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Steam mains

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deebee
deebee Member Posts: 2
Hi - I have a 1920s steam heat system (pipes and radiators at least - boiler is fairly new) and I notice there is a LOT of air that comes out of the radiators when the heat comes on - first floor especially. Reading the amazing experts on this forum has me thinking my main vents might not be working. And I never hear them venting either. Here is a link to photos of the two of them in the basement - they look different from each other. I’m wondering which part to get as replacements - Gorton number 2 for each?

https://imgur.com/gallery/LE25Sdu



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  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
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    if it were me, I'd replace each one with a new Gorton #1 or a Maid O Mist #1 if you like to save money (they are functionally equivalent in my experience).

    Then you can time the steam's travel from the boiler to each of the main vents to see how it's doing. If it's taking too long you can think about some #2s or Big Mouths as you wish.

    But the price jump from #1 to #2/big mouth is significant and I don't think it would make much difference to the amount of time it takes for heat to get to your radiators.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • cross_skier
    cross_skier Member Posts: 201
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    Gorton D's have to the same size opening as Gorton 1's.  I have a few on my antlers and they are still working after 20 years.  So whatever is cheaper IMO.

    As @ethicalpaul said start with working main vents time them, and add more to an antler if needed.  Get them up and away from the ends of the main and they will last a long time

    My neighbor saved a couple of Hoffman main vents by boiling them in a 50-50 mixture of vinegar and water for 30 minutes.  She may have been lucky but it might be worth a shot before you pitch your old ones

    ethicalpaul
  • deebee
    deebee Member Posts: 2
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    Thank you this is very helpful. As far as removing them - as these guys have been on there for a looong time - any known/frequent things to look out for? Any reason not to go at them (reasonably) with a plumbers wrench?
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 742
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    If you're pitching them after removal, a pipe wrench is fine.
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
  • cross_skier
    cross_skier Member Posts: 201
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    Otherwise a 2' crescent wrench from Harbor Freight is a nice tool and will come in handy later if you need to remove a steam valve.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
    edited January 2022
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    I use pipe wrenches for all of the above. The vents threads are small enough (3/4" or 1/2" depending) that they can't hold out against much.

    Put the wrench on the hex part
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,324
    edited January 2022
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    I'm a purist... I'd use a crescent wrench if I didn't have anything better, but it happens I am -- or was -- something of a car nut so I have regular open end wrenches. And use them.

    A couple of good shots of PB Blaster will do no harm.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 742
    edited January 2022
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    The only downside of using 2 flat wrenches (Crescent or Open End) is that if it doesn't turn the brass body will deform and round off.

    Then you'll wind up using a pipe wrench. ;)

    A box wrench if you have those sizes or one of these is a better bet




    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
    ethicalpaul
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,843
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    @deebee, how long are your steam mains, and what pipe size? This is how we determine how much air needs to be vented.

    The silver vent is an old American Radiator Co product, which vents slowly if it's still working at all. The other one is a Gorton #1, which might be OK on a certain size main. .
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting