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Why do I have this ventless radiator?

david_and_heatherdavid_and_heather Member Posts: 24
edited November 23 in Strictly Steam
While investigating my low water debacle, I took an ancient grate off my basement wall and discovered this monstrosity:



You can't see it, but just to the left of the opening, the bottom of this radiator connects to the dry return below it. This is about 15 feet from the boiler, running straight off the supply line to the radiators on the first level. As you might expect, it only gets slightly warm, and only along the top. Immediately, I had these thoughts:

(1) There's no main vent anywhere along that supply line--no wonder the radiators on the first level hiss.
(2) What's the point of a radiator without a vent?
(3) Why the !@$#@ do I have a radiator a few feet from the boiler at all? I need more heat in my sweltering basement like I need a hole in my combustion chamber.
(4) I can think of much better uses for precious wall space in the basement than this. A heat-recovery ventilator comes to mind.

Which led to the obvious:

(4) Can/should I remove this beast, add a main vent here, install an access panel in front of it, and close up this poor wall?

Comments

  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 342
    edited November 23
    Looks like there is a supply pipe on the top right. How's that connected--is there a valve there behind the wood paneling?

    It's probably set up as a two pipe radiator, or was at some point and is now missing key components.

    Are your mains insulated? If they are not insulated then you might want the rad to heat the basement if/when you insulate your mains.
    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

  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,041
    Insulation makes a huge difference. My basement is fairly cool all winter except
    Right in the boiler room. Sill plate Air leaks aren’t that bad either.

    Did it have asbestos insulation that was removed? I’ve seen that a lot. People over reacted and tore the insulation all out.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,098
    edited November 23
    Is this a one pipe or two pipe system? Seems to me, IIRC there were some systems that used a radiator, in the basement to act as a large main vent, dumping the air into the dry return. I'm sure @Jamie Hall or @Steamhead will know.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,145
    Or that is a "condensate heater" radiator for the basement.
    It used the condensate return to heat the rad. No steam, just the condensate water passes thru it.
  • clammyclammy Member Posts: 2,347
    I ve seen this in one home w a 2 pipe trane system w radiators .it was piped off the end of a main off the drip and returning out the opposite into the wet return I don’t think it had a trap . The original boiler was still there and that radiator was surely under the water line ,there was no Hartford loop just a check before going into the boiler .never really gave it any thoughts maybe some one didn’t want It hanging from the ceiling some the fitter just stuck it there ? Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,041
    I wonder if due to draft requirements, it was common to leave a small hopper window open in the boiler room all winter then have a small radiator to keep the room warm and anything from freezing. Just a thought. In most cases, the uninsulated main would be enough.
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,573
    I think @JUGHNE nailed it. These are sometimes used to provide heat in basements without adding to the total EDR. The heat provided by condensate only adds to the pickup factor.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • david_and_heatherdavid_and_heather Member Posts: 24
    Sorry for the delay, everyone. The supply pipes are insulated with 1" fiberglass, except for a few elbows and a few feet in an awkward spot that I couldn't reach. Returns are not insulated--should they be?

    It's a one-pipe system. This radiator is fed at the top from a supply that goes to several other radiators. This is what the connection looked like just after the old asbestos insulation was remediated; it's now covered with 1" fiberglass.



    Behind that junction, the line runs straight from the top of the boiler. Ahead of it, it has two more T junctions feeding radiators, followed by a main vent, and then a continuation of the line to feed more radiators.
  • pecmsgpecmsg Member Posts: 948
    Im not a structural engineer but that floor just looks dangerous!

    That is not how too sister up Joyce that have been notched!
  • gfrbrooklinegfrbrookline Member Posts: 490
    Not a steam issue but those stringers look like their structural integrity is severely compromised by the way they were cut to allow for the pipe. It looks like the 2x6 became a 2x1 with a patch. I see some splitting below the pipe notch. Not a good sign.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 10,226
    edited December 1
    > @gfrbrookline said:
    > Not a steam issue but those stringers look like their structural integrity is severely compromised by the way they were cut to allow for the pipe. It looks like the 2x6 became a 2x1 with a patch. I see some splitting below the pipe notch. Not a good sign.

    Stringers are on stairs.


    > @Hap_Hazzard said:
    > I think @JUGHNE nailed it. These are sometimes used to provide heat in basements without adding to the total EDR. The heat provided by condensate only adds to the pickup factor.

    It doesn't matter where you add the load it's still added to the boiler. The boiler still needs to heat the condensate...



    @david_and_heather
    How long is the span of the joists? What size are they? Where are the holes drilled within the span? How far from each end?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • gfrbrooklinegfrbrookline Member Posts: 490
    @ChrisJ Sorry if I got my terminology mixed up, not a carpenter. The joists are compromised.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 366
    The way the notches are patches definitely isn't code, but if they are glued it probably isn't terrible. in the middle of a span, most of the strength comes from the top and bottom of the joist, the top is compressed and the bottom is in tension.
  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 342
    Building code gives guidance on this situation. If your state follows the ICC guidelines, then allows the hole diameter up to 1/3 the size of the joist depth. Hole needs to be at least 2" from the bottom edge.
    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

  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,573
    ChrisJ said:


    It doesn't matter where you add the load it's still added to the boiler. The boiler still needs to heat the condensate...

    Of course. I never said it didn't. I just said it doesn't add to the EDR. Adding it to the total EDR would result in miscalculation of a replacement boiler. EDR should only account for the square feet of cast iron that come into contact with STEAM, that's why it's expressed in terms of square feet of steam. A condensate raditor doesn't turn steam into water. It just radiates some of the heat remaining in the water that flows through it.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • gfrbrooklinegfrbrookline Member Posts: 490
    The second span shows cracks on both sides of the bottom of the hole. It is obviously under stress.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 10,226
    > @gfrbrookline said:
    > The second span shows cracks on both sides of the bottom of the hole. It is obviously under stress.

    All I see is a blurry picture.
    What you're calling cracks could be wood that chipped / peeled when the hole was cut.

    Let's try not to cause panic until more details are provided as well as a better picture.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,145
    Although those joists do not look that old because of the color in the picture and the knots visible, could it be they are original to the house? The pipe and fittings looks original.
    If original it may have been that way for 80 years??

    Also, if that rad has steam pressure on the top pipe and the lower is going to wet return, wouldn't that make more boiler water available for the boiler water level to be maintained.
    Accumulators have to have steam pressure on the top, have the bottom connected to the wet return and the tank/rad be some where centered in the boiler water line. This gives you a larger water capacity/boiler but without fire under it. IMO
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,098
    edited December 2

    The second span shows cracks on both sides of the bottom of the hole. It is obviously under stress.

    I blew the picture up and it just looks like where the wood splintered when they drilled the hole.
  • gfrbrooklinegfrbrookline Member Posts: 490
    I will defer to your opinions. If it was my house I would sister up those joists to add support. I would think the floor above would be a bit springy and creaky.
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,041
    Could just add a repair plate. Biggest concern is the bottom that’s in tension. The Top is in compression so the piece that’s there if glued is adequate but could add a thin strap to that.
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