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Problem with gurgling steam radiator

coolfx35
coolfx35 Member Posts: 70
One of my steam radiator has serious Gurgling noise, it wakes me up every night. If I turn that radiator off, it will go to another radiator, making the similar gurgling noise. What do you think the problem is?

I was doing some googling and a lot of people said it's air trapped inside the pipe or the radiator. What should I do? I already changed many Steam Radiator Air vents. Same problem.



Not sure how's my pressuretrol settings. it's a 1 family house single pipe, 2200 SQ.




Thanks for your time on this.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,121
    Not air. Water trapped in a pipe or pipes feeding the radiator. Find the pipes feeding the radiator, and check that they are pitched so that the water can drain back to return or the main.

    If this is one pipe steam, make sure that the valve -- not the vent, the valve -- is fully open.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,962
    Is this a recent problem or always been there?
  • coolfx35
    coolfx35 Member Posts: 70
    It's recent, but gotten worse now when i starting to mess with valve, also replacement air vents. Also had a boiler replacement 2 years ago, I don't think it's anything to do with the new boiler.

    It's like boiling water noise. Could be water that's trapped, not sure why would it be trapped since it's on the second story of the house. All the valves are fully opened now. Still doing it.

    Does one pipe system always have a wet returns air vent? I can't find it anywhere. I also called PSEG worryfree, but they are useless.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,121
    Second floor or not, the odds of there being a horizontal pipe in there somewhere are pretty good. However, the first thing to do -- since you have been working with the vents and the valve -- is to make doubly sure that the valve is fully open and that the disc on the stem hasn't fallen off. They do, and that blocks the return flow of condensate which will gurgle, just as you describe.

    On vents -- somewhere on the ends of the steam mains there will be, or should be, main vents. The problem -- particularly with one pipe systems -- is defining where the end is. But anywhere after the last radiator takeoff will do. Wet returns don't have, and don't need, vents.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • coolfx35
    coolfx35 Member Posts: 70
    edited April 2020
    Jamie, thank you.

    The one question is since you never say anything regarding to my pressuretrol settings, is it safe to rule that out?

    I have seen online that people bleed their radiators, is this something I can do? I'll double checked the valves.

    Finding the last radiator will be a challenge, also since the basement is renovated, i am not sure if Main Vent is buried, or at least I can't find it without removing all the dry wall panels.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,121
    No, I don't say anything about the pressuretrol -- because it really won't change a gurgling pipe (it can, if it's way off, cause water hammer -- but that tends to be pretty spectacular) And yours looks OK anyway.

    There's no need to bleed a steam radiator -- that's for hot water.

    Tiresome about the buried pipes in the basement -- but hardly unique. Since vents and traps and the like need to have access from time to time one would think... but... oh well. Do you have any idea how the pipes run? Are the pipes near the boiler still accessible? Some one pipe steam systems have the main/dry return/whatever run back to the boiler, and one can put vents there.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,962
    Does your gauge show any pressure?
    Your pressure control looks good, but if the pigtail is partially plugged it could be allowing higher pressure. Original gauges can be very unreliable.
  • coolfx35
    coolfx35 Member Posts: 70
    edited April 2020
    this boiler is 2 years old, very unlikely pigtail is clogged. I am thinking to get service next season.
  • coolfx35
    coolfx35 Member Posts: 70
    also, quick question, do you think I need to drain the dirty water once a week? my plumber said i need to drain the dirty water, then refill slowly, it's connected to hot water from the water heater.

    but i heard different things. would like to hear from more experts.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,121
    What type of low water cutoff do you have? Float type cutoffs such as the McDonell Miller 67, should be blown down once in a while at the cutoff -- there's a valve on them for just that purpose. Once a week? Maybe. Once a month, yeah, probably.

    Otherwise there is no need to drain a boiler except possibly once sometime during the off season. And even then maybe not.

    If you do drain the boiler -- which isn't needed -- refill it slowly and with the boiler dead cold, then fire the boiler to full steaming to drive the air out of the water. The air in the water is what kills boilers faster than anything else.

    If you don't have a float type low water cutoff, your boiler should need no more than a gallon a month, if that.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • coolfx35
    coolfx35 Member Posts: 70
    edited April 2020


    Awesome, thank you. I had 2 plumbers both told me to drain water once a week or so, but i heard about fresh water oxygen kills cast iron, so I am definitely follow your advice. my last boiler lasted 12 years, I think part of the reason was new water was added constantly..

    If I don't drain, I need to refill once every 2 weeks. so it does take about one gallon of water per month.

    Do you recommend putting chemicals to make the boiler last?

  • coolfx35
    coolfx35 Member Posts: 70


    Back to the bubbling sound on the radiator, this morning, one side was really hot, and the side with the air vent is still cold, and I can still hear some air coming out from the air vent... What could that cause by?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,121
    "Do you recommend putting chemicals to make the boiler last? "

    No, not as a general rule. Some people like to put in a small amount of Rectorseal SteamMaster -- less than half of what the bottle suggests -- if the pH is too low. But... unless your water chemistry is evil, and you are getting steaming problems... no, I don't recommend chemicals. More trouble than they are worth, in my opinion.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England