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I'm a newbie to steam

I'm A newbie to the steam radiator life and the wife and I are so lost... is someone able to tell me if this is a 1 or 2 pipe system.
Everything I have read I believe it to be a 2 pipe system. I just bought the "We Got Steam Heat" book and it says that the radiators on a 2 pipe system should not use relief valves that screw in to the radiators. Is that true? If so should I remove them all and insert plugs into the holes? Thanks in advance for any and all help...


    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    You have 2 pipe rads with steam traps, usually no vents on the rad.

    Back up for full view of 2 or 3 rads.

    Also pictures of piping in basement around boiler...back up also.

    Look for some vents in the basement on the top of pipes.....they would be big versions of the ones on the rads.....pictures also.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited October 2017
    It's a two pipe system. There are some old(er) two pipe systems that also have vents on the radiators but they aren't that common. I'm guessing The traps (unit opposite the valve side of the radiator) may have failed closed, preventing air from escaping the radiator and someone added vents to the radiators to allow the air to vent as the steam entered. Those traps can be rebuilt. Take a close picture of one so that @Sailah can tell you which kit you need. In the meantime, take the vent off of one of the radiators that currently heats up and put a 1/8" plug in the hole and see if the radiator still heats up. If it doesn't, that probably confirms the trap has failed closed.
    If, by chance, this is a two pipe vented system, @Steamhead can tell you what to look for on the system to verify that, in which case you'll want to keep the vents.
    New England SteamWorks
  • New England SteamWorks
    New England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,502
    Great synopsis @Fred, as always.

    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    Erin Holohan HaskellFred
  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    Looks like Sarco T25 traps from here. You can remove covers and send the guts to me and I'll test them for you no charge. Just make sure to label where they came out of with a sharpie so you know.
    Peter Owens
    New England SteamWorks
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    It is possible that it was a 2 pipe vented system that has had a trap added.
    The 2 pipe vented system would have (in your rad in the picture) the right hand pipe drop down low into the basement, well below the steam main which feeds the valve on the right side of that rad.
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 635
    Can't wait to see the underside of this. Judging by the tape on the trap side nibble it looks like there has been some work done.
    Miss Hall's School service mechanic, greenhouse manager,teacher and dog walker
  • Kcenderjim
    Kcenderjim Member Posts: 4
    Sorry it's been a while since I have been on but dealing with other house issues at the same time. But since it's starting to get cold here, the wife wants the heat turned on. So if I need to take the vents off I will do this before it's pressurized with steam. What pics do I need to post so I can get yinz input so I can get the heater strarted. Thanks for all the help.in advance.
  • Leon82
    Leon82 Member Posts: 684
    Wide view of the piping coming in and out of the boiler and and vents that may be in the main pipe
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,891
    "Pressurized with steam"? Please, no! When the boiler is off -- cold -- there should be no pressure in the system at all, and even when it is running there should never be more than 1.5 psi.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Kcenderjim
    Kcenderjim Member Posts: 4
    I hope these help a bit. Unfortunately all the pipes are under wood and ceiling tiles that are ridiculously screwed to the joists.

  • Near boiler piping looks ok. I like the little wall radiator! But you have a trap on the first radiator you showed (typical two-pipe), but this little guy has a valve. Not sure if that was original or was put there in attempt to fix a trap problem (running rad as a 1 pipe/using the valve as an orifice to meter condensate into the return). In your first boiler photo, a galvanized pipe (your wet return) seems to be running to the left and taking a 90* into the floor. Is that true?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    I can tell you right now that the wall radiator in your picture probably has a vent on it because the radiator and the return pipe is pitched the wrong way and probably full of water so that air can't escape through that return. Pitch both the radiator and the return pipe the other direction before you remove and plug the vent. If the other vented radiators have the same pitch problems, do likewise on each of them.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    edited October 2017
    Fred, are we sure this wasn't originally a 2 pipe with air vent on rads?
    From the boiler pictures it looks like there is a under floor wet return only.

    For the wall rad it seems that the larger supply pipe on the right should be pulled up. The hangers may have gotten moved when the wall paneling was installed.

    Homeowner needs to track where the smaller pipe on the left (return) goes to in the basement. That will tell a lot.

    This is needed to know before the vents are removed.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    @JUGHNE , I'm not sure but given that some of his rads have traps on them, I'm guessing that it likely was not originally a two pipe vented system. What's happened along the way, I don't know but in any case, the pitch of the pipe and rad should still be corrected and then he can test with and without the vent.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    We have seen only 2 rads so far.
    The wall hung looks to me to be an original set up.

    The other rad with the air vent (referred by HO as relief valve) has the trap (with teflon tape) perhaps added by some unknowing repairman.

    IIWM, I would not remove the air vents until the return pipes are located in the basement. They could all separately drop down to or under the basement floor.
    At this time leaving the air vents will not affect the operation.

    If there are no air vents in the basement on the return pipes (smaller of the two) then the rad vents are needed.

    Air vents on the end of the steam main would help things for sure.

    If this is a true 2 pipe air vent radiator system then each return and a drip line at the end of the steam main must separately drop down into a wet return.
    See page 125 of TLAOSH, pink copy.
    Page 384 of "Revisited" edition.
    I did not see this mentioned in "We Got Steam Heat"

    Need more pictures of basement piping.
  • Kcenderjim
    Kcenderjim Member Posts: 4
    I will see what I can do as far as getting more pics of the lines in the basement ceiling. Like I said the ceiling tiles and plywood have so many screws in them I could start a hardware store. Lol... And I will check on the pipe going into the floor. Thank yinz all for the help so far.its all Dutch to me but I'm kind of making sense of it all the best I can.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    The key thing to look for is under each radiator in the basement.
    You are looking for that smaller pipe to see if it goes down to the floor or into the floor.
    Assuming you have a full basement.
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
    Getting some good advice here..As for the near boiler piping I don't see a swing joint off the riser. I fail to see how it's pitched...to start with
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,299
    It is likely that all radiators are not piped the same. Why do they have to be?

    My guess the upstairs radiator is piped two pipe with a trap. The wall radiator is likely piped two pipe air vent and dripped into a wet return. Likely nothing wrong with that
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    Just needs to be some air vents in the basement somewhere.