steam radiator not heating up, spurts of cool air coming through...

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Old 02-24-14, 09:26 AM
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steam radiator not heating up, spurts of cool air coming through...

hi all and thanks in advance. i live in a 113 year-old house in providence. when i moved in 6 months ago, i had a couple of snowman-type steam furnaces replaced with burnham independence boilers. they work great, and i've been impressed by the lack of banging/clanking in the system whenever the boilers kick in.

HOWEVER! of all the cast iron radiators throughout the three floors of the house, there is just one in particular on the second floor that just never heats up. i've tried replacing the vent on that radiator, but still no dice. interestingly, when the vent was removed, i noticed spurts of cool air blowing out through the vent hole, apparently indicating that the problem is *not* a blocked pipe.

any ideas???
 
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Old 02-24-14, 09:29 AM
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interestingly, when the vent was removed, i noticed spurts of cool air blowing out through the vent hole, apparently indicating that the problem is *not* a blocked pipe.
If you leave the vent off will you eventually get steam?
 
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Old 02-24-14, 10:18 AM
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Make site your rad valve is open fully.
 
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Old 02-24-14, 12:30 PM
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NJT, thanks for the reply. I have not tried leaving the vent off for an extended period of time, but will give it a shot this evening and let you know how it goes.
 
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Old 02-24-14, 12:34 PM
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Make site your rad valve is open fully.
Spott, thanks for the reply. The valve and the vent (circled in the attached image just to make sure i know what i'm talking about) are open fully.
 
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Old 02-24-14, 12:52 PM
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Fish,
Yes those are the right parts.
Vents fail in two ways. Either open or closed. If your vent continues to hiss and release steam after the air has been removed is one way. The other way is if they don't let the air out so steam can get in.
By leaving the vent off is one way of telling if the vent is bad.

If the rad heats up without the vent then you will no it's defective and can replace it to restore normal operation.
 
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Old 02-24-14, 12:59 PM
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Fish,
Yes those are the right parts.
Vents fail in two ways. Either open or closed. If your vent continues to hiss and release steam after the air has been removed is one way. The other way is if they don't let the air out so steam can get in.
By leaving the vent off is one way of telling if the vent is bad.

If the rad heats up without the vent then you will no it's defective and can replace it to restore normal operation.
Thanks again, Spott. I was optimistic for a second, but then remembered that i've previously swapped the vent from the non-functioning rad with the vent from another radiator (on the third floor) which was always working properly. The result there is that the third floor radiator worked just fine with the vent off the non-functioning radiator, while the non-functioning radiator continued to not function even with the different vent.

I finally remember why I'm so frustrated! The observations i'm making here just don't add up: 1) cool air is coming through from *somewhere* so i'm guessing there's no blockage; and 2) it's not the vent, as proved by the exercise described above. So if there's no blockage, and if my third floor rads are working fine, what could possibly be preventing steam from getting to this second floor rad???
 
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Old 02-24-14, 01:29 PM
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Does you're pipe get hot up to the valve on that rad.If the pipe is hot to the valve but not after it could be the valve itself.
If it was ever shut off & turned back on sometimes they don't open even though it seems to be.
If the pipe gets hot you can loosen the union to the rad and check the valve.

Is that the only one that doesn't heat.
 
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Old 02-24-14, 02:01 PM
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Does you're pipe get hot up to the valve on that rad.If the pipe is hot to the valve but not after it could be the valve itself.
If it was ever shut off & turned back on sometimes they don't open even though it seems to be.
If the pipe gets hot you can loosen the union to the rad and check the valve.

Is that the only one that doesn't heat.
That is the only one that doesn't heat. I'll have to wait till later today to see how far up the pipe gets hot. I have access to the first 15 feet of it in the basement before it shoots up into the ceiling there.

Question for you: is it safe to turn the valves on all the other rads OFF while leaving the valve on this one ON, for the purpose of accelerating the test??
 
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Old 02-24-14, 03:23 PM
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Fish,
No problem with doing that.
You can check the heat in that pipe at the valve above floor level to start and then check the basement.
 
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Old 02-26-14, 12:59 PM
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the easy way out of this mess... in the end, i consulted with my boss (wife) and we decided that after all, this particular radiator that hasn't been working isn't really necessary at all. case in point, it hasn't worked all winter, and we've been just fine. so long story short, yanking that rad and calling it a day. sorry for the anti-climax. thanks again for your input.
 
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Old 02-26-14, 07:07 PM
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Fish,
Thank you for the update,
My best to the boss.
You've got to know when to fold um

Be Well,
 
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