HI board. I love my old house but am learning about it as I go -
including my one-pipe steam heating system. The boiler is new and
works great (dont know specs) and until a recent outage here in CT it
was all working well. Then, after a 24 hour outage, my radiators in
the office room started clanging away. Being 'clever' I decided to
turn the radiator vent up -- which did indeed stop the clanging.
Stopping the heat in that room was no problem -- but what I didnt
realize is that it would stop heat in other rooms upstairs. Now, I
put the vent back and none of the upstairs radiators seem to be
working properly. They are all barely warm, but its definitely colder
upstairs now. And oil is expensive!
What did I do wrong? Did I likely dislodge some 90 year old grime that
is now blocking the steam?
I don't have any experience with this stuff, and am happy to hire my
plumber back, but I'd like to learn if its a simple fix.
Check the water level in the glass fill gauge, is it above normal? The
only thing I can think to cause clanging is water is trapped somewhere
and to much water could do it, or pipes that dont drain back, usualy
building settling does this but with a new instal maybe the installer
made a mistake. What do you mean you turned a vent up, the air hole
always should be up. Did you turn off any radiator valves, dont that
can trap water, were any radiators taken out and reset, were any
carpets or floors redone. Radiators must not be level they need to
drain back to the boiler and this can trap water. Were vents all
replaced with the new unit, vents go bad, mine has many also on the
main supply in the basement. You didnt mess anything up you just need
to learn about the system. www.heatinghelp.com is a site you can post
at that is only boiler pros. They also offer good books to read. Is it
under warranty. Check the water level first at the boiler.
As Ransley said, the heatinghelp.com site is about the best there is
for steam heating questions and information. You didn't do any damage
to your system by fiddling with a vent - though it is unclear what you
did exactly. The vents just let air out ahead of the steam as air and
steam don't play well together. If the air is not let out, the steam
cannot come in to heat up the radiator. You said you turned the vent
up - does that mean you physically rotated the whole vent? If so,
it's odd terminology as the vent is normally pointing up and what is
sometimes done to "turn off" a radiator is to turn the vent so it is
pointing down. Please clarify what you did.
Blocking one radiator, or even removing it, will not shut down the
rest of the heating system. It will affect the heat output, but I
can't see how that would almost turn off the upstairs heating. You
should start with the simple things first. Vents don't last forever,
and they can get blocked if your heating plant is putting out dirty
steam. They're cheap enough and easy enough to install, so that would
probably be a good place to start. The vents you get from the Borg
are pretty much crap. Go to a real plumbing supply house and get some
Gorton vents. The Gorton web site has info on what vent to use in
what area of your house.
The other flag was your mention of a new boiler. A new boiler
installation can frequently stir up a lot of crap and produce dirty
steam. It is very likely that the new boiler wasn't skimmed after
installation. That takes a lot of time, but is simple enough to do.
The heatinghelp web site will have more information on that, as will
the boiler manufacturer's site.
Clanging is water in pipes not sloped towards the boiler in order to
drain. You may have to shim up the radiators to raise the pipe
attached to them.
Vents work to let air from the system and steam in. The vent farthest
from the boiler should be open the most if you want heat there and as
you get closer to the boiler thay can be closed a little more.
Check the boiler sight glass every few days weekly as a minimum and
blow off the low water cutout to remove gunk. Keep the water 1/2 to
2/3 high in the sight glass.
I do not recall the brand but the best vents are a smooth cylinder
about the size of a 1" high stack of quarters with a small slide near
the top for adjustment.
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