Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Pipes banging after new steam boiler install

24

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,954
    A two pipe system with vents on the radiators? That's odd. They did exist, but only for a relatively short time. Are there any valves on the radiator inlets? Are the inlets low or at the top of the radiators? And are there any devices on the outlets? And I presume they are set low?

    And where do the outlet pipes go?

    Move description of the system seems to be in order here.

    As to hearing water in the pipes, that suggests very much that water is getting trapped either in the return lines or the feed lines -- and that will kill the steam flow to the radiators.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,655
    I don't think we asked if there are stem vents on the radiators.

    Are there steam vents on the radiators?

    I suspect there is a problem and they stuck a hot water bleeder on there to manually vent the radiator because it wasn't venting through the return properly.
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43



    This is the bleeder I’m talking about and that so one of radiators that’s not heating up.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,655
    edited November 14
    Do all the radiators have that type of valve?

    Does only another radiator near this one have that type of valve?

    I hope this is a vapor system. There is a small possibility this is gravity hot water someone tried to make steam.

    There are vent(s) on the returns in the basement, correct?

    edit:
    what happens where the mains connect to the returns?
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    edited November 14
    No I have no vents on any radiators and this is the only radiator with a bleeder. I only have one vent on my return in the basement that was just put on to replace a garden hose type valve someone put on before I moved in.
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 449
    Hello @Truckermike,

    Is that the correct type of vent ???
    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    Hello @109A_5 I’m going to say no but that’s what he put on. I’m finding that the guy really doesn’t understand steam at all and I’m just learning myself over the last month. Reading the lost art of steam heating and talking to everyone on here I’ve had a headache from adding knowledge that fast lol. This was the fix for hammering and banging next is a call to say we might need to look at the piping. I’m frustrated as hell but trying to be a nice guy with everything.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,655
    What valves are on the other radiators?

    Do the other radiators have steam traps?

    That is a hot water automatic vent, not a steam vent.

    Are you sure the previous boiler wasn't a botched we put a steam boiler on a gravity hot water system?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 4,271
    edited November 14
    Has the installer indicated that they want to make this right? Here is an illustration of your boiler places where the water heater is located. Since the tank is too tall for the application, (vent pipe pitch) that should be replaced and therefore a relocation is in order.
    I would remove all the copper pipes on the main and replace them with iron pipe, The illustration above should help in the design. For really dry steam, both supply tappings are used. Darker pipes indicate the risers going into a 2-1/2" horizontal header. One riser should be 1" shorter that the other to create a slope for the horizontal header. Also the riser should have 90° elbow so the risers enter the side of the header (not the bottom). Then the right riser should have a Tee fitting with a cap and short nipple to use as the skim port.

    All the small copper return drops (blue on diagram) should be piped well below the water line (near the floor) and tied together in a larger wet return header with a removable cap on each end for future service. Perhaps a boiler drain valve on one end to drain the wet return before the caps are removed for flushing

    If your contractor wants to talk to someone about this, I would be glad to help. Private message me if you need a phone number. I hope your young contractor will take the opportunity to get it right. Even if it cost him a little more than expected. That is called Tuition.



    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org

    BobZmudaTruckermike
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    @mattmia2 no steam traps on radiators I don’t know why he went with this one I was on the road when put on. I need Groton #2 I found out from someone else on here. I don’t about the previous installbelive me I wish I had water instead of steam.



  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    @EdTheHeaterMan thank you for the diagram it’s definitely helpful. The guy seems like he wants to make it right he’s a young guy and just starting out with his own company and I’m the first steam heating system like this he done. I’m going to call tomorrow to talk about piping and see what the ant to do.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,655
    edited November 14
    ok, this looks like a vapor system. That old marsh valve should have been set with a stop that limits the amount of steam to less than what the radiator can consume if you control the pressure of the boiler with a vaporstat. the radiators with ordinary valves will need oriifice plates to control the amount of steam admitted or steam traps to prevent the steam from getting in to the returns and preventing other radiators from heating.

    Is there a radiator with a plain valve on it that does heat near the radiator that does not heat?

    These other radiators look like they were added by someone that thought they were hot water with the small supply piping and the hot water coin key bleeder.
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    @mattmia2 I was told I should get a vapor stat I thought about getting all new valves as well. Might check into steam traps to see how hard that would be to install them. The bathroom radiator is next room over from the one with the bleeder. The back half of the house was added some years after house was built which explains why they are the same.
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 449
    edited November 14
    Hello @Truckermike,
    Those improperly connected Drip(s) that I mentioned before (if they still exist that way) may have an influence on the radiators that are not heating properly. Since the Steam may be effectively bypassing around the radiators and not through them.

    Seems like the contractor is going backwards, I would have hoped in the past 20 days or so things would have been figured out better, maybe even completely corrected, It is getting seriously cold out now (at least where I am).




    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,655
    Those valves with the lever handle are special vapor valves. Don't replace them unless they are unrepairable, they are designed to meter a given amount of steam in to the radiator. They should be set with a stop to set how far they open based on the size of the radiator. I don't believe that there is a replacement for them, you would have to do the same thing with an orifice plate with a standard valve.
    Truckermike
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    @109A_5 it is still the same I made mention about the old one he cut off but they wanted to talk about the vent they would put on. I agree I thought things would’ve been moving faster since we had great weather up until this week. I’m contacting them tomorrow again.
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 449
    Hello @Truckermike,
    This a guess and only just a guess. If your system only has that one manual (hot water type) vent valve on one radiator and no other vents anywhere and also if it appears (historically) to never have had any other vents of any kind. Maybe they used that single radiator vent to let the air out of the system when the system was good and hot. As the system cools off it would fall into a vacuum and no longer need any additional air purged out. Water loss would be almost nonexistent as compared to a One Pipe vented system. So a 'Hot System' air purge may only be needed a few times per season, if that.

    If true it would be nice to get back to that.
    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
    Canucker
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    @109A_5 that’s what I was using it for with old furnace. It would get the radiators hot now I was also loosing water from the old furnace so I don’t know if it was right or wrong.
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 449
    Hello @Truckermike,
    If the system was set up and generally operated the way I described above it would have to be air tight and remain that way. Once the air is purged if air gets back in it would have to be purged and / or re-purged as much as necessary. Any leaks would reduce the vacuum level by letting air back in. If the system was originally built with no air valves there is no way for the air to be automatically purged out easily and within a normal boiler run time (like a One Pipe system).

    It seems everything done lately has been counterproductive moving away from good Steam design practices. It seems there is a lot of work to do just to get it back to where it was with the old boiler. And if pipes are to be removed it would be a good time to just make it right, and improve the Near Boiler Piping.

    Over the course of the service life of the old boiler if the air was just bled out at the appropriate time from that one radiator during a heating cycle it may have worked fine, although maybe not typical compared to other like systems. It would probably all depend on how well the system holds a vacuum.

    A Groton #2 may also be counter productive as compared to the previous system (old boiler setup). Since it would let air back into the system, only to be pushed back out on the next cycle. If the system will no longer hold a vacuum for a reasonable time a Groton #2 may be the way to go.

    If in fact there were no other vents in that system until recently (other than that single manual one on that one radiator) I would probably put a high quality very low crack pressure check valve in the return pipe system to automatically purge air out and not let air back in. I am starting to wonder if the present (contractor installed) air bleed valve actually would provide this function ? Will it allow a vacuum to be maintained in the system ? I believe it is designed to purge air and close when water gets to it. Water should never really get to it in your system.

    I would also have an additional gauge to monitor system absolute pressure. I'm thinking that system for best operation normally has some vacuum all the time (except long periods of inactivity, like Summer time.


    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,259
    Absolutely the wrong vent. That’s a vent for a hot water system and will do nothing for steam. He also spent a ton of money on those press fittings to do it wrong. That should absolutely not be copper anyway. The connection from header to dry return like that, if you had a vent, will render a steam vent useless because it will close long before the air has been vented out.

    I don’t see him being able to make this right. The boiler piping is so wrong there isn’t anything that can be done to get proper function until that’s ripped out and redone to spec. This is a 5 section boiler that requires 2 2 1/2” risers and he piped it with 1 2” riser and everything is laid out wrong.


    Everything he’s doing at this point is wasting money and not fixing anything. In this case he made it even worse.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    Can someone give me a ballpark figure on what a re pipe would cost?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 4,271
    edited November 14
    Part of the rules, we don't discuss price of labor or installing equipment. I sent you a PM
    Rule #4

    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,655
    I'm pretty sure you have 2 issues, you have the botched new install and you have a lot of knuckleheading to fix in the rest of the system done with previous work where they didn't understand what a 2 pipe vapor system was.
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    Sorry about that last question didn’t know my apologies.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,655
    KC_Jones said:

    Absolutely the wrong vent. That’s a vent for a hot water system and will do nothing for steam. He also spent a ton of money on those press fittings to do it wrong. That should absolutely not be copper anyway. The connection from header to dry return like that, if you had a vent, will render a steam vent useless because it will close long before the air has been vented out.

    I don’t see him being able to make this right. The boiler piping is so wrong there isn’t anything that can be done to get proper function until that’s ripped out and redone to spec. This is a 5 section boiler that requires 2 2 1/2” risers and he piped it with 1 2” riser and everything is laid out wrong.


    Everything he’s doing at this point is wasting money and not fixing anything. In this case he made it even worse.

    But I would be all for that contractor finding a contractor that knows steam well and them working together to fix it if they are up for it.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,655
    Oh, and if you build enough pressure in a system without a vent it will compress the air enough that some steam will make it to the radiators but they won't heat fully or evenly and you will waste a lot of fuel doing it.

    Were there any vents on the returns on the old system?
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    @mattmia2 they had a hose faucet with a bleeder on the back where he put the new vent.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,655
    So with the old boiler it was only heating at all because they were building enough pressure to compress the air enough to get some steam in to the radiators?
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,550
    When I see so many errors on a steam install, I wonder why Dan's book, The Lost Art of Steam Heating, isn't required reading before installing a system?
    mattmia2EdTheHeaterMan
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,655
    @Paul Pollets they didn't even read the 1 page in the manual for the boiler about how to pipe it for steam.

    I noticed something else, the water line in your new boiler is much lower than it was in the old boiler. All those drips by the boiler from the mains in to what should be a wet return are now above the water line. That will let steam flow in to the other mains and the return and cause parts of the system to not be able to heat because the steam in the return will keep the air from getting out. It will also likely hammer somewhere where it meets condensate. If the other ends of the mains also drop in to wet returns to drain their condensate, you need to make sure those are also below the water line.(I think someone else mentioned this briefly)
    Paul PolletsEdTheHeaterMan
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 561
    There has been a lot of discussion on how to pipe a steam boiler. Lets take a step back and look at the big picture. The picture with the six foot long horizontal water heater flu. Now the question. Should the professional contractor who did this be asked to do any additional work on fuel burning appliances that make carbon monoxide?
    @Truckermike Is there anyone local to you on the find a contractor tool?
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
    If not, where are you located? Maybe we can help you find someone to re-pipe the boiler and change the water heater.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,555
    WMno57 said:

    There has been a lot of discussion on how to pipe a steam boiler. Lets take a step back and look at the big picture. The picture with the six foot long horizontal water heater flu. Now the question. Should the professional contractor who did this be asked to do any additional work on fuel burning appliances that make carbon monoxide?
    @Truckermike Is there anyone local to you on the find a contractor tool?
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
    If not, where are you located? Maybe we can help you find someone to re-pipe the boiler and change the water heater.

    I can't see enough of the picture to determine that.
    Is the pipe downhill or is it moving away from us? Are there 3 screws per joint?

    Is it connected properly to the supplied drafthood? Are there plastic plumbing connections near that drafthood?

    I can't tell.

    In the one picture it does look like it makes a downward turn when it's closer to the boiler but...

    I suggest we ask for additional pictures of the water heater and it's associated drafthood and flue connection before making any decisions.

    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
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    I’ll look closer this weekend when I get home.
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    I was able to get home tonight and disconnected the two radiators that weren’t getting heat. I dumped them out the best I could and poured water down the return pipe. Fired up the furnace and let pressure build up and opened the bleeder and finally got them to heat up. Not sure if sediment from hammering was blocking things but I got heat. The contractor is coming over in the morning and I’m going to have a talk about the manual versus what he did and see what he’s going to do.
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 449
    Hello @Truckermike,

    I was able to get home tonight and disconnected the two radiators that weren’t getting heat. I dumped them out the best I could and poured water down the return pipe.

    Were they plugged up ? It will be interesting to see if they keep heating with the Returns and Drips piped that way.



    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    I think because the way it’s piped and the return drips it’s not reaching them two radiators.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,259

    I think because the way it’s piped and the return drips it’s not reaching them two radiators.

    The piping is wrong and needs to be fixed before any further diagnosis can take place, but I assure you the lack of venting on the system is a problem, and really has been since you've lived there. It just stinks that you haven't had a single competent contractor in there to tell you that.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Truckermike
    Truckermike Member Posts: 43
    edited November 16
    @KC_Jones What would I need to do for venting? Groton #2?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,654
    109A_5 said:

    Hello @Truckermike,
    This a guess and only just a guess. If your system only has that one manual (hot water type) vent valve on one radiator and no other vents anywhere and also if it appears (historically) to never have had any other vents of any kind. Maybe they used that single radiator vent to let the air out of the system when the system was good and hot. As the system cools off it would fall into a vacuum and no longer need any additional air purged out. Water loss would be almost nonexistent as compared to a One Pipe vented system. So a 'Hot System' air purge may only be needed a few times per season, if that.

    If true it would be nice to get back to that.

    Hot-water vents on a steam system- we've seen this before:

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/160298/todays-kodak-moment-uhhhh-beavis-will-these-vents-work
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,259
    Based on the description of your system, 2 pipe with counter flow mains. You need venting at the end of mains and at the end of the dry returns. You mentioned not being able to get to the end of one of your mains so I think, as a sort of band aid method you could just over vent the dry return. May need 2 Gorton #2 vents, hard to say without being there to see what's going on. That said, with no traps on the radiators by design, it's probably going to be a delicate balancing act. Still not sure how the boiler size relates to the system, that would be important information to influence how to deal with venting.

    Still hard to believe you have a main with no crawl space or basement under your kitchen. I'm trying to wrap my head around how they ran the pipes originally.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15