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Near boiler Re piping of a horribly "Professionally installed" ECT-04

MakG
MakG Member Posts: 15
Let me open this tread by saying I have learned so much about Steam from this forum and other sources which enabled me to correct this failure of an install by one of the most recognized professional outfits in my area.
To begin I had bought this house two heating seasons ago and the system did nothing but push water out of both ends of the piping along with water hammer and basically no heat transfer to speak of other than the water. The pressure troll was jack to the moon if I remember right I think the thing would hit 10 lbs plus pressure.
I realized there was a major problem so where to start I looked at the manual and there was some good info on what should of happened and didn't Then I came across this forum and quickly realized the near boiler piping was all wrong not only on the front end but the Hartford loop was basically a six inch water column of a Joke.

as you can see by these pictures it was bad.
I replaced the near boiler piping with two risers and a drop header along with some king valves for isolation to blow down the boiler Thanks Dan Hollihan.
I also changed the undersized equalizer pipe and put in a proper Hartford loop along
with going through all the controls gauges low water cut off you name it I check it out and corrected any issues

So I'm at the point where I'm trying to optimize the performance. I have it down fired to the smallest nozzle that the book says you can run in it it has an AFG 6 with a 1.10 80A
in it set up with my Testo 320 so all the combustion number are real good.
I also have done the EDR numbers along with the Air volume of the radiators and piping to get the venting pretty close to balanced and the biggest radiators heating in the same time frame as the smaller ones.

So I'm running a honeywell programmable thermostat set up for steam/oil
and the system set from 62deg to go to 68deg.
This is what I was interested in getting some advice on its runtime for that 6 deg gain is
aprox 40 to 45 min from a static temp of 160deg boiler water hot water tankless aquastat
setting.
The boiler operating pressure hangs around 1.15oz for quit some time

Then about half way to three quarters the way through the cycle it'll climb and finish out at the end of the cycle at about 5oz pressure all the radiators are hot with only one monster still venting.


The question is is this optimal performance or should I install a slightly larger nozzle lets say a 1.20 80B will that bring up the steam pressure faster to shorten the cycle or is it good the way she is running?
I will be open to any suggestions mind you I'm new to this only a couple of seasons with this one. Thanks.










mattmia2MikeAmann
«1

Comments

  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,188
    edited January 2023
    Looks like you did a very nice job. And it sounds like it's operating well. Not sure why you downsized the firing rate. Assuming that the boiler is properly sized for the connected load, the firing rate specified by the manufacturer should be best.

    Perhaps the best test would be the operation of the system on a day at the lowest design temperature. If the system then satisfies the thermostat without the boiler cycling on pressure, you're just right.

    Let's see what others say.
    MakG
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    The boiler with a 1.25 80B is rated at 113k BTUs Net 471sqft Net my total radiator EDR is 441.32sqft 105,916.8 BTUs so the boiler is about 7.5k BTUs oversized with the 1.25 80B so I down fired it to the smallest nozzle that was in the book it is very close considering I didn't figure any piping because there is insulation still in place. The boiler doesn't come close to cycling on pressure the pressuretroll is set to 1.75lbs high limit cut out and cut in low level is .5lbs
    I'm at the point of fine tuning it and was looking to have it run up to maybe 8oz to 12oz of pressure do you think a slightly larger nozzle will increase the generation of steam getting it to come up on temp/pressure faster? I think the boiler is sized correctly even if it is 7.5k BTUs larger than the radiator EDR That why I'm trying to fine tune it. So a 40 ish minute run time to raise 6 deg from a cold system/radiators is normal?

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,584
    > will that bring up the steam pressure faster to shorten the cycle or is it good the way she is running?

    Curious why you think that bringing up the steam pressure faster would be a benefit.

    The steam is getting to your radiators and is radiating into your house and your existing pressure is plenty to be able to do that.

    I wouldn't want to increase that pressure, but I might reduce the size of that setback.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    MakGmattmia2
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    LOL " Steamhead" last week I had just bought a cheap 3/16" flare male x 1/8" npt oil pressure gauge to check it. there is a sticker on the burner with that 140psi on it. Thank you for your advice to check it, now I know how important it is. I'm at the point of balancing the system and have been doing some calculations on vent capacities and total air to be vented at the radiator using the information from this site on Balancing a steam system. The shorter main has two #35 vent rites that close in aprox 4min the longer main has one #35 ventrite and one Gorton #1 that get up to temp in aprox 6 min The longer main is the side the thermostat is on. for the majority of radiators I'm using the #1 ventrite. The17sec radiator is connected to a 24' x 2" line off the main and has 1.14sqft of air total to vent and I have been playing with vents to get that up to temp when the others are. I first tried a #35 it was an improvement but then put a Gorton C on it I now can say it gets completely hot within the same time frame the others are fully hot I have to double check it to make sure the vent is closing when fully heated I have caught it once where the radiator was still venting the rad was hot the vent was not so it needs to be check when the vent is hot.
    I also have a couple of Gorton #6 on two other large rads that are at the end of the first floor main runs
    well away from the thermostat.
    The system seems to be working the way it should be base on what I have learned from all the information and Pro advice available here & other places.


    MikeAmannMad Dog_2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,410
    Edr calculations aren't that precise. Undersized a bit is probably desirable if the venting is balanced. Your goal with venting is to make the heat in the house even, you will want radiators where the radiator is bigger in proportion to the heat loss to heat more slowly. Calculations are a start but some of it has to be experimental.
    MakGEBEBRATT-EdMad Dog_2
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    edited January 2023
    Ed
    Good to hear the 1.10 80 run time is OK and yes the boiler cycles on temp not pressure and yes the stack temp is lower.
    When I realized two seasons ago this boiler had major problems, I looked at the manual and found they recommended 2-1/2" near boiler piping with two risers 24" off the water line. the installer put one 8" nipple for a riser directly into the header. It did nothing but pump water.
    I rebuilt the near boiler piping with the two recommended 24" risers to the drop header and sized the equalizer correctly to the 1-1/2" along with a few other changes the system worked much better the first season but still had issues with the unstable water line. It would dance and disappear towards the end of the cycle this season the light bulb went off when I realized that the water column in the Hartford loop wasn't big to keep the steam pressure from pushing the water back up the dry returns they had built the loop with no more than an 8" leg for a total 16" of water column.
    I replaced that now there is close to 72" total water column now the water line is stable and the system
    is delivering good heat to the rooms.
    Nice catch on the relief valve piping. I have the 3/4"mp to comp to do that but haven't gotten to it yet.
    I'm at the point of balancing the venting to get everything coming up to temp within a few min time frame of each other.
    I can say this has been a learning experience well worth the price of reading.
    Many thanks to all the Pro's that post a wealth of information on this site and others.
    I now have a reliable good working steam heating system.
    mattmia2MikeAmannEBEBRATT-EdJakeCK
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,307
    @MakG With regard to the water line was the boiler ever skimmed? I am sure you probably did that because you read the manual which most installers don't. :)
    mattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,410

    @MakG With regard to the water line was the boiler ever skimmed? I am sure you probably did that because you read the manual which most installers don't. :)

    It wasn't so horrible that i would go that will never work, it looked more like it would have a problem if the water wasn't perfect.
    EBEBRATT-EdMakG
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    MakG said:

    LOL " Steamhead" last week I had just bought a cheap 3/16" flare male x 1/8" npt oil pressure gauge to check it. there is a sticker on the burner with that 140psi on it. Thank you for your advice to check it, now I know how important it is. I'm at the point of balancing the system and have been doing some calculations on vent capacities and total air to be vented at the radiator using the information from this site on Balancing a steam system. The shorter main has two #35 vent rites that close in aprox 4min the longer main has one #35 ventrite and one Gorton #1 that get up to temp in aprox 6 min The longer main is the side the thermostat is on. for the majority of radiators I'm using the #1 ventrite. The17sec radiator is connected to a 24' x 2" line off the main and has 1.14sqft of air total to vent and I have been playing with vents to get that up to temp when the others are. I first tried a #35 it was an improvement but then put a Gorton C on it I now can say it gets completely hot within the same time frame the others are fully hot I have to double check it to make sure the vent is closing when fully heated I have caught it once where the radiator was still venting the rad was hot the vent was not so it needs to be check when the vent is hot.
    I also have a couple of Gorton #6 on two other large rads that are at the end of the first floor main runs
    well away from the thermostat.
    The system seems to be working the way it should be base on what I have learned from all the information and Pro advice available here & other places.

    How long is each steam main, and what pipe size are they?

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Mad Dog_2MakG
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    edited January 2023
    So what's the latest on your system? Mattmia...I couldn't agree more..sizing is an art within an art.  Well said. Mad Dog. 
    mattmia2
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    Ed
    In regards to the boiler being skimmed, I had bought the house in late 2020 early 2021
    the boiler was installed in 2007 so by looking back at how badly it was done I would say skimming never took place by the looks the skim plug was never removed. The original owner had told me that the system really never worked well he resorted to burning wood in a wood stove.
    When I realized there was a major problem with the heating system, I started first replacing all of the shutoff valves with new quality valves which have the HTPE seat made for steam along with all the vents. I also power flushed all the pipes and radiators and the inside of the boiler because I had to clean the Tankless coil along with new gaskets at both plate locations at that time. I have blown down the boiler several times. Thanks Dan Holohan for recommending putting valve in specif location to do that. The house was built in 1935 it has the super heavy pipe with quality cast fittings all the hangars and pitches are spot on whoever originally installed the system was a master.
    The heating still didn't work correctly it was hammering and pumping water Shortly after that, I tore into the near boiler piping after reading the manufacturers manual and some threads on the subject here.
    I stand corrected the riser that the original installer put on the boiler was just 6" not 8" and they only had
    put one, the manufacture specs two for the ECT-04 that should have been 24" off the waterline.
    looking back at what was done every step of the install those installers placed land mines in the system it was doomed not to work. With what I know now there were three major issues compounding the water being pumped out of the boiler from both ends. one the header was sitting 6" above the boiler two the equalizer pipe was 1-1/4" instead of the manufactures specified 1-1/2" three the drip leg on the dry return that that feeds the wet return then makes up the Hartford loop was a total of 16" water column that was 36" off the floor so when the boiler came up on pressure it would pump water back up the dry returns.
    Oh one more thing they had the pressuretroll jacked to the moon. I think at one time I had seen just over 10lbs on the gauge.
    As I stated knowing what I know now about how a steam boiler should be installed this was a Horribly installed boiler.
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    Steamhead
    The mains and piping runs along with the radiator EDR including the air volume calculation were in that first group of pictures I posted.
    This is it.
    Here's the boiler Net Ratings mind you I'm down firing it from that 1.25 80 just a shad to 1.10 80

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,410
    So then it was never skimmed by you. I hope you have skimmed it since you installed the new piping.

    Skimming is the only way to remove the oil from the boiler. If you drain water from other places the oil will stick to the inside of the boiler as the water trains and melt back in to the new water.
    MakG
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    edited January 2023
    Mattmia2

    Since the re piping I have run it with some surgeX and I have also used 8 Way for some flushing I have also had the boiler wide open front and side when I changed both gaskets because they were leaking from age and over pressurizing from the previous setting on that pressuretroll that is now at 1.75psi high limit cutout and .5lbs low cut in prior to opening I blew it down then steam cleaned the inside with a power washer
    The skim plug is not moving it is now a case where if I wanted to put a skim pipe on it I would have to drill it out. My waterline is pretty stable now it only rolls gently about 3/4"
    Mat the waterline use to violently disappear completely
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    You need to upgrade your main vents. Those Vent-Rite #35s are more suited to convector venting.

    Get yourself two Gorton #2 vents. Put one of these along with your Gorton #1 on your long main. Vent the shorter main with just a #2.

    The object here is to fill the mains with steam first, at very low pressure, before any steam enters the radiator runouts. This way, the main vents should close at about the same time, and when they do, the steam will start to rise into the runouts at the same time.

    Then you should not need such big vents on the radiators.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,188
    If you do have to skim the boiler and the skim port is impossible, you can usually skim it through the lower or upper cock on the gauge glass. Either drain through the cleaning port on the water column or remove the brass valve and install a nipple. Then lower or raise the water line to the port. You can slowly skim the surface oil that way.
    Waher
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    edited January 2023
    Steamhead
    I'm at the point of fine tuning the system with the vents and have found it pretty interesting also very little info on it other that Booklet Balancing Steam systems by Gerry Gill & Steve Pajek.
    The shorter main is 32'x2" reduced down to 16'x1.25" on the dryreturn those two # 35 audibly close @ around 1oz of pressure in about 3min of run time the total air in that main is .896cft by my calculations those two are in the ballpark @ 3min = .29cft/min those can vent .11cfmx2=.22cfm it is also the first riser off the header, that side of the house is away from the thermostat. So you recommend putting on a
    Gorton #2 with a venting capacity of 1.1cfm That's 1.23x the volume.
    I'm still learning so over sizing the mains is what you want?
    Somewhere I read that a target of 3 min is Ideal for the main vents.
    The larger main that is on the Thermostat side is 51'x2" with 7'x1.25" going into the dry return drip leg and has a total of 1.243cft it has a venting capacity with that #35 & the Gorton#1 of .44cfm and that if also close to the 3min mark when returning to the boiler.
    The biggest issue on that side is the large 17sec radiator on a 24"x2" line off the main with a total air volume of 1.142cft that one just wouldn't heat completely in the heating cycle when the thermostat was satisfied it would be just getting warm. I had swapped the Ventrite #1 for a Gorton C now it comes up to temp with the others.
    Your recommendation is to get rid of the #35 and replace it with a Gorton #2 paired with the Gorton#1 to increase the venting capacity to 1.43cfm
    Is there a point of over venting the mains?


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    You want to vent the mains as quickly as possible. I generally use the lowest pressure CFM ratings on the chart for main vents and the next higher for the radiator vents. On a small system like yours, it is not unreasonable to vent the mains in 1-2 minutes.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    MakG
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,188
    Why vent a main in one minute when a boiler takes 10 - 15 minutes producing the steam to fill that main?

    I think Bro. Hall addresses the selection well when he advises clocking the time to heat a main with an open pipe and trying to reproduce that speed with sufficient venting.
    MakG
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    Steamhead
    Ok, I ordered a #2 for the longest main to see what the end result will be. If it is on the positive side I'll put one on the shorter side also. I think dialing in the system is part science mixed in with experience, trial & error.
    What do you think of that 17sec Rad at the end of that 24"x2" line. I now have it coming up to temp with the other one in the room with that Gorton C vs the ventrite #1 that wouldn't start heating till the end of a thermostat cycle.
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    Long Beach Ed
    I'll give that timing method a shot to pin down how quickly or slowly it vents vs time to pin down that time frame it takes with an open main, I'll be able to isolate each main with the king valves I installed. I was using an arbitrary 3min based on the volume vs vent capacity. Open pipe it is.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    The issue with large vents on one-pipe radiators is that they can cause banging. Since the water has to flow back down the runout and riser from the radiator, if the steam domes up too fast the water can be held up in the pipe or radiator where it will bang. Proper main vents let you use smaller radiator vents and still get quick response.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    MakGLong Beach Ed
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    Steamhead

    I'll keep an eye on it, after I add that #2 to that side. currently it is quiet. That does have it's own 2" line that is a straight shot off the main.
    I appreciate the advice.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,692
    Why vent a main in one minute when a boiler takes 10 - 15 minutes producing the steam to fill that main? I think Bro. Hall addresses the selection well when he advises clocking the time to heat a main with an open pipe and trying to reproduce that speed with sufficient venting.
    I’m not sure what mansions you are used to working on, but in my average house it takes 3 minutes to fill the main on a normal winter cycle, that is from burner on to steam at end of main, timed with a PLC.  I think @ChrisJ has done even less than that and I think his mains are longer than mine.

    The time that matters is when the mains are hot, that’s the most common scenario for any of these systems.  If one is using a cold main to measure venting speed you will absolutely under vent the main every time.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Long Beach Ed
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,442
    My lowest was just over 60 seconds.  That includes the time for the damper to open and burner to light.  To be fair it's probably 50 seconds from light off to steam hitting the end of the 32' long main.


    10-15 minutes..... Maybe in the fall and the spring but even then once it starts steaming even with ice cold piping id say 2 to 3 minutes tops for steam to get to radiators.

    That's why I suggest starting a system and then shutting down for 5 minutes and firing again to test main vents.  It makes sure they will not hold the steam back even under the most extreme conditions.
    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
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,188
    Hey, if your boiler can boil water and fill a main with steam in a minute, then by all means vent it to accommodate that.
    Mad Dog_2
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    To all who have responded to this Thread, I'll be doing some further testing on the Venting of the mains being open to get a benchmark on how long it take with an open pipe Then with the new main vents in place.
    More data to come.
    Thanks to all who responded with the helpful info.
    ChrisJMad Dog_2
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,442
    edited January 2023
    Hey, if your boiler can boil water and fill a main with steam in a minute, then by all means vent it to accommodate that.
    Keep in mind Ed, my boiler only has a 10% pickup factor.

    An EG40 connected to 392sqft 


    Most on this forum say it's undersized 
    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
    MakG
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    What I do is put the largest size nipple (1/2' , 3/4" or 1" in to main, get a tee with plug for your future and start with one and add accordingly. If you want to do the pipe volume calculations. Go for it. Mad Dog. 
    MakG
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 1,341
    Hello @MakG,

    Not seeing it in your pictures and I don't see that anyone else has mentioned it. Are your two main returns (drips) isolated from each other below the water line ?


    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
    MakG
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,543
    109A_5 said:

    Hello @MakG,

    Not seeing it in your pictures and I don't see that anyone else has mentioned it. Are your two main returns (drips) isolated from each other below the water line ?

    Could there be a short circuit there?
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    mattmia2MakG
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    edited January 2023
    109A_5
    I'm Glad you asked that queastion, & now that you brought that up it sound like it is an important detail and thinking about it they should not be connected above the waterline because they can influence each others performance. Wow I was wrong there was another land mine in the system from those installers.
    They connected them both with a tee well above the waterline.
    I didn't think twice about the way they connected both into the drip leg above the waterline.
    Should the second drip leg connect at the wet returns at floor level as low as possible or is 8" to 12" below the water line Ok?
    This steam system has been a learning experience. Much thanks to all the positive advice given on this Forum!


  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 1,341
    Hello @MakG,

    As much as Method A would probably work fine to isolate the Steam Mains, I would do it like Method B so an appropriately placed drain valve(s) could better flush out and / or allow cleaning access of the wet return.




    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
    MakG
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    109A_5
    Thank you for the schematic, I'll go with method B it will work well with what I have I'll replace the 90 with a Tee and separate the tee at the top. I will add another ball valve on the new drip leg so I can blow down the bottom mud leg of the wet return that I already set up with a drain valve & and isolation valve to blow down the Boiler and or flush the returns.
    Still amazed at how badly this was originally installed.


    109A_5
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,188
    edited January 2023
    Nice neat soldering on that copper. Better than most work I see.
    MakG
  • MakG
    MakG Member Posts: 15
    Hi @109A_5
    Just following up on the finishing touches to my re-piped steam system. It is now working extremely well we had a cold spell where the temps were 18 below zero the system it now vents both mains at pretty much the same time both returns are steaming hot in three minutes on a thermostat call for heat from 160deg boiler water from the indirect water tank aqua stat also all the radiators are heating at equal rates pretty much they finish heating completely across the sections at the same time. One more thing to add the system pressure never exceeded 1.5ounces of pressure during that cold spell even on a call to step up 6deg from the setback thermostat.
    I have to thank everyone for all the great advice I received!






    109A_5
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,188
    Neat work! You can be proud.
    MakG
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    Who soldered those joints??? Outstanding!!
    Do you need a job, kid?  Bring those pictures with you..you'll get the next job.. i brought a full photo album to a few interviews over the years..  some warned me not to...too cocky blah blah..Never regretted it.  Simply placed it on the table in front of me and just waited for a bite....just like fishing for Crappies.....WHAM!!!
    "What have you got there, Mr Sweeney? '  awww shucks...I'm glad you asked....'   Set hook!   Always got those jobs and after I worked there a while, they would tell me no one had ever done that before and that they loved NOT only the unparalleled craftsmanship,  but the Bold, out of the box move and extreme pride!!!!!  Mad Dog
    MakGCLamb