for the header piping shown above has (proceeding from right to left) Riser.....riser.....steam main.....steam main......equalizer??

    And, yes, rearranging the returns will be easier than adding the 2nd riser so I'll try that first. I don't want to make more then 1 change at a time so that I'll know for sure what effect each change had,

    Thanks for your input/thoughts
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,077
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    Sorry, I was reading that backwards. :( You do have it that way.

    Do you have the skim plug out of the block?
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,427
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    FWIW, the smallest equalizer listed in charts is 1-1/2.
  • FXProglJr
    FXProglJr Member Posts: 83
    edited August 2017
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    WOW...good catch! Another installation error by our trusted oil delivery/service company I never noticed......the boiler is a Peerless ECT-04 and the equalizer is 1-1/4".....I find it strange that there is a tapping on this boiler for a 1-1/4" equalizer at all....but that's a discussion for another thread. I only want to work on 1 thing at a time (so I know what finally solved the problem) and now I'm fixing the returns, so this (and the 2nd riser) will have to wait. But take a look at the steam pipe chart from the Installation manual that came with the boiler. Some equalizers are 1-1/4:
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,077
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    Also is the header sloped to drain towards the equalizer?
  • FXProglJr
    FXProglJr Member Posts: 83
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    Well HALLELUJAH! We seem to have solved my problem by reconfiguring all the returns so they do not join until they are under the water line.

    Thanks to all that helped.

    Now, for the first time since we started this, both floors are close in temperature. And, if I play with the venting, I can see a difference.

    Merry Christmas
  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    Santa will be very pleased to see your new modifications, and he may have a special present for those with well maintained systems.
    Possibly he will be bringing everyone a lump of coal, in an effort to help the miners.—NBC
    FXProglJrNew England SteamWorks