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Richardson vapor problems with Utica boiler

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I had my Bryant 1970's steam boiler replaced with a new Utica boiler. With my old boiler, it was very quiet with maybe an occasional ping but nothing annoying. Now with the Utica boiler, I can't run it at night because it keeps the whole family up, so right now keeping it off at night but the house is getting too cold. My contractor is trying to find out what is wrong but is struggling.

-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.
-Utica, 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
-NEITHER MAIN IS VENTED. The radiators all of a mix of either some kinds of vents and other with a 1917 Hoffman Siphon Air and Vacuum Valve.

My contractor stated that the ones on the radiator is adequate venting, and I am disagreeing, saying that they should not be there at all, and there needs to be large vents on each of the main dry returns near the end.

I suspect that because steam is able to enter dry returns on a Richardson system, that the existence of these various vents/vaccuum valves (old and leaky), are why the steam is chasing up the returns.

I'd like someone with experience to confirm that the radiator vents/valves would be causing the steam in my returns and the water hammer, that they should be removed and plugged, and Gorton #2's on each of the main dry returns.

Additionally, not only is the hammer very very severe, the pressuretrol is cycling off at its lowest setting around 1.5-3 psi, and right before it does, the sight glass has the water level at the top of the bottom fitting. I will move to a vaporstat once I get the operating pressure under control. Once it shuts off, the water all returns to the normal level. I suspect this is the steam in the dry returns forcing the ball in the trap closed, and trapping the water in the radiator. You can hear the Richardson balls slamming open and closed. I'm concerned the boiler is going to dry fire since the LWCO only checks every 10 minutes.

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 I put that in a similarly named post with a Burnham Boiler. I could use some help on that one as well.
Thanks,
Tom

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    Isn't this a duplicate post, folks?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    Or are we in a parallel universe where everything is the same except the brand of boiler?

    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Murphy3631
    Murphy3631 Member Posts: 11
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    Hi, Its similar to my other post. Theres issues that thanks to Jamies comments confirm for me that the supply valves in the house need to be dealt with. This is one is different because everything worked great, despite the incorrect orifice valve, until the old boiler was removed and the new one was installed. No other changes. I was looking to see if there are any factors with a new boiler, given same piping at boiler, that the Richardson systems are sensitive too. If this is too similar to my other house’s post with the Richardson setup, sorry and please delete.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    Sorry... didn't read all the way through.

    It would be a little hard to really pinpoint, but considering it worked until the new boiler was installed, I'd be looking very closely at anything -- and everything, down to the last pipe nipple -- that was changed with the new install.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Murphy3631
    Murphy3631 Member Posts: 11
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    Thanks again Jamie.
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,287
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    We can keep both posts. Thanks!
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
  • Murphy3631
    Murphy3631 Member Posts: 11
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    I'll be meeting with my contractor tomorrow to discuss how to resolve all of the problems here. What they will be discussing is the addition of vents (agree with this on the main), and something further about adding traps. I've read that the Richardson systems can handle the standard radiator thermostatic traps okay. Not sure if this is what they will be proposing but trying to stay ahead of our discussion. If F&T traps are proposed, any advice on compatibility?

    Next up, Utica boiler size. With the advice provided, I doubled down on their install. Piping is all according to Utica specifications. However I decided to check EDR. After measuring all of my radiators, I'm coming up with an EDR of 333. My Utica boiler (US1606HSID) is 153,000 BTUs. My previous boiler was 140,000. With an EDR of 333 x pickup factor of 1.5 x 240, I'm getting a BTU need of 119,000 BTU.

    I'm not anywhere near an expert in this, and I've read some posts on here where it has been said to size for what you need, then go up by one size. So any thoughts on whether my new boiler is oversized at 153,000 BTUs for an EDR of 333?
    Thank you in advance.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
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    I was trying to find that Utica model on their website to look up the ratings, but can't seem to find that particular model. If you post a picture of the ratings plate it may have the model number to look up. You made the calculations more complicated than necessary. You take the EDR you calculated and compare it directly to the manufacturers rating which they list is sq ft of radiation. Also you did 1.5, 1.33 is the typical pick up factor as is way more than generous in my opinion. You have 2 pipe, so honestly the sizing is super critical for that system as you want them to run at very low pressure, a few ounces tops.

    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ethicalpaul
  • Murphy3631
    Murphy3631 Member Posts: 11
    edited January 2022
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    Hi @KC_Jones, Steam square feet shows as 479 below. I used 1.5 only because some listed that as worst case.
    https://uticaboilers.com/sites/default/files/240011556 REV C 16 SERIES IOM 4-17.pdf
    Thanks!




  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,842
    edited January 2022
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    @KC_Jones , "Utica Heating" is not the same as the "Utica Boiler" we know. Mostly they're a continuation of the former Pennco brand. However, in the R.E. Michel catalog, the UH16 series steam boilers look like re-branded Dunkirks.

    @Murphy3631 , this means we have to look very closely at the piping around the boiler. Pretty much every Dunkirk gas steamer we see has had the 2-1/2" steam outlet bushed down to 2". This will cause wet steam, which can cause banging. Let's see some pics.

    Also, don't spring for a load of traps yet. The Richardson runs fine without them.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
    edited January 2022
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    **edit** I said oversized mistakenly below, corrected now.

    43% Oversized. That's ridiculous.

    The next size down would be 15% oversized, the next one down from that is technically undersized, or would only have a 13% pickup factor, which in my opinion would work, but no pro is going to go that small.

    Sizing isn't hard as you are finding out. Makes you wonder why professionals can't do it correctly, oh, and you are paying them to do it wrong as well.

    I'm with @Steamhead the piping better be damn good.

    According to the manual that boiler should be using both tappings @ 2 1/2" piping with a 2 1/2" header. Even with that, being that oversized, it's only going to work "so good" on a 2 pipe system. Oversizing will cause pressure issues that will need to be controlled with a vaporstat unfortunately.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ethicalpaul
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    In principle a Richardson system -- like most other vapour systems -- can work well without traps on the radiators. However... that assumes that you can keep the pressure under about 6 to 7 ounces, and that all the radiators are either orificed or have metering valves. That first assumption means that you will need a vapourstat, unless you get seriously lucky and the boiler is exactly right sized. Any oversize at all... and the second is a bit dubious as well.

    I'd go for the traps...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
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    I re read your original post. You mention it's short cycling now, if you put the vaporstat on (since I doubt they will put the proper size boiler in after the fact), the short cycling is going to get worse as it will be cycling at an even lower pressure. This is why boiler sizing is critical.

    Some of the short cycling can be attributed to poor venting, but not all of it. Once the vents are closed it's all about boiler size to connected radiation, you have too much boiler and not enough radiation.

    We sometimes ask on here, and I'm definitely curious. Have you made final payment yet?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ethicalpaul
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,258
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    I suspect that OP's suspicion is justified. >>I suspect that because steam is able to enter dry returns on a Richardson system, that the existence of these various vents/vaccuum valves (old and leaky), are why the steam is chasing up the returns.<< Vapor systems ideally expel any air at single location.

    I also suspect that Jamie's suspicion also has merit. If OP has picture or diagram of piping before boiler change then that is first thing to check.

    Another suspicion is that Bryant was lower volume but I'm not certain. Can that make noise?
  • Murphy3631
    Murphy3631 Member Posts: 11
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    Yes I made payment when they completed the install. With the banging it was cycling iff at 1.5 psi in less than 10 minutes. Today I removed all rad vents except two. No hammer on the dry returns. I left two just for some cold air venting until they get the main vents on. At 1.5 cutout, it will run about 2.5 minutes.

    This house had the rad orifice valves removed long ago. With the supply orifice in place when I get them, would that further increase my current pressure?

     As I suspected, the boiler is oversized. Ill be looking to hire someone for another opinion on paper and fight to get the proper one somehow.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    The orifices won't increase the pressure -- but they will make the boiler get there faster. With that pressure, you are going to be much happier with traps...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Murphy3631
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,530
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    @KC_Jones said

    "Sizing isn't hard as you are finding out. Makes you wonder why professionals can't do it correctly, oh, and you are paying them to do it wrong as well.


    It's because:

    They are lazy
    They can'r read (we know this because they won't read the manuals
    They have x-ray vision and know what size boiler to put in without doing a heat loss.
    They have been doing it that way for 40 years
    ethicalpaulKC_Jones
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,258
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    Steam is a lost art. Even fifty years ago folks were beating themselves up trying to convert to HHW.
  • Murphy3631
    Murphy3631 Member Posts: 11
    edited January 2022
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    So Steamhead came to take a look. Here is the list of what was immediately wrong with the pipe configuration:

    -Colliding header
    -Coming out of the boiler was 2.5" pipe and reduced to 2" for header
    -Drips and dry returns all connected dropping with one pipe into wet return
    -No main vents (provided feedback for some Gortons)
    -No drain at bottom of Hartford Loop
    -The drip on the front main has a slight upward angle (about 4"long)
    -Exhaust reduction to happen right before entering the chimney. The boiler installer stated that the city inspectors have told them to do it immediately at the boiler when they did in fact do it at the chimney previously, so that is why they do it like this today.
    -Lack of mounting of the copper pipe on the water feeder
    -Lack of mounting on the gas line

    Again, much thanks to Frank and everyone else on this forum.



  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,842
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    Thanks, Tom. Looking forward to the "after" pics.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Murphy3631
    Murphy3631 Member Posts: 11
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    Update.....The header was corrected, the drips and wet returns were all individually piped to the wet return, venting was added, and the other details corrected. A few more notes:

    1) Since my Richardson orifice valves are long gone, I'm replacing my radiator valves. It looks like the Mepco-B is the valve of choice over the Mepco-C, So Mepco-B it is.

    2) Once the steam reaches all of the radiators, the boiler is cycling about every 4-6 minutes with the pressuretrol at its lowest setpoint of 24 ozs. I have a vaporstat and pressure gauge ready to go but didn't bother to put them until we were at least not cycling on the pressuretrol. Earlier I reference the EDR and I forgot to include 1 radiator. With the corrected available EDR, the house is at 333. Since the next step seems to be my contractor replacing the boiler with a smaller size, I have been trying to find out if the vapor heating systems should size a boiler with a reduced EDR (ex 80% of avail EDR), or just stick with that number. My current boiler is the Utica UH1606HSID (EDR 479). The UH1605HSID is 383, and UH1604HSID is 283. My available EDR of 333 puts me right in between models so to prevent undersizing, looks like the 1605 model with 383 is the next path, unless vapor heat reduces the needed EDR from the boiler......

    3) The EDR on all my radiators are straight forward except the wall mounts. Somewhere I found a similar one that shows this would have an EDR of 42. It is 3" thick, 39" long, 21" high (bottom of rad to top):



    Thank you in advance
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,842
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    9 square feet per section. Total 36.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    What is more important is how long does the boiler stay off between cycles when it's running on the pressuretrol? If it's less than a minute or so and then the boiler comes back on, you are not significantly oversized, and I don't think I'd downsize based on that. EDR values are all very good, but they are approximations; actual cycling is the proof of the system.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 975
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    i know im late but, holy s**t. i cant believe the piping. destined for failure. like to see a pic of the new installation
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
    edited May 2022
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    A Richardson..water seal return ells and assorted vents as "Hoffman Siphon Air and Vacuum Valve." .. 
    What's going on here ?
    Original to you no dry return exhaust ANYTHING ? 
    NOW you write venting was added.. what kind, how much and where ?
    Original Inlet valves replaced with generic valve..
    Boiler still short cycling
    Piping Corrected BUT now going to replace boiler?
    You don't/won't have vacuum.. if the Richardson was piped when the house was built then the nuances as pipe sizes and pitch are still in play because they wouldn't change because of parts replacement..
    I'm not even sure how to refer to it as it sits now it only has the return ells and piped for the Richardson System..  
    And you have Drips and wet returns do you know what pressure the boiler is cutting out on pressure? You said your pressuretrol  is 24 oz and it's not cycling it off... do you know what's cutting it out then ? Those balls in the return ells aren't good much pressure before they blow and send steam into your dry return.. which is now vented ??
    I'm a bit confused on the whole layout... maybe some pics would help clarification of answering your question...
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,702
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    Any particular reason why you're only looking at Utica?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el