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  • Steam Pipe Tap

    I need to add a vent to an old steam heat pipe in my basement. Do you have any suggestions on tapping into the pipe (1/2" tap)? I've done a lot of plumbing work in my house, but I'm a little concerned as these are probably 50+ year old pipes (iron? steel?). Any tips from the pros? What brand drill/tap would you recommend for this job?

    Thanks for your help.

  • #2
    Re: Steam Pipe Tap

    Why?
    sigpic

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    • #3
      Re: Steam Pipe Tap

      I need to add a main vent (Gorton #2) as there are none in my single pipe steam system...

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      • #4
        Re: Steam Pipe Tap

        You really cant do this. and as NHMaster says, you really don't want to put a vent in your basement, you should do it at high points

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        • #5
          Re: Steam Pipe Tap

          Well, everything I've read over at Heating Help and in Dan Holohan's book I bought, it says to vent the mains quickly (using Gorton #2, not a radiator vent). And in my case, there are no main vents, so I was going to add one about a foot from the end before it drops to the return.

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          • #6
            Re: Steam Pipe Tap

            I disagree, you should have a vent.

            Depending on your header and how many mains you have, one vent should be on each end. So if you only have 1 main you only need 1 vent. 2 mains..2 vents.

            Without the vent, the system works slowly getting steam to your radiators. Having that vent pushes the air to escape, and it closes itself when the steam hits it.

            I've never seen a vent high up in the system...they are all low and in the basement in my area.

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            • #7
              Re: Steam Pipe Tap

              Flux, that is my understanding as well. I have a 40 ft main and may need 2 (if I have room in the basement ceiling). My question is are there increased risks of damaging the old steam pipe by tapping into it? I can't really get in there to insert a tee, so that's why I think tapping is the only option. Thanks for the help.

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              • #8
                Re: Steam Pipe Tap

                Originally posted by jamesylove View Post
                Flux, that is my understanding as well. I have a 40 ft main and may need 2 (if I have room in the basement ceiling). My question is are there increased risks of damaging the old steam pipe by tapping into it? I can't really get in there to insert a tee, so that's why I think tapping is the only option. Thanks for the help.
                You would have to do some serious banging on the pipe to really damage it, unless the pipe is brittle. You also won't take off any fittings with a standard pipe wrench either. Those fittings are seized on there.

                I never drilled and tapped for steam lines, but it can be done. I'm not sure if you have a pipe threader or not, but I would use a sawsall to cut the line re-thread both ends and install the tee and a union, and be done with it. But then again, I can't see your situation, so it's hard for me to tell.

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                • #9
                  Re: Steam Pipe Tap

                  Ok, I was wrong with the vent idea. with regards to tapping the steam pipe i just don't see how it will work on a pipe that small, there is too much curvature. maybe drill it and use a thred-o-let?

                  http://www.bonneyforge.com/specs/branch/thredolet.cfm

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                  • #10
                    Re: Steam Pipe Tap

                    A 40' horizontal main probably should have a vent but if it's worked fine for this long I don't know why you need to add one now. It might help with the banging but that may be a symptom of something else wrong.

                    I've do it but it's a huge PITA. It needs to be tapped on top of the pipe and that can be difficult with space restrictions but not impossible. I wouldn't tap anything smaller than a 2" main

                    I forget what size drill bit you'll need for a half inch tap. Probably want to start small and work your way up. 1/2" pipe taps can be found on Ebay for $10-15 dollars. It's cheap Chinese import but it'll work fine for a one time use. A couple squirts of oil when drilling and tapping. Go slow, keep it straight, you'll be fine.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Steam Pipe Tap

                      can you post a picture of the pipe and fittings at the end of the main

                      what size it the main pipe and what size is the fitting at the end that go down to the trap

                      most fittings on steam are cast and you need to take a hammer to them and break them . then put a tee where the 90 was then replace the pipe going down to the trap with a new nipples and a union

                      i have worked on a lot of steam systems and dont remember seeing a vent on the main line at the end of main trap

                      i will look at my steam book from Dan Holohan's when i get into the shop in a couple days
                      Charlie

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                      • #12
                        Re: Steam Pipe Tap

                        You have one pipe steam. The mains pitch up, away from the boiler. The radiators themselves are the high point and they should all have steam vents. The condensate runs back down the main to the boiler in your case. Venting the main would be a waste of time which is why, when the system was installed 70 years or so ago, the old timers that installed it knew what they were doing. don't mess with it. If the radiators are not heating well change the steam vents.
                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          Re: Steam Pipe Tap

                          Originally posted by plumberscrack View Post
                          A couple squirts of oil when drilling and tapping. Go slow, keep it straight, you'll be fine.
                          and what exactly do you know about a couple of squirts of oil

                          it's because of you that the ridgid school house has a fresh coat of paint in the threading room

                          rick and joey
                          phoebe it is

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                          • #14
                            Re: Steam Pipe Tap

                            I'm not sure why the original installation did not include main vents. The 2nd floor radiators are often cold despite the largest vents installed. The purpose of the main vent is to allow the air to escape quickly and let steam get to those radiators to start heating faster. I will add a picture of the piping tomorrow but my system is similar to the diagram below (sans the main vent it references at the end of the main)



                            Uploaded with ImageShack.us

                            (http://www.hoffmanspecialty.com/pdf/...ls/hs-901a.pdf)

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                            • #15
                              Re: Steam Pipe Tap

                              Originally posted by HVAC HAWK View Post
                              i have worked on a lot of steam systems and dont remember seeing a vent on the main line at the end of main trap

                              i will look at my steam book from Dan Holohan's when i get into the shop in a couple days
                              This is from Dan Holohan...

                              "And this is also why you don't see main vents on many of jobs. They're installed improperly and get damaged on the first few cycles. That's a shame because main vents are the key to good one-pipe steam operation. If you're using good main vents near the ends of every main, steam will travel very quickly to every radiator in the building. Vent large radiators quickly and small radiators slowly no matter where they are in the building. Focus on the air content of the radiator rather than its location in the building. If your main vents are working, steam will arrive at each radiator at about the same time."

                              http://www.masterplumbers.com/plumbv...asicSteam3.asp

                              I've heard of Dan Holohan, and was actually thinking about buying his book awhile ago. I do have some weaknesses when it comes to steam, and don't know it as well as my father does. Most of the steam in my area is getting ripped out, but there are still many area's around here that have it.

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