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Richardson vapor problems with Burnham Boiler

I either have a problem with water hammer in the returns, or if I manage to get rid of that, I end up with high pressure and the system shutting down.

-The returns are the Richardson vapor elbows with the ball and orifice.
-The orifice supply valves were removed years ago and replaced with the standard steam valve.
-2 pipe steam/vapor.
-Burnham IN6, natural gas
-2 steam supplies in the basement. The dry returns from the front main and front 2 radiators come together and drop into the Hartford Loop. The dry returns from the rear main and remaining 5 radiators come together and drop to the Hartford Loop on the other side of the front dry returns. No F/T traps
-Each main is vented about 8 inches from the end of the dry return with a Gorton #2. The rear main is larger and longer so I probably need an additional vent on there but doesn't seem to be where my issue is at the moment.

The steam is free to enter the dry returns, which is normal from everything I have read on the Richardson setups. This house had severe water hammer in the dry returns. There was a mix of newer radiator vents and Warco No2 vacuum valves. I began removing the radiator vents. Once I began removing the radiator vents, my pressure started to creep up. I'm at the point now where I have all radiator vents except one of them removed, and I have to have my pressuretrol set to about 2.5 lbs just to keep heat. However this system is very quiet but it cycles due to pressure as frequently as every 5 minutes. When I open up the return elbows OR the radiator plug from where the air vent used to be, it's pressurized.

So, with the radiator vents installed (which dont belong), I have steam chasing up my returns, thus the water hammer. Also can hear the balls in the Richardson valves slamming open and shut when radiator vents are in.

But with the vents removed, I'm getting way too much pressure.

If anyone is aware of what might be wrong, or is familiar with Richardson systems that is near Hagerstown MD I could hire to troubleshoot, I would greatly appreciate it. This house is a duplex, and I have issues that may or may not be the same problem, but am putting that in another post since the history is a bit different. I could use some help on that one as well.
Thanks,
Tom

Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,823
    Hi Tom- we actually maintain a Richardson system in Frederick, and would be happy to look at yours.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Murphy3631
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    Steamhead said:

    Hi Tom- we actually maintain a Richardson system in Frederick, and would be happy to look at yours.

    @Murphy3631 Steamhead is one of the best around, he should be your only call.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Murphy3631Hap_Hazzard
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,271
    If you can get @Steamhead to come out, that would be your best bet.

    That said, you have missed a few critical points: you say "the steam is free to enter the dry returns". Not true. If the system is operating properly, all the steam will condense in the radiators and only air and water will enter the dry returns through the Richardson elbows.

    You also say "the orifice supply valves were removed". Oops. They were there for a reason. To throttle the steam supply to each radiator to the amount that it could condense.

    And then you say "the pressuretrol to 2.5 pounds".

    And you wonder why you have problems? The pressure should never exceed 4 ounces. The supplies to the radiators need to be metered (orifices or restore the orginal supply valves). The radiator vents must be removed.

    For starters.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Murphy3631
  • Murphy3631
    Murphy3631 Member Posts: 11
    Thanks @Jamie Hall . I'll be contacting in Frederick for sure. I'll elaborate on a few of the points you raised:
    -What I mean with the dry returns is that there are no traps, etc to prevent it, but yes I would expect it to be condensating here.
    -Yep, previous owner, looks like 1950s pulled the nice orifice valves so yeah need to get an orifice back on the supply. Throttled the valves halfway for now.
    -Yeah I know the pressure should be substantially lower. Thanks for the feedback on the valves. I knew they needed to be changed out and recently found orifice plates online so I'll be tackling that. I wasn't sure how big of a contributor that was to my problem. Also thanks for the feedback on the vents, confirms what I pretty much new so they are staying out!
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,271
    There seem to be two posts on this problem?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Murphy3631
    Murphy3631 Member Posts: 11
    Similar issues in other post but different house. Other post had a quiet system until the boiler was changed. I clarified in the other one.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,271
    Got it. My apologies for not reading all the way through.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,823
    Thanks, all. @Murphy3631 , we're actually located in Baltimore, but will travel for steam.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,823
    I spoke with @Murphy3631 today and will be looking at both systems in a few weeks. Watch this space for updates.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    KC_Jones
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,510
    I think it's "Murphy's Law" that @Steamhead is available