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Radiator sounds like it is boiling water inside of it

I have one radiator, the furthest from the boiler that upon initial startup (once steam starts getting to it) sounds like it boiling water or sounds kinda like rain dropping. If I go downstairs to the 1st floor I can also here it in the wall where the pipe is leading up to it from the main in the basement. It almost sounds like water rushing down the pipe. After it gets warmed up it pretty much stops. This happens each heating cycle. I had all the vents replaced and am aware that the new boiler is a bit over-sized. The pitch is good I believe. I am just no sure what to try or do next. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Also is there a guide floating out there referencing proper vent size in regard to position or distance from the boiler? thanks!
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Comments

  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,623
    OK so it's a 2nd floor radiator, right? Do you know the EDR of it, or can you post a picture?

    Do you know the size of the pipe that is supplying steam to it?

    Is there one pipe or two going to the radiator? If there's one (which I suspect because you mentioned vents), then what size vent is on the radiator?

    And as I re-read your post, let me ask this: What is the complaint? Just the sound? Radiators make water out of steam, so this behavior is expected, as long as it's not causing heating problems, this might be as designed. Does it keep the room warm?

    You said you think the pitch is good. Why do you think that?
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,947
    It probably is water rushing down the pipe And if you only hear it when steam is rising, and not so much when the system is really heating along, it's probably from condensate forming in the feed pipe itself. One way to reduce that is to insulate that riser, if you can.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    Matthewdg73
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 5,112
    There could be a horizontal pipe just under the floor that does not have enough pitch. Try using a 2X4 and a block to lift the whole radiator up and then shim everything up with strips of plywood under the legs. Use a level to make sure the radiator has some pitch so water can find it's way out.

    I found using a 3/4" strip of plywood under the vent end and then a 1/2" strip under the supply end worked well for me. If that helps but doesn't stop the noise you may have to go a bit higher. When lifting be gentle, you won't want to force anuthing.

    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
    Hap_HazzardMatthewdg73
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,971
    One thing you could try first is to switch off the boiler just before it would usually turn on, then go to that radiator and unscrew/remove the air vent. See if you feel air being sucked into the vent hole and hear the water running down the pipe.
    At this point, just before the boiler would start, the radiator should be fairly cool so there should be no concern about burning yourself.

    See what happens and then replace the air vent and turn the boiler back on.
    Let us know, thanks.
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,263
    I think @BobC nailed it. I have one radiator that does this too. It's in a bathroom that we remodeled a couple of years ago, so I got to see the cause, but, unfortunately, there's nothing I can do about it. This bathroom is part of an addition to the house that was done back in the 60s, and they ran the supply pipe under the bathroom floor, where they weren't able to give it enough pitch, and I didn't see any way to improve on it, so I decided to just live with it.

    What's happening is that, while the radiator is filling, and the condensate starts pouring out, the water in the pipe gets deep enough for the steam to whip up waves. The waves don't seem to get big enough to form water pistons, so there's no actual steam hammer, but while the vent is still open, you can definitely hear the ocean in there.

    Hopefully you'll be able to see some improvement from raising the radiator, as Bob suggests, but unless it gets worse, at least there's nothing really harmful going on.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    Matthewdg73
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    edited January 9
    Thank you for replying below are my responses to your questions.

    OK so it's a 2nd floor radiator, right? Do you know the EDR of it, or can you post a picture?
    I don't have a pic I can post at the moment but the dimensions of the radiator are as follows:
    columns-4
    sections-30
    height-22"
    width-44 1/2"


    Do you know the size of the pipe that is supplying steam to it?
    the pipe branching off the main (2") is 1" that leads into the radiator.

    Is there one pipe or two going to the radiator? If there's one (which I suspect because you mentioned vents), then what size vent is on the radiator?
    its a one pipe system

    And as I re-read your post, let me ask this: What is the complaint? Just the sound? Radiators make water out of steam, so this behavior is expected, as long as it's not causing heating problems, this might be as designed. Does it keep the room warm?
    The room definitely gets warm. Prior to the new boiler this did not occur.

    You said you think the pitch is good. Why do you think that?

    It has a slight tilt back to the valve. I am just assuming its good.
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    JUGHNE said:

    One thing you could try first is to switch off the boiler just before it would usually turn on, then go to that radiator and unscrew/remove the air vent. See if you feel air being sucked into the vent hole and hear the water running down the pipe.
    At this point, just before the boiler would start, the radiator should be fairly cool so there should be no concern about burning yourself.

    See what happens and then replace the air vent and turn the boiler back on.
    Let us know, thanks.

    Will do that this evening and post the results. :)
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    edited January 9
    Hap_Hazzard
    You nailed what it sounds like. :)
  • dopey27177dopey27177 Member Posts: 306
    Condensate removal from risers on 1 pipe steam systems can be problematic at times.

    It sounds like Jamie hall got that right.

    Here is a way to get rid of the condensate from the base of the riser and preventing it from running down the horizontal supply from the riser to the steam main.

    These drawings were take from my book "Steam The Perfect Fluid and Some of the Problems"

    Jake
    Matthewdg73vibert_c
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,623
    > The room definitely gets warm. Prior to the new boiler this did not occur.

    OK that’s good. What was the complaint though?

    And regarding pitch, I was referring to the pitch all along the runout
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    edited January 10
    I guess my complaint would be the noise and if that was safe and nothing to worry about other than being a bit annoying waking up from it during the night. :smile:
    As far as the pitch from the runout I am not completely sure. The pipe running from the main has a noticeable gradual increased angled up until it runs into a vertical line running the length of the first floor to the second. (Best way I can describe it) From there, there might be a short horizontal run to the radiator but that is just an assumption as I do not have access to see for sure.
    ethicalpaul
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    edited January 10

    JUGHNE said:

    One thing you could try first is to switch off the boiler just before it would usually turn on, then go to that radiator and unscrew/remove the air vent. See if you feel air being sucked into the vent hole and hear the water running down the pipe.
    At this point, just before the boiler would start, the radiator should be fairly cool so there should be no concern about burning yourself.

    See what happens and then replace the air vent and turn the boiler back on.
    Let us know, thanks.

    Will do that this evening and post the results. :)
    JUGHNE
    so I took the vent off while the boiler was not running (hope I understood your directions correctly) and did not notice any air being sucked into the vent hole. What I did notice was that the vent had water in it. I made sure to empty that out.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,971
    The reason for the test is that on at least 2 systems I service there has been water trapped out in the system.....think of the water that stays in the straw that has your finger over the end of it as you pull it out of the glass.

    Some change in the system piping pressure/vacuum would then allow this water to suddenly return to the boiler.

    So then if that is not your situation, you are back to raising that radiator up on both ends (1/2-3/4") and shimming up the end opposite the inlet valve.

    A brainstorm I just had:
    Another possibility is that the rubber washer and/or disc has fallen off and is covering the opening into the bottom of the supply valve. The steam will pass thru but not allow the water to drain back and the rad partially fills with water. The disc then acts as a check valve flap and when the steam coming up lifts the flap allowing the water to drain. This would usually be causing water hammer at that rad. Just a WAG
    Hap_HazzardSeanBeans
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    JUGHNE said:

    The reason for the test is that on at least 2 systems I service there has been water trapped out in the system.....think of the water that stays in the straw that has your finger over the end of it as you pull it out of the glass.

    Some change in the system piping pressure/vacuum would then allow this water to suddenly return to the boiler.

    So then if that is not your situation, you are back to raising that radiator up on both ends (1/2-3/4") and shimming up the end opposite the inlet valve.

    A brainstorm I just had:
    Another possibility is that the rubber washer and/or disc has fallen off and is covering the opening into the bottom of the supply valve. The steam will pass thru but not allow the water to drain back and the rad partially fills with water. The disc then acts as a check valve flap and when the steam coming up lifts the flap allowing the water to drain. This would usually be causing water hammer at that rad. Just a WAG

    How would I go about checking the rubber washer idea you suggested could be a possibility?
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    I have had water hammer on that main before. Not sure what I did to resolve it but haven't had it happen in a while.
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,263
    edited January 10
    That water hammer was probably what's called differential shock (by nerds). It happens when the liquid phase in a biphase flow system (water in a steam pipe) gets deep enough to allow the gaseous stream (high velocity steam) to propagate waves that reach the top of the vessel, forming a water piston. Once the water fully obstructs the pipe, the stream pushes it forward at a high rate of speed, picking up additional water as it goes, until it reaches the end of the vessel (in this case, your poor radiator). When you have a heavy liquid moving at a high velocity, it can do real damage.

    BTW, have you had your boiler skimmed recently? If you're getting an unusual amount of water up into your pipes and radiators, sometimes this helps.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,971
    Matt, to check inside that supply valve you can unscrew the top bonnet which is under the packing nut that the handle stem passes thru. This can be challenging as it has been together for a long time.
    The next method is to loosen the union nut that connects the valve to the radiator.....the rad is very heavy and may be top heavy to tip over so use caution. With the rad disconnected you can slide it away from the valve and check inside....operate the valve to see what moves up and down. The disc should move up quite a bit and expose the opening down into the supply pipe. If the disk or washer is laying there not moving remove it if possible.

    If that is the case and you get that removed, just reconnect the rad. A little wiggle on the rad as you tighten the union nut.
    It must be aligned correctly to get a good seal.
    Don't worry about not having a working valve as it should be completely open or closed. And with age they seldom close completely and give the problems you have now.

    Matthewdg73exqheat
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38

    That water hammer was probably what's called differential shock (by nerds). It happens when the liquid phase in a biphase flow system (water in a steam pipe) gets deep enough to allow the gaseous stream (high velocity steam) to propagate waves that reach the top of the vessel, forming a water piston. Once the water fully obstructs the pipe, the stream pushes it forward at a high rate of speed, picking up additional water as it goes, until it reaches the end of the vessel (in this case, your poor radiator). When you have a heavy liquid moving at a high velocity, it can do real damage.

    BTW, have you had your boiler skimmed recently? If you're getting an unusual amount of water up into your pipes and radiators, sometimes this helps.

    I have skimmed it on multiple occasions and have noticed a huge difference in the color of the water in the site glass (muddy brown to almost clear) and the company that installed it in June 19 will be coming out tomorrow to skim it as well. Needless to say I think the company that installed the boiler did a poor job all around and I will be watching them with hawk eyes.
    exqheat
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    JUGHNE said:

    Matt, to check inside that supply valve you can unscrew the top bonnet which is under the packing nut that the handle stem passes thru. This can be challenging as it has been together for a long time.
    The next method is to loosen the union nut that connects the valve to the radiator.....the rad is very heavy and may be top heavy to tip over so use caution. With the rad disconnected you can slide it away from the valve and check inside....operate the valve to see what moves up and down. The disc should move up quite a bit and expose the opening down into the supply pipe. If the disk or washer is laying there not moving remove it if possible.

    If that is the case and you get that removed, just reconnect the rad. A little wiggle on the rad as you tighten the union nut.
    It must be aligned correctly to get a good seal.
    Don't worry about not having a working valve as it should be completely open or closed. And with age they seldom close completely and give the problems you have now.

    If I do the top bonnet method do I need to have any packing ready to put back in once I put it back together? I know just enough to get me into trouble. Still wet behind the ears :)
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,971
    How about a picture of the valve and another of the rad full view?
  • neilcneilc Member Posts: 809
    one more thing or two,
    boiler pressure ?
    and,
    it was written just recently in another thread,
    if the rad is venting too fast, it might be the steam shooting up colliding with the condensate falling back down, gurgling,
    you said the rad definitely heats,
    as in too much?
    might try slowing that rad's venting.
    exqheat
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    JUGHNE said:

    How about a picture of the valve and another of the rad full view?

    Sorry, I have been out of the loop for a few days. Will get pics this evening and upload.
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    neilc said:

    one more thing or two,
    boiler pressure ?
    and,
    it was written just recently in another thread,
    if the rad is venting too fast, it might be the steam shooting up colliding with the condensate falling back down, gurgling,
    you said the rad definitely heats,
    as in too much?
    might try slowing that rad's venting.

    Yes the rad gets very hot. The warmest room in the whole house I believe. We have to open a window at night to let out some of the heat.
  • neilcneilc Member Posts: 809


    Yes the rad gets very hot. The warmest room in the whole house I believe. We have to open a window at night to let out some of the heat.

    So I think you want to slow this rad down venting wise,
    less air and steam rushing up that riser, less collision with condensate trying to get back down,
    slow it down to where the rad only gives off enough heat, and to where you can keep that window shut.
    see if that doesn't stop the gurgles and boiling.
    I don't think you don't say what vents are here, or elsewhere,
    and I can't quote which vent is which speed wise,
    post a picture, or two, and some of the other guys can advise.
    Hap_Hazzardexqheat
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38

    JUGHNE said:

    How about a picture of the valve and another of the rad full view?

    Sorry, I have been out of the loop for a few days. Will get pics this evening and upload.
    Ok so I have finally been afforded the time to come back and post the pics

  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    neilc said:


    Yes the rad gets very hot. The warmest room in the whole house I believe. We have to open a window at night to let out some of the heat.

    So I think you want to slow this rad down venting wise,
    less air and steam rushing up that riser, less collision with condensate trying to get back down,
    slow it down to where the rad only gives off enough heat, and to where you can keep that window shut.
    see if that doesn't stop the gurgles and boiling.
    I don't think you don't say what vents are here, or elsewhere,
    and I can't quote which vent is which speed wise,
    post a picture, or two, and some of the other guys can advise.
    The vents are combination of Vent-Rite model No.1 and Legend Valve model t-60A. The radiator in question has the Legend valve installed and I have it set to number 1 setting, as slow as I can get it. It still makes the same gurgling sounds abet maybe not as bad as before. I cannot see under the floorboards to check the pitch of the pipe leading to the radiator but I did place a 1/2 think strip of wood under the furthest end and supported the middle and end closest to the valve. I couldn't lift the valve side with confidence high enough so I used quarters to shim what I could so that it was stable.
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    neilc said:

    one more thing or two,
    boiler pressure ?
    and,
    it was written just recently in another thread,
    if the rad is venting too fast, it might be the steam shooting up colliding with the condensate falling back down, gurgling,
    you said the rad definitely heats,
    as in too much?
    might try slowing that rad's venting.

    The boiler pressure I believe is ok but may be a small problem. The boiler will initially start up and heat the radiators up but not completely satisfy the thermostat. So it will cut off and back on a couple times throughout the heating cycle until it satisfies the thermostat. A couple reasons I have noticed for the cut off is the intermittent water cut off from the cycleguard and when it hits the 1 psi pressure point.
  • neilcneilc Member Posts: 809
    if the boiler is shutting off at 1 psi and cycling a few times to make temp, you're doing fine.
    and if the psyco gard isn't interfering with overall heating, well, then, fine also.
    However,
    1
    do you know the Ptrol and gage are seeing true pressure?
    Is the pigtail(s) checked and clear all the way back to the boiler?
    post that picture of Ptrol, pigtail, and Gage.
    2
    you mentioned the low water cutoff,
    does the water drop low in the sight glass when steaming?
    this could be pressure or near boiler piping,
    we might want to see that picture also,
    boiler and piping to the ceiling, one picture.
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    neilc said:

    if the boiler is shutting off at 1 psi and cycling a few times to make temp, you're doing fine.
    and if the psyco gard isn't interfering with overall heating, well, then, fine also.
    However,
    1
    do you know the Ptrol and gage are seeing true pressure?
    Is the pigtail(s) checked and clear all the way back to the boiler?
    post that picture of Ptrol, pigtail, and Gage.
    2
    you mentioned the low water cutoff,
    does the water drop low in the sight glass when steaming?
    this could be pressure or near boiler piping,
    we might want to see that picture also,
    boiler and piping to the ceiling, one picture.





    neilc
    Im not sure if the Ptrol and gage are seeing true. Im a bit hesitant to remove them and check for clogs. The water doesn't drop very low when operating and from eyeballing the sightglass level to where the LWC is located it doesnt seem to be getting close, but I dont know what is going on inside the boiler.
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    This question is a bit off topic but could someone explain to me in layman's terms what a set back on the thermostat is? I have read about it but don't want to assume I know. Also it seems that I may be going through a good amount of oil. I had the tank topped off from being at 1/2 tank on 17 Dec with 144 gal and just recently had to get it filled again from being at 1/4. Only a month and a few days between fillings. I usually keep the temp around 69F. And one last question, can anyone suggest a good thermostat to replace a Nest? thanks all!
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,623
    Setback is just when you lower your thermostat during parts of the day, like at night, or like when you're at work during the day.

    People think this saves a lot of money, but it lets your house get cold. This isn't just the air in your house, it's your floors, your couch, your walls, your toilet seat, your beds, your ceilings and all your radiators.

    Then when you turn it back up, all that stuff has to be heated up again. And in the meantime, you are sitting on a cold couch, standing on a cold floor, squatting on a cold toilet.
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Matthewdg73Matthewdg73 Member Posts: 38
    edited January 30

    Setback is just when you lower your thermostat during parts of the day, like at night, or like when you're at work during the day.

    People think this saves a lot of money, but it lets your house get cold. This isn't just the air in your house, it's your floors, your couch, your walls, your toilet seat, your beds, your ceilings and all your radiators.

    Then when you turn it back up, all that stuff has to be heated up again. And in the meantime, you are sitting on a cold couch, standing on a cold floor, squatting on a cold toilet.

    Ohhh. Thanks for the explanation. I do not do that. I have the therm set to a constant temp but I think the location (dining room) of the therm could be an issue as it often reads higher that I actually think the temp is throughout the house. I will find myself having to raise the temp to get the house warmed up again even though the therm is reading its at, say, 69.
    exqheat
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,623
    edited January 30
    Yep. That is very typical. In my house for example there's a lot of radiation in the vicinity of the thermostat that is also very close in pipe-feet to the boiler, and the thermostat is on a central wall.

    So the thermostat is in the warmest area of the house.

    The solution is typically to put the slowest vent you can (Maid O Mist or Gorton #4 or equivalent) on the radiators near the thermostat, and then slowly and with observation, one at a time try different speeds on any problem areas (slowing them if the areas are hot, and speeding up the cold ones).

    This would be only after ensuring that the main venting was in good working order and of good capacity.

    You can move the thermostat, but if you do, you just move the balancing problem rather than solving it. Moving the thermostat will make the cold place warm, but then the warm place will become hot.
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Matthewdg73SuperTechexqheaticy78
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 5,112
    If you need a slower vent you could solder the orifice closed on a Maid O Mist #4 and drill it out with a smaller drill than the 0.040 a #4 comes with and see if that helps control things better.

    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
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,623
    edited January 31
    Good tip @BobC. You can even rotate the vent so it's upside down to completely disable the radiator, but that can in effect increase any oversized boiler issue you might have.

    Also keep in mind that any adjustment to any radiator will likely have some effect on some other radiator or radiators in your system. That's why you change one at a time and then see how it goes for a few days.

    Otherwise you're seriously chasing your tail. And this is one reason I love MoM vents. You can swap out the orifice cap on them which is WAY easier than replacing the whole vent.
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Harry_6Harry_6 Member Posts: 105
    Unless I missed it in all of the comments, isn't 1" pipe feeding a 30 section one-pipe radiator at least one, possibly two, sizes too small?
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,623
    You may be the first person to say it out loud, but I know when I first saw it I was like "that radiator is massive"

    That's why earlier I asked what his complaint was...I'd be happy if it worked at all :)

    The slow vent will help, but once the air is gone, nothing is going to hold back an awful lot of condensate trying to pass by an awful lot of steam in a 1" pipe
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    exqheat
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,263


    The slow vent will help, but once the air is gone, nothing is going to hold back an awful lot of condensate trying to pass by an awful lot of steam in a 1" pipe

    A blanket over the radiator or a poorly designed radiator cabinet will help slow it down. Apparently even metallic paint can have the effect of making a radiator smaller.

    If that much radiation is warranted, and depending on where it's located, this might be a case where it would make sense to run a drip line from the vent end of the radiator.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    ethicalpaulexqheat
  • SteamingatMohawkSteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 251
    Regarding the comment about soldering a MoM and redrilling, it seems to me that an adjustable vent, like a Vent Rite #1 which can go from zero venting to almost a MoM #5 might be a better solution and costs about $36. I know thats a lot more than a MoM, and if you call them they will send orifices for free. It gives you the ability to vent less than a #4 without having to guess what size drill to use. How much is your time worth?
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 5,112
    I agree the Ventrite *1 is a great vent but they are not stocked everywhere so you have to wait for them to be shipped in. I wouldn't do it if I installed boilers for a living but as a homeowner - especially a retired homeowner - it might be worth the screwing around.

    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
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