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Do I need to balance replacement main vents? (replacing a Dole 1933 and a USAV 881)

rondale
rondale Member Posts: 7
I just bought a new house that has steam heat. It's circa 1903 and needed some TLC when it came to heat. I had some people come out who had no idea what steam heat was and charged a fortune. Eventually got wise and found Dan's books and started reading up on this system. With that guidance I was able to find a company that actually knew what they were doing and I've been working on them to replace a RAD that was leaking, and do proper maintenance on my boiler.

I'm happy to say it's much quieter and honestly feels good just seeing things get on track.

However, on their most recent visit they mentioned my main vents were poor but they didn't have time to work on it then, so I started looking around to see if I could do it myself.

For some background, I've already replaced the radiator valves on all my radiators (3 in total until the 4th (the replacement) comes in) with Hoffman 40s and boy was that an improvement from the home depot spitters that I had before that.

Now, starting to look at the main vents and I see these:

A dole 1933 (3/8ths threaded I think)



and a USAV 881 (1/8th threaded I think)



(And yes, I know I need to insulate these pipes, it's my highest priority after venting)

I found another forum post about a dole 1933 being installed as a main vent here: https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/88564/dole-1933-as-mains-vent and there they suggest to either use a gorton #D if it is threaded at 1/8th.

The Dole 1933 I have is threaded at 3/8ths so for the that I'm going to try to put in a Gorton #1 3/8ths.

But the USAV881 is most definitely threaded at 1/8th. I picked up a Gorton #D (as per the linked forum discussion above) for that one so I don't have to do any tapping myself (which I would just call up the pros at that point)

So to clarify:
  • Dole 1933 to be replaced with Gorton #1 3/8ths
  • USAV 881 to be replaced with Gorton #D 1/8ths
The Gorton #D would be venting for the pipes that go one direction toward the front of the house

The Gorton #1 would be going (on a shorter circuit) to the backside of the house.

So my (admittedly longwinded question) is:

Do I need to consider how these two vents are balanced?

I know the #D is not as much venting as the #1 but I think the #1 is actually appropriate for the 3/8ths tapping, and I'd use another on the far side but can't without tapping that pipe over there.

I'm sure anything is better than these ancient radiator vents serving as main vents, but not sure if I should try to match these instead of my plan.

Any help / thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Home Owner who has taken a real liking to steam heat.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,952
    No, you really don't have to worry about balancing main vents. Do your balancing with the radiators. It is almost impossible to over vent a main, at least with any reasonable expenditure. I'd probably go with Gorton #1s on both lines, and not worry about the tapping size -- use whatever bushing or increaser was needed.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    rondale
  • rondale
    rondale Member Posts: 7
    Ah, I hadn't thought of using bushings / increasers, good insight. Does the diameter that it leads into matter when you do that?

    Like, wouldn't the 1/8th size going to a 3/8th or a 1/2 mean that the air would experience some compression? Does that matter?
    Home Owner who has taken a real liking to steam heat.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,952
    rondale said:

    Ah, I hadn't thought of using bushings / increasers, good insight. Does the diameter that it leads into matter when you do that?

    Like, wouldn't the 1/8th size going to a 3/8th or a 1/2 mean that the air would experience some compression? Does that matter?

    Not really. I've never yet quite figured out the thread size on these things... but all that will happen will be that there will be a slight extra restriction, but even with a 1/8th size it's minor.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    rondale
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 688
    Not wanting to disagree with @Jamie Hall , but there are times when it's necessary to balance mains. In the case pictured below, one main is over 125 ' long and the other is probably 60'. The main fill times were so different that with identical venting the end rads of the long main wouldn't heat sufficiently before end of cycle.

    This is what wound up working:

    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
    rondaleLS123
  • LS123
    LS123 Member Posts: 466
    Hello @delcrossv .....if OP has an average house, one main would not be 100+ feet (unless its a huge house or housing complex etc...
    .... Gorton 1 works well for average house, unlss the steam mains were not installed to standards.... I put two Gorton 1 on main that get subdivided to 2 mains. Only thing is length of Gorton 1s.
    I am putting my bucks on @Jamie Hall suggestion. I believe Jamie was referring to a regular size house and what is posted by OP.
    Since replacement of old main vents with gorton 1s. I have seen a significant performance increase, there are no steam coming out of them and damage the sealing pains etc. Just be careful with working with old rusted connections to the main vents when and if you replace them.... and make sure your boiler is not running or hot steam in the main lines... But I do agree with you on balancing mains if you have significantly long and complex and number of mains
    Thank you!
    @LS123
    rondaledelcrossv
  • LS123
    LS123 Member Posts: 466
    @rondale by the way old rusted main vent connectors could brake off... that is what I mean... be prepared to replace the connections if you have to... dont do it during the coldest day ....buy your supplies before hand so boiler down time would be minimum, if you have trouble with them braking off...
    Thank you!
    @LS123
    rondale
  • rondale
    rondale Member Posts: 7
    LS123 said:

    @rondale by the way old rusted main vent connectors could brake off... that is what I mean... be prepared to replace the connections if you have to... dont do it during the coldest day ....buy your supplies before hand so boiler down time would be minimum, if you have trouble with them braking off...

    Good call. I have them ordered now, but I'll either get the supplies for replacing the connections or wait until spring (or both) just to make sure I'm safe. Don't want to place a no-heat call in this weather.

    Thanks for the insight.
    Home Owner who has taken a real liking to steam heat.
    LS123
  • LS123
    LS123 Member Posts: 466
    @rondale this is probably something you might be able to do.... But you have to make that call.... It all depends on your experience level and how the existing mains would come out, tools you have, and that you have extra supply of replacement parts connectors to the mains.
    I think Gorton 1s would fit on your mains... They are taller... I had used some connectors from plumbing store to connect the gortons to some old wide main vents that would not stop releasing steam... Only reason I suggested that I am a firm believer of Myrphy's Law ... I think its some thing like "anything that and go wrong will go wrong"
    Thank you!
    @LS123
    rondale
  • LS123
    LS123 Member Posts: 466
    "anything that can go wrong will go wrong" :blush:
    Thank you!
    @LS123
    rondale
  • rondale
    rondale Member Posts: 7
    So, the Gorton #1 came in and when I use the calipers on the threads of the Dole 1933 it reads 35/64ths, but the threads on the gorton read 41/64ths will that fit?
    Home Owner who has taken a real liking to steam heat.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,952
    They should both be NPT threads -- tapered. Is the Dole perhaps just a longer threaded section?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    rondale
  • rondale
    rondale Member Posts: 7
    @Jamie Hall That may very well be the case. I'm also wondering if I can get away with teflon tape or should I use pipe dope? I ordered some "Real-Tuff" thread sealant that hasn't arrived yet, but I have teflon tape? Wasn't sure which is the way to go with this sort of application?
    Home Owner who has taken a real liking to steam heat.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,618
    Either (some will even say both), but I like tape (Blue monster just because it's thicker)
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    rondale
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,952
    I prefer tape.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    rondale
  • rondale
    rondale Member Posts: 7
    So I installed the vent and the gorton wouldn't close. It wasn't the connection, it just seemed like the gorton didn't ever close.

    Took a quick video of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMwAxfmv18I

    Is that a thing that happens sometimes or is there something more fundamental with my system at play?
    Home Owner who has taken a real liking to steam heat.
  • LS123
    LS123 Member Posts: 466
    hello @rondale my gortons once seems to be taller.... I am guessing Gorton 1s come with different hight in terms of length..... youtube clip takes me to my book marks of good old doors band.... what exactly is the new gorton 1s do on your two mains? mine been there for couple of years ( thanks to so many experienced forum members that helped me out... when I had no experiences with steam heat.... had I listed to the sales guy I would be in the hole $20k minimum)... again I am not a pro but I am thankful for the forum members help me understand and their contribution have helped me so much so... I cant thank them all enough... back to your situation... as my ex gfs tell me its not about me :blush: so what exactly is the problem you perceived to be so... please help me out to help u out with understanding steam heat stuff.. I am so glad you are at a level to do your own thingamagies for your heating system as long as it is safe....
    lppk forward to hear back from you matters.... best my friend! make sure you have plenty of CO monitors and smoke detectors, few $$$ dollars spent on safety goes long way... I am more than happy to contribute as long as you know what you can di and when to get pros involved, best Bro!!
    Thank you!
    @LS123
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,952
    A question: does the Gorton need to close? Is steam actually getting to it? Is it spitting steam or water? If not... remember that if a vent does not see steam or water, it's not going to close and there's no reason it should.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    LS123
  • LS123
    LS123 Member Posts: 466
    my old vets on the main used to hiss and steam used to come out none stop. since replacing them with gorton 1s they do not his nor steam or water come out... They sure have made a difference in steam distribution to the rads faster...
    Thank you!
    @LS123
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,736
    edited February 2022
    @rondale , sounds like that particular #D has something stuck in it, or it's a dud. If washing it out doesn't help, send it back and get another.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    delcrossv
  • rondale
    rondale Member Posts: 7

    A question: does the Gorton need to close? Is steam actually getting to it? Is it spitting steam or water? If not... remember that if a vent does not see steam or water, it's not going to close and there's no reason it should.

    @Jamie Hall That vent is above the boiler's waterline. And it was already set there as the main vent just with a really bad vent. Is the valve being above the boiler's water line enough to expect steam to hit it rather than water?
    LS123 said:

    my old vets on the main used to hiss and steam used to come out none stop. since replacing them with gorton 1s they do not his nor steam or water come out... They sure have made a difference in steam distribution to the rads faster...

    @LS123 Yeah, for sure. I was seeing the radiators heat up much faster with the vent installed but then saw the spitting / leaking in the video and had to turn everything off.
    Steamhead said:

    @rondale , sounds like that particular #D has something stuck in it, or it's a dud. If washing it out doesn't help, send it back and get another.

    @Steamhead Interesting. I'll try to clean it out. Or maybe just have them send another. To me it looks like it is just failing to close, I definitely saw it spit out some steam at one point (though it was admittedly wet steam at that point since I could see it)
    Home Owner who has taken a real liking to steam heat.