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Made my own water hammer

Pete_18 Member Posts: 197
Recently I insulated the steam pipes in the basement and earlier (though I don't think this is related), I had to replace vents on many radiators that were painted shut.

All of a sudden I have a very loud water hammer (loudest right to the left of the boiler where the return comes back and it pretty much starts when the heating cycle starts up and bangs away until the boiler cycles off.

I read the FAQs re: water hammers but it seems pretty odd that mine really appeared to start acting up the most after the steam pipes were insulated.

Is this just a coincidence and I most likely have a pitch problem somewhere? If so, would the pitch problem be where the banging is the loudest or could it be anywhere in the system?


  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    Maybe when you insulated

    you allowed the steam to get to where a problem existed. Previously the steam was probably condensing before it got there. You did the right thing, but it uncovered a problem.

    If you can't isolate the source of the banging, it's time to call a steam man. Try the Find a Professional page of this site.
  • Pete_18
    Pete_18 Member Posts: 197
    Is it normal for the burner to fire up for a short period of tim

    I have a local Steamhead from the Wall scheduled to come visit and take a look at the venting situation tomorrow evening and am also getting other quotes. I will have them look at the water hammer and see if they can tell where it's coming from.

    On a good note, I went out and bought some Gorton Valves (Vents) in the mean time (2 C's and a D) and it's amazing what a difference they make compared to the garbage Durst (Maid o Mist) vents that HD sells and the Ventrite vents that I had. All the radiators in the house are at least now heating up, although not evenly since the mains aren't vented.

    One question I have is that when the oil burner fires up probably 3-4 times an hour, it really only seems like it has to run for 4 or 5 minutes. Given that I have no experience with this system, is this normal that it doesn't need to stay running for very long?

    I realize that because the mains aren't yet vented that the pressuretrol could be prematurely kicking in or because the system isn't balanced, the radiators on the first floor are heating up much faster and raising the temperature near the thermostat fairly quickly.
  • patrick linhardt
    patrick linhardt Member Posts: 134
    vent the mains, etc.

    Hi Pete,

    Always fix what you know is wrong. Steam mains have to be vented at the end for proper operation. Your cycling could very well be related to the lack of main venting. Make sure your "local steamhead" calculates the required vent capacity.

    You could be right, the pressure control is most likely cycling the burner off because of poor main vent capacity. Is the pressure gauge showing the pressure of the control? If not, then it could be the thermostat.

    Is the water level OK? It could also be the low water cut off cycling the burner because of slow condensate return. An experienced contractor will be checking all this out.

    Best regards, Pat
  • Pete_18
    Pete_18 Member Posts: 197


    Thanks a lot for your reply. Everyone has been really helpful in my crash course of steam heat. I can't wait until my books arrive so I can stop asking seemingly obvious questions that you guys probably answer 10 times a week.

    Reinsulation of the steam pipes is close to complete. I'm glad you agree about venting the mains because that's next on my list. I am really hoping that I have the clearance for a Gorton 2 since it sounds like it will be easier to just do it with a Gorton 2 as overkill vs. worrying about potentially needing multiple Gorton 1s.

    I'll make sure that I talk to the Steamheads about the required venting capacity.

    The pressure gauge never really moves (not sure if this is normal or not), but the pressuretrol is set to 1psi, so perhaps this makes sense. I'm pretty sure that you're right that the thermostat is just getting back up to temperature quickly, which is fine, but unfortunately since the mains aren't vented, the heat is not properly balanced so the thermostat location is coming back up to speed much faster than the rest of the house.

    Hopefully with the mains vented this situation will be resolved. If not, then it appears like the next step after that would be to perhaps look at a Gorton 4 or something to hopefully slow down the heating of the radiators near the thermostat and swapping for more Gorton C's or D's for far away radiators.

    Water level has been really good. I've kept it where it's supposed to be (1/2 - 2/3) and it doesn't appear to lose any water. I've cleaned out the water twice so far and refilled it slowly.
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