Steam heat sounds and behavior


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Old 12-01-18, 07:33 AM
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Steam heat sounds and behavior

Hi,
My boiler was replaced several years ago with a Burnham boiler. Before then and ever since, when the heat is coming up, there is gurgling sound in the main line in the basement (basement is finished but pipe is exposed). Also, the first floor bathroom steam valve hisses because there is a leak between the valve body and top cap.

This leaking valve is third down the run (kitchen is first, then dinning room) and before the rest of the house (second floor bedroom, first floor den and living room [all in that order] - the first floor downstream rooms and bedroom are usually colder than the rest of the house.)

This morning while in my shop, where the boiler is, I heard a hissing sound and tracked it to what looks like an air valve atop a downward elbow on the return line. As the boiler got hotter, it got louder. I never noticed this device making a sound until today.

Any ideas as to what is causing the gurgling in the main and now, this hissing?

Mike.
 
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Old 12-01-18, 11:03 AM
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Before answering or trying to provide an answer more information is needed. Your explanation of your system indicates that you have a 1 pipe steam system. Pictures of the boiler and it's piping would be helpful. When they replaced the boiler did they install a boiler that was physically about the same size as the old boiler? You can add some room temperature if you wish. One note; these 1 pipe steam systems do not take kindly to any piping or water line changes. I hope that the company that replaced the boiler were well versed in 1 pipe steam systems. Please supply pictures of the system and any more information about the system would be helpful.
 
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Old 12-01-18, 12:36 PM
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For picture posting......... How-to-insert-pictures
 
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Old 01-12-19, 09:26 AM
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Photo upload issue

Well steamboy,
Now that the holidays are over, I've been trying to upload the photos you requested and have encountered a few issues:

- took the photos with my Samsung S2 tablet, which uploads to the cloud.
- the cloud photos are visible on my desktop W10 pc in the photo app.
- when I go to the site from my W10 pc and click the 'advanced' button and then the 'paperclip' i cannot find the photos to select to upload.

It gets better....
- so, I tried to upload from the S2 tablet that I took the photos with but at the site, clicking the 'advanced' button doesn't display the 'paperclip' so I can't upload photos.

This is the story of my life....LOL!

If I can find them, I will post them.
 
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Old 01-12-19, 09:44 AM
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Eureka...

Steamboy,
I found the photos and uploaded them.
They are numbered but due to restrictions, I skipped the boring ones and only uploaded the ones of importance; connections, piping, etc.
Mike.

PS: in photo #9 where the pipe goes into the wall, that's the end of the line and behind the wall is a thin return line that goes around the room and comes back to the hissing value.

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Last edited by PJmax; 01-12-19 at 12:06 PM. Reason: cropped/resized pictures
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Old 01-12-19, 10:17 AM
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That hissing item is an air vent. Without being there I am guessing that there is or should be larger main line vents at the ends of any horizontal steam run. If the are not installed or are the wrong type or in the wrong location that could be a reason for poor heating. I am guessing that you have cast iron radiators and not baseboard heaters. Also ,what type vents are mounted on the radiators . The steam pressure should not exceed 2 psi.
 
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Old 01-12-19, 10:53 AM
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Gurgling means water is present. Did the installer alter the slope of the nearly horizontal lines along the ceiling when installing the new boiler?

Use a carpenter's level or torpedo level to verify that there is a slope towards the boiler.

Too much of a water pocket will detract from the pipe diameter and reduce the amount of steam going up to radiators on that branch.
 
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Old 01-12-19, 12:09 PM
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A member is only allotted 10 megs of picture storage.

The board will store almost any size picture file you attach but it will only show a 650x650 picture. I resized your pics to board maximum which freed up most of your storage quota.
 
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Old 01-12-19, 01:08 PM
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Your gurgling could be from a couple of things.

Your near boiler piping may be wrong and your header may not be higher enough to deliver dry steam but might be syphoning water up the main or your pipes may not be pitched correctly back to the boiler to drain the condensate made from the cooling steam.

Near boiler piping is critical on steam systems and diameters and measurements must be followed for proper operation.

If you have hissing vents they should be replaced. Continuously hissing vents means you are loosing steam and continuously adding water which will shorten the life of your boiler.

As far as not all room or rads heating evenly, your heating system when steam is used is balanced by the radiator vents. They come with different size openings or adjustable to release the air out faster or slower.

The rad heats up at the rate of speed the air is released from the rad. The bigger the vent opening the faster the rad heats and so on wit a smaller opening.

There are a couple schools of thought on balancing a system.
1) The further away the rad, the larger the vent opening, the closer the rad, the smaller the opening, so they all heat evenly since steam has to travel further from the boiler to the last ones on line.
2) The other way is the larger the rad the larger the vent opening no matter of their location in regards to the boiler.

The main line vent that is hissing is gone and should be replaced. On that vent you want a larger vent than the rad vents so that vent gets rid of the lions share of the air. The quicker the air is vented the quicker you get steam.

That maim vent has a number on it to identify what it is and a thread size, possibly 1/2 or 3/4 ips thread. When replacing that vent if possible install a 6" black nipple and a coupling and then the vent to raise the vent up for better operation. If you cannot get a 6 as clos as you can is fine and as large as you can for quick venting.

The posts below may help you with some info.

https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads...rbr5p0jv8.jpeg

https://www.supplyhouse.com/sh/contr...22+steam+vents

https://www.supplyhouse.com/Varivalv...alve-3840000-p
This is the one I use and find very reliable. It is adjustable so you don't have to worry if you bought the wrong size.

Below is for your main line venting options. Click on options to get particulars.

https://www.supplyhouse.com/sh/contr...22+steam+vents

Hope this helps a little.
 
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Old 01-13-19, 05:25 AM
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Can you take a picture of 1 of the radiators showing both ends of the radiator and post it so we can see if you have a 1 or 2 pipe system? If the radiator has only 1 pipe connected to it it is a 1 pipe system. As Spott said, that hissing vent is probably bad and needs replaced. It is also not located in the best spot. Do you see any other vents on the steam lines ?
 
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Old 01-13-19, 06:12 AM
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Spott,
Thank you for the links. I will read them asap and replace the vent on the return.

Steamboy,
1 pipe per radiator and yes, they are cast iron, very heavy and with air valves on the opposite ends. A friend of mine brought over a Burnham Heating Helper reference guide a few years ago and tried to balance the system. He made me change a few air valves to lower numbers and other, to higher numbers but the back rooms and bedroom on second floor are still chilly on cold days.

As for questions:
- There was always a gurgling sound in the main even before replacing the boiler.
- The plumber broke the first elbow in the main, as seen in photo #3, just before the line going to the kitchen and reverse piped from there.
- See new photo for pressure setting.
- The main seems to sloped away from the boiler as the gap from the pipe to the ceiling increases along its length.
- in photo #9, where the main goes into the wall. That's the end of the line and I assume the return begins from there. (I cut an opening in the wall far to the right for a dart board recess years ago and there was a hot pipe behind the wall, much lower than the main. I assumed this was the return.) I cannot see any more of the return line or main so I do not know if there are any more vents. The basement was finished when I got here.
- The water auto-feed does go off a lot and can be heard throughout the house when filling.
 
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Old 01-13-19, 10:02 AM
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A couple things to try. 1) The leaking valve for the bathroom could possibly be fixed by trying to tighten the threaded bonnet of the valve or tightening the packing nut on the stem. 2) When you replace the hissing vent add a long nipple to raise the vent as high as possible to keep condensate from affecting the operation of the vent. As I said in my #6 post, this vent would be in a better location if it could be moved upstream away from that tee fitting. If not just raise it as high as you can. 3) For this vent use at least 1 or maybe 2, Gorton #2 vents. Main line air venting is crucial for good steam flow to all rads. 4) I have seen valves that the shut off cage or disc has come loose from the stem and the valve is frozen in a partial or fully closed position reducing steam flow. Remember on a 1 pipe steam system all rad valves are fully open all the time. (no partial open valves) 5) Rads that still do not heat correctly may need a higher capacity steam vent than the one presently installed. In some cases I have doubled up rad vents with the use of nipples and tees. Hope this helps
 
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Old 01-28-19, 05:52 AM
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Steamboy,
I took the return vent to my local HD and the pro (using the term lightly) said it was a return line vent and there is only one replacement. What he gave me was an exact match to the one I had and I could not see any others on the shelves that looked similar. He said they are not available in numbered sizes, just one.

Regardless, the hissing has stopped as has water fill. I cannot miss the water fill going off because you can hear it throughout the house and I've been home sick for a few days.

This 'pro' also told me that the leaking valve would need to be replaced, if it could not be tightened, and to not attempt it myself. When I asked why, he said because if it's been there for a long time, it's practically welded to the pipe and I would need a plumber to cut it out of the line and replace it. I haven't done or tried anything yet with this valve except buy a new one that came with a nut and stubby piece of threaded brass pipe but, is there any truth to what he said?
 
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Old 01-28-19, 08:14 AM
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Re-read my post #12 and "Spott's" post #9. the website spott shows can supply you with good vents without going to the store you went too. Gorton vents are a good choice. Call the phomne number from their page and they can give good recommendations. By the way, The valve for that radiator must be the exact size as te one installed and you will have to install the union supplied with the valve. I doubt that they gave you the correct valve. I think that a better solution would be to fix the old valve. Fooling around with that old piping could become a nightmare even for an experienced person. Can you post a picture of the leaking valve and show where the steam leak is, and can you list the number and make of the new vent. You may need more than 1 vent
 
 

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