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Old 01-21-2012, 06:52 AM   #1
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Steam radiator issue...


Any ideas?
I have three rooms upstairs with old steam radiators. In one room, the radiator gets very hot and warms the room. In the other two, the radiators were not getting hot at all, and didn't seem to be working.
I replaced the vents on the two that were not working with basic adjustable vents. If I play with them, I can get a small amount of heat from the two other radiators, but nowhere near as much as from the first one.
If I take the vent off completely, the radiators become very hot immediately.
Any ideas?

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Old 01-21-2012, 08:12 AM   #2
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Steam radiator issue...


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Originally Posted by theskunk View Post
I have three rooms upstairs with old steam radiators.
In one room, the radiator gets very hot and warms the room.

In the other two, the radiators were not getting hot at all, and didn't seem to be working. I replaced the vents on the two that were not working with basic adjustable vents.

If I take the vent off completely, the radiators become very hot immediately. If I play with them... I can get a small amount of heat...

Any ideas?
Steam pipes usually run vertically... So,
Are these three radiators all fed by the same pipe?
What is happening with the pipes before getting to the 3rd floor at each location?
Does that include any sort of zone valving? (manually or solenoids)
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Steam radiator issue...-systems-piping-100054.jpg  

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Old 01-21-2012, 08:37 AM   #3
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Steam radiator issue...


Are you getting all the air out of the radiators?
When was last time boiler was cleaned out/serviced?
Is there enough water in the boiler?
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:39 AM   #4
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Steam radiator issue...


if your not hearing the steam hissing your not going to heat are the radiators tilted towards the single supply line so the cooled off hi temp water can drain back and whats the cycle pressure on that boiler set at?
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:52 AM   #5
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Steam radiator issue...


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if your not hearing the steam hissing your not going to heat are the radiators tilted towards the single supply line so the cooled off hi temp water can drain back and whats the cycle pressure on that boiler set at?
Is it a 1 or 2 pipe system?
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:53 AM   #6
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Steam radiator issue...


To answer some of the questions:
1.) The two radiators are coming off of two different pipes. Each appears to have one ( I think) first floor radiator off the same pipe- these two radiators work OK.
2.) There is enough water in the boiler. I last had it serviced last year, and the problem existed prior to and since the servicing
3.) I have no idea to determine the cycle pressure- I have an old Weill Mclain boiler, probably from the early 1970s at best.
I will try to shim up one end opposite the steam pipe and see if that helps-
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:55 AM   #7
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Steam radiator issue...


One main pipe out of the boiler, which then splits to four pipes in the basement before going up to the house
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:36 AM   #8
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Steam radiator issue...


there is not a pressure guage on that boiler... when it is running you should see the control pressure with a setting on the boiler 5psi typical hot and running..on that tilting just a 1/4 strip of plywood will to it..if you have rugs...big nut under each far end footing this is so the super heated water runs back to the boiler
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Old 01-21-2012, 05:08 PM   #9
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Steam radiator issue...


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Originally Posted by theskunk View Post
One main pipe out of the boiler, which then splits to four pipes in the basement before going up to the house
So its a 1 pipe system without a return/condensate line coming from other end of radiators?
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Old 01-21-2012, 05:11 PM   #10
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Steam radiator issue...


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Originally Posted by biggles View Post
there is not a pressure guage on that boiler... when it is running you should see the control pressure with a setting on the boiler 5psi typical hot and running..on that tilting just a 1/4 strip of plywood will to it..if you have rugs...big nut under each far end footing this is so the super heated water runs back to the boiler
Just be carefull yanking up on those radiators not to knock something loose
And yes you definately need a pressure switch on the boiler.
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Old 01-21-2012, 05:15 PM   #11
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Steam radiator issue...


Quote:
Originally Posted by theskunk View Post
To answer some of the questions:
1.) The two radiators are coming off of two different pipes. Each appears to have one ( I think) first floor radiator off the same pipe- these two radiators work OK.
2.) There is enough water in the boiler. I last had it serviced last year, and the problem existed prior to and since the servicing
3.) I have no idea to determine the cycle pressure- I have an old Weill Mclain boiler, probably from the early 1970s at best.
I will try to shim up one end opposite the steam pipe and see if that helps-
Servicing a steam or hot water boiler is not something that should be done just yearly,id flush some water out of the bottem of boiler atleast weekly to keep the trash out of system.
Once you get on top of the maintenance and chemicals for the system you can probably go to bi weekly checks,but no less than once a month
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Old 01-21-2012, 05:34 PM   #12
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Steam radiator issue...


Quote:
Originally Posted by TarheelTerp View Post
Steam pipes usually run vertically... So,
Are these three radiators all fed by the same pipe?
What is happening with the pipes before getting to the 3rd floor at each location?
Does that include any sort of zone valving? (manually or solenoids)
Call me crazy but that picture is confusing me!
The way the boiler is piped in the basement looks like a 2 pipe system with the steam leaving top of boiler and condensate being returned to bottem of tank,but the lines are tied together at first floor
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Old 01-21-2012, 05:41 PM   #13
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Steam radiator issue...


Quote:
Originally Posted by plummen View Post
Call me crazy but that picture is confusing me!
didn't you know that MC Esher was also a steam fitter?

Quote:
The way the boiler is piped in the basement looks like a 2 pipe system with the steam leaving top of boiler...
It's a one pipe "distribution" system...

Quote:
...and condensate (loop sneakily hidden in the basement) being returned to bottom of tank...
but the lines are tied together at first floor
Nope... well, sorta. Look closer.
I believe a check or something goes in at that point
---------

(all that detail aside... the purpose was to demonstrate to the OP that even though the radiators are all on the 3rd floor it's highly unlikely they all share the same pipe routing to get the steam to their 3 different locations)

Skunk: Take a few minutes and draw up your own piping diagram.

Last edited by TarheelTerp; 01-21-2012 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 01-21-2012, 05:57 PM   #14
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Steam radiator issue...


Didnt notice any check valves i guess!
Most systems I work around are of the 2 pipe variety with a condensate pump in basement to return to bottem of boiler
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:24 PM   #15
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Steam radiator issue...


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Originally Posted by theskunk View Post
Any ideas?
I have three rooms upstairs with old steam radiators. In one room, the radiator gets very hot and warms the room. In the other two, the radiators were not getting hot at all, and didn't seem to be working.
I replaced the vents on the two that were not working with basic adjustable vents. If I play with them, I can get a small amount of heat from the two other radiators, but nowhere near as much as from the first one.
If I take the vent off completely, the radiators become very hot immediately.
Any ideas?
What is a basic adjustable vents? In the top of the radiator is a steam air vent, is that what you are saying you replaced? It would not be adjustable. Do you have balancing valves where the pipe enters the radiator? Is the diagram that i am looking at , your system. Paul

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