Steam Radiators - regulating

grannabelleMay 7, 2007

we have old steam radiators: a couple of questions:

1. we hear water gurgling - what is it and how do we get rid of it

2. not all of the rows get hot - how do we regulate them to get maximum heat

any other info on the care and feeding of steam radiators would be appreciated :-)


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Couple of things you need to check.

You need to make sure that you're boiler isn't waterlogged (overfilled).

You do that by looking at the sight glass on the side of the boiler. It should be no more than half full. Sometimes there's a fill mark on the tube or the housing, sometimes not.

If it's fuller than half full, you need to drain water out of the boiler and check again a couple of days later to make sure that it's not full again. If it is, you have a leak in the feed valve that needs to be addressed.

That done, you now need to tell us what kind of steam system you have -- one pipe or two. It matters in the steps that come next.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 10:00PM
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kframe: thanks for your reply...the water in the boiler is not the problem, the water level stays around the 1/2 way point...we have a one pipe system

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 10:27PM
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OK, a single pipe steam system is a lot easier to deal with.

The first thing you need to do to is check the level on your radiators. If the radiators are level, or are tilting the wrong way, water could be collecting in them and causing the gurgling youre hearing.

Take a level that will span most of the way across the radiator (longer is usually better) and put it on each radiator.

Each radiator should tip towards the pipe, usually ¼" of rise per foot is normal. Over time with the house and floors settling radiators can tip the wrong way, and that allows water to accumulate. In bad cases, you can get water hammers, which sound like someone pounding on the pipes with a hammer.

If the radiators arenÂt tipping correctly, you need to shim the feet on the side opposite the pipe. That involves lifting the radiator GENTLY and just enough to slip a shim under the feet. In the past IÂve used masonite cut to the proper length so that one piece fits under both feet.

You have to be careful when raising a radiator as you can spring the union between the radiator and pipe causing a leak, or in a really bad day, actually fracture something.

Once you make sure that your radiators are tipping the correct way, I suspect that your water gurgling problems will be over.

Another thing to check, though, is that the hand valves are open the whole way. On a single pipe steam system the valves have two positions  fully open, or fully closed. You should never use them to regulate the amount of heat that youÂre getting from the radiator. ThatÂs what the air valves are for.

Next is the issue of the radiator not heating completely.

That could be one of several issues, ranging from very easy to rather complex. IÂll only talk about the easy issues, as the complex ones really require diagnosis by someone who can examine your system, and who is experienced with steam systems.

1. Radiator air vents. These are the little torpedo or silo shaped things on the side of the radiator opposite of the valve. These allow air to vent from the radiator, but close when steam hits them.

The most common cause for the sections not heating completely is that the air vent is either set incorrectly, or itÂs clogged. In either case, air wonÂt vent from the system completely before the boiler shuts down. There are a number of types of adjustable air vents, but most have a sliding ring or screw on them (there may be a cap that screws on over the adjustment) with a scale A-E, 1-6, etc. Obviously, the larger the hole the faster air escapes from the radiator and the more heat you get from it.

Look at your vents and see where they are set, and check the vent itself for any corrosion or smut. You can use a piece of wire to clean the vent hole.

Remove the vent from the radiator and check the condition of the tail stock. If itÂs really crudded up you can try soaking it in vinegar to clean it. If itÂs really cruddy, simply replace it. TheyÂre not cheap, but they do last a long time.

If that doesnÂt solve the problem, try reducing the setting on the radiators in the room with the thermostat. It could be that theyÂre wide open and heat in that room is coming up too fast.

If that doesnÂt workÂ

2. Main vent. These are like the vents on the radiators, but theyÂre on the steam vents in the basement. They designed to let steam into the main quickly and reduce the amount of time it takes for steam to get to the radiators. They can also go bad over time. Try cleaning them the same way (most are not adjustable) or simply replace them with a vent of the same rating.

If that doesnÂt workÂ

3. Pressuretrol settings. The pressuretrol is the device on the boiler that establishes the systemÂs operating pressure. Over the years, as steam has fallen out of favor, fewer and fewer people are familiar with these devices, and they are often set far too high.

Home steam heat systems are often referred to as vapor steam systems because theyÂre not designed to work at pressures higher than 1 to 1.5 PSI. Anything more is a waste of fuel, can actually cause damage to the valves if the settings are too high, and can cause the boiler to shut down prematurely by causing the steam pressure to overrun the systemÂs capacity.

Setting a pressuretol is really something left to someone who knows a steam heat system, but NEVER accept a service techÂs recommendation if it involves setting the systemÂs working pressure to more than 2 PSI. IÂve seen some pressuretrols over the years that are set as high as 7 PSI. ThatÂs a recipe for high heating costs, poor system performance, and expensive repair bills when you have to replace all of your now trashed radiator and main air vents.

Check those items, and if youÂre still having problems, come on back.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 12:10PM
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hey kframe19, i have a similar issue with one of my radiators that doesnt get hot after an incident of water spewing from its vent which was 2 plus years back. when i remove the vent i hear water gurgling but still the radiator never gets hot. i tried the guidelines above and saw that the radiator was lifted high enough as advised above. the hand valves are open the whole way and still nothing. i also get the water hammers as you called it above, in the pipe that ultimatly leads to the radiator thats not heating up(gurgling). please help me on this as i am very anxious to get it fixed. thanks.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 8:03PM
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Hi, DCH...


When you take the vent out of the radiator, and leave it out, does the radiator heat up?

If it does, that means that the vent is probably shot and needs to be replaced.

However, you mention that you're also getting water hammers in the pipe leading to the radiator...

That means one thing -- Over time the pipe's pitch has changed, and its now no longer correct.

That can happen if a pipe hangar lets loose, the house settles, etc. If you can, try to trace the pipe for that radiator down to the basement and check its pitch where it enters the main. It sounds as if it's entering from an elbow, which means that the problem is probably fairly close to the main in the basement.

If the problem is between floors, though, it's going to be harder to correct, and you'll probably have to call in someone who is familiar with steam heating systems.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 12:59AM
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You posted this in another radiator thread:

"I removed the vent to sense if the hot steam air was pushing out but all i hear is a sound similar as to when you boil water and along with that was cold air coming out."

I almost missed it, and it's VERY important information!

The sound of boiling water you're hearing is exactly that -- the sound of water boiling in the boiler is being carried up the pipe to the radiator. That's fairly normal.

The cold air coming out of the radiator means that the supply line to the radiator is not blocked -- that's a good thing.

Given those two bits of information, I'm betting that your radiator air vent is bad and needs to be replaced.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 1:07AM
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I found the best air vent for 1/4 inch nipple
is the varivalve ($19) at plumbing supply.
It is the use of modern technology on an ancient
system. The radiators with it provide the best heat.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 7:06AM
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I've never used Varivalves but I've heard good things about Heatimer products in general. I love the retro 1930s look of their packaging, though.

The ones in the house where I grew up were all Hoffmans.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 8:08AM
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hey kframe, thanks for the reply and sorry about posting in multiple places but i am going to use this thread in communicating my issues hence forth.

ok so you are saying that it might just be a bad vent for the radiator in question, but isnt the radiator(RAD) supposed to get hot if i take out the air vent? I mean i have removed the vent for couple of hours and still the RAD wasnt getting hot or close to it.

i was wondering how i can paste a picture on here so you can see how my house has all the radiators setup and an idea of how the piping is throughout the house leading to the boiler.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 6:10PM
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"I mean i have removed the vent for couple of hours and still the RAD wasnt getting hot or close to it."

Was the boiler running all that time?

If you're feeling cold air pushing OUT of the vent hole when you remove the vent, that means that steam is pushing up through the line...

OK, there might be another issue here...

Can you tell if this radiator is connected near the end of the main?

I'm wondering if the main vent might be in the shut position...

Just like your radiator, your steam main in the basement has a vent on it.

If it fails in the closed position, it can take a LONG time for the radiators near the end of the vent to heat up.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 10:03PM
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Oh, for hosting photographs, you have to have an external account like Picturetrail, Photobucket, or your own website.

Or, if you want, send the pictures to my e-mail address and I'll move them into my Picturtrail account and host them for you.

I do that occasionally since I'm such a nice guy. :-p

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 11:32AM
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Ok i dont know if this is gooing to work but i created an account with picturetrail and the image i uploaded is coming up smaller than its original size which made the text somewhat blurry. i hope this helps a bit.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 1:52PM
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To answer your question on the boiler running throughout the entire time the vent was removed than the answer is no, the boiler would go on and off when vent was removd.

Ok below is the picture of the piping. now the problem radiator is the one all the way in the end of the line to the right, which is the Front Porch radiator.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 2:08PM
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OK, that's what I suspected, and that really helps solidify my opinon of what your problem is...

I suspect the vent on the main serving that radiator has failed closed.

This could have been caused by the situation that caused that radiator vent to jet water, or it could be unrelated. Hard to say.

Essentially, the main vent does for the main what the radiator vent does for the radiator -- exhausts air and allows steam to enter.

The purpose is a little different, though.

The purpose of the main vent is to allow the main to fill with steam quickly so that you don't have the problem you're having right now -- terribly long lag times for steam to get to the far radiators, if it gets there at all.

What I think is happening is that with the main vent failed shut, venting of the entire system is being done by the radiator vents. Given that the main vent normally has a 3/8ths to 3/4ths vent hole into the pipe, while the radiators vent through a 1/4" hole... well, you see the problem -- not enough hole for air to escape on that far radiator.

By the time the dining room gets toasty and the thermostat shuts the boiler down, you still have steam trying to push all of the air out of the far end of the main.

I think your solution is going to be going down to the basement, finding that main vent (it SHOULD be located about 18" from the very end of the run and on a 6" or so stem that lifts it above the main) and replacing it with a similar one.

I'd bet hard money that when you replace that main vent you're going to get heat back up into the radiator on the front porch.

Finally, what's the steam pressure setting on your boiler?

On home heating systems the pressuretrol should be set to deliver a system pressure differential of about 1 PSIG or lower.

NEVER let anyone tell you that your steam boiler has to be set to a differential pressure of more than 1.5 PSIG. If they suggest higher than that, thank them for your time and kick them out of your house.

Settings higher than 1 PSIG waste fuel, can destroy radiator air vents, and can actually slow down system performance.

Where do you live? I might be able to suggest a company that knows its way around home steam systems.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 2:30PM
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Hey kframe,
I really appreciate your detailed feedback on this radiator issue.

I have to be honest and ask you what you mean when you say the main. Is it the main big pipe that comes out of the boiler's top and subdivides into smaller pipes throughout the house or is it something else?

Also what does a main vent look like so I have an idea of what look for? Can you describe the physical appearance or direct me to an online link of a general main vent picture.

and you said I would find it 18" from the very end of the run and on a 6" or so stem that lifts it above the main, is that near or around the boiler or the radiator all the way n the end?

If and once I find it is it replaceable by me? Or should I call an expert to do that job?

Also I took some more pictures from a digicam that I would like to send you so you can have an even better picture of my heating system. If you can share you email address to me than I will send them.

About the steam pressure setting I saw that the pressuretrol has to columns and the units are measured in pounds because it says LBS. and both columns are set on 2. On the sides of each says "pressure increase" and the other says "deferential increase".

And lastly I am in Elmhurst, NY. Are you near here?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 10:15PM
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OK, my apologies. I had thought that you knew a bit more about the layout of a steam heat system as the diagram you drew was pretty darned good.

First, let me run through some very basic terminology. You probably know most of this, but bear with me. Steam heat systems are conceptually easy, but can be really rather tricky in their application.

Boiler - Heats the water to generate the steam that heats your house. Gas and oil are most common, but coal and wood are still used extensively.

Main - Large (often 3 to 4" diameter or larger in older homes) pipes coming out of the top of the boiler.

Risers - These are smaller pipes that branch off the mains. In most applications (but certainly not all) there is a single riser for each radiator. Depending on when the house was built, and when the heating was installed, there could be multiple radiators served off a single riser.

Radiator - The big cast iron thing your wife yelps about because it makes it hard to put furniture in the rooms.

Return - Transfers water that condensed in the radiators back to the boiler. In a 1 pipe steam heating system the risers and main often function as part of the return system, although there are numerous designs.

Main vents and radiator vents - both designed to quickly purge air from either the main or the radiator so steam and get into the radiator and do its main job -- heat your home. The only difference between main and radiator vents are the size.

There are a LOT of other elements to an operating steam heating system, but these are the biggies.

OK, now that I've said that and we're all on the same page, your description of the main in your system is correct. It's the big pipe coming out of the top of the boiler.

Its purpose is to get a large volumn of steam quickly into a position where the radiators can use it. In order for the steam to get into the main quickly, the air that's in the main has to be vented. Hence, the main vent.

Because steam travels from the boiler outward, your main vent will be about as far away from the boiler as you can get. If you have two mains, you'll have two main vents.

In most 1 pipe steam heat systems the main will be highest near the boiler and slope down the farther away you get from it. That's part of the condensate return plan.

Get yourself a good flashlight, and trace your main. You're going to be looking for something that appears quite similar to the vent that is on the side of your radiators upstairs, only quite a bit larger. Normally, as I said, it will be about 18" from the end of the main, and on a fitting about 6" high.

It's going to look something like one of the vents shown in this picture:

Some of those are main vents, some are radiator vents, some are convector vents. And yours may not look exactly like what you see here. But, chances are good, you'll know exactly what it is when you see it.

As for whether or not you can replace it yourself, the answer to that is... maybe. Who knows how long it's been in place, how it's mounted, how frozen it is to the nipple...

Years ago I replaced a main vent on my parent's one-pipe system. It came off no problem at all. Took me all of about 20 minutes.

Couple of years later the main vent on the other side failed.

That one took me about 6 HOURS to replace. I put the wrench on it and the riser it was on snapped off.

I had to drive 60 miles to my Grandfather's house to get his mongo tap and die set so that I could remove the stub of the old riser, chase the threads and install a blind plug in the main, drill a hole for a new riser hole in the main, chase the threads, and thread a new vent riser.

Then I had to drive back to Grandpa's and return his tap and die set.

God what a pain that day was. I guess the moral of this story is that if you want to try replacing the main vent yourself, TREAD LIGHTLY.

Finally, as for your pressuretrol setting....

That's not right.

The two settings should NEVER be the same. That could be part of your problem right there, but I don't think it's the whole problem.

Can you find a make and model on your pressuretrol? I don't want to try to tell you how it should be set without knowing the make and model. Some are just different enough that the directions aren't interchangable.

Unfortunately I'm nowhere near Elmhurst. I'm in DC metro. I know where Elmhurst is, though, and I've been in that area. My ex grew up in White Plains. No offense, but I don't really have any desire at all to visit again. :-)

Last, my e-mail address is

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 11:58PM
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Ok I sent some pics to your email you provided and also went down today to find the main vent(s). Can you tell me if this pics below is the main vent?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 12:31PM
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Sorry, it's been a long, stressful day at work.

I'll take a closer look at what you sent me this evening.

But, the item in the picture above is almost certainly the main vent. The shape is right, but the location certainly is not, and I can see possibly why (if it is the main vent) it failed.

Main vents are normally located about a foot or more back from the end of the run. That helps protect them from crud and crap that is being pushed ahead of the steam column (which can move as fast as 20-25 mph in a residentail system).

Where that vent is located? Water, rust, or mineral scale being pushed along by the steam column can smack into the far side of that elbow fitting and jet right up into the vent mechanism.

I'm not 100% certain, but it looks like that vent MIGHT be one of the kind that you can take apart for cleaning.

I would suggest, however, that you pick a nice warm(ish) sunny day, shut the system down, remove the vent, and take it along with you to a heating supply store.

That way you can match the threads.

You'll also want to get yourself either some teflon tape suitable for use on a steam system, or steam fitter's pipe dope. I suggest the tape, since it's easier to work with and poses less of a clogging hazard for the new vent. ]

From your drawing it appears that you have two steam mains coming out of your boiler, serving different sections of the house.

Look for another one of those on the other main. If you find one exactly like it, you know you're good to go.

One last thing...

That pipe coming out of the floor and which is partially hidden by the vent -- where is it going? It's not hooked into the side of the vent, is it?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 5:12PM
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No worries about the replies kframe, you can reply whenever and at your leisure, you are already doing so much by guiding me thru all this.

About the drawing which i posted on here, it isn't exactly the same way my MAINS are. I actually just have just ONE main coming out of the top of the boiler instead of two. The drawing was actually drawn before I went down to trace the main. So that was my misconception.

Also when you get a chance to look at the emailed pictures, you'll see where the above pictures go into play and see where that vent is located.

As of finding other main vents, I looked near the main and all around the main and the boiler itself but the vent photographed above was the only vent i found.

The pipe that you see coming down from the floor above is not anyway connected to the vent in the picture. The thing i did notice, however, is that this main vent above is actually located nowhere on the MAIN. is that normal?

The two pictures above are of the same snap, one of them is just zoomed in of what i believed to be the main vent. Both of the greenish/turkoish colored pipes you see up above are actually coming out from the back side of the boiler. The pipe thats closer to me when taking the picture is connecting to the MAIN when tracing that pipe going upwards. The pipe behind that (2nd green pipe) has the main vent above which doesn't even connect to the MAIN. So i don't really know if this is the main vent or a vent at all. But get this, this very pipe goes all the way down to the front porch radiator along with a riser pipe that I drew in my initial drawing. So a total of two pipes are going to that radiator but I don't actually know which one is connected to that front porch radiator???

As for a warn sunny day, i know that wont be here for atleast another 5 days or more as the weather here is just getting worse day by day. =(

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 8:17PM
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OK, since you only have one main, chances are excellent that you're only going to have one main vent. That's normally the way it work - 1 main vent for one main.

On really LONG mains, on a large house, you might see two main vents. I've seen one where there was a main vent in the middle of the main, and another one at the end, but that was a "wrap around" main with a total length of about 60 feet.

This statement I don't understand: "The thing i did notice, however, is that this main vent above is actually located nowhere on the MAIN. is that normal?"

That certainly looks like a steam main to me, or part of the steam main. But, if I'm understanding your description, someone may have located the main vent near, or on, the return piping....

Holy crap. I wonder... I just wonder if someone put the main vent on the Hartford loop? God, I've never seen that done before...

OK, I'm going to have to really sit down and look at your photographs.

This is really odd, because I'm having trouble envisioning exactly what's going on here...

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 2:41PM
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OK, I'm still trying to figure out the piping in your system based on the pictures you sent me, but for all the world it looks as if the main vent is, in fact, on the dry return.

You have a short branching main, so I'm wondering...

The part of the main that appears to extend through the wooden wall behind what I assume is the chimney...

Do you have access to what is behind that wall? Is that the pipe that serves the radiator on the porch?

I'm wondering if there might be another vent on that that's hidden from view.

The picture of your pressuretrol is interesting. Given that it looks original to the system, I'd say that it was installed sometime between 1934 (when Minneapolis-Honeywell took that name) and no later than the end of World War II.

The tag on the front of the boiler MIGHT give you a month/year of manufacture, but it's going to be sometime after 1929 given the markings and the company's history.

That said, I need to check with a friend of mine, but as I read it, your system pressure is set at 4 PSIG, or about 3 PSIG too damned high for good service, fuel economy, or valve life.

Give me some more time to think about this, but please do check and see if you can possibly find another vent on that section of main that extends through that wood wall.

I've seen main vents hidden in some really odd places over the years.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 3:06PM
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OK kframe,

Sorry for the late response but weekends are the two days from which I try to stay away from the computer.

I just got my heating oil full today for a total of $700, since the price was $3.00/gallon. So i had the boiler/heater shut for a couple of hours, I tried to take out that suspected main vent but i was unsuccessful in doing so.

What i did do however is cleaned all the radiator vents, made sure all the radiators valves were in the open position.

I left the front porch radiator without a vent hoping that it may do the trick, since the heater will take about 2 to 3 hours to heat up all the radiators in the house.

Along with that I did search the entire piping system as best I could to my ability and found no other main vent as you had asked me to.

I have made a revised picture of the house diagram and main and its surroundings. Please have a look.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 3:51PM
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I have also sent the same picture drawing above to your email address becuase picturetrail doesnt display it as its original size.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 4:26PM
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Nope didnt work offcourse, how can it?
Leaving the vent removed from the porch radiator still didnt do the trick and get hot or even close to it. All the other radiators got HOT but this one is still a problem =(

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 6:50PM
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OK, I suspect that you have a second main vent, one that you just can't see, that's up near that front porch radiator. Is there any way you can get under the front porch to see the piping? I just doesn't make any sense at all that you're not getting any heat out of that radiator when you were before.

To me (and remember, I'm NOT a pro at this, so I may well be missing something), there are only two things that could be doing this...

1. Main vent failure, either the one you can see or one that can't be seen that's somewhere beyond that wooden wall.

2. A problem with the piping (partial blockage, maybe?)

At this point, though, I'm out of ideas. I'm afraid you're going to have to bite the bullet and call in a pro who can do a hands-on inspection and diagnosis.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 1:10AM
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Maybe, disconnect the coupling at that last radiator and see what happens. .. with the valve open, initially, see if steam reaches it.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 8:06AM
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OK, I've done some asking around for your area, and these companies supposedly have great expertise with steam heating and have a very good reputation as reputable contractors.

That said, I have ABSOLUTELY NO experience or knowedge of them -- I got their names from some people I know, so as they say, use at your own risk.

Jay - Ell Plumbing and Heating (212) 989-6670

Triple Crown Plumbing and Heating (516) 358-2835

Mike Fisher Plumbing and Heating (914) 833-9114

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 1:13PM
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thanks kframe, for all the input you provided me with, really appreciate it.

and tmajor i tried to remove the coupling from that radiator but since the house is 50+ years old, its wasn't budging at all. I didnt want to risk chipping the entire valve or the connected pipe so i just left it.
well i guess it is time to call the experts.

kframe, one last question, about the pressuretrol setting, should i ask the service man to lower it to equate to 1 or at max 1.5? or just leave it as is?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 4:35PM
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This is directed at the last picture. I am not an expert but I've been dealing with my system alot over the past 7 years and reading forums and trial and error.

The Suspected main vent mat be true to its location. Mine might be the same. It is nt on the main. There is a smaller pipe coming off the main that runs parallel to the floor, then turns , angles and goes back down to the back of the boiler. There is a stub up off that pipe about 6-12" before the small pipe goes down. HOWEVER...the end of the main is only about 5 ft from my furnace. My main loops around the house and ends up right back by the furnace.

Second on the picture at the porch where you cant see the pipes...The smaller pipe may connect into the large main after the main goes up to the porch. AND I agree with kframe...there may be another main vent. under the porch. Here is a cheap valve that I found
Gorton No. 1, 3/4" x 1/2" Air Eliminator (Main Vent Valve) Its about $17. also i found the radiator vents there too cheaper in qty of 6 (so i had spares) 1A Adjustable Angle Air Valve

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 9:38AM
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Hello. I've seen your posts here and it seams like you know alot about the systems. Im in York PA but I dont think you need to visit.

The question is the Knobs at the top and bottom of the sight glass. I cant find any documentation on what they do, how they piping runs for them and where to set, closed or open.

The furnace is a coal furnace converted to gas.
There is a pipe that comes out the side, has a dop to clean the sludge, continues to the lower handknob with the sight glass coming up from there. There is another knob at the top of the sight glass, and the pipe goes back into the side.
About 2" back the side there are two more hand knobs.

Any idea what to set the handknobs on the sight glass and what the other two are for?

I know if I have both knobs on the sight glass closed the water doesnt move, what the botom open the water runs into the sight glass up from the bottom. If I then open the top valve the water bounces alot.

Any suggestions to and amature steam do it yourselfer?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 9:45AM
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"Any suggestions to and amature steam do it yourselfer?"

In fact, yes.


As I understand it (and I'm pretty sure that I have a full understanding of it) those knobs MUST be fully open when the system is in use!

Essentially, the knobs are service knobs. They allow you to isolate the sight glass if you need to replace it, clean it, or replace the seals around the glass.

In the days of hand stoked boilers it was not at all uncommon for those glasses to get broken.

If you shut the knobs off, you trap the water that is in there, and that could give you a false reading on the water level in your boiler, and that could, in certain circumstances, be INCREDIBLY dangerous.

Water bouncing in the sight glass may be normal, or it may be an indication of a dirty boiler that needs to be "blown down" to remove accumulate minerals and scale.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 1:07PM
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OK, that said...

Any chance of taking a picture of the valve set up and either post it or sending it? I can't visualize the other set of valves...

I know York well. My Mother had her business at 343 W. Market for years. We used to promote book shows in the spring and fall at the Fairgrounds.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 1:20PM
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I did find that the two pipes that lead upto the froch radiator, they do indeed connect and become one, BUT they do not go to the front porch radiator.

There may be other branches of the piping that i wasnt aware of and i will have to find out. I just wish that there was like a manual for this and how your house has the entire heat system set up.

Well i'll be back.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 10:26PM
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"I did find that the two pipes that lead upto the froch radiator, they do indeed connect and become one, BUT they do not go to the front porch radiator."

Taking a wild guess, that sounds like the supply line and dry return.

"I just wish there was like a manual..."

Try ordering either this book:

or this book:

Or both.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 1:23AM
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I Looked again and my main valve is set up like the picture above. However my dry return is only about 4 ft long or so.

I did have to replace the main (good sight on previous posting) To replace I took a reciprocating saw and slit down the side of the coupling because it was stuck. I made sure not to go into the threads. Then I took a chisel (not a wood but more of a railroad spike size and forced the slit apart enough to make the threads loose, then unscrewed it.

I'll email my pics of the boiler and knobs

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 11:20PM
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Hi, Campers,

I got the pictures, and will look at them when I have a chance. I'm getting ready to travel for Christmas, so it will probably be a couple of days.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 9:36AM
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