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Big mouth fully open during cycle

nybz
nybz Member Posts: 16
Good morning all,

This site has been an amazing resource. My wife and I moved into our home last winter and this year I have been making some adjustments based on my learning while lurking here.

I recently replaced my Gorton 1's with Big mouths. I noticed that from a cold start when the steam hits the Big mouths it puffs steam for about a minute before seeming to seal, though still flashing off any water that was left in the threads. Yesterday however it ran a second longer cycle and when I checked the boiler steam was full on coming out of both big mouths. The house went from 69 with a set point of 70 to 80 in some rooms in about 45 minutes.

I have two pictures of how they're connected to the returns and as much as I'd like to get more height on them they're in fairly tight spaces, one of which I needed to have come out sideways from the T with elbows and then go up.

As far as I can tell that never happened last winter with the gortons. From a cold start with the gorton or big mouth it takes about 18 minutes till steam hits the main vents, then about 2.5 minutes till it hits the radiators, and about 45 minutes till the radiators are fully hot across, expect for the one in the room with the Tstat, which I have a Varivent nearly closed

I hope these pictures and video load and help. I'd love to hear if I did anything wrong, if these are just faulty vents, and if they're even worth using if they vent about the same as the gorton 1's did




https://photos.app.goo.gl/qCg6MzWEuQNzyCCT9

Comments

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    edited October 2019
    Mine stopped sealing after a few months so I took it out of service last winter.

    I have a call in to their customer service but so far it's been phone tag, but I'll let you know what I find out from them about this.

    oh and regarding the capacity, they vent about twice as much as a Gorton #2, so I think that's about 6 times as much as a Gorton #1. Big Mouths are the king of venting capacity
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Gsmith
    Gsmith Member Posts: 431
    There was a batch of bad Big Mouths, I believe last year or the year before, that B&J replaced for customers. Try calling or contacting their customer service. I had one replaced at no charge.
  • nybz
    nybz Member Posts: 16
    I figured I'd reach out to them. But wanted to check and make sure my piping isn't the main issue.

    I just got them so I'd have thought they'd be a newer/better batch.

    I know more venting is always better, but with their being a nominal time difference how much effect would the extra venting have?

  • acwagner
    acwagner Member Posts: 505
    The time difference will be much bigger when comparing a warm/hot start vs a cold start.

    I also had problems with the big mouth sealing, however my system is also prone to debris clogging certain styles of vents. I found that gortons are less susceptible.

    You can dismantle the big mouth and check the silicone sealing gasket. It might just have some debris lodged in it.
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,477
    edited October 2019
    I had a replacement Big Mouth hand delivered to me a few years back, I'm a couple of towns north of Randolf, MA. I took the old one apart and verified there was no debris and the o-ring was in place. The vent would leak steam after it closed and would seal if I rapped it with a 2X2 that I had handy.

    They got in touch with me a week later and said they could not get the valve to leak on their test setup. The replacement velt has worked fine since it was replaced.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    I also had one of my seven fail, I flushed it out and it has worked fine since. I am guessing I had some debris built up that prevented the disk from sealing.
  • BrianT1077
    BrianT1077 Member Posts: 108
    @nybz, I had the same issue with my Big Mouth after a while and I contacted Barnes & Jones and they sent me a new internal element which I installed and since then it has worked perfectly.
    Crown Boiler Bermuda Series model: BSI103, BTU output: 85,000, single pipe steam system
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 722
    They're a modified trap, so if you're throwing water into it, it's not going to seal really well. I believe that's the reason @Steamhead prefers the Gorton for some applications
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,229
    I've used Big Mouths three times and I've seen enough.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
    Canucker
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    But they are so pretty and solid!
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • nybz
    nybz Member Posts: 16
    They are definitely impressive looking and feeling. But I did wake up again to both of them billowing steam this morning. Back to the Gortons while I reach out to them and see if they can troubleshoot/replace them.

    Also, I ran them on a second cycle yesterday after letting the boiler cool about an hour and I got steam to the header in 3 minutes, and another 2.5 to the vents. I'll be curious to see if that's any different when I put the gortons back on.

    Thanks all!

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    I got mine from the first production run, probably three, maybe four years ago. Still working flawlessly. @nybz , your mountings look fine.
  • Alan Welch
    Alan Welch Member Posts: 267
    What does the near boiler piping look like ? You could be pushing a lot of wet steam. Is that a copper steam main?
  • nybz
    nybz Member Posts: 16
    I'll get some more photos when I can. I have only the one not great one on my phone. If I understand my system it's a parallel flow with two mains and looks like it switches from iron to copper after the last radiator, then copper all the way to the boiler, loop and all. Header and mains are all iron till they switch direction.

    It is possible the steam is wet, don't quite understand how to tell if it would be dry vs wet and what I can do to get it dry if its not.


  • acwagner
    acwagner Member Posts: 505
    This is unrelated, but in your photo is looks like your pigtail/pressuretrol is mounted where the pressure relief valve normally is. Do you have a pressure relief valve on the boiler?
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    By wet steam we mean steam which carries a lot of water droplets with it. If I read your photograph carefully, you most likely do have rather wet steam, as the takeoff for the steam lines from the boiler header appears to come off almost horizontally. There are piping alterations you could make to reduce that, perhaps considerably, but if you are not afflicted with water hammer problems, I wouldn't be in a hurry to change anything.

    Nor would I be unduly concerned about the use of copper in the continuation of the steam mains. Not desirable, certainly, but not necessarily fatal. The problem with copper steam mains is in the expansion and contraction which, over time, can strain the soldered joints and create leaks. Whether it will or not depends almost entirely on the exact routing of the pipes. You can -- and perhaps should, if you are ambitious -- reduce that by placing any main vents as close as possible to the transition from iron to copper, to limit the amount of steam that gets into the copper lines.

    However... that brings up vents. As I said above, you likely do have rather wet steam. Unfortunately, while the Big Mouth has excellent venting capacity, it will not shut against water, nor is it intended to. Nor is it built, internally, in such a way that it will resist spitting if there is water in the steam or air coming to it. You might find that substituting at least one, and possibly two Gorton #2 vents for the Big Mouths will be more satisfactory, as they do close on water and are arranged quite differently internally.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
    Here is a video of what is inside a Gorton #2:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeYDZvD7NmI
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • nybz
    nybz Member Posts: 16
    edited October 2019
    Thanks for all that feedback!

    Some better photos

    There is a relief valve on the back, where is it normally?

    Very little if any water hammer and I assume the piping was done in 1994 when the previous owners installed this boiler, so probably no real rush to correct it if it's been working for 25 years. Also I think the change to copper happens under asbestos insulation so really not keen to do anything with it. There's a little more height after the header than the first photo shows

    I'm sure I have a lot of oil in the tank I'm not even sure there's a way to skim the tank.

    I guess either way going back to the gortons will serve me better for now
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Skim the oil tank? No need for that, unless you got some really really crummy oil somehow. Even then... it's the boiler itself which might need skimming, and that's to get any residual oily goop off the top of the water surface, where it interferes with steaming. I don't see a handy skim port, though so unless the water level bounces badly (more than an inch to an inch and a half) I wouldn't be too concerned.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • nybz
    nybz Member Posts: 16
    edited October 2019
    Sorry meant skimming the boiler not the oil tank!

    When I last had it cleaned the tech added something that made the water yellowish, when it runs it turns more brownish and bounces maybe up to 2 inches but probably less.

    Link to video of the sight glass
    The pressure gauge never works right I dont really think I'm running 12psi :D
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/3wpTfihZWtQnavw76
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    That PRV should be vertical. In its current horizontal position, it probably has enough corrosion and/or gunk in it that it won't open, should it need to.
    Also, if your water is bouncing up to 2", the boiler probably does need to be skimmed. You can accomplish that when you correct the PRV. You can put a short nipple in the boiler and add a Tee, with the PRV mounted on the top and use the end opening to skim. Because that tapping is only 3/4", you will have to skim very slowly but that is better than not skimming. I have to se the same set up on my boiler.
    I would add a 0-3 PSI gauge to your pigtail so that you can actually see the pressure the boiler is running at. Those 0-30 PSI gauges, while required by code, are useless to see what is actually happening. High pressures (if the boiler is running over about a pound and a half) and oils on the surface of the boiler water can both contribute to some of the problems you are experiencing.
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    I just watched my 7 Big Mouths close perfectly during a cycle. Yes I had one that previously didn't close but was fixed after flushing it out so not a design issue, rather a debris issue with my system. I have also had 4 gorton #2 fail, 2 could not be saved after flushing or vinegar baths, before I switched over to big mouths. They are all installed on 6" nipples a minimum of 18" before my dry returns drop to wets. System runs between 12oz and 4 oz verified by a 1-5 psi gauge.

    I think the issue here is a combination of copper pipes, incorrect sized insulation and the vents not having enough height off the main. The insulation is not the correct size/diameter for the copper pipe so the steam will condense way too fast making very wet steam. It looks like 2" diameter insulation on 1" copper. To humanize if I put my super warm down coat on my 6 year old he is going to be cold because the coat will be drafty.
  • nybz
    nybz Member Posts: 16
    I am replacing the insulation for the copper, and will use the larger insulation to insulate the riser and header, which don't have right now

    I also noticed that I've had the water level fairly high, would lowering it help dry the steam more by giving more space above the water before the riser?

    Would the correct insulation and lower water level help enough to have the steam dry enough to even try out the big mouths again?
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    Lowering a high water level can definitely help with wet steam or water getting carried over to the mains. See https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/169320/see-wet-steam-in-the-wild

    In that case, I lowered my water level 1-2" and it stopped doing that (see next video in thread)

    Whether your proposed changes make things better for the big mouths is going to depend on trial and error.

    I disassembled my Big Mouth and found the joint that holds the o-ring sealing piece was stiff. I tried to clean it and lube it a bit, but during a test last night it again failed to seal, continuing to let out little puffs of steam well after the vent was fully steam-hot.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • nybz
    nybz Member Posts: 16
    edited October 2019
    Lowering the water level and shifting some of the bigger insulation from the mains to the riser and header seem to help!

    I just watched it on two cycles and it puffs a bit but seems to seal where before it wouldd puff and eventually spew. Haven't let the cycles go too long though since it's already warm in my house :D
    ethicalpaul
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    Sounds like you are on the right track.