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New House - WOW!!! The pipes are loud.

Hi there,
First post.
I recently moved into a new home. When the weather started getting cold, the boilers kicked on and there was clanging, banging, and hissing all through the house. So I did a little research and bought We Got Steam Heat. Thank you Dan!! It helps to know where to start.

I have a 3,500 sq ft ranch in the shape of a squared off U. It has 2 boilers, one that heats one leg of the U and the other one heats the rest of the house.
There is about 90 feet of uninsulated pipe in the basement and the vents on the radiators are a variety of different types.

My first step is to insulate the pipes.
If I do that is there any way to keep the basement warm?
What should I do about the valves?
I have attached pictures of the main valves and the radiator valves.

Thanks,
Ed















Comments

  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,111
    Looks like a mix of different manufactures vents ,most of them look like they got some time behind them , the cheapest way to balance it all out is buy a bunch of maid o mist vents kits w multi orifice caps and just switch the caps till u get it balance and then as they fail replace w a quality gorton vent of the same letter or number . Also for starters change those main vents to a couple of gorton no 1 at a mim and see how it vents if still slow add another . As for insulating your steam mains please use a mim of 1 inch wall thickness any thinner is a of your money waste of money . If your pipes still are noise and banging make sure all the radiators valves are completely open and pitched back to the valve . Make sure your boiler sight glass is only 1/2 fill some boilers do not like being over filled and will toss water into the main and produce noise . If you find that it quiets down after it’s all hot then again check steam main pitch and insulate . Aside from this clean the pig tail and install-a 0-3 low pressure gauge aside from the required 0-30gauge code required . If it continues to be noisey Then your boiler and wet returns if you have them may need to be flushed out . If your boiler has not been service now may be a good time to have some take a look at it , check it operation and that it’s safeties and controls work as they should ,possibly diagnose your noise issues aside from cleaning burners ,sight glass and dis assembly and clean of the gauge glass valves ,check safety valve piping to ensure they are not plugged . Every boiler should be flushed out occasionally maybe every 2 to3 years to help prevent mud and rust build up in the bottom of the boiler , lowering heat transfer wasting energy and preventing the boiler from steaming properly .it s hard to boiler water w a layer of mud Sitting between the cast iron and water ,common sense .worse comes to worse find yourself some one listed on this site ,have them give your systems good look over and service and also help you familiarize yourself w your boiler .
    Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    Long Beach EdBobC
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,627
    Maybe check the pitch of the mains and rounouts to the radiator to make sure everything pitches somewhere that the condensate can get back to the boiler before you insulate when it is easier to see the pipes.
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,111
    On one big note from your pics your radiator vents are in the wrong location on steam radiator vents are place 2/3 up from the bottom not installed in the top vent tapping ,that is for use w hot water systems usually creates issues when steam vents are placed there . Usually issue may be splitting vents ,over heating or gurgling radiator due to filling the radiator w to much steam and issue w it draining . Again peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,822
    edited November 2022
    I believe you are talking about air vents when you say valve. You can insulate up to the vent but you do not need to insulate the actual vent. in fact I would leave the top of the T fitting uninsulated.

    You should use a fiberglass pipe insulation.
    You will want to look at the proper way to measure insulation and purchase mastic or maybe the vinyl fitting covers that are available.

    This is one of many places to get the correct stuff. You don't need the thickest pipe insulation. You can get 1" thickness and that should be the easiest to work with. https://www.buyinsulationproductstore.com/Fiberglass-Pipe-Insulation-SSL-ASJ/

    It has been some time since I used this insulation and I believe there are others on this site that have worked with it more recently. They might be able to guide you the the best deal, and the easiest way to install it. Vinyl fitting covers will look better, but just mitering the ends can also work. Just add some mastic to create a vapor barrier. It may not look as nice, but in your basement, you may not need to go for that show room look. You just need it to be functional.
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,822
    edited November 2022
    Just an observation... You have 2 boilers. Are both boilers STEAM? Or is on of the boilers a hot water boiler and the other one STEAM? That might explain some of the vents in the wrong location on the radiators. Near the top is where you put air vents on hot water radiators. Some vents are hot water vents and others are steam vents. And who is to say that the last guy didn't place the incorrect type of vents on the radiators? Can you post a picture of the boilers from far enough back so we can see the pipes at the floor lever all the way up to the ceiling. A steam boiler will have a vertical glass tube to see the water level. A hot water boiler will not. (if used correctly) But we have seen steam boilers incorrectly installed on hot water systems before. Stranger things have happened.
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    mattmia2
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,156
    edited November 2022
    Follow up to @EdTheHeaterMan point to double check the boiler types. The radiators in picture 5 and 7 have air bleeder valve located right where I’d expect for a hot water boiler. Do you have more radiators like this?
  • yorks6988
    yorks6988 Member Posts: 14
    They are both steam boilers.
    If the valve is any indication, 9 of the 14 radiators are not correct. These are all short cubical radiators 18" tall, 12" deep, and various lengths.






















  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,627
    The vent should be where it is on that pink radiator, that is the tapping for the steam vent. That isn't your noise problem, but they may not heat all the way with the vent at the top like that. The ones with the hot water vents won't heat at all unless there is also a hot water loop off of one of the boilers. There isn't a circulator somewhere, is there?(I don't think there is, but worth checking out before putting steam vents on those radiators)

    Your near boiler piping isn't bad but it could be better so the boiler will be very sensitive to water quality. If they are surging(because of oil on the boiler water) or priming(because of detergent/"conditioner/treatment" in the water or high Ph) a bit there isn't a lot of rise and header to let the water fall back in to the boiler.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
    vent locations are wrong where they are at the top of rads,
    and wrong type hot water vents on some rads also,
    but forget that a bit,

    it looks like both Ptrols have room to dial pressure down some,
    and running a lower pressure may lessen noise,

    notice how clean the one boiler water is in the sightglass?
    and how foul / coffee like the other one looks?
    is that dirty water or just a dirty sightglass ?
    cuz dirty water will also make for noisy operation,

    post better close up shots of the 2 Ptrols, and of that hidden gage,
    what pressures are you seeing in these boilers?
    1.5 is enough, 2 is getting high, and if I see 3 on that one boiler, that's too much.

    have the pigtails been checked for clear and free breathing back to the boiler?
    known to beat dead horses
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
    the main vents in the basement,
    they both look too small,
    those vents, and those first bushings should be removed,
    and proper main venting put in,

    the older dirty basement vent,
    shows it's been leaking, and that water is up there,
    back to my pressure and dirty water in my first post above.
    known to beat dead horses
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,822
    edited November 2022


    But the noise issue has nothing to do with the radiator vent location. that will just be a case of the radiator not getting completely full of steam. That will mean less heat from those radiators.

    The radiators with water type vents may have some issues with steam leaking out.

    The noise has to do with wet steam getting into the main piping. The near boiler piping, properly designed, will reduce that and will convey dry steam into the mains. If there is not enough room to properly design the near boiler piping according to the manufacturer's recommendations, then a Drop header will give you more room. You need a steam expert to redesign the near boiler piping in order to get the noise to stop. Check the Find a Contractor link above
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    If you like the warm pipes in the basement, then don’t spend money and time to make it cold there
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,215

    If you like the warm pipes in the basement, then don’t spend money and time to make it cold there

    However, if you don't insulate the pipes, you usually end up with very unbalanced heating. The steam crawls through uninsulated pipes at only at 1 /10 the speed of insulated piping.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,060
    In addition to everything mentioned above, your piping itself, around the basement, may be part of the problem.

    Usually the steam main piping is the highest at the boiler and then slopes down around the house until it returns to the boiler. Think of it as a drain line that should/would be empty of water when the steaming and heating is done.

    Even small pockets of water trapped, after the draining should be done, can give you water hammer.

    Do you see any saging piping or pockets?
    Even a pipe reducer installed in a horizontal pipe can trap a fair size pocket of water.

    The pipe itself can get a "belly sag" from its own weight after some decades of hanging.

    Often I add another hanger between the original ones.

    This is something you want to correct, certainly before insulating, to eliminate hammer from that source.

    Can we see the return piping at the boiler in the second picture.....remove that large bucket.
    mattmia2
  • yorks6988
    yorks6988 Member Posts: 14
    I turned the pressure controls down tonight so we will see what happens there.
    The pipes in the basement do have a slope and I do not see any sagging.

    A little more about the system. The main boiler has a return pipe that right after the vents heads down to run along the floor into the first picture, then it runs over to the boiler. The water inside the glass is dirty and the glass is full. When it was first turned on it was clear and came up just above the black line on the glass. I do not see any way to empty the glass either.






    The second boiler slopes into the room and it also turns down right after the vent.
    Then it goes around the corner, along the back wall and into the bottom pipe in the back.





  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
    the dirty, full sightglass,
    you need to lower that level,
    down to 1/2 glass, or to match the marked level on the boiler,

    what is that silver nipple looking thing under the cyclegard ?
    can we see a close up on that?
    are there no other drains around the back side?

    a boiler needs to drain, needs a drain.
    known to beat dead horses
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 912
    That first photo shows a condensate or boiler feed pump. Do you know which it is, and how it is controlled? A problem there may be why your boiler is overfilled. 

    Bburd
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    An overfilled boiler -- like the one with the full sight glass and feed pump of some sort -- can, very often, make all kinds of wet steam and water hammer problems. And receivers and feed pumps can and often do cause overfilled boilers, depending on how they are controlled.

    Drain the boiler back down to where it belongs -- there must be a drain on it somewhere -- and see if that helps. Then, as @bburd said, find out how that pump is controlled.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 469
    edited November 2022
    @yorks6988 Did you calculate the EDR of your radiators? I assume the Aetnas (short cube-like ones) are all 18" tall like you said.

    Picture 1 (American Radiator Aetna): 5 1/3 sq ft/section x 10 = 53 1/3
    Picture 2: 5 1/3 sq ft/section x 10 = 53 1/3
    Picture 3: 5 1/3 sq ft/section x 6 = 32
    Picture 4: 5 1/3 sq ft/section x 12 = 64
    Picture 5: 5 1/3 sq ft/section x 21 = 112
    Picture 6: 5 1/3 sq ft/section x 17 = 90 2/3
    Picture 7: 5 1/3 sq ft/section x 6 = 32
    Picture 8 (blue 3-column tall): Looks like 38" tall, so probably 5 sq ft/section x 15 = 75
    Picture 9 (white short window): If it's 17" tall and 7 tubes, probably 3 sq ft/section x 15 = 45
    Picture 10: 5 1/3 sq ft/section x 6 = 32
    Picture 11 (white 3-column tall): Looks like 38" tall, so probably 5 sq ft/section x 6 = 30
    Picture 12 (pink 3-column tall): Looks like 38" tall, so probably 5 sq ft/section x 14 = 70
    Picture 13: 5 1/3 sq ft/section x 10 = 53 1/3
    Picture 14 (white 3-column tall): Looks like 38" tall, so probably 5 sq ft/section x 3 = 15

    Total = 757 2/3

    If the heights are different on any of the non-Aetna rads, that will change the math. Post up pictures of the sides of these other rads. Look for any embossed writing on the sides and/or around the steam supply tappings at the bottom. Post pictures of what you can find. I can make it more exact. If one or both boilers are oversized, this may be contributing to your problem.

    https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112047386849&view=2up&seq=51&skin=2021&size=175&q1=aetna

    Which boiler is heating which radiators?

    The green boiler is a New Yorker CGSC50 rated for 354 sq ft. The gray one is a Peerless. What is the model number? Should be on a white sticker on the other side like with the New Yorker. Post that up if you can find it.
  • yorks6988
    yorks6988 Member Posts: 14
    edited November 2022
    I turned the pressuretrol down but now the boiler will not turn on. =(

    The pump is controlled by a Taco... =) (now that I reread the post, this is wrong, it looks like nothing is controlling the pump because the water level controller is further up the line on the copper pipe)
    This is from the manufacturer specifications -
    Operation: Boiler feed pump(s) are controlled by a water level controller mounted on the boiler. If condensate is lost or delayed in the system, it is automatically replaced in the receiver through the make-up water valve.




    It feeds into the lower large pipe here, right before the low water cutoff. The smaller copper pipe above it is from the automatic water supply. The pump has been kicking on quite a bit. When it kicks on I hear air venting from the radiators. Also, I released the pressure from the system and when this kicked on it pushed the pressure on the boiler gage up to 3.




    The pipe below my glass tube has to be the drain because there is not a drain on the other side of the boiler.




    Random12345 - Here is the sticker from the boiler.




  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701

    If you like the warm pipes in the basement, then don’t spend money and time to make it cold there

    However, if you don't insulate the pipes, you usually end up with very unbalanced heating. The steam crawls through uninsulated pipes at only at 1 /10 the speed of insulated piping.
    I would disagree with this. In the shoulder seasons even insulated pipe gets cold between firing and in the heating season, the pipes stay pretty warm anyway. Yes it takes more time for the steam to warm the pipes, but we're talking a few minutes here.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
    yorks6988 said:

    I turned the pressuretrol down but now the boiler will not turn on. =(

    The pump is controlled by a Taco... =) (now that I reread the post, this is wrong, it looks like nothing is controlling the pump because the water level controller is further up the line on the copper pipe)
    This is from the manufacturer specifications -
    Operation: Boiler feed pump(s) are controlled by a water level controller mounted on the boiler. If condensate is lost or delayed in the system, it is automatically replaced in the receiver through the make-up water valve.


    It feeds into the lower large pipe here, right before the low water cutoff. The smaller copper pipe above it is from the automatic water supply. The pump has been kicking on quite a bit. When it kicks on I hear air venting from the radiators. Also, I released the pressure from the system and when this kicked on it pushed the pressure on the boiler gage up to 3.


    The pipe below my glass tube has to be the drain because there is not a drain on the other side of the boiler.



    yeah, that's a drain, a ball valve, replace it with a full port, handle included, ball valve when you get the chance,
    straight screwdriver on that side to open the ball, penetrating oil, a well fitting driver, careful application of torque, don't strip the screw head,
    and inside there, a large allen wrench, or a bolt head and visegrips on the bolt, you can try loosening that interior packing, more penetrating oil,
    drain down to 1/2 sightglass,

    "I turned the pressuretrol down but now the boiler will not turn on"
    so you dial it back up a bit till it kicks on,
    but,
    have you checked the pigtail for clear and free breathing back to the boiler?
    those steel types tend to more prone to plugging, especially when they sit in the water, like your's is,

    do your gages return to 0 when the boiler is off for a bit?

    and lastly,
    the water feed to the pumped loops, is the kept off?
    known to beat dead horses
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 469
    So your combined boiler steam output is 354+613 = 967. Your total radiator EDR is 757 2/3 unless the height measurements are different from what I indicated. Which boiler heats which radiators?
  • yorks6988
    yorks6988 Member Posts: 14
    The pigtail is clear.
    I drained the boiler, filled it some, drained it, ran water through while draining it, and refilled it.
    I removed the site glass and cleaned it.
    During all this my gage stayed at 1 psi, so I am assuming it is off by 1.
    When I started it back up the sight glass was just a little over the black line..until the pump kicked on and now it is full again.
    The pressuretrol is set at 2 to get it to run. The gage reads 3 so if it IS off by 1 then that checks out.

    The automatic water supply is kept on.


    So if I understand correctly, all the condensate is getting returned through the pipe with the red arrow, but there does not seem to be anything controlling it, just a valve where I can shut it off.
    Any new water needed is introduced by the pipe with the white arrow which is controlled by the automatic water supply.



  • yorks6988
    yorks6988 Member Posts: 14
    Here is the radiator layouts and sizes with room sizes also.
    Radiator 8 is at the end of the return line after the first large valve. All it does is vent air. The pipe leading up to the valve is warm, but after that it is cold. The open/close valve barely turns.
    Radiator 11 does not heat up but the open/close valve does turn.





  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
    am I mistaking threads? or was there a picture with a red tank, and hot water circ pumps with one of this boiler?
    I was thinking HW circs and loops were flooding the boiler,
    and to turn off any feed to those HW loops,

    but now thinking same with the condensate return tank,
    drain boiler back down to that low mark on the sightglass,
    then shut off the boiler auto feed make up water also,
    let it fire and watch your water level, and wait for the condensate return pump to kick in again,
    is it flooded again ?

    why the need for the condensate return tank?
    is there no way to pipe a wet return to boiler?

    when you cleaned the sightglass,
    did you also check both glass valve ports to be clean and clear back to the boiler?
    with the handles open, back off the packing nuts, and remove the valve stops, then use the glass protection rods and poke all the way in,
    refill the boiler and flush out the lower valve port, more poke poke,
    reassemble lower, and fill to upper and flush, reassemble,
    drain back down to normal water line,
    known to beat dead horses
  • yorks6988
    yorks6988 Member Posts: 14
    EdTheHeaterMan is correct. The Dimension A is way off.
    It is 24 inches from low water level and 16 inches from normal level. It should be 28, correct?


  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
    that header is low, correct.
    known to beat dead horses
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 469
    Nice job with that diagram.

    First the New Yorker (354 sq ft rating):

    The blue rads are indicated as being 16" and not 18". That changes things a little. Looks like rads 10-13 have 21, 6, 12, and 10 sections respectively and are 4 2/3 sq ft/section. So total EDR = 228 2/3 sq ft. The New Yorker is way oversized. 354/228.67 = 55% too big. Not sure why rad 11 does not heat up either.

    For red rads 1-9, I would need to know the number of sections for each, and I also think the height measurement is off for the 36" high ones. That's a non-standard height and the legs don't look non-standard. When you measure, the cover on the pink one should be removed. It would also help if I had a picture of the side of the rads in pictures 8, 9, 11, 12, 14 that you posted earlier. The manufacturer name is usually embossed around the top or bottom tappings on either side or on the side on the column itself. Post a picture of that if you want me to look for the ratings on those.



  • yorks6988
    yorks6988 Member Posts: 14
    I now have a new problem, right before the boiler is going to fire up, it is ticking quite rapidly and the pressure gauge is fluctuating rapidly. This goes for about 30 seconds to a minute and then it settles down and starts to run fine.

    https://youtube.com/shorts/avKW2ayGOmQ

    At the end you can also see the water feed line shaking and you can hear that the ticking has stopped.
    Any idea what would be causing this?
  • yorks6988
    yorks6988 Member Posts: 14
    I am also looking to replace the main vents. I put the piping into the house diagram. (red lines)
    The main boiler pipe has a travel of about 160 feet and has 1 vent right before the last radiator and 1 right after it. It then turns down to the ground and runs into the boiler feed pump (the blue line at the end of the red)

    My thought is to put a Gorton #1 right before the last rad and a Gorton#2 after it.

    The second boiler piping line runs about 70 feet. Would a Gorton #1 work good for this?





  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Argh. Frankly, whoever piped that poor Peerless wasn't thinking.

    OK.

    At the end of the Peerless line you need at least 2 Gorton #2 vents. Then the pipe must drop independently and go to the condensate feed tank. You may also need a F&T trap on the drop. The line from New Yorker will probably do with one Gorton #2 -- might even work with a #1. Then it drops and also goes independently to the condensate feed tank -- and may also need an F&T.

    The two steam lines must not join above the F&Ts, if used, or before the condensate feed tank.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • yorks6988
    yorks6988 Member Posts: 14
    Jamie Hall - only the Peerless uses the feed pump.
    The New Yorker is a normal return that goes right to the boiler.
    They just pass each other near the top of the ceiling.