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NYC Steam Radiator running constantly?

JimSavy
JimSavy Member Posts: 24
I’m not sure if this has already been addressed but I live in a New York apartment with the typical cast iron radiators attached to a steam boiler in the basement. They’ve been “servicing” the boiler (posted about this in another post) to keep the pipes from banging. It’s currently almost 11 at night and the radiators have not cycled once! They just seem to stay on - emit heat and force me to open the window. This has never happened before! What could the problem be?

Comments

  • dabrakeman
    dabrakeman Member Posts: 285
    Too much heat and you still have Varivalve vent on that radiator?? Even on its lowest setting that Varivalve is a very fast vent. Ask for or buy yourself a Ventrite 1. The min setting on the Varivalve is about equivalent to the max setting on the Ventrite #1.
  • JimSavy
    JimSavy Member Posts: 24
    First of all, the varivalve was replaced with a Ventrite, which I then had to replace with a spare Gorton because the tongue got bent out of shape.
    Secondly, this isn't just my radiators, this is all over the building. I checked my downstairs and upstairs neighbors and they all said it's insanely hot. They don't have varivales to the best of my knowledge.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,261
    The boiler controls are fouled up in some way. The boiler is running too much, by your description. This has nothing to do with venting or anything localized in an individual apartment.

    How is the boiler controlled? Thermostat or an outdoor reset system of some kind? Something else?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,929
    edited November 26
    Once there's steam in the radiator, the vent won't stop it. Your situation is all-to-common in NYC due to poor maintenance and clueless supers. If the super won't listen, the best thing you can do is to put a blanket over your radiators.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Long Beach Ed
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,006
    Your boiler has an immersed coil for domestic hot water. The aquastat on the coil could be set too high or could be out of calibration enough as to allow the boiler to make steam when it's really only calling for hot water. Happens all the time. Your building needs a real boiler guy.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting
    Plumbing in NYC or in NJ.
    Take his class.
    Long Beach Ed
  • JimSavy
    JimSavy Member Posts: 24
    KC_Jones said:

    How is the boiler controlled? Thermostat or an outdoor reset system of some kind? Something else?

    I can see those two Pressuretrols but other than that I don't know.
    JohnNY said:

    Your building needs a real boiler guy.

    Tried to get them to give you a call... but alas...
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,261
    JimSavy said:

    KC_Jones said:

    How is the boiler controlled? Thermostat or an outdoor reset system of some kind? Something else?

    I can see those two Pressuretrols but other than that I don't know.
    JohnNY said:

    Your building needs a real boiler guy.

    Tried to get them to give you a call... but alas...
    Those are safeties, not controls. There will be a thermostat somewhere in the building or in an apartment, or there will be some kind of outdoor reset type control somewhere in the boiler room.

    Something in the controls is causing the boiler to run excessively. Who's paying for the heat? Whoever is is killing themselves with the high heating bill that doesn't need to be so high.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    dabrakemanJimSavy
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 796
    edited November 19
    You got all your answers above:
    1. The boiler is not shutting off.
    2. One of the controls is keeping it running - the hot water aquastat or the thermostat/timer.
    3. The landlord is spending more than he has to, and...
    4. Your rent is going to go up.
    bburddabrakemanJimSavy
  • JimSavy
    JimSavy Member Posts: 24
    Well the good news is the heat is no longer short-cycling.
    The bad news is the banging in the pipes continues. For a few days it went away after they had added some kind of System Cleaner. It was great! But then the banging slowly returned and we're back to square one. When I told my landlord about it his response was to put more of that stuff in. I said it's probably an obstruction or something and even suggested flushing the system which he said "No you're not supposed to flush the system." I gave him John's info, he said "Oh I've got my own plumber."
    At this point it just feels like it's never going to get resolved.
    ethicalpaul
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,350
    The fact the clanging came back after a few days tells me the boiler water probably has oils in it and needs to be skimmed. The boiler has to be flushed and then skimmed and this may have to be done a few times to get rid of all the oils. Once the water is really clean it will not need flushing for a long time except for the gallon or so that has to be drained from the bottom of the boiler to keep the crud off the bottom of the boiler.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
    ethicalpaulJimSavy
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,670
    Too much treatment will cause the water to foam and throw liquid water in to the mains. It may have always been the "treatment" or there may be oil in the boiler that needs to be skimmed off (flushing or treatment won't remove oil.) You may have both problems now.
    Long Beach EdJimSavy
  • JimSavy
    JimSavy Member Posts: 24
    Isn't skimming a process done for new boilers? Is it still done for ancient boilers?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,670
    Oil won't just spontaneously be created in the boiler but if someone replaced some piping somewhere or did some maintenance involving oil it will end up in the boiler and cause surging. The "treatement" is more likely to be causing priming in an old system. If the pressure got turned up or the pigtail to the control is clogged so it isnt seeing the system pressure then steam could be pushing the water out of a water seal. Some muck could have been dislodged and is holding water somewhere. Soneone could have a partially closed radiator valve holding water in the radiator. Piping could have sagged so it now traps water somewhere.
    JimSavyethicalpaul
  • JimSavy
    JimSavy Member Posts: 24
    Well looks like we're back to short-cycling... Christ!
    Potentially silly question: If a radiator is off (vent turned upside down - and yes the main valve is all the way opened, I checked) could that be the cause of short-cycling or pipes banging?
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,261
    That could cause short cycling, but can’t see it causing banging.

    It can cause short cycling, especially if multiple rads in the system have up side down vents, because it effectively reduces the system size that the boiler sees.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    JimSavy