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Gordon #1 venting for a long time

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ansman
ansman Member Posts: 18
We bought a house this summer that uses steam heat. So far it's been OK but we are having some issues.

The first thing we've done is installed a new main vent (Gordon #1) since the old one was all rusted and in bad shape. Secondly we installed new varivents on all of our radiators as most of them were corroded.

I've gotten to a point where the system heats up fairly evenly (bottom floor is first but shortly after the top floor heats up and fairly evenly at that).

The problems we've been having is the new varivents gurgling a little bit while venting. I'm not sure why or how to fix it.

The second problem is that the main vent will vent for a very long time and I even feel steam shooting out. I've attached a video of this. We added a nipple to raise it up a bit but it doesn't seem to have helped. It will vent like in the video for several minutes before closing up. It will then open up again after a while before closing again. Is this normal? Did we get a defective vent or is something else wrong?

Video (with sound): https://imgur.com/a/RGsErjY

I appreciate all tips. I've been reading a bunch but it's a lot to take in.

Comments

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,702
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    Where is that hissing sound coming from? The vent? How long after the start of the fire cycle is this recording?

    The pressure of whatever is hissing sounds very too high. Can you send photos of your boiler from about 8 feet away showing all the pipes and from several angles? And include a closeup of any controls with gauges on them especially a little box called Pressuretrol or Vaporstat

    And do you have a low-psi (about 0-3psi) gauge on your boiler? You probably have a 0-30psi gauge but it can't be trusted. But either way what do they or it read?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    Great questions!

    The hissing is coming from the main vent. It starts maybe 20 minutes after turning it on (but it depends how cold the system is). It is my feeling that the main vent starts hissing about the same time that all of the radiators have vented completely, I at least stop hearing them before the main vent starts venting.

    I do not have a low-psi gauge, it's on my list of things to get. The 30 PSI stays at 0 but I'm not trusting that and I wouldn't be surprised if it's all gunked up. When I get a new gauge I'll replace that too.

    We had a plumber come visit who remarked on the pipes being incorrectly installed so that's a known issue. The boiler is from 1994 so we'll redo everything in the basement once we replace it.
    The plumber flushed the system, replaced the pigtail, installed a new sight glass and fixed the low water sensor.

    I've attached pictures.





  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,529
    edited November 2021
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    If it was me i would repipe the boiler and keep running it. He should have used brass nipples on the gauge glass (at least the bottom connection.

    A lot of supply houses don't seem to have the gauge glass valves with the extensions any more

    I would adjust the pressure control to a lower setting when you get your new gauge on it

    Check your radiators for pitch should be lower on the pipe end
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,311
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    That pressuretrol is one of the wonderful old reliables. Don't let anyone fool you into changing it! However, that said, there are two things I note: first, it is subtractive -- which means the cutin pressure is equal to the setting on the right hand scale, the cutout, minus the differential -- the left hand scale.

    Does not compute.

    Which leads me to suspect two things. First, I'd not be at all surprised if the pigtail, the opening into the boiler, or the opening into the bottom of the pressuretrol was gunked up, although with a new pigtail it really shouldn't be. However... that type of pressuretrol is very sensitive to being level -- or not. And unless the picture is deceiving me, it's not. See if you can twist the pigtail enough to get it so it's really level, and then set the left hand scale to just a bit less than 2 psi and see what it does... a low pressure gauge in addition to the 30 psi gauge is going to be handy (you have to keep the 30 psi gauge for code and insurance purposes).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,737
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    ansman said:

    It is my feeling that the main vent starts hissing about the same time that all of the radiators have vented completely,

    You posted that you used varivents on all radiators, are you talking about Heat Timer Varivalves? If so those are very aggressive radiator vents and typically not recommended around here.

    The main should stop venting before the radiators start venting at all. Currently with those aggressive radiator vents, your radiators are doing the work of the mains. You most likely need a fair amount more main venting and smaller radiator vents, or at least start by turning all of them all the way down. That is after you correct the main venting.

    If you post how long and what size the mains are we would be able to recommend how much main venting you may need.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ethicalpaulwlgann
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    We did adjust the radiators when we bought the house (we took them all out because the floors were sanded). We adjusted the pitch when we put them back in.

    Good tip about the pressuretrol, I'll level it. The plumber did leave it a bit crooked I think. The pigtail was gunked up like you said but he put in a new one so that's all clear.

    Yes, they are all Heat Timers. I liked 'em because it allowed me to adjust them easily while adjusting the system. What do you recommend instead? Maid o' mist?

    When you say length and size are we talking about the pipe itself or something else?
    There are two mains and one does not have a vent at all strangely enough. The plumber theorized that they used the living room radiator as the vent initially when the house was built. The plumbing is all original from what I can tell so I don't think anyone swapped it out and there is no indication that there was ever a vent there.

    The main with the vent has a 2.5" outer diameter and is 12' + 32' (two straights with one elbow). This is the pipe that goes to the left in the picture from the front.
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    Oh, and about repiping. I'm not too keen on doing this right as the winter season starts for fear of it not working properly afterwards, the devil you know...

    But I do hope to do it next year. Is this something you recommend for a DYIer (my father in law is very handy and has some experience with this) or is it best left for a professional?
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    I just tried turning down all of the vents to minimum or close to but it made no difference.

    I went down to check the main vent about 25 minutes after turning on the system and it was slowly venting. It kept venting until about 35 minutes after the system came one and it kept increasing in sound. The air that was coming out definitely had steam in it. My hand was wet after holding it a distance from the vent. 
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
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    does the water bounce much in the sightglass when she's firing ?
    sometimes the "treatment" in the water does more harm than good,
    if it's bouncing, and the treatment, could be shooting more water up than should be
    known to beat dead horses
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    It’s bouncing about 1/4” up and down while running 
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,529
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    @ansman
    Go to the Weil McLain site and search for the manual for you boiler. There is a piping diagram in it
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,737
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    So need more and the one you have is bad.

    To be clear turning down rads without upgrading the main venting isn’t going to accomplish much.

    The main without a vent needs one.

    The other main that you posted the length for would do well with a Gorton #2.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    KC_Jones said:
    So need more and the one you have is bad.
    Bad as in not suitable for the system or bad as in defective?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,693
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    ansman said:


    KC_Jones said:

    So need more and the one you have is bad.

    Bad as in not suitable for the system or bad as in defective?

    Both.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,737
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    ansman said:


    KC_Jones said:

    So need more and the one you have is bad.

    Bad as in not suitable for the system or bad as in defective?

    If a vent passes steam, it's defective and needs replaced. A Gorton #1 for that amount of main is woefully inadequate. A Gorton #2 would be a minimum, and there was a pro on here in the past that would have done 2-Gorton #2 vents on that amount of main.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,702
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    You have good advice from KC about your vents. I don't actually think your near-boiler piping is that bad...at least you have a header and the steam supply comes out of the top of it.

    It's not ideal that the steam supply has that tee in it....it's better if each supply comes individually off of the horizontal header pipe, but to me that is quite minor.

    Get your low pressure gauge to see what is really going on...and get that Gorton #2 and see where you are then. You'll be able to see if your boiler is oversized, something that may be being hidden by your leaking main vent.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    We installed a Y connection today with the Gordon vent and a 3/4" maid o' mist vent the plumber gave us. Hopefully this will give us faster venting. I'll report back with the result.

    I'll also go and get some insulation for the mains this weekend to help stop early condensing and I ordered a low pressure gauge today.

    Thank you all for helping me navigate this jungle 🙏
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,702
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    out of curiosity what number or letter is on the Maid o' mist? If you're using it for a main vent (which is completely fine--it may even be a #1 which is meant for main venting) you can remove the screw-on orifice from the top to maximize the air flow (it turns any MoM vent into the equivalent of a Gorton #1 or D)
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    So I've been experimenting and I ended up ordering a new MoM as I'm convinced the Gordon #1 only closes due to the pressure building up to 0.5 PSI+

    The new vents work well and they are venting pretty fast but this came with a new problem. With the old system it would work like this:
    1. The boiler turns on
    2. The main starts venting
    3. The radiators gets hot
    4. Pressure starts building
    5. The main vent starts spitting steam
    6. The boiler reaches 0.5 PSI
    7. The main vent closes
    8. The pressuretrol turns the boiler off at 2 PSI
    9. The pressure drops to 0.5 PSI
    10. The main vent opens up again and stays open until the pressure builds up again
    11. The system turns off

    With the new vents it goes more like this:
    1. The boiler turns on
    2. The mains starts venting
    3. The mains close
    4. The radiators gets hot
    5. Pressure starts building
    6. The pressuretrol turns the boiler off at 2 PSI
    7. Later the system turns off
    8. One radiator starts a loud whistle as the system reaches a "vacuum"

    Point 8. here is the problem as it causes a loud whistle for several minutes.

    What can be done for this? If more vents opened at the same time it would be less of a problem I suppose so maybe balancing is one solution?
    I also need to insulate my mains which I'm hoping will slow the cooling and decrease the rate of the vacuum.

    Oh, and here is a picture of the new vents, thank you again!


  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
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    add a vacuum breaker to that vent tree
    known to beat dead horses
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,693
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    I've never seen a reason to use a vacuum breaker, especially with Gorton style vents.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    ChrisJ said:

    I've never seen a reason to use a vacuum breaker, especially with Gorton style vents.

    So what is the solution then?

    The mains obviously don't open before the radiator vents in my case.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,693
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    ansman said:

    ChrisJ said:

    I've never seen a reason to use a vacuum breaker, especially with Gorton style vents.

    So what is the solution then?

    The mains obviously don't open before the radiator vents in my case.

    I may have missed it, or be confusing threads....

    How long is that main and what size is it?
    What vents are on your radiators? What style radiators and how big?

    That boiler piping is less than great and the uninsulated mains aren't doing you any favors.

    A vacuum breaker isn't going to help anything you described.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    The main with the vent has a 2.5" outer diameter and is 12' + 32' (two straights with one elbow).

    The radiators mostly have vari vents though the first ones to vent seems to be the ones with Maid o' Mist.

    Not sure about the radiator style.

    I'm curious why you don't think a vacuum breaker won't help. Wouldn't that help with releasing the vacuum faster and sooner?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,693
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    ansman said:

    The main with the vent has a 2.5" outer diameter and is 12' + 32' (two straights with one elbow).

    The radiators mostly have vari vents though the first ones to vent seems to be the ones with Maid o' Mist.

    Not sure about the radiator style.

    I'm curious why you don't think a vacuum breaker won't help. Wouldn't that help with releasing the vacuum faster and sooner?


    I may have missed it, but are you having issues while the system is starting up and heating, or after the boiler shuts down?

    A vacuum breaker would only operate during shut down, if at all.

    I have almost the same size and length mains as you, except mine are insulated. I have five Gorton 1's on the long one (32') and one Gorton 1 on the short one (12').
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    This is a few minutes after the boiler turns off and the pressure becomes negative.

    I don't really understand how additional vents would help against vacuum whistling, could you elaborate?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,693
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    ansman said:
    This is a few minutes after the boiler turns off and the pressure becomes negative. I don't really understand how additional vents would help against vacuum whistling, could you elaborate?
    I'm sorry I missed your post with a new problem.

    Yes if you can find a vacuum breaker with a low enough opening point it would solve that.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ansman
    ansman Member Posts: 18
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    Ah yeah, perhaps I should have created a new post!

    I found this one that goes all the way down to 2oz of negative pressure but it's pretty pricy: https://www.supplyhouse.com/Bell-Gossett-113075-26-Vacuum-Breaker

    I'll see how this pans out, thank you again.