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Old steam system Dunham I think

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duffy_4
duffy_4 Member Posts: 79
edited February 2022 in Strictly Steam








My name is Vincent I’m a hydronic contractor here in Chicago a friend of mine recently had his bathroom remodeled they move this radiator back 1 foot into the wall and now he has a water hammer at night any idea what could be causing this it looks like it’s pitched correctly I don’t know much about steam. Also the big radiator in the basement in the picture never gets hot it’s below the waterline and the returns of the other radiators.Those steam traps are on the main returns in the basement all the other radiators in the house were correctly well they seem to heat slow any advice would be appreciated thank you.

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  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,660
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    Both that supply and return from that convector need pitch toward the steam main and the return main respectively so any condensate in the supply can return to the main and the condensate can return. the convector also needs pitch toward the return.

    is that a vertical steam tap in the return? does it work?

    where are the returns vented? steam in the returns from other failed traps will close traps in other emitters and prevent them from venting through the return.

    what is the boiler pressure?

    others will have to comment on the basement radiator.
    reggi
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
    edited February 2022
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    ^^ THAT^^
    Isn't there any radiator inlet valve or radiator trap that was on that radiator prior to being recessed ?

    And I just wanted to add it's a Vapor system that's made to work on ounces of pressure.... Just a bit of twist on your learning curve of steam systems that you may be familiar with...
    Others will post.. 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • jdtcclars
    jdtcclars Member Posts: 4
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    There are traps located at the end of each of the returns (cross-over traps) in the basement vs end of convection radiators.  There is an air-eliminator at the end of the returns that vents the system.

    There is a plug inlet at the supply and return side of each of the radiators.  All the radiators are heating with the exception of 1 which is not the one pictured here.  There is both a Honeywell vaporstat (set at 5 ozs with differential of 2 ozs) and a Pressuretrol set at .5 cut-in.  

    Last comment is correct regarding vapor system.  Sorry if any of my answers are confusing.  I am homeowner and novice at this.

    One additional question is I do have a both a automatic water feeder and low water cut-off. The water feeder displays 006 each time it starts, which I believe should show a running total of gallons added at low water cut-off.  Thinking this is not installed correctly and should always show a running total and be lit at all times.  Seems to shut off when boiler is off.  Can’t tell if I am losing significant water based on the feeder read-out.  Any insights appreciated.  
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,660
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    I can't quite tell for sure from your picture but it looks like there is a top inlet bottom outlet stem trap in the outlet of the convector. If the return isn't pitched to drain water could collect in it and prevent the air from venting out of the radiator. If the supply isn't pitched to drain the water collecting in it from steam that condenses in that piping will condense or even completely block the steam from entering the convector.

    Bad traps anywhere in the system can cause steam to arrive at the outlet side of other steam traps and prevent them from venting air by both closing them on temperature and by the steam blocking the air.

    Since there seem to be traps everywhere it is probably less important that it is operated on very low pressure but others could tell you more definitively.
  • duffy_4
    duffy_4 Member Posts: 79
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    Both the supply and return lines are pitched back toward the risers and the radiator itself has slight pitch from supply side to return.the water hammer seemed to start after plumber strapped the pipes down tight to the joists.reading Dan’s book LASH now,has a picture in there similar to owners boiler room.still can’t figure out why bsmt radiator pictured doesn’t heat or how the condensate gets pack to the boiler?
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
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    @jdtcclars Let's just verify.. the banging convector was just moved a foot back and nothing else was changed? Is that a exterior enclosed room and is the convector in the corner of exterior walls? Vincent mentioned it bangs at night so I was thinking it may be enclosed in area with wind and cold creeping in and causing some flex in enclosure that may be causing shock though expansion of the Vapor vs cold convector structure/housing.
    That said we need to know what LWCO / Feeder you have (Pictures of units would be helpful also)  and was this a new install as it seems modern equipment..
    As you mentioned you're a novice to this system as a homeowner should it be assumed you are new to the house and have no history of it's performance to gauge by now or is it just having issues now that you want to address ?
    Your system is awesome ! It looks perhaps like it was added after the house was built?
    There have been some different versions and modifications over the years but if the one radiator banging is the only problem...oh ..a photo of the nonheating basement radiator..
    Just a note.. your waterline in the picture is well below the boilers fill indicator..I myself would bring up to 60-75% of the sight glass height
    Also on the boiler controls piped to the top of the boiler, I'm assuming the pressuretrol and vaporstat? ( Some pictures please) they are pipe with iron fittings which clog with muck and SHOULD be replaced with brass pigtails .. another note is that the rear control is essentially "Double Trapped" which is a no no as it increases resistance to the gauge giving a inaccurate reading and doubles the chance of blockage..
    Something I would address..
    The more you can provide the better the Pros could analyze as your system "eyes on" meaning Photos as someone that came to consult on the system would LOOK as you showed them around
    Feel free to inquire of anything that may of not been addressed if not we'll be awaiting your response 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,660
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    I was looking at the level wrong, I thought the pitch was toward the convector. If the hammer started when the pipes were strapped down look at the piping they connect to to see if that pushed something down and made it pitch the wrong way.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
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    @mattmia2 Well Vince said it's a bathroom and it's probably built up to accommodate
    plumbing/waste disposal and with the floor beams split they may have to much weight or be drilled/cut out under the floor to fit the pipes . ..now if that is a outside wall and some studs were shaved to fit the convector that also would shift the load and settled ....non Plumb? But I'm only speculating from a distance with the information and pictures provided.. good catch on the level.. .I didn't even think to check
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • duffy_4
    duffy_4 Member Posts: 79
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    Reggi thx for observations will tell homeowner to have brass pigtails installed and eliminate the double trap.l am novice on steam .the outside wall in this home circa 1920’s is thick masonry the bout 10 “ of block removed to recess radiator you can see block piled in joist space in pic and metal deflector fab and insulated spray foam,contractor has removed 2 hole strapping and installed Sioux Cheif support brackets ,waiting on response from jdtcc homeowner and a pic see if anything changed .still haven’t figured how bsmt radiator supposed work,back to the book :) thx for help
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
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    @duffy_4  A picture of the basement radiator and piping would help as you mentioned it is below the boilers water line it's probably hot water but info is needed..
    There's a lot of piping but the Air Eliminator should be the only  vent on the system so as long as that is working your doing good because if Air can't get out.. steam can't get in.. @Steamhead   has much experience with these right off the top of my head and he could probably add some insight once there's more information as it only seems minor issues with comfort due to modifications and placement.. though the convector placement in exterior masonry with the spray foam (The foam in the photo is for filling space in door jambs and remains soft if I recall)  I'm not sure how it would insulate the insert against masonry but I'm not the installer..
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
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    duffy_4 said:

    Both the supply and return lines are pitched back toward the risers and the radiator itself has slight pitch from supply side to return.the water hammer seemed to start after plumber strapped the pipes down tight to the joists.reading Dan’s book LASH now,has a picture in there similar to owners boiler room.still can’t figure out why bsmt radiator pictured doesn’t heat or how the condensate gets pack to the boiler?

    Are you absolutely sure it's hammer and not expansion noise? The pipes should never be secured in such a way that they are tight on wood. It will make some heinous expansion noise if it is, and to be clear, expansion against wood sounds like popping or banging in a rhythmic fashion. It's worse when heating up, but when cooling it will do it as well, just a lot more time between the popping sounds.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ChrisJethicalpaulmattmia2
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
    edited March 2022
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    @duffy_4
    contractor has removed 2 hole strapping and installed Sioux Cheif support brackets ,
    That's was a good move to keep them independent of the rigidity of being "part of the floor structure"... as long as they are mounted correctly that is.. as has been noted earlier
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • duffy_4
    duffy_4 Member Posts: 79
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    The basement radiator is pictured the zone with the chair in front of it,it is located right next to picture if piping in ceiling with the glass block window .homeowner has one radiator in upstairs sons bedroom that doesn't heat ...steam trap maybe? In bsmt return ?hopefully homeowner comments haven't been back here yet.
  • jdtcclars
    jdtcclars Member Posts: 4
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    Thx for all the insights and info.  Quick update on radiator moved into wall.   Banging has stopped.  As mentioned when the pipes were moved they were secured with copper straps too tight.  The Sioux Chief brackets installed and resolved two years of ticking from expansion against wood floor and the loud bang from pipes too tight.  One issue down.

    Still have open issue on water feeder working properly and I do have one 2nd fl radiator not heating.  Attaching Pic for water feeder.  Would be good to confirm if unit should have constant electricity to maintain gallons added count.  Also once this is working properly I will be able to tell how much water is being added.  I do believe I am losing more water than I should.

     As Vince mentioned likely due to trap not working for 2nd story radiator.  Supply pipe hot to the radiator but never makes it across the radiator.  

    I am new to this house which was not lived in over last several years before moving in.  Working the kinks out.

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,660
    edited March 2022
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    If the feeder isn't powered it isn't adding water so I don't think it being powered with a heat call will affect the count(on the other hand adding water with the manual bypass valve will). Probably be better if it can decide if it needs to feed while it isn't steaming though.

    Is the return beyond the trap on the radiator that isn't heating hot? Are there any other traps that are only serving that radiator? If there is steam in the return or other traps aren't opening that will also keep the air from venting from that radiator.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
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    The water feeder is supposed to be powered continuously. Here are the instructions, if it's wired according to those then it should be powered continuously, if not, then I would suspect something further down the line causing problems.

    https://hydrolevel.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/VXT-24-Instructions-web-0321.pdf
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
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    @duffy_4 @jdtcclars Mattmia2 and KC_Jones have posted information and linked to the Hydro level manual as 
    I think it would make sense to start by tracing the wiring and power supply to make sure that the control is receiving power to begin with and trouble shoot as manufacturer suggested sequence and maintenance per manufacturer should be followed..
    The advice with the radiator on the second floor is good..does it have a valve on the radiator intake connection? Is it open? Sometimes the handle could open and drop the plunger off that holds the gasket and it blocks the steam from getting in the radiator...or the trap as mentioned..most are just remove the cap and replace the disc inside..I'd it's failed closed it won't let anything in..or out.. 

    Glad that the floor could go  in 👍
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • duffy_4
    duffy_4 Member Posts: 79
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    Thx for your help guys ,I can check wiring next visit,these recessed in wall radiators don't have valves in them so ill check the steam Trippi have a flir 60 camera so that will help,still pondering bsmt rad remember reading something how steam pressure can lift condensate outta rad in LASH ,I THINK not sure if that's pertains this situation
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
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    duffy_4 said:
    Thx for your help guys ,I can check wiring next visit,these recessed in wall radiators don't have valves in them so ill check the steam Trippi have a flir 60 camera so that will help,still pondering bsmt rad remember reading something how steam pressure can lift condensate outta rad in LASH ,I THINK not sure if that's pertains this situation
    @duffy_4  Vincent Jdtc said in his first post the basement radiator wasn't pictured and without a visual of height,pipe inlet/outlet and direction it's pretty much just guessing what is preventing it from heating. Now with additional information (As it could be mounted on the ceiling) it's just a head scratcher..If you can get that information then we can give you the answer.. Unless I missed something (possible) .. I'll look over what we have in the meantime..
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • duffy_4
    duffy_4 Member Posts: 79
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    Basement radiator is pictured it has the chairs in front of it the Lions going to the wall and then I'm assuming up ,the picture with the glass block are there Supply and return lines leading back to the boiler room they have few steam traps there a well
  • jdtcclars
    jdtcclars Member Posts: 4
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    Here here is a pic of the traps for each return per radiator.  Most all located in basement ceiling.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,660
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    A pocket of water trapped in the supply or return of the radiator that won't heat because the pipe is improperly pitched could be keeping it from heating too.
    reggi
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
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    @duffy_4 Great... Dunham 1a are common enough elements to aquire.. Barnes and Jones #1950 or Tunstall TCDB-1301cage units work well and are often used to replace failed traps... Just remove the cap ,unscrew the existing element and insert and reverse procedure.....
    Though to find the failed trap(s) as you have your Flir to work with..you have to let the system start to heat (Steam will enter the radiators) as this steam fills the radiator it will look for the easiest way out.. the open trap...the trap senses the steam (after the steam pushed the air in radiator out in front of it through the trap) and then it closes.. trapping the steam in the radiator to give off it's heat..As the steam condenses the trap will open to let the condensate out and you'll see a difference of anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees from one side of the trap to the other... that will let you know that the trap is opening and releasing condensate and is functioning normal for now....you repeat the test at the rest of the traps..and yes....you follow the path and move quickly to keep up.. sometimes back and forth...
    You shouldn't get steam temperatures in the return because that would indicate a trap failed "open" that is letting the steam shoot right through the radiator and out the trap without stopping..a radiator that stays cool has a trap that is failed "closed" the trap won't let anything out and nothing can get in..
    Keep us posted..any questions ask 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • jdtcclars
    jdtcclars Member Posts: 4
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    Great info on testing the traps.  Will keep u posted.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
    edited March 2022
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    jdtcclars said:
    Great info on testing the traps.  Will keep u posted.
    Glad to help... Been meaning to mention there's no sign of a low pressure gauge to get a accurate reading of your systems pressure.. As I mentioned earlier about your pigtails and best practices any accumulation or build up of sludge etc in the siphon loops would skewing what you MAY think your boiler is actually operating at..I suggest short term.. to remove the pigtails and give them a good cleaning running some type of mechanical instrument through the siphon as rust tends to cake up in the bend..
    Better Solution is to replace them with brass siphons as they are much more resistant to reacting with the conditions that deteriorates the current iron ones installed..
    I'm going to assume that next to where the the pressure safety devices are piped to the boiler that object at a 45° angle is some type of internal siphon gauge? Just because of the long brass block that looks attached.. 
    Well you need the 30 for code but it's pretty useless.. now if it's a 30-0-30 and drops into vacuum (the -0 range and below) that would be of interest..
    But to properly assess your system a low pressure gauge is recommended.. and should have a shutoff valve as it's only for visually apprising the operation of your boiler pressure/system..... Something like checking the systems Blood Pressure.. the readings will help fine tune and diagnosis... irregularities by showing excessive pressure, slow rising pressure and so on..it will read those ounces that your running at
    Some things for you forward thinking 
    @duffy_4  @jdtcclars

    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question