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Single pipe steam boiler newbie

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CTYankee42
CTYankee42 Member Posts: 7
edited March 2022 in THE MAIN WALL
Man am I glad I found this community. First time homeowner with a steam boiler trying to soak up info and I quickly found that fine tuning your steam heat is a lost art and info is very hard to come by. 

Due to some upstairs radiators hardly heating I’ve been going through the process of properly pitching the radiators in the house and replacing all the vents. I also insulated the main piping in the basement which was totally bare and replaced two very old Hoffman (I think?) main vents with two Gorton no. 1’s. 

I’ve had success in getting more even heating in the home, but I’ve had two brand new vents start spitting steam (one Gorton main vent), and one (Home Depot probably cheap), vertical radiator vent on the first floor (first radiator from the boiler). This only happens at the end of a long heating cycle, like the transition from night (62 thermostat setting bumps up to 65 at 5 am). 

I can see my pressuretrol is set to just under 2 psi, which is almost as low as it can be set to. Should I bump it even lower if these vents are failing to close from too much pressure I presume? Or did I just get bad vents? Or maybe need a different make/model?

I think I’ve succeeded in upping my efficiency and balance. The main is staying much hotter now that I’ve insulated so I’m happy in that regard. I just don’t want to be replacing new vents every 2 months if I can help it. 

Any advice is appreciated. Take me to school steam masters!

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,554
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    Can you post either a picture or a model number of you pressure control? There may be a way to set it lower, which would help.

    The other thing is to make sure that the pressure control really is seeing boiler pressure -- the pipe from the boiler to the control -- the pigtail -- needs to be clear, and if they haven't been maintained, they sometimes clog. Again, a picture will help to see if this is going to be simple or a pain...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    CTYankee42
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,764
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    @CTYankee42
    Un fortunately any vents from HD are Chinese junk. Vent right makes a good adjustable vent for the rads but they cost $$

    Sounds like your off to a good start with more work to do.

    I would work on making sure the pigtail is clean and working on the pressure control as @Jamie Hall mentioned...get the pressure as low as possible.

    Also see if your building pressure. If the boiler is sized right you shouldn't. When you clean the pigtail install a extra 1/4" brass tee under the pressure control with a 1/4" plug in t so you can add a low pressure 0-5 psi gauge if you need to.

    Also how is the water line when the boiler is steaming? It shouldn't bounce more than a inch or so .
    CTYankee42
  • CTYankee42
    CTYankee42 Member Posts: 7
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    appreciate the replies. Attached are photos of the pressuretrol and the piping in the vicinity of the water line. 

    Not sure what the “pigtail” is you refer to but the water looking glass bounces about a quarter to a half inch when the boiler is on. 


  • CTYankee42
    CTYankee42 Member Posts: 7
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    More photos 
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,764
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    The pig tail is the curled up pipe under the pressure control that looks like a......pigs tail.' It should be taken off and cleaned out every 2-3 years including making sure the nipple is clear going into the boiler.

    I see the nipple out of the boiler is brass. The pigtail looks like steel if it is I would replace it with brass
    CTYankee42
  • CTYankee42
    CTYankee42 Member Posts: 7
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    @EBEBRATT-Ed Thanks for the replies. I think I have a grasp of what your suggesting with a brass replacement pigtail and adding a 0-5 gauge. I found the below image which helped me picture what you were saying. 

    With that gauge in place I could then have a better understanding of how to adjust the pressure control accordingly right? 

    At the very least I will remove and clean the pigtail. I wonder if my boiler tech does this already during the yearly cleaning?  Or even better if replacement and adding a pressure gauge is covered under my service contract? 


  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,764
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    Yes it will help you adjust the pressure control. I would also put a 1/4" valve or pet cock under the 0-5 psi gauge and keep it shut unless you are checking the pressure or using it to adjust the pressure control. The gauge will last longer and the petcock or valve will protect the gauge when the valve is shut. Do not put the valve between the pressure control and the boiler
    CTYankee42
  • CTYankee42
    CTYankee42 Member Posts: 7
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    Thank god for supplyhouse.com, where would I go if I needed to buy these supplies at a brick and mortar store? 

    I’m definitely going to swap out all the home cheapo vents over time. Shame I just installed about 10 straight vents and 4 adjustable. Live and learn. 
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,166
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    If you live near a large city it should have several large plumbing supply businesses that will sell to individuals and you can avoid home despot.

    If you have a W.W. Grainger sales office nearby is an option as they now sell to individuals over the counter.
    The main worry is getting a good well made American vent and perhaps American made Steam rated TRVS as well.
    CTYankee42