Please help - loud water hammer

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Old 01-06-14, 05:33 PM
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Please help - loud water hammer

Stats:
House built - 1927
Size - 1400 square feet, 2 stories
Boiler - Brand new, installed Oct 2013. Located in basement.
Radiators - Old (but with all new vents and valves, installed Oct 2013)
Thermostat - Nest

Problem:
Boiler in guest room does not get hot unless heat runs for extended periods of time. When heat turns on, air rushes out of vent. Vent is set to "8" (highest setting on scale of 1-8). After some time, pipe to valve gets hot. After additional time, clanking occurs. There is a "gurgling" and "dripping" noise from area as well. Lots of clanking. After additional time, radiator eventually gets hot. No problems with any other radiators in the house.

I have tried levering up the far side of the radiator so there is a grade. I placed two pennies under each of the far radiator feet and the radiator is now tilting very slightly toward the valve. This does not seem to have made much of a difference.

One thing I noticed is that all other radiators on top floor are on shims (both feet). I don't know how you would shim the side closest to the valve without disconnecting everything?
 
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Old 01-06-14, 06:57 PM
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Boiler in guest room does not get hot unless heat runs for extended periods of time.
I know you meant that RADIATOR in guest room...

Is the guest room rad an 'add-on'? or part of the original system?

What are the settings on your PressurTrol ?

Are the steam pipes INSULATED?

Are the vents on the MAIN lines working properly?
 
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Old 01-06-14, 07:59 PM
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Haha, good catch! Yes, raidator in guest room.

No, I do not believe it was an add on. It is original and matches the rest in the house. There have been no additions to the house.

Here is a photo of my pressure reading while in operation:
http://imageshack.us/a/img17/3801/tfa0.jpg

I do not believe the pipes to be insulated. I know this because I opened up one wall and could see they were not insulated in that specific place.

I believe the main vent is working. It is a ventrite and I believe it says No. 3 on it.

Here is a picture:
http://imageshack.us/a/img834/2579/cwxq.jpg
 
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Old 01-07-14, 05:44 AM
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Vent is set to "8" (highest setting on scale of 1-8).
'Slower' vent settings have likely been tried with similar results?

Is it possible that any 'settling' of the pipes has occurred that might cause that branch pipe to not drain properly?

How much of the 'near boiler piping' was re-done with the new boiler install?

Can you show us pics of the install?

Insulating as much as possible of the steam mains is important because you want the steam to stay steam until it hits the rad. With no or missing insulation as soon as the steam hits the main it starts to condense and on long runs this can sometimes mean that very little actual steam makes it to the radiator.

I'm pleasantly surprised to see that nobody has gone hog wild increasing the steam pressure! Those settings are very sane. Little understood fact about steam: LOWER PRESSURE steam travels FASTER in the piping.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 06:02 AM
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Was the boiler properly sized for the connected load? An oversized boiler would cause more problems than just one rad but I want to get an overall view of what was done upon replacement. Snap a few shots for us of the boiler, piping, system, problem area. Sounds like the system is far from balanced, it would take some time to get it back to a balanced point as well. Does the vent spit water? Seems like they threw a nice pressurtrol on there for you as well. Pressure isn't too bad, seems like they know what they're doing for the most part, but i doubt there gonna throw on a vaporstat and start measuring friction loss in your piping and setting your steam pressure that way. Gets us the info we need and we should be able to solve your issue in a timely manner.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 10:15 AM
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Slower' vent settings have likely been tried with similar results?
I've gone down to 4 or 5 and wasn't getting very good heat so I turned it faster.

Is it possible that any 'settling' of the pipes has occurred that might cause that branch pipe to not drain properly?
Absolutely possible. Unfortunately I just purchased the house, I don't know what the history is.

How much of the 'near boiler piping' was re-done with the new boiler install?
It looks like most of it. I'll take a picture this evening and post it.

Does the vent spit water?
No water spitting. The old vents spit a lot of water, so the plumber replaced all of them when he did the boiler install.

It seems to me that the water hammer is worse with the pennies than it was before.

Why would all the other rads be up on shims (both sides) -- is this normal?
 
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Old 01-07-14, 10:22 AM
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HMM. there's a problem. The vents were spitting water and the plumber decided to replace them thinking that would solve the problem? Just because its spitting water doesn't mean its a bad vent. You have a buildup of water somewhere in you lines and/or radiator causing this water to spit out. I would also look into whether that main vent is working correctly. At the moment i don't have my vent sizing chart but we can go over that later. Once we get some pics, we can answer a few more questions about this system. Is this your first heating season in the home?
 
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Old 01-07-14, 11:27 AM
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Yes it is my first. We moved here in December and are also new to steam and radiators
 
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Old 01-07-14, 12:42 PM
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G,
I looked at your pressuretrol and I don't know if anyone noticed but you have a subtractive differential.
You have your main set at 1psi and your differential set at .5 which means your cutoff is 1 and the boiler comes back on at .5.
I would think your boiler might be short cycling at those settings.

I would suggest putting your MAIN @ 2psi and your dif. @ 1.5.
This way your cutoff will be 2psi and it will come back on @ .5.

I believe these setting will serve you better.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 02:14 PM
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Spott,

It's not too bad how its setup, but if they're really looking at running lower pressures i would've liked to see a vaporstat which is much more accurate when trying to run a pound of steam. I'm not sure if i would advise raising his pressure settings because it will do more harm than good.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 03:31 PM
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Why would all the other rads be up on shims (both sides) -- is this normal?
I dunno 'normal', but I'm wondering if it was done that way to change the pitch of a pipe leading to the radiator to get it to drain properly. That's kinda what I was thinking earlier when I asked about 'settling'. Raising BOTH sides of the rad might lift the pipe enough...

Do you have an idea of how the pipe runs off the noisy rad and back to the boiler? Are there any horizontal runs in that pipe?

Anxious to see pics of the boiler install...
 
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Old 01-07-14, 06:26 PM
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I'm very anxious as well. I love looking at steam installs, however i laugh at most of them.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 07:56 PM
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Here are some pics:





 
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Old 01-07-14, 07:59 PM
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Please excuse the mess. Painting is my fault (and regrettably so).

You can see in the last photo that both the green and red light are on. This seems to happen from time to time. Boiler fires up, water in site glass goes from about halfway or 2/3 up all the way to the bottom. Light blinks red. Water comes back in, red light goes off. Cycles like this a few times.

Some more pics:



 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:19 PM
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Wow, the water line is surging that bad? From 2/3 up all the way to the bottom? Their piping instructions don't necessarily require you to use both 2" tappings from the boiler but that would've also been nice to see. Doesn't look like much of the piping is insulated. Make sure your main vent is working properly.

How quickly does the water level drop like that after startup? And how was the boiler sized to begin with?

Also can you get a side shot where the gauge glass is. From the one pic it looks like the Hartford loop is higher than the entire glass assembly.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:24 PM
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I'd also be interested in what the return piping looks like... the area to the lower left of the LWCO box with the G and R LEDs on it.

Do you know if the boiler was properly 'skimmed' after installation?
 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:28 PM
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Maybe not 2/3, but definitely over halfway up.

Unfortunately I do not know how the boiler was sized and I do not know whether it was skimmed (honestly do not know what that means). The water in the siteglass looks clear with a bit of a rusty tinge to it. It looks like it has a bit of rusty looking sediment on the top. Not sure if that helps.

I also don't know how to test the function of the main vent -- what would you recommend?
 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:40 PM
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One more quick question:
The radiator in my master bedroom works great. However, after the air rushes out and the air vent closes, it starts to make a very high pitched whining noise (sounds like a mosquito buzzing). If I turn the vent to a slower setting (from 5 to 4) while it's whining, it stops.

It's right by my headboard so it's super annoying. What causes this? None of the other radiators make this noise after the air stops
 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:41 PM
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What kind of vents are on the rads?

Testing the main vent can be done just by simply listening to it when the boiler first starts making steam. If you hear it venting its working HOWEVER, if you hear it venting that also means its too small of a vent. Only other way would be to removed it, flip it up vertical and blow through it.
 
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Old 01-08-14, 08:54 PM
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Any ideas on the water hammer?
 
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Old 01-09-14, 12:44 PM
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Perhaps it's a parralax view problem... but it doesn't appear that the hartford loop connection to the equalizer is 2" below the water line, does it?
 
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Old 01-09-14, 02:38 PM
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I have been hesitant to get in on this in order not to get G confused any further but I have to ask has anyone noticed the way the header is piped for one and Trooper did pick up on the Hartford Loop.
I don't know if it's the pics but is the header a smaller size than the riser, and the equilizer larger than the header.
By the way the header is piped I mean the location of the riser onto the header and the placement of the tees going to the mains.

I'm only going to say the header piping, I believe is why he's losing his water and the Hartford loop placement could be why the system is noisy.
 
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Old 01-09-14, 02:54 PM
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Copied image here so we don't have to scroll back.



I don't know if it's the pics but is the header a smaller size than the riser, and the equilizer larger than the header.
I sorta thought the different appearing pipe sizes were the perspective of the photo.

The riser on the left I think is OK, but that riser on the right, perhaps not so much. Shouldn't both risers be on the same side? The steam should NOT be asked to 'split' at a tee like that.

Also, I think that even with a 'drop header' setup like that, the header itself needs to be like 24" above the water line. Hard to tell dimensions in photos, but it may not be.

My qualifications to comment on steam are only what I've learned in the past years moderating this forum. I no longer consider myself to be 'steam stupid', now I'm 'steam know enough to be dangerous', so I could be wrong about that riser config.
 

Last edited by NJT; 01-09-14 at 03:28 PM.
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Old 01-09-14, 03:27 PM
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Trooper,

The steam main on the left is fine, it's the right one that's wrong. Both mains should come off after the riser location.

Is you switch the riser location and the right main tee he would be fine, keeping at least 6" apart.
The reason has got to do with the pressure in the equilizer line. The equilizer does exactly that, equilizes pressure between the header and the boiler and it's the equal pressure that keeps the water in the boiler.

The way it's suppose to be piped is so when the steam reaches the header some goes to the mains and some goes to the equilizer which keeps the water in the boiler.

The way it is, the steam goes into a tee and splits so your not getting that equal pressure and I believe that's why his water is disappearing into the return.

I'm not sure but that may be causing some of the water hammer.

The condensate from the main on the right cannot drain because it's under pressure from the steam going opposite the equilizer into the return.

If he took the plug out of the tee he would probably find some water in there.

The dropped header is fine as long as the riser elbow is 24".

It looks like the Hartford loop though is way to high and I can't see the bottom
 
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Old 01-09-14, 03:34 PM
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The dropped header is fine as long as the riser elbow is 24".
So it's not the steam header ITSELF that needs to be 24" above WL, but the horizontal part of the boiler riser that needs to be 24" above WL... gotcha.
 
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Old 01-09-14, 03:55 PM
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Yes, if it's a dropped header. Otherwise the header must be at least 24".

The Hartford loop placement is causing all his waterhammer because it's too high.

What happens is when the boiler makes steam the water in the boiler and the equilizer goes down. If the Hartford loop is too high the steam from the equilizer gets into the Hartford loop meeting the water and makes a hell of a racket.

A little bit of near boiler repiping might solve his whole problem and by the looks of the water, a little skimming.
 
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Old 01-09-14, 07:40 PM
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Looks like the guy went 2" above the water line with the loop. It could be just the angle of the pic but i definitely looks real high. Header needs to flow in one direction with the takeoffs and risers. I would have actually used both boiler takeoffs, piped in a 2-1/2" drop header to the opposite side as it is now and wrap the return around. This way the equalizer would drop straight down off the header.
 
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Old 01-09-14, 07:53 PM
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If he would have used that plan we wouldn't be having this conversation and they would have had a happy customer.
 
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