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one pipe 7' radiator

Hi all,

I've been going through posts and had to ask:

I have a roughly 12" high x 7' long radiator that isn't a standard rib cage design. Its in 3 sections (solid with ribs on one side) and is on my first floor. My boiler is 8 years old. I have a "D" valve on it (just put a new one this season) because I've read so many contradicting opinions on location vs. size of radiator to valve size, but this year it doesn't seem to be getting that hot. I spoke with an older plumber in his late 70's who advised me to chart out my steam system to figure out what is first in the chain but the feed splits from my boiler so theres no linear direction. It does seem like its the last one on the floor to heat up (guessing due to its size).

I have noticed some condensation on top of the valve.

Before the season I had my boiler serviced. It was cleaned and I had the boiler detergent used to clean it out.

I mud and drain the system every couple of days from the boiler and return (my boiler has a sensor and automatically refills). This is my first home with a one pipe radiator system, so it's a learning process that I'm thoroughly enjoying but this one large unit has me vexed.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Rich
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Comments

  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,653
    I drain a little water from my boiler a couple of times a year, draining it every couple of days is not good.

    Was that boiler detergent flushed out? The water should be clean and you should not see a lot of bouncing in the sight glass when the boiler is making steam.

    What kind of vent do you have on the steam main? Usually it's desirable to vent the steam mains fast and the radiators slowly. Using a D vent is pretty aggressive, have you checked that radiator with a level to make sure it's got a little pitch back towards the input side so water can find it's way back to the boiler.

    The advice to chart out the system is correct, list all the radiators with the size of that radiator, what room it's in,the vent used on it, and the position of the pipe off the steam main (is it 1st off the main, 2nd, etc.

    What pressure is the boiler running at? Steam systems usually want to run at very low pressures, 1.5PSI or less. Take some pictures of the boiler that show the boiler and the piping around and above it so we can see if there might be problems with the way it's piped.

    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
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 3,190
    Post a few pictures of radiator and radiator piping and boiler and boiler piping
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    Thanks all! I'll put together pictures and charts. It's an old house in the suburbs of NYC, supposedly from 1910 but we've found maps that indicate 1860's-80's. I do find that the glass gets murky once a week so I drain (mud?) it. Like I said, I'm new to all of this but super into it. I'll be back with pics later on in the day.

    Rich
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    BobC said:

    I drain a little water from my boiler a couple of times a year, draining it every couple of days is not good.

    Was that boiler detergent flushed out? The water should be clean and you should not see a lot of bouncing in the sight glass when the boiler is making steam.

    What kind of vent do you have on the steam main? Usually it's desirable to vent the steam mains fast and the radiators slowly. Using a D vent is pretty aggressive, have you checked that radiator with a level to make sure it's got a little pitch back towards the input side so water can find it's way back to the boiler.

    The advice to chart out the system is correct, list all the radiators with the size of that radiator, what room it's in,the vent used on it, and the position of the pipe off the steam main (is it 1st off the main, 2nd, etc.

    What pressure is the boiler running at? Steam systems usually want to run at very low pressures, 1.5PSI or less. Take some pictures of the boiler that show the boiler and the piping around and above it so we can see if there might be problems with the way it's piped.

    Bob

    I did flush out the detergent, the glass does get murky brown and I don't see any bouncing in the glass when it's making steam. This house (as I mentioned in my previous post) is old and I've found that the previous owner and the ones before him did very little or incredibly backwards, its a constant surprise every time I do a project around here. :neutral:
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,653
    My house is 100 years old so I know what it's like to deal with quirky stuff.

    There might be "stuff" sticking to the boiler walls so it may take a few flushings to get rid of the crud. Sometimes you need to make a wand that you can stick into the boiler to forcibly wash the inside down. In any case I would do that with the extreme cold we are having now, best to wait for a mild spell.

    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
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33




    Here is my chart and I added the best pics I could take with my phone.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33


    Here is the glass with the pressure gauge.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    BTW, if you right click the chart and choose "open image in new window" you will get the full sized chart.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    BobC said:

    My house is 100 years old so I know what it's like to deal with quirky stuff.

    There might be "stuff" sticking to the boiler walls so it may take a few flushings to get rid of the crud. Sometimes you need to make a wand that you can stick into the boiler to forcibly wash the inside down. In any case I would do that with the extreme cold we are having now, best to wait for a mild spell.

    Bob

    Thanks Bob! Totally agree. Oddly, the knocking isn't bad on my system, I've experimented with the vents from last winter (we moved in Nov. 2016), but I do want to optimize it as best as possible.. I need to get more insulation on the pipes in my basement but its so darn expensive ($10 for 3 feet) and I have a lot of pipe down there.
  • leonzleonz Member Posts: 145
    edited December 2017
    I bet your big radiator has to be readjusted to tilt back to drain the condensate back to the boiler.

    If you have an 8 foot level or even a six foot level that will tell you whether it has settled. All you may need is a shim or two to lift it up.

    You can always use fiberglass batt insulation and just zip tie around the basement piping with the black zip ties as they are better to use. It will look butts ugly but its less expensive.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    leonz said:

    I bet your big radiator has to be readjusted to tilt back to drain the condensate back to the boiler.

    If you have an 8 foot level or even a six foot level that will tell you whether it has settled. All you may need is a shim or two to lift it up.

    You can always use fiberglass batt insulation and just zip tie around the basement piping with the black zip ties as they are better to use. It will look butts ugly but its less expensive.

    I couldn't get a good angle because the cover that my father ad I built is in the way but it's on a good pitch. Its suspended on the wall but I put a couple of 2x4's underneath.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    If you blow up the image you can see the bottom of the radiator through the grill on the far left and the pipe on the far right.

  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 121
    Is the radiator not getting hot or is it getting hot but the room is colder than it used to be? Your new enclosure could be reducing the output of that radiator, depending on the dimensions.
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 330 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    acwagner said:

    Is the radiator not getting hot or is it getting hot but the room is colder than it used to be? Your new enclosure could be reducing the output of that radiator, depending on the dimensions.

    The radiator itself isn't as hot as it was last winter. Had the enclosure last year when it was warmer and this year I lined the back wall behind it, the inside top of the cover, and created a flange underneath with sheet metal to try to re-direct the heat. Just doesn't seem to be getting as hot as it did.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    So I just checked the radiator in the front of my house by the entrance (right above the vent in the basement in my diagram) and the long radiator, there's a HUGE difference in the heat from one to the other. Even the radiator in my kitchen that preceeds it in the line is considerably hotter.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 6,012
    I can't see much from the radiator pictures you've posted, so far, but from what I can see, it looks almost like hot water baseboard. Is there a vent on that radiator? Is it fins on a copper tube?
  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 121
    Here's a study from the 1920's. It covers a lot of ground, but it gives 6 enclosure scenarios about midway through and the effect each have on radiator output. Depending on your dimensions, it's probably around a 10-20% decrease with the enclosure (case number 4, judging from your photo).

    I'm not sure if this is your problem, but since the enclosure is new this year it's probably more than coincidence. When you say one radiator is hotter, do you mean you're putting your hand on the radiator and it's noticeable cooler than others?
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 330 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    Fred said:

    I can't see much from the radiator pictures you've posted, so far, but from what I can see, it looks almost like hot water baseboard. Is there a vent on that radiator? Is it fins on a copper tube?

    It does look like a hot water baseboard with fins, no copper tubes.


    The problem is that its suspended on the wall. It does have a vent on it and currently I have a "D" maid-o-matic on it.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    acwagner said:

    Here's a study from the 1920's. It covers a lot of ground, but it gives 6 enclosure scenarios about midway through and the effect each have on radiator output. Depending on your dimensions, it's probably around a 10-20% decrease with the enclosure (case number 4, judging from your photo).

    I'm not sure if this is your problem, but since the enclosure is new this year it's probably more than coincidence. When you say one radiator is hotter, do you mean you're putting your hand on the radiator and it's noticeable cooler than others?

    I think I might have written my response incorrectly. The cover was from last year when the radiator was hotter.

    For the second point, yes. When I place my hand on the other radiators they are considerably hotter than this one. Even the others with covers are hotter.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 6,012
    Ok, it's a convector. What size vent does it have on it? A Hoffman #41? Make sure that vent isn't stuck closed. That will slow the steam down immensely.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    Fred said:

    Ok, it's a convector. What size vent does it have on it? A Hoffman #41? Make sure that vent isn't stuck closed. That will slow the steam down immensely.


    Maid-o-matic "D" currently. I did notice water on the top of the vent. should I boil it in vinegar? Use a smaller vent?
  • FredFred Member Posts: 6,012
    I would try a Hoffman #41 or a Maid-O-Mist #4 or 5. That "D' is way too fast. You can also try taking it off and shaking it out. It may be water logged, being that fast.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    Fred said:

    I would try a Hoffman #41 or a Maid-O-Mist #4 or 5. That "D' is way too fast. You can also try taking it off and shaking it out. It may be water logged, being that fast.

    Thanks! I just swapped it out with a smaller vent that I have in a reserves box and ordered the recommended vents.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    BTW, is there anything I can put in the radiator itself to loosen 100 years of buildup? Or does the detergent cycle through the system?
  • FredFred Member Posts: 6,012
    Don't use any detergents in the system. They will cause foaming and unstable boiler water lines. There isn't enough build up in a steam radiator/convector to worry about.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,571
    That looks like cast-iron baseboard to me, a.k.a. Baseray.

    If this unit replaced an old cast-iron radiator, it could be simply too small for the room.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,653
    Try pulling that enclosure out an inch or two to see if that increases the output. You really would like to modify that enclosure by dropping the top rail of the enclosure down to provide a slot just under the top surface of the enclosure. That would significantly increase the convection.

    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
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    BobC said:

    Try pulling that enclosure out an inch or two to see if that increases the output. You really would like to modify that enclosure by dropping the top rail of the enclosure down to provide a slot just under the top surface of the enclosure. That would significantly increase the convection.

    Bob

    Thanks! After changing the vent last night there is an increased output. I couldn't lower the front rail at this point. I'd have to plunge rout in the vents at this point, which isn't impossible.

  • GordoGordo Member Posts: 568
    Hi! I noticed on your boiler near boiler piping at the 1-1/2" return, there is a copper female adapter screwed onto a black steel nipple that then threads into the tee with the boiler drain. That particular joint is going to rust out the steel much sooner than other steel to copper joints.

    If I were you, I'd have that joint removed and at least run the copper into a male adapter worked into that tee. Maybe replace that short black nipple going into the boiler with extra heavy steel and tolerate the extra corrosion. Maybe also replace that tee with one made of cast iron.

    Needless to say, this should be done in the spring.

    Others may chime and and make other suggestions.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    Gordo said:

    Hi! I noticed on your boiler near boiler piping at the 1-1/2" return, there is a copper female adapter screwed onto a black steel nipple that then threads into the tee with the boiler drain. That particular joint is going to rust out the steel much sooner than other steel to copper joints.

    If I were you, I'd have that joint removed and at least run the copper into a male adapter worked into that tee. Maybe replace that short black nipple going into the boiler with extra heavy steel and tolerate the extra corrosion. Maybe also replace that tee with one made of cast iron.

    Needless to say, this should be done in the spring.

    Others may chime and and make other suggestions.

    wow! I'm totally lost... copper to steel nipple? I'm not sure where you are referring to.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33


    Ok folks, If you look at the chart my entrance way radiator (above the vent in the basement (far right on the chart) had a "c" maid-o-mist on it. I put that vent on the radiator because all others would hiss for a really long time (10-15 minutes before closing). I swapped it out with a bullet vent "R 125?" and it vents the steam, but opens and closes periodically (every 15 minutes it will open for a minute, blow steam and shut) and the C vent I put on the long suspended baseboard radiator in my back room and that now gurgles water when heating up.

    This is just me experimenting. The C vent at the entrance way released steam, closed and that was it. Radiator stayed hot (super hot) the entire time, so I was wondering if that had anything to do with the back radiator not heating up as much as it did last season as the vent change was something I did last year because of all the noise it was making.

    Any thoughts? Its a "mild" 16 degrees in NYC today and I'm not going anywhere today so it's the perfect time to play with a 100 year old heating system! :smiley:

    Rich
  • FredFred Member Posts: 6,012
    It sounds like one of two possibilities:
    - What size Main vents do you have on the Mains? It sounds like maybe the main venting is poor. That will affect steam distribution.
    - - Other possibility is the system pressure may be too high. What is the system Pressure when the boiler is running? You need a 0-3 PSI gauge on the boiler to get a good reading. The standard 0 - 30 PSI gauge just doesn't work for low pressures. Set the Pressuretrol at .5 PSI Cut-in and the Differential (white wheel inside the Presssuretrol) set at "1". Make sure the Pigtail (looped pipe) that the Pressuretrol is mounted on is clean and not plugged. If it is plugged, the Pressuretol can't see the actual pressure to cut the burner off when it reaches the 1.5 PSI range.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    Fred said:

    It sounds like one of two possibilities:
    - What size Main vents do you have on the Mains? It sounds like maybe the main venting is poor. That will affect steam distribution.
    - - Other possibility is the system pressure may be too high. What is the system Pressure when the boiler is running? You need a 0-3 PSI gauge on the boiler to get a good reading. The standard 0 - 30 PSI gauge just doesn't work for low pressures. Set the Pressuretrol at .5 PSI Cut-in and the Differential (white wheel inside the Presssuretrol) set at "1". Make sure the Pigtail (looped pipe) that the Pressuretrol is mounted on is clean and not plugged. If it is plugged, the Pressuretol can't see the actual pressure to cut the burner off when it reaches the 1.5 PSI range.


    I wish I understood half of what you just wrote Fred. The images I posted earlier in the thread show the pressure. I have an old timer plumber who gave the system a once over before the cold came. checked the pressure, etc... I'll have the check the vent on the main. Not sure of the size it came with the house. Like I said earlier with the c vent on the front door radiator it didn't open and close after the first cycle. it would vent and stay closed and the radiator was always (still is) hot.

    What is a pressuretrol?
  • neilcneilc Member Posts: 274
    little grey box with a slide scale on it,
    post more pictures
  • neilcneilc Member Posts: 274
    the pigtail is the looped pipe under the P trol
  • FredFred Member Posts: 6,012
    You likely need to get a Steam Pro in there to go over your system. The Presssuretrol is a gray box, mounted on the boiler. It should be mounted on a Pigtail (looped pipe) and it controls the pressures at which the burner can fire and the upper limit where it would shut the burner down. That looped pipe it is mounted on can and will get clogged and block the Pressuretrol from doing its job. It should be cleaned annually.
    Take a picture of the vent(s) on the mains. I suspect they are either very small or not functioning. That will have a significant impact on how the steam pushes through the mains. Some, closer to the boiler will likely get hot while others further away from the boiler, not so much, if at all because the air in the mains can't escape. It just gets compressed.
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    Fred said:

    You likely need to get a Steam Pro in there to go over your system. The Presssuretrol is a gray box, mounted on the boiler. It should be mounted on a Pigtail (looped pipe) and it controls the pressures at which the burner can fire and the upper limit where it would shut the burner down. That looped pipe it is mounted on can and will get clogged and block the Pressuretrol from doing its job. It should be cleaned annually.
    Take a picture of the vent(s) on the mains. I suspect they are either very small or not functioning. That will have a significant impact on how the steam pushes through the mains. Some, closer to the boiler will likely get hot while others further away from the boiler, not so much, if at all because the air in the mains can't escape. It just gets compressed.

    I'll take more pics of the boiler in a bit, my daughter just woke from her nap & I'm on baby duty right now. Here's the vent on my line. There's only one vent in the basement. No markings at all on it.



    gs



  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    BTW, it's brand new and the only one they had at my local Home Depot.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 6,012
    That vent is too small for main vent. About how long is the Main?
  • cscaretakercscaretaker Member Posts: 33
    Fred said:

    That vent is too small for main vent. About how long is the Main?

    ugh, I just came up from taking the below pics. Is it odd that my system splits off from the boiler and only one side has a vent?

    *Just measured. Roughly 18.5'.

    Here are the other pics of the boiler:





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