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Old 02-10-2009, 11:53 AM   #1
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Help with STEAM Heat One pipe system

I have a natural gas steam heat one pipe system. When I moved into the house I think half the air vents on the radiators were bad. We replaced some of them but not all. January was kind of cold here in PA and the Gas bill was 500 dollars. In the 400's the 2 months before that. I have a 3 story 4 bedroom house, we have new windows, but the rest of the house isn't insulated too well and I concede that it is most of the reason for the high bill.

Just this week, I replaced the last 2 vents that were old and probably not working properly on the radiator with adjustable ones. seems to heat more evenly at least, but the downstairs still gets hotter faster than the upstairs.

I hadn't messed with the pressuretrol till this week either, I hadn't known where to set the pressure it what it looked like.

What I did find is that the cut-in was set at 7!!! and with a differential of 2.

I read that that is ridiculously high and I put it down to .5 with a differential of 1. It's been a couple days since I changed it and the heat is about the same, maybe a little better IMO, so it definitely didn't need to be that high.

Another problem I have is there is no main vent on the main pipe in the basement( at least I can't find one) and the pipe is covered in asbestos insulation that is heavily wrapped with plastic and duct tape for health reasons I assume. Either way I don't want to touch it and I called for a plumbing/heating guy to come out thursday to install one.

Will I need 2 main line vents on the main pipe because the end of the steam pipe is 7 feet from the boiler on one side and a long ways on the other(idk about 25 feet?) Should i put main line vents on both ends just to make sure? or will just one on the long end do?

And do you think the super high gas cost last month and the rest of winter was because of that pressure setting so high and wasting fuel? Does that make that big of a difference? I only turn it up to 68/69 in evenings and weekends and 62-64 during the workday during the week. I know my house isn't the best insulated and it needs improvements but I do have new double pane windows so it shouldn't be 500 dollars bad for an average of 66 degrees in the house!!


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Old 02-10-2009, 12:06 PM   #2
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Make sure you don't have any main vents hidden in closets.

Yes, being set at 7PSIG drinks lots of gas.


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Old 02-10-2009, 12:11 PM   #3
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edit - I'll make sure to check around a little closer to make sure there is none anywhere. Maybe when the guy comes out tomorrow he will be able to give a better look at it. I just want to be prepared a bit so in case he is a swindler I know a little of what I'm talking about =)

Last edited by johnnysanz3; 02-10-2009 at 12:28 PM.
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Old 02-12-2009, 07:45 PM   #4
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Pressure setting, boiler sizing and venting is the key to fuel savings and steam balance. Steam pressure is an expotential growth as the setting gets above 1.5 - 2 psi.
Main line venting is a science. Most of the time any vent is chosen. The vent really needs to be sized properly. If not it is almost a waste of money. A main line vent needs to vent the main quickly. Vents are sized on the volume of air in the pipe. It is not uncommon to use more than 1 main line vent on each main.
More more info on steam see the link below
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:07 PM   #5
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go to [IMG][/IMG], get Dan's books, ask for help on the 'Wall'
If I could only remember to THINK about what I was doing before I did it.
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:10 PM   #6
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There are 1 pipe systems without return vents. Do you have a return comming back to the boiler and dropping down? If so you need return line vents. Or do you have only a header pipe heading out on a fairly steep pitch allowing the return water to flowing back to the boile in the same pipe. This type may not have a vent.


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