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What am I looking at and how do I use it?

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MissB
MissB Member Posts: 39
I have a one pipe steam system. My house was built on 1920 and sadly only one original standing radiator remains in the house. It is upstairs and cranks heat. Downstairs is all baseboards. Two of the baseboards have traditional vent rites. The two others have something I don't recognize. I included photos. I can open and close them by turning a scree at the top with a screwdriver. When I open the screw, steam comes through and heats quickly. My questions are: what is this? Should I have them open fully, partially, or closed? What is most efficient? Thank you for any information!

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  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,959
    edited January 2020
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    That is a bleeder valve for a hot water system. There needs to be a steam type vent for those to heat. Is there any other device or second connection to that baseboard at all?
    MissB
  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
    edited January 2020
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    No just the pipe coming up from the basement ... The more I researched it the more I thought it was a bleeder valve but doubted myself.
  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    So now my next question is: is there a way to replace these with the correct vent?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,959
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    Unscrew it with a crescent or a box or open end wrench and screw a straight steam vent in. Others can comment better on brands. there is some art and science based on radiator size and distance from the main in picking the vent rate so all the radiators heat at the same time.
    MissB
  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    Ok ty! I just opened the screw a bit so that steam can come through. The radiators are very toasty now but the sound of the steam is loud. Any suggestions on what type of valve/vent would be very appreciated. I am also concerned about messing around with something so old and if I have the strength to get these bleeders off ...
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
    edited January 2020
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    Don't leave those valves open. You don't want steam escaping from your system. If you are cold, you can open them when the system starts a heating cycle and close them once steam hits them.

    Here's the one I would get: https://www.supplyhouse.com/Jacobus-Maid-O-Mist-J4S8-4-1-8-Straight-Air-Valve-7857000-p?utm_source=HeatingHelp

    This is the "slowest" vent (the #4). To balance your system, you put different "speed" vents on some radiators. You put faster ones (like a #5 or #6) on radiators that basically are farther away from your boiler. I recommend starting with a #4 on everything on the first floor and see how that goes. These Maid O' Mist vents have interchangeable orifices at the top to make swapping easy and they are quiet.

    If you don't know, the purpose of this vent in a one-pipe system is to let the air out of the pipes and radiator, but then close when steam hits it. Each radiator needs one or it will take forever (or longer) to heat.

    But nothing is easy: to make things as nice as possible you should see what pressure your boiler is getting to and make sure you have good "main venting". Look up those topics on this site, or better yet get Dan's book "We Got Steam Heat" to get you started: https://www.amazon.com/Got-Steam-Heat-Homeowners-Coexistence/dp/0974396001?SubscriptionId=AKIAJZNWH5IKPUNFQ5SQ&tag=heatingcom-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=0974396001

    > I am also concerned about messing around with something so old and if I have the strength to get these bleeders off ...

    It doesn't take strength, it takes leverage (that's what the wrench gives you). But if you are in doubt (and that's very reasonable this time of year), look for a contractor here: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/

    If you know the person or company who left you with those unvented baseboards, don't call them.

    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

    STEVEusaPAMissBdelta T
  • johnlemen
    johnlemen Member Posts: 5
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    missb, go to the top of this page n find a heating contractor in your area. you need one that has experience w/steam n hot water heat.
    MissB
  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    Thank you! I have changed out the vents on all my other ”normal” radiators before. I will give these a whirl ... Kills me that I am literally just figuring out that these are incorrect.
  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    Oh and this is what I have going on downstairs if it means anything ...
  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    Oh and this is what I have going on downstairs ....
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
    edited January 2020
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    What I can see of the piping of your boiler looks good to me. The setting on the Pressuretrol (gray box) looks reasonable. There is another setting inside the Pressuretrol that could affect the maximum pressure of your system, but unless the installer was insane, it should be OK.

    This looks like a recent install?

    I don't have enough information to know, but I wonder how the size of the boiler matches up with the amount of radiation in the house.

    Thank you! I have changed out the vents on all my other ”normal” radiators before


    OK great! And from my count, you have 1 radiator and 4 baseboard units? Feel free to post pics of them too!

    I am concerned that a contractor who did a seemingly good job on the boiler piping left those unvented baseboards as they were. Any contractor with a passing knowledge of steam should have known they needed vents. It makes me question if they measured the EDR (radiation area) of your radiators before ordering the boiler like they should have.

    Just for fun, can you take a picture of the gauge again when the system is in the. middle of a heating cycle? Have you noticed, does the boiler turn off and on several times when it is heating your house, or does it stay on during the time the thermostat is calling for heat?

    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

  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    The install was in 2016. They did measure and count the baseboards and radiators, but I guess didn't examine each baseboard ???? When you ask about turning on and off, do you mean like short cycling?
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
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    Yes, like that. But I call it "cycling on pressure" which I think is a more precise term for what steam systems do.

    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

    Intplm.
  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    So my heat just went on so I videoed ... It is long and boring.
  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    Ugh too long apparently ... So it kicked on and ran for about 5 minutes. The pressure gauge did not move at all. Then it turned off
  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    I will try again
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
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    That's OK, you don't need to video it. I was looking to see what pressure it got to. When it turned off after 5 minutes, did it turn on again? I don't think 5 minutes would be enough time for the thermostat to be satisfied.

    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

  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    No it didn't. It was quiet. It is pretty warm here today so .....
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
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    But it was apparently not warm enough to prevent the thermostat from asking for heat. And if it asked for heat, it would have had to receive heat to then shut off, so that is confusing to me.

    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

  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    Hmmmmm I dunno????? I am going to go to the supply store tomorrow and get two new vents that are for steam and try changing them ...
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    You can put a Hoffman #41 vent on those baseboard radiators. The 41 is a straight vent.
    MissB
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,008
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    @MissB , I see a 401 area code on the boiler- are you in RI?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    Yes!
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,008
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    You really need a pro to look at this. @New England SteamWorks is in Providence- you can't do better.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    Good to know ... Tomorrow I am going to Simon's Supply with some pics so they can recommend the right vents. I already tested to see if I can take those bleeders out myself and I can. Ty!
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
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    Ask them, but the supply houses sometimes don’t know steam well.

    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

  • MissB
    MissB Member Posts: 39
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    So I changed both bleeders out for Varivalves and boom working SO well. All the downstairs radiators come on at the same time. Amazing. After 20 years living here!
    ethicalpaulkcopp