Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.

If you've found help here, check back in to let us know how everything worked out.
It's a great way to thank those who helped you.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Issue with leaking steam baseboard radiator - Newbie please help!

MikeNJMikeNJ Posts: 11Member
Hi guys I moved into a new property a couple of months ago and now that the weather has started to get colder we have had to start to use our downstairs steam boiler system. We have a house that has 2 zones, forced air upstairs and steam radiators downstairs. One of the radiators is a baseboard steam radiator and has recently started leaking water through the air vent. The bottom of the air vent has a valve which looks like it has been "tapped into" the pipe and the solder around the vent has broken away which allows the vent stem to move around and steam and water to come out around it onto the floor as well as the hole in the vent itself which is dribbling water.

I just had a plumber out to look at it and he couldn't figure out why there was a run off pipe on both sides of it and not just one pipe where the steam is entering the radiator. Does anyone know why this would be? At the right hand side of the radiator where the vent is located, there is another pipe going through the floor. I have attached some pictures below. What is with the vent stem going into the pipe? Is this a half-assed job done by someone unqualified? I have to shut the feeder valve off until I can get some sort of resolution but I am worried it's going to cost a fortune to resolve. Plumbers are not cheap in NJ.



Comments

  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,859Member
    Pictures:
    The other end of that BB heater.
    Which way does that heater slope/drain?
    Basement shot of the RH end of the BB htr.
    Your other typical radiator showing both ends.
  • It looks like you have a 2-pipe system with supply and return. As there is a trap on the return, there should be no need for an air vent there.
    Take the air vent off, plug the tapping, and test the trap, and it’s neighbors. Find a real steam pro to help you as your plumber appears to be unknowlegeble.—NBC
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,859Member
    Waiting for pictures. I am thinking it is a 1 pipe and this trap/drip was added to avoid water hammer.
    The concentric 1 x 3/4 coupling may add to hammer?
  • FredFred Posts: 7,982Member
    Is that BB even intended for Steam? looks more like a Gerry rigged hot water BB radiator to me.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,962Member
    No doubt the copper baseboard was added and is not original to the building. The air vent certainly was an add on as they drilled a hole and stubbed it in and soldered it rather than use a tee. To me if you use baseboard on steam you have little chance of it working decently unless it is hooked up two pipe. Any plumber/pipefitter worth anything can fix the leak without much problem,

    He may have to cut a few baseboard finn's off.

    As far as it working properly we need more pictures and more information
  • MikeNJMikeNJ Posts: 11Member
    I have the plumber coming tomorrow and will provide an update and also will advise the plumber about the radiator being a feed and release system with a trap at the release. I am concerned about the radiator not being able to function properly without a vent with it being a gerry rigged copper radiator. Will it withstand the steam pressure?

    What else should I picture on the radiator? At the far left of the picture there is a yellow valve handle underneath it to close what is presumably the trap. I actually thought this was the valve to turn off the radiator feeder so I closed it and turned on heating and the air vent started to blast water out of the vent stem and vent itself as well as make a loud banging noise. This I presume confirming indeed the steaming is being fed from the right hand side from the end where the air vent is installed.
  • MikeNJMikeNJ Posts: 11Member
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,852Member
    As to pressure -- steam pressure is a lot less than water, so not to worry on that account (at least, that is, if the steam system is set to the correct pressure -- no more than 1.5 psi).

    That fin tube will have to feed steam at one end and allow air and water to go somewhere at the other. It is critical that you or your plumber find out what pipes let steam into the thing, and where the other end goes.

    Get back to us, please!
    Jamie

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,859Member
    edited October 2018
    Your steam pressure should be only 2psi or less....hot water systems run at 12-15PSI.

    The left side valve is the shutoff for the convector.
    The right side is the drain out of that convector.
    The trap is there on the right side to keep steam out of the returns below the floor.
    The left side of the convector should be higher than the right side so the condensate drains to the right side (trap).

    Speaking of below the floor, can you post pictures of where the right pipe drops and where does it connect?

    And what do the other radiators look like....both ends please.
  • MikeNJMikeNJ Posts: 11Member
    JUGHNE said:

    Your steam pressure should be only 2psi or less....hot water systems run at 12-15PSI.

    The left side valve is the shutoff for the convector.
    The right side is the drain out of that convector.
    The trap is there on the right side to keep steam out of the returns below the floor.
    The left side of the convector should be higher than the right side so the condensate drains to the right side (trap).

    Speaking of below the floor, can you post pictures of where the right pipe drops and where does it connect?

    And what do the other radiators look like....both ends please.

    Unfortunately I don't have access to the floor below the radiator, there is no crawl space and I presume they are going to have to lift the floorboards. The rest of the radiators downstairs (3) are regular cast iron radiators with one valve (of which 2 are leaking and will be replaced tomorrow) with air vents in the side of the radiators. The BB is a newer addition to the house in an area which once used to be a porch and has been converted into a den. For the life of me I don't know why they chose this approach to heat it rather than put an electric BB heater in such a small space. That is what I initially thought it was right up until using it for the first time.

    Why would the right side of the radiator start banging and spitting water out of the vent if I closed the yellow valve when I shut it off before turning on the heating? It basically means I can't run the system without having this BB heater in use. I was able to run the system for a while tonight before the water started coming out, albeit with a lot of loud hissing from the air vent and the gap where it's tapped into the pipe.



  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,859Member
    The right side is probably connected into the steam main also.
    Probably the best you can do is fix the leaking tap with a tee, maybe install a new air vent if it leaks from the top of the vent, install a new trap element, be sure of the slope/pitch of the convector and then see what happens.
    Might not heat very well and maybe hammer, more slope will help prevent the hammering.
  • MikeNJMikeNJ Posts: 11Member
    Just wanted to provide an update on this. The plumber who came out with his team was awesome. He was able to get a tee with the steam vent attached and he installed that in a couple of hours on the BB and I also had 2 feeder valves on my other cast iron radiators replaced and an air vent. The system now works flawlessly with no leaks and very little hissing compared to before where the hissing sound was very loud between bad air vents and the sound of water dripping out of all radiator valves and boiling to steam as well as making a mess of the floors. All was completed in a morning and I couldn’t be happier. Glad I found a amazing plumber and thank you guys for the information that I was able to relay to him to give him a better understanding of what needed done.

    You guys are awesome!
  • MikeNJMikeNJ Posts: 11Member
    For anyone curious, this is was the solution to the tapped BB pipe
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,859Member
    We are glad for the feedback! Thank you.
Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!