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2 pipe system no traps 2nd floor low heat

PeteRocckPeteRocck Posts: 10Member
Hi all, new member here, spent hours reading thru this site. It’s helped tremendously however need a little more help.
I have few questions about my 2 pipe steam system. Please bear with me as I am going to try and explain my unique system so that you guys have as much info to help answer my questions. If I put some wording in ( ) it’s only because I may not know correct terminology.
I have a 2” pipe coming off boiler which goes up about 3’ to a tee (header) for about 8’ per side which I’ll call east and west side. East and west side then have 45 elbows with close nipple to other 45 elbow to perform a drop to run under floor joists. Pipe is now 1 1/4” after the drop. East side has 2 radiators which come off (supply) steam side via a tee that reduces down to 3/4” pipe which is pointing upward. 3’ or so in length with elbow to steam radiator valve. East and west supply lines are pitched away from boiler. At the end of main there is a main vent about 8” above steam main. There is also a ( thermal disc) trap at the end of main that is plumbed into the (wet return).
Small side track, this system used to bang to no end. Not really knowing what I’m doing I decided on trying to rebuild (thermal disc) traps. I couldn’t find direct replacement or comparable replacement without have to re plumb half the system. So I took them apart to see if it’s something obvious wrong. Low and behold the west side trap had been gutted. The east side was complete but no matter what I tried that side banged bad while west side was quite. So I gutted the east side trap and banging is gone.
That being said this system has zero traps. However it does have vents, and lots of them. As stated before to at the end of the steam mains. It also has 2 (main vents) in the returns near the boiler pre Hartford loop. Each radiator has a vent as well.
So now my questions.
Any ill effects having main steam lines kind of feeding into the wet returns?
Because it’s a 2 pipe system do I need the vents on each radiators?
Because of this unique system can I throttle the inlet valves on each of radiators to balance the system?
The reason I ask is because the last radiator in the system on the west side only gets about 40-50% hot. If I crank the thermostat up to 74 then all is good. But under normal load the furthest radiator gets little heat. On that note I believe it’s not plumbed correctly. It’s feed off the very end of the 1 1/4” main choked down to 1/2” for an unknown distance, it is on second level so if I had to guess I’d say 8’ or so and also un insulated as well.
I also have on the west side the first plumbed radiator, pretty much off of the boilers header which goes to second floor but again I believe it’s not plumbed correctly. This one someone has changed plumbing over to 1/2” copper pipe, feed and return. In basement the feed side obviously gets hot and return is cool. Up stairs the radiator get hot on the return side. Not sure if they flip the pipes during whatever it is they did or not. It must of been known problem because they moved the vent to the valved/feed side. I’m also wondering on proper water level in the boiler. 24” from floor? X amount over (boiler plate)? 1-2” over Hartford loop?

I can’t find anyone to work on this system and I’m starting to get feed up. If someone can shed some light and help me. It would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Pete

Comments

  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,513Member
    A picture is worth a thousand words, so post some of the boiler piping, radiators (both ends), and the traps.
    A drawing of the layout of the system would be invaluable. Tell us where you are, and maybe we know of someone who is not listed on the find a contractor section.
    Questions are:
    Are there traps on the discharge of the radiator?
    Is the pressuretrol set down as low as it will go? —NBC
  • PeteRocckPeteRocck Posts: 10Member
    I live in Milford CT
    I’ve had 2 of the radiators out to replace the valves. Definitely don’t see any kind of trap or orifice on return end of radiators. The traps are at the end of the main steam 1 1/4” pipes. One on each side of the house. The pressure is set at 1/2lb
  • GBartGBart Posts: 646Member
    Maybe Dan can ensure I am correct but it looks to me as though you have a 2 pipe system that perhaps had some traps fail and/or other issues and someone tried to solve by adding vents to the radiators.

    As far as I know 2 pipe steam systems do not use vents on the radiators.

    You may need a steam expert to rectify this.

  • GBartGBart Posts: 646Member
    There was a time when some 2 pipe steam systems used vents
    but I don't think your house is that old, where the vents on the radiators always there or added?


  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 3,822Member
    There are 2 pipe air vent systems and typically the sign of one is the rads connected at the bottom on both ends. All the ones that have shown up here and I believe in Dan's books use valves on both ends, this system is different.

    I also see in the pics, this system appears to have been touched (a lot) by people that don't know steam. First sign is the copper. The second thing that jumped out was the comment about a "main" being 1 1/4" pipe. That is not a main, that is a run out for a single radiator, and it will only support so much load.

    Could you post some pictures of this reduction? Is it possible it was a radiator run out and someone built an addition and it's now trying to function as a main?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • GBartGBart Posts: 646Member
    Yeah and there's a pic off the top of the boiler and what looks like 3/4" copper off the main......another with a thermostatic trap above the TV.
  • GBartGBart Posts: 646Member
    My guess would be it's a two pipe divided circuit upfeed system, so the vents would be there, could be the circuits with the copper piping is the issue. Not enough volume in the supply to the rad.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,945Member
    Those two traps were feeding into what once were dry returns -- consider the elevation (well above the water line). What has happened is that this system is now running as a two pipe air vent system (seem to be seeing a lot of those lately for some reason) -- which is just fine, so long as it heats properly. Without studying it a lot more -- a diagram would be helpful -- I'm inclined to agree with @KC_Jones on the area that isn't heating well -- that runout may simply be much too small. What is the total EDR that is fed by it?
    Jamie



    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
  • PeteRocckPeteRocck Posts: 10Member
    The house was built in 1949. GBart the house always had vents on radiators since fiancée bought house in 2007. House was previously owned by a plumber. Go figure. I have also read that conventional 2 pipe systems don’t use radiator vents. Judging buy some of the do’s and don’ts This is not a conventional system. Yes there is copper pipes but it only 1/2” feeding second floor and my best guess is it’s un insulated. Fiancée claims that room used to get hot?
    KC Jones no addition ever added to house. It’s a 1200 sq ft cape. 2 bedroom 1 bath upstairs. I also agree that piping size is inadequate.
    G Bart those thermostatic valves are empty (gutted) they are basically a glorified elbow at this point.
    Jamie Hall the system works pretty well on first floor. Even considering that the traps are no longer traps. I’m with you guys. I believe the piping is inadequate to work second floor. Can I just throttle back other radiators via the radiator valves to balance system? I slightly worried about this as I’m not sure if restricting the steam input to working radiators will cause a steam build up in my returns considering I don’t have any traps and have poor piping size and ultimately cause wet steam and then just creating more problems? A diagram of system I guess I could pencil one up but it might be misleading 🤷🏼‍♂️
    Thank you all it’s much appreciated
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,945Member
    The small copper, probably uninsulated, pipe leading to the second floor just isn't going to make it. I'm not going to say that your fiancée has a good imagination or a bad memory -- neither would be quite politic! -- but... I rather doubt that that ever heated well, although it might have heated some.

    Is there any way that you can see to bring a bigger riser up there? It should be threaded black iron... which doesn't bend too well, but perhaps?
    Jamie



    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
  • PeteRocckPeteRocck Posts: 10Member
    I’ve thought about it. I’d have to open up the kitchen wall. I’d have to open living room wall to fix other bedrooms problem, small 1/2” pipe. Not the end of the world but, part of me wonders how much time material and money into this system. A 1949 house, hows those returns looking? How long before something goes? Part of me wants to ride it out. How much time and money do I put into this system? Golden question. I guess I’m looking for bang for buck answer.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,945Member
    One thing to remember about steam: unless it has been badly abused the system itself tends to last and last and last (the boiler not so much, perhaps). A century or more for any pipe carrying steam isn't that unusual. The only returns I would worry about are the wet returns -- those below the water line of the boiler. They can and do rust out much more quickly, and you may have some possible problems there. Generally they aren't all that hard to fix, however -- and thus not all that expensive, either. What you do need to find is a steam man or a plumber who isn't afraid of cutting and threading iron pipe and wants to do the job right.

    Where are you located? We just may know someone in your area...
    Jamie



    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
  • PeteRocckPeteRocck Posts: 10Member
    I’m in Milford CT
    You think I can throttle back valves to balance system?
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,945Member
    PeteRocck said:

    I’m in Milford CT

    You think I can throttle back valves to balance system?

    I think you said basically two pipe, if a bit odd? Yes. Think a bit before twisting handles and make sure that there is a way for condensate to drain -- that's all.
    Jamie



    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
  • GBartGBart Posts: 646Member
    The system has been hacked, the plumber that owned it took the guys out of the thermostatic traps and put vents in the radiators, it might work ok except for the small copper feed, also insulate ALL your supply pipes, you are losing heat energy big time and your steam is turning to condensate, bear in mind the small pieces there ARE asbestos.
  • PeteRocckPeteRocck Posts: 10Member
    Ok I’m going to insulate as much pipe as I can without having to open any walls. I’m also going to start to slowly close some of the radiators that are way hot. I mean why not? I have an open return
  • GBartGBart Posts: 646Member
    it also looks like your vents are adjustable, you can tone them down as well
  • PeteRocckPeteRocck Posts: 10Member
    Can someone explain correct water level in the boiler?
    I’m unsure of (boiler plate?)
    Hartford loop should be below water line?
  • Jim_RJim_R Posts: 205Member
    The second floor radiators, original to the house? Are being fed by 1/2' copper pipe regular L or M with Soldered joints disappearing through the basement into the walls and reappearing at the 2nd floor radiators as 1/2" cast iron pipe connected to the Radiator inlet valves with no sign of the original piping would seem to indicate that someone had already opened a wall, ceiling, floor to remove the original pipe for what ever reason it was and had a opening large enough that somehow they could connect the copper to the iron and now the dissimilar metals from years of cycling have started to leak hence reduced heat.. I would try (depending on the access) follow the copper using a mirror/ flashlight or scope to see if you can get a idea of where they made the transition.. I imagine though it was fairly high as using copper was probably for flexibility or to squeeze past the original pipe.. Most likely look for floorboards renailed , ceiling or wall patched or covered.. but they had to get in there somehow which is your way in..
    It won't cost you anything to look, and perhaps look for a damp or discolored area just might be a leaking connection..
    Now if I misread this whole thing then just disregard.. it was my time and effort wasted..
    Jim
  • PeteRocckPeteRocck Posts: 10Member
    Yes Jim_R I believe that one to be original to the house. It has iron piping at the radiator. I put scope up wall in basement but all I can see is copper pipe(via 3’ scope) I think it was done somewhere in kitchen wall when that was converted to drywall.
    I’ve insulated all exposed steam pipes I can. Ive been fiddling with all of the adjustable vents on the radiators with little to no improvement. I’ve even started to throttle steam input valves on each radiators. The system works. Kind of? I have a programmable thermostat. It’s set to run at 61 degrees during the day when no one is home. It’s also set to be 68 at 5:00 for when we get home. When I get home at 5:30 house is nice and warm. All radiators are nice and hot. At night with thermostat set to hold 68 at some point when temp drops outside the system cycles on and off kind of too frequent and that’s mainly when upstairs gets little heat.
    Almost seems like the thermostat differential is off? I’m wondering if tinkering with thermostat start and stop points may be the answer? Maybe kick on boiler at 66 and shut off at 69? I haven’t been able to track when thermostat is calling for heat or shutting down. Sometimes I hear boiler kick on but it seems thermostat is at proper temp, so it doesn’t run very long.
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,513Member
    Setbacks are trouble for steam system balance, and evenness. Keep the thermostat at 68 degrees as a constant, and may problems will disappear, and your fuel cost will likely be less.
    I can’t remember about your main vents, and pressure-was it set at 8 ounces?—NBC
  • PeteRocckPeteRocck Posts: 10Member
    What are setbacks? I have 2 main vents at end of each side supply. 2 main vents on return side right by boiler. I know I have inadequate pipe size for upstairs but it seems to work when boiler runs a little longer. When does a typical thermostat call for heat? Surely it can’t be on and off at set desired temp?
  • CanuckerCanucker Posts: 472Member
    Your thermostat is turning the temperature setting down to 61 while you're away, aka setback, then turning in back up for when you return. Not worth the money saved in my opinion and from most reports, poorly installed steam systems really misbehave trying to bring the structure back up that large a temp swing
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
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