Clueless? (Bleeder Valves On Radiators)


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Old 11-08-04, 07:42 AM
scmrak
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Question Clueless? (Bleeder Valves On Radiators)

Hi, all:

I'm living with my first-ever hot water heating system, in a 108-y.o. farmhouse.

A previous owner removed all of the bleeder screws (valves?) on the radiators and replaced them with a Honeywell valve of some kind. I estimate this took place 20-25 years ago. The valves - beige and tan plastic - each have a dial-type control on the end, and a thimble-shaped metal vent between the radiator and the control box. It's my impression that their purpose is to act as a humidifier and/or pressure-relief valve, but I'm not sure.

One of the eleven valves is broken and spurts hot water and steam all over the radiator and floot. We're talking half a gallon or more each time the system fires up.

Unfortunately, I have no instructions for these honeywell valves and none of them has a model number on it anywhere that I can find. The immediate previous owner obviously didn't know how to deal with the problem, either - he simply turned off the radiator. I'd do that, too, except that it's in the room with the wall thermostat...

Can I just pull this thing off and replace it with a steel bolt that'll plug up the hole, or find a replacement bleeder screw? Are more modern versions of these Honeywell valves available? What's their real putpose, anyway? Help!

Thanks in advance,

rex
 
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Old 11-08-04, 09:17 AM
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Hi Rex,
Welcome to the world of hydronic heating! It is a great way to heat a home in my opinion.
While I personally don't have any of the devices you are referring to, I am going to take a stab at it and say that they are probably automatic bleeders. The idea was that they would open up automatically to let air out, then close when the water got to them.
That said, they also remind me of a device used in steam systems. They function as a thermostatic valve, admitting steam when the room temp dropped below the setting on the dial.
I will defer to others on this board who have experience with these valves, because like I said, I have no personal experience with these devices.

Here's something I found. Is this what you have?

http://customer.honeywell.com/Honeyw...CFB4218DD64%7D
 

Last edited by Andrew; 11-08-04 at 09:39 AM. Reason: New info
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Old 11-08-04, 02:15 PM
scmrak
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Hi, Andrew, and thanks for the warm welcome (chuckle).

Yes, I'd seen the Honeywell radiator thermostats while researching what these things are. Since they're not actually in the input water line, I don't think they're thermostatic controls - but the "automatic bleeder valve" idea sounds like you're on the right track.

Any other input is definitely welcome.

Rex
 
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Old 11-08-04, 02:32 PM
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Wink

Im also at a loss here. Honeywell still has a valve say like that for hot water and steam. It has a control and also a valve body. Its a self-powered thermostatic actuator. Johnstone supply has them . But if its in the bleeder port put a new bleeder in . I think you said put a bolt in it dont do that cause its a Fpt thread. Ken might come up with what you have here.

ED
 
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Old 11-09-04, 06:21 AM
scmrak
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Originally Posted by Ed Imeduc
I think you said put a bolt in it dont do that cause its a Fpt thread.
Thanks, Ed. I tried a couple of bolts (just finger-tight) and realized that the opening requires a fitting with a conical shape (which I verified by looking at the Honeywell thing).

Next?

rex
 
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Old 11-09-04, 07:39 AM
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If you can remove the valve without having water gushing all over the place, you definitely have a steam or a vapor system. That means the valve you are trying to replace would be a steam vent. You can buy an adjustable one at any good heating parts supplier. There could be other reasons for the water though, like too high of a water level or too high of a pressure setting on eht boiler. Or if it is a one pipe system, the inlet valve may be partially closed and trapping water in the radiator. There seems to be more here than just a bad vent valve. I would advise against trying to get a machine thread bolt to work in a pipe thread. The vent valves have 1/8" pipe thread on them. If you plug it, you will only be making the system more out of whack. Maybe you could give us a more complete dedcription of the entire system and we can help you understand the big picture.

Ken
 
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Old 11-09-04, 08:26 AM
scmrak
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Originally Posted by KField
If you can remove the valve without having water gushing all over the place, you definitely have a steam or a vapor system.
When the radiator's hot I get pressurized vapor (not boiling hot)

Originally Posted by KField
That means the valve you are trying to replace would be a steam vent. You can buy an adjustable one at any good heating parts supplier.
Could be. These things are definitely a "modern" addition, since the radiators are original and thus predate the "age of plastic."

Originally Posted by KField
There could be other reasons for the water though, like too high of a water level or too high of a pressure setting on eht boiler. Or if it is a one pipe system, the inlet valve may be partially closed and trapping water in the radiator. There seems to be more here than just a bad vent valve. I would advise against trying to get a machine thread bolt to work in a pipe thread. The vent valves have 1/8" pipe thread on them. If you plug it, you will only be making the system more out of whack. Maybe you could give us a more complete dedcription of the entire system and we can help you understand the big picture.

Ken
Yeah, the machine bolt definitely felt wrong.
  • House built 1896, moved in '50s and again in 70s, boiler probably updated when moved in 50s. No records available.
  • American Standard Boiler, gas-fired; has no circulating pump. Appears to have two closed loops, one for the "front" of the house and one for the "back."
  • Supply piping is medium-OD iron pipe with (shudder) asbestos insulation; pipe diameter is (I estimate) about 3 inches.
  • Each radiator has a knob-style shutoff valve at floor level. I'm pretty sure that each radiator has only one pipe coming in that acts as both supply and drain.
  • Radiators are cast-iron with piping of maybe 1 to 1-1/2" diameter in the fins. Threaded for a bleeder valve on the ends about 75% of distance from floor to top. No original bleeder valves remain.
  • "modern" valves are labeled "Honeywell" but have no other marking. Valve consists of (from radiator out)
    • threaded pipe that fits into bleeder hole
    • brass tee, with a chrome "thimble" mounted on the side. This "thimble" has vent holes in the top, which allow vapor and occasionally water to escape on the other radiators
    • A beige plastic box
    • A knurled knob marked 1-7.

On this particular device, the "thimble" is loose in its mount and has obviously been damaged. It appears that turning the knurled knob is supposed to open and close a valve that shunts vapor or water into the "thimble," but the linkage is broken.

HTH.

Thanks,

rex
 
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Old 11-09-04, 09:25 AM
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Now that's the kind of information that helps. What you have is a one pipe steam system. It is important that the valve at the floor is all the way open. You cannot throttle that valve or you will trap water inside the radiator. The vent you should be using to replace what you have is shown in the picture in this link. The price seems a little high but it was the first hit I had.
http://www.gogeisel.com/Catalog/hoff...7_products.htm
It is adjustable and a good brand. It is also important that the pressure setting on the control at the boielr is very low. Like .5 with a 1 psi additive differential. Check out the pressure control and post back. It sounds like you are getting wet steam out of the boiler and there are a few reasons for that. We can address that next.

Ken
 
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Old 11-10-04, 06:05 AM
scmrak
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Ahhh, yes, this is the "thimble" of which I spoke. I've found a local supplier who has several different types in stock (one is the hoffman 1A pictured) and will be getting a replacement tomorrrow.

My suspicion is that I'm best served by having a heating professional walk me through maintenance and adjustments on the system, since I think that I know just enough about it to "be dangerous." To that end, I'm having a local contractor out later this week. Once I know what the heck I'm dealing with I can start optimizing the system.

The previous owner (whose "repairs" and "enhancements" demonstrate a remarkable lack of skill and knowledge in many areas of home maintenance) apparently just let this thing leak. What a bozo.

Thanks, all. I imagine I'll be back.

Rex
 
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Old 11-10-04, 09:17 AM
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You are taking the right path by having a pro taking a look at the system and giving you a walk-thru. He (or she) can also give you tips on saving energy and basic system maintenance. While there are some EXCELLENT professionals here, nothing can beat a hands-on inspection by a pro.
Good luck!
 
 

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