Leak in steam pipes


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Old 02-27-04, 06:03 PM
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Leak in steam pipes

Hi,

My house is heated by steam. The steam pipes appear to have been installed when the house was built 80 years ago. In several places where the pipes make a turn, steam is escaping from the fittings. It seems that the pipe dope in these fittings has failed. It is not practical to tighten these fittings without causing problems elsewhere. The steam spray from these fittings is very fine, but it has caused significant water damage in the areas around the failed fittings. Short of replacing the steam pipes in question, is there any way to re-seal the fittings without taking the pipes apart? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 02-29-04, 06:13 PM
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What you descfribe is rather unusual. Normally there is only 1 pound of pressure in those pipes and even without pipe dope, there would be no real leakage. What pressure does your system operate at and are the leaks right where the threads enter the fitting?

Ken
 
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Old 02-29-04, 08:25 PM
bungalow jeff
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This is odd. Pipe dope is not generally used in steam piping, and would not have been used 80 years ago in steam work. I think KFiled is on the right track. Did someone turn up the pressure on your steam system as a quick fix to clogged radiators? A steam system should be running fine at 0.5 psi and an absolute maximum of 2 psi.
 
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Old 03-01-04, 09:00 PM
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Thanks for the info. The pressure is set at approximately .5 psi. The steam is coming out of the point where the pipe is threaded into the fitting. There is substantial water lose in the boiler because water has to be added to the boiler daily (there is no automatic water feed).
 
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Old 03-01-04, 09:12 PM
bungalow jeff
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This is odd. I recommend you post this problem over at the Wall, a forum at www.heatinghelp.com, there are several steam experts there to discuss this with.
 
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Old 03-05-04, 06:17 PM
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steam pipe dope

Use it on all steam fittings... usually Rector Seal #5, I have used Grip (Black and sticky as hell) It works best I think. Take a 8# sledge hammer and place it behind (back it )the leaky fitting and smash it with a 2# sledge hammer. This will shatter the fitting, do the same at the other end of the bad section of pipe and replace it with two pieces of pipe joined at the best access location with a union. Mark the location of the proposed location of the union before doing all this with a hack saw blade. HD will cut and thread the pipe for you. This is all assuming you don't have a union nearby. When you replace the elbows make sure you use Black Iron, NOT a malleable elbow. They look similar, but the shoulder is much thicker on Black Iron... When you use the pipe dope, keep the first two threads dope-free.

PS use eye protection!

 
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Old 03-06-04, 09:32 AM
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I think Id get a low water cut off and water feed on this steam boiler right now. Work the pipe leak later. Like havc01453 said break that 90o L cut, thread and a union. ED
 
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Old 12-08-06, 02:47 PM
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Cath.

Occam's Razor. We have a commercial steam plant in our Building. The pipes oxidize when steam condenses and cools. You probably have bad pipes.
We are replacing our pipes....always. Sigh.
 
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Old 12-09-06, 02:01 PM
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Smile corrosion

Carbonic acid can form and eat right through the piping. To resolve this, I recommend you get the book The Lost Art of Steam Heating (page 277) by Dan Holohan available at heatinghelp.com ; If your going to be involved with steam go to one of his seminars.
 
 

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