Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
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/.

Old Cast Iron Baseboard Radiators - loads of noise and steam from vent

New to this, but here it goes. First home. Old home (so I'm sure lots of fun stuff to pour money into). Gas powered steam heat. Single pipe (as far as I can tell and from what others have told me upon looking it over). We have recessed baseboad radiators in our dining area and I'm clearly getting some serious steam coming out of the vent now that the cold weather has hit us.

Any advice or suggestions on addressing this is greatly appreciated - especially if it's something I can do myself.

From what I can tell, there doesn't seem to be much protection for the walls. Given the house is nearly 100 years old can't say I'm too surprised.

Comments

  • neilcneilc Posts: 498Member
    pretty sure that's a hot water air vent.
    If you have steam, that's wrong, shut it tight, it won't work and may need to be replaced with a proper steam vent.
    post a picture of both ends of that rad again.

    You sure the boiler is steam ?
    post a picture?
  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
  • neilcneilc Posts: 498Member
    there's no second pipe under that vent?
    how long is that rad?
    boiler pic?
  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
    Guessing around 5-6ft?
    Looks like steam enters on the left side (where valve is) and there may be some sort of return underneath where the vent is on the far right?

    Is it possible some of the system is 1 pipe and some 2 pipe? Again old house so can't say I'm even the least but surprised that we are running into this.

    Thanks again any help
  • Gary SmithGary Smith Posts: 181Member
    If you’re sure the system is steam, it’s probably an old disc type hydroscopic steam air vent, I have some on similar baseboards. You might try to get new ones, at one time Supply House sold them, http://www.supplyhouse.com/Hoffman-401475-508-1-8-Straight-Steam-Convector-Air-Valve-3521000-p. There is a screw in the end which you tighten to open or close off the vent.
  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
    Oh, forgot the boiler pic.
    Boiler is a Burnham Independence.
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,513Member
    Let’s see the boiler pics to be sure, as I would think a hot water vent would let out water.—NBC
  • Dave0176Dave0176 Posts: 928Member
    Those radiators or any baseboard type of radiator is not recommended for single pipe steam. They work as intended when you have a two pipe or a piping arrangement the converts the radiator to two pipe. One of the biggest problems I encounter with cast iron baseboard installed on one pipe steam is they never seem to be pitched at all.

    Anyway to run it on single pipe steam you must keep the boiler pressure very low, under a lb would be best, and pitch the radiator. I’ve seen people make a small manifold at the end of the baseboard and connect the vent in between.

    What you appear to have is a hot water bleed vent which will always squirt water if open.
    DL Mechanical LLC Heating & Cooling 732-266-5386
    Specializing in Steam Heating, Serving most of NJ
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/dl-mechanical-llc

    https://m.facebook.com/DL-Mechanical-LLC-315309995326627/?ref=content_filter




    I cannot force people to spend money, I can only suggest how to spend it wisely.......
  • Dave0176Dave0176 Posts: 928Member
    This is how I’ve seen these radiators vented and they seem to work decent.


    DL Mechanical LLC Heating & Cooling 732-266-5386
    Specializing in Steam Heating, Serving most of NJ
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/dl-mechanical-llc

    https://m.facebook.com/DL-Mechanical-LLC-315309995326627/?ref=content_filter




    I cannot force people to spend money, I can only suggest how to spend it wisely.......
  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
    Can you describe what's going on there. From what I can see, it looks like the vent I have would be removed and the vents I'm more accustomed to has been installed after a 90 degree bend.

    What I don't quite get is the return after the vent?

    As mine has a rather large pipe on that of things as well. Visible at the bottom of the picture I posted of the vent. A bit dark.
  • JohnNYJohnNY Posts: 2,075Member
    Yes to this. ^^^
    Cast iron baseboard, with its ¾" tappings, never work well with 1-pipe steam.
    For installations, troubleshooting, and private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
    "72°F, LLC"
    Or email John at [email protected]
    John is a professional Master Plumber, licensed by The Department of Buildings of The City of New York, and works extensively in NYC while consulting for clients in and out of state.
  • neilcneilc Posts: 498Member
    yeah, I see the drain under the vent.
    So 2 pipe,
    and I am unfamiliar with that type disc type vent, but if it's passing steam, it needs replacing.

    Did we ever see the boiler?
    or what pressure it's running at ?
  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
    Sadly not yet. Will get a photo of that when back in house. Balancing this with managing a toddler so hopefully at nap time I'll get those shots for y'all too. Much appreciate all the help.
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,513Member
    Do I see several returns joined above the waterline?
    They should drop individually to the wet return, and you should get an additional low pressure gauge, (0-3 psi, graduated in ounces), to put on next to the pressuretrol, so you can keep it honest.—NBC
  • Dave0176Dave0176 Posts: 928Member
    Your near boiler piping is somewhat wrong, your returns are supposed connect under the water line your tee into each other above. Plus your supply mains are teed, they should come off the header. Not sure if this is causing your problems but it is wrong.
    DL Mechanical LLC Heating & Cooling 732-266-5386
    Specializing in Steam Heating, Serving most of NJ
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/dl-mechanical-llc

    https://m.facebook.com/DL-Mechanical-LLC-315309995326627/?ref=content_filter




    I cannot force people to spend money, I can only suggest how to spend it wisely.......
  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
    > @nicholas bonham-carter said:
    > Do I see several returns joined above the waterline?
    > They should drop individually to the wet return, and you should get an additional low pressure gauge, (0-3 psi, graduated in ounces), to put on next to the pressuretrol, so you can keep it honest.—NBC

    Good to know re the low pressure gauge. Where would I request a HVAC/plumber install this?

    Re returns and water lines issue, how terribly costly would this be to address (just ballpark range - obviously won't know until someone came out to quote me for the work - we talking $500, or $5000, or more?)

    The next issue I've discovered is that one of our other recessed radiators (on the first floor seems to be spitting out some water from the vent). Additionally not sure if this is from this steam issue or elsewhere but definitely losing water from the system as autofeeder has gone off a few times now. Sigh.

    Likey gonna call my plumber on Monday and see when he can swing out for some of these.
  • neilcneilc Posts: 498Member
    Feels like pressure and dirty water.
    Check for a clogged pigtail, and into the boiler also.
    Add the 3# gage on the pigtail while you have it apart.
    Pull the pressure gage and check it's port into the boiler for clear.
    The water in sight glass is dirty,
    does that level bounce when firing?
    With the boiler off, and cooled down, dump the water and refill, you may do this a couple different times to clean up the water.
    Like others have said, boiler piping needs work, the returns should tie in below water line.
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,513Member
    It may need skimming when you have time as well.—NBC
  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
    neilc said:

    Feels like pressure and dirty water.
    Check for a clogged pigtail, and into the boiler also.
    Add the 3# gage on the pigtail while you have it apart.
    Pull the pressure gage and check it's port into the boiler for clear.
    The water in sight glass is dirty,
    does that level bounce when firing?
    With the boiler off, and cooled down, dump the water and refill, you may do this a couple different times to clean up the water.
    Like others have said, boiler piping needs work, the returns should tie in below water line.

    I'll start with - I know squat about furnaces and am learning a lot from this forum - thanks to all of you for your contributions. I've done mostly sinks/baths/and some toilets in the past

    How would one check the pigtail on this. My concern bring that it connects right under the Pressuretrol. Any issues with simply unscrewing this when the system is off and cold? I assume standard teflon tape for threads when reattaching?

    Similarly, re adding the 3# gage on the pigtail. Just doesn't seem like there would be space?

    Yeah, I noticed that as well re dirty water in sight glass. Not sure what the bouncing means, but dirt I get. Will follow your instructions re dumping water and refilling (as I've not tested this before, I assume my autofeed should kick in at some point when dumping water).
  • neilcneilc Posts: 498Member
    for the pigtail,
    looking at your pictures again, it looks like this may be difficult due to interfering piping.
    Does it look like the Ptrol can turn off the pigtail to you?
    if so,
    Turn the power off to the boiler.
    Next you will want to disconnect the wires from the Ptrol.
    We have the picture here, but remember the middle screw isn't used.
    With a wrench on the flats under the Ptrol, take Ptrol from pigtail, then you can unscrew the pigtail from the boiler,
    you'll need to be able to blow thru the Pigtail,
    either replace the pigtail, or with a wire, poke it free.
    Make sure the threaded hole into the boiler is clear also.
    Reassemble, add a little water to the pigtail to prime it and power up.
    To add that gage, on the pigtail add a tee and nipple and add the gage to the tee,

    If that Ptrol can't turn off, you'll have to sacrifice the pigtail,
    cut it and replace it using additional nipple and coupler to get you up past the feed line, and reassemble as above.
    Some folks don't like tape, I'm not one of them.
    Just be careful and hold back one thread from the end of the nipple or male end, three wraps works for me.

    On dumping the boiler water,
    from your pictures I don't see a good bottom drain,
    maybe on the other side(s)?
    Or you could dump some from the wet return,
    can you get that plug out ?
    If you get it, the Hartford Loop will hold back a bit in the boiler,
    but it's still a good idea to open that wet return, there'll be mud there also.
    Be ready for the mess, a good wet vac can be your friend here.
    you can expect several gallons, so be ready to screw that plug back in under flow.
    Make sure the boiler's been off a while and cooled down, like after checking the pigtail.
    With the boiler powered off,
    shut the feed water off,
    drain the boiler water,
    then feed water back on, refill, boiler back on,
    simple as that,

    ya might need to do this a time or two.
    Skimming also, but again, I don't see provisions.

    Like was said, the installer did you no favors here at all.
  • neilcneilc Posts: 498Member
    if you choose to go the wet return plug route,
    I would add a full size ball valve there for future convenience,
    and plug it loosely for safety.
  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
    I'll post a photo of the back side with the drain when I get home. Gonna try the disc vents mentioned earlier as well (as it seems like a potential inexpensive fix). Have already changed out some vents elsewhere for adjustable so I feel pretty comfortable doing this.

    That said, how long should I wait for system to cool before doing anything on it?

    Good to know re pigtail and gauge.

    Would y'all say this is something where for the first time I should get a plumber in and just make sure I'm around and can observe ask questions (I know some folks hate this but the plumber I've used on a different project seemed ok with it).
  • neilcneilc Posts: 498Member
    pigtail you could do as soon as pressure is off,
    shut off the boiler, and start unwiring, that should be long enough.
    or you could lift the safety valve to be sure.

    the water draining, if you have to go to the wet return plug, well,
    when you can keep your hand on that pipe at the boiler,
    remember you'll be draining hot water, and may be trying to reinstall that plug as hot boiler water glugs,
    so, cooled down, 120* of less, or when you can keep your hand on that pipe at the boiler plus 10 minutes.
    don't get burned.

    the back boiler drain, with hose threads, will be the better option.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,411Member
    Getting back to that baseboard- it is also possible to put the vent on the return line under the floor. This would let you install a proper vent and not be space-limited. @Dave0176 's example would work if the baseboard was short enough that a return connection wasn't needed.

    And- what Dave and @nicholas bonham-carter said about the return lines. Since yours are joined above the boiler's waterline, steam can flow backwards toward the air vent on the baseboard. Lowering them below the waterline means the boiler water would fill them to the point where this would not happen.
    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
  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
    Steamhead said:

    Getting back to that baseboard- it is also possible to put the vent on the return line under the floor. This would let you install a proper vent and not be space-limited. @Dave0176 's example would work if the baseboard was short enough that a return connection wasn't needed.

    And- what Dave and @nicholas bonham-carter said about the return lines. Since yours are joined above the boiler's waterline, steam can flow backwards toward the air vent on the baseboard. Lowering them below the waterline means the boiler water would fill them to the point where this would not happen.

    So pretty sure these are off the returns in the basement. Based off of how they look, possible the one for the radiator is clogged. Gonna fire it up and see if get any noise here. If not, I'll likely replace this vent as well.


  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
    neilc said:

    pigtail you could do as soon as pressure is off,
    shut off the boiler, and start unwiring, that should be long enough.
    or you could lift the safety valve to be sure.

    the water draining, if you have to go to the wet return plug, well,
    when you can keep your hand on that pipe at the boiler,
    remember you'll be draining hot water, and may be trying to reinstall that plug as hot boiler water glugs,
    so, cooled down, 120* of less, or when you can keep your hand on that pipe at the boiler plus 10 minutes.
    don't get burned.

    the back boiler drain, with hose threads, will be the better option.


    Drains!


  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,513Member
    Those main vents are too small to allow the air to escape easily, and quickly, so replace them with big mouth vents, and you will notice an immediate improvement.—NBC
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,411Member

    Steamhead said:

    Getting back to that baseboard- it is also possible to put the vent on the return line under the floor. This would let you install a proper vent and not be space-limited. @Dave0176 's example would work if the baseboard was short enough that a return connection wasn't needed.

    And- what Dave and @nicholas bonham-carter said about the return lines. Since yours are joined above the boiler's waterline, steam can flow backwards toward the air vent on the baseboard. Lowering them below the waterline means the boiler water would fill them to the point where this would not happen.

    So pretty sure these are off the returns in the basement. Based off of how they look, possible the one for the radiator is clogged. Gonna fire it up and see if get any noise here. If not, I'll likely replace this vent as well.


    Which one comes back from the baseboard? Where does the other one come back from?
    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
  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
    edited November 26
    > @Steamhead said:
    > Getting back to that baseboard- it is also possible to put the vent on the return line under the floor. This would let you install a proper vent and not be space-limited. @Dave0176 's example would work if the baseboard was short enough that a return connection wasn't needed.
    >
    > And- what Dave and @nicholas bonham-carter said about the return lines. Since yours are joined above the boiler's waterline, steam can flow backwards toward the air vent on the baseboard. Lowering them below the waterline means the boiler water would fill them to the point where this would not happen.
    >
    > So pretty sure these are off the returns in the basement. Based off of how they look, possible the one for the radiator is clogged. Gonna fire it up and see if get any noise here. If not, I'll likely replace this vent as well.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > Which one comes back from the baseboard? Where does the other one come back from?

    Essentially I have two of these baseboard radiators that meet at a corner. Both vent at same corner. These are the returns for both of them. The far one is for the baseboard having issues currently.
  • epic_strattonepic_stratton Posts: 18Member
    So I replaced the valves on the two radiators that met in this corner. Overall pretty quick and easy fix. The Hoffman 508's worked great.
    Fired the system back up and all seems to be working great at the radiators here.
Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!