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New vents won't close---spitting water... Vent issue, or other???

1-pipe system.

I had 3 Hoffman 45 as main vents (installed 20 years ago with new boiler) which completely failed---won't open, or leak---so I went looking for replacements...

The cost for Gorton/Hoffman is very steep (as I am in Canada), so being the first vent replacement I've done myself, I bought the following, labelled VSA-SV4, off eBay (link to identical product below for picture). There didn't seem to be a middle ground----There was either Gorton/Hoffman or bargain basement...

I've installed two----the first one spat steam, then finally closed a day later, after tapping the side of it (but there's still a very minor amount of steam whisping out).
After that one seemed to settle, I installed the 2nd one, which is now spitting out steam/water droplets.

Did I get what I paid for, i.e., crap vents? Or is this indicative of clogging/etc?

  • 1pipe Burnham - 4yrs old -original system 110yrs


    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,350

    Do you have steam pressure on your gauge when the boiler is running? If so how much?

    Too much pressure will drive vents nuts.

    Can you post some pictures of the vents, the boiler and the piping around the boiler
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,712
    You get you pay for.... Cheaper to buy the best . I seen decades old good vents still working
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,970
    There is a reason for the price difference... but you didn't lose a whole lot of money, at least. Look at it that way.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • AndrewB
    AndrewB Member Posts: 7
    edited January 2021

    What do you imagine clogged it? 

    My suspicion that there is clogging of the returns (past the point of the vents) stems purely from no real way to flush/clear that section of piping.
    That being said----those returns do change in temperature (cold to hot), which is indicative of the condensate passing through.
    • 1pipe Burnham - 4yrs old -original system 110yrs
  • AndrewB
    AndrewB Member Posts: 7
    edited January 2021


    Do you have steam pressure on your gauge when the boiler is running? If so how much?

    Can you post some pictures of the vents, the boiler and the piping around the boiler

    Thanks for responding! Pressure gauge says zero. I’m thinking that it is blocked, because I cleaned out the Pressuretrol pigtail recently and there was a very hard plug in it. I would like to check the gauge for clogging, but it is extremely securely screwed in. Based on other posts, it is a useless one, as it goes up to 30psi

    As a note: running at 2.5 psi with 0.5 differential

    Overall, the system heats every rad properly and fairly quickly. I am in Southern Ontario and the system only needed to for 7 hours yesterday, when it was 17 degrees F. (-8C) and windy.
    But, because of frequent water feeding, I am wanting to get the leaky vents fixed—upon inspection, one of the Hoffman’s somehow had a leak in the side of it...
    But irritatingly---the system released less steam from the crack in the non-functioning Hoffman, that the replacement....

    • 1pipe Burnham - 4yrs old -original system 110yrs
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    "Only the rich can afford cheap goods"--(father-in-laws saying), before he passed away.
    I suspect your pressure is too high. A few ounces should do it.
    The Gorton #2's are an investment, which will pay off in reduced run times, and fuel use.--NBC
  • AndrewB
    AndrewB Member Posts: 7
    Thankyou for the Gorton recommendation ——I’ve never run it with the pressure so low—I will try that
    • 1pipe Burnham - 4yrs old -original system 110yrs
  • AndrewB
    AndrewB Member Posts: 7
    @EBEBRATT-Ed @Jamie Hall @Youngplumber @Big Ed_4

    Thank you, all, for your input---both regarding the vents and the pressure reduction!

    I am now firmly believing that my replacement vents simply weren't up to the task, for whatever reason.

    It seems the pressure guage wasn't clogged---it just would take the boiler forever to build up any pressure, exacerbated by the leaky vents... Pressuretrol kicked in very nicely at 1psi and I was stunned to see the guage at 1---normally was just at zero...

    Back to the main vents... As the two new ones were spitting badly, I figured that the old ones were better for the time being, so I gave them a cleaning and found hairline cracks just above the hex part. As it couldn't get any worse, I experimented with one and put some JB Weld HighHeat on it an secured it with a hose clamp. Works like a charm!

    Now looking for a Canadian source for Gortons....
    • 1pipe Burnham - 4yrs old -original system 110yrs
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    A Maid o Mist #1 has the same rating as the Gorton #1 and it's usually 2/3 the price. The Gorton is a a bit more durable but mine is 6 or 7 years old and has not given me any trouble.



    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,736
    How long are your steam mains, and what pipe size?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • WilliCT
    WilliCT Member Posts: 3
    There's a nice pdf doc on this site that Dan Holahan posted that explains how to calculate the size of the main vents. I agree the Gorton #2's are expensive but they're the largest vents on the market.  I put two on my system along with inline strainers to protect them from debris. (Strainers are Dan recommendations)  All seems to be working well. 
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,671
    you haven't shown a picture of your riser(s) and header, are they to spec?
    also, is the water dirty in the sightglass or is it just the glass dirty?
    does that water bounce much when she's boiling?
    is there a skim port?
    known to beat dead horses