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2 pipe poor heat in upstairs rad

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Comments

  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    Matt's on the right track... Is the supply main around 2"  and the air return main around 1" ?  And where are you located ? 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    reggi said:
    Any reason why the riser to your problem children is run through the closet and appears the one radiator was moved and repiped to hookup to it while the radiator in the opposite room looks like it's exactly where it should of been for 100 years ?

    Who knows lol. Like I’ve said, I’ve spent my a good part of my childhood in this house and been here exclusively since I was around 18 and I’m 48. Where the radiators are, they have always been. Bear in mind I know nothing about steam heat except from what I’ve taught myself over the last few weeks. By “riser” you mean the vertical supply pipe to the radiators? That’s not the only pipe/s that runs on the exterior of the walls. The radiator in the adjacent room that works fine has its piping on the outside of the wall on the first floor. 
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    where does that riser that is a single pipe further back go?

    It is possible most of the air from the system is getting compressed in to the problem radiators and that is why the rest of it is heating.
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    mattmia2 said:
    It isn't pressure in the return. Read "we got steam heat". The gurgling is water trapped in the piping or possibly just air pushing through the return trap on a radiator. The air needs to get out of both the main and the return somehow. We need to figure out how that is. in your setup as i see it, i would suspect if we look at the far end at the top where the main and return come together that there will be a steam trap that allows air in to the return but not steam and then that air goes out the vent. It may be that it is sort of working because the pressure is cranked up high enough that the air is getting compressed instead of vented and that is allowing steam in to some radiators. Take a picture of the top 2 pipes at the end 90 degrees from the current picture.
    There’s some sort of pressure in the return on these two radiators cause like I said when I pulled that drift out sealing the hole to put the cover on that gutted trap it was shooting out of there. Sure seemed like steam but maybe it was air and hot water. I’ll go down and look in that crawl space and take pics where those pipes run through but I’m pretty sure there is no trap in there. The only vents on this entire system are a vent on the return in the cellar which is in the pic, a vent on the one pipe radiator downstairs, and a vent on this sister radiator up here who has a gutted/no trap. 
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    mattmia2 said:
    where does that riser that is a single pipe further back go? It is possible most of the air from the system is getting compressed in to the problem radiators and that is why the rest of it is heating.
    That pipe feeds the radiator in the first room downstairs which is the oddball only one pipe radiator in the house. It has a vent on the side of it. 
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    reggi said:
    Matt's on the right track... Is the supply main around 2"  and the air return main around 1" ?  And where are you located ? 
    Yes that sounds about right. Here are some pics. As you can see after those 90* risers they go straight into the wall then run directly up the problem radiators. I’m in NE PA, Scranton area. Old coal town armpit of the country. We have the most corner bars per capita anywhere in the USA lmao. 
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    That valve is on the radiator in the kitchen downstairs. It has Richardson stamped on it and those ball traps have it stamped on them as well.
    mattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    edited December 2022
    The whole system may be above atmospheric pressure depending on how the boiler matches the system, especially if some radiators aren't condensing the steam the boiler produces.

    Since the boiler doesn't have an equalizer, strange things will happen with the pressure between the supply and return and possibly with water being able to get back in to the boiler.

    This is what I need to see a better view of, probably from the side. i would expect there to either be a vent on both the main and the return or there to be a trap between the 2:


    Where does this riser go: Does it go to the 1 pipe radiator? You could add a main vent here somewhere.


    EDIT: I see you answered both
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    edited December 2022
    I wonder if that 1 pipe radiator is a vent location that someone knucklheaded in to another radiator and didn't do anything about replacing the venting.
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    mattmia2 said:
    I wonder if that 1 pipe radiator is a vent location that someone knucklheaded in to another radiator and didn't do anything about replacing the venting.
    Why that first radiator is one pipe idk. It’s the only radiator in that room and has always been there. Every room in the house has one radiator in it. Far as I know there was an addition put on the house a looong time ago. Like before I was born time ago. Which would explain why the kitchen and the bathroom above it have those lever style on/off valves. 
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    Ok.. I'm familiar with your area.. I'll give it my best guess,  judging by the stone in your basement I'd have to say more towards east mtn side of river probably minooka because Buckley lived in Birney Ave and sold the Richardson back in the day... 
    There was a lot of coal mining going on back then and there was a lot of subsidances ...the Coal Barons were greedy and the workers cold....
    But your system looks like a version of the picture below.. now your Vent would of been the Air Expeller Vacuum vent.. the check valve is between the pipes as you have and the wet return.. just a different layout because of size I imagine

    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 912

    It seems unlikely that these pipes are correctly pitched to drain condensate by gravity. If they once were, things may have changed as the house has settled.

    Bburd
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Can you get a closer picture of the steam main and the return at the TOP in that corner, where they turn down to the wet return? There has to be either a vent on both of them at that location, or a crossover trap with a vent on the dry return near the boiler.

    Your hearing gurgling, however, tells me that somewhere between the steam main and those problem radiators there is water being trapped by poorly pitched pipes.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630

    Can you get a closer picture of the steam main and the return at the TOP in that corner, where they turn down to the wet return? There has to be either a vent on both of them at that location, or a crossover trap with a vent on the dry return near the boiler.

    Your hearing gurgling, however, tells me that somewhere between the steam main and those problem radiators there is water being trapped by poorly pitched pipes.

    That is this:

    That valve is on the radiator in the kitchen downstairs. It has Richardson stamped on it and those ball traps have it stamped on them as well.

  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    reggi said:
    Ok.. I'm familiar with your area.. I'll give it my best guess,  judging by the stone in your basement I'd have to say more towards east mtn side of river probably minooka because Buckley lived in Birney Ave and sold the Richardson back in the day... 
    There was a lot of coal mining going on back then and there was a lot of subsidances ...the Coal Barons were greedy and the workers cold....
    But your system looks like a version of the picture below.. now your Vent would of been the Air Expeller Vacuum vent.. the check valve is between the pipes as you have and the wet return.. just a different layout because of size I imagine

    You’re pretty close buddy lol! I’m in Olyphant, like little over 10min from Minooka. I don’t care about giving my location, just figured people would know Scranton but not Olyphant. 
    Like I said there are no traps or gadgets anywhere else on the pipes in the basement aside from that check valve thing. Is it possible that is messed up? Looks like aside from the access cover there is a screw plug in the side facing the wall. No clue what it does. There may have been something else to the system when the coal stoker was in operation but if there was it’s long gone. 
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    So in the adjacent room upstairs I have the radiator completely disconnected and the lines plugged up as I took the ball from that trap and put it in the one in this problem room. Which did nothing aside from giving me a rattling ball sound along with the poor heat. For troubleshooting purposes would it do anything if I unplugged one or both of the lines partially to maybe relieve some pressure in the system and see if that makes any difference? I have corks from wine bottles plugging them currently lmao. Only thing that would fit in the holes I had on hand.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    edited December 2022
    Another thought is today and tomorrow are much warmer than it has been and you should put your system back in service and run it to see how it heats without trying to keep up in 0 ° weather.... 
    That's a lot of exposed space for the steam having to overcome and it's probably collapsing the steam as it's trying to get to the radiator..be it's cold and all.. it's falling and getting caught in the steam trying to push through 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    The cap of the check valve will come off just get a grip on the valve so it doesn't twist when you loosen the cap..
    Caution: your going to get water flowing most likely when you lift the cap off so be careful and prepared...the nut on the side... once the cap is off.. you can loosen as it holds plate against the valve preventing the flow from reversing and sometimes it can get much and not quite be as smooth or snappy as it could be...there might be a gasget that needs replacement or use some good sealant.. 
    I'm sure others will advise also
    BTW I'm not familiar with Olyphant except that place that made Coal Stoves, stokers etc..70's 80's ?
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    So i think the way it originally worked was the richardson vent had a check valve on it so once air left the system it didn't get back in which worked ok in a coal system that didn't cycle.

    With a vent with no check valve and a burner that cycles on and off, you need to vent the return.
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    mattmia2 said:
    So i think the way it originally worked was the richardson vent had a check valve on it so once air left the system it didn't get back in which worked ok in a coal system that didn't cycle. With a vent with no check valve and a burner that cycles on and off, you need to vent the return.
    The vent in that back cellar is on the return. It had a round one originally like the kind that would go on the side of a radiator. I don’t understand how these vents even work. I can blow through them and suck air back through them. It’s just a hollow cylinder or disc with a hole on top. I mean you could drill a little hole in the side of a radiator and accomplish the same thing.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511

    mattmia2 said:
    So i think the way it originally worked was the richardson vent had a check valve on it so once air left the system it didn't get back in which worked ok in a coal system that didn't cycle. With a vent with no check valve and a burner that cycles on and off, you need to vent the return.
    This is only one Version of the piping..
    Same parts though..
    The check valve on the the floor between the supply main and air return main that turns into the wet return...lower right of the prior posted picture. 

    Now where the vent is now would of been this... The Air Expeller and vacuum valve.
    Here another version of the ball trap also

    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    reggi said:
    Another thought is today and tomorrow are much warmer than it has been and you should put your system back in service and run it to see how it heats without trying to keep up in 0 ° weather.... 
    That's a lot of exposed space for the steam having to overcome and it's probably collapsing the steam as it's trying to get to the radiator..be it's cold and all.. it's falling and getting caught in the steam trying to push through 
    See the thing is if I crank the thermostat up to close to 70 the radiators up here will work pretty much fine. But then it’s boiling hot downstairs and the gas bill would be ridiculous. 
    I thought maybe part of the problem is there’s no insulation on the majority of that supply pipe going through the back cellar and into the crawl space. But the damn pipe 3-4 foot up from the floor in the closet will get too hot to touch and then a couple feet up from that will be room temp. So what the hell is stopping the damn steam from going up the rest of the way!? It can’t be steam in the return back feeding down that supply pipe or else the whole thing would be hot. It’s like the steam is hitting a brick wall. What frustrates me the most about this problem is there’s like no damn moving parts to this whole thing aside from some ancient traps to try and troubleshoot. No power and grounds, or continuity to check, or bad connections, or fuses. Just two damn pipes. How much more simply could something be.. but it’s not lol.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630


    The vent in that back cellar is on the return. It had a round one originally like the kind that would go on the side of a radiator. I don’t understand how these vents even work. I can blow through them and suck air back through them. It’s just a hollow cylinder or disc with a hole on top. I mean you could drill a little hole in the side of a radiator and accomplish the same thing.

    It has a thermostatic element that closes when it gets steam hot and depending on design also may have a float that keeps water from flowing out of it.
    DaveSmith2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    edited December 2022
    reggi said:





    mattmia2 said:

    So i think the way it originally worked was the richardson vent had a check valve on it so once air left the system it didn't get back in which worked ok in a coal system that didn't cycle.

    With a vent with no check valve and a burner that cycles on and off, you need to vent the return.

    This is only one Version of the piping..
    Same parts though..
    The check valve on the the floor between the supply main and air return main that turns into the wet return...lower right of the prior posted picture. 

    Now where the vent is now would of been this... The Air Expeller and vacuum valve.
    Here another version of the ball trap also



    the richardson t shaped vent has a check valve in it so air can get out but not back in. it is right in the cut sheet. without that check valve you need to vent the ruturn.

    according to the richardson diagram where the vent is now should be the supply. if it is now the return someone reversed things when they replaced the boiler.

    Er, never mind, it is the return. but the supply still needs to be vented without the vacuum vent.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    mattmia2 but the supply still needs to be vented without the vacuum vent.
    Ummm...... the Air Expeller 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    edited December 2022
    reggi said:


    mattmia2 but the supply still needs to be vented without the vacuum vent.

    Ummm...... the Air Expeller 

    The air expeller connects to the return. there is no connection from the supply to the return or from the supply to the air expeller. there is no way for the supply main to vent other than through the radiators and that will be slow and uneven.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    mattmia2 said:
    mattmia2 but the supply still needs to be vented without the vacuum vent.
    Ummm...... the Air Expeller 
    The air expeller connects to the return. there is no connection from the supply to the return or from the supply to the air expeller. there is no way for the supply main to vent other than through the radiators and that will be slow and uneven.
    Matt I don't want to argue with you, I find you knowledgeable, helpful, caring and generally a genuine person... I'll go down into the basement and go over my system I've had the past 50 years and look for a vent I somehow have never seen in all my years working down there and living here..
    Any place in particular I should start ?
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    I'm open to other explanations of how the air gets out of the mains if there is no vent and no crossover trap.

    What kind of a vent do you have on the return?
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    The original Air Expeller Vacuum Valve .. when the boiler kicks on and the vapor starts breaking the surface the Disk on the hinge starts releasing little wisps of air that are being displaced by the vapor entering the mains...once it gets rolling ( depending how long between cycles ) the disk stays closed and the pressure starts moving on the gage 4-6 WC on the high side (longer run..cold cold weather) and when the thermostat is satisfied it shut off , the gage drops..( I can hear the vaporstat diaphragm flex to opposite direction - going to a vacuum) then it drops to 7-8" and gradually starts working its way to 0 ... ( leaky joints I haven't found yet )  At least it the way I see it and understand it..it's not a big deal because other than a few thermo traps it's pretty much the way it was 100 years ago..  The original owner/builder built it thius way and in the 60's put a gas boiler in and kept it this way....the hardest part was keeping the knuckleheads from messing with it... I have a contract for major parts ..LWCO ,no start etc.. I always make sure I get a good look at the Tech when they walk down the stairs and take a look for the first time ...Priceless
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    See i think it needs the vacuum vent to work well with a vent only on the return.
    CLamb
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    Well back @DaveSmith2 ...With the riser in the closet steaming at 3' what's going on with the rest of your system? are the other risers getting hot on the second floor ?
    The funny thing is with the pipe steaming at 3' and no higher it seems like the steam is at the level of the first floor radiators , sort of like water finding its own level...maybe the steam is only reaching 3' and dropping back to go somewhere where theres lower pressure and its easier to enter than to overcome whatever resistance its finding at that level ?? Steam is lazy ..maybe that one piper is the steams way out...have you felt that wet return on floor to see if theres steam shooting into there when the closet riser is steaming ? It has to be going somewhere else easier .. I think the onepiper and the wet return are worth checking when you run it again..
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    reggi said:
    Well back @DaveSmith2 ...With the riser in the closet steaming at 3' what's going on with the rest of your system? are the other risers getting hot on the second floor ? The funny thing is with the pipe steaming at 3' and no higher it seems like the steam is at the level of the first floor radiators , sort of like water finding its own level...maybe the steam is only reaching 3' and dropping back to go somewhere where theres lower pressure and its easier to enter than to overcome whatever resistance its finding at that level ?? Steam is lazy ..maybe that one piper is the steams way out...have you felt that wet return on floor to see if theres steam shooting into there when the closet riser is steaming ? It has to be going somewhere else easier .. I think the onepiper and the wet return are worth checking when you run it again..
    I’m ball parking 3ft, I can actually measure it but it’s somewhere around there. But goes back to my same dilemma.. why is this issue in this pipe only. The piping in the next room over is the same size and feeds the radiator upstairs that’s disconnected. That radiator will get hot. The one piper in the first room downstairs gets hot too. Idk what you mean with steam shooting in there when the closet riser is steaming. Shouldn’t steam be shooting through there? There’s only one pipe to it so there has to be steam going through it or the radiator wouldn’t work, right? 

     Ok here’s a thought and I know nothing about this stuff so bear that in mind lol. The one pipe radiator is the last riser on that supply run. The one before it goes to the problem radiators. There’s only one pipe so where is the condensed water going from the one piper going? Has to go back into the supply pipe. Where else can it go. That main supply is sloped up, the problem riser is slightly lower than the one pipe radiator riser. Maybe the water is running down to that elbow and the steam is trying to push it up the pipe and it’s impeding the steam from making it upstairs. Would explain why there’s gurgling in that pipe and not in any others. 
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    Also I’m not sure about the naming of the town. I want to say it’s named after a battleship or an admiral or something like that. There is a huge anchor from a ship at the entrance to the town. They may have made stokers here. This whole valley was coal mines. If you were an able bodied male back in the day, you most likely worked in the mines. When I was a kid the coal breakers around here were still standing. Now they’re all torn down. There used to be colm dumps on the way down to Scranton that you could see the tops burning at night but this is like late 70’s probably. I vaguely remember it. 
    CLamb
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    Also I’m not sure about the naming of the town. I want to say it’s named after a battleship or an admiral or something like that. There is a huge anchor from a ship at the entrance to the town. They may have made stokers here. This whole valley was coal mines. If you were an able bodied male back in the day, you most likely worked in the mines. When I was a kid the coal breakers around here were still standing. Now they’re all torn down. There used to be colm dumps on the way down to Scranton that you could see the tops burning at night but this is like late 70’s probably. I vaguely remember it. 
    Even better...it was renamed to Olyphant to honor some bigshot with Erie and Hudson coal/canal /rr ... The Culm was waste product that very few had the equipment to be able to burn....and those redtop fires you remember seeing were usually from people or the borough having a area that they would burn their garbage at...think : Centralia... Sometimes they wouldn't notice the ground underneath got hot enough to start perhaps some of this waste coal on fire and it would burn deep..

    Back to the one piper.... definitely need pictures 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    Not much to see here. Can’t see it but the wheel is sitting next to the valve on the floor. Looks like there was a screw that held it to the shaft on the valve. Idk if it was removed intentionally at some point so it wouldn’t be adjusted? Idk, I’ve never touched anything on this radiator till now. The valve is free, I can open and close it. (Pics aren’t in the right order) the pipes next to the white wall go up to the disconnected radiator. They’re hot all the way up, about 190* right now. The pink or whatever color that is, is inside the closet. Those are the pipes that feed the problem radiators. The water stain down the supply is from me taking the drift out of the gutless trap last week and some water came out and ran down the pipe. 
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    The pipes going to the disconnected radiator on the second floor goes through the same room as the one piper? Where's that in the basement supply main position as only the problem riser and the one piper are seen on the end of the main before it drops to the wet return... Where's the steam coming from and where's the condensate going ?
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,832

    That valve is on the radiator in the kitchen downstairs. It has Richardson stamped on it and those ball traps have it stamped on them as well.

    This is a later-model Richardson system. The devices on the radiator returns are water-seal fittings which look different, but work the same as the originals.

    My first impression is that vent on the dry return is much too small. You need a large vent there- I'd use a Gorton #2. Is that the only steam main/dry return pairing in the system?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    edited December 2022
    reggi said:
    The pipes going to the disconnected radiator on the second floor goes through the same room as the one piper? Where's that in the basement supply main position as only the problem riser and the one piper are seen on the end of the main before it drops to the wet return... Where's the steam coming from and where's the condensate going ?
    No, next room over. The front room where you walk into the house has the one piper soon as you open the door and the two pipes that lead to the problem radiators. In the closet(pink wall) in that room. Next room over is a small living room that has the pipes that run up to the disconnected radiator(pic with the pipes running up the white wall). Those pipes aren’t on that run in the back cellar. They close to the furnace, little to the left of it. Those runs to the back cellar go off to the right of it.
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    edited January 2023
    Steamhead said:
    That valve is on the radiator in the kitchen downstairs. It has Richardson stamped on it and those ball traps have it stamped on them as well.
    This is a later-model Richardson system. The devices on the radiator returns are water-seal fittings which look different, but work the same as the originals. My first impression is that vent on the dry return is much too small. You need a large vent there- I'd use a Gorton #2. Is that the only steam main/dry return pairing in the system?
    Two of those traps are missing the balls. One upstairs and one downstairs. Almost seems like it was intentional. I guess I can source a ball bearing but something tells me they’re brass or something else that won’t rust. Yes that’s the only pairing. This is the vent that was on the return originally. But can’t be the problem because the heat still didn’t work right with it.