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110 year old 2 pipe steam system, help needed. Area code 68901

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124

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  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,428
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    Do you think the variable Hoffman 1A will be the best to balance the radiators?

    They are a very good and reliable vent, with a nice range to use for balancing. However, they can be a bit finicky about getting them really adjusted to what they seem to say they are.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    Sounds like a 69 Volkswagen van, I once owned. Thank you.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    John, your 4 radiators upstairs might do well with Hoffman # 40 air vents.
    They are slow, considered dependable, been around for many years.
    Non adjustable. You mentioned you do not use the 2nd floor much at all.
    You can turn these vents upside to stop almost all heating.
    However the more you twist these up and down, the looser the threads get.
    IIWM, I would just put these up there and see what happens.

    As for the other 3 rads on the lower level, that Hoffman 1A might be the answer.

    You only have 8 radiators, it is not recommended to shut 4 of them completely off.
    That would make your boiler quite oversized for the load causing short cycling.

    If you had no heat upstairs you would have a cold draft coming down the stairwells.
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    @JUGHNE, I've got all the parts you have suggested. I think the weather is not cooperating yet. I do have one question for you or anyone else. I'm sorry I dont remember the name of it, but the pipe that I would say is hooked to the return line below the waterline going into the boiler that should have a shorter nipple heats up very fast when the boiler starts. Is this proper?
    See photo. 
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    John, you are referring to the Hartford Loop.

    That is described in the Steam book.
    The horizontal pipe should be short as possible.
    If there is no water hammer at that point then I would leave it for now.

    The top of the horizontal connection should be about 2" below the water line.
    All of that pipe should be full of water.
    When the boiler fires that bottom water would heat first before making steam.

    Or you have steam coming back to your wet return manifold and heating that up.

    We mentioned that those little vent lines may be pushing steam thru the return manifold. Some may be making it thru the Hartford Loop.

    1. Are you going to add the air vents you would tap the pipe for?

    2. And then will you try removing and capping the small pipes and install the radiator vents we discussed?

    IIWM, I would do #1 first and see how that affects things.
    Then do #2 a few days later...Be sure to cap the small pipe....and keep intact.
    We do not want to burn any bridges yet.

    We are above zero, out of the deep freeze and maybe 20-30 degrees for the next week. I see you will be warmer.
    ethicalpaul
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    Yes, I am planning on adding the vents asap if possible. I will wait to add the rad vents as you suggest.
    The temp of the pipe in the loop gets very hot, could be steam. What to do about it?
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    The changes you plan to make may correct that....maybe.
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    What would keep Gorton C vents from closing? I just installed 2 and they don't. 
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,727
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    Are they getting “steam hot”? 
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    JHamburger
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    I sure think so. Steam and very hot water are being expelled.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,727
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    Is the top picture on a vertical pipe?

    Are they ever closing during the cycle?

    If the one is on a vertical supply pipe I could see it cooling off a while after it closed to steam then opening. At that time there could be condensate running down the pipe. The water could get pushed into the vent preventing it closing. 

    There are lots of “could”s there I know.

    the other one I don’t have any ideas. Gorton vents are usually good. Others may have ideas
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Dan_NJ
    Dan_NJ Member Posts: 247
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    Not sure about the the second one, but I can tell you I had a Gorton C fail open right out of the box last year from reputable supplier, immediately returned. As for the first photo, that one looks like it's got a pitch to it. Maybe it's been banged up a bit?
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,727
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    I read back a bit and I think you were recommended to have some pipes on the vertical one:

    If you put the vent on the vertical pipe you will need a short nipple, 90 ell and another nipple with a coupling to use the vents you mention.


    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    That vertical drop is a drip for, I believe, a second floor riser.
    It is connected to a wet return at the boiler.

    John was going to get a 0-5 gauge and make sure the pigtail is clear.

    If these are a problem you could put an 1/8" plug in them.
    And perhaps raising them them up a few inches would solve the problem.

    Lets check the operating pressure first.
    ethicalpaul
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    @JUGHNE, I am planning on adding a 1/4" nipple and elbows to  raise the vent on the vertical pipe to get the vent some distance from the water in the pipe.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    Did you tap an 1/8" hole or 1/4" hole?
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    I, again misspoke. I tapped for the 1/8" npt. But neither Gorton C vents are closing.
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    The one on the vertical pipe with added piping continued to spit steaming water. It never has closed. I have capped off both locations.  On another note, I did install a new 5 psi gauge to see the operating pressure. It runs at .5 psi.

    I have yet to add all of the vents suggested to make it a single pipe system.

    Sometime soon I will determine if the pigtail is blocked. The sight glass is still rising to the top.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    Is your new gauge on the same pigtail that could be blocked?
    Did you try blowing thru the pigtail with the hose as we talked about?
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    @JUGHNE it is in the same place. I did not remove the controls above the pigtail to do the test you have advised. Even though the weather was optimal recently, the time needed to do so, was not available.
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    Update time, I am quarantined here now.

     @JUGHNE I have installed 7 of the nine rad vents. I also installed a no. 40 vent where we had planned the number 4 vent. It closes when filled with the return water, the no. 4 would not. Evidently the condensation return is not draining fast enough.
    Would it help to reinstall check valve in lower return?
    The sight gage water now pretty much stays at the top while running. The pressure gage bounces where it didn't before adding the rad vents. 
    This afternoon, the low water cut off probe shut down the boiler. A very rare occurance. The sight glass showed plenty of water in boiler. 
    Hammering picked up big time coming from pipes running to west 2nd floor (3rd) bedroom. I checked slope on main pipe running to it. This is the one with the tee going up and down to wet return on shelf. It slopes 2 directions. In order to make it slope to vertical pipe the vertical pipe would need to be extended down.
    All I've got tonight.
    Take care.

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    If I recall with the gauge on the pigtail, you just remove the gauge, put the rubber hose on the pipe and blow in to see if the pigtail is clean.

    THIS is the first thing to check.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,707
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    quarantine will give you time to , , , get well,
    , , , check pigtail and back into boiler,
    check and clean both sightglass valves,
    that last picture,, is that vent up in a crawlspace?
    if not, it sure looks piped into the return drop too low, too close to a water line,
    boiler pressure stacking water up to the vent tapping, and then it's straight to the vent
    plug there and drill at the ceiling joists,
    known to beat dead horses
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
    edited January 2022
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    This is a steam run out to a 2nd? floor riser.
    The run out is parallel flow....sloping down towards that tee.....the bottom pipe is a drip that would also vent that runout.

    There are several of these setups in the basement.


    That drip then runs into a wet return manifold at the manifold.
    The vent is maybe 4-5' above the boiler water line.

    I believe the wet return manifold is subject to steam entering it.

    That vent was recommended to be there to improve the steam delivery and help that as a return pipe.

    You just have to be there to begin to understand....I have been....and not sure of my understanding of the system.

    Go to page one, it is an interesting system to say the least.

    All input will be welcome.
    JHamburger
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    Hope to get better sooner than later.
    What a day. Did check pigtail, all good there. Took top sight glass valve off to check, fell apart in my hands. 15 degrees out, had to find replacement. Had to purchase entire new sight glass kit. Installed new valves. Fired back up, upstairs for lunch and left valves open for lwc. After lunch went back to check. They were still filling. Filled pipes and rads to the roof and coming out safety valve. Good thing I was alone. Such words I heard.
    This system is clean!
    Just got everything back in order.
    Hot condensation is coming out of the vent in Pic, will try higher.
    Thanks.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    John, sorry to overlook the quarantine comment in your first sentence.
    Hoping the best for you and your wife.

    What pressure does your new gauge show when running?

    You have only 2 more radiators to put vents on?
    That will keep steam out of the return manifold......I think.

    Things may then change, hopefully for the better.
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    Thanks for your wishes.
    The line running on the shelf is not from the little pipes we are disconnecting. The little pipe is separate and is already disconnected from that rad.
    Be safe.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    You still have 2 small pipes hooked into the basement returns somewhere which I think is pushing steam into the returns and may be causing the back up of water into the shelf pipe return.

    How is the new pressure gauge?
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    The new gauge was better before the system filled with water. The small pipes tie into the big pipes. The 2 pipes that the new vents tie into coming off the big pipes go into the wet returns. The one on the shelf and the one coming from the other direction. Are the new no. 4 vents going to stop the steam from entering the wet returns?
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    When you get the last 2 small pipes unhooked and caped and air vents on the rads we can review the situation. Also then you want 2 PSI or less to show up on your new gauge.

    Air vents are to vent air....not stop water. The water is supposed to drain back by gravity just like a sink drain.
    The air vents are to bleed the air out of the way of the steam and they close when steam gets to them.
    While you are stuck at home you could review the "We Got steam heat" book you purchased.
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
    edited February 2022
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    @Dopey27177, your comment last December might be what originally the way this system was. I have capped all but one of the small lines on the rads. The tall vent pictured on the first page, it took forever for it to close isn't receiving steam now. This is where the small lines are ending, just below the Hoffman vent.
    It is also separated from the others in wet return by a check valve. ✔
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    @JUGHNE you may remember the first picture with 2 pipes cut off between the floor joists.  The second picture in this post is at the exterior wall at my front porch with the u turn in the pipe. I don't see where it penetrated the outside wall. 

  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    The following picture is from the back side of my brick chimney. I have no idea what it is or what purpose it once had. I'm very interested to know.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,544
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    Back burner to heat domestic water. 
    Retired and loving it.
    JHamburger
  • JHamburger
    JHamburger Member Posts: 86
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    @DanHololan its below where the boiler connects, at least currently. Do you know of a drawing of the setup?
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,544
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    I don’t have that. 
    Retired and loving it.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    Might that be a chimney clean out door?
    Maybe someone added a box "draft diverter" to cut down on the draft of the chimney?
    Is it open on the bottom up and into the chimney?

    Do you know where that tube/wire goes to? Upper left corner of box.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 522
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    @DanHololan its below where the boiler connects, at least currently. Do you know of a drawing of the setup?
    Is this the same apparatus from a different view ? Where is the clean out ? Did you open any of doors ? You should make sure there isn't anything loose laying around that might get sucked in if you open it..draft and all
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 522
    edited February 2022
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    JUGHNE said:
    Might that be a chimney clean out door? Maybe someone added a box "draft diverter" to cut down on the draft of the chimney? Is it open on the bottom up and into the chimney? Do you know where that tube/wire goes to? Upper left corner of box.
    @JUGHNE Do you think those tubes were originally piped to the chimney to draw vacuum ?
    I thought wire but when you mentioned perhaps "tube" , I got thinking..
    Now this photo showing the U also shows what I'm assuming is one the original thin vent pipes going to wherever it goes..now as best as I can tell there looks to be a plugged hole next to where it comes through the floor and because of its position between the studs I have to say that those lines went into the wall or baseboard before dropping into the basement..(as the sill/foundation appears to be right under it...As the lathe and plaster is presumably recently removed it appears for some reason it was originally piped through the wall/baseboard..
    Perhaps it's just a perspective that is incorrect but it is also curious if it was done that way (Assuming that is a run of the return to begin with 🙂 ) 
    Edit...of course that could be from a second floor radiator 😊
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question