From FL living in VA with gas boiler & radiators

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Old 03-12-18, 06:33 AM
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From FL living in VA with gas boiler & radiators

So I've lived in FL my entire life but now have a home in VA which has a central system on the top floor and a Burnham gas boiler system with radiators for the main level. I did some youtubing and found out where to keep the water level and cleaned lots of my valves with boiling vinegar. They all still seemed to be clogged and I could not blow air through them so I just had them replaced with varivalves. The reason I started looking into this system is last month I had my heat set on 66 and wasn't even in town but my gas bill was nearly $500, plus now that I am here it's like the room never heats up. I just noticed I have 2 I guess "main" valves in the basement but they look very old and are rusty. One is making a slight whistle, the other is not. Any ideas if these are supposed to be replaced as well?
 
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Old 03-12-18, 06:41 AM
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I also just checked my boiler as it was running and it got to 4psi of pressure, is that too low?
 
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Old 03-12-18, 07:52 AM
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More information is needed before any one can offer ideas or recommendations. Also please send photos of 1 or 2 radiators, and a picture of the boiler, piping around the boiler, and some of the valves that you referenced? When the boiler is running do all the radiators get hot all the way across?
 
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Old 03-12-18, 09:30 AM
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You have a steam boiler. 4 psi is high.

Like mentioned....post more boiler pictures.

This thread is very similar to yours. You can read thru it to pick up some good ideas. 1 pipe-steam-system-problems
 
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Old 03-14-18, 05:30 AM
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Here are some photos. I had my buddy who does HVAC come by yesterday for a bit and he said the unit the previous owner put in is very large for this house and it's still under warranty. He couldn't believe how good of shape it was in because most older homes have very old smaller units. The radiators heat up, some better than others but personally I feel like my central system heats the home faster. Also I have all my radiator valves upstairs closed completely since the central system works so well and only my main floor has open radiators. I kicked the boiler on this morning and heard very loud banging, louder than other times so I searched youtube and I guess it could be water or air in the pipes?

Here are more photos
 
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Last edited by PJmax; 03-14-18 at 08:49 AM. Reason: reoriented pictures
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Old 03-14-18, 05:33 AM
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Here are the vents/valves I pulled off and boiled in vinegar which I then replaced with the little angled varivalves
 
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Old 03-14-18, 04:36 PM
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D,
It sounds like what you're experiencing is water hammer. That is when steam meats the returning condensate.

In your case your near boiler piping needs some work. You want to deliver dry steam to your rads and it all starts with proper near boiler piping.

You want your header at least 24" above the water line. The higher the better. You want your equalizer line going back to the boiler by itself and not on a tee with your main. You want all that pipe covered in fiberglass insulation of at least 1" thick to keep the steam from condensing before it reaches the rads.

At 4 PSI your pressure is too high. You want no more than 2 PSI cutout.

Your header is the horizontal pipe connecting the 2 boiler risers on top. Your equalizer is the last pipe that has a tee going up and down. It should not be connected to that main.
 
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Old 03-15-18, 05:00 AM
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Follow spotts advice, The "near boiler piping" is very critical on a steam system The contractor that installed the boiler must not have had experience with steam boilers, especially 1 pipe steam. Also, where is the water hammer? Is it at the boiler, in the piping, or at the radiators.? All the radiator valves must be open wide or closed completely. No partially open valves. If you are going to have the near boiler piping replaced I would also recommend that the header size be increased to at least 3" pipe size or larger.
 
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Old 03-15-18, 10:44 AM
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Also to add to the other comments is the hartford loop is too low and the nipple could be shorter. Main line vents are very important t balancing the system and efficient operation. The greater the steam pressure the fuel consumption is an exponential growth. An oversized boiler will run shorter cycles and lower the boiler efficiency.
 
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Old 03-15-18, 07:15 PM
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Weil Mclain steam vid 2 & 3 you might find interesting and may save a lot of explanations.

Weil McLain Steam Vid 3 AND vid 2. and others.

These are on youtube.

Should answer most of your questions.

Hope this helps a little.
 
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Old 03-19-18, 05:09 AM
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Thanks for this advice, this week I will go down there and diagram everything. I know some of the pipes are wrapped in fiberglass but not all. The water hammering is happening with one of my small radiators on the main level, none of the ones on the 3rd floor have this issue. It got so bad over the weekend that I had to turn it off to sleep. Luckily the central system handles the heat upstairs so I just turned that one on.
 
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Old 03-19-18, 05:16 AM
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It seems to be between the basement ceiling and the main level floor where the smallest radiator is, it's like a little creature is somewhere in the floors whacking it with a sledgehammer. I have over 10 radiators and this is the only one that does this.
 
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Old 03-19-18, 05:20 AM
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I didn't replace the 2 main vertical vales/vents when I replaced the radiator ones. They are old and rusty, should I boil them in vinegar for now to clean them out?
 
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Old 03-19-18, 07:35 AM
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I just cleaned out 2 buckets of old dirty water and lowered the water level in the glass tube so it would be closer to the 24 inches recommended, it's still a little less but it's close as I could get. Around 22 inches, before it was 16 because the tube was 3/4 full give or take
 
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Old 03-19-18, 12:49 PM
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The problem with draining from the bottom is most of the oil and sediment sticks to the walls and the when you refill it comes off the walls and into the water again.

As far as the vents go whatever gets them working.

The best thing to do is raise the height of the header to get that dry steam to the rads. You can only lower the water so much. With the lower water level if the water surges at all the LWCO will shut it down.

Check the pitch of the pipes on that rad that's banging. Make sure pipe is pitched back to the boiler. Check where that rad is in relation to your header.
 
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Old 03-19-18, 06:41 PM
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I see, well for now the water is crystal clear, I'll see how long it last. I did notice I had the water level good, just under half way in the glass tube but just kicked on the furnace and now the glass tube is completely full. The good thing is the PSI reads 2.5 now so it has come down from the 4psi. It seemed like when the water level in the tube was good the burner was kicking off because it didn't have enough water, so I opened the water valve to let some in and had hte glass tube valve shut. The house is heating, no knocking yet but am worried about the tube being so full.....


Now that I think about it my burner has no good water level marked like others have with sharpies so I was just assuming that where the water level was when I bought the home is where I should have it.
 
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Old 03-20-18, 02:37 AM
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Turning the steam pressure down to 2.5 psi will help with the steam /water hammer. As far as the vents go, cleaning them in boiling vinegar is nothing I ever heard of. They wear out more than they get dirty or plugged and should be replaced when they continuously blow steam when the radiator is hot all the way across. The 2 main line vents are not located in the right place in the line but I would not try to change them now. If they are old I would replace them, not waste my time cleaning them. As was said before, the "near boiler piping" is not correct. The boiler will operate okay with the return piping the way it is but the steam header location and size is contributing to the hammering in the system. As far as the water level in the sight tube, it can be up to but not above the top of that tube when the boiler has been off for an hour or so and may fall to just above the cut off level when the boiler is firing and the pressure is at or near the 2.5 psig level. The valves for the sight tube are to remain open all the time unless you remove the glass for cleaning. The horizontal steam pipe leaving the boiler should be a minimum of 18" to 24" above the water line depending on the boilers firing rate, and sized for the amount of steam flow. however most installers use the 24" height for all installations.The steam pipe on the left of the picture should not be in the same fitting as the header drain (the pipe flowing down) but should be located as shown in the post #13 picture. As I said in my post #8, the contractor that installed the boiler should have known better or this was above his "level of expertise". One last thing, dirty water in the sight tube will not effect the boilers operation but extremely dirty water or oily water will. You rarely see perfectly clear water in the sight tube, and on an old heating system as your is the tube may never be clear.
 
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Old 03-20-18, 05:44 AM
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Thank you, it sounds like I have a lot of work to do before next winter. In regards to the glass tube, when the boiler has cooled down the water line drops to just above the cut off line but when it is on it fills completely up, do I need to drain all the water again you think to get the water line corrected?
 
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Old 03-20-18, 08:24 AM
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By the way this is the model I have in my home

Burnham SIN5LNI-LE2 SIN5LNILE2 SIN5LNI Independence 86,000 BTU SemiPak Steam Boiler NG

 
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Old 03-20-18, 09:13 AM
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If the water line rises when the boiler is firing and settles down when the boiler shuts off , this is caused by extremely dirty water, oily water (boiler needs skimmed) or most likely wrong "near boiler piping". If there is not enough distance from the water line to the horizontal steam header, the header is too small or the discharge up from the header is not piped properly the steam flow out of the header to the supply pipes will lift the water up and out of the boiler yielding a high water level in the boiler and can also contribute to the steam/water hammer you hear in the system. As myself and others have stated the piping around the boiler needs to be corrected and please try and get someone that understands "near boiler piping". Make sure you ask for references and call the customers they have serviced in the past. A big name on the truck does not yield a great company. Look for a company with a few older guys.
 
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Old 03-20-18, 09:41 AM
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Okay will do. Thanks again, will report back in a few weeks once I find someone who truly knows these systems
 
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