# Would single tube from water drain work as "open end manometer" to read boiler tank steam pressure?

Home heating steam pressure (a couple of psi maximum) would normally be measured from piping open to the boiler tank above the water line, with perhaps a (rarely installed) low-pressure dial-gauge, or a device (even a small U-tube manometer) to be connected during professional maintenance.

Here asking about an anecdotal "quick-and-dirty" rough-estimate procedure: Cool the boiler, attach a clear tube (say 1/2" ID) to the drain outlet, stabilize it vertically, open the drain-valve, mark the water level in the tube, re-start the boiler, and measure the difference in the height of the water column in the tube to roughly "read" the steam pressure (pushing down on the water in the tank) as per a change in the tube of "~27 inches water height = 1 psi".

Assuming this proposed mechanism can even work, for such a rough idea of pressure suspect things like water temperature density differences, surface tension, or that the boiler may not be a sealed vessel would not be of concern, but am wondering not only about the distance-to-pressure scale cited, but about the effect of surface area of the tank water vs the water in the open-end tube. Unless the >1000 times difference in area cancels out some factor, rather than magnifies it.

Thanks. A more complete representation of a steam system can be found here (a plumbing website).

• Nobody is going to run a steam boiler at a gauge pressure of 10-20 psi, and in fact, industrial boilers often operate in the range of 50-150 atmospheres. Any boiler pressure higher than 10-20 psi would require a VERY long open tube. Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 5:44