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Second pipe sticking out of floor next to a one-pipe radiator?

This radiator is on the third floor of my house. I believe it is original to the house. There is a similar setup in the next room over, although that radiator has been replaced with another one-pipe steam radiator that’s larger.

The question is... what is this second pipe for? I initially thought it was a return for a two-pipe system, however as I looked at it, there does not seem to be a separate return to the basement. There also does not appear to be a separate return in the wall leading to this radiator, however confirming that would demand opening up the ceiling.

My second thought was that it was a riser vent. That would make sense it being on the third floor. But why would there be one in the room next door as well?

The pipe is 1/2” with a reducing coupling down to 1/8”. The vent on the radiator is a Gorton #D.

Any thoughts? What should I check next?
--
Homeowner from Providence, RI
Home b. 1897, one-pipe steam with a indirect gravity hot air system using Gold's pin radiators.

Comments

  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 882
    obviously somebody abandoned the pipe along time ago. That piece of wood looks old that the radiator sits on. Covering water damage. My guess is that a long time ago there use to be a two pipe radiator there that leaked. Its a one pipe system so somebody came along and cut out the return. Maybe that leaked too? Figured with the new one pipe radiator he didn't need a return. But he left the dead pipe? stuck a reducer on it because that is what he had in the truck? Maybe he thought if he had problems converting from two pipe to one pipe it would be nice to have something to reconnect. No problems, so he just left it there.

    Who knows. Just ignore the pipe. Its dead and you don't need it.
    I am the walking Deadman
    Hydronics Designer
    Hydronics is the most comfortable and energy efficient HVAC system.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,278
    Could this originally been a vacuum system?
    The 1/8" connection might have been connected to the rad air vent. Is there any evidence of the same pipe at all the other rads.
    There may be remains of some form of pump and small piping near the boiler. Maybe a pump pad on the floor.
    STEVEusaPA
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,752
    @jsavage, that pipe tells us this was originally a "Paul" system.

    This system was named for Andrew Paul, but the idea originated with one of his employees, a man named Skiffington. The second pipe was an air line that connected to a special air vent on the radiator. All the air lines connected to a steam-driven ejector (basically a jet pump) in the basement, that would suck the air out of the system. I remember reading that when the Paul system was applied to a typical one-pipe steam system, the fuel savings were something like 30%.

    There were other air-line systems, but the Paul was by far the most popular.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    STEVEusaPAChrisJ
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,752
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 882
    @Steamhead

    That sounds awesome!! I wonder if the pipes are intact and it could be brought back to its original design. I guess finding a replacement for that jet pump would be tough. The things these dead men knew.

    Where do even find info on this stuff? You know steam well.
    I am the walking Deadman
    Hydronics Designer
    Hydronics is the most comfortable and energy efficient HVAC system.
  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 882
    Found it!

    https://heatinghelp.com/blog/its-a-wonderful-life/

    Where does Dan find info on this stuff?
    I am the walking Deadman
    Hydronics Designer
    Hydronics is the most comfortable and energy efficient HVAC system.
  • jsavage
    jsavage Member Posts: 42
    It’s amazing how you have to fight your assumptions on this stuff. After I read your responses, I said “well, there’s no pipe in the basement or in the walls below the radiator. It turns out it runs straight down to the basement, just two joist bays over. I had assumed it was an abandoned gas lighting line.

    Which brings me to... is there any way to differentiate these Paul returns from gas lines? Like typical sizes etc?
    --
    Homeowner from Providence, RI
    Home b. 1897, one-pipe steam with a indirect gravity hot air system using Gold's pin radiators.
  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,047
    The air lines for the radiators head to the radiator locations, the gas lamp pipes typically headed to walls.
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • jsavage
    jsavage Member Posts: 42
    Ok I’ve taken a more in-depth look around the house today. The two radiators on the 3rd floor are the only ones with any evidence of a floor penetration. There are several cut-off airline-sized pipes coming into the boiler room area. These are located such that they could plausibly serve radiators in the front part of the house on the second floor. They don’t show up in the floor though.

    I’m going to continue to investigate, but I was curious... what would you need to do to have a system where some radiators have a vacuum line and others do not? Would it be sufficient to put a check valve ( like this https://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?sku=22448&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI25vIrpTC5AIVAa_ICh3ndQ4VEAQYAyABEgKbwvD_BwE ) on the vents for the non-vacuum radiators?

    Ideally I’d like to have the vacuum pump pull a vacuum and then shut off. If there’s a way for air to get in, this won’t work.
    --
    Homeowner from Providence, RI
    Home b. 1897, one-pipe steam with a indirect gravity hot air system using Gold's pin radiators.
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 574
    edited September 2019
    There are other types of vacuum producers for Paul Air Line systems besides water venturi eductors (water jets).

    Igor Zhadanovski offers what I believe is a piston type, and we can supply positive displacement Liquid Ring type vacuum pumps.

    PM me for more details on how to use a liquid ring vacuum pump.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,177
    edited September 2019
    Here's another example of this. This is at Nemours Estate in Wilmington, DE:


    You can also get into the basement there. Well worth the trip:



    Retired and loving it.
  • ch4man
    ch4man Member Posts: 285
    this is a modified air line/Paul system i ran into a couple of years ago




  • John Ruhnke
    John Ruhnke Member Posts: 882
    @ch4man

    Yes!! When you don't know what something is? or understand how it works?

    It is always best to just rip it out!!!

    ;)
    I am the walking Deadman
    Hydronics Designer
    Hydronics is the most comfortable and energy efficient HVAC system.
    ethicalpaul
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 574
    Had a customer up in Milwaukee a couple years ago in that same situation. Contractor pulled out old vacuum pump and then wondered why system wouldn't heat
    Fortunately another contractor recognized the system as a Paul Air line system and we were able to restore performance with a replacement vacuum pump.
    I would have loved to see what the old vacuum pump was, but unfortunately it was long gone before I got there.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 327
    The Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago also has a similar system. The building is publically accessible during their "First Fridays" and Open House Chicago. I think one of our local members reached out to management about the system but never heard back.
    ethicalpaul