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HELP! Half my radiators aren't working and it's cold in NJ!!!

Goldilox
Goldilox Member Posts: 5
edited February 2022 in Strictly Steam
I have a one pipe system thats about 8 years old, and has been regularly serviced by a trusted professional who installed system (who sadly died of cancer last year). I had the system serviced by someone new this year. He wasn't as thorough, but seemed to mostly know what he was doing. My gas bill was $500. this month on a 1800 sq ft house that was built in the late 1920's - never got a bill this high before. I heard some hissing so I cleaned all the air vents with vinegar - no more hissing. Now one side of my house (all on same feed) aren't working (not getting hot at all) after cranking the heat up for 30 minutes...other side of house and upstairs works great. What else should I check before I call someone? I'm a single woman and I want to understand what's happening so I don't end up with a $5k bill. THANKS!!!

Utica natural gas steam boiler - I checked pitch. It's good. Flush low water once a week, it has chemicals added for hard water. Not hearing any major banging. No bouncing in glass gauge.

Comments

  • Goldilox
    Goldilox Member Posts: 5
    PS I own Got Steam Heat but couldn't find anything about this issue in there...I'm trying but it's kinda overwhelming...
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,272
    I wonder if he reset your pressure controller. Can you take a picture of the front of the boiler, with the controls, and post it?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Goldilox
    Goldilox Member Posts: 5
    edited February 2022





  • Goldilox
    Goldilox Member Posts: 5
    As far as I know I did not see him do that - I watched the entire service
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,512
    edited February 2022
    @Goldilox

    Chances are you have a venting issue. Turn your thermostat down and let the boiler sit for half an hour. Then turn the thermostat up above room temperature. Go to the basement and find the end of the mains steam pips feeding the radiators. See how long they take to get hot all the way to the ends.

    Also notice if the boiler shuts off while the thermostat is calling. Check the pressure gauge to see if it builds pressure and check the water level while it is steaming, see how much it is bouncing.

    you may have leftover water in the vents you cleaned.

    Also check "find a contractor" on this site and post your location. There may be a better steam contractor in your area
    Rich_49
  • Goldilox
    Goldilox Member Posts: 5
    Thanks - my pressure gauge has never risen while the unit operates...it stays right around 1...boiler is not shutting off. no bouncing.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,700
    does the gage return to zero when the boiler has been off?

    looks like your 2 main vents are right there at the boiler,
    the cooper brass things sticking up right where the main extensions turn down to the wet return,

    do both of them get steam hot?
    or is one of them not ?
    known to beat dead horses
    mattmia2
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 510
    Your gage water appears as purple/pink gel from my vantage point which I admit isn't the best..... perhaps your new tech put a higher dosage of water treatment than your prior Tech. ? 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,658
    @Goldilox
    I doubt anything at the boiler is causing your issue, BUT.

    Can you give us a picture from further back showing the piping above the boiler better if possible? Especially towards the front.

    Like @EBEBRATT-Ed said I would suspect water etc in the vents you cleaned.
    Can you get a "Can of air" with a straw, and go around to each one and blow air into the vent? A good blast into each one. You won't hurt anything, just protect your eyes.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    wlgann
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
    More likely the vents that were cleaned may have become defective. Remove the vents on the radiators that are not heating, Shake them vigorously, if there is any vinegar or water left in the vent valves it should drain out. If the floats in the valve chatter while you shake the vent valve the vent valve should be ok.

    Jake.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,658

    More likely the vents that were cleaned may have become defective. Remove the vents on the radiators that are not heating, Shake them vigorously, if there is any vinegar or water left in the vent valves it should drain out. If the floats in the valve chatter while you shake the vent valve the vent valve should be ok.

    Jake.

    How would cleaning vents cause them to become defective in a manner that would stop venting?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 510
    What has changed since last year ? Your tech that cared for the system passed away and now 
    "system serviced by someone new this year. "
    "has chemicals added for hard water."

    I just seem to have a hard time picturing this rather unpleasant looking mixture boiling off smoothly  breaking the surface of your boiler... I would start here with the chemicals added ... Just my opinion..


    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,272
    You know, I didn't look closely at that sight glass. Yuch. Whether it's the cause of the other problems or not, you need to cool the boiler, drain it completely out, flush it, fill and drain again, and maybe once more so the water is clear. I'd also drain and flush any wet returns if you can.

    Then start up again with clear water -- nothing added -- and see where you get to.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,658

    You know, I didn't look closely at that sight glass. Yuch. Whether it's the cause of the other problems or not, you need to cool the boiler, drain it completely out, flush it, fill and drain again, and maybe once more so the water is clear. I'd also drain and flush any wet returns if you can.

    Then start up again with clear water -- nothing added -- and see where you get to.


    I think you mean yuck. ;)


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,622
    If they put too much "treatment" in it it could be priming (foaming) and pushing water in to the mains.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,700
    you mean that isn't a coffee urn?
    known to beat dead horses
  • Drain and refill the boiler to remove the chemical tainted water.
    I see a pipe strap in the first photo, which doesn’t seem to be supporting anything. Get a spirit level, and check the slope of those supply and return pipes, to make sure they can drain all the way to the wet return.—NBC
  • dabrakeman
    dabrakeman Member Posts: 551
    @Goldilox Are you saying that you had heat evenly on your system (both sides) before cleaning your radiator vents? If that is all you did between having the heating issue on one side of the house vs not then I certainly would check each radiator valve on that side of the house first. If fluid got left in the vent it may not open to let air out...and thus steam cannot come in. Take each off and just blow in it. Can you pass air freely through it? If so put it back on and if not see if you can get any water out. I assume you didn't take the main vents off and try to clean those too?

  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,110
    Even though no one has said a thing I guess I ll be the one to say it ,your boilers near boiler piping is garbage and it hard to believe it heats at all but steam is very forgiving to a point . I would image the way it’s piped that running it at the suggested water line would cause issues . As others stated drain it and flush to remove what ever chemicals where put in it and then fill to about 1/2 to 3/4 of a inch below the water line mark on the boiler . I ve found that w most badly piped Utica boilers that running the water line a little lower then suggested seems to cut a lot of the carry over and sight glass surging . That boiler is no way even close to being piped correctly and as said before steam is very forgiving and limps along and seems to work at some expensive and dis comfort but the real sad part is it’s not even close to performing as it was originally designed And there’s never any short cuts or miracle thing ama jig that’s gonna make it work as it should until you correctly pipe the boiler . That is where 99 % of the issues start there , changing radiator vents and main vents only mask and keep it limping along . Just download the installation and operation manual for your boiler there a simple piping diagram that even a child could follow that’s where to start . Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    ethicalpaul