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Steam Heating Woes #2, and update + more

ihoop88 Member Posts: 12
Hey all,

Many of you helped me when I initially posted on this forum for the first time as a new home owner with steam heat. I wanted to post a small update and clue people in on how my system has been working. Problems still persist, unfortunately....

As some users may recall, on the end of the main in my basement was a capped section of pipe that most certainly had a main vent on it in the past. It was capped and many users here recommended that I re-install a main vent, which I ended up doing (A Hoffman #75). The main vent really didn't make that much of a difference, unfortunately. The largest radiator in my living rooms heats up more quickly because of it - that is more a less the biggest change I have seen.

Another issue I was having was with two radiators on the second floor making a ton of gurgling noises and heating up rather slowly. This problem has persisted with no noticeable change despite my best efforts of increasing the pitch on both radiators, playing with different steam vents, and raising entire radiators by 1/2 an inch off the ground. This problem is driving me absolutely crazy, seeing as one of these radiators is in my bedroom and wakes me up at night.

The main in the basement was , for the most part, lacking insulation. I insulated the main with fiberglass which is hopefully making the system run a bit more efficiently.

The pressuretrol is working but lacking of proper calibration. I have the differential set to 1 but it doesn't kick in and shut the boiler off until it reaches around 2....

My theory now about the two problem radiators on the second floor is that the main in the basement has lost most of its pitch and is almost completely level by the time it reaches the elbow that goes to the second floor. I can hear the gurgling noise described above right around the aforementioned elbow in the basement, albeit at a much lower volume. My theory is that this noise is somehow being amplified by the pipes and is much louder when I hear it through the problem radiators on the second floor. I have no idea how I could actually increase the pitch of the main in my basement......

Anyway, if anyone here has any other suggestions please let me know!




  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    First off, a single Hoffman #75 vent is next to not having a vent on the main. Unless the main is very, very short, it probably is only a fraction of what is needed to actually vent a main. Probably why you didn't see much change.
    The gurgling you hear is probably located where you hear it loudest (at the radiator). That noise is probably radiating down the pipe and is why it is more faint in the basement.
    Do you have a 0-3 PSI gauge on the boiler? If you are using the 0-30 PSI gauge to determine that the Pressuretrol is cutting the boiler off at 2 PSI, you are probably actually seeing 5 PS. A 0-30 PSI gauge is worthless at low pressures. If you know the Pressuretrol needs to be calibrated, get a good 0-3 PSI gauge installed and re-calibrate the the Pressuretrol. That could be a big part of the gurgling noise. If the pressure is high enough that water can't return to the boiler easily, it will stay in a radiator or pipe and gurgle until the end of a heat cycle, when it can get back to the boiler.
  • ihoop88
    ihoop88 Member Posts: 12
    Hi Fred,

    You make a great point about the pressure in the system. I hope I can do away with the pressuretrol soon and replace it with a vaportstat.....One question, though. If high pressure is making it hard for condensate to return back to the boiler wouldn't all my radiators, in theory, have the same problem? Meaning, not just the two problematic radiators on the second floor....?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Not necessarily. If you have those two problem radiators vented faster, that will allow the steam to those to move through those supply lines at an added velocity that may be just enough to prohibit condensate return.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,286
    It is quite true that the gurgle may be from where it is loudest... but then again, it would be worth checking the pitch on that basement pipe. If it rises a bit and then levels out, you might be better off lowering the middle just a bit, so that it has an even pitch all the way from end to end. Use a string line or a laser to do this. It is better to have an even pitch all the way, even if it is less than desirable (so long as it isn't the wrong way!) than not.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mikeg2015
    mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,194
    Once you vent the mains, balancing everything else i found to be easy. Until then, the steam is pretty wild. Ike herding cats. Get one venting too fast and then another goes totally cold. Slow down one too much and another goes crazy.

    The depending on how hot the system is or how long it’s been running, things change.

    I cheated and used a 1/4” or 1/8”’ tap. Not the right way. Right way you weld a 1/2” or 3/4”.