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Could I have no main vents?

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neals
neals Member Posts: 55
Right before tearing open the finished basement ceiling to check my pipes I discovered an opening between the wall panel and a doorway I could shine a light into.  And found some pipes!  There's two mains (presumably one goes to the second floor) that tee to two wet returns and two risers.

But no main vents, not even a plug where they could have been replaced. Where could they be?  Is it possible I don't have any?

The other end of the basement doesn't have a convenient gap so I'll have to rip the woodwork down, but if there's no vents to check then I don't want to waste the effort. 

Comments

  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 917
    edited December 2020
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    Some steam systems originally designed to burn coal did not have main vents. Usually though, main vents were added when those systems were converted to oil or gas fuel. The change from continuous firing to on/off firing makes main venting important.

    Assuming you are not burning solid fuel, if you don’t have main vents on a one pipe steam system you should probably add some.

    Bburd
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Did you check the returns at the boiler for air vents or plugs?
  • neals
    neals Member Posts: 55
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    Yes, there's nothing I can see. 
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,785
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    Maybe a very small system of five small radiators in a cottage

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,532
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    @neals

    How long doe's it take your radiators to heat up? How long doe's the boiler run to satisfy your thermostat?

    The answers to that will determine if you need vents.....venting will cut fuel usage.

    Pictures of your boiler and the piping around it will help
    ethicalpaul
  • neals
    neals Member Posts: 55
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    It takes a long damn time, maybe 10 minutes or more.  But I'm terrified of adding vents to these hundred-year-old pipes.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,703
    edited December 2020
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    10 minutes from the call for heat? That's not very long.

    Edit: I should clarify: it’s a long time if the previous fire cycle was very recent. Not so long if it’s been awhile and the pipes/boiler have cooled a bit
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    My house didn't have any main vents because a previous owner built an addition and ran the pipes to the added radiators from where the vents had been.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • neals
    neals Member Posts: 55
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    Confirmed -- no vents. Steam Doctor will be back in the spring (or whenever COVID drops down to manageable levels) to install some. Looking forward to reasonable fuel bills!