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Another steam radiator air vent location screwup. a.k.a. Thermal images don't lie.

JohnNYJohnNY Member Posts: 2,128


It's so satisfying when the image clearly tells the story. Guessing and assuming is so '90s.
Here, the dark areas of the radiator show where steam just isn't getting to. The occupants run their hand along the top, consistently the hottest part by far, and think the steam is "working perfectly", but there is about half this heat emitter not doing any good for the temperature of the room.
Moving this improperly placed air vent to the right location on the radiator will allow the whole thing to heat up, and transfer a great deal more heat to the room.
I find this condition in my clients' homes so frequently it's become annoying.

Thermal imaging cameras are an invaluable troubleshooting tool.
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.
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Comments

  • SteamingatMohawkSteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 81
    Cool, or rather WARM!! Hey does anyone know if there is an app for a cell phone? I would think not because of the different technology for infrar
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 371
    Awesome photo share! What camera do you like? My birthday’s coming up and I’m deciding between a manual threading toolset and an IR camera
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ. If you see me say something dumb, just think of my poor wife--she has to hear it every day!
  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Member Posts: 275
    I have no regrets spending the money on thermal imagers. They have been invaluable for things like this and electrical issues as well.

    I have a Flir E6 and a Flir One for the iPhone.

    @SteamingatMohawk look into the Flir One. It is affordable, fits in your pocket, and is high resolution.
    Never stop learning.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 9,323
    I'm able to do this with my hand. ;)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • IronmanIronman Member Posts: 4,718
    Was that rad once used for hot water and then placed on that steam system?
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • CanuckerCanucker Member Posts: 493
    > @SteamingatMohawk said:
    > Cool, or rather WARM!! Hey does anyone know if there is an app for a cell phone? I would think not because of the different technology for infrar

    There is an app but you need the camera attached or attachment. Here's what I use..
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 2,441


    ...My birthday’s coming up and I’m deciding between a manual threading toolset and an IR camera

    Manually threading pipe or playing with a IR camera?....hmmmm
    Which one do you want and which one do you need?
    steve
  • SailahSailah Member Posts: 768
    I have the FLIR E4 which can be modded to a FLIR E8 with some internet sleuthing. Love mine it's in my carryon right now as i head off to Ireland for a pharma steam system monitoring project.

    I wish mine did video seems so simple to enable. If i need to video i record the FLIR using my phone lol.
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Member Posts: 275
    > @Sailah said:
    > I have the FLIR E4 which can be modded to a FLIR E8 with some internet sleuthing. Love mine it's in my carryon right now as i head off to Ireland for a pharma steam system monitoring project.
    >
    > I wish mine did video seems so simple to enable. If i need to video i record the FLIR using my phone lol.

    I have an E6 and love it.

    But I got the Flir One recently and I think I like it even more. It has the resolution of an E8, and it can do video.
    Never stop learning.
  • SailahSailah Member Posts: 768
    Mike does it do delta temps? When I upgraded to the E8 i got the dual metering mode where it finds the spot and highest temp in box then calculates delta. Love that function.
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
  • JohnNYJohnNY Member Posts: 2,128
    edited January 7
    Ironman said:

    Was that rad once used for hot water and then placed on that steam system?

    No. This was for a 1-pipe steam heating system evaluation I did yesterday in Brooklyn, New York. The co-op owners are all reporting uneven, unbalanced temperatures throughout the building. I found simple fixes like improperly placed air vents and undersized replacement radiators throughout. An improperly sized boiler has been causing problems for 8 years now and three previous plumbers sold them a bunch of crap they neither needed nor helped solve any problem. Some consultations I do are heartbreaking...

    This is a Flir i7. It's probably 10 years old at this point. I use it all year long and I'll never be without one again.
    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.
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Member Posts: 502
    Venting rate can also affect this. If vented too fast, steam will rush across the top and close the vent before fully heating. Universal radiators seem to really struggle with heating evenly. I have 3 of them, only 1 is vented well. They probably worked fine as a vacuum system.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 4,739
    @Alan (California Radiant) Forbes

    LOL I learned the "art of distraction" with inspectors years ago

    @JohnNY Nice pic nice image. If I wasn't retiring soon I would have to get one.......... may get one anyhow!!
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 12,549
    JohnNY said:



    I find this condition in my clients' homes so frequently it's become annoying.

    You too?
    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
  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Member Posts: 275
    > @Sailah said:
    > Mike does it do delta temps? When I upgraded to the E8 i got the dual metering mode where it finds the spot and highest temp in box then calculates delta. Love that function.

    @Sailah that I don’t know. I haven’t played with it enough. I will find out soon.

    How did you go about upgrading it to an E8? I read that it can be done but didn’t look into it.
    Never stop learning.
  • SailahSailah Member Posts: 768
    Google eev blog flir E4 hack. It's sorta a process but basically all E4-E8 are identical, FLIR just software clips the lower models. So i unclipped it lol
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
  • PMJPMJ Member Posts: 711
    I'm still wondering why anyone ever wants the whole radiator hot. The original design never planned on them being that full at any time. That's why we all have extra installed radiation. Filling it completely makes it radiate heat at a rate way more than the ongoing demand ever requires. The more you fill it the more the room temp will swing....simply no choice about that. Filling it full requires longer wait periods during which it goes completely cold again. Oscillating between those extremes is definitely not even heat.

    In my whole effort to achieve even heat I try to make my rads look pretty much just like your photo and keep them that way all the time. I've never been able to follow the logic of even trying to get everything full. Mine stay warm at the top only and not all the way across. That is all that is required to heat on an average day.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 9,323
    edited January 7
    > @PMJ said:
    > I'm still wondering why anyone ever wants the whole radiator hot. The original design never planned on them being that full at any time. That's why we all have extra installed radiation. Filling it completely makes it radiate heat at a rate way more than the ongoing demand ever requires. The more you fill it the more the room temp will swing....simply no choice about that. Filling it full requires longer wait periods during which it goes completely cold again. Oscillating between those extremes is definitely not even heat.
    >
    > In my whole effort to achieve even heat I try to make my rads look pretty much just like your photo and keep them that way all the time. I've never been able to follow the logic of even trying to get everything full. Mine stay warm at the top only and not all the way across. That is all that is required to heat on an average day.

    Some buildings have the radiators properly matched.

    Others have them slightly undersized.

    Most are oversized, but not all.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 3,914
    PMJ said:

    I'm still wondering why anyone ever wants the whole radiator hot. The original design never planned on them being that full at any time. That's why we all have extra installed radiation. Filling it completely makes it radiate heat at a rate way more than the ongoing demand ever requires. The more you fill it the more the room temp will swing....simply no choice about that. Filling it full requires longer wait periods during which it goes completely cold again. Oscillating between those extremes is definitely not even heat.

    In my whole effort to achieve even heat I try to make my rads look pretty much just like your photo and keep them that way all the time. I've never been able to follow the logic of even trying to get everything full. Mine stay warm at the top only and not all the way across. That is all that is required to heat on an average day.

    My radiators fairly closely match the heatloss, I have them completely full several times per year. If we get a cold spell for a week, they stay continuously hot the whole time. I have to suspend setback it's so tight. I can't imagine mine is the only house like this.

    1 removed radiator that is only 25 EDR, so even with that there would be virtually no excess.
    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
  • PMJPMJ Member Posts: 711
    edited January 7
    KC_Jones said:

    My radiators fairly closely match the heatloss, I have them completely full several times per year. If we get a cold spell for a week, they stay continuously hot the whole time. I have to suspend setback it's so tight. I can't imagine mine is the only house like this.

    1 removed radiator that is only 25 EDR, so even with that there would be virtually no excess.

    @KC_Jones

    Firstly, that's what I mean, you need them full rarely - a few times a year or a tiny fraction of the total cycles. I think you mean your radiators closely match the maximum heat loss right? The rest of the time a partial fill and an intermittent one at that is plenty. @ChrisJ 's Ecosteam handles the calculations for the partial fill required in his system.

    Secondly, when was your house built? Coal fired systems were simply not controllable with rads filled to the max. Mine was definitely coal fired(1926) and my rads don't need to be anything like full on design day for Cleveland.

    Unless I read it wrong the OP here is lamenting the fact that he sees partly full rads too much. I'm saying it is rarely required just as you are. I'm saying on your average day you don't want to see them full if you have any interest in even heating.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 9,323
    You were responding to @KC_Jones @PMJ not me.

    I think?

    The op spends his days helping many customers with a huge variety of problems on many different systems.

    He's seen far more than any of us.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • FredFred Member Posts: 7,327
    @KC_Jones don't you also have the Ecosteam system on your steam system?
    @PMJ , I'm not sure that the OP was speaking to the fill of the radiator as much as he was referring to the fill pattern. I think typically one would expect to see each section fill and move on across the radiator as opposed to the pattern shown.
  • PMJPMJ Member Posts: 711
    ChrisJ said:

    You were responding to @KC_Jones @PMJ not me.



    I think?



    The op spends his days helping many customers with a huge variety of problems on many different systems.



    He's seen far more than any of us.

    I was and now fixed.
  • PMJPMJ Member Posts: 711
    Fred said:

    @KC_Jones don't you also have the Ecosteam system on your steam system?
    @PMJ , I'm not sure that the OP was speaking to the fill of the radiator as much as he was referring to the fill pattern. I think typically one would expect to see each section fill and move on across the radiator as opposed to the pattern shown.

    Maybe I am reading it wrong. It appeared like he is saying the steam went across the top and is likely closing the vent before a more complete fill. The image I am looking at has a rad plenty full enough to get the job done at my place anytime.

    Perhaps he can clarify what the problem is.
  • JohnNYJohnNY Member Posts: 2,128
    The "problem" is that a properly vented steam radiator indeed shows a different "pattern", as it was stated by @Fred, than what we see when the vent is at the hot water bleeder location.

    Why is this in debate?
    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.
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 371
    > The image I am looking at has a rad plenty full enough to get the job done at my place anytime.

    That might be because your rooms have radiators that are too big (like most of us)?
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ. If you see me say something dumb, just think of my poor wife--she has to hear it every day!
  • winniewinnie Member Posts: 9
    When I saw the image my thought was: cool, I wonder if you could install _two_ adjustable vents at different heights, and use that to dynamically adjust the effective area of the radiator depending on need.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 9,323
    I want to clarify my comment before.

    I said I can do this with my hand. I stand by that comment.

    However, trying to diagnose a system is one thing. Trying to sell your diagnosis to a customer is another

    I'm sure those images make it a whole lot easier
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • FredFred Member Posts: 7,327
    winnie said:

    When I saw the image my thought was: cool, I wonder if you could install _two_ adjustable vents at different heights, and use that to dynamically adjust the effective area of the radiator depending on need.

    One vent, properly placed, properly adjusted and balanced to the rest of the system (with proper Main venting) will dynamically adjust how full a radiator gets, based on how much heat a room needs.
  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Member Posts: 275
    But you can vent a large radiator with two vents. One at the top and one in the middle.
    Never stop learning.
  • Mark NMark N Member Posts: 1,059
    @JohnNY, do you have a picture taken with the FLIR with the vent in the proper position to compare to the one you posted? I've read that the Dead Men sometimes put a pipe inside the rad across the upper radiator nipples to keep the steam from racing across the top of the rad. Causing the rad to act more like a true 1 pipe steam rad.
  • PMJPMJ Member Posts: 711
    JohnNY said:

    The "problem" is that a properly vented steam radiator indeed shows a different "pattern", as it was stated by @Fred, than what we see when the vent is at the hot water bleeder location.

    Why is this in debate?

    No debate at all as to whether vent location will change how the steam flows in a radiator.

    It appears though that you are suggesting that the pattern we are looking at causes a failure to heat of some kind. Could you clarify what that failure is exactly?
  • JohnNYJohnNY Member Posts: 2,128
    PMJ said:

    JohnNY said:

    The "problem" is that a properly vented steam radiator indeed shows a different "pattern", as it was stated by @Fred, than what we see when the vent is at the hot water bleeder location.

    Why is this in debate?

    No debate at all as to whether vent location will change how the steam flows in a radiator.

    It appears though that you are suggesting that the pattern we are looking at causes a failure to heat of some kind. Could you clarify what that failure is exactly?
    What are you saying? This is fine as it is? You're saying this because you're familiar with the job conditions, the system run time, the outdoor temperature, venting strategies, etc?
    You're thinking you know something about this condition that makes it ok? You have a truer and more valid mechanical perception of this that, on its face and having no additional information, this is as good as it can be?

    You made the point that not all radiators need to heat all the way across all the time.
    Congratulations. You read something about steam.

    Can we call this done now?



    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.
  • PMJPMJ Member Posts: 711

    > The image I am looking at has a rad plenty full enough to get the job done at my place anytime.

    That might be because your rooms have radiators that are too big (like most of us)?

    They are big - that was designed in on purpose. They were sized so as never to need to be filled to heat the room they are in even on the coldest design temperature for the area. Big coal boilers never intended to be run on high(which was quite impossible) and big radiators modulating to different levels of partial fill driven in real time by the actual demand.
    JohnNY said:

    PMJ said:

    JohnNY said:

    The "problem" is that a properly vented steam radiator indeed shows a different "pattern", as it was stated by @Fred, than what we see when the vent is at the hot water bleeder location.

    Why is this in debate?

    No debate at all as to whether vent location will change how the steam flows in a radiator.

    It appears though that you are suggesting that the pattern we are looking at causes a failure to heat of some kind. Could you clarify what that failure is exactly?
    What are you saying? This is fine as it is? You're saying this because you're familiar with the job conditions, the system run time, the outdoor temperature, venting strategies, etc?
    You're thinking you know something about this condition that makes it ok? You have a truer and more valid mechanical perception of this that, on its face and having no additional information, this is as good as it can be?

    You made the point that not all radiators need to heat all the way across all the time.
    Congratulations. You read something about steam.

    Can we call this done now?



    @JohnNY ,

    It appears that you have received my comments as an attack on you somehow. That certainly is not my intention.

    I hope you will join me in not making this personal. My interest is really only in discussing the subject.

    I have not said anything is fine here or can't be better. I have not claimed to know about the conditions in that room. You are the one saying it is not fine. I truly am interested in your opinion of exactly what is not fine. I am truly interested in what will change about how that radiator heats the room if I just change the steam pattern in it and nothing else.


  • Gary SmithGary Smith Member Posts: 231
    The IR image is a terrific display of exactly why the vent is positioned wrong, and would be very effective in showing a homeowner exactly why.

    It is also true that most one pipe systems don't often need to get the radiators hot all the way. But when, if they are called to, design day or colder, having the vent in the wrong spot certainly won't help. Very effective image @JohnNY
  • JohnNYJohnNY Member Posts: 2,128
    PMJ said:


    @JohnNY ,
    I am truly interested in what will change about how that radiator heats the room if I just change the steam pattern in it and nothing else.

    The client's complaint is that the room is "somewhat colder" since they replaced the radiator. Radiator output is based on EDR output values at specific temperatures. This radiator has a large portion of it not receiving steam and so its cool surface area must be subtracted so from the heat exchange potential of this radiator. They asked if they need to buy a new radiator but I'm inclined to follow my process of at least properly venting all distribution pipes and heat emitters before replacing or re-sizing any major components.
    This is what I do when someone calls for a complete system evaluation. I do it for a lot of different types of buildings and the process doesn't change much because it just doesn't need to. Steam is always going to act like steam. I'm just showing that the thermal imaging cameras eliminate a lot of guesswork for me.
    Peace and happy 2019.

    @Mark N I'm going to poke through my files and come up with one. Thanks for asking.
    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.
  • PMJPMJ Member Posts: 711
    > @JohnNY said:
    > The client's complaint is that the room is "somewhat colder" since they replaced the radiator. Radiator output is based on EDR output values at specific temperatures. This radiator has a large portion of it not receiving steam and so its cool surface area must be subtracted so from the heat exchange potential of this radiator. They asked if they need to buy a new radiator but I'm inclined to follow my process of at least properly venting all distribution pipes and heat emitters before replacing or re-sizing any major components.
    > This is what I do when someone calls for a complete system evaluation. I do it for a lot of different types of buildings and the process doesn't change much because it just doesn't need to. Steam is always going to act like steam. I'm just showing that the thermal imaging cameras eliminate a lot of guesswork for me.
    > Peace and happy 2019.

    Great. That's a lot more info. Thanks. I really do get it.

    As I thought this is about getting that radiator fuller during each burn. I agree that moving the vent will do that and your camera is helpful for your troubleshooting and to show your client. My comments were not intended to diminish any of that.

    My lament is simply that the way we now attempt to run these systems is very different than they were originally intended to run so many things(like this) are now much harder and more critical. Case in point right here. Because the system is run intermittently with long waits between burns, the radiators must be filled much more each time the boiler does burn to accomplish the same job. This makes vent sizing and location a much bigger issue. When the steam was continuous, the maximum fill level required in the radiators was much less than what we need today. So much so that I suggest in the continuous steaming mode traps in two pipe and vents in one pipe never closed - they were basically safety items. Hence the problem you face here and I imagine quite regularly - a boiler running on high moving steam quickly and likely closing the vent too early so it doesn't get enough net steam to heat the room. My point is that this is primarily because we allow so little time for the process to take place now. It is now hurry, hurry, get the air out, fill the rads, shut down and then wait, wait for all that heat to dissipate into the space. Oh, and then by the way, let all that air right back in. All I am saying is that I go the other direction, shorter burns closer together, less fill, lower pressure, less problems, no air, and more even heat... more like the original plan. I find it strange that no simple off the shelf control ever made it onto the scene for you guys to use easily to accomplish this.


    It may surprise you that I have an FlIR camera too and have been studying my rads for quite a while. Mostly I study how vacuum evens out the distribution. I use the camera to observe how rads in cooler areas actually maintain higher surface temperatures between burns than those in the warmer areas. This happens because the steam in the system flows to those rads condensing the most while under vacuum. This has a very large impact on evening out the heat. But what has impressed me the most is observing how little radiator fill is required to heat as the time between burns goes down. With continuous coal fired steam it would have been a very small amount on an average day... because the radiator is heating continuously. I have found that by moving my burns closer together and reducing the required maximum fill level, many things have become much easier and the details much less critical.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 9,323
    edited January 8
    @PMJ
    The way we use my house is very different from what it's original builders intended.

    It had coal stoves in the bedrooms, kitchen etc, gas lights and an outhouse. It also had no air conditioning or fans and it didn't have screens in the windows. The kitchen sink was supplied with water from a stone cistern which collected rain water from the roof (yum).

    I'd rather not use it in that matter if it's all the same to you. :)

    Same goes for the steam system. I don't care what the intent was in 1920 when some dudes came and installed it. In 2019 my intent is to keep the house quiet and comfortable for a reasonable cost.


    Mr Cataneo goes and listens to a customer's concerns and does what he can to rectify the problem. The way the system behaved in 1910 when someone was loading it with coal isn't much use.

    Believe it or not, when these systems were installed they had the same objective. To make the house warm and keep their customers as happy as reasonably possible.

    I promise you, any system that was installed by running black iron pipe through the living space was not an amazing piece of engineering. It was done as quickly and as cheap as possible.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
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