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Steam Heat Questions

I was called out to a commercial building that is heated by steam, I have having problems with cold spots through out the building primarily on the second floor ( top floor). most rooms are heated by baseboard fin rads, couple cast rads and there are 3 steam coils that are heating larger spaces using duct work and a blower. I asked the owner when the last time anything was maintained here ( blow down's, replacing of traps ect.)and its been over 8 years!!! no water softener right now and no chemicals being used. I am not very experienced in steam heat, my guess is that some thermostatic traps on the heaters themselves have failed witch is causing steam to enter my condensate line and causing an air lock. I also wonder why there are large mechanical steam traps on the ends of my condensate lines right before the enter the condensate return tank? what is the purpose of these traps if all my heaters have traps on them?

I will be installing a water softener, chemical batch tank with pump and controls, to start with, I checked the LWCO and the float was corroded in the closed position and I have replaced it already ( ticking time bomb)

any help would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers.

Comments

  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,493
    Be careful with chemicals in a steam system, as the resulting soup in the boiler may cause an uneven boil, and surging. Water softeners, using salt are also dangerous to the boiler. A well maintained system will only need feed water sparingly, so not much calcium buildup-fix all leaks!
    We like to make sure the boiler has been skimmed using the skim port (identified on the installation manual), and just use pure water, with a quarter dose of Steamaster tablets, or Rectorseal 8-way-don’t use the dosage on the bottle.
    Your diagnosis of failed traps is most likely correct, and they may have failed due to a plugged pigtail, and resulting over-pressure.maybe there are crossover traps from supply to return which need checking. Trap internal capsules can be had for most traps from Barnes&Jones, or Tunstall, and easier to replace those instead of the whole trap.—NBC

  • MeatBallZnGravY
    MeatBallZnGravY Member Posts: 6
    I will skimm the boiler with the tablets you have mentioned. can you help me understand the purpose of the steam traps on the end of my condensate return pipe just before it enters the condensate return tank?

    Thank you.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,766

    I will skimm the boiler with the tablets you have mentioned. can you help me understand the purpose of the steam traps on the end of my condensate return pipe just before it enters the condensate return tank?

    Thank you.

    They are the mark of the knucklehead.

    These "master traps" are an attempt to keep steam from reaching the tank, ignoring the fact that the traps on the radiators, coils etc are supposed to keep the steam out of the returns..... "uhhhhh, Beavis- we need a trap there, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh................."

    We've removed a lot of these knucklehead traps and you should do the same.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,685
    On the systems I service that have several dry returns form rads with traps I have added a tee in each line with a 1/2"high riser pipe. This should only pass venting air....no steam.

    Then, in the future, it is easier to isolate which return might have bad traps passing steam.