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Posted by John P. Doran on January 24, 2004 at 03:05:04:
This was my original post: February 18, 2002 at 11:41:22:
“I purchased an 80-year-old two story 4-square colonial in June 2001 with a 20-year-old Burnham 404(8?)B series gas/steam boiler, single pipe, 8 total cast iron radiators with Hoffman vents set to “4” (medium?). This is the first time for me as I've been brought up on newer oil/forced hot water systems my whole life.
The boiler water level was constant for a few weeks until recently it dropped to about half way on the sight glass. I refilled to the mark on the glass and walked away. Next thing I knew, the basement is full of steam and the vent sounds like an A-6E taking off the deck of the USS America with a bad head wind! Anyway, I shut down the system, let the steam clear, and opened the petcock at the bottom of the boiler. The valve sounded like it was sucking air, possibly an air trap? The system ran fine for a couple of days and then was low again with no apparent leaks anywhere. I again refilled and observed the pressure going up to 10 psi! Normally it does not even register. I shut the system down, vented the excess, and refilled the system again. Everything normal. Two weeks later, the system ran over 10 psi when I topped off the tank. Shut down, bleed off and refill. Again, all seemed fine for a couple of weeks. I have been keeping an eye on the sight glass everyday since the first “blow-out” occurred. Could someone give me a clue?”
I have since gone through a local “boiler expert” who was younger than myself and two Sears techs. I have replaced all the vents with VariValve timer vents (top of the line) had all the wiring on the boiler replaced, replaced the main vent after the boiler and every once in a while the following happens:
1) The pilot goes out (possibly the high limit trips)
2) The radiators start to blow large amounts of steam (very loud)
3) The water level drops suddenly and have to top-off (only twice so far)
When all seems to be working correctly, the one problem that is consistent is the last radiator on the second floor always blows steam.
I desperately need a real expert (anywhere in Middlesex county Mass.) on this single pipe steam system to help balance and determine what really needs to be replaced.
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