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Why Steam Vents Die

HeatingHelp Administrator Posts: 654
edited September 2019 in THE MAIN WALL
Why Steam Vents Die

You shouldn’t hear vents venting. It’s not a good sound.

Read the full story here


  • Woody_S
    Woody_S Member Posts: 12
    Never heard a plug described that was! Good One!!!
  • Shalom
    Shalom Member Posts: 165
    When I was a kid, I remember hearing when the steam came up, the vents would go "Psshhhhh ...... toink!" Always a sharp onset, and a sharp cutoff. I guess the onset was when the main vent slammed shut. G_d only knows what pressure he had that boiler set to, but gas was cheap in them days.

    Oh, and "First Aid For The Ailing House" was his bible.
  • mikeg2015
    mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,194
    When I bought my house it has a little Hoffman 76 or maybe #6 vacuum vent original form 1905. It was green from oxidationand had rust all over it from spitting out water for decades. IT probably wasn’t plugged because they couldn’t remove it.
  • lproulx
    lproulx Member Posts: 4
    Not to be a devil's advocate, but the above is a good argument for hot water vs. steam, at least for residential applications. Think about how a steam system works: get the inside of the system good and hot; get it wet; suck in some air and let it cool; repeat thousands of times. If you wanted to create a factory to manufacture and sell rust you could base it on a steam heating system. I recently removed a gravity hot water boiler that had to be 100 years old. How many 100 year old steam boilers are still working? (Sorry - I know you are a steam fan, but couldn't help myself.)
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
    They probably all are, except the ones that got torn out by people who didn't want to understand how well they work.

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 358
    The boiler in my building is 93 right now....
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,654
    And might I ask how many 100 year old hot water boilers are working? Didn't think so. Never mind pumps...

    With a small amount of maintenance, a steam system's components will last a good long time. I can't calculate a mean time between failure for the traps on the system in the main house I care for, for instance, because they've only been operating for 90 years without any failures. I did add another main vent to the system, to add to the Hoffman #75 which is also 90 years old, only because with Hoffman didn't have as much venting capacity as I wanted. And I did have to replace a wet return which was rusted out from the outside... from long contact with a coal pile.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Labenaqui
    Labenaqui Member Posts: 72
    At NEFI School in the 1950's the Smith-Mills Rep claimed they had just renovated an 1835 Mills Boiler. It was in a Southern Cotton Mill and had been fired by wood, coal, peat moss, corn stover, cotton waste and whatever . He claimed then the longest operating boiler in North America. Wonder if it is still around ..... ?
    (I have a 1935 International Heater, Ithaca, NY, Economy #64 Wood Burner integrated into my W/M Oil System.)
  • bowman
    bowman Member Posts: 20
    A while back, I posted a Wall question on cleaning vents.
    I took the advice offered and used white vinegar with great success.
    I wrapped the vent holes with painter's tape, filled them with white vinegar, then propped them and let them sit overnight.
    A lot of rust came out when I turned them back upright and rinsed them out.
    Where I am located, a bottle of vinegar is cheaper than a new vent.
  • JoshP
    JoshP Member Posts: 72
    92 year old steam system With about a 65 year old American standard boiler still going strong in Utica Ny. Most of the homes on my street have steam systems too
  • Robert_T
    Robert_T Member Posts: 9
    We likewise have an American Standard (Capitol) boiler size # 247) that was installed approximately 1918 so this makes it 101 years old. It has a Roterts Gordon gas conversion and still going strong in Ithaca New York. They sure don't make them like they used to! However, we did have the same exact boiler at another location that failed a couple of years ago. So I guess the moral of the story is these old baby's can ultimately fail but it can sure take a while.