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Old 11-28-2015, 07:41 PM   #1
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turn heat on, capped pipe steam leak


hey all - question for you...

a month ago i bought a house that was originally built in 1926. The house has steam heat. The other day when i turned the heat on i noticed a small (3-4") puddle on the floor of the first floor. i was able to see some steam leaking through the wood (oak) floor right next to where the floor hits a saddle that bridges it to a rugged area that was put on as an addition.

i got down in the basement and was able to see a metal pipe with a capped end right under the floor where the puddle was, and I am fairly certain that the steam is leaking out of the capped end, not a different point on the pipe.

any advice here? is there some kind of epoxy or caulk i can slap over the capped end to seal it up? or is this worth getting a pro in to take a harder look?

Also - if its possible to explain why there would be a random capped off pipe, i'd be curious to know.

thanks
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:21 PM   #2
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A picture of what you're talking about would help. Thanks.

If original to the house, those pipes are almost 90 years old. I Don't know if epoxy would help. It very well might if system is shut down and relieved of pressure. If it were me, and it was the cap leaking, I would try to tightened cap first. If that didn't work, then I would remove and reinstall cap if it's within your skills, if not hire a pro. They would have all the necessary tools, equipment and knowledge to make the repair.

Could be many reasons for a capped off pipe. Maybe for a future line or a line that was no longer needed.

Others will be along with more advice/suggestions.

Last edited by jmon; 11-28-2015 at 08:40 PM.
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Old 11-29-2015, 04:38 AM   #3
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Post a pic of the capped off line.

Turn your heat up and wait for the rads to start to get warm. Then you should be able to see if the capped line is leaking, or if it is coming from somewhere else.
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Old 11-29-2015, 09:56 AM   #4
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pic of capped pipe


thanks for the replies - hopefully this pic will help.

the capped pipe is from the old steam based heat that covers most of the house. as best i can tell the 2nd pipe (copper?) is part of the hot water based heat system that was added on with an addition. there are 2 separate furnaces, and i have confirmed that the leak is coming from the capped pipe.

any thoughts appreciated.

one thought i have is just putting in some flashing above the steam leak to protect the floors above (which were just refinished), but obviously that is a bandaid for the floors and the steam/water will then just wind up dripping off the flashing to somewhere else which is not really a solution.
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Old 11-29-2015, 12:52 PM   #5
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Got pipe wrenches?
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Old 11-29-2015, 04:22 PM   #6
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i don't have pipe wrenches, but i could get them easily enough if that is all there is too it.

i was thinking more in terms of a 90 year old rubber gasket that was way past its prime, or in terms of an external sealant ( since there seems to be some build up on the threading ) that was past its prime, although the buildup may be mineralization.

any more thoughts? thanks
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Old 11-29-2015, 04:26 PM   #7
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You'll need pipe wrenches.
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Old 11-29-2015, 09:00 PM   #8
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Aside from the repair on this particular job, if you haven't been responsible for steam heat in a home before I would also suggest taking a few minutes to read up on steam heat generally. Walking around your house and checking that all of the connections to your radiators are tight and not leaking, that they are sloped the right way, that the valves are working, etc..., can save you from a lot of water damage and/or other problems later.

If you're someplace where it gets very cold, I might also get a few cheap space heaters to store for emergency backup. They'll leave you a lot more leeway for repairs before you have to worry about pipes freezing if you lose steam heat, and old houses don't always have the best insulation.
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Old 11-29-2015, 09:55 PM   #9
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I suggest first assessing the condition of the pipe wall with respect to rust and if solid, unscrew that dead leg of pipe back to the next upstream tee and install a plug with thread tape and pipe dope. No rubber seals on that pipe, the seal is made when the fittings are tightened.

If the pipe is rusted through, get a professional. You may not know where or how far it will go.
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Old 11-30-2015, 09:13 AM   #10
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Whatever you do get it fixed ASAP. Steam leaks lead to fresh water being added to the boiler. This fresh water increases corrosion inside the boiler. Steam boilers should use very little water, roughly 2-4 gallons per year on an average residential boiler. The extra make up water from a leak shortens the life of the boiler. If it was mine I would get a couple wrenches and remove the cap, clean it up and put on fresh pipe dope to reseal it. I am very comfortable with threaded fittings. If you aren't I suggest calling a pro. The likelihood of there being severe corrosion there is very low. Steam carrying pipes typically don't corrode that much.
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