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Best Valve Stem packing for Single Pipe Steam valve?

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Hey all
I have been asked by one of my neighbors to come and fix a few slight problems she has with her single pipe steam system. The Pressuretrol was set crazy high all the way to 9 PSI. I turned down the Pressuretrol to cut in at .5 psi.
I ran the system for about an hour and found that the two main vents and six of the radiator vents were leaking. I also saw that 4 valve stems were leaking. I have ordered all of the vents and will be using Varivalves for the Rads and Gorton No. 1 for both main vents. I'm going back to replace the vents and repack the valves once my order arrives.
My question is what is the best packing for old single pipe steam valves?
I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!

Comments

  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,961
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    The best replacement is graphite valve stem packing. It comes in many different sizes and lengths.
    You will need some fine dental pick-like tools to remove the old packing. You can find this packing at most plumbing and HVAC suppliers.
    luketheplumber
  • motoguy128
    motoguy128 Member Posts: 393
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    Gorton 1’s are too slow. I’d use Gorton 2’s. Yes they are pricey but the system will work better. Gorton 1’s are more for venting risers or shorter counterflow mains. Or use a big mouth.

    Have you tried tightening the nut on the valve stem? I sealed up most of mine that way. Also, if you can vent faster the system might run at a lower pressure and leak a lot less.
    Hap_HazzardLS123
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,655
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    You can get any kind and size of packing sting you might want from Mcmaster-Carr.
  • Gsmith
    Gsmith Member Posts: 432
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    Be interested to hear how those varivents work out. Oftentimes they are too fast and cause hammer and spitting. Let us know.
    luketheplumber
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    I don't recommend the PTFE packing. It creeps through the gap when you tighten the packing nut.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 149
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    ok I took all of your advice and cancelled the order on the vents. What are your thoughts if I go with the trusty old Hoffman No 40 and the 1A, 1/8" Adjustable for the Rads and 3/4" and Big Mouth Main Air Vents?
    There is one very large radiator in the back sunroom that takes a while to heat. Could I try putting a varivent on that one Rad and see how that helps? The lady lives there has complained that that Rad takes forever to heat up and that backroom is freezing unless the system runs for a good while.
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
  • mikespipe
    mikespipe Member Posts: 36
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    just use a Maid of Mist c . they are larger than a varivent and cheaper and you can remove the cap to increase it to a d if you need more. and I always recommend making sure pipes that are not acting as radiators be insulated. it makes a big difference on long runs.
    ethicalpaulBobCRich_L
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 149
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    I was asked to film a little video by Ted Cook (aka "Anti DIY HVAC") in the YouTube HVAC community. I will post the video on here when I upload it to YouTube.
    Wish me luck!
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
    Rich_L
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 149
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    I got all 9 Hoffman 1A, 1/8" Adjustable vents and I'm not the happiest with them. They don't really seal properly due to the top of the cover plate is bent inwards a little bit. in order to fix this I carefully hammered it flat against a hard flat metal surface with a flat head screwdriver. Surprisingly this worked out so much better that I could have imagined and I could now close the vent to like 10% of its capacity. I will include fixing the defective vents in my video that I will film on Sunday.
    next time I will definitely not order the Hoffman 1A, 1/8" Adjustable vent. I'm still learning from all of you, thank you for all of your help everyone.
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 659
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    +1 on not using Teflon packing, and for same reasons @Hap_Hazzard posted.

    For the valve stem packing, you might try #40209 graphite packing from ACE HARDWARE stores. I use this to repack float switch pivot shaft stuffing boxes on the pumps I service.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
    luketheplumber
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 149
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    I made a YouTube of me doing the repairs. I was asked to film it by a bunch of guys on the YouTube HVAC community. Most of the guys who asked me to film this video are deep down in Heat Pump land. I also stole @Gordo 's idea and added I Sight Glass Blowdown Valve.
    If you watch the Video Please tell me If I did anything wrong of that you would have done differently or even just your thoughts. I'm trying to squeeze as much from this learning experience as I can for next time.
    https://youtu.be/SpHRp4jdLUM
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,702
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    I'm watching it currently...is the video flipped right to left? Or are are your threads lefty? :sweat_smile:
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,702
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    Nice job testing the LWCO and finding out the feeder wasn't working. The homeowner must have been filling it manually already, no? Maybe you explained to her to watch out for increased water usage as a sign of a leak, and told her how the boiler won't operate when it gets low on water.

    I liked the way you explained to them how when the thermostat is satisfied, the boiler shuts off (when the son(?) mentioned that his radiator shuts off at night). Many folks have no idea how things work, so I think it's really great to take those opportunities to let them know. Nice job.

    I wonder why the Gorton #2 wasn't hot. Folks here might have liked to see you offset the vent from the elbow a bit with a couple nipples and elbows.

    I'm curious about the banging radiator, but I can understand the customer not wanting to pay to have it investigated.

    Did you get a chance to clean out the pigtail? Or to flush the wet return? (maybe there wasn't a good way to flush it)

    I thought your video was good. The only helpful thing I can offer would be to kind of more attentively or carefully speak to the customers, like instead of saying "huh?" try "pardon?" or "Sorry, I didn't hear you". And I know she wasn't there but I'd refer to them as "customers" not "lady". But those are pretty minor. You're doing well for 17, it's never easy to do work in someone's home or office and you did well overall.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    luketheplumber
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 149
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    @ethicalpaul The customer told me that she would "top off" the boiler about every 2 weeks and about once a week when it got really cold. I already wanted to flush out all the dirt in the Boiler and I would rather at least see the LWCO work for myself so I can sleep at night, better safe than sorry.
    I did increase the venting on the Radiator in the Son's room as well. I showed both the customer and her son how to adjust the vents if they felt a room was not the right temperature.
    I was aware about the Main Vents not being in the right location but I didn't know that offsetting them would be effective. I thought that I would have to tie into the main a few feet back which is outside of comfort zone and skill level at the moment. But I will definitely offer to offset the new Vents next time I go back. I will be going back there to do some other repairs in the house. I could easily offset the Vents with a few Nipples & Fittings.
    I wouldn't want to have to skim the boiler, could I just burn off the oil from any new pipe outside with a propane torch?
    When the Boiler starts Steaming there is some minor thumping that I think is coming from the Main in the Basement. It sounded like the the thumping was reverberating through the Pipes the to closest Radiator. At first I thought that it was that Radiator but It was still thumping even when the riser going through the floor was still ice cold. Its was also a tad louder in the basement. I believe it was still thumping while I was talking with the customer and her son on camera but I don't think that it was picked up very well by the camera.
    I did pull off the pressure gauge and blew in without any problems.
    Thanks Paul, I will definitely work on speaking and referring to the costumers better.
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,702
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    All good Luke!

    I wouldn't want to have to skim the boiler, could I just burn off the oil from any new pipe outside with a propane torch?


    That's an interesting approach! I would say you could wash the small nipples and fittings easy enough in a bucket with some Dawn. They won't have much oil on them anyway.

    Sounds like you are picturing it correctly Here's a drawing anyway. If you make it this way, the "antler" horizontal will inherit the pitch from the main and it will drain correctly. This will help to keep condensation from splashing up into the vent.

    r------/ <- vent goes here
    |
    |----main-----
    |
    |
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    luketheplumbermattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,655
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    Even with larger pipe you can scrub and rinse the oil off with a brush and detergent like dish soap or simple green.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,655
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    Oh, and as far as packing, you can buy all sorts of compositions and diameters of packing cord from mcmaster-carr. I find the stuff on the card at the hardware store is too thick for the faucet stems I usually use it on, i have to cut off little pieces, tighten it down to pack it together, loosen the nut, and add more a couple times. I think a thinner cord would work better. They have cords that are a braid of fiber and teflon, that might both not stick to the stem and stay in the gland. There are cords that are designed for rotating shafts like pumps and other machinery, I think that would stay in place in a valve stem.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,702
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    mattmia2 said:
    Even with larger pipe you can scrub and rinse the oil off with a brush and detergent like dish soap or simple green.
    For sure, I agree! I just meant it would be very easy being small
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Fizz
    Fizz Member Posts: 547
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    Interesting that you repacked valve on sight glass, mine has slight leak on closing to clean glass, but no suggestion of repacking which seems to be frowned-on.
    luketheplumber