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Removing air from system/radiators

After some research online, I’m beginning to suspect that I have air in my one way heating system. My first symptom is that I hear a gurgling noise from the radiator/pipe leading to it and also like someone is banging on the pipe itself. The second symptom is that only part of the radiator is getting hot, and going away from the valve, the top of the radiator and fins are ice cold. My question is, can I individually release the air from the radiator, or would it be better to release it from the entire system? I have checked all radiators (10 total) and there are 2-3 that are completely hot.

If that is the case, how do I go about releasing the air from the radiators? The boiler?

Thanks in advance

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,155
    Ah... critical missing bit of information. Is this steam or hot water? The answer to your question is radically different between the two...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ironcityworks
    ironcityworks Member Posts: 8
    Sorry forgot to mention it is a steam heat. Utica boiler
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,155
    The vents on your radiators automatically release the air when the steam starts to get into the radiator -- and stop when steam hits them. They should be located a quarter to half way up the radiator on the end opposite the steam pipe.

    There's no need to remove air from a steam system manually -- that's a chore for the hot water heat contingent.

    The gurgling noise and the banging both tell me that there is a piece of pipe in there which is pitched the wrong way. This lets condensate water accumulate, which will gurgle and bang and limit steam supply to the radiator. Carefully trace the piping on that radiator back to the main, and make sure that all the horizontal -- or near horizontal sections -- have a definite pitch back to the main.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ironcityworks
    ironcityworks Member Posts: 8
    I will trace the piping back and see what I can find. Could this have anything to do with having too much pressure in the system? We were messing with the Honeywell cut in and accidentally raised the pressure in the system - resulting in having way too much water in the boiler/sight glass (we thought the top screw was to remove the cover, but found out it adjusted the PSI- we are newbies to steam). However, we have been running the system since about late September and we did not have this problem (the loud banging and gurgling) until after accidentally raising the pressure - which we did about 2 weeks ago and have since readjusted it. Which leads me to ask this, what should the PSI cut in be set to as well as the differential?

    Could a stuck air vent lead to cold fins?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,155
    Raising the pressure could have led to water being forced out of the boiler. In which case it may go away... but I'd still check the pitch of all the piping. Worse, raising the pressure could have damaged the vent, and a stuck closed air vent will indeed lead to cold fins -- if the air can't get out, the steam can't get in.

    The cutin pressure should be around 0.7 psi, and the differential should be set to 1.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,828
    How about pictures of your boiler with piping from floor to ceiling?
    Also picture of your control and gauge.

    You would benefit by reading "We Got Steam Heat"
    It is a great primer for your situation.
    Very easy read....not high tech...just for homeowners.
    Amazon or here.
    kcopp
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,997
    Are all you radiator valves fully open?
  • ironcityworks
    ironcityworks Member Posts: 8
    edited January 2019
    The third is picture was taken mid October when we started using it. I noticed that the PSI was pretty high.

    Since then we replaced blow down vavle/handle (last picture)

    The second picture I took tonight. Turned down PSI pressure and differential is set to 1. Checked air vents on all of radiators. Some were stuck closed. One radiator had water coming out the air vent but since then radiators aren’t making noise and all seem to be hot.

    Planning on replacing a boiler in the spring. Before then, we are going to check and clean pigtail
  • ironcityworks
    ironcityworks Member Posts: 8
    > @kcopp said:
    > Are all you radiator valves fully open?

    All valves are open
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,431

    The third is picture was taken mid October when we started using it. I noticed that the PSI was pretty high.



    Since then we replaced blow down vavle/handle (last picture)



    The second picture I took tonight. Turned down PSI pressure and differential is set to 1. Checked air vents on all of radiators. Some were stuck closed. One radiator had water coming out the air vent but since then radiators aren’t making noise and all seem to be hot.



    Planning on replacing a boiler in the spring. Before then, we are going to check and clean pigtail

    Anyone else notice that there is a draft hood in the smoke pipe, in addition to the one on the back of the boiler? Maybe that explains the scorch marks on the front of the boiler.

    Can't fix stupid...........................
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ironcityworks
    ironcityworks Member Posts: 8
    > @Steamhead said:
    > The third is picture was taken mid October when we started using it. I noticed that the PSI was pretty high.
    >
    >
    >
    > Since then we replaced blow down vavle/handle (last picture)
    >
    >
    >
    > The second picture I took tonight. Turned down PSI pressure and differential is set to 1. Checked air vents on all of radiators. Some were stuck closed. One radiator had water coming out the air vent but since then radiators aren’t making noise and all seem to be hot.
    >
    >
    >
    > Planning on replacing a boiler in the spring. Before then, we are going to check and clean pigtail
    >
    > Anyone else notice that there is a draft hood in the smoke pipe, in addition to the one on the back of the boiler? Maybe that explains the scorch marks on the front of the boiler.
    >
    > Can't fix stupid...........................

    We bought this house coming in blindly about steam. I came here for help, not to be criticized. If you could tell me how to fix it instead of just pointing out someone did it wrong, that would be greatly appreciated. Otherwise, please keep the comments to yourself. I already know I don’t know much about steam, hence the reason I came here for help.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,431
    @ironcityworks , adding a second draft hood like that IS stupid. If you weren't the one who did it like that, and I don't think you were, you have no reason to take offense.

    But I think I speak for most of the professionals here when I DO take offense upon seeing something like that. It makes everyone in the business look bad. We have to fight this every day we go out and work.

    Combustion and exhausting the products thereof is not a DIY thing. If you screw up, someone could get hurt or killed. What you need is to get a knowledgeable professional with the proper test equipment to fix or replace that boiler. Even replacing the mushroom draft hood with a piece of smoke pipe would still require a combustion test, to make sure the boiler is not producing huge amounts of Carbon Monoxide.

    Tell us where you are located- we probably know someone who can help.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,155
    @ironcityworks -- nobody was criticizing you, so relax.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ironcityworks
    ironcityworks Member Posts: 8
    edited January 2019
    @Steamhead I can understand the frustration. I’ve surfed the Internet and that seems to be a big reoccurrence thinking everyone is a steam expert.

    That’s another reason why I came on here for help. I’ve done some research and found nothing but information contradicting itself.

    As a precaution, we have a carbon monoxide detector right by the boiler, luckily it hasn’t gone off, yet.

    We are located in the Detroit area. If you know anyone that could help properly install a boiler as well as educate us about it, I would be extremely greatful to know how to run the thing.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,155
    For some reason Detroit is a bit of a black hole so far as known steam experts go. Not saying there may not be some -- but I don't think we have any handy.

    However, steam is not inherently difficult to install or run. Almost all -- I'd say all, but I hate absolutes -- boiler manufacturers include with the boiler directions as to how it should be piped and how the exhaust should be handled. Granted, these are minimum directions, but they do work. So... the trick is to find a plumber who is willing to and able to thread iron pipe -- and who is willing to able to read the directions given by the manufacturer; if they don't know steam, they shouldn't get creative.

    And we'll, in general, be happy to help someone who wants to be helped in any way we can from a distance.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ironcityworks
    ironcityworks Member Posts: 8
    That is very interesting that there is a shortage of steam experts in Detroit. Steam is pretty popular here!

    I will keep that in mind when we are installing the new boiler. I’m sure I’ll be on here asking for more help in the future.