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Should I replace my main vent

Evanka
Evanka Member Posts: 19
Hi, I am trying to pay some attention to my one pipe steam heat system. It has been neglected for a few years, not sure how long, possibly a really long time. I have located the vent near the end of the main. It looks fairly old. It's a small blue can type. Anyway, it hisses when the steam is on. I have no idea if it's working well or not. Should I just replace it for the sake of the system? A new one is about $100. Or should I wait until it's obvious? It doesn't seem to be spitting any. Thanks

Comments

  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    Hi, I own a fourplex from the 20s with one pipe steam heat. They system has one main vent in the basement. There are a couple of capped Ts in the main where there may have been other vents, except that they sit at 45 degree angles. Maybe these are capped off former radiator feeds? The system has not been well maintained over the years and I was thinking to replace the main vent. Should i also install other vents at these Ts, or is one vent enough in the basement? Is there a downside to having too many vents along the main in the basement? There are probably 16 radiators in the building. Thanks
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,722
    How long is the steam main, and what pipe size?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    Picture?
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    They are such an important part of the picture, that I would change it to Paul’s choice. Do you see any pressure on the gauge?—NBC
  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    Thanks. Is the bigmouth better than the Gorton #2? The Gortons seem to be the most talked about here. The vent is at the end of my main. My main is probably 80 feet. I was thinking of doing an antler and putting a couple of vents on it. The pressure is very low, hard to read on the gauge. I was thinking to replace that too. All of the mains are insulated, including one that goes through a finished apartment in the basement. That apartment has one radiator on the ceiling. It still gets very hot in there. Thinking vents on the main might help reduce the heat in the basement and help it get upstairs. It's a two story fourplex from the 1920s.
  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    The mains are 3" interior diameter and are about 90'. The current vent is a single old (blue) hoffman 75. Seems inadequate. There are former radiator feeds which have been capped off. Would it be better to put multiple vents and end, where current single vent is, and/or to put vent where the former radiators were, mid main? I was thinking of putting a few Gorton 2s on an antler at the end at least. Would a bigmouth or two be better? Thanks.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,912
    If you're reasonably sure that water or condensate can't get there, a couple of Big Mouths at the end. Otherwise, 3 Gorton#2s at the end should do the trick.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,912
    Big Mouths better? Do you prefer Fords or Chevys? They are different. The Big Mouths have more venting capacity and, last I looked, were cheaper. On the other hand, if there is any chance of condensate or water showing up, they don't close on water -- and Gortons do.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,585
    I would say, do you prefer Mercedes or Chevy with the Big Mouth being the Mercedes where the Chevy is a pickup with big tires that can handle a flooded road. So don't have a flooded road.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    Thanks Jamie. I was thinking of elevating the antler off of the main. Right now the vent is sitting pretty much on top of the main. Would that eliminate most of the condensation? Also, it's in an area where occasional moisture wouldn't do much harm. But I don't really know if there will never be condensate. I read someone saying they put Wye strainers before each vent. Is that recommended?
  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    Here's some pictures that show the pressure. I think the cut in is too high, as is the cut out. But, the gauge never seems to move, so either the pressure is very low, or the gauge is clogged. System was running when I took these pictures.

    Also pictured is the Hoffman 75 vent which is at the end of a 90', 3" main. It looks like the tap is 3/4". I was thinking to elevate an antler and putting a couple of vents there. Any advice would be great. Thanks!




    th
    e

  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    I've got two threads going I'm going to stop posting here and jump over to https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/168702/should-i-re . . .
    Thanks
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,585
    edited January 2019
    Your cut-in and diff setting (the white dial) are too high. Put cut-in at .5 and the diff at 1.

    BUT

    If the gauge isn't moving, then your pigtail is almost certainly clogged and must be cleaned now or you risk your pressure relief valve blowing out, which I understand is an unpleasant experience.

    Edit: Also, your sight glass gives me the willies...when was the last time this boiler was serviced?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Evanka
  • Gsmith
    Gsmith Member Posts: 431
    That 0-30 psi gauge will likely not show any pressure, it's there for code compliance purposes. If you really want to know what pressure your system operates you should add a 0-3 psi or 0-5 psi gauge off same pigtail. Replace the "T" with a cross fitting and put the other gauge on the left side. Most plumbing supply houses will have the brass cross and the gauge.
    Evanka
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,912
    The Hoffman 75 is an excellent vent. It is also way too small for that main for a modern boiler. Try an antler with a couple of Big Mouths on it instead.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Evanka
  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    Thanks for the suggestions.

    I will antler a couple of bigmouths on the main. Should I put Wye strainers before them?

    I will get the boiler serviced (is that just a thorough cleaning or what should I be asking for?). Someone flushed the water out about 2 years ago. I was trying to get it assessed at that time but that was all they wanted to do. They said everything looked fine. It's hard to get good service here on these and I had no idea about any of it until I read We Got Steam Heat.

    So if I put a new gauge, I would leave the other one and have them both?

    Thanks
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Yes, leave the current gauge and use the Cross fitting that @Gary Smith suggested to put the 0-3 PSI gauge on there too. You do need two Big Mouths on that Main.
    Evanka
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,260
    Evanka said:

    I've got two threads going I'm going to stop posting here and jump over to https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/168702/should-i-re . . .
    Thanks

    I've merged these two threads.
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
    Evankaethicalpaul
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    Make sure when you build your antler you raise it up at least 6" to prevent water from getting to the big mouths. The higher the better. I don't think you need a Wye, I don't have them on my system and haven't had an issue.

    You will need a larger tapping off the main to accommodate the larger 3/4" Big Mouth threads. Do not use an adapter to tie into the current 1/2" threads, it will counter act the gains from the Big Mouths since it is too constrictive.
    Evanka
  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19

    Make sure when you build your antler you raise it up at least 6" to prevent water from getting to the big mouths. The higher the better. I don't think you need a Wye, I don't have them on my system and haven't had an issue.

    You will need a larger tapping off the main to accommodate the larger 3/4" Big Mouth threads. Do not use an adapter to tie into the current 1/2" threads, it will counter act the gains from the Big Mouths since it is too constrictive.

    Thanks. Do I need to angle the riser against the flow of water, or is the vertical 6" good enough? I have a couple of feet of headroom, so I can go higher if needed.

    I think I have a 3/4 inch tap. My hoffman 75 is in it, but I have to get a better look. Am I correct that getting a larger tap would require a pro to make a larger hole and thread it? Also, does antler have to be cast iron?
  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19

    Your cut-in and diff setting (the white dial) are too high. Put cut-in at .5 and the diff at 1.

    BUT

    If the gauge isn't moving, then your pigtail is almost certainly clogged and must be cleaned now or you risk your pressure relief valve blowing out, which I understand is an unpleasant experience.

    Edit: Also, your sight glass gives me the willies...when was the last time this boiler was serviced?

    Water was flushed about 2 years ago. I need to have a deep cleaning. Was debating getting an annual service contract in place once I get things sorted best I can, with the help of this forum. I have had a hard time getting service around here but I think I finally found some people that know how to work on steam heat.

    Seems like gauge is not reading if pressure is set so high, it should show up on 0-30 gauge, at least a little bit, right?

    On the pressuretrol, would the 1 be facing me when the diff is set to it? for example, in the pictures, is it currently set to 3.5?

    Should I lower the pressure right off the bat, or wait until pigtail is cleaned out?

    If I take that T off, can I just work a wire brush through the pigtail? what's the best way to clean it?

    Thanks!
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,912
    The 0 to 30 gauge may or may not show anything. They're there for insurance and code reasons.

    In my opinion, you should reset the pressuretrol anyway, but when you take the pigtail off to clean it, reinstall with a nice 0 to 3 psi gauge on there along with the pressuretrol. Then you'll have a better idea of what's happening.

    And yes, the 1 should be facing you.

    If you can flush water through the pigtail, that's the easiest. Otherwise a pipe cleaner (long one) may be able to push through -- or a really flexible brush might. If you cant get open -- replace it in brass. Not expensive. Make sure the opening into the boiler is clean, too.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Evanka
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    According to Dan's LASH book the vent should be at least 6-10" high and 15" from where it turns down. Since you will likely need to tap you might be better off plugging what you have and just adding a new tap 15" back.
    Evanka
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    You can protect any main vent, which is too close to the elbow dropping down by putting some elbows and nipples in your antler. The purpose of these is to slow down any errant water hammer slugs of water which might destroy the main vent if it were unprotected and in a straight line with the vertical dry return.
    Once the proper fitting is in place, you can do any skimming required yourself, as it really needs only patience, and may take several hours, and several sessions.
    As you get more accustomed to do various tasks of the maintenance, you will be able to do more of them, as you become more confident, and knowlegeble-(maybe more than most of the people recommended on Yelp, judging by some of their work we have seen!).—NBC
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    It looks like that 75 vent is screwed into a 3/4" bushing that is screwed into something larger under the insulation.
    As NBC above has said, if you add some zig-zag piping to the venting antler it would have the effect of the protection that moving the tap back 15". IMO
  • SeanBeans
    SeanBeans Member Posts: 516
    Where are you located?
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,312
    Once again people think there is a problem if they don't see steam pressure on the gage.
  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    SeanBeans said:

    Where are you located?

    I'm in Asheville NC

  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    JUGHNE said:

    It looks like that 75 vent is screwed into a 3/4" bushing that is screwed into something larger under the insulation.
    As NBC above has said, if you add some zig-zag piping to the venting antler it would have the effect of the protection that moving the tap back 15". IMO

    You can protect any main vent, which is too close to the elbow dropping down by putting some elbows and nipples in your antler. The purpose of these is to slow down any errant water hammer slugs of water which might destroy the main vent if it were unprotected and in a straight line with the vertical dry return.
    Once the proper fitting is in place, you can do any skimming required yourself, as it really needs only patience, and may take several hours, and several sessions.

    Thanks for the detailed advice. I thought I had a big enough tap. I'll take it apart and see what's going on exactly. The filter might be 15" from the vertical drop, I'll check. But if not, I'll rise the antler up 10" or so and then put a couple of elbows in?

    Nicholas, I'm not sure what skimming is. Can you explain it?

    Vents should arrive on Wednesday. Hope to get these on the main by Friday.

    Thanks!
  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    I adjusted the pressuretrol and installed two bigmouths on an antler with a 12” nipple. I am seeing steam come out of the vents occasionally. Otherwise I can hear and feel warm air coming out. Does that sound right? Not sure if any steam should come out of the vents. It seems like it’s just once, a few minutes after boiler starts firing. Also, when I arrived this morning to do the work, the pressure gauge red about 3 pounds which is the first time I’ve seen any reading on it since I’ve been looking. I guess the pigtail is not clogged? I bought a 0-3 pound gauge which intend change at a later time. Any advice on the antler would be appreciated. I was wondering if I should slant it 45 degrees agains the pitch of the main or put in any more zig zags. I guess it’s close to the dry return’s initial 45 slope down from the main but about 3’ from the 90 degree down turn. Excited to see how this works. Thanks!
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    Can you feel any difference with the heating response with the improved main vents? Steam should arrive more quickly now.
    When you get the new gauge installed, you can then make some adjustments to the pressuretrol settings to keep the upper limit below 1.5 psi.—NBC
    Evanka
  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    > @nicholas bonham-carter said:
    > Can you feel any difference with the heating response with the improved main vents? Steam should arrive more quickly now.
    > When you get the new gauge installed, you can then make some adjustments to the pressuretrol settings to keep the upper limit below 1.5 psi.—NBC

    I can’t really tell because I don’t live there but it’s gotta be better. I already lowered the pressuretrol cut in to 0.5 and the cut out to1. Hopefully it’s working.

    Thanks!
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,443
    How can you tell how much water is in that boiler?
    Is it empty? Is it overfilled? What's going on there?

    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
    Evanka
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    On the antler, instead of doing a T I would do a 90, short nipple, T with one big mouth, short nipple and a T with the second big mouth and a plug on the end. Position it parallel to the main away from the drop down.

    I think this will drain better and you wont see the multiple puffs of steam. You should see one small puff of steam then the vent should close until the end of the cycle.
    Evanka
  • Evanka
    Evanka Member Posts: 19
    ChrisJ said:

    How can you tell how much water is in that boiler?
    Is it empty? Is it overfilled? What's going on there?

    It has about 2-3" of water showing. It's hard to see, but the water itself looks pretty clear, just the site is all messed up.