A steam boiler requires proper piping to distribute the steam heat. The piping consists of either a one-pipe or two-pipe system. Although steam heating is not commonly used in modern houses, it still exists in some older homes and buildings.
In a one-pipe system, the same pipes that channel the steam from the boiler to the radiators return the condensation from the steam to the pipes to be reheated. The piping as well as the radiators must be positioned above the boiler and the pipes must be angled at least one inch in 10 feet toward the boiler to prevent the condensate from blocking the steam.
In a two-pipe system, one pipe carries the steam to the radiators, while another pipe returns the condensate to the boiler. The return pipe may be located below the boiler, but it must be brought back up and vented into the steam pipe. This prevents the boiler from running empty if the return pipe develops a leak, according to OldHouseWeb.com.
Pounding can occur if pipes are not angled towards the boiler and steam meets condensate trapped in the pipes. A steam heating system is relatively simple, but it requires more maintenance than modern systems.
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