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Steam traps. new element kits, change to Tunstall inserts or new traps

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tim smith
tim smith Member Posts: 2,774
Hey all, looking for opinions. Got a 50 unit building that needs to have all traps etc gone through. What is your opinions on which route. Most are old Warren Webster traps. A lot are blowing through.
Tim

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  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,111
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    You could check out an article by Henry Gifford entitled "How To make A 2 pipe steam system really work".

    I have done this with a couple of projects and needed to do no trap work.

    Orifice installation is about 1/5 th of the cost of traps.
    PC7060
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,255
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    No Brainer for me Tim..Tunstall makes everything you need...Great Quality..family owned great prices,, fast turnaround and USA ! Mad Dog
    Intplm.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,111
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    I get my orifices from Tunstall thru a distributor. Drilled for 1/8" or less and then drill as needed.

    This is the method used before there were rad traps. The only difference is that the inlet is not adjustable.

    Keeps emitters from overheating.

    IMO, It is worth a read, only 7-8 pages long.

    Good reasoning and common sense apply by Henry.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,849
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    Replacing trap innards is probably less labor than doing orifices. But if you do orifices and do it once and get it balanced you will never have to do it again but that may take more labor
    Mad Dog_2PC7060Intplm.
  • tim smith
    tim smith Member Posts: 2,774
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    Mad dog, orifices or the tunstall elements?
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,111
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    The orifice method will prevent overheating and the opening of windows.

    Many times there is too much radiation in the room, throttling down with supply valve will not always work.
    Easier to leave it wide open and adjust comfort with the window.

    The last major orifice job was a school that had a lot of envelope improvements.
    Building full of lady teachers who were pretty content for several winters.

    IIUC, most traps fail open. One does not have to even open the caps for the orifice method.
    Some traps will still be working and any failed close will present themselves for lack of heating.

    I checked orifices from a 1955 project and out of about 20 only one had washed open and cracked.
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,219
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    There are a few other really big advantages to using orifices. One is that when the boiler is replaced usually you can go to a boiler only about 1/2 the capacity, saving capital costs and improving fuel efficiency and comfort ( nice long burns times most of the year). This is for a couple of reasons: 1) The pick up load is much lighter so the pick up factor can be reduced ( I think Gifford uses about 10 to 15%, I've found that works well), 2) In most systems the boiler will only see about 60% of the radiation, so the steaming capacity can be reduced.
    The other is that in most systems with radiators, you can reset a modulating burner based on outdoor temperature. In warm weather, small flame, moderate weather, medium flame, and for the few design days, large flame. This provides a nearly constant flow of heat into the building at about the same rate it is losing it. You should see much better fuel efficiency and very comfortable heating. We've also step fired two smaller boilers in orifice systems using a two stage thermostat.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    bburdmattmia2JUGHNE
  • tim smith
    tim smith Member Posts: 2,774
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    Thanks all for your input, I may very likely go orifices. Pull elements from old traps? I would think so.
    Thanks again
    Tim
    mattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,981
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    You don't have to if they're working or failed open, only if they have failed closed. You can just pull the ones where it still doesn't heat with the orifice plate then address it later if one does fail closed later but that is unlikely since they won't be operating anymore.
    JUGHNE
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,111
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    Obviously the average operating pressure must be known.

    One house, my best guess was about 8 ounces.
    Guts were gone from traps and could not operate system for any indication.
    I got lucky.

    I used an extended chart for sizes based on ounces, could find it here if you want.

    If short on heat orifice size can be drilled larger. That would be painful for your job.

    Henry's chart is based on, IIRC, 2 PSI. And no more than 80% EDR of emitter.

    I have went less, maybe 60%, depending upon envelope improvements.
    Or if the EDR was sized for 1918 standards.....windows open.

  • tim smith
    tim smith Member Posts: 2,774
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    thanks all for your input, we just don't have that much steam out here in Seattle so the knowledge of all there on the east coast helps. Don't always have the time to do retrofits on systems here as we are a small company. I think this will be a great benefit for my client who is a friend also.
    Tim
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,219
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    WE usually pull the old element and trap orifices to help eliminate problems with clogged returns.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • woobagooba
    woobagooba Member Posts: 186
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    Might be useful to monitor your steam traps ... https://www.steamiq.com/
  • ariccio
    ariccio Member Posts: 52
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    Might be useful to monitor your steam traps ... https://www.steamiq.com/


    Those work, but they're still way too expensive to be used in apartment buildings. I've talked with some vendors about trying to use automotive knock sensors as the measuring element instead, but they couldn't make it work. There are a bunch of people trying - it's just not cheap enough yet.



  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,675
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    I somewhat agree. Somewhat. Orifices are wonderful, however, they are critically dependent on operating pressure differential. If you can guarantee that you, your successors, assigns, and heirs will always operate the system at the pressure differential within a rather narrow selected range, great.

    If not... remember that the flow is proportional to the square root of the differential pressure.

    Traps, on the other hand, so long as they are operated within their rated operating pressure range (typically 0 to 3 psi) will do their thing for a very very long time... decades. Maybe not a century, but I know of some which are pushing that.

    Downside there is that if you do overpressure them, they will fail rather quickly.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,255
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    Tunstall inserts those existing trap bodies will last another 100 hundred years...mad Dog 🐕 
    Intplm.
  • CLamb
    CLamb Member Posts: 300
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    Might be useful to monitor your steam traps ... https://www.steamiq.com/

    There's gotta be a simpler and cheaper way of monitoring traps than using ultrasound. Maybe using thermal sensors or even a hall effect sensor and a magnet affixed to a moving part.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,090
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    Try using a Thermal heat gun. You can use it just by pointing and shooting the laser light at the inlet and discharge of the trap. this can give you a swing in temperature readings
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,255
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    Or...save alot of valuable time, and rebuild them ALL when heating season is over. Once you do 3 or 4, you have your bucket with assorted wrenches and they go fast.  Mad Dog 🐕 
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,675
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    I just use an IR gun... looking for inlet vs. outlet temp for the trap. When I'm in doubt about one for some silly reason.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Intplm.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,849
    edited October 2023
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    What @Mad Dog_2 said

    Most large plants hospitals and colleges etc if they are on the ball with their trap maintenance just go through and rebuild all the traps every few years. If all the traps are the same MFG which they usually are especially on radiator traps you would be amazed at how fast a couple of guys can do a lot of traps in a day.

    If the traps have never been done then the first time is a bit of a struggle getting them apart and you may need to replace a few. But, for the most part you can smoke through them pretty quick with the right tools and put a little Never Seize on the cap threads you will be happy the next time.

    I just looked at some of my old radiator trap estimating sheets from the University of Massachusetts. Big Buildings with 250 or more radiator traps.

    Some of them I allowed 3/4 of an hour/ trap to rebuild and some 1 hour /trap to rebuild.

    Some of those jobs we got and some we lost so that is a pretty good ballpark.

    Don't forget in that time frame you rebuild 1 trap and pick up your tools and move to the next trap.

    Thats what most of the trap MFGs recommend. Going around and testing traps wastes a lot of time and money thet would be better spent just buying the parts and rebuilding them.
    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,255
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    Exactly Ed...The real rough ones in a 6" x 6"
    Access door or under a connector or Recessed Sun Rad are the most brutal and Your hands (especially the tops) will look like you fought off a Pit bull at the end if the day, but they WILL come off, out, back in.
    Many times I was ready to pop both "onions 🌰 " and remove the radiator, but I always got them even though you got like an inch or so from top of cap to bottom of rad..Tunstall designs for JUST this...Lice that Company...Made in USA 🇺🇸 😎 too!  Mad Dog 🐕 
  • tim smith
    tim smith Member Posts: 2,774
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    Replaced all the trap elements with Tunstall retrofit capsules x 100, also rebuilt every one of the Webster Sylphon valves with Tunstall retrofit stem& guts and new cap. Went really well and quick. Everything doing better. Still have to do cross over trap rebuilds. about a dozen or so. Right now running at about 1.5 psi, working on getting bit lower. Thanks all
    Intplm.Mad Dog_2reggi