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Old 02-25-2013, 01:01 PM
 
16 posts, read 19,724 times
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Does anyone know what is with that steam vent that is on William Penn Pl @ Strawberry Way?

It can't be from the T because that is a block over on Sixth, this must be coming from the sewers or some kind of hidden nuclear reactor compressing jimmy jammies off the power of the hidden fouth upside down river.

But really, what is it? It seems to be spreading to the north..
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Old 02-25-2013, 01:21 PM
 
Location: Wilkinsburg
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A lot of Downtown buildings are heated with steam, so there is an extensive network of underground high energy steam/water piping. The steam leaking up through the manholes possibly comes from one of the following sources:
  1. Leakage at flanges, fittings, or valves
    If the piping is pressurized, it may carry water at temperatures far in excess of 212 degF (the boiling point of water at atmospheric pressure), so if there is just a tiny amount of leakage, the high temperature water will instantly flash to steam as it drops down in pressure across the leak flow path.

    I think municipal systems typically carry water in the vapor phase, however, so the steam is simply dropping down in pressure and expanding as it escapes the high pressure lines.

  2. Leakage from other sources dripping onto the hot, high energy piping and flashing to steam

  3. Controlled venting for pressure/temperature regulation

I'm relatively unfamiliar with municipal steam systems, but I can see any of these being sources of the steam.
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Old 02-25-2013, 02:38 PM
 
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Ahh I see. It is strange, though. The one on William Pen Pl and.. on 6th or 7th street seem to have dedicated sidewalk-side manholes for venting steam.

That said I'm not against walking past and getting warmed up when I go to lunch! Only when it smells bad do I stay away
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Old 02-25-2013, 02:53 PM
 
Location: Wilkinsburg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkw427 View Post
Ahh I see. It is strange, though. The one on William Pen Pl and.. on 6th or 7th street seem to have dedicated sidewalk-side manholes for venting steam.
Manholes are often designed to be access points for service valves or other equipment. So the leak may actually be directly at the bottom of the manhole.

Also, the second law of thermodynamics states that entropy of a system does not decrease, which in this case means that the temperature and pressure of the steam will decrease in the absence of external work. That, along with the fact that hot, low density air will rise, means that steam leaking from high pressure piping will eventually find its way to the cool atmosphere. In this case the manholes may be the path of least resistance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wkw427 View Post
That said I'm not against walking past and getting warmed up when I go to lunch! Only when it smells bad do I stay away
Indeed. Leaky manholes can be a nice place to warm up during a long walk on a windy winter day.
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Old 02-25-2013, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Crafton, PA
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I thought it had something to do with the work being done on the Verizon Building. I didn't notice the steam this morning, where it was in full force all of last week.
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Old 02-25-2013, 09:24 PM
 
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
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Thanks for initiating a thread on this topic, as I, too, was curious as to why so much steam was rising out of that area.
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:04 AM
 
Location: Wilkinsburg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trlstreet View Post
I thought it had something to do with the work being done on the Verizon Building. I didn't notice the steam this morning, where it was in full force all of last week.
Oh that's definitely possible. Any type of work requiring isolation of part of the steam system could necessitate venting either for pressure/temperature control or because there is simply no other flow path through which it can be rerouted.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:27 AM
 
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I was under the impression the verizon building work was just on the facade of the building.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:30 AM
 
Location: Wilkinsburg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkw427 View Post
I was under the impression the verizon building work was just on the facade of the building.
It very well could be; I'm just speculating.
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:04 AM
 
Location: Minnesota (Blaine)
4,200 posts, read 5,700,782 times
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Here's info on PACT

How District Steam Heating Works - Pittsburgh Allegheny County Thermal, Ltd.
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