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Thread: steam radiator bugging out!!

  1. #1
    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
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    Default steam radiator bugging out!!

    I began troubleshooting my radiator again. Been trying to fix this problem for over 2 years. Asked dozen of plumbers and noone seems to know what's happening.

    2 Story house. 2nd floor radiator. 2 rooms next to each other and the steam riser splits somewhere in the wall and feeds both radiators. One of the radiators works perfect. The other fill up with water.

    Here's what I did. After steam started coming up, I turn on the valve to the broken radiator and it fills with water. I removed the radiator and turned the steam back on with the shutoff valve off. After the steam comes up, I turned the valve on(without the radiator attached) and water starts coming out like a faucet turned halfway on. Now if I remove the main vent on the main header(so there's just a 3/4" hole there) then no water will come out of the valve. This leads me to believe it's got something to do with venting and pressure. But I don't know enough about steam to pinpoint the problem. I would ask the guys who built the system, but they are all dead.

    If anybody here knows about steam (I know it's a dying art) let me know what you think.
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

  2. #2
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    There's a few people here who know steam - I'm not one of them - but the highest concentration of steam-gurus on the web is at heatinghelp.com. The forum's a bit hard to find, it's labelled "the wall".
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  3. #3
    Illinois Licensed Plumber SewerRatz's Avatar
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    One question have you recently changed out the steam boiler before this issue started?

  4. #4
    Master Plumber nhmaster's Avatar
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    Put a new main vent on and make suer the pressure is set no higher that 1/2 a pound. Cut out plus differential = cut in.

  5. #5
    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
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    pressure is at 1/2 pound. boiler's been there for over 15 years at least.

    It's a simple one pipe system with a dry return.
    Last edited by GabeS; 12-21-2008 at 03:28 PM.
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

  6. #6
    Master Plumber nhmaster's Avatar
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    If I had to guess then, and since I can't see the set up, I'd have to say that steam is condensing and collecting in a low spot in the main and when the boiler is up to operating pressure it is driving the condensate into that radiator.

  7. #7
    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
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    Is it possible, that a steam system operating a less than 1 psi, can push any condensate sitting in the main up two stories to the second floor radiator? Don't you need about 5 or 6 psi to push the condensate up 14 feet?

    If this is what's happening, how come it's not pushing it out of the first floor radiator instead that is on the same side of the house?
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

  8. #8
    Master Plumber nhmaster's Avatar
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    Depends on where the condensate is. If it's collecting near the radiator then no. 1/2 lb. is more pressure than you might think. Try dropping an 8 oz. weight on your toe sometime.

  9. #9
    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
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    So you think that condensate is definitely collecting somewhere in the piping because of a bad pitch and the steam pressure is pushing the water out of this specific radiator?

    Have you ever encountered this specific problem before?
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

  10. #10
    Master Plumber nhmaster's Avatar
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    I can see no other explanation for the problem, and yes I have seen it on a couple occasions.

  11. #11
    I teach guitar:You call that a job? Howard Emerson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GabeS View Post
    I began troubleshooting my radiator again. Been trying to fix this problem for over 2 years. Asked dozen of plumbers and noone seems to know what's happening.

    2 Story house. 2nd floor radiator. 2 rooms next to each other and the steam riser splits somewhere in the wall and feeds both radiators. One of the radiators works perfect. The other fill up with water.

    Here's what I did. After steam started coming up, I turn on the valve to the broken radiator and it fills with water. I removed the radiator and turned the steam back on with the shutoff valve off. After the steam comes up, I turned the valve on(without the radiator attached) and water starts coming out like a faucet turned halfway on. Now if I remove the main vent on the main header(so there's just a 3/4" hole there) then no water will come out of the valve. This leads me to believe it's got something to do with venting and pressure. But I don't know enough about steam to pinpoint the problem. I would ask the guys who built the system, but they are all dead.

    If anybody here knows about steam (I know it's a dying art) let me know what you think.
    Here is the link to The Wall, where the highest concentration of Steam Nerds congregate:-)

    They helped me a lot when I was deciding on a new boiler a couple of years ago. Good eggs, just about every one of them!

    http://forums.invision.net/index.cfm?CFApp=2

    HE

  12. #12
    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
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    I hate steam.
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

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