Steam radiator problem


One of my steam radiators started giving me some problems with water spitting out the vent. I changed the vent, and the radiator is pitched correctly. Still it spat out water. So I made sure the shut,off valve was good. I even changed it just to eliminate it as the problem. While I had the radiator removed, I opened the shut-off valve to make sure no water was coming out, and it was fine, only steam came out. So now I decided to flush out my radiator with a hose and noticed a lot of junk and rust coming out of it. I put everything back and so far so good. Could the rust and sludge inside the radiator have caused this? Could the rust have trapped the water inside preventing it from draining out?
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Highly likely. But a healthy steam heat system shouldn't cause as much corrosion as you you described. Further scrutiny would be prudent.
Joe
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It's a bit odd that changing the vent didn't remedy the problem. The radiator didn't stop spitting, even for a while after you changed the vent?
The typical cause of spitting steam vents is dirty steam clogging the vent. There's always a bit of sludge and rust inside an older radiator, and depending on how tuned your boiler and distribution is, you might be sending up wet steam with stuff in it. Some of the recent _new_ radiators I've installed have been pitiful. The amount of stuff the manufacturer left inside a new radiator was mind boggling. Lots of iron filings and drilled-out-cast-iron-flash disks. It's like they're trying to promote rust and sludge.
How's the water color in the sight glass?
R
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Looks fairly clean. The boiler was installed in March last year, so it was towards the end of the heating season. This is the first full season that we've been using it. Perhaps the previous boiler was the culprit for the sludge in the radiator.
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Its single pipe steam and radiator has a good visable slope back to the valve, is boiler overfilled, has the house settled or some how main feeds are not ptiched right.
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Most people don't know what 'pitched right' means in a one-pipe steam system...a lot of plumbers, too.
R
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Raised and pitched for complete drainage back to the valve, is a better way I should have said it. I had a floor guy redo alot of apartments, he removed the radiators, he reinstalled them level and now I have a big headache, but I never had one spit water so I think its a bigger issue.
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It's single pipe steam. Boiler is not overfilled. And like I said before, after I put on the new shut-off valve, I turned up the T-stat, opened the valve without the radiator connected, and waited for the steam to come up, which it did, with no sign of water, which led me to beleive the radiator was the culprit.
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To get water out of a vent to me means your supply is cooling off to much by the time it reaches the radiator and has started to condense instead of being all steam, are your supplys insulated, or the boiler is overfull, or supplys have settled from house settling [ do you hear pipes banging], or you need to ask a pro that knows for other ideas. Radiators develop sags in the middle , put a level on it, I raise the vent end up by sometimes 1/2" or more with shims.
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ransley wrote:

I've only seen one steam heat system, I think it was a two pipe system. When they installed a new boiler the pipes would bang away. I was told that is normal. Is it?
The old boiler was coal converted to oil and sprang leaks all the time. It would put out the oil burner and flood the boiler room. It never really got any pressure. When he got the new one his heating bill was cut by about 80%. Paid for itself in 2 years.
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Banging is water trapped that wont allow steam or condensate to move freely away and back to the boiler. Old houses that settle unevenly have this happen. The steam supply and return are not installed level, there is supposed to be a pitch through out the mains to allow for condensate draining. A low point will collect water. Insulation of pipes can help reduce it.
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A good place for asking questions about steam heat in particular is http://heatinghelp.com . Also, there is a book for sale there called, "We Got Steam Heat!" that I bought and I found helpful. I bought a property with a one pipe steam heating system, and I needed a crash course in steam heat.
One thing I learned is to keep the pressure in the system set low. Setting the pressure higher doesn't result in more or better heat -- it results in less heat and more problems, including excess water condensation, banging pipe noises, etc. I also learned to open the blow down valve and drain about a gallon of hot water from the system (until it begins to run clean) about once every two weeks. Apparently, the previous owners of my system never kept the system clean so I had to drain mine once a week or more for a while in the beginning to help clean it out.

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You actualy get better heat at 3/4 lb steam than 5 lb and save the boiler from developing leaks. If you want to hear real pros state this and get the best reading material www.heatinghelp.com and Dan Holihans books are the best. I have steam, its a pain in the ass to balance and maintain.
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responding to http://www.homeownershub.com/maintenance/Steam-radiator-problem-417970-.htm avantiservices wrote: Mikepier wrote:

------------------------------------------ Curious, What kind of pressure are you running?
------------------------------------- J.P. Avanti Services HVAC, Steam and closed loop Hydronic heating. In the service field for 25 years.
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avantiservices wrote:

The problem was the pressure was too high. In the 11 months you took to respond to the question the system exploded and the OP was killed.
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