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Weil Mclain Steam Boiler - Clogged Pigtail? Kettling...

JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21
Hi all, I have a Weil Mclain steam boiler system (single pipe to the radiators). I bought this house about a year ago and I was told the boiler was serviced before I moved in, its currently working well but I am concerned about some issues.

First, the PSI guage (0-30psi) doesnt move at all, not even a mm, it sits on 0. Now I know these systems operate under low pressure but when the system is running for a while, shouldnt I see at least a little movement? Also, the box that I belive is the pressurestat does not move at all either. With the 5F weather outside the boiler has been running a lot and I am worried it could cause damage or be dangerous if the pigtail is clogged and the system isnt able to read the system PSI but I dont really know if what I am seeing is normal or not.

Several if not all of my radiators will make noises, which I assume is releasing some air/steam when the system runs for a while, I believe this is not normal as they should close off and nevver make noise correct? I was thinking could this be that the pressure is so high they are releasing because the pig tail is clogged? Or perhaps its the other way around and the fact they are not fully closing and releasing steam is why I see 0 on the PSI because they are releasing pressure?

Also for the first time ever I noticed that the valves on the top of the return pipes were making noise. I read that these are supposed to vent the air when the system starts running but it seemed like they were releasing when the system had been running non-stop for a while. Again I dont know if this is possibly because the pressure is getting too high? Or maybe this is just normal.....

The other issue is I sometimes get kettling, when I am standing on the floor directly above the boiler i hear heavy banging sounds, nothing extreme, just like thumps. What is odd is when I stand next to the boiler I cant hear it really, I dont know if its the boiler kettling or perhaps the pipes hitting something as they get hot and expand......

Also, I believe there is no way to skim this boiler, correct? I assume the skim valve/pipe would come out of that plug next to the sight glass???

I was improperly taught by my home inspector to release water from the valve at the bottom of the boiler (the one coming out of the boiler, not the higher one on the return pipes) to 'clean' out the system periodiacly, and then I learned this does nothing and I am actually damaging the boiler by putting in new fresh water to replace the water I purged from that valve with new oxygen content which destroys the boiler! I thought the red sediment (rust) going into the bucket was a good thing until I did research. Now I only add fresh water to the system as its needed, which is not often.

Last, there is no damper on this boiler, is that normal for some boilers? I dont feel any cold air coming from the exhaust when its not running so perhaps the way my chimney works its not needed? not sure.

Thanks for the help! Here are the pictures:






Comments

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,696
    It would do no harm to take the pigtail off and clean it out. While you are at it, add a 0 to 3 psi gauge to it (keep the 0 to 30 -- it's for insurance and code) which will show you what pressure the system really is running at. It shouldn't be much -- a few ounces to perhaps as much as a pound, unless it runs for a very long time.

    The pressuretrol is set right, which is a good thing.

    The thumps -- are they thumps, or more like bangs? That may be expansion noises, if it is more at the beginning of a cycle. It could also be water hammer, but that is usually more of a bang.
    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
    JoeDi
  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21
    edited January 18

    It would do no harm to take the pigtail off and clean it out. While you are at it, add a 0 to 3 psi gauge to it (keep the 0 to 30 -- it's for insurance and code) which will show you what pressure the system really is running at. It shouldn't be much -- a few ounces to perhaps as much as a pound, unless it runs for a very long time.

    The pressuretrol is set right, which is a good thing.

    The thumps -- are they thumps, or more like bangs? That may be expansion noises, if it is more at the beginning of a cycle. It could also be water hammer, but that is usually more of a bang.


    I hope its ok i am restarting my own old thread. I never got around to working on the system, i was doing so many other things in the new house at the time.

    now its winter again and i am trying to get my heating system working better so i am back at this.

    Overall my system is running well, it heats the house well but the issue is there is an upstairs room (small room) that gets crazy too hot and the rest of the rooms stay cold.

    Also, i have an ecobee so when i am not home for a while it will reduce the temp from 72 to 68. Then when i get home it will set it back to 72F and it will run and run and run and the radiators start making a lot of noise releasing steam.

    I am still learning steam boiler systems, etc but i believe this may be because of 1 of 2 reasons but i am not sure:

    1) Could it be the pigtail is clogged and so the system doesnt trip the PSI high pressure cut off and so the system runs and runs and the pressure builds enough to open the vent valves?

    i assume its that because when the system runs normally, on a less extreme day (above 30F) it doesnt release steam or make noise from the vents only when the system runs for a long time.

    shouldnt the system shut off once the radiators are hot with steam and then let them release the heat rather than just boil water forever until the house rises?

    2) the old vents are just broken and need to be replaced and that is why the system never shuts off when it runs for a long time because the system cant build up pressure because its all being released?

    or some combo of the 2?

    What i am trying to do right now is remove the pigtail and clean it (or replace it). it looks like its behind the panel though, do i unscrew it as it is by hand after disconnecting the wires and the pressuretrol? it looks like a lot of stuff would need to be disconnected and removed to remove that panel (including the pigtail itself!) but i dont see how it can be removed with a tool if its stuck......

    I also replaced the vent in the upstairs room just now with a varivent and set it to the lowest setting to see if that helps. the old vent seemed really old so maybe it was broken and that is why the room was so hot?

    I am wondering if i should replace all the vents in the house since most look really old.

    I also would like to make sure the main vents are correct, etc, i will take pictures of that stuff next.

    my pictures are in my first post above.

    Thanks!

  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,927
    edited January 18
    To remove the pigtail shut the power down and disconnect the wiring to the pressure control. Mark the wires so you can put it back the same way, looks like their are two cables in their.

    Remove the gage and pressure control, use back up wrenches to unscrew everything. When you unscrew the pigtail from the boiler put your wrench as close to the boiler jacket as you can and go slow with it

    Your skim tapping is the black plug below the pressure control. You made need help with that, I would let that wait until summer
    JoeDi
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,123
    Taking the pressuretrol off to clean the pigtail:
    1. Disconnect the wiring, having labeled the connections on a phone photograph.
    2. Rotate the tee above the pigtail to give clearance for unscrewing the pressuretrol.
    3. Use a plastic ziptie to poke down the pigtail, and see if it is clear. (if the weather is not to severe, unscrew it, and run water through it).
    4. reassembling with a brass union would enable the next cleaning time to be easier.--NBC
    JoeDi
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,696
    The guys above covered cleaning the pigtail -- which probably needs it.

    And yes, the boiler should shut off on pressure if the pressure gets higher than the pressuretrol setting. Ideally you would have a 0 to 3 or 0 to 5 psi gauge on there, in addition to the 0 to 30 which the insurance people want, to see what the boiler is really doing.

    The 4 degree setback you are using is more than most recommend for steam. It is likely that the boiler is developing -- finally -- excess pressure (see above!) and should stop. How often it stops and for how long is very much related to how much oversize the boiler is. A "just right" boiler will never stop on pressure. Good luck with that. More likely, it will stop a few times at the end of a long run. Nothing really wrong with that. It's simply waiting for the radiation to catch up.

    Vents should not release steam at any reasonable boiler pressure. If they do, they aren't working properly and either need to be cleaned or -- more likely -- simply replaced.

    Before playing with the radiator vents, though -- except for that one you replaced (good move!) you should look around and see if there any "main vents" -- bigger vents -- on the steam mains. There should be. They allow the steam to move rapidly through the mains and reach all of the radiators at more or less the same time. When those are there and working well, then it is time to play with the radiator vents to get just the amount of heat you want out of each one.
    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
    JoeDi
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,418
    The only comment I would make to what others have said is that Varivents are probably the worst radiator vent you can buy/use. They are far too aggressive, even at the lowest setting. When you replace the other radiator vents, try Vent-Rites or Maid- o- Mist. Hoffman's are good too but some say they click loudly when they open and close.
    JoeDi
  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21

    To remove the pigtail shut the power down and disconnect the wiring to the pressure control. Mark the wires so you can put it back the same way, looks like their are two cables in their.

    Remove the gage and pressure control, use back up wrenches to unscrew everything. When you unscrew the pigtail from the boiler put your wrench as close to the boiler jacket as you can and go slow with it

    Your skim tapping is the black plug below the pressure control. You made need help with that, I would let that wait until summer

    Thank you. Just to clarify, when you say to put the wrench as close to the jacket as possible, you mean to put the wrench on the copper pipe itself? there is no surface to put the wrench on, no nut head, etc. what kind of wrench would I use on the pipe?

  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21
    edited January 18

    Taking the pressuretrol off to clean the pigtail:
    1. Disconnect the wiring, having labeled the connections on a phone photograph.
    2. Rotate the tee above the pigtail to give clearance for unscrewing the pressuretrol.
    3. Use a plastic ziptie to poke down the pigtail, and see if it is clear. (if the weather is not to severe, unscrew it, and run water through it).
    4. reassembling with a brass union would enable the next cleaning time to be easier.--NBC

    Thanks, what size brass union would it be? I will pick one up next time I go to HD. What would happen if it were to clog, would the system run and run until steam over comes the vents and it starts to leak steam? or would the system shut down or blow off the PRV or vent from the main vents?

    I watched closely tonight how the system behaves. It will run for a while, after it does and the radiators are piping hot they start to make hissing noises sometimes whistling (sounds like tea kettle from the vent). the boiler continues to run. i went in the basement and the main vents were hissing a little too but not as loud. at this point it looked like a lot of water was used up and PSI was at 0 and was not cutting off until i went up and turned down the temp. arent i burning gas for nothing at this point? or is this normal for when it runs for a along time on really cold days? i guess at least its making the place not as dry??? lol

    i was under the impression the system should run, get the radiators hot, then shut off as they give off their heat, then run again, etc. but maybe my understanding is wrong, maybe on cold days they should just run and leak steam?

    also, i have never once seen the thermostat call for heat and it not run so i dont think i am ever hitting the pressure cut off. How often do you hit the pressure cut off normally? should it hit it on a regular basis?

    i kind of recall that needle moving up to about 2PSI when we did the home inspection, i remember asking the inspector if that low was normal and he said yes. now that guage never moves. i know the guy above recommended changing it to a different scale guage but shouldnt that needle move a bit?

    trying to give as much info as possible

    thanks

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,696
    All the comments you make on pressure, hissing, gauge not moving, never shutting off... either the pigtail is badly clogged or the pressuretrol is faulty. Or both. Get that fixed...

    You "impressions" are pretty much right, if rather vague. Have you gotten a copy of "We Got Steam Heat"? At the store here. Useful.
    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
    JoeDi
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,418
    It does sound like the Pigtail is clogged and the Pressuretrol can't see the system pressure to shut the burner down. Clean that pigtail.
    To your other question; no the boiler should not necessarily run until the radiators are hot all the way across. The boiler should run until the thermostat is satisfied. That may mean only a portion of the radiators get hot sometimes and may get fully hot at other times. The radiators will emit heat after the boiler has shut down but that typically isn't what determines when the boiler shuts down. The thermostat does that. The residual heat coming off of those radiators typically delay when the boiler has to fire again for the next heating cycle, again based on the thermostat's call for heat.
    You should not hear hissing but that is most likely due to the pigtail being clogged and/or, as you noted above, you have some bad vents. Once you clean the pigtails and make sure you have enough main venting, you can replace the radiator vents as needed.
    JoeDi
  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21

    The guys above covered cleaning the pigtail -- which probably needs it.

    And yes, the boiler should shut off on pressure if the pressure gets higher than the pressuretrol setting. Ideally you would have a 0 to 3 or 0 to 5 psi gauge on there, in addition to the 0 to 30 which the insurance people want, to see what the boiler is really doing.

    The 4 degree setback you are using is more than most recommend for steam. It is likely that the boiler is developing -- finally -- excess pressure (see above!) and should stop. How often it stops and for how long is very much related to how much oversize the boiler is. A "just right" boiler will never stop on pressure. Good luck with that. More likely, it will stop a few times at the end of a long run. Nothing really wrong with that. It's simply waiting for the radiation to catch up.

    Vents should not release steam at any reasonable boiler pressure. If they do, they aren't working properly and either need to be cleaned or -- more likely -- simply replaced.

    Before playing with the radiator vents, though -- except for that one you replaced (good move!) you should look around and see if there any "main vents" -- bigger vents -- on the steam mains. There should be. They allow the steam to move rapidly through the mains and reach all of the radiators at more or less the same time. When those are there and working well, then it is time to play with the radiator vents to get just the amount of heat you want out of each one.

    Thanks, I am having trouble finding the 0 to 5 gauge, the ones I find on Amazon are 1/4 in but it looks much larger than 1/4. Would you mind linking to what I need on amazon? I thought maybe I could go buy one from Home depot but i guess they dont sell them? (or i am searching for the wrong things)

    Where do you get the 4 degree set back from? from one of my pictures?

    regarding the vents, i just replaced the vent in the master bedroom which was always too cold (previous owner removed one of the 2 radiators but also the radiator took longest of upstairs ones to get hot so i repalced with vari vent one) but when I opened the vent it was spewing hot steam and water, i had to close it to get it to stop. could this brand new vent be faulty or is it possible these vents will open up with more than say 5PSI but less than 15 PSI? My blow off is 15 PSI so unless its broken or frozen up or something my system must be oeprating less than 15 PSI because it has never blown off yet.

    I do have main vents on the end of the smaleller 1 1/4 return side of the loop. they are groton #1.

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,696
    Here's the gauge I use: https://www.amazon.com/Kodiak-Controls-KC25-3-Pressure-Gauge/dp/B00H9ZWLZG/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=0+to+3+psi+pressure+gauge&qid=1579395278&sr=8-3

    It might be you need to use a bushing or reducer to get it to mate with the piping -- Big Box should have that.

    The vents should close on steam and stay that way -- I'm not sure to what you are referring when you say you opened the vent? On the other hand, if it's spewing water there may be something amiss with the piping, or the inlet valve may not be fully open.

    I thought I read something about a 4 degree setback in an earlier post; I could be mistaken an if so, apologies.
    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
    JoeDi
  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21

    Here's the gauge I use: https://www.amazon.com/Kodiak-Controls-KC25-3-Pressure-Gauge/dp/B00H9ZWLZG/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=0+to+3+psi+pressure+gauge&qid=1579395278&sr=8-3

    It might be you need to use a bushing or reducer to get it to mate with the piping -- Big Box should have that.

    The vents should close on steam and stay that way -- I'm not sure to what you are referring when you say you opened the vent? On the other hand, if it's spewing water there may be something amiss with the piping, or the inlet valve may not be fully open.

    I thought I read something about a 4 degree setback in an earlier post; I could be mistaken an if so, apologies.

    Thanks, would this work too? https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FBPPUZO/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    it seems the same except 1-5, i found it before you replied and ordered it.

    sorry when i say i opened the vent i mean the radiator vari-valve vent. when i open it by sliding the bronze slider it vents the radiator, then as the system gets hot it starts shooting out steam and water. its brand new but i guess its broken because even if the system was running high PSI wise it should never do that right?

    i'm sorry but what is a set back, im not sure what 4 degree setback is.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,696
    Th at 0 to 5 will be fine.

    Odd about the vent. Something else is amiss with that radiator too, though -- check the levelling of the radiator. It should slope slightly down towards the inlet, and make sure that the inlet valve is fully open.

    Setback is the term we use when one uses a different temperature at night from daytime -- say 68 and 72. That would be a four degree setback.
    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
    JoeDi
  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21
    edited January 22

    Th at 0 to 5 will be fine.

    Odd about the vent. Something else is amiss with that radiator too, though -- check the levelling of the radiator. It should slope slightly down towards the inlet, and make sure that the inlet valve is fully open.

    Setback is the term we use when one uses a different temperature at night from daytime -- say 68 and 72. That would be a four degree setback.

    Thanks Jamie.

    1st, the Varivalve from Amazon that was venting steam was defective. The replacement is working normally. I guess the diaphram inside is stuck open on the broken one.

    Today I replaced the pigtail and installed the new 0-5 gauge. The existing pigtail was nearly clogged but was not fully clogged, the 0-30 PSI gauge looked like it was clogged with gunk so I dont know if it was functioning or not.

    Here is my work:

    https://imgur.com/a/TeTcukG




    I installed the union as recommended for easy removal for cleaning and access to check it. i realize now it was recommdned to use a brass union, i couldnt find a brass union or a brass pigtail locally so i used steel. the guy at the boiler supply house said it was fine. ive read the brass lasts longer, idk but i can always swap it with a brass next season if needed.

    First fire up after installing it, i ran the boiler for a while until the radiators got full hot and the pressure never moved from 0 psi.

    so now i went around and found all the radiators hissing with stuck vents because now I know they are bad and not hitting their max PSI and opening (I read it can be as low as 4psi so i wasnt sure). Before i didnt know if my pigtail was clogged and causing the pressure to go above 4psi (but less than 15psi as the blow off never occured).

    Now I know those vents were indeed just bad. Not a big surprise all the bad ones so far look like the original, they were flair brand, no 51s.

    I replaced the worst leaking one first and then the house was cold so i ran the system and sure enough when the system shut down i went down and it showed 0.5 PSI for a short while. So the gauge is working.

    I now need to replace several more vents that are leaking.

    I am wondering is it normal for the vents (fast grotons upstairs) to make a lot of noise when the system shuts down and i assume they are sucking air back in? as soon as the system shuts off, the upstairs bathroom radiator makes lots of air noises. i thought at first it was another leaking vent until I realized the system was shut off, as it was so loud it sounded like a leaking vent.

    i guess because the system is finally getting some pressure in it as i am sealing the leaking vents, i sprung some new leaks unfortunately. Or it was leaking all along and I didnt notice because the vent was also leaking and behind the radiator cover. This valve is making a leaking noise:

    https://imgur.com/a/82cLjy0




    Is the only way to fix these old valves to replace them or can they be repacked like a water spigot? this valve is original from 1929 and also the pipe is bent coming out of the floor from the basement.


    Regarding setback, thanks for educating me on the term, I am glad you mentioned that because it reminds me of another question i've wondered which is should i be doing any kind of setback at all with this old kind of steam system? i get the impression it might cost less gas to keep it maintained rather than let it drop when i leave and then run it like crazy when i get back (ecobee home/away). I've read mixed opinions on this but i realize everyones situation is different.

    thank you !

  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21

    Taking the pressuretrol off to clean the pigtail:
    1. Disconnect the wiring, having labeled the connections on a phone photograph.
    2. Rotate the tee above the pigtail to give clearance for unscrewing the pressuretrol.
    3. Use a plastic ziptie to poke down the pigtail, and see if it is clear. (if the weather is not to severe, unscrew it, and run water through it).
    4. reassembling with a brass union would enable the next cleaning time to be easier.--NBC

    Fred said:

    It does sound like the Pigtail is clogged and the Pressuretrol can't see the system pressure to shut the burner down. Clean that pigtail.
    To your other question; no the boiler should not necessarily run until the radiators are hot all the way across. The boiler should run until the thermostat is satisfied. That may mean only a portion of the radiators get hot sometimes and may get fully hot at other times. The radiators will emit heat after the boiler has shut down but that typically isn't what determines when the boiler shuts down. The thermostat does that. The residual heat coming off of those radiators typically delay when the boiler has to fire again for the next heating cycle, again based on the thermostat's call for heat.
    You should not hear hissing but that is most likely due to the pigtail being clogged and/or, as you noted above, you have some bad vents. Once you clean the pigtails and make sure you have enough main venting, you can replace the radiator vents as needed.

    Fred, now that I know my issue is a low pressure issue and not a high pressure issue due to all the leaks from the old vents how do I know I have enough and working main venting? I have a #1 vent on both steam loops.

    there are some issues with them though: one has asbestos removal marking paint on it and i dont know if that damaged or clogged it.

    also both make noise after the system has been running for a while. but how do i know if the noise is them venting normally or they are broken.

    i also read that they may be installed incorrectly or in the wrong place. they are not 15inches back from the drop, they are at the top of the drop and they are also not raised 6 inches from the top, only about 2 (one is under a main steam pipe so cant be raised, i dont even know if i can replace it).

    you can see them in the top right corner of this picture:

    https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/editor/ln/bsv7qe9w2pi3.jpg

    I can take a better picture if needed.....

  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,418
    @JoeDi , What makes you think you have a low pressure issue. Every indication is the pressure is too high and that the pigtail is clogged. Have you cleaned it out yet? If the pressure were too low, steam would not get to the radiators and the vents certainly wouldn't be hissing and whistling.
    The fact that the Pressuretrol can't see the steam pressure doesn't mean the pressure is too low. It means that the pressure can be all over the place and very high. The Pressuretrol just can't see it to control it. The vents that leak may be leaking because they have been ruined from the high pressure.
    Vents should be almost silent if the pressure is within acceptable ranges.
  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21
    Fred said:

    @JoeDi , What makes you think you have a low pressure issue. Every indication is the pressure is too high and that the pigtail is clogged. Have you cleaned it out yet? If the pressure were too low, steam would not get to the radiators and the vents certainly wouldn't be hissing and whistling.
    The fact that the Pressuretrol can't see the steam pressure doesn't mean the pressure is too low. It means that the pressure can be all over the place and very high. The Pressuretrol just can't see it to control it. The vents that leak may be leaking because they have been ruined from the high pressure.
    Vents should be almost silent if the pressure is within acceptable ranges.

    Fred sorry yes, if you scroll up, i did my update as a reply to someone else, that is my mistake.

    unfortunately i was unable to get the system to the leaking steam condition after running for a while today because it was too warm. so i wasnt able to run a test after replacing the pigtail and gauge before replacing bad vents on the radiator.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,696
    edited January 22
    On that valve -- or those valves! -- which are leaking. Yes, in general they can be repaired, just like an old fashioned spigot. Usually all they relay need is repacking around the stem.

    Set backs and how much is rather a vexed subject. Various people have various thoughts, but there is a sort of diffuse consensus that round 3 degrees for an overnight on a steam system is probably reasonable. Maybe...

    The hissing from the radiator vents when the system shuts off usually indicates that the main vents aren't opening as fast -- or that they aren't big enough.
    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
  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21

    On that valve -- or those valves! -- which are leaking. Yes, in general they can be repaired, just like an old fashioned spigot. Usually all they relay need is repacking around the stem.

    Set backs and how much is rather a vexed subject. Various people have various thoughts, but there is a sort of diffuse consensus that round 3 degrees for an overnight on a steam system is probably reasonable. Maybe...

    The hissing from the radiator vents when the system shuts off usually indicates that the main vents aren't opening as fast -- or that they aren't big enough.


    thanks, i will try to find some info on repacking the stem, it does seem like that is where its leaking from. is it a kit I buy from the heating supply store or some kind of material i buy to repack it with?

    i had a feeling setback would be a debated issue since i found so much conflicting info. is it the same with boiler water level? I have been wondering the optimal water level is for the boiler. does the manufacturer give you a set level? on my sight glass there is a black o-ring around the top of it and i always filled the boiler to that level but it can easily be moved up and down the glass so no idea how accurate it is.

    PS. the steel pigtail i used instead of the brass is ok? i marred up the brass pigtail pretty bad trying to get the steel t-fitting off of it. i am wondering what is the correct/best tool to grab something like that brass pigtail with? or even the steel pipe i used to install the gauge, i want to make sure i am using the best tool, i am currently using v-groove style pliers and vice grips to grab the pipes.

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,696
    The stem packing can be had even at the Big Box but perhaps better at your local hardware store. It's rather like treated string. The nut on top of the valve comes off (crescent wrench, please!) and you can fish what's left of the old packing out with a pick of some kind. Then just wrap the new packing around the stem and get it down into the space between the stem and the valve body, screw the packing nut back down and it should be good.

    Boiler water level should be marked on the boiler itself. Usually, though, somewhere between halfway up the gauge glass from the bottom of the glass and two thirds of the way up works just fine.

    A steel pigtail will be fine. Brass doesn't seem to clog as easily, that's all. As to what tool... various people are going to use various tools. It's kind of what do I have in the tool box which is going to work...
    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
    JoeDi
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,568
    I use a small pipe wrench for my 1/4 stuff. Yeah it mars the brass but the world hasn't ended yet
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    SuperTech
  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21
    I would like to put the radiator back in the master bedroom that was removed. I examined it in the basement today and it appears they cut the valve to get it off as expected. In the bedroom there is a nipple coming from the floor that they capped.

    I removed the cut valve from the radiator and now I need to remove the spud. I was going to buy a spud wrench and then try to remove it that way first but assuming I need to cut it I have a small hack saw, I have a cold chisel and was going to try to remove it as detailed on a very good YT video.

    Then was going to install new spud and then need to install the valve on the nipple and this is the part I am not sure about because I have heard these horror stories about breaking the nipple off below the floor and needing to rip apart the house and floor to plumb new pipe. Do I need to support the nipple coming from the floor when I attach the new valve and remove the cap?? I assume the cap will come off fairly easily as it was installed i think less than 10 years ago. I have seen some YT videos where they dont support the nipple at all, others they will support it with what looks like a normal pipe wrench and other times with what looks like a specialty pipe wrench.
  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21

    The stem packing can be had even at the Big Box but perhaps better at your local hardware store. It's rather like treated string. The nut on top of the valve comes off (crescent wrench, please!) and you can fish what's left of the old packing out with a pick of some kind. Then just wrap the new packing around the stem and get it down into the space between the stem and the valve body, screw the packing nut back down and it should be good.

    Boiler water level should be marked on the boiler itself. Usually, though, somewhere between halfway up the gauge glass from the bottom of the glass and two thirds of the way up works just fine.

    A steel pigtail will be fine. Brass doesn't seem to clog as easily, that's all. As to what tool... various people are going to use various tools. It's kind of what do I have in the tool box which is going to work...

    I watched a tear down video on these valves and it looks like when they are fully opened they should not be able to leak from the stem???? would it be because that brass wears off over time or because crud is preventing me from fully opening the valve? Would open/close the valve a bunch possibly help get it fully opened and seal the stem???

    when you say crescent you mean non-adjustable crescent only or adjustable is ok?

    As far as the brass pig tail vs the steel one my only concern was that it seems most of the penetrations in the boiler are brass (sight glass, water level cut off, old pigtail although pipes and plugs are not) so i was just worried maybe the steel could freeze up easier in the boiler and make it hard to remove the steel pigtail down the road, as long as that is not a concern, no issues ,they are cheap enough to replace if its hard to clean.
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,568
    The cap might take some effort. Use two pipe wrenches in opposition to keep the forces localized.

    The spud wrench won’t free the spud but you can try. The spud wrench is good for putting in the new one however. Best way to remove is to carefully notch it with a hacksaw blade and use a chisel to knock out the notched part, then it will spin out easily. Just like in the video you saw.

    Use teflon tape. I use 6 or so wraps of the good stuff like Blue Monster and that way the steam won’t leak and you won’t have to crank anything too much. The steam is only 1.5 psi max remember.
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • JoeDiJoeDi Member Posts: 21
    edited January 24

    The cap might take some effort. Use two pipe wrenches in opposition to keep the forces localized.



    The spud wrench won’t free the spud but you can try. The spud wrench is good for putting in the new one however. Best way to remove is to carefully notch it with a hacksaw blade and use a chisel to knock out the notched part, then it will spin out easily. Just like in the video you saw.



    Use teflon tape. I use 6 or so wraps of the good stuff like Blue Monster and that way the steam won’t leak and you won’t have to crank anything too much. The steam is only 1.5 psi max remember.

    THanks, I cut the threads a little bit when I removed the spud. I thought i wasnt into the threads but i was.... Not that bad though I used the megalock teflon tape and lamp wick and i think its should be ok because i didnt get them all the way through and its at the top and between the pipe dope and lamp wick and that tape i think it should hold.

    Now I am going to try to get that cap off, I cant find my other pipe wrench so right now i only have my aluminum rigid 18 inch. So I need to buy another because my lost one was crap wanyways, I am wondering what would you guys recommend I buy for my 2nd wrench? I have the 18 should I go smaller or larger and should I get any kind of specialty? is there one that works better than others for gripping that nipple in the floor perhaps?

    thanks
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,568
    edited January 24
    Larger can’t hurt, but there’s something nice about a matched pair. For a limited use bargain try Harbor Freight.

    Grip the nipple fully and near the cap to reduce the chance of ovalling it

    PS: everyone nicks the threads 😅
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
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