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The benefits of water seals, Case History.

dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
This posting is done because some readers think water seals do not work or is not needed.

The benefit of the proper use of water seals is shown from a reference from my book Steam the Perfect Fluid for Heating and Some of the Problems.

This was done in an 80 year old factory loft building in SOHO Manhattan that was turned into a condominium. The building had 2500 sq. foot apartments and stores located on the ground level.

The enclosure has pictures of the existing piping, drawings, recommendations and the pictures of the completed work.

The reason I was hired as a consultant was because I guaranteed the results and the termination of the law suit that was initiated due to loud banging in building.

Please tell me what you think of this correction.



  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,100
    I've never been able to figure out why folks feel that water seals don't work -- except, of course, that they don't if some Happy Harry cranks up the system pressure.

    I suspect that at least in some cases they think they aren't needed because we still have an ongoing problem with folks not distinguishing between a steam main extension and a dry return...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,139
    Jake's solutions work so what is there to argue about?
    For people who enjoy complex a water seal may be too simple?
    And foolproof means I get no repeat jobs?
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,204
    I prefer water seals too over traps....especially on one pipe steam where the condensate comes back so hot there is a lot of flash steam in the tank. The loops seals help cool the condensate. We are putting a couple in right now and have done them many times.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 14,495
    What's there not to like? What is simpler than some pipe and a few elbows?

    I put one in on a job a couple of years ago in place of an undersized end of the main trap (which is a whole other story) This job was out in the boonies and I wanted to fix it right away. A steam trap (if I could find one) was over 2 hours of driving while pipe and fittings I could cobble together.

    Worked like a charm
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,898
    As I work on my school project, separating a 1 pipe system from a 2 pipe system by using separate boilers,
    the 1 pipe will become gravity return with no trap or cond pump.
    So the wet return at the boiler is actually a water seal....I just think of it as a wet return.
    And just to clarify, it is actually at the end of an extended steam main....not a dry return.

    The fact that thousands of 1 pipe systems rely upon the wet return at the boiler or elsewhere is more than adequate proof that water seals work.
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
    I keep seeing end of steam and dry return are different but no one seems to clarify.'

    A steam main has a vent valve at its termination point which generally is where the steam main drops to the floor.

    An extension to the steam main is a pipe that is reduced in size and where its sole function is the removal of condensate formed in the steam main and the removal of air from the boiler and steam main. The extension terminates where the pipe drops down to the floor.

    A dry return is a pipe that allows air from parts of a steam system to flow from risers, heating elements or cross over traps. The dry return generally carries only hot air, vapors and nearly no condensate. The air and vapors leave the system through a master vent or in some very old systems through an open pipe to the atmosphere.

    Hope I got that right.

  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,204
    Here's a picture of a loop seal we just completed today. The pump and new piping replaced a leaking underground return
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
    I have seen this install in 100 year old multiple dwellings.

    Only saw 4 of them. The pipe work is outstanding. This is show room work of a real professional.

  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,204
    edited August 2021
    I've been blessed with some really good guys... I rarely turn wrenches anymore. I do the design, layout, take offs, etc. in the office.

    This is a typical 3 story about 90 to 100 year old courtyard building in Chicago. Just about all of the housing in Chicago was built from about 1895 to 1930. Lots and lot of failed underground returns and water supply piping. Nearly all of it is one pipe steam, with a sprinkling of 2- pipe naturally induced vacuum systems and some vacuum pump systems in bigger buildings. Very little standard 2 pipe steam systems.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.