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Inaccessible steam traps

bigpete638bigpete638 Posts: 37Member
Many traps on campus here have steam traps that haven’t been replaced in twenty years. They are blowing through condensate pumps. Their solution was to put a trap just before the condensate pumps. What issues can this cause? Any and all information is greatly appreciated.

Comments

  • NoelNoel Posts: 170Member
    It will fill the returns with steam and close ALL of the traps in the building. In turn, if a radiator that has been satisfied (using TRVs) opens, no steam will move into the airbound radiator. Other radiators that are satisfied will heat through steam entering through a cooling trap and fill the radiator with water. If the room is cold enough, the radiator can freeze and split (explosively). After that, the room warms back up from leaking steam and the frozen and split sprinkler line can thaw and fill the bottom third of the building with water. Of course, if the traps worked, the tenant wouldn't have shut off the radiators and opened the window before he left for a week.

    Ask me how I know....

    Noel
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,465Member
    Nice description, @Noel ! And even if all that mayhem doesn't come to pass, the steam traps which haven't failed already probably will, as they are hit from all sides by confusing signals...

    Not to mention that you will be spending a good deal of money on fuel which isn't doing anything to heat the structure...
    Jamie



    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
  • NoelNoel Posts: 170Member
    That really happened in an almost-empty 4 story dorm during winter vacation. None of that is exaggerated.

    Noel
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,465Member
    Noel said:

    That really happened in an almost-empty 4 story dorm during winter vacation. None of that is exaggerated.

    Noel

    Oh I believe you -- all too well.
    Jamie



    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
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,802Member
    nothing is inaccessible, it's just a matter of how much havoc it causes to get to the traps. Maybe you can remove the guts to the existing traps and install a new traps down stream in an accesable location.
  • PumpguyPumpguy Posts: 363Member
    @bigpete638, What you describe is called MASTER TRAPPING, which is a definite no-no. The details are fully explained in THE LOST ART OF STEAM HEATING, pages 31, 163, 174, 182, and 187.

    These pages just say in different words, and with different detail, what @Noel said.
    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 www.nashjenningspumps.com for more information
  • bigpete638bigpete638 Posts: 37Member
    You guys are amazing! There is asbestos involved which also limits access to many traps as well.
  • bigpete638bigpete638 Posts: 37Member
    Thanks again!
  • kevinj_4kevinj_4 Posts: 80Member

    nothing is inaccessible, it's just a matter of how much havoc it causes to get to the traps. Maybe you can remove the guts to the existing traps and install a new traps down stream in an accesable location.

    Yep, and once you get to them the customer now knows better than enclose them.

    I have cut open many walls & cabinets in my career to access stuff. Not just traps.
  • kevinj_4kevinj_4 Posts: 80Member

    You guys are amazing! There is asbestos involved which also limits access to many traps as well.

    The asbestos needs to go and re-insulate.

    Around here you are in deep stuff if you disturb it so abatement is job 1.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,465Member
    And may I point out that in general traps should not be insulated? They need to be able to cool, at least a little, to release condensate (radiator type traps, that is, or anything with a thermostatic element).
    Jamie



    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
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,674Member
    I had to remove a corner cabinet to find the pipe tunnel opening. I was sure the F&T was there as I had the original prints from 1955.
    The cabinet was installed in the 1970's. I am fairly certain the trap was not serviced since the original install. It was blowing steam into the cond pump and one of the pipes had lost the threads and was leaking water.

    One thing about removing the guts and installing another F&T is the drop from inlet to outlet in my case was very little. The piping had just about run out of slope for returning condensate.
    There should be some drop to establish flow IIRC.
    So Pete, if you have a nearly level outlet pipe you might reconsider just adding a trap downstream.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,802Member
    @JUGHNE
    Tunstall has some inline F & T traps which can get you out of a jam, but I agree there has to be some drop to get the condensate away from the equipment
  • gerry gillgerry gill Posts: 2,931Member
    Milwaukee tool compa :D ny has made it their mission to ensure that no steam trap is inaccessible
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com

    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • bigpete638bigpete638 Posts: 37Member
    I forget to check back with the site. My apologies. Thank you again for everyone’s insight. It’s invaluable!
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Posts: 886Member
    > @gerry gill said:
    > Milwaukee tool compa :D ny has made it their mission to ensure that no steam trap is inaccessible

    Hi Gerry. Can you elaborate? Thanks.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,465Member

    > @gerry gill said:

    > Milwaukee tool compa :D ny has made it their mission to ensure that no steam trap is inaccessible



    Hi Gerry. Can you elaborate? Thanks.

    Sawzall Time!
    Jamie



    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
  • kevinj_4kevinj_4 Posts: 80Member

    Milwaukee tool compa :D ny has made it their mission to ensure that no steam trap is inaccessible

    That they have, the sawzall is a great tool.
  • Scott.MaloScott.Malo Posts: 14Member
    Hi BigPete638! Scott Malo here from Tunstall corporation. I agree with most of the folks here in that even if a steam trap seems inaccessible, there are creative ways to get them and people willing to take the plunge. (Initiation here at Tunstall is about 1,000 hours of tunnel crawling :smile:). Master trapping is definitely not an alternative. I am unsure how many you have that are buried but if it has been that long, there is a good chance they are leaking or just blowing by. We can definitely provide you with the right material for repairing or replacing them and might even have some recommendations or referrals for some companies that would be willing to do the survey and actually perform the repairs. We also have a 10-plate bellows that could be part of the face-plate repair kits which would extend the life of those traps and put some additional in between needing to revisit them. I am happy to communicate with you via email if you want to continue the discussion. I can be reached at [email protected] Cheers!
  • bigpete638bigpete638 Posts: 37Member
    Thanks again everyone. Another issue is the amount of asbestos and the unwillingness to spend the money for removal. This the traps not being changed. Even the price of trap replacement has been a deterrent. It’s that crazy here. Sorry for the late responses. I was hoping to get email notification of any new messages on here. Things get hectic and I forget to check. Again I really appreciate all the information. This site is amazing.
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