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Steam trap manifold?

Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Posts: 439Member
This is something I have never seen before. I traveled up to Philadelphia from DC today to take a look at a customer’s steam system. 167 unit apartment building, 8 stories.

There is what appears to be a thermostatic steam trap manifold at the feedwater tank. There are three returns coming to the tank, as well as two pumped returns, all coming to this receiver.

Any idea what purpose it served? The mains are dripped at the ends and in the middle at intervals of about 100 feet. All that is ok. But someone decided to put another steam trap after the drips from the ends. Those tie into the main returns, which are trapped again at the tank, then trapped again at this manifold. (Quadruple trapped....)

This is a seriously knuckleheaded system. Pretty much every “do not” has been done.

I’ll be making a post about it tonight probably. I’m sure some of you will get some enjoyment from it. Lol
Never stop learning.


  • PumpguyPumpguy Posts: 355Member
    edited January 10
    Can you provide more information as to what type of system this, and maybe some more pictures?

    Looks to me like a knuckelhead master trap manifold. I've seen master traps before, but never a manifold arrangement like this.

    Needless to say, master traps are a no-no, and never a substitute for properly working radiator and drip traps, but would need more information and pictures to comment further.
    Specializing in vacuum pumps for steam heating systems, especially older Nash Jennings units. We build new ones too!

    Now offering Tunstall air vent valves for steam and hot water hydronic heating systems.

    Please visit our website for more information
  • RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Posts: 702Member
    @Mike_Sheppard I have seen one system like that one time when I was an apprentice and was told the steap traps were used vent the air as well as the condensate at the ends of the long runs. Not sure it was the truth
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Click here to take Ray's class.
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  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Posts: 439Member
    Oh I’ve got pictures alright. Lots of them. This system isn’t only master trapped once, it’s master trapped 3 times in a row. There’s this manifold trap setup at the tank. A giant trap about 10 feet away from this. A giant trap at a condenser receiver tank, and an oversized trap at the end of each main.
    Never stop learning.
  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Posts: 439Member
    I’ve got a four hour drive home to Virginia. I’ll try to put a post together tonight.

    No radiators, all Webster convectors.
    Never stop learning.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,727Member
    And someone has been into those traps multiple times the way those traps are all chewed up. That sure is strange looking

    I haven't seen that set up before but plenty of "master traps"

    Typically with a 167 unit building it's nearly impossible to get access to the units to work on the traps so they just master trap everything and that's the way it will stay

    I worked in a 13 story building in Boston years ago. Master trapped to death, steam in the returns cooking the feed water pump seals....just a mess. The owner was some type of non-profit that handed out fuel assistance.

    Stupidly I figured "I'll get this fixed up and save them a ton of money on fuel for this building"

    I took my time carefully explaining to the owner how much fuel he was wasting and what we could do.

    he dismissed me offhand and told me to "write down my findings"

    Got on the MA pike and headed back to Springfield never to return

    Good luck @Mike_Sheppard you will need it. Many of us plow the same earth over and over
  • Mike_SheppardMike_Sheppard Posts: 439Member
    @EBEBRATT-Ed this one was triple master trapped. End of main trap, into condensate receiver trap, pumped into brand new giant blue trap that I didn’t even bother looking at, and then draining into this weird trap manifold which drains into the tank.

    There were five mains. About 30 Apartments wouldn’t heat, all on the same tiers. Found the return line for those tiers with air vent removed and plugged.

    Boiler had no equalizer.

    Boiler water pH was 13 and their new chemical system was pumping away. Their chemical records showed them maintaining 10+ pH every month.

    Running at 10 psi.

    Heat Timer outdoor air sensor was mounted on south wall, directly in the sunlight, and 4 feet above their water heater exhausts. Steam sensor was mounted on shortest main.

    All Webster convectors, and the bathrooms are just a pipe radiator in the corner.

    I got sent because they have an IC burner on the firetube Rockmills boiler, and the company I work for is an IC rep. Burner was failing once a day. Fourth contractor there and the burner was fixed in 10 minutes...

    I do want to recommend them to a good contractor in the Philly area. Just need to find one first.
    Never stop learning.
  • PumpguyPumpguy Posts: 355Member
    That high a pH is sure to corrode out bronze parts in the system, and bronze impellers in the condensate pumps.
    Specializing in vacuum pumps for steam heating systems, especially older Nash Jennings units. We build new ones too!

    Now offering Tunstall air vent valves for steam and hot water hydronic heating systems.

    Please visit our website for more information
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