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One radiator in the chain doesn't work

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Hi all,

First - let me say what a great resource this site is. I can't believe the amount of information available. I've solved some of my previous issues just by checking the site, so its super helpful.

Something new has come up and I can't seem to find solution/recommendations for it, and wanted to tap the experts. I have a duplex with steam heating with pretty old boilers. The upstairs unit is as hot as the Sahara and all units are working fine, except for one radiator in the middle of the chain which has started to not heat up at all, or heat up and spew water out of the nut below the valve.

I'm curious to know what my options are...I tried tightening up the nut but couldn't get it to turn and it seems like the unit goes through fits where its kind of warm and spewing steam/water out of that nut (see picture below) or bone dry with no heat.


Comments

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,737
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    It appears as though the packing nut is leaking. That being said I can't imagine why you would have that volume of water coming out. If the stem is leaking steam it really shouldn't get wet.

    Is the valve fully open? And which nut have you been tightening? The one I circled in red that is just barely seen in the picture?


    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • misterjoe
    misterjoe Member Posts: 4
    edited November 2018
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    I don't think the valve is fully open but I can make sure that it is. I was indeed trying to tighten that nut as that is where the water seems to be coming from, but I was yanking on it for a good few minutes and I'm either the weakest pull in the world or that nut ain't budging...

    I also was worried about opening the valve fully as that seems to be impacting the amount of water spewing out and making a mess of water on the carpet.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,737
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    You might have to shut the system down, loosen it then tighten it. Valves like that on steam systems should always be fully open. Start by opening the valve all the way, you will still have a packing leak, but I am thinking you might have a bunch of water backed up inside that radiator.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,286
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    If this is one pipe steam -- which it looks like it is -- that valve has to be fully open. Otherwise condensate will back up in it -- and, most likely, either leak all over the floor or bang. It will also cause the radiator to heat poorly, if at all.

    Your description of the behavior sounds like the valve is only partly open, or even almost closed.

    And @KC_Jones circled the packing nut. That's the only nut you need to be trying to tighten. The big square nut below it holds the entire valve mechanism it to the valve body, and you don't want to play with that. You really don't.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • misterjoe
    misterjoe Member Posts: 4
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    I'm a newbie...when you say "loosen it then tighten it" do you mean the valve itself? Shut down the heat, loosen (open) the steam valve, let it do its thing, and then tighten (close) the steam valve?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,286
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    misterjoe said:

    I'm a newbie...when you say "loosen it then tighten it" do you mean the valve itself? Shut down the heat, loosen (open) the steam valve, let it do its thing, and then tighten (close) the steam valve?

    No. What I would do, were it my valve, is I would loosen the packing nut slightly. Then I would open the valve using its black handle fully. Then I would tighten the packing nut back down -- keeping the valve handle from turning so that the valve stays open.

    Do NOT close that steam valve.

    If that doesn't fix the leak, you may need to repack the valve -- which isn't hard, either.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • misterjoe
    misterjoe Member Posts: 4
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    Thanks Jamie - I'm going to attempt loosening the packing nut, opening the valve fully, and retightening the packing nut. I'll keep you posted!