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    Burnham boiler for Chicago 3-flat (31 Posts)

  • NoeV NoeV @ 5:38 AM
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    Burnham boiler for Chicago 3-flat

    Pictures of Chrome vents (2) at top very close to ceiling one is hidden from view but only 1 foot apart from visible one. Aquastat. Pressuretrol. Low water cut-off.
  • NoeV NoeV @ 5:48 AM
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    Insufficient steam...

    I have no steam at the radiators farthest from the boiler unless I raise the aquastat to its highest setting. But then the apartments become uncomfortably hot 85°. It is a one pipe system. With an aquastat located on the return. The aquastat and pressuretrol wired in combination. See close- ups. This is low pressure steam system with no loop for hot water. Please help. Thanks.
  • NoeV NoeV @ 5:53 AM
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    Close up of wiring.

    Pressuretrol wired in combination with aquastat and thermostat. I labeled the wires with masking tape. I see that the solenoid gas control valve and low water cut-off gets energized by the same low voltage transformer.
    This post was edited by an admin on March 26, 2014 6:01 AM.
  • Jamie Hall Jamie Hall @ 10:26 AM
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    Shifting my comments over here

    which is a better place for them...

    What you really need is a good steam man on the ground to take a look at this thing.  Have you looked in Find a Contractor, by State?  There are some good men out your way.

    That said, however, and judging by the high quality wiring around the aquastat and the changeover switch, I would venture that you actually have two problems -- one being a poor control strategy (using an aquastat on the return) which was put in to try to help the other one, which is primary: poor steam distribution.  The clue here is that you said that if you turn the aquastat way up, you do get steam to the cold radiators.

    OK.  Until you can get a good qualified steam guy to take a look at this thing, here is what I would try.  First, set the system to run on the pressuretrol only, and set the pressuretrol to cuout at 1.5 psi and cutin at aboud 0.5 psi.  That's the easy part.  Second, trace out all of your steam mains.  Make sure that all of them are insulated, and that all of them pitch properly to drain.  Then check and see if there are any traps from them going into returns -- could be either F&Ts or crossover (radiator type) traps and, if there are, that they are working properly.  Then, and this is perhaps the most important part, check that there are main vents at the far ends of all of the steam mains.  These main vents are critical to allowing steam to get into the mains and on to the radiators; without them, it is almost impossible to balance the system properly.  If there are main vents, make sure they are working; if there aren't, they should be installed.

    While you are doing the tracing, take a little time when the boiler fires to see (feel) where the steam is really going, and how fast.  This is likely to give you some clues as to what is happening.  It should be going along all the mains at about the same speed.  If you come to a place on a main where the steam seems to stop, or slow down a lot, look around and see if you can figure out why.

    Oh yes -- and while you are waiting for your steam expert to come, order and read at least the book "We Got Steam Heat" and preferably "The Lost Art of Steam Heating".  They're worth the effort.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • NoeV NoeV @ 11:19 PM
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    Replaced two main vents

    Each vent was 38.00. The one on the return line was blocked. The one on the supply was partially blocked. I'll see how this affects the system.
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 12:40 AM
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    Unusual steam control system

    Those vents are a start, but be prepared to put either larger ones on, or several more on a manifold (antler), in order to let the air out easily.
    Your control system is most unusual, and should be replaced with a standard steam-capable thermostat, wired through the LWCO, and the pressuretrol. I can't imagine how much fuel has been wasted by the present arrangement, in addition to the waste of burning extra fuel to pump the air out at the start of each firing cycle.--NBC
  • NoeV NoeV @ 5:29 AM
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    I only replaced the main vents

    The cylindrical ones you see in the picture are the old. The new ones are round and bronze in color. Same location. Did not add any more vents. About the wiring I am going to contact the contractor listed in the "find a contractor" for the Chicago area.
    This post was edited by an admin on March 27, 2014 5:30 AM.
  • NoeV NoeV @ 5:59 AM
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    More pictures

    I have ordered two books. The pocketful of steam problems (with solutions). And "We got steam"
    This post was edited by an admin on March 27, 2014 6:14 AM.
  • NoeV NoeV @ 6:27 AM
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    Close up of wiring.

    More pictures
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 7:50 AM
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    Reading assignments

    Get " the lost art of steam heating" as well, as many pros here will reference page numbers from that.
    There is a big difference between "new vents", and ones of the correct capacity.
    Have your fuel bills been high?--NBC
  • NoeV NoeV @ 10:07 PM
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    How to set the Pressuretrol. ..

    Can someone explain how I can set the Honeywell pressuretrol to these specs?
  • NoeV NoeV @ 10:16 PM
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    Close - up of Honeywell pressuretrol

    Took cover off. Being this is an additive system. The screw is cut - in adjuster and I see the markings for it. But on the differential dial there are no markings so how can you tell how to adjust it?
    This post was edited by an admin on March 28, 2014 10:52 PM.
  • NoeV NoeV @ 10:19 PM
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    This post was edited by an admin on March 28, 2014 10:24 PM.
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 11:29 PM
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    More new parts needed

    You should get a vaporstat to replace the present inoperative pressuretrol, along with a low pressure gauge (0-3 PSI).
    When you get back to a conventional control system, you will have to use the new gauge to see when to stop adding main vents.
    Be prepared for an audit (new meter) from the gas company when your fuel consumption drops dramatically as a result of curing all these defects. Let us know how much you save next winter.--NBC
  • NoeV NoeV @ 12:18 AM
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    Oh! I think I get it!

    NBC-You use the  low pressure gauge to indicate when to adjust cut-off on the differential dial!!!!!
    This post was edited by an admin on March 29, 2014 12:25 AM.
  • NoeV NoeV @ 11:07 AM
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    Where can I buy the 0-10 psi pressure

    Guage? And vaporstat?
  • NoeV NoeV @ 9:04 PM
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    No steam in feed to pressuretrol and guage

    I dismantled the 1/2" pipe on top of LWCO and 1/4" pipe to guage no steam to provide pressure is this normal?
  • Jamie Hall Jamie Hall @ 9:17 PM
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    Say what?

    You say you have no steam to the fitting where the top of the LWCO and the pressure gauge and pressuretrol are attached?  Is this with the boiler running?  If the boiler is running, you should get steam coming out of there like mad -- and be careful you don't get burned by it.  Live steam can cause really horrible burns in no time at all.

    In fact, i wouldn't run a boiler with fittings above the water line open... ever!

    However, if there is no communication between there and the boiler, you do indeed have a problem!  it's safer to do this all with the boiler firmly off, obviously.  Try, with the boiler off, to blow back through the connections into the boiler -- it should be perfectly free.  If it isn't, start poking and find out why; since that is also the connection to the top  of your LWCO, then the LWCO can't see the true water level if the connection isn't open, and that's just not safe.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Fred Fred @ 9:31 PM
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    Jamie, since his LWCO is below the water level, would he get steam from that opening? I would think the steam pressure (once it builds up enough) would push water out of that opening but I'm not sure it would push steam. If he's running on a few ounces of pressure, I'm not even sure how much water he'd push out as long as the steam has other places to go (Out the mains).
  • Fred Fred @ 9:38 PM
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    Sorry Jamie, I see that it is also tied in at the top of his sight glass so steam should flow through there for sure.
    This post was edited by an admin on March 29, 2014 9:53 PM.
  • NoeV NoeV @ 10:47 PM
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    Better view of the connections at the LWCO

    I first thought the pressure guage to be faulty that's why I took the fittings off above the LWCO. Verified no steam. I was going to take the union off at the top of the LWCO (with boiler off) to see if there's an obstruction. I was to tired. Put everything back together.
  • NoeV NoeV @ 11:44 PM
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    Where can I buy the gasket

    For the Mcdonnell and Miller-LWCO? I took it apart. Here are pictures. Found rust particles inside. I scraped it clean.
  • Double D Double D @ 6:25 AM
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  • NoeV NoeV @ 3:00 PM
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    The Gorton main vents I recently purchased are not venting properly

    The Gorton vents are affected by the excessive heat in my enclosed Boiler room. I'm going instead to purchase Hoffman brand vents can someone tell me where to look to purchase them and what type or # Hoffman vents should I purchase. Thanks everyone for your help.
  • Fred Fred @ 5:02 PM
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    Hoffman Vents

    Hoffman #75 vents are what you want but the Gortons should work as well. Did you get Gorton #1 or 2 ? Either of those should be fine and the heat in the boiler room should not affect their function.You can get the Hoffman's at almost any local Plumbing Supply House or PEX Supply if you want to order on line. There are new ones on ebay as well. Make sure you get the #75, Not #74 or #75H. They won't work on a low pressure system 
  • NoeV NoeV @ 5:57 PM
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    #75 Hoffman Vents

    Thank you. I have a pair of Gorton #1 ' s
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 6:23 PM
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    checking the vents

    I am sure there is some other reason for their lack of venting. to check, turn the boiler off, and then switch the boiler on. if and when you see steam, switch the boiler back off. no steam means a water locked dry return.
    I suspect a water pocket in a saggy pipe to be the cause. I like gorton 2's because of their capacity, although some have used steam traps, in place of standard main vents. apparently they have better thermal characteristics.
    low pressure 0-3 psi gauges come from
  • NoeV NoeV @ 9:35 AM
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    Where can I purchase an outside

    Thermostat switch to work in conjunction with my indoor thermostat? What model # is appropriate for my Burnham low pressure one pipe system boiler? And is there a particular height it should be mounted or location that works better than others?
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 10:47 AM
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    Outdoor control

    The most effective steam control for steam is the Tekmar 279, which uses indoor and outdoor sensors to time the boiler firing periods. It can only be used on a system in perfect balance, so best to get things like venting up to scratch. I think bad venting and pressures over 8 ounces could add 15% to you fuel use.
    On my 55 rad system, I use a Honeywell Visionpro with remote indoor sensor, using the coldest bedroom of the building as a control point. Although it has no outdoor sensor capabilities, it seems to work well, for an eighth of the price, and now comes in internet enabled favors.
    I do not use setbacks, so therefore set a lower constant temperature.--NBC
  • NoeV NoeV @ 10:56 PM
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    Receiving conflicting opinions. ...

    Gorton #1 vs. Hoffman #75. My vents are located above the boiler in an enclosed room. Where temperature can reach 90-100° F.
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 11:21 PM
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    Venting choices

    I am sure you will be alright with Gorton 2's. The Hoffman have much less capacity for venting.
    Choosing vents is not a place to try for false economy. Your system could be burning an extra 15% with the wrong vents. I don't know what the purpose of the control system you have was, but it was not giving your system economy, or comfort. This summer will be a good time to rectify all of these problems. Too bad you were not able to get this advice at the beginning of last winter, and then you would have saved a lot.--NBC
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