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Questions on single pipe steam

Hi- new homeowner with a single pipe steam boiler- burnham independence that was installed 2012. I did not have an annual maintenance last year but made it through winter without any major issues. House was nice and warm, seemed efficient and kept the heat well. Would greatly appreciate comments on how the burnham is piped, looks rather different from the manual the previous owners left around. There was some banging last winter, maybe 1-2 times a day. I recently adjusted the presuretyrl from 2/1.5 to 1.5/.5. Also any idea what the grey cylinder is next to the boiler? It has a vent to the outside. 

Plan on getting annual maintenance done ASAP, plus insulate the supply mains before start of winter. Thoughts and feedback appreciated. New to steam and learning as I go. Thanks 



Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,150
    That actually looks pretty decent, all things considered. It would have been nice to use both boiler tappings, but it really isn't necessary.

    Pressure control is good.

    Insulation on the steam mains will do wonders for you, and may even help with the occasional bang. Before you do put on insulation, though, double check all the "horizontal" lines to make sure they have some slope -- and that there is a way for condensate to get back to the boiler!

    Also take a look around and make sure that you have some main venting. That it's working well indicates that that may not be an issue -- but there's no harm to making sure.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,312
    The grey thing vented to the outside looks like a fan in a can. It brings combustion air into the basement when the boiler is running, make sure in air inlet outside is kept clear especially when snow difts up against the house in the winter.

    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
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,740
    BobC said:

    The grey thing vented to the outside looks like a fan in a can. It brings combustion air into the basement when the boiler is running, make sure in air inlet outside is kept clear especially when snow difts up against the house in the winter.

    Bob

    I suspect in that structure it is more of a code issue than necessary to provide combustion air. That structure looks plenty leaky enough to provide combustion air through infiltration.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,149
    I would remove the pressure control and replace any fittings that are not brass with brass fittings including the pigtail
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 976
    I would suggest two things. The pop safety valve is piped horizontally and should be piped vertically. I would also verify the size of the combustion air duct. It looks like the installed reduced the size.

    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,429
    edited July 2021
    Depending on which model Independence that is, @Jamie Hall is probably right about the piping being OK.

    What @RayWohlfarth said about the safety valve, too. The combustion air supply will, again, depend on the boiler size.

    It looks like you have a single steam main that wraps around the basement. Measure the length and diameter of this main so we'll know if the main vent is big enough. Almost all the ones I find are too small- upgrading will make the house heat faster, on less gas.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • thanks to all for feedback. Boiler is an independence INI5, 140K BTU.

    Steamhead- you are correct, it is a single steam main that wraps around the basement (it wraps around the chimney that goes through the center of the house). Measurements below:

    supply main is ~35 feet (2 long sides are 12.5' & 13.3', 2 short sides are 6.7' & 3'). Mains are 2.5'' pipe
    vent to chimney is 6'', the fan in the can is 4''

    I only see one main vent in the whole basement, its a Hoffman 75, no idea how old it is.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,150
    The Hoffman 75 is an excellent vent, and is probably working fine. It's also probably not big enough, although it may be close. If you are so fortunate as to have a low pressure gauge on the boiler -- 0 to 3 psi or so -- observe it as the boiler fires from cold. If it rises to no more than half a psi or so and sits there until that vent closes, you're fine. If not -- if it keeps steadily rising -- you need more vent, and chances are swapping the Hoffman for a Gorton #2 will do just fine.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,429

    The Hoffman 75 is an excellent vent, and is probably working fine. It's also probably not big enough, although it may be close. If you are so fortunate as to have a low pressure gauge on the boiler -- 0 to 3 psi or so -- observe it as the boiler fires from cold. If it rises to no more than half a psi or so and sits there until that vent closes, you're fine. If not -- if it keeps steadily rising -- you need more vent, and chances are swapping the Hoffman for a Gorton #2 will do just fine.

    Based on the length and diameter of that pipe- I'd just replace the 75 with the Gorton #2.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Update as the heating season has started, mains all have some slope, risers, at least what I can see from the basement do as well. Have 1 main, ~35 feet that runs in a sq around the basement, it's 2'' pipe. Boiler is a Burnham INI5- I think 140k BTU (input BTU/hr), I calculated the EDR of all rads, with adj factor got ~115k BTU needed for the house.

    I insulated the mains & risers this fall with fiberglass insulation (1'' thick), water hammer is less than I noticed last year. I'm on the waitlist for one of the pros in my area, so have not done the maintenance on the boiler, or the other recommendations noted above, but plan to.

    I ended up replacing the Hoffman 75 with a B&J Big Mouth, the location of the main vent is not 15'' back from the main (maybe 6'') and only 4.5'' higher from the main. Sometimes I can hear a little air escaping from it, then a "click", then it gets very hot. Does this sound normal? Should I install an antler to give it a bit more room from the main? Have plenty of space to do so.

    2nd floor- There are 5 radiators upstairs, the 4 in the bedrooms all sound like water is gurgling in them as they start heating up, 1 is worse than the others. I replaced all the vents with Gorton 6s (looked like MoM 6s previously). This helped get one BR that was usually cold last year to get nice and warm with the rest of the house. I confirmed radiators all are pitched well, added some shims (slope back to valve) to a couple but the noise is still there. The house is >100 years old and likely has settled. Had read prior posts, was going to try and add a shim on the valve side incase the risers have settled over the years, tried by hand today, barely budged, will try the 2x4 method very carefully next. I have no complaints/issues with any of the rads on the first floor.

    Lastly, the house was completely remodeled by the prior owners, found that one of the riser is copper...this an issue for the system? Will note the 2 rads that the riser goes to run perfectly.

    Thanks again for all the prior help.






  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,740
    Copper isn't a great idea but it can work ok. Insulating it will help. Are your radiator valves all the way open?
  • Yes- all radiator valves are all the way open
  • wlgann
    wlgann Member Posts: 14


    I ended up replacing the Hoffman 75 with a B&J Big Mouth, the location of the main vent is not 15'' back from the main (maybe 6'') and only 4.5'' higher from the main. Sometimes I can hear a little air escaping from it, then a "click", then it gets very hot. Does this sound normal? Should I install an antler to give it a bit more room from the main? Have plenty of space to do so.

    Yes, that's normal. The click is it closing at temperature. The only tweak you could consider is lengthening that 1/2" nipple to get the vent a bit higher; in a perfect world the bottom of the vent is like six inches above the highest point of the main. But since everything is basically working I don't know that I would mess with it.


    2nd floor- There are 5 radiators upstairs, the 4 in the bedrooms all sound like water is gurgling in them as they start heating up, 1 is worse than the others.

    Very soft gurgling or "wake you out of a sound sleep" gurgling? If the radiators heat well and the vents don't hiss, a soft sound is probably just condensate getting buffeted around in the 10 foot riser to your radiator. Remember that steam is blowing up past water that's trickling down. Nothing to worry about unless you can't sleep from it.
  • Thanks for the info on the main vent.

    The loudest radiator does wake me up from time to time. vent is hissing as well while the gurgrling is going on. All the radiators do heat up very well though. Should I try a smaller vent? Saw some suggestions that a Hoffman 1A might be than the Gorton 6 in this scenario.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,756
    It's probably a little condensation forming in the vents because they're colder than the moist air venting through them. If you unscrew the vent and shake it, you might get a couple of ounces of water out of it, then it will be quiet until the water builds up. They should really put a little drain valve in the bottom of the vent.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • wlgann
    wlgann Member Posts: 14

    Thanks for the info on the main vent.

    The loudest radiator does wake me up from time to time. vent is hissing as well while the gurgrling is going on. All the radiators do heat up very well though. Should I try a smaller vent? Saw some suggestions that a Hoffman 1A might be than the Gorton 6 in this scenario.

    You're welcome.

    Yeah, try a Gorton or MoM #5 or the Hoffman 1A. You're slowing down the incoming steam, which will allow the condensate to drain more quickly rather than being blown around in the pipe.
  • Update and final post here- ended up trying a Gorton #5 on the loud radiator, it was better but still made a decent amount of noise. Swapped in a Gorton #4 and it is silent and still heats up the room great (its a very large radiator in a 12x12 room, I came up with 35 EDR- 12 sections/5 tubes/20'').

    one of the pros in my area did the maintenance and said boiler looked good, would not have installed it with only 1 riser but not worth it to change it now.

    Many thanks to all of those who gave input here, it is much appreciated!

    KC_Jones