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Brownstone main venting

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Newburgh70
Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
Happy new year everyone! Lets all hope 2021 looks NOTHING like 2020, huh?
I have a typical 20x45ish Brooklyn Brownstone and an awesome steam guy helping me with it. We replaced the boiler this summer and hid as much of the main piping in the ceiling as possible so I cant measure or take any pics but im confident all that needed to be done down there was done correctly.

The boiler is located much closer to the front of the house then the back. We have been spending a lot of time working together trying to balance the system and all new Gordon vents have been placed everywhere. Im wondering if we dont have enough main venting. I have the Ecobee thermostat and I've really adjusted it well for a steam system. I changed the minimum run time to be 20 mins and changed the differential to be 1.5 Degrees. I also just closed all of the chimney's to cut down on any drafts and heat loss. That said, there is a constant 5 degree difference from the front to the back of the house no matter what we have done so far.

The top floor is typical of a brownstone with a hallway and small bedrooms and we sleep with the doors closed so I asked if they could be downsized so Gordon #6 were installed in all bedrooms on the top floor (4)
Our living room is on the 2nd floor of the house and is where the thermostat is located. Its the hottest room in our unit. We rent the lower 3 floors which consist of the parlor, ground and finished basement.

The radiators continue to hiss and spit including the top floor rear riser which has a Gordon D at the top.
The main is vented with one Hoffman #1 and the rear is vented with 1 Gordon #1 and one Gordon #2. The rear is the colder part of the house.

Our dining room which is located in the rear of the second floor takes the longest to heat up for some reason and I cant figure out for the life of me, why that is. The floor above it heats up quicker then it (my daughters bedroom on the top floor). Its on about a 10 minute lag. Do you think it is due to the one Gordon #1 on the rear main and it should be switched out to be a #2 also? I have read many times over that you cant have too much main venting. What about the D on the top of the rear riser? Would you switch that out for a #1 or is that uncommon for a riser?

There is no doubt there may be too much pressure in the system in my opinion anyway, so I gave the green light to purchase and install a Vaporstat next week which should help. Suggestions? Thank you!

Comments

  • acwagner
    acwagner Member Posts: 505
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    What are the lengths and diameters of the different sections of the main?

    Also, what size gortons are on your radiators?
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
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    but im confident all that needed to be done down there was done correctly.


    Care to let us judge? ;)

    Your comments about the hissing, spitting vents and the suspected high pressure have me wondering. If you can, post some pictures of the boiler and the immediate piping, taken from about 10 feet away showing from floor to ceiling. And a closeup of the controls.

    To answer one of your questions, a Gorton D is about the same as a #1
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    acwagner
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,278
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    Hiss and spit... check the pressure. But you know that.

    How well balanced is the installed radiation in relation to the actual heat loss and exposure of the various rooms? Not that nothing can be done about it, but I would wonder if that may be part of the problem -- that and relative exposure of the rooms.

    Your time to heat appearing seems, perhaps, to be a little long, but not outrageous. That said, there would be no harm to putting a #2 in place of the #1, and moving that #1 to the top of the rear riser where the D is.

    Then... try putting a much slower vent on the living room radiator. Check what your daughter's room is doing once you've done that, and if it still a speed freak try slowing it down, too.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaulNewburgh70
  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
    edited December 2020
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    Here is what I could find that I have saved in my phone.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
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    I like that near boiler piping, very nice. Do you know how your radiators' EDR compares to the net sq feet of steam of the boiler?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
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    I like that near boiler piping, very nice. Do you know how your radiators' EDR compares to the net sq feet of steam of the boiler?

    Im glad we are both satisfied :smile: Im honestly not educated enough to answer these questions and as I mentioned, majority of the piping is in the ceiling but he measured everything prior to the install. I know im being vague but i have tenants down there now so i cant even attempt to measure right now but I know the building measurements so have a rough idea of the piping. Im confident we will figure it all out with the Vaporstat and playing around further with the venting but my question was more directed at the main venting. I was wondering if two #2s on the rear main would be overkill as opposed to the one #1 and one #2.

    Jamie- i agree with the possibility of switching out the living room vent to smaller.

    Next steps- Vaporstat and swap out #1 for #2 on the rear main and putting the #1 on the top rear riser as opposed to the D.
  • acwagner
    acwagner Member Posts: 505
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    It's very hard to over vent a main. I really don't have a sense of the scale of your system, but two #2's is probably still under venting.

    As @ethicalpaul said, a Gorton #1 is the same as a Gorton D in terms of venting capacity. The only difference is the connecting thread size. So swapping one for the other on your riser won't make a difference.

    Balancing is a trial and error process. All you can do is increase venting to slow areas and/or reduce venting on faster areas. So do changes one at a time and see the results before making more changes.
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,278
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    And make sure that you reduce the venting in fast areas first... oddly enough, it does make a difference. (except for mains and risers -- as @acwagner says, it's almost impossible to over vent them, except for the cost of the vents.)
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,424
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    @Newburgh70, I would remove that automatic air vent from the indirect, as the condensate zone isn’t pressurized. Additionally, I would consider using a 3-piece oil lubricant bronze pump for that condensate zone. 
  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    In the picture with the ladder, is that several returns connected together close to the main vent?—NBC
  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
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  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
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    In the picture with the ladder, is that several returns connected together close to the main vent?—NBC

    I believe so but this is a historic home that was intact so it may always have been this way. I added many more pics for your review so you can probably piece it together based on the images, thank you!

    @Danny Scully Thanks! Please have a peek.
    @acwagner @ethicalpaul @Jamie Hall Thanks guys!
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,060
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    The vent by the ladder looks pretty old and small.
    The vent by the Home Depot "Fragile" box looks small and maybe painted shut.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,278
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    In the picture with the ladder, and the later one with those lines painted... are those supplies or returns? Particularly if they are supplies, i you have a problem with hammer in that area, it's the middle one of the three. Unless my eye deceives me badly, it doesn't have enough pitch.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Canucker
  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
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    In the picture with the ladder, and the later one with those lines painted... are those supplies or returns? Particularly if they are supplies, i you have a problem with hammer in that area, it's the middle one of the three. Unless my eye deceives me badly, it doesn't have enough pitch.

    Hi Jamie, I'm not sure but we don't have any hammering problems anywhere.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,278
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    OK -- leave it be. Just me mumbling...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
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    hissing and spitting ??

    that sightglass looks like dirty water, floaters,
    has it been skimmed? and then the contents dumped?
    and refilled?
    what are you seeing for operating pressures?
    known to beat dead horses
  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
    edited January 2021
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    Hello again!

    I have a newly replaced boiler and a knowledgeable boiler guy helping me balance the system but I'm just trying to understand some things myself that I am hoping you all can explain for me. The front of the house is MUCH hotter than the back of the house. Main reason being is the front riser is 4 feet from the boiler but the front also gets the most sun throughout the day. In a previous thread, the general coconscious was to vent the rear main much more and possibly even the rear riser. Would this potentially solve the problem even if the boiler run to the front is much less then to the back?

    I timed both risers, and the both seem to be heating up at relatively the same time but i guess the output is far greater in the front? Is this possible? Also, @JUGHNE mentioned previously that they thought the front main vent could have possibly been painted shut. If that did happen, what would that actually do? I would think it would put out less heat, not more?

    What I believe is happening with the front/back imbalance is Its getting so hot in the front with much less heat loss because it gets the sun, its staying hot and is a sauna, even at night. Do you think this will always be the case due to boiler location or venting can solve this?

    I have read that there are two ways to size the boiler.
    1. Measure the current radiation
    2. Do a heat loss and use TRVs

    I believe the 1st option was done to determine sizing. We sleep with our bedroom doors closed and the heat gets crazy when the it kicks on and we already have Gordon #6 installed in the bedrooms. I know from looking at Gordan diagrams that bigger vents should be up on the top floor of a 4 story building?

    If there is no front riser and the piping ends at our bedroom radiator I would imagine this would get the hottest because its the end of the run? we recently had our cockloft of the building spray foamed so we don't have much heat loss. What would happen if I put a Gordon #4 or #5 here instead of the #6?

    Also, I have an indirect water heater hooked up to the boiler and my boiler room gets HOT. Do you think its possible that since the front risers are so close to the boiler room (4 feet) that the boiler is putting off heat all day long, even if its subtle and doesn't feel hot to touch to the front of the house causing such a large temp difference? Put it this way, my top floor bedroom where we sleep is 75 degrees right now according to my Ecobee smart sensor. I have no idea how thats possible. The floor below it is 74 in the front of the house. Its either getting so much hotter in these rooms when its running that its holding the heat or getting constant heat from somewhere and that can only be one place. Thoughts?



    Thank you all!

    In the picture with the ladder, is that several returns connected together close to the main vent?—NBC

    Yes, it is.

    @ethicalpaul - you got me thinking. I dont.. I feel like there is a main venting issue which we are going to work on tomorrow but im almost certain that the pressuretrol isn't turning the boiler off, ever. I know for certain we are building pressure from the setback at night. I cant sleep when its hot and as I mentioned, our bedroom is a sauna so I have it set for 65 at night and 70/71 during the day with a 1.5 degree differential on the Ecobee with a minimum 15 min run time.

    Oh, by the way, I have one radiator in our 2nd floor dining room very slow to heat which I imagine is linked to the basement venting issue. Im wondering if my boiler is sized too big. Its 156k BTUs. The building is insulated by other buildings on both sides but is an old uninsulated brownstone.

    hoping to learn some things here. Thanks all!
    PS- the "fragile" box in the pic is what im showing is 4 feet from the boiler in the front of the house.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,278
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    Balancing a house which has widely different heating loads like yours is remarkably hard to get right. First thing to do is to slow the venting on the front radiators right down -- and the venting on that riser as well. Also, vent the rear riser. Second thing is, perhaps, obvious, but ... put the control thermostat in a room which is more out of line. Usually that's a cold room, and you want the boiler to run longer -- but in your case, I'd move it to one of the rooms which is overheating.

    The indirect water heater probably isn't helping the boiler room much -- about all you can do there is to make sure everything which can be hot -- or even warm -- is insulated.

    If the boiler was sized to the radiation as you say, it's the right size. Now it's a matter of balancing and control.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England