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Steaming new Hoffman 1As

Why is steam escaping new air vents?

First off, thanks to all the contributors on this forum, six years ago I bought a hundred year old home north of Boston and the first winter was full of hissing, hammering, and frigid buyer's remorse . But lurking and learning from The Wall, and getting Dan's book 'The Lost Art..' I was able to get the system back on track. I insulated the pipes, pitched the radiators, replaced some air vents, corrected the thermostat, and the pressuretrol, added a 0-3 psi gauge, cleared the pigtail, replaced a completely clogged VentRite 35 with a Gortons no.2 on the main, and even built radiator covers. I'm sure the system is far from perfect, but it's been humming along just fine ever since.

That said, I do have a couple radiators that will occasionally spit rusty water out of the air vent. These are also the only two radiators that will have water hammer banging. I figured the vents are obviously faulty if they wont even close when they're full of water so I ordered some Hoffman 1As to replace them and decided get a dozen to 'upgrade' all the radiator vents (9) in the house. I also went back thru Dan's book and found a line that said water escaping the vent is often caused by too big a radiator and it venting too fast, (they are the biggest in the house) so I choked those down to a 1 or 2 and problem solved. I was feeling pretty good until I heard a little gurgling/spitting from a different radiator. Went over and there was steam coming out of a new Hoffman 1A (on a small radiator that is closest to the boiler). Swapped that out with a different new vent, next heating cycle, same problem. I went around and checked, they were all letting steam out! They're all really hot to the touch and clearly not flashing/closing on steam/temp. Is it possible there's a whole batch of faulty vents? What else causes this? They're not gunked up, they're brand new. Is it something about the spinning top not really fitting perfectly on body? Do I have to really tighten down the top screw in piece beyond hand tight? Does air/steam escape from the top screw hole even if the actual vent hole is closed/plugged?
Wondering if too much pressure could somehow blast its way thru the vent I cleared the pigtail out to make sure the pressuretrol could get an accurate reading. It was dirty, but this didn't make any difference. But if the vents aren't closing then pressure wouldn't build up enough to trip it anyways. With the steam escaping the vents, the boiler is going at about 1psi until thermostat is satisfied.
I've seen a few comments and reviews that 'they don't make em like they used to' but this is ridiculous. I guess for now I'll put the old vents back on. Any ideas? Thanks, all.

Comments

  • This where a low pressure, (0-3psi) gauge would tell you what pressure your system was developing. You may think you have set your pressuretrol down to its lowest setting, only to discover it is faulty, and the pressure has gone up too high.
    The float in many vents will close off the vent when the radiator has become flooded, but will let slugs of water through during the venting phase, especially when the main venting is not capacious enough, with overpressure.
    A Gorton #2 is good for 20 feet of 2 inch main piping. Try adding a Big Mouth, and check the pressure is below 1.5 psi for basic function, or a couple of ounces while the air escapes.—NBC
    Mike
  • BerkshireBatpig
    BerkshireBatpig Member Posts: 7
    Thanks for the reply, but I do have a 0-3 gauge and the boiler is operating under 1.2 the whole cycle. The new vents are letting steam escape out the top after the rads are hot.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,182
    The hoffman #1 has to be adjusted carefully so the cap stays centered as you tighten the screw or it may vent faster than you want. I replaced my vents with Maid o Mist 220-5L's after I noticed some of my vents doing the same, this vent comes with 5 orifices so you can select the one you want. I've used them for 4 or 5 yeasrs and they have worked great. I used to get them from Amazon but the price they ask now is ridiculous. Try this vendor

    https://www.doitbest.com/products/466433

    Some prefer the Gortons but you cant change the orifice on them so it can get expensive till you know what orifice you need

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • No matter how the orifice is adjusted, the vent should still close as soon as steam would hit it.
    Could both the gauge, and pressuretrol be on the same (clogged) pigtail?—NBC
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,205
    I'm still thinking pressure,
    is your gage with your Ptrol on the same pigtail ?
    was the pigtail bad on this cleaning?
    Did you blow back thru the pigtail, into the boiler?
    is it possible the pigtail port is clogged at the boiler ?
    or up into the Ptrol?
    post a picture of the gage and Ptrol.
    and one of your near boiler piping, floor to ceiling,
    Is it piped correctly?
  • BerkshireBatpig
    BerkshireBatpig Member Posts: 7

    No matter how the orifice is adjusted, the vent should still close as soon as steam would hit it.
    —NBC

    That's what I'm most confused about. regardless of all the other faults of my system, the vents should close when they get hot.

    I'll clear out the other little pipes to the gauges, etc again when I get a minute. The pigtail was pretty dirty but it flushed out with just running water. I'll also blow into the boiler where the pigtail attaches - good idea, @neilc.




  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,319
    edited December 2018
    Your boiler is piped wrong and the skim tapping is plugged. You can change vents all day, but you’d be wasting time. Start with the obvious.
    New England SteamWorks1Matthias
  • BerkshireBatpig
    BerkshireBatpig Member Posts: 7
    What is wrong with the set up? and what problems would be caused by the way it is currently piped? thanks
    I was trying to start with the easiest/cheapest fix. rarely works.

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,753
    edited December 2018

    What is wrong with the set up? and what problems would be caused by the way it is currently piped? thanks
    I was trying to start with the easiest/cheapest fix. rarely works.

    My experience with my steam system is that the easiest and cheapest fixes helped A LOT. This was to get my pressure down, my main venting correct, my radiator venting decent, and my boiler skimmed.

    Then, after that, I worked on my near-boiler piping, because like you, mine wasn't optimal.

    What your piping is missing is a way for the steam to separate from the water that gets churned up by the boiling process. Like mine was, yours is probably acting like a percolator where the water is being carried right up to your mains (wet steam). You want a horizontal header with steam risers coming out of the top of it. This lets the water continue to the equalizer while the steam takes an upward turn to get away from the water.

    Look at my thread and various links to see how I was able to make mine better: https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/168038/diy-near-boiler-piping-improvement-hopefully

    And this is a great document that talks about how a boiler should be piped: https://www.peerlessboilers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/OnePipeSteam.pdf
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,205
    Wet steam is flying up that stand pipe, from the boiler,
    and it's not getting dried out in a properly piped header.
    Do you have your boiler manual?
    There are great pictures in there.
    In your sight glass,
    Is that water that dirty? or is that old dirt on the glass?
    If that water is dirty, like Danny thinks it is, you'll need to skim, and flush,
    So skim port and proper header piping are in your future.

    adasilva
  • BerkshireBatpig
    BerkshireBatpig Member Posts: 7
    @ethicalpaul great info in your post and the links. Thanks for spelling it out. And @neilc you were right about blowing out the port where the pigtail is connected, it definitely gave way as I blew out some build up, I also had a decent pipe cleaner thing that I scrubbed around in there.

    so after I cleaned that out again, I pumped up the thermostat for a test run...
    0 - start
    +9 min its running at a steady 0.8 psi. radiators venting.
    +15m it's at .95psi and there is steam escaping some air vents.
    +19m getting some water hammer.
    +21m operating at 1.5psi.
    +22m the big kitchen radiator is spitting a lot of water. spun the vent upside down to manually close it.
    +23m decided to flip the other steaming vents to close them and test the ptrol.
    +27m up to 2.0 psi. getting sceptical.
    +28min ptrol shut it down at 2.1 psi.
    +29m back on at 0.6 psi.
    (ptrol is (and was) set as low as possible on the top screw and the white wheel inside.)
    turned down tstat to end this mess.
    +31m the too big rad by the stairs (that never heats up much and often spits water) is half hot, but the vent is gurgling and there is a lot of water hammer. possibly because I decided to open that vent to a full 6 because it is such a big rad and it has the farthest run out besides the upstairs ones.

    going to put the old vents back on for now. even though i understand I have crazy wet steam and will need to get a horizontal header installed, might take that on in the spring/summer.

    thanks for the help and welcome further comments
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,753
    The pee-troll is doing about as good as it was made to do, so that checks out.

    My best advice (others can give better, no doubt) is to run with no setback ever this winter and basically baby it.

    Has it been checked lately by a tech? I would have a tech make sure it's firing at the lower end of its ability in order to keep the steam generation as gentle as possible, which should help keep as much water out of the mains as you can.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,205
    those radiators that are puking,
    are the valves all the way open?
    they should be.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,334
    The Hoffman 1A is a perfectly good vent -- but is a bit aggressive, and is hard to dial down. Theoretically it should close, as noted, but at 2 psi it may be somewhat unhappy.

    Oddly enough a slower vent will sometimes let a radiator work better and give more heat. Try cutting that big radiator way back and see what happens.
    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
  • BerkshireBatpig
    BerkshireBatpig Member Posts: 7
    The valves (pipe to rad) are all fully open.
    I think the pressure got up to 2+psi because I really let it cool then called for a +3 degrees on the tstat. On normal operation cycles are quicker and not dramatic.
    Yes, turns out slower is better for my system. Most of the old vents are the adjustable vent-rites. Just blowing thru those and the Hoffman’s it’s clear how much slower the VRs are. I put those back on and peace has been restored.

    Anyone know the life expectancy of a Weil-Mclain eg55? If the end is near, I’ll wait to replace it to add a proper header.

  • BerkshireBatpig
    BerkshireBatpig Member Posts: 7
    Also, do you think that the near boiler piping was ever correct? Maybe for an earlier boiler like one w a huge steam chest back in the day?
    And how do you find service men that actually, truly, deeply understand steam systems? And any recommendations for north of Boston? Lynn/Salem area.
    Thanks.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,334
    North of Boston? That's easy -- @New England SteamWorks . One of the best in the business. Also very very very busy...
    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
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 638
    I will second that for NESW, he did a great job for both my neighbor and I.
  • adasilva
    adasilva Member Posts: 144
    BobC said:

    The hoffman #1 has to be adjusted carefully so the cap stays centered as you tighten the screw or it may vent faster than you want. I replaced my vents with Maid o Mist 220-5L's after I noticed some of my vents doing the same, this vent comes with 5 orifices so you can select the one you want. I've used them for 4 or 5 yeasrs and they have worked great. I used to get them from Amazon but the price they ask now is ridiculous. Try this vendor

    https://www.doitbest.com/products/466433

    Some prefer the Gortons but you cant change the orifice on them so it can get expensive till you know what orifice you need

    Bob

    @BobC off topic here somewhat but are just the orifices available to purchase for these vents? I have contacted mom with no reply at all.................................
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,182
    @adasilva i searched for them a few years ago and I could not find the orifices for sale without the vents. If I need a vent I just order the 5L's so I can choose my orifice, of course I could just buy any MOM and use the orifice off the old vent - if the old one was a MOM.

    If I were Gorton i'd go the replacable orifice route as well, hell they copied the vent design why not the orifice?

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
    adasilva
  • adasilva
    adasilva Member Posts: 144
    @BobC I have a supplier that finally replied and he claims that he can order them for me. I will reach out today and see what he can do or maybe he has the same multiple orifices vents available like you show.
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