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Installing vent on steam main

gryegrye Member Posts: 83
edited January 2018 in Strictly Steam
Hi everybody. Got some great help on the main wall diagnosing what I think is my problem. I have two radiators getting way too hot (downstairs thermostat reads 70, these two rooms upstairs are over 80*). I tried every type of vent (including a Hoffman 40) on the radiators to try and cool it down, but no luck.

With the help of some of the greats on here I was able to determine my steam main doesn't have a vent after the last radiator run. There's a slight issue that may need some repiping (no space before the vertical return), but I'm told it's no issue for a pro.

Can anybody recommend a steam guy in the Bronx, NYC? I thought, armed with that info, I could any plumber in to just repipe and add the vent but his basic knowledge of steam heat really turned me off. He obviously would have done what I wanted him to but I didn't feel comfortable after that.


  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,124
    Unfortunately, it’s often the case that an informed owner will know more about his system, and what should be done, than the local Pro. When my 1,050,000 BTU boiler was installed, the techs all said they had learned so much from me, (and I was learning as I went!). I still see things I would have done differently while I blow down the LWCO each time, but it’s still miles ahead of the old 1952 and 1970 installations!
    If you can find someone who can at least follow directions, both from you, and the manufacturer’s installation instructions, then you are ahead of the majority of first time posters here.
    The most dangerous Pro is one who insists that his way is best, and has been doing it wrong like that for 30 years!
    Don’t forget a low pressure gauge to be put on in parallel with the useless but required 0-30 psi factory supplied gauge.—NBC
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,712
    Try @JohnNY , @EzzyT , @Dave0176 ...
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • zoomzoom Member Posts: 68
    I have echo Nicholas Bonham-Carter's comments above.

    In my local area, not a single one of the plumbers that have been through my house, including the "I've been doing this for 30 years" pro who installed my new boiler last year, had a clue how the steam system in my house was designed to work. Not only did these plumbers not know, but they didn't care that they didn't know. Instead they just assumed.

    As a homeowner, you are left to educate yourself on the nuances of your own heating system. Sites like this one in particular, are where the uninformed homeowner can gain some understanding from truly knowledgeable pros.

    Unfortunately, many homeowners are like me, we only start asking questions after we've paid for work and we are not satisfied with the results. I would have been far better off if I'd educated myself before I allowed a plumber anywhere near my heating system. This is particularly true of the older steam systems designed and installed by those who have now long shuffled off this mortal coil.

    As homeowners, we have a tendency to place our trust in licensed pros to solve out heating problems. We pay good money to buy that trust and peace of mind. I will let others opine on the possible short comings of those pros. As homeowners we have the responsibility to be clear about the problem we want solved and make sure that the pro knows that is what he's being hired to do. That's different from simply performing a task, no matter how complex (e.g. installing a new boiler). It's solving the problem that the homeowner wants solved (e.g. cold rooms). If the problem isn't solved, then the job isn't done (even of there's a brand new boiler sitting in the basement).

    Sites like this one enable homeowners to educate themselves to address some of their own problems, and just as importantly, to be able to screen potential pros before they start any work on the heating system.
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