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Governale convector cracked

Hi All! I need some emergency advice.

I have an old house built in 1860, much of the original piping in place. Boiler kept on tripping Christmas Day due to low water. Finally found the leak in the supply line in the crawl space. Had to rip up the living room floor to access it and make the repair.

Now that it’s repaired, two downstream radiators that were previously only receiving a small amount of steam are now under full pressure—-AND they’re both cracked. I shut off the valves and can still hear what sound like boiling water, followed by a really loud water hammer. From what I can see in the crawl space, the pipes are pitched properly. If the valve is off, why is the hammering persisting?

Admittedly, the boiler needs to be skimmed—I bought the house ~8 months ago and the boiler was replaced right before we purchased. It was a rush job and I’m sure they did not skim it.

They are both Governale Convectors. I will purchase replacements, but in the meantime, can I just install a piece of 1 1/4” black pipe with and elbow and an air vent?

I was thinking the water hammer is due to the lack of venting on the section of pipe leading to the convector.

Is this a good temporary fix? This is the only heat in my kitchen/laundry room and temperatures are going to drop in nyc over the next few days and I’m not convinced that I’ll be able to get the new connectors in time with the holiday.

Thank you in advance!!!


  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Is this a one pipe system? If so, old valves don't seal tight and they let steam into the radiator/convector but water is not able to get out. What pressure are you running the system? It should not run at more than 1.5 to 2 Psi Max, much lower is best. You may have to disconnect the convectors and cap the supply cap until you can fix/replace them.
  • victorianmansard
    victorianmansard Member Posts: 15
    Yes, one pipe system. It does sound like they’re filling with water. What do you think about making up a piece of pipe like this in the meantime and putting it in place of the convector?
  • victorianmansard
    victorianmansard Member Posts: 15
    Also PSI is running much higher than it has since I bought the house ~3. I have the pressuretrol set at .5 with differential at 1. Has not tripped yet. My pressure gauge should be replaced. Currently have 0-30.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,892
    A temporary fix for the cracked convectors might be JB Weld. If you can see the full extent of the crack. The trick with that stuff is to get the metal really really clean -- wirebrush at the vary least.

    The pressure problem isn't helping. I wonder if the pigtail to the pressuretrol is clogged? Wouldn't be the first time. You need to keep the 0 to 30 gauge -- the insurance folks like it -- but you can put a low pressure gauge on the same pigtail as the pressuretrol with a few fittings.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • victorianmansard
    victorianmansard Member Posts: 15
    Thank you. I have ordered all new Gorton air vents and will replace them as soon as the arrive to try to address the pressure issue—-but the current valves are noisy, so I believe they’re failed open and not closed.

    I was not reading any pressure prior to correcting the cracked supply pipe (since steam was leaking out).

    2 of my air vents were shooting steam so I shut those valves, plus the 2 Governale valves are now shut. Can shutting these valves account for the increased operating pressure or is something else going on?
  • victorianmansard
    victorianmansard Member Posts: 15
    Also, I will try the JB weld. I have some on hand.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    The vents are probably not able to stay closed because of the excess pressure. As Jamie said, check the pigtail (looped pipe) that the Pressuretrol is mounted on and make sure it is not clogged. If it is, the Pressuretrol can't see the system pressure and will let it run wild. I don't see how you can replace the convector with a pipe. The threads on the valve connection are not standard pipe threads so you can not install a coupling or union on the. They will leak and also ruin the valve threads. Unfortunately, depending on how your convectors are plumbed, when you replace the convectors, with new ones you will also have to replace the valve as the valve and spud that goes into the convector are a matched pair and an old valve with a new spud will never match up.

    The most likely temp fix, if the JB weld fails is the remove the convectors and the supply valve and cap the pipe that the supply valve is mounted on.

    Do get the pressure down and the vents may correct themselves, if they haven't been ruined.
  • victorianmansard
    victorianmansard Member Posts: 15
    Thanks for all the replies.

    Fred and Jamie, you were both right. Steam was getting into the convector and condensing into water and filling up. I used the JB Weld, plugged the crack and turned the valve back on. Water hammer went away and the convector got hot.

    Now I just need to address the pressure issue. One of my main vents is a Hoffman #55. I can’t find anything online that matches that number...but as soon as it started to whistle loudly, the pressure began creeping up to 4 lbs and the pressuretrol tripped the boiler. The rest of the main vents are Gorton #1s and I don’t hear them at all.

    I suspect this vent is not allowing air to escape fast enough and creating increased pressure. At the same time as pressure was rising, the water in the sight glass dipped pretty low. Once the boiler cut off, water returned to normal level.

    I am ordering a vaporstat and an additional 0-5 gauge and will clean out the pigtail when I replace the air vents.

    Anything else that I missed?
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,663
    I would check the pigtail(s) now,
    with lower pressures, under control of the Ptrol,
    you may find the vents start behaving better,

    known to beat dead horses
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    You don't want to just replace the main vents with similar to what is there. Size the main vents based on the length and diameter of your mains. The Hoffman #55 is way too small and the Gorton #1's are good for about 10 ft. of 2" main. You will see big improvements by adding larger vents, both in pressure and fuel use. Tell us the length and diameter of each main and we can suggest the venting you need. 4PSI is way too high. You want to stay at or below about 1.5PSI, below is better.