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New Homeowner New Pipes?

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MickeysDaughter
MickeysDaughter Member Posts: 6
edited November 2021 in Gas Heating
Good Morning, we have 100 year old house. Cold radiators. Tech inspected pipe and found clogged pipe in location (pic attached) on investigation basis. Is there a way to salvage pipe? He said we need new pipes. What caused this sediment to build up? Incidentally, we are putting in new gas steam boiler (whole other story there) and I don’t want this junk coming back to ruin brand new boiler! Also, some pipes were not insulated. Could this be source of radiator problem in addition to gunk?

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  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,616
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    We need a lot more pictures and information.

    A steam system is an "open system" and it is always in contact with the atmosphere. This makes some sludge and scale but the usual main reason is excess make up water from leaks in the system that causes lots of sludge and corrosion.

    As far as your new boiler goes, make sure the installer sizes the new boiler by measuring all the radiators that is the ONLY way to size a steam boiler.

    Make sure they follow



    (at least) the MFG. minimum piping requirements spelled out in the boiler manual.

    Make sure they "skim" the new boiler to get rid of dirt and oil in the new boiler

    As far as the pipes goes they could probably flush a lot of that out & or replace some of the pipe.

    Caution, if the things spelled out above are not done you will likely be back here with a horror storey.

    Be one of the lucky ones who came here first, not an unlucky one who came here when it was too late.

    A copy of @DanHolohan 's book the "lost art of steam heat" available here on this site would be well worth the price
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,741
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    Unless those pipes are corroded through, they appear to need flushed.

    That said, if this is indeed a steam system, that is a very strange place for sediment build up like that. Usually you only get sediment (it rust mixed with water) in the pipes below the water line of the boiler, and those appear to be fairly high up.

    Are you positive this is a steam system? I only ask because we have seen several incidents recently of contractors installing steam boilers on hot water systems.

    Give us a few more pictures of the existing boiler and piping, and a shot further back of the pipe you are showing, this will give us some better context of the height and general location of the sediment filled pipe.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    That looks like condensate water return piping that may not had a correct slope to drain back to the boiler.

    Pipes that carry the steam usually never plug up or rot.
    Only is there is a dip in the piping that allows the water to sit.

    All piping should be set up to drain all water back to the boiler, except for wet returns which are below the water line and remain full of water. They will sludge up and rust thru eventually.

    Could you post pictures of your boiler showing piping floor to ceiling....several sides/angles please.
  • MickeysDaughter
    MickeysDaughter Member Posts: 6
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    Thank you so much for responding. The sludge pipe was clear across the house in ceiling of basement. I included a pic of pipe put back together. I also included pics of boiler. She is a big one because the house is large. I called for service bc several radiators were cold. Tech flooded boiler and we discovered leak. Then he tried to get it hot again to try to check pipes (where he eventually discovered sludge) and then a fire came out of machine. So she is shut down and I am frantically trying to find someone competent to handle steam system and procure replacement. As much as I am sick over price I don’t want to repair machine because it is 20yrs old. I feel like it is throwing good money after bad. So I have a 2 fold problem 1) pipe sludge/clog and cold radiators and 2) need new boiler. I don’t want to sully new boiler or, heaven forbid, get wrong boiler size. I was told by 1 vendor to replace existing sized boiler. I blocked out serial numbers etc in interest of maintaining privacy, etc. 
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
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    Look for “Steam” expert here. 
    Why did they flood your boiler? What was the reason. 

    Find a different contract. 20 years is not old for a properly sized and maintained system. 
    mattmia2
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,741
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    Sizing the replacement is extremely important, if you want help figuring it out yourself to make sure they do it right, we can easily help with that. On steam it's really not hard, don't let them go off the old one, it might not be right.

    As for the sludge, looking at what you have I can see the issue more clearly. Someone previously reduced the pipe size in the horizontal run which isn't proper. That created a small damn of sorts and allowed that sludge to build up. So some piping should be replaced to correct that problem. The size of the larger pipe needs to continue all the way to the boiler. If a reduction is required it can't be horizontal it needs to be vertical. This return piping is essentially like drain piping in a plumbing system. It works through gravity and any interruption of that flow will cause problems.

    Honestly if the professional you had in didn't see this pretty quickly, I'd question if I wanted them replacing my entire boiler.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    mattmia2
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,741
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    Oh, and that clogged pipe will not have anything to do with radiators not heating. The pipe really isn't fully clogged and it's a return, not a supply.

    Discussion about lack of heat is a whole other subject, not related to anything you have posted so far.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • MickeysDaughter
    MickeysDaughter Member Posts: 6
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    I would love help/instruction on how to figure out sizing. He did not mention anything about the above regarding pipe sizing on the horizontal. He mentioned in passing replacing from where it got cold or further investigation. 

    Tech flooded the system because at beginning of season when I turned heat on I went to check on machine and water was on floor. I had called company who sent tech out and said all was fine. Radiators were cold so I called them back and second tech rechecked notes and I guess the water on floor made him want to check the machine and he said he flooded it to check for leak. 

    How do I find best person in my area?
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,741
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    If you give us your location, we may know someone in your area who knows steam. You can also use the find a contractor link:
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/

    As far as sizing, here is a link to a worksheet that will help. If you need assistance understanding it, post back and we can give you a hand.

    https://www.weil-mclain.com/sites/default/files/field-file/Weil-McLain_BoilerReplacementGuide_WM2012-web_0.pdf
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,433
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    Oddly enough that boiler is actually piped pretty well. But... if there was water on the floor it may well have a leak.

    I find the "he tried to get it hot again and a fire came out of the boiler" part a bit odd. Very scary. But odd. It is possible for a boiler to have a roll out -- the technical term -- but it's not connected in any way to anything else that is going on with your system, and... unhappily it can be made to happen...

    How do you find the best person in your area? Either tell us where you are directly or check the "find a contractor" tab on this site -- or both.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • MickeysDaughter
    MickeysDaughter Member Posts: 6
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    Hi again. The forum doesn’t allow videos so I posted a screen shot of the roll out. Incidentally, it was in location where he showed me leaking water. 

    I will work on the worksheet this evening and report back with any questions. 

    I live in Philadelphia suburbs should any gurus come to mind. Thank you for search link. 

    Appreciate all feedback thus far. 
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    So the fire rolled out on the end of the boiler that had the water leak/

    The water may have filled the burner tubes and the gas burned at the orifice end as shown.

    If you have time could you post pictures of a couple of your typical radiators, showing each end of them.

    Also a picture of the boiler nameplate(s) so we can see the size.

    That is quite large. Most steamers are over sized from where they need to be.
    Every change out results in a large size...."just to be sure".
    Bigger is not better in steam, it gives poor performance and efficiency.
    Even better to err a little on the undersized unit as the radiators are usually oversized already.
    mattmia2
  • MickeysDaughter
    MickeysDaughter Member Posts: 6
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    Here are some radiator pics. Radiators are mostly same height with varying width lengths. 


  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    So you have a 2 pipe system with Bishop & Babcock radiator traps.
    The 2 pipe system is the best method and able to heat with very low steam pressure.

    Makes it more important to not have an oversized boiler that would cycle on and off as it builds pressure.

    Somewhere around the boiler (or somewhere in the basement) are some steam air vents. Can you show them?
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 748
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    @JUGHNE She posted one above- doesn't look good.


    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
  • Mark_72
    Mark_72 Member Posts: 53
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    Hi again. The forum doesn’t allow videos so I posted a screen shot of the roll out. Incidentally, it was in location where he showed me leaking water. 


    I will work on the worksheet this evening and report back with any questions. 

    I live in Philadelphia suburbs should any gurus come to mind. Thank you for search link. 

    Appreciate all feedback thus far. 
    I'm in Lansdown. Did you find someone yet?