Hi all, I have been working on my house's single pipe steam boiler system and had originally asked some questions regarding noises the boiler was making last year when i understood the system a lot less than I do now. Instead of continuing asking questions completely unrelated to the thread title I decided to make a new thread with a correct title. (here is a link to the old thread: https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/168850/weil-mclain-steam-boiler-clogged-pigtail-kettling#latest)
After doing a lot of maintenance on the system its running much better than it was, multiple shut off valves were repacked at the stem, i replaced almost all of the air vents on the radiators with vari-vents. The only ones I left were the newer groton brand ones, the older flair brand ones and a couple that looked like they were from the 30s were replaced. I tried to be sensible with the vari-vent settings as well. none of them are full open, the upstairs are open about half and the downstairs about 1/8 open.
After removing the asbestos the prev owner left all the basement mains and returns uninsulated, I insulated all the exposed pipes in the basement with 1 in pipe covers. The vertical runs appear to still be fully insulated with asbestos wrap.
I also replaced the pigtail that was partly clogged but not completely clogged. At first since all my radiators were making noise like a tea kettle whistling i thought the pigtail was clogged, and I thought the the psi was getting over 5PSI and the vents were opening up from the pressure being too high. After fixing all the leaks and replacing the leaking air vents I installed a 5PSI gauge to replace the 30psi gauge i had that was never showing a reading. Once or twice I saw on system shut down the gauge read about half a PSI. I never once saw it move after that day. Frustrated by this I returned the gauge to amazon and bought the 3PSI version thinking it might give me a little bit more resolution however I have never seen the 3psi gauge needle move at all since installing it a week ago. I figured maybe I needed to wait till the weather turned cold again but it did and even though the system has been running a lot, i never ever see the needle move and I have never seen the pressuretrol kick in either, ever.
Now I understand that less pressure is better but I am wondering is it normal to get ZERO reading on the 3PSI gauage at all? I figure even if my system is working with mere ounces of pressure a 3psi gauge should still move sometimes, no? (PS I filled the pigtail with water when i replaced it, no one says to do that but they say the water is what protects the gauge, so i did that when i installed it, just to point that out incase it matters).
Now if the system worked properly it wouldnt really be an issue I guess, i would just assume the pressure is too low for the cheap amazon gauge but since steam is getting to the radiators and they are getting fully hot, there is no issue.
HOWEVER, I am getting inconsistent heating results like crazy. One of the things I did when working on the system was to re-install a radiator that was removed from the master bedroom. the master bedroom had originally 2 small radiators on each side of the room, the previous owners removed one of the radiators and had it capped off. this led to the room always being too cold so I cut the old spud out of the old radiator and installed a new shutoff valve and installed it and it was working great. Then a couple days later the new radiator is cold completely so I think its a bad air valve and replace it and then it started working but then did the same thing a couple of days later. when i remove the varivent there are a few drips of water that come out but nothing excessive. When this radiator works it works great and gets really hot btw. I should point out another one of the radiators on the 2nd floor on the 2nd loop of the system also randomly doesnt get hot although replacing the valve with a varivalve seemed to help that one. The other radiator in the master bedroom always gets hot, really hot, every time the system runs, that radiator is also on the 2nd loop. the radiator that i reinstalled I used 2 metal cups to raise the vent side and get the correct pitch on it.
So those are the symptoms..... What I have already done is replace both main vents in the basement. they were groton #1 main vents but they looked very old and one had paint on it. However, the same thing I observed before I replaced the vents is happening after I replaced the vents. Loop #1 gets hot way faster than loop #2, and many times the system will run long enough for loop #1 to get hot and the vent to get fully hot to the touch and close while #2 is not even luke warm yet, and then the system shuts down like this. I assume this is a big reason why I am having issues. Replacing both vents didnt help (although they leak less now when they are hot so that seems like a good thing).
Now my main vents were on like 2 inch nipple sticking out of the top of the drop at the hartford loop at the boiler. Weil mclain says they should be 6 inch nipples and 15 inches back, not directly over the top. So after reading these forums I did what was suggested to others in the past, I bought some 90s and a 10 inch pipe and got the vents 10 inches back and further up. its my understanding this helps prevent issues with condensate getting up into the vent. this did nothing though to help with my problem (although I hope it may prevent issues down the road)
I should mention this important detail now as well...... Originally the 2nd floor bathroom radiator (which is on the problem loop #2) would make a loud air sound from its groton valve when the system would shut off. I was told that loud sucking noise could indicate bad or not enough main venting as the system is having to suck air through that vent. I should mention that noise went away when I replaced the #1 main vent on loop #2, so I believe #2 main vent was in fact clogged with paint or bad or something even if it didnt solve all my issues replacing it. I have heard ONCE air noise coming from the main vents, i believe it was #2 on system shut down once. Other than that never once heard or felt air coming from the vents (only felt a little steam after they are fully hot). One thing I was considering was buying another #1 main vent and puttitg it on an antler manifold on loop #2. However I am not sure if the issue is maybe too much venting on some radiators maybe. Perhapss instead of looking at main venting i need to be trying to fine tune the vari-vents more?
THANKS! Any info clarification needed just ask!
Details of my system in my next post, this one is too long it says!