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Main steam vents spitting

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kkcuster
kkcuster Member Posts: 16
We bought an old historic house last March that has steam heat, a single pipe system.  Boiler rusted through about 2 weeks after we moved in. We had a new burnam  freedom boiler installed this summer.  Since then we’ve been working through different issues with our old piping, radiators and vents. Main issues have been banging pipes. We now have the boiler pressure down to 2psi. Most of our radiators have new vari valve vents.  This weekend I was doing some searching on heating help (thank you!) and discovered how critical our main venting is.  After checking our 2 main vents I discovered they were old Hoffman no2 vacuum/siphon vents.  They were completely seized up and not working.  I replaced them with vari valve vents, opened them all the way up, and the banging (and chugging) in the pipes has finally stopped.  However the main vents are spitting and dripping some water in the basement when the boiler cycles.  The vari valves were all that I had here to try. Is there a better vent that you can recommend to get rid of my dripping/spitting issue?  Any other recommendations are appreciated too.  We do have a boiler heating contractor but steam is a lost art around here.  Thankyou!

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  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,757
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    The problem might be in your near boiler piping. If you post several photos of it from different directions, not too close up, we can see if it is.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
    edited December 2022
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    Here are a few photos…
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    The vents shown have been replaced by Vari valve vents.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,757
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    Sorry, I was asking for the _near boiler piping_

    But while I'm here, let me also ask: when during the firing cycle are they spitting? Is it before the steam has reached them, at the time the steam reaches them, or well into the firing cycle?

    Also, current pictures are best
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,745
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    I'd also add that the ones you had were not main vents, and the ones you replaced them with probably aren't either. Not that it matters too much for the given issue, but wanted to mention it. Most likely the amount of venting there isn't adequate.

    I am curious though, for anyone else with more field experience. To me it looks like those main vents are actually tapped into the side of some old main vent that may be original to the system. Has anyone seen that fitting before? Looks like a possible antique vent, or possibly some other type of fitting, but it's definitely not something standard that I've ever seen.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ethicalpaul
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 994
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    Looks like they just tapped a running coupling. Those old times not leaving the job to pick up reducing couplings lol.
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    Thanks for your comments, I will get some better photos tonight after work and post them, along with the other info you asked for!  I’m hoping to pick up some new, correct main vents as soon as I know what to get.
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    Photos of our system.  Vents are spitting during the steam generating cycle, and immediately following the cycle as well.  However our pipe rattling has gone away for the first time since we put the system in, once we put in functioning main vents. Looking for recommendations on the right vents to replace the vari valves currently on our main vents, which are spitting and dribbling.  Thanks again for your insight.  Not many steam systems in northern Wisconsin anymore, or experienced techs for troubleshooting them!
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,757
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    The header situation might be ok, I can’t quite tell. I think I’d like to see elbows at the end turning down to the equalizer(s?) where I may see Tees but as I say it’s hard to tell.

    but those vents look like little radiator vents and aren’t gonna cut it I think. 
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    I’m not sure what the equalizers are that you’re referring to?  Let me know and I’ll try to get a photo this morning. The pipes coming down to the main vents are elbows at the top.
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
    edited December 2022
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    Hoping this photo helps.  All pipes at the top of the photo are elbows, not tees.  The pipe on the right has two pipes coming together just above the boiler.  The worst of our banging was happening with in these two pipes and radiators. However with the main venting improved I don’t hear the banging anymore.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,757
    edited December 2022
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    Well again, it's a layout that is pretty weird. It seems like it must have occurred from a desire to re-use an existing header-like-construction and installing a new header-like-construction under it. But let me show you what I see in the photo above.

    The yellow line is what I might call the "lower header", this is where the steam is coming up from the boiler, right?

    Well the steam is entering from the bottom which is problematic because water will conflict with the steam there and can get pushed or carried up farther to the "upper header" and beyond. The steam should enter from the side, letting the water fall downward away from the flow of steam.

    Then what I might call the "upper header" is in red. Ask yourself, where is the water going if it's in this area. There should be a slope downward from left to right toward that down arrow which should be an elbow to what I'm going to call an "equalizer" in quotes because none of this is piped according to the installation manual. But anyway, that down red arrow is where you want the water to go. But will it go there? or will it hang around by the yellow arrow and get "percolated" up one or more of those apparent main supplies?

    I will say that I doubt the venting you have installed had much if anything to do with your reduction in noise, but I can't rule it out--maybe it is keeping your pressure lower during the initial firing and that is keeping water from getting pushed where it shouldn't be. As I said, it's really hard to see what is going where in these photos but I see a lot of weirdness. Maybe one of the pros will chime in with some more insight about what's going on with these two levels of header.

    One more thing, the supply INTO the yellow line pipe is coming in from below, just like in the upper construction. The supply should have turned horizontal via an elbow into a horizontally-positioned Tee instead of getting fed from the bottom like that. When you feed steam from the bottom into a pipe, again, it makes an area of conflict where the water can get carried farther up into the system.



    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,757
    edited December 2022
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    Along the same lines, look at the steam supply coming out of the boiler. It goes up which is fine (purple arrow), but as I said above, it enters this lower-header-like-construction from below which is not great. But then it enters the upper-header-like-structure which if there were only steam, would be fine, but there's never only steam. There is condensation coming down, and there can be boiling water coming up and the water has to fight against the steam all the way back down to the boiler (green arrows). Or more likely, it is going to get carried up instead with the steam where you don't want it.

    Where you want the water to go is down this sort-of-equalizer marked with blue arrow, but this piping is making it very hard for water to find its way there. Examine any boiler installation manual diagram to see how that piping works at every turn to let the water easily separate from the steam and go back down to the boiler without interfering with the steam flow.


    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    Ok thank you for that, makes sense.  Our contractor who put the new boiler in was simply hooking into what was already there I believe.  Do you think that what you were describing would get rid of some of our “wet steam” in the system?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,859
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    When a new boiler is installed you would expect any necessary modifications to be made for it to work correctly. "simply hooking into what was already there" doesn't cut it, if what's already there is wrong.


    The boiler is piped improperly and will not work correctly.
    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
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,757
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    kkcuster said:

    Ok thank you for that, makes sense.  Our contractor who put the new boiler in was simply hooking into what was already there I believe.  Do you think that what you were describing would get rid of some of our “wet steam” in the system?

    You're very welcome. The way I would say it is: "This install wasn't done according to manufacturer instructions and the pipe layout may result in water carryover (wet steam) into the system."

    It's hard to say how much it's hurting you, but it for sure isn't helping.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 994
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    As @ethicalpaul correctly points out there is no way that your gonna get dry steam as currently piped. condensate falling back from the two into the risers is killing the steam. Also want to add that because they didn't 90 at the riser out of the boiler to create swing joints to handle the expansion that the boiler has a chance to crack. You need to offset out of the boiler riser at a 90 degree to allow for expansion. They should just increase the riser height coming out of the boiler at a little higher (pitch toward the existing header) than the existing header and then 90 forward toward the front of the boiler and then connect to the side of the existing header. its a simple fix. also the Hartford loop is to high. your gonna get steam at the tee which could cause water hammer from condensing with the return at horizontally.
    ethicalpaul
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,859
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    The Pressurtrol's diaphragm is also basically submerged in water.
    I don't know for sure, but I suspect they're not intended for that kind of use.

    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
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    Ok, I’m trying to put together a reasonable hit list of critical items for the boiler contractor to fix, from your comments.  I definitely don’t want the boiler to crack.  Any help with a clear list of recommended fixes from most important to least would really clarify what we need to have him do.
    ethicalpaul
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,859
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    kkcuster said:

    Ok, I’m trying to put together a reasonable hit list of critical items for the boiler contractor to fix, from your comments.  I definitely don’t want the boiler to crack.  Any help with a clear list of recommended fixes from most important to least would really clarify what we need to have him do.

    Primarily, you want them to follow Burnham's piping instructions.

    But, to help you understand what's going on, and why. Watch this video please.
    https://youtu.be/9KutfrNrmNE
    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
    ethicalpaul
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    Ok will do!  I still need to select main vents, any help finding the right ones is appreciated also.  Grateful for all the help
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,859
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    kkcuster said:

    Ok will do!  I still need to select main vents, any help finding the right ones is appreciated also.  Grateful for all the help


    Roughly how long are the pipes and what size?

    IE 10 feet, 20 feet, 50 feet etc. Just a rough estimate.

    For 10' long 2" I'd do a single Gorton #1.
    For 30' 2" I'd do four Gorton #1's.

    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
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    Looks like 40 to 50 ft of pipe on each of my 2 main vents. Pipes are 1 1/2” diam.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,859
    edited December 2022
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    kkcuster said:

    Looks like 40 to 50 ft of pipe on each of my 2 main vents. Pipes are 1 1/2” diam.

    1 1/2" diameter.... but what are those pipes actually venting, I.E. what diameter are the steam mains?

    My guess would be 5 or 6 Gorton #1's each. Buy the vents and some tees and build a manifold for each.


    These are my main vents for a single 30' long main.
    Some say it's excessive, but it's what I came up with by experimenting and timing things. Three wasn't enough, four did good, five was just to make sure it always vented fast enough even under extremes.

    Your piping is longer, but I don't know how much of that is steam main etc.


    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
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
    edited December 2022
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    Very cool, thanks for the insight.
    What about using Gorton number twos, one in each of my return pipes in the current main vent locations?  Do you feel that would work ok for the 50 ft runs feeding them?
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    I’m going to meet with my boiler contractor this week and see if he can re-route the main steam supply pipe into the side of the main manifold instead of the bottom.  Hopefully we can also pitch the manifold back toward the condensate return line that goes back to the boiler.  Will post again after the piping has been fixed, and let you know what the result is.  Thanks
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,859
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    kkcuster said:
    I’m going to meet with my boiler contractor this week and see if he can re-route the main steam supply pipe into the side of the main manifold instead of the bottom.  Hopefully we can also pitch the manifold back toward the condensate return line that goes back to the boiler.  Will post again after the piping has been fixed, and let you know what the result is.  Thanks
    Make sure you watch that YouTube video again and that you understand what's going on.  It's actually really easy to understand.

    Keep the steam and condensate flowing in the same direction and make it so it can drain.  Preferably not back down the supplies because steam isn't going to allow it.

    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
    ethicalpaulkkcuster
  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    Show your contractor the manufacturer’s required piping instructions when you meet, paying attention to pipe layout, and sizing.—NBC
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    He’s recommending to build a new manifold or modify the old one to pipe as we have been discussing, with the steam pipe from the boiler going into the end of the manifold. $2k-3k Depending on if He modified the existing manifold or built a new one.  The existing one is extremely old and not sure what we will find tapping into it.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,859
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    kkcuster said:
    He’s recommending to build a new manifold or modify the old one to pipe as we have been discussing, with the steam pipe from the boiler going into the end of the manifold. Depending on if He modified the existing manifold or built a new one.  The existing one is extremely old and not sure what we will find tapping into it.
    He called it a manifold?
    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
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,213
    edited December 2022
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    Before you go for a very costly reconfiguration, check your basics. Make sure the boiler is properly skimmed and all the oil is out of it. You can take some water off the top surface, boil it in a frying pan and see how it behaves. Steam will "explode" out of oily water. Make sure the boiler is not oversized. Get your mains vented a bit better and check your mains for any sags and proper pitch by measuring off the ceiling. Your header is weird all right, but I've seen many installations that were much worse work well.

    The plumber's insulation installation is beautiful.
  • FStephenMasek
    FStephenMasek Member Posts: 88
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    Why would you pay to have it change it from wrong to right, when it should have been right in the first place?
    Author of Illustrated Practical Asbestos: For Consultants, Contractors, Property Managers & Regulators
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    My main vents do need to be improved.  I have 40 foot and 50 foot runs of 1 1/2” pipe going to each of my two main vents.  The original vents were old number two Hoffman syphon/vac vents that were plugged up.  Right now I have a couple vari vents Installed and open all the way until I can get something better. Right now I’m leaning toward getting 2 Gorton number twos And installing one in each location.  Another Person on this chat had suggested four of the Gorton number ones as he had on his system. Does anyone have insight on these 2 options, or on a different one?  See photos.  The First and last photos are the original vents, In the middle photo has the vari-vents Which are currently installed as a temporary solution.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,757
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    If it were me I'd start with a single Gorton #1 at each location. The improvement will be dramatic. Then if you want you can see about adding more.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • kkcuster
    kkcuster Member Posts: 16
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    Thanks, sounds good
  • mikespipe
    mikespipe Member Posts: 36
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    Long beach Ed mentioned what I was looking for. A new installation needs to be run and cleaned. Oil from pipe dope and manufacturing will make a dirty head of steam. Think of a pot of spaghetti. Boiling water and a lid rattle's add spaghetti and put the caver back and the cover will raise up on a head of foam. The water in the boiler needs to be skimmed off the top while the water is hot to remove the oil. That should clean up the steam head. Dry steam doesn't carry dirt,water,oil or condensate but a dirty head will
    kkcuster