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HELP! Feeder Keeps kicking in (27 Posts)
HELP! Feeder Keeps kicking inHere's some background:
I have lived in a 90 year old house for about 12 years now. Before moving in we replaced the original asbestos covered boiler with a Dunkirk boiler (I think its a Dunkirk - the installer never put the decal on it). We have oil fired single pipe steam. The house does have Nat Gas and we use that for the stove and for hot water during the warm months (Rheem Tankless water heater - love it). So we go six months without firing the boiler.
Over the summer, I decided to bite the bullet and got all my radiators redone - chemically stripped and re sprayed. They look awesome. I put all new Air valves on the radiators (#4 in the rad nearest the thermostat, #5s in the rest of the first floor an #6s in the upper floor).
I fired up the boiler for a bit, and some of the union connections were leaking. A little extra muscle fixed most of the leaks. For one of the rads, the union broke and I had to replace the valve and spud. It took a bit of effort, but everything is back in place.
I then fired up the boiler to make sure everything is in working order and I have no leaks. I hear the Feeder continually kick in... like ever two or three minutes... on.. off... on... off... on.... off. Driving me crazy! I try to keep the boiler running to get all the rads hot to make sure they are not leaking... but the Feeder keeps going and going (and the feeder is dreadfully loud as my water pressure is so high - I need to address that issue... I know). Eventually the rad w the #4 starts to spray steam/water thru the air valve... and my rad in the kitchen (which is a baseboard type that was not restored) has a water leak from the middle of the unit.
I turned the boiler off. And when everything settled down, the glass was way full of water. And I drained alot of water from the low water cutoff contraption.
I changed the #4 to a #5 vent - thinking that maybe the #4 was too narrow. No luck.
Called my oil company and they think there is a problem w my return line and are suggesting replacing the whole line! (sounds crazy expensive and damaging to walls). I am sure something is amiss because of the radiator restoration / re-installation. But what can it be? Please help... I am desperate!
Anyone know where I can get a second opinion in lower Westchester County or Bronx NY area?
Some thoughts, SilSounds like you took out your radiators to have them cleaned and re-finished, so in the process, I suspect you loosened up flakes of rust and debris which now settled in your returns, blocking condensate from reaching the boiler, so the auto fill is doing its job.
Rather than replace the returns, can you do a power flush? Without giving your whole system a high colonic, I mean.
However, this does not explain why the automatic feeder keeps feeding beyond the waterline. What happens when you isolate the water feeder and rely on the manual bypass to fill it? Might some debris or rust have made its way to your water feeder, I have to ask.
Just a couple of thoughts, hard to do more by remote.
NYC has amongst the best steam practitioners in the country, east of Chicago & Cleveland, and north of Baltimore. You have several good choices. To name one, I would have to list them all."If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be right!"
-Ernie White, my Dad
Power FlushThanks Brad. Seems plausible. How does one do this flush? Is this something a DIYer can do? Do I do the powerflush from the boiler up the return line? I need to check if there is a union or something that I can unhook from down there. My 110psi water pressure would do a good job on a powerflush...
You need to havevalves at the ends of the returns, one for water in and one for water out. But you also need valves to isolate the risers and radiators to avoid flooding your system and damaging or spurting through your vents. (In two-pipe systems this is easier and in general easier said than done.)
At the very least, you would need to remove a cap (or install one!) at the end of the return and at each change in direction, to allow a rod or fish-tape wire to scour out the crud out.
It may have calcified and you are back where you are now, with replacement on the menu.
Now here is a suggestion: If the existing pipes are buried in the wall, abandon them after you run new but exposed pipes. If you can tolerate that, it will save a lot of collateral wall damage."If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be right!"
-Ernie White, my Dad
Feeder and or blockageSil,
When you drained the water from the LWCO was it filthy? Did you try
draining the lowest section of the boiler (mud leg) as well as the the
low area of the return pipe; if so how much crap came out? If your getting a lot of crap out you can try draining and filling to see if you can work more of it out of the return line. Just make sure to get the boiler up to steam after adding water to drive the oxygen out of the water. It's not nearly as effective as power flushing but it might be enough.
I think Brad is right about the auto water feeder being tainted by loosened pipe crud but it may just have failed coincidentally. When the feeder was injecting water did you notice the level in the sight glass? Turn the feeder off and sit and watch the sight glass as the boiler fires, have someone else look for leaks and monitor which radiators are heating. If the water level starts to drop as the boiler steams then you probably have a blockage in the return line. If your lucky it's right at the end where it heads down to the boilers return port. It sure would be nice to confine any pipe replacement to the basement.
Post some pictures of the boiler and the piping around it and any drain valves on the boiler or return piping. Also show the return lines so everybody has a good idea of the layout.
BobSmith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 84,200 BTU, Single pipe steam
Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
TODAY'S STATUSGenerally speaking, my LWCO is always filthy. And of late its been the same. Today, I totally emptied the whole boiler from the "mud leg". The water was brown, but there was not that much in the way of solids coming out (which is what I was hoping for I suppose).
I did a partial fill... then emptied it again via the "mud leg". It came out fairly clean.
I then filled the sucker up. And let her run. I kept a keen eye on the water level glass. Water level was fairly steady. Once the boiler got good and hot the water level starts to really bounce around... then it hits rock bottom - "boom" feeder kicks in. I shut the unit down.
I let it sit for one minute, the water level goes to normal. Fire it back up. One minute later. Water level bounces around a lot... hits bottom again - "boom" feeder kicks in again. Third time, the level was bouncing around, but did not hit rock bottom - maybe a good sign. But once off the water level gets close to normal in less than a minute. Fourth try.. within 30 seconds of firing up, the level is teetering near the bottom... then rises up.
I am stumped. Can something be up with the water level glass? there is no way water can drop so fast, can it?
I will post some pictures shortly.
As an aside, my water coil needs a new gasket and its steaming around the edges. The coil has nothing to do with this issue right?This post was edited by an admin on October 13, 2010 10:54 PM.
PicturesPicture #1 is the old beast from the burner side
Picture #2 is from the side. I attached the green hose to drain the "mud leg".
Picture #3 is a closer look at the return, the hartford loop (is that what its called) and the "mud leg"
Picture #4 is the water lever. It bounces from the rubber grommet to rock bottom fairly violently
Other interesting factods.... some of the pipes we knocking like mad when things were really getting hot. My two furthest radiators (small bathroom rads) never did get hot... one was just starting to get hot when I threw in the towel tonight.
Your expert insight is very much appreciated.
Skimming?Did you do a skim after you reinstalled your radiators? Usually any time you do mechanical work like piping etc it produces contaminates and you generally will need to skim. The bouncing water line (more than 3/4 of an inch up and down) is a sign a skimming is needed.. You might want to replace the water coil gasket otherwise you'll probably have to skim a second time. If it is leaking steam - It 's leaking water! Have you done skimming before ? It's easy enough and if you need instructions I have a good blurb on how to do it.
Skimming?I have no idea what skimming is? Do tell.
Yes, steam is rising off the coil gasket leak. Is the coil gasket a DIY job? I am thinking to leave that one to a pro...
I looked over what i had on skimming and also found a couple of other articles that might be of interest to you,
1. On this article, scroll down and read below “The Importance of the Piping Around the Boiler” Dan discusses “cold” skimming. .(All the rest is good reading too!)
2. This article on skimming is in the June 2009 issue of Oil heating Magazine on Page 20, titled “Cleaning a Steam Boiler and Keeping it Clean” . It’s written by the head tech guy at Weil McLain Boilers/ They favor “hot “ skimming. I personally “cold skim” rather than “hot skim “ as it makes sense to me that cold water and oil are less likely to mix
Basically what you do is open the skim port and then turn the boiler's fresh make up water very slightly on to a trickle and allow the water to rise till it just flows out the skim port. Slower = Better. To give you an idea of how slowly, I collect about one 5 gallon bucket full in 2 hours. After skimming close the skim port and drain off the excess water till the water is at the proper operation level in the sight glass. It is then important to fire up the boiler and make steam. Every time you add water to the boiler you need to bring the boiler to the boil (make steam) as this drives off the dissolved oxygen in the new water, Dissolved oxygen can quickly corrode your boiler and diminish its life span.
You may have to do several skims before the water level's “bouncing” settles down. Skim, run the boiler for a while (even a day or two) and skim again. That allows any oil etc left to work its way down and be skimmed. Most Boiler manuals will indicate what port is designated for skimming. I've added a picture of a boiler skim port piped with a valve and a diagram of a typical skim port piping setup.
Piping.The Hartford Loop is piped incorrectly. The equalizer should go directly into the boiler, and the wet return should rise up to the tee with a short nipple on the bull. The tee is also too high.
I am suspicious of the pipe size going into the boiler return tapping - seems a bit small. I always pipe as close to the size of the tapping as needed by the return load.
I bet the equalizer is pushing condensate back up into the return lines. And the way the return is piped is probably causing the violent water line.
What pressure are you set for? I would definitely skim the boiler first, and try to clean the wet return before doing anything else.- Joe Starosielec
Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.
Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.
(Formerly "ecuacool")This post was edited by an admin on October 14, 2010 5:51 AM.
Sil, as JStar said, the equalizer and Hartford Loop (Bridgeport Loop in your case!), indeed is backwards and likely too high.
Picture the equalizer, the main down-comer, dropping and turning into the boiler, with the return line rising and connecting into IT.
This equalizer line (1.5" minimum by the way), does several things.
In focus here, one major thing the equalizer does is take the excess water -"carry-over"- transported by exiting steam, and passes it, like a Judo toss, right back to the boiler inlet. In this way, the water passes below your system feed riser, allowing the driest steam to go out to your radiators. (That part of your piping, at the top, seems fine.)
Correctly done, your Hartford Loop would rise to 2 inches below the water line and turn into this equalizer with a close nipple and tee.
What you have now is forcing your carryover water down into your return line which HAS to make your waterline bounce. Any water that wants to get back to the boiler has to take a sudden 90-degree turn, which it does not want to do. Heck, it is falling and has boiler pressure behind it, why would it turn?
The dirty water is another obvious "waterline bouncer", no question, but the equalizer arrangement compounds this.
The good news is, it all can be corrected.
BTW: My good friend Norm Harvey turned me on to that o-ring/rubber grommet trick to give a visual of the waterline level in the sight glass. Old time trick but I never knew that before Norm told me."If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be right!"
-Ernie White, my DadThis post was edited by an admin on October 14, 2010 6:52 AM.
Dumb Skimming QuestionBefore I give you the latest story on my boiler, I want to thank everyone who is helping me on these boards. I appreciate everyones opinions and comments.
Before I begin thinking about re-piping the return, I wanted to try skimming. So the first question is - where is my skimmer port? (I dont have the manual for my boiler - heck I dont even know for sure what brand it is). Here is a picture of what I suspect is the port. It seems like there is a 1-3/4" or 2" plug in the port.
Now I assume that it was the port and was ready to run out to the home center to pick up a nipple and get started for a quiet night of skimming, but the darned plug seems fused into the boiler. Any thoughts on how I should remove it? WD40? Heat? Find the biggest pipe wrench and whack it with a sledgehammer? Help a DIYer out!
Let me make sure I understand the piping issues you guys are talking about.1) The equalizer (the vertical pipe coming off the main) should come down on the boiler/near side of the loop... but my install is coming down the far side of the loop. Right?
2) The loop riser (where the close nipple and tee is) may be too high as it should be 2 inches below the high water line. I visually inspected today and it is below the water line.
3) The point about the size of the return piping into the boiler... is the issue the vertical pipe or the horizontal pipe?
Your Questions1) The equalizer (the vertical pipe coming off the main) should come
down on the boiler/near side of the loop... but my install is coming
down the far side of the loop. Right?
2) The loop riser (where the close nipple and tee is) may be too high as
it should be 2 inches below the high water line. I visually inspected
today and it is below the water line.
Good! Hard to tell at angles sometimes.
3) The point about the size of the return piping into the boiler... is the issue the vertical pipe or the horizontal pipe?
Not sure which post that refers to, but I will take a stab at it. The vertical pipe, the equalizer, should be 1-1/2" minimum ideally and for even the smallest boiler. The return connecting into that is sized for the load, the amount of radiation and piping it serves. Even a 1" pipe will handle up to 650-700 SF of radiation and piping (168,000 BTUs per Hour total). However, 1" pipe is more prone to clogging than larger sizes of course. Going up a size, if you can, is worth it, at least for any sections you may be changing. Were it to be the same size as the equalizer, I would not complain, but do not lose sleep over that, if it is not.
As for the skim tapping removal, be gentle yet firm. No hitting it with a hammer. Cast iron is brittle. WD-40 is good, Liquid Wrench and others too. Heat is "iffy" because it is the boiler casting you want to expand more than the plug. The jacket may have to come off to get a good purchase on the nut with a wrench, unless you have a large deep tee socket wrench. If ANY doubt, call a pro. One stomach-turning *tink* and you may be looking at a new boiler. Another problem but also another set of solutions.
-Ernie White, my Dad
plug removalapparently, rubbing the plug threads with paraffin wax will enable an easier removal.
until you have a new, or known to be good low pressure gauge installed, you won't know what your pressure is. i am sure that in your profession, you would not settle for accounting "guesstimates", and yet that's all you can see pressure-wise using the standard 0-30 psi gauge!
if your pressure fluctuates wildly even by 16 ounces or so, then so can your waterline, causing the erratic feeder operation.--nbc
If in doubt......leave that plug where it is, and skim from the relief valve opening. 3/4" is a lot easier to take apart than 1 1/2".- Joe Starosielec
Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.
Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.
Skimming in progressBought a clean 5 gallon bucket.
Pulled the relief valve off.
Fill the boiler to the 3/4" pipe then slowed the flow to a trickle (1st bucket took 90 mins to fill, 2nd about 45 mins)
Water is tannish in color.
I am boiling a sample now as 3rd bucket fills. There was no real foam in the boil. So it seemingly past the Holohan articles milepost.
The Weil-McLain article talks about skimming for 45 minutes after it runs clear - but they are talking about a new boiler... will a 12 year old boiler ever run clear?
Is clear water the goal or normal boiling?
SkimmingHi- The object is normal boiling. When you fire up the boiler, steam and condensate circulates through the system and the chances are that more crud and oil will probably make its out of the pipes and into the boiler so in a day or two you may find you have a bouncy water line again. Usually you can get things pretty good after just a couple of skims. A couple of times I've had to skim up to 5 consecutive times then I learned to thoroughly clean the pipe inside and out first before installing it. Slower seems to work better -the 90 minutes is a good skim rate. You may also want to do a couple of complete boiler water changes. That doesn't help the skimming but gets more sludge out.
I'm a fan of Rhomar Water's residential steam products http://www.rhomarwater.com/products/residential-steam-system/ if you have a really dirty boiler.
- RodThis post was edited by an admin on October 15, 2010 8:23 PM.
Weekend UpdateSpent the weekend playing Mr. Plumber (I am an accountant in my real job). Here is where I am at:
Friday: Skimming - I spent about 2-3 hours skimming thru the relief valve nipple. I went slow as described. I did re-run the boiler that night and while the water level was fluctuating quite a bit, I think the feeder only kicked in once or twice (maybe there is something to this skimming).
Saturday: Coil Gasket - The coil gasket had a noticable leak along the top that kicked out a fair amount of steam when the boiler was hot (I was hoping this escaping steam was causing some of my surging issues). I could not find a matching gasket at the two plumbing supply places I went to, so I got stuck playing arts & crafts with a Rainbow Sheet gasket (I know... the pros dont like it, but its all I could get my hands on). I had to empty the boiler and the coil came out pretty easily (no problem removing the bolts). Cleaned the mating surfaces, applied high temp red automotive gasket sealant on the boiler plate and on the rainbow gasket facing the coil, then put the nuts on with new washers (one thread bolt seems to not protrude out far enough to get a bolt to "bite" - I think the Rainbow gasket is substantially thicker than the gasket that was there - so 9 of the 10 bolks are on good and tight, and one is just on so so). I decided to wait 24 hours to fire up the boiler (per the automotive gasket instructions). No leaks - water or steam! That mission went as good as can be expected.
Sunday: Fire Up Boiler / Install Pressure Regulator / Fix Other Leaks - I filled the boiler w water and fired her up. The burner came on, but no flame (bummer). I couldnt figure it out. I called the oil company. They sent out a tech. And it seemed like I kicked out an electrical wire when I re-did the coil. So nothing major. I did ask the tech his opinion on the bouncing water. He agreed the Hartford/Bridgeport loop was installed backards - but since its been there for 12 years, he doesnt think that is the root cause of my issue. He agrees that their must be a blockage in the return - but he said it must be a partial blockage since the return is hot as it approaches the boiler. He suggested weekly flushes for about a month. Possibly include Surgemaster in the water. (how quickly should the return get hot? Just wondering).
(the pressure regulator and other leaks... I have 100+psi in the house... it causes many PT valaves to leak or blow... and it cause the solder joints around my feeder to leak - as the feeder voilently shakes at 100psi going thru it. so I added the regulator and fixed the leaks on Sunday as well).
I ran the boiler after all this and the water is still boucing and feeder came on quite a bit. I will prob skim again tonight. So I seem to have used up all my easy fixes... I know the mantra on these boards is nothing but water should be in a boiler... But should I try this Surgemaster stuff? Any other recommendations?This post was edited by an admin on October 18, 2010 2:54 PM.
Return Line Flushed - Still Have ProblemsToday I decided to bite the bullet and break my return line near my "reversed hartford loop" to try and give my return a good flushing. Breaking the line (with a sawzall) went pretty smoothly. The water that came out was dirty and had flicks of rust and dirt - I was expecting far more solids - but what do I know?
I then flushed water thru the hartford loop via the feeder - that water came out real clean and real quick.
I then stuck a garden hose with a sweeper nozzle attached to it and stuck it into my undersized 1/8" main vent which is tapped into the elbow where the main turns down into the return. This first flush brought a fair amount of debris. All future flushes (and i probably did about 8 flushes in this downstream direction) did bring some - but not a tremendous amount - of debris initially. What I did find peculiar is that it took a fair amount of time - at least 10 seconds - for the high pressure sweeper nozzle water to make it to the broken return pipe. Once the flow began at this exit, it was quite strong flow - so while it at first seemed maybe there was a more serious clog in the return once the flow started, it did not seem like there was a clog. My house is not that big and it seemed odd that it took so long to travel to the exit (note, I cant see the actual route the water takes as the initial return run is behind a finished wall).
The pipe I cut did have crud on approximately the bottom quarter of the pipe. So, not a full blockage, but definitely some plaque.
I also shoved the sweeper nozzle in the cut pipe end a couple of times - so I did essentially did a reverse flush. This brought some debris as well.
After all this I replaced the 20" of broken pipe w a union and a tee at the end and tossed in a boiler valve so I can do a quickie flush of the return line if needed. I am attaching a picture of the end product.
I am not sure if the delay in the water reaching is something to be concerned about (and whether this is a sign that I should continue up the return line and keep replacing the pipe).
Now to the punchline - my water is still bouncing (granted, I did not skim the water today after this work) and the feeder is constantly kicking in. I will skim it tomorrow, but I am not hopeful this will do the trick. I am temped to toss in some powder (like Surgemaster, but I am trying to avoid chemicals). I have turned off the valve that supplies water thru the feeder to avoid flooding the boiler, but I can hear the feeder kicking in frequently to try and feed water. From time to time the water level is so low that the LWCO trips in.
The water bounce seems as bad as it ever. And I am also getting horrible water hammer in various places if the boiler is on more more than 15 mins. And a couple of my furthest rads are not getting hot. I have put all new valves and have tried putting larger vents on the biggest rads... then tried them on the furthest rads. No improvement.
I am really at a loss... Could the reverse hartford loop be the issue (but I have had this set up with no issues for the 12 years I have owned the house)? Could the delayed return be the issue - and should I just bite the bullet and replace the full return? Is the 1/8" main vent the issue (then again, I replaced what looked like a 40 year old clogged vent with a Gordon D - so if anything my venting should be far better than previous years). The one thing I am considering doing is stripping the housing a former owner of the home rigged around the main in the finished part of my basement to see if there are and sags in the main that may be causing some pooled condensate. Looking at the elbow that the vent is in it seems like the pitch may be wrong in that one spot (the last nipple in the main that goes into the elbow seems to be pitched away from the elbow... but I dont have a great vantage point to see it from).
Any other ideas?
Anyone want to offer up a steam person from Westchester County / Bronx, NY - the boards only have folks from Manhattan or Nassau county.
This post was edited by an admin on October 23, 2010 11:13 PM.
Dumb question.I'm a novice at best, but are your radiators angled slightly? If not they may have water in them and that can fight with the steam trying to come in. Are the valves to the radiators completely open? As for your main vents, according to "Greening Steam" they ought to be a few inches back from the elbow where the main turns down to go to the return. Maybe you ought to take apart the LWCO and really clean it out, with special attention to how it attaches to the boiler. Where I am now, the LWCO is plumbed in through the sight glass and the line was partially clogged, causing some interesting things to happen. Right now, I'm dealing with surging as well, so the work continues.
Still wouldn't trade it for forced air,
Pitched RadiatorsMy rads were never "artificially" pitched before, but I did pitch them earlier this week in an act of desperation (I used some spare mosaic tile that fit well under the valve side legs. So now each radiator is indeed pitched.
Valves are fully open. Most are quite old. One was recently replaced as part of the radiator restoration, that particular radiator/valve is not causing a problem.
I was considering LWCO as a potential issue. But to be honest, I see the water in the sight glass bouncing and the feeder kicks in only when the sight glass says it should (when there is like 1/2" of water in the glass... and the LWCO does shut the system down when the water in the glass goes below that. So I am thinking the LWCO is fine.
I agree the main vent is in the wrong spot and the wrong size.
Replaced Return LineI decided to bite the bullet and replace my whole return line as I was still getting ridiculous surging (and feeder kick ins) - even after putting in Hercules Scout in the boiler.
I decided to do it myself (as I was getting quotes well into the 4 figures for this job). This required removing about 30 ft of 1-1/4" 80 year old line and ripping out about 7 feet of sheetrock on the finished side of my basement. Most of the old return came out with just a bit of coaxing. There was one section which was right next to my cast iron sewer line that I saw-zalled out. The only part that gave me a hard time coming out was a 45 degree elbow near the end of the main that would not budge. I decided to break it with a sledge hammer.
I then went to home depot, and after spending $100 on all black pipe - it went in super easy.
Before making the final connection to my backwards hartford loop, I flushed out the newly installed return with a hose from the end of the main (to minimize the amount of oil that would make its way into the boiler requiring a lengthy skim).
I made the last union connection on the return, emptied most of the boiler water, then refilled it and fired it up. Once things go hot, there was no surging. And no water hammer as was common this season at some of my distant rads (which branch out of the main near where the return begins). And those distant rads were all hot - a the first time this heating season!
I will keep and eye on the boiler (and an ear on the feeder) for the next few days before I close up the wall (as my next step may be to re-pipe the vent at the end of the main).
I was looking to put a section of glass pipe in my return like JP has, but I was away on business this week and could not make arrangements to get it in time for this weekend (I want to get this issue resolved by Thanksgiving). Maybe in the spring I will put in a length of glass pipe - I like the coolness factor of it.
Fingers crossed, I may be done with this fiasco.This post was edited by an admin on November 6, 2010 9:47 PM.
-seriously, you can feel the love all around. This place is great, man. Glad to hear its working.beautiful Conshohocken PA
good job Sil!good job sil .. we are all very hopeful that this is the end.
if you decide to repipe your hartford, why not try a gifford loop, this will decouple the boiler water from the return water.Entire Site | MAIN WALL | Strictly Steam | Off-Wall
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Thanks Everyone!Last night was the first night that the feeder did not kick in all season (and I know as I instantly wake up each night when the feeder kicks in). Plus my towel warmer / master bath radiator is warm for the first time all season! I am looking forward to better nights sleep and a more comfortable shower now!
So I think this was a success.
Newly painted rads must've put the final plugging into the 80 year old returns - enough to cause the surging and probably caused the water stacking that cause the water hammer and the inability to get steam to the rads that were nearest the return
I appreciate everyones help and insight on the Wall. It gave me the confidence to tackle these myself. My neighbors and co-workers thought I was crazy trying to do all this plumbing work myself ("what does a tax accountant know about steam boilers?").
I don't plan to address the Hartford Loop until after this heating season (at the earliest)... but I may do a Gifford when the time comes.
I will buy a 0-3 psi gauge soon, and I want to replace the feeder with a a quieter / digital model. I also need to balance the system to ensure all the rads get hot at more or less the same time. Seems like Dan H is an advocate of bigger vents on bigger rads, while others say bigger vents on farther rads - I will have to do some experimentation.
Once again thanks to everyone for their time and effort here on the WALL.