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location of main vents

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Message:
I'm mostly a DIY guy but getting the steam system I have running correctly I know that I'll need professional help. I have a 200 year old house in NH. It had an old boiler when I first moved in but 15 or so years ago it failed due to low water. So I installed a HyroTherm Boiler. It feeds 7 radiators. Four on the first floor and three on the second. All of the radiators work well and the house is comfortable. However after I saw the seminar on balancing a steam system I know that I need to do some work to make the system more efficient. I'm a bit of a fanatic about trying to save energy so I'm hoping to cut down our oil usage some with better operating practices. Biggest problem I see is main vents. There are none on the feed side. There are two on the return side near the boiler. They are located at 90's and piped up about two feet on 1" lines. As far as I can tell neither is working. Is this a satisfactory location. Should I just replace them with new vents or should I relocate them.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    Whether that is a satisfactory location for your main vents depends entirely on what you mean be "returns"

    A very common arrangement for one pipe steam systems is to have the steam main or mains continue on around to the boiler, where condensate is dripped back to the wet return or Hartford loop. It is also common to call those steam main extensions "returns", although they aren't -- they are steam main extensions. If that is what you have, the location of those vents is fine.

    Another arrangement found in two pipe is to have dry returns which accept the air and condensate from the radiators, bring it to a central location where they all join, and then drop to the boiler. These are separated from the steam mains in one of two ways. In vapour systems, they are commonly linked to the ends of the steam mains with crossover traps, which allow air -- but not steam or condensate -- into the dry returns. The condensate is dripped to a wet return of returns. With this arrangement, you do NOT have vents on the mains, but you must have them on the dry returns where they join before dropping to the boiler. In the other variety -- more common on regular pressure systems, there are no crossover traps, and the mains are vented at their ends. It is important to note that the dry returns still must be vented at the boiler!

    So... what do you have there?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 917
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    Pictures of the boiler, the surrounding piping and the main vents would be helpful.

    Have you timed how long it takes from when the boiler starts steaming until the ends of those main pipes get hot?

    Bburd
  • bshone
    bshone Member Posts: 4
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    I hope that this description helps. There are two main lines coming off the boiler piping. They both are arranged the same way in that they have 2" line running the entire length "on top" with the radiator lines branching off into 1 1/2 " lines . At the end of each main line the pipe does a 180 degree return that runs just below the feed line. These lines parallel the feed back to T's above the boiler. Off the T's the lines facing down go to the Hartford loop at the bottom of the boiler. The other lines reduce to a 1/2" upright pipe of 20 inches with a vent at the top. These 1/2" upright lines are cold so I'm pretty certain that the vents are not working at all. The vents look pretty cruddy.

    With respect to how long it took to get heat to the end of the pipe and to the last radiator I timed it the other day from a cold start. It took about forty minutes. Seems like a long time to me. I'm hoping that if I replace those vents that it might help to reduce the time to heat the rads.

    One other thing I plan to do is to raise the risers at the boiler. The contractor installed 6 " risers which doesn't come close to what I see recommended at 20-24 inches. It looks like a pretty easy pipe fix.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Before you install the risers, could you post pictures of the piping at the boiler, including the return drops to the floor?
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,478
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    i agree with @JUGHNE we need pictures to advise you.

    You don't want to move pipes without knowing what the efeevt will be on any horizontal pipes slope. water has to find it's way back to a boiler or you will soon have problems.

    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
  • bshone
    bshone Member Posts: 4
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    Here are photos of risers and hartford loop.

    I'm sorry about the format for viewing these photos. Google Photos and I have always had a problem attaching photos to messages and emails. Hopefully if you copy and paste you'll be able to view them. They are in Google Photos format.

    https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipPB0Tsfu9V-TjIgDEE6fY3JVKZeqRZOkJNNxa9Y

    https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipNTr7rvLLIEKS4nQCqxPM8aauOakUZ4ixrRUWng


    Adding Height to the risers at the boiler I don't think will have any effect on the horizontal pipe slope if done correctly. I discovered the negative effect of improper near boiler piping, especially the height of the risers, in Dan Holohan's video attached below here. It's seems essential to proper operation. . See minutes 3:30 and 21:00. This entire video is a very well done explanation of how a boiler works and why piping correctly is essential. The contractor who put my boiler in did not have the expertise apparently to do it correctly.

    https://heatinghelp.com/systems-help-center/near-boiler-piping-in-steam-heating-systems/

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    I'm sorry, but neither of those photograph links is live.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,062
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    Just about everyone, (including me and I am an old guy) is able to post pictures, from their phone or computer, directly on this site.
    ethicalpaul
  • bshone
    bshone Member Posts: 4
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    Well I guess I'm in that category of "Just about everyone". I have tried to get the photos directly on the post with no luck. I'm sure that there is a way but I've run out of patience finding it. I've copy and pasted the addresses into new tabs and they open. If you double click on them in the message they also open. If they don't I guess I'm done. I think I have enough feedback and instruction from the seminars to move forward with a reputable contractor.

    Thanks for all your help everyone. I post some results once the work is done.

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,703
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    They open for you, I believe you. But not for us, believe us. Could be they are not set to be public in Google photos
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Gsmith
    Gsmith Member Posts: 432
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    copy the photos from Google to your phone, tablet or computer, then attach via the small picture in the list of icons just below the "LEAVE A COMMENT" bar
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,287
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    @bshone, I can help. I sent you a message. Thanks!
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,287
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    President
    HeatingHelp.com