Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Replacing air vents in 4 story Brownstone

Coop_Owner Member Posts: 6
edited November 2018 in THE MAIN WALL
Hi. I have a 4 story Brooklyn Brownstone. We have a one pipe steam system. Some residents have complained of banging and vents spitting. We had a plumber here who wanted to replace a radiator that bangs saying the piping to the valve was too far (it's maybe 6 inches) and wanted $ per vent to replace them.
Knowing this was all outrageously priced and excessive work, I just balanced the banging radiators to slope more and want to replace the vents that spit and the ones on the banging radiators. Wondering how do I determine what size Gorton or Maid o Mist valves to get. Does each floor require a different size? Is one brand better than the other? Should I only get the round vents and not bullets?
One (ok two) other issues - the stairwell radiator on the first floor hardly heats, and the vent on the main in the basement that feeds the front of the house hisses really loudly and spits. I'm thinking that valve is not the right size.


    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,057
    Start in the basement,
    What pressure is the boiler set at?
    Pictures of boiler controls please.

    Show us your main vent also.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,700
    Good on you for taking on the radiators yourself, pitching to the supply will help, the vents you can do also. Are the supply valves completely open? They should be, or this could be part of your hammering issues
    but let's start in the basement,
    You'll want to replace the spitting main vent,
    but, let's see a picture and determine it's the correct size,
    guys here will want to know the steam main length, and diameter, to determine adequate vent size and quantity.
    At the boiler, what is your pressure set to?
    What do you see on the gage when it's running?
    Can you post some pictures of the boiler, floor to ceiling?
    and of the pressure control and gage, and of the water level glass?
    The hissing and spitting could be high pressures, dirty water, and or poor boiler piping, let's get a look.
    Back upstairs, that cool stairwell rad, probably needs a new vent also, air doesn't get out, steam doesn't come in. Is the supply valve completely open ?
    known to beat dead horses
  • Coop_Owner
    Coop_Owner Member Posts: 6
    Thanks guys. Sorry it's taken this long. The resident who's radiator I balanced stopped complaining of banging so this project got the back burner so to speak. But still need to switch out the air vents all around. As requested here are photos. The boiler is in the center of the building with 45 foot mains going to the front and back. Everyone in the building knows to keep their valves completely open or completely closed. I believe the boiler is set at 2 psi.
    First photo is the vent at the end of the front main (I don't have access to the back main). Second photo is of the Pressuretrol, Third is of boiler room piping, Fourth is the run of the front main from the boiler room, Fifth is of the gauge, Sixth of the glass, Seventh is a vent in the boiler room which seems to come off a return?, Finally the Weil McLain boiler plat.

    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,057
    The first vent shown hardly counts at all. I would remove the reducing coupling and install at least 1 Big Mouth vent.
    The second one shown is newer but still quite small, I would do the same replacement. IIWM

    More pictures of the lower left side of the returns on the boiler would be good. Back up for wider view.

    Do you have another return pipe at the boiler besides the one with the newer vent.

    Your Hartford Loop looks backwards, maybe.
  • Don’t change the radiator vents, until you have enlarged the main vents to big mouth size, and check the pressuretrol pigtail.
    A good low pressure gauge would keep the pressure verifiable.
    Why pay for extra fuel to squeeeeze the air out of constipated little main vents?—NBC
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,229
    Your boiler and system looks like it was installed and being maintained by amateurs. You need a proper steam guy to go through it and straighten it out. What you don't need is someone else experimenting with air vents and radiator shims.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
  • Coop_Owner
    Coop_Owner Member Posts: 6
    Ok guys, you've convinced me that this is a bigger job than a homeowner can do. And now I can't sleep knowing that someone installed our new (8yrs) boiler wrong. We've had the hardest time trying to find a decent, reliable, not exorbitant plumber/heating expert here. We had one company install TRVs at the valves of all of our radiators (one-pipe you may recall), only to have another come and say our system can't handle those and remove and replaced them all with regular valves again. I don't know who to trust.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    edited December 2018
    The purpose of this website is to educate homeowners like yourself, and make them more knowledgeable about, steam, hot water, and even forced air heating.
    When armed with this knowledge, the average homeowner can detect the knucklehead when he sees him. Have you read any of the steam books on this site?
    Wasn't the installer of this boiler exorbitant, as he ignored some of the basic principles of steam heating installation, which have been established by the manufacturers, and professionals such as are contributing here, and causing you to have to redo his improper work?--NBC
  • Coop_Owner
    Coop_Owner Member Posts: 6
    edited December 2018
    Absolutely Nicholas. We (our co-op) will pay for our ignorance in the end. To my credit and the credit of what I've learned on this forum, I did recognize the guys who wanted to charge us $/air vent and wanted to replace a radiator because the "distance between the riser and the the radiator was too long (at 10"-12")" as knuckleheads.
    (Oh and by here in my last post, I meant, here in NY, not here on the forum.)
    And good suggestion about the books. I believe I bought one a long time ago and leant it to another resident. But time to get it back and review it.
    Thank you all.