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Should my two pipe radiator have air vents on them?

park3662
park3662 Member Posts: 5
edited January 15 in Strictly Steam
I have 6 steam radiators on ground floor, 5 upstairs. All except 1 have vents on them. 1 is entirely closed. Were these vents added on afterwards? Why would someone do that?

Down at the boiler there are 2 vents nearby, they seem inactive and seem to have asbestos on them. Could radiator vents have been added, to avoid using main vents by boiler?

I’ve had contractors from 2 differents companies here since i’ve moved in, they’ve serviced the boiler but have given me minimal information about my overall system. I feel that it is running inefficiently, using more energy than it should, and the steam it is giving off in pollutant heavy,

Video of one radiator emitting steam from handle side, not vent side

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8t3r4aiksrmr8p1/IMG_4152.MOV?dl=0

Pictures below







Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,432
    That one valve with a lever handle on it and the lack of visible traps on the return elbows very much suggest to me that once upon a time this was a vapour system, running on very low steam pressure. It's probably running on much too high a pressure now -- and has likely been repiped somewhat, and the boiler is newer.

    It may, therefore, actually need the radiator vents (they shouldn't be there at all) to make it run at all, as the excess pressure is likely blowing steam through into the returns, blocking air from leaving the radiators. As you note, it's probably running rather poorly...

    It is also likely that with some work -- probably not major -- it could be brought back to operating the way it should, but it's going to take some detective work by a really good steam guy.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    park3662
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,885
    Guys add radiator vents to two pipe out of desperation and exasperation.   A properly designed and maintained two pipe system
    Just needs main vents in basement.   The exception in some early two pipe systems with no traps that used radiator vents but you don't see them often. Mad 🐕 Dog
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,885
    You're definitely ready for new Main vents in the basement.   Can you show any pics of the returns from the first floor radiators in the basement where they connect?   Where are you located, Mr Park?   Mad Dog
    kcopp
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,279
    Show the pressure control on the side of the boiler, maybe a gray box or one with clear cover.

    Also does the pressure gauge show any reading?

    Your original rad valves may have been special in that they metered the steam into the rad thru a very small orifice opening. If not the original design and replaced by the common ones used today then that fine tuning control is lost.
    And consequently steam may pass thru the rad into the return pipe causing all sorts of problems.

    Or in some cases the lower outlet fitting you have may had a special internal control to keep the steam from passing thru.

    Can you see any brand names on either? Maybe brush some paint off to see.

  • park3662
    park3662 Member Posts: 5
    Thanks all for your feedback thus far! Silly question, but my main vents by the boiler wouldn't be capable of feeding asbestos into the rest of the system would they?

    Mad Dog_2 said:
    Guys add radiator vents to two pipe out of desperation and exasperation.   A properly designed and maintained two pipe system
    Just needs main vents in basement.   The exception in some early two pipe systems with no traps that used radiator vents but you don't see them often. Mad 🐕 Dog
    I believe these are both returns. Also, home is in Poughkeepsie, New York. Approx. 1910/1920 in age, Arts & Craft style. 
    JUGHNE said:
    Show the pressure control on the side of the boiler, maybe a gray box or one with clear cover. Also does the pressure gauge show any reading? Your original rad valves may have been special in that they metered the steam into the rad thru a very small orifice opening. If not the original design and replaced by the common ones used today then that fine tuning control is lost. And consequently steam may pass thru the rad into the return pipe causing all sorts of problems. Or in some cases the lower outlet fitting you have may had a special internal control to keep the steam from passing thru. Can you see any brand names on either? Maybe brush some paint off to see.

    PSI approx 2 I think, photo here. I can't see any brand name, but there is this anchor logo maybe more recognizable to some of you then me.


  • park3662
    park3662 Member Posts: 5
    Water level, but i'm never able to read it


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,432
    No fear on the asbestos.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 316
    Water looks below the gage glass ??
    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: 316
    edited January 16
    Does your low water cut off function ? Is that boiler running now ?
    @park3662
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,885
    As long as the asbestos isn't FRIABLE - peeling and flaking and crumbling I wouldn't worry but I would strongly recommend you put it on the hit List to get properly abated at some point before it DOES break apart.  Asbestos abatement is MUCH cheaper and a very competitive business these days.  It's not thousands of dollars that it was 20 yrs ago. My Daughter is in School in the Great Poughkeepsie and I'm up there all the time.I was there Saturday afternoon for a College Basketball game. I'd be glad to stop by and assess your system.  On my next pass through the beautiful Hudson Valley. Mad Dog. 
    kcoppCLambLong Beach Ed
  • park3662
    park3662 Member Posts: 5
    Mad Dog_2 said:

    As long as the asbestos isn't FRIABLE - peeling and flaking and crumbling I wouldn't worry but I would strongly recommend you put it on the hit List to get properly abated at some point before it DOES break apart.  Asbestos abatement is MUCH cheaper and a very competitive business these days.  It's not thousands of dollars that it was 20 yrs ago. My Daughter is in School in the Great Poughkeepsie and I'm up there all the time.I was there Saturday afternoon for a College Basketball game. I'd be glad to stop by and assess your system.  On my next pass through the beautiful Hudson Valley. Mad Dog. 

    Hey Mad Dog that would be great! The last two knuckleheads that have come by have told me my system was fine, but i got the impression they were just trying to get to their next job site. Going to direct message you my info!
    reggi said:

    Does your low water cut off function ? Is that boiler running now ?
    @park3662

    I think it does.... the light was on earlier that day but turned off. And yes, boiler functioning.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 316
    @park3662 From your photo the gage glass looks empty with dry water stains inside where the water level should be seen..
    If you can spray some glass cleaner on a cloth and and gently. ... gently rub the length of the glass to clean off the front and back without jarring or bumping the rods on the side it will a clearer view if the dry water staining is/was on the inside or outside and in fact the true level of your boilers water line... It is DANGEROUS to operate it without water in the glass matching the range gauge imprinted on the boiler in the background...
    Others can assist with your lwco as I'm not familiar with the particulars of that specific unit...
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • park3662
    park3662 Member Posts: 5
    reggi said:

    @park3662 From your photo the gage glass looks empty with dry water stains inside where the water level should be seen..
    If you can spray some glass cleaner on a cloth and and gently. ... gently rub the length of the glass to clean off the front and back without jarring or bumping the rods on the side it will a clearer view if the dry water staining is/was on the inside or outside and in fact the true level of your boilers water line... It is DANGEROUS to operate it without water in the glass matching the range gauge imprinted on the boiler in the background...
    Others can assist with your lwco as I'm not familiar with the particulars of that specific unit...

    Thanks for the headsup Reggie!
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 885
    It looks to me to be an low pressure operating steam system.
    what bothers me is the boiler header. It looks to be to small for the system.
    Additionally the lack of pipe insulation will cause have a bad effect on the system operation.
    The T for the pressure controller should face up not sideways.

    First step replace all the vent valves on the system. try operating at one psi first;.

    The elbows at the outlet of the radiators may have had and orifice in them or the radiator valves were equipped with a orifice or the old valves were graduated to meter the steam flow.

    Jake

    Mad Dog_2