Hole in Steam Heating System Pipe

badgergrrlOctober 7, 2010

We have a steam heating system and years ago an access panel was installed for other plumbing. Unbeknownst to us (we just purchased the home) a screw from the install penetrated one of our pipes. We needed to remove the panel, and we must have "broken the seal"; now the pipe leaks steam when our boiler is on - not good.

Is it possible to plug the hole in some way without having to remove and replace the pipe?

I'm not sure if it's cast iron - could be lead? Was that common material for heating system pipes in the early 20th century? Our house was built in 1924, fwiw.

Thanks for any input!

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brickeyee

"I'm not sure if it's cast iron - could be lead?"

Lead was used for supply pipes and DWV lines, but not steam lines.

A good plumber should be able to drill the hole larger and tap it for a plug.

A less skilled plumber will try to cut out the section and replace it with two nipples and a union.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 7:25PM
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lazypup

It is more likely that it is seamless black iron pipe.

Go to a heating contractor supply house and they have a special "Pipe Repair Clamp" made for this purpose.

The repair clamps have two pieces that are formed into a hollow channel to surround the pipe. One side of the clamp is held together in the same manner as a butt hinge and there is a flat neoprene gasket material on the inside of the hollow channel. The clamp is opened like a clam shell, slipped over the leak then folded closed and held in place by two small bolts on the open side.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 11:59PM
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brickeyee

I would not put a pipe repair clamp on a steam line.

212F steam is going to harden up the gasket material in short order.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 11:41AM
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badgergrrl

what about pipe repair wrap? One made by Fernco was suggested. Would that be a good solution if we didn't want to cut out and replace the pipe at this time?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 12:42AM
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lazypup

The pipe repair clamps sold at home supply centers are not suitable, neither is the wrap.

Go to a real heating contractor supply store and they have repair clamps that are rated for high pressure steam that are ASTM certified for up to 400degF.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 4:55AM
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brickeyee

" Would that be a good solution if we didn't want to cut out and replace the pipe at this time?"

Drill and tap the hole and install a machine screw or plug.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 9:10AM
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