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2 pipe poor heat in upstairs rad

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Comments

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    is that the one missing the check ball or the one missing the guts from the steam trap? putting both of those back would probably help matters. if you measure the ball you can get stainless steel ball bearings from ebay or amazon
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    mattmia2 said:
    is that the one missing the check ball or the one missing the guts from the steam trap? putting both of those back would probably help matters. if you measure the ball you can get stainless steel ball bearings from ebay or amazon
    Originally yes, the ball was missing. But I took the one from the trap in the next room over and put it in this one because that room is unused as well so I just have the radiator disconnected and the outlets of the pipes plugged off. I don’t think that ball does much because the way the inside of the trap is machined, it can only seal the return outlet of the radiator if pressure was coming up the return. It can’t seal the return off from steam going into it from the radiator. 
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    Here’s some pics of what the inside of the trap looks like. The ball can only travel a short distance as it butts up against the end of the shaft on the screw plug. 
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    bburd said:


    mattmia2 said:

    Your issue is steam blowing through other radiators and closing the vent before the air is out. Putting a vaporstat on the boiler to keep the pressure under 8 oz. Or so and making sure the radiators have metering valves is how you keep steam out of the return. The pressure in the return is the same pressure in the supply. The trickle of condensate on the bottom of the pipe will happily flow past that.

    Based on your previous posts I have found you quite knowledgeable, Matt; but I see that you disagreed with my post about this. If you are correct in what you say above, why do two pipe air vent systems need loop seals / drips to wet returns? And why was the steam trap invented? I’m not trying to start an argument, just curious.

    Mostly to improve performance. They do work... after a fashion. They did cure some of the water hammer problems which can be more difficult in one pipe systems, but honestly they really weren't much of an improvement. The revolution was the steam trap on the one hand and on the other an assortment of gadgets which controlled the differential pressures. Those made true two pipe systems possible, and the heating industry went on from there.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    bburd
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    Is that post on the trap metal or carbon?
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    mattmia2 said:
    Is that post on the trap metal or carbon?
    The shaft on the screw plug? 
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    yes. there were early steam traps that used a carbon post that expanded in the steam and you had to adjust them to the right clearance.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    i was hoping that someone who knew exactly how this system worked originally would eventually come around
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,832
    I think that shaft contains the vent hole that lets air pass the water seal so the rad can vent.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    Well I never read anything about there being a carbon rod in these but there wasn't really much if anything written about them (that I've come across) other than they were a later version of the waterseal..
    The only thing I know that has carbon is the Air Expeller Vacuum Trap..
    The vent hole is on the dip tube just before it turns down.. that let's air, some vapor , some water to pass when the level in the radiators bottom has water above the the dip tube hole.. it's supposed to equalize the 
    pressure but I'd have to look that up to explain it better 




    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
    mattmia2
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    reggi said:
    Well I never read anything about there being a carbon rod in these but there wasn't really much if anything written about them (that I've come across) other than they were a later version of the waterseal..
    The only thing I know that has carbon is the Air Expeller Vacuum Trap..
    The vent hole is on the dip tube just before it turns down.. that let's air, some vapor , some water to pass when the level in the radiators bottom has water above the the dip tube hole.. it's supposed to equalize the 
    pressure but I'd have to look that up to explain it better 




    Do you know what the purpose is of that removable screw plug? I mean why is it removable?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    I think it is just how the check ball is installed and positioned. You may be expected to adjust the clearance with it.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    @DaveSmith2 ... Never came across anything about it or the purpose, now a couple of thoughts that have mentioned is adjusting placement, I thought maybe so also until I screwed the plug and rod in body until the plug was flush ( the round base ) then I put the ball in and turned the nut in and out and the ball didn't really travel much..to me not enough to make any difference.. 
    In fact I noticed the ball is very sensitive to the pitch of the trap on the piping.. like maybe that Flat Top isn't a coincidence.. that just may be to set a small level on to make sure the water seal isn't pitched towards the radiator or opposite ? I haven't figured it out yet 🤔 because that ball will roll towards the pitched side . .common sense says it would pitch towards the return but nothing crazy.. just a gradual radiator pitch..It would be in the books..(I'll look)
    And for inspection and maintenance..to remove it and the ball to run a brush or wire into the dip tube to clear it of any debris or unblock the air hole if it gets clogged..
    Something they found out about after the original was out for a while.. feedback from the jobbers... Maybe something to do with setting the orifice inlets ? The Deadmen know.. 
    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
    So funny story you guys will probably enjoy. I took that ball trap off the pipe in the adjacent room to take pics of it so I just stuck the cork I had in the inlet of it in the hole in the return pipe. Two nights ago I was walking past the room and I heard some weird sounds coming from inside. When I opened the door the entire room was filled with so much steam I could hardly see 3ft in front of me lmao. Steam and water was erupting from the return like a volcano. Apparently I didn’t stick the cork in the pipe forcefully enough and the pressure in the line blew it out. Idk how long it was a sauna in there but the walls were dripping wet and the floor had some puddles on it. Luckily the room is basically empty so there was nothing to damage in it. 
    So anyway I finished insulating that supply run so all of that exposed pipe is insulated now. I also, and I can remember who suggested it in this thread but I adjusted the supply valves of all the other radiators in service in the house so they’re not all set to wide open. The heat in this room is great now and the hammering even is less pronounced now as well. I still have to tweak the settings of the valves a bit as I’m trying to find the sweet spot of them open the minimum amount while still allowing them to heat up correctly. 
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    So there's your problem, there shouldn't be steam in the return. Steam in the return will keep radiators that have not already vented from venting.

    We are back to vaporstat on the boiler and orifice plates on the radiators where the vapor valves are missing or put modern thermostatic steam traps on those radiators. The orifice plate you can make out of sheet metal and is cheap, you just need to figure out the size of the hole based on the size of the radiator.

    Trying to throttle the steam in to the radiator won't work so well or will be inconsistent until you put a vaporstat on the boiler and keep it under 8oz or so.
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    mattmia2 said:
    So there's your problem, there shouldn't be steam in the return. Steam in the return will keep radiators that have not already vented from venting. We are back to vaporstat on the boiler and orifice plates on the radiators where the vapor valves are missing or put modern thermostatic steam traps on those radiators. The orifice plate you can make out of sheet metal and is cheap, you just need to figure out the size of the hole based on the size of the radiator. Trying to throttle the steam in to the radiator won't work so well or will be inconsistent until you put a vaporstat on the boiler and keep it under 8oz or so.
    The thing is though I reconnected the radiator in that room now and with the supply valve closed, the return is cold. If there was so much steam in the return, one would think it would push up through the return and heat at least the bottom of the radiator but it isn’t. Mind you there is no ball in that trap so there’s nothing stopping it from doing so. 
    I’m pretty happy with the way the heat is working in this problem room now. It’s consistently hot all the time and the thermostat isn’t set high. 
    I think the problem was mainly like you said, the steam was filling the other radiators first and then whatever was left would make its way upstairs to this one when it could. Compounded by traveling 10ft of uninsulated pipe. This run up here is the longest run in the house for the steam to have to travel. 
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    @DaveSmith2 .... Where your Mains meet  ( from the pictures you posted) on the cellar floor they are separated by a Check Valve.. did you pull the cap and see if that is functioning? It swings on a hinge and could be stuck... You shouldn't get steam through your return pipe.... UNLESS the twin radiator in the next room's trap is WIDE Open and the steam is shooting right though that radiator... going to return RISER which is split between the two radiators...
    So when you hooked the radiator up and closed the inlet valve you didn't get anything pushing through the outlet pipe..

    So check the Check Valve and the wet return pipe you replaced..are you sure that pipe is clear all the way back to the boiler and I think there might be another check valve near the boiler... check that one too.. your wet return might be the problem..
    When you steam cleaned your room you might of blown out some of backed up return condensate laying around in the lines that couldn't move.... Maybe.. ( with what pictures are available) it's definitely worth the time to check irregardless IMHO..
    ( A Cork ? )
    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


    The thing is though I reconnected the radiator in that room now and with the supply valve closed, the return is cold. If there was so much steam in the return, one would think it would push up through the return and heat at least the bottom of the radiator but it isn’t. Mind you there is no ball in that trap so there’s nothing stopping it from doing so.

    There is steam pushing toward the radiator from both the supply and the return so it just compresses the air in the radiator and doesn't heat.

    In order for the steam to get in the air has to be able to get out.

    What is supposed to happen in 2 pipe systems is that the return is open to the vent and the steam from the supply pushes the air out through the return.

    Since you have steam from other radiators in the return, that heat closes the vent on the return so the air can't get out(and it would be venting steam rather than air and the boiler would be losing water anyhow if the vent didn't close)
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    reggi said:

    @DaveSmith2 .... Where your Mains meet  ( from the pictures you posted) on the cellar floor they are separated by a Check Valve.. did you pull the cap and see if that is functioning? It swings on a hinge and could be stuck... You shouldn't get steam through your return pipe....

    The main connects to the return below the water line, the water in the wet return keeps the steam from going from the main to the supply. I'm not sure what the idea of the check valve is but it was on a lot of vapor systems, possibly to keep supply side pressure from pushing the water out of the boiler.

    The steam is in the returns because the pressure on the boiler isn't well regulated and some of the radiators are missing the devices that meter the amount of steam that is admitted to the radiators so too much steam is put in to some or all of the radiators and the excess that they can't condense ends up in the return.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    reggi said:
    @DaveSmith2 .... Where your Mains meet  ( from the pictures you posted) on the cellar floor they are separated by a Check Valve.. did you pull the cap and see if that is functioning? It swings on a hinge and could be stuck... You shouldn't get steam through your return pipe.... UNLESS the twin radiator in the next room's trap is WIDE Open and the steam is shooting right though that radiator... going to return RISER which is split between the two radiators...
    So when you hooked the radiator up and closed the inlet valve you didn't get anything pushing through the outlet pipe..

    So check the Check Valve and the wet return pipe you replaced..are you sure that pipe is clear all the way back to the boiler and I think there might be another check valve near the boiler... check that one too.. your wet return might be the problem..
    When you steam cleaned your room you might of blown out some of backed up return condensate laying around in the lines that couldn't move.... Maybe.. ( with what pictures are available) it's definitely worth the time to check irregardless IMHO..
    ( A Cork ? )
    I didn’t open the check valve but it has to be working because it’s hot on the supply side of the valve and cool on the return side. I’ve followed that return pipe all the way to the boiler, there’s no other check valve. 
    The twin radiator in the adjacent room does have the gutted trap.. but it’s supply valve is shut off so it’s not getting steam bleed through from that one. The only other one upstairs is a small wall mounted on in the bathroom which has the ball type trap and the ball is intact. But remember the inside of those traps. The ball can’t seal steam from exiting the radiator. It can only seal the entrance of that dip tube from pressure from the return pushing the ball up against the opening of the dip tube. 
    I don’t think it’s possible for this system not to have some pressure in the returns with these ball traps. 
    mattmia2
  • DaveSmith2
    DaveSmith2 Member Posts: 63
    And yes I know, corks lol. They were the only thing on hand I could find that fit to seal the outlet of the supply valve and the trap. They actually worked fine for a couple weeks being there’s not much pressure in those pipes. The problem arose because I didn’t put the trap back on and stick the cork in it. I shaved the cork down a little and jammed it in the hole in the return pipe and not far enough. Got too cocky lol
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630

    I don’t think it’s possible for this system not to have some pressure in the returns with these ball traps. 

    It is completely possible to keep the steam out of the return. You have to regulate the pressure with a vaprotstat and meter the amount of steam entering the radiators with vapor radiator vales or orifice plates.
    bburd
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    @DaveSmith2 Your Richardson Intake valve photos don't include  side shots ..( while I try to figure how much pressure you had in your return to pop your cork .. ) but you might have a metering device already built in.. your looking for a HEX nut.. if you have them don't mess with them yet because they're old and tricky to adjust after 100 years.. ask me how I know.. here's a pic of what it would look like

    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:
    @DaveSmith2 Your Richardson Intake valve photos don't include  side shots ..( while I try to figure how much pressure you had in your return to pop your cork .. ) but you might have a metering device already built in.. your looking for a HEX nut.. if you have them don't mess with them yet because they're old and tricky to adjust after 100 years.. ask me how I know.. here's a pic of what it would look like

    The two radiators I have that have those style valves don’t have nuts on them. Just the lever that can be set to open, closed, 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4’s. 
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,630
    The original valves are likely adjusted properly. It is where the valves have been replaced that would be where I would look. This is dependent on keeping the pressure low from the boiler, the amount of something that passes through an opening is dependent on the pressure and the size of the opening.

    Remember any radiator passing steam will pass that steam to the vent and close the vent and stop all other venting.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 511
    Likely adjusted though there are variables to consider after 100 years.. these are from 9 years ago
    And again.. not much if anything I recall finding written on these other than original to the house umm. '24 or '26 

    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
    Figured I’d update the thread. So the heat in this room has been working perfectly more or less now. Hammers a bit when it’s coming up but other than that, no problems. Radiator stays consistently warm if not hot. Figured I’d check the other two radiators in the rooms to the left and right of this one that are shut off to make sure nothing crazy happened being I have the doors to the rooms closed. So the one over from this room that has its own piping, the supply line is hot going to it but the radiator is cold and the return is cold(normal). The one in the other room that shares the piping with this one is hot. Not totally hot as if the supply valve was open but hot, and the return is hot. So it’s getting steam through the return enough to heat the radiator. I really don’t care because the one in this room is working and that’s good enough for me right now being I went from no heat to good consistent heat.