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Uneven Heat and no Heat

I have been ha ung some issues with my heating system. I have a Burnham IN6 175000 btu steam boiler. The issue I am having is that very few radiators get hot. I have 13 castiron rads In total. Not quite sure of the ratings of them as they are mostly old radiators. The issue is not just sectioned off to one area I have two roads on the 1st floor back of the house that dont get hot or just slightly warm. One in the front on the first floor. Then I have 2 in the fro t on the second floor and one in the middle o the second floor. All of these radiators are having issues I replaced all of the air valves with gortons. Every radiator is pitched to the steam valve (one pipe system). The boiler doesn't build any pressure it just constantly runs most of the time on cold days. The water level is consistent and doesn't fill often. I have noticed the flame seems week on the burner was thinking next step is to change the gas valve. I have also noticed that in the basement the lines that feed the radiators that dont get hot are hot to a certain point then cold the rest of the way that I can access, except one feed pipe is always cold.Boiler is approx 12 years old. Any ideas


  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,123
    Can you find the main vent on the supply piping, and post a picture of it?
    If you take the vent off the cold radiator, with the boiler switched off, and then turn up the thermostat, will steam come out, (you must be ready to turn the thermostat down, as soon as steam comes out)?
    Can you hear any noise from the system? I am mystified by your statement that the boiler runs so long without the radiators getting adequately hot. It’s possible that the main gas line into your house is not providing enough gas. A contractor will know how to measure the amount of gas you are burning, or we can tell you how to “clock the meter” yourself so you know if your boiler is getting enough gas.
    Can you see white plumes of steam from the chimney, while it is firing?
    Have you tried the find a contractor button here. This problem may be more easily solved by a knowledgeable steam pro on site. They may be busy, so we can try to help from a distance.—NBC
  • DocfletcherDocfletcher Member Posts: 475
    You need a pro.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,418
    Yes, we need to see the boiler piping and the mains. Pictures please. Just from your post, it might be that the gas pressure into your house or at least to the boiler may be an issue. You can start by having your utility company come out and check the pressure into the house and to the boiler. It won't be the first time we see a gas line, pressure regulator or utility company problem.
  • JohnNYJohnNY Member Posts: 2,432
    This sounds like a New Jersey problem with low gas pressure. Where are you located?
    For installations, troubleshooting, and private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
    "72°F Mechanical, LLC"
    Or email John at [email protected]
    John is the Boilers and Hydronic Heating Systems Course Instructor at NYC's Mechanics Institute, 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.
    John also oversees mechanical installations and maintenance for metro-area clients with his family's company, Gateway Plumbing and Heating along with his brother/business partner.
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 5,101
    A few years back I had to have the gas pipe coming into the house replaced because it was partially clogged. I knew I had a problem when I clocked the gas meter and saw I was not using enough gas.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Dave in QCADave in QCA Member Posts: 1,759
    You say the boiler is about 12 years old. Did the boiler and system work correctly in the past? I am prone to think you have a firing rate problem. Clock the meter.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
  • SteamingatMohawkSteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 251
    What maintenance has been done on the boiler? Has the heat exchanger been inspected/cleaned? What does the flame look like? Flame pattern is highly affected by the quality of the air coming into the "fire box" (for lack of a more accurate term). Dust in the air can turn the flame yellow, as can fumes from kitty litter boxes, paint and other solvents. There have been comments elsewhere in discussions about flame color.

    I found in my system that I was probably overventing my system. I had Varivalves installed and it was taking 5 minutes for the shorter rear supply to radiators to heat up and another 5 -10 minutes for the longer front supply to heat up. I replaced them with Maid O'Mists orificed vents and now both supplies heat up in less than 2 minutes. I couldn't believe it. I had to reduce the orifices sizes to better balance the system and ended up going to adjustable VentRite #1s (which are the only ones I know of that can be completely shut off) on several radiators because I needed less capacity than a fixed #4.

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