So we have this steam heating furnance.
Each time the radiator was going on, it sounded like pistol shots in the radiators. Very loud, very SUDDEN noises. You could hear water sloshing in the bottom of the radiators. And then the steam valve on the side of the radiators began to spit rusty water on the wall, floor and anything nearby.
Head to the internet, to find out more information about Steam Heat. Use a combination of boiler maintenance and home remedies to adjust each radiator so that it drained properly.
(Image courtesy of: Old House Web)
Read on for how it went...
Diagnosing the problem...
We have a one-pipe steam heating system...the pipes are original. The furnace is approximately 7 years old. After reading some information about furnace ongoing maintenance, we found out that noise in a steam furnace is called "pounding" (sounds like too quiet a word from our experiences) and may happen when "...steam sent out by the furnace meets water trapped in the system. If this pounding happens in the radiators themselves, this could indicate condensate (condesation of steam=water that is colder than the steam), thus blocking the pipes."
We decided to try two things..."shimming the radiators" and performing a task of routine maintenance the previous owner showed to us that we hadn't done in the last 4 weeks or so. Shimming consisted of sawing down thin layers of board to fit under the feet of the radiator furthest from the pipe that carries water back into the system. We shimmed five of our loudest culprits.
The routine maintenance was emptying some water out of the furnace from a special valve until it ran clear. Not a pretty job, because the initial water out is thick with rust. I don't know why--because I'm told that it is normal--but rusty water makes me UNhappy. I pulled out the bucket normally devoted to this task (the one coated with rust stains) and got to work pulling two buckets out.
Down the drain in the basement floor it went .
I checked the pressure gauge and the water level gauge.
The water level gauge is thick with rusty water deposits so it is difficult to tell where the water level is. It should be halfway full. The pressure gauge was the big surprise. Instead of being above (what we read was) the "required" 5 to 7 psi, it was below...too far below? I don't know what "too far below" is. It was registering "0". This wasn't mentioned in our research and doesn't feel right.
How it Went
The knocking in the radiators was DEFINITELY less tonight. No cannons going off. No rusty water spitting out of the steam valve. No sloshing. But there was still noise NEAR the furnace. I hadn't investigated any noises near the furnace last night, I was preoccupied with the radiators. The noise near the furnace was so loud and violent, one good "pound" dislodged a piece of plaster from the ceiling.
I backed away very quickly.
This has to have happened before from the looks of the ceiling.
I am definitely pleased with the work at radiator level. Not so pleased with some furnace elements. We should have that visual water gauge cleaned and the pressure valve checked. We should have pipes from the furnace to the first floor checked for "rise". The pipes are supposed to rise at an angle that measures 1" from start to stop. (The house settling over the years has taken away from this necessary "rise"...I'm betting on it.)
Tools & Materials We Used
- Internet website, Old House Web
- Piece of wood cut into 5 pieces
- A's brute strength to lift one end of 5 radiators
- Drain in basement
Yup, sounds like the cannons are in our basement now. At least they are no longer in the bedroom. Hmmm....