Joined on September 16, 2002
Last Post on May 16, 2013
@ May 16, 2013 9:30 PM in Ideal Gas Boiler (American Radiator Company) conversionare for what is called "EDR". Which is a measure of the amount of installed radiation. What you can do after the closing is take a look at the radiators and add them up -- there are tables on this site, or we can help you with it -- and see what they add up to. That will be the size of any new boiler you might want to install.
If this is really an original installation, you may be in real luck -- it may not have been "knuckleheaded", or at least not too badly. In which case, updating the system will be mostly a matter of a new boiler (it will be a lot smaller) and checking vents and traps to make sure they are working right.
As to the chimney. Um. That could, potentially, be a problem as any boiler will need to be exhausted to the outside somewhere. That would require some thought. It's not a show stopper by any means, but any new boiler installation will require some real thought as to where its stack or vent is going to be, if it isn't going to be the existing chimney.
I wouldn't even consider the radiant/hot water route. You've got a good thing going there; don't spoil it!
@ May 10, 2013 8:45 PM in Solar Thermal is DeadI've never posted a picture in all the years I've been on here! Have to figure out how...
@ May 10, 2013 8:41 PM in Water Losson all counts. Which is why you should have a water meter. I like Charles' suggestion -- it's simple and reliable.
@ May 9, 2013 5:40 PM in Solar Thermal is Deadwhere I usually just lurk (yeah, I know, not like me). But I would like to second Bob's thoughts and comments. Specifically, my late father-in-law made a fairly decent living doing engineering for solar heated houses in southern and middle New England, and it turns out that they work remarkably well. As Bob noted, harvesting 75 degree F heat is not that hard to do; even getting up to 100 or so isn't that bad -- and at that point, with a decent amount of storage, a well-built house can make it through all but the worst winter conditions at normal interior temperatures (his most difficult problems were not the dead of winter, but, say February/March getting enough solar, and September/October, dumping heat).
He wasn't too enthusiastic about DHW solar, and I don't blame him -- there you are working with much higher temperatures, and you have storage and insulation and re-radiation issues.
And he didn't do anything with PV -- it wasn't available when he was active.
Anyone interested in his work and thoughts, I'll be happy to correspond with...
@ May 9, 2013 5:23 PM in Automatic water cutoffthere are several parts to this one...
First, if you don't have a low water cut off, get one put on. ASAP. That's just plain safety; even if you are right in the building a major leak could happen and there is no way you could get there fast enough to avoid damage unless you were standing right there watching it.
Then, to avoid water damage to things other than the boiler, if you are away and there is no one on call, 24/7, shut off the water feeder when you are away.
Then... if there is a concern that the boiler might shut down on low water while you are away, there are any number of systems which will call all by themselves to report a problem, and they accept a variety of sensors. A low temp sensor. A water on the floor sensor. An auxiliary contact on the low water cutoff. And so on.
But there really are three issues, not just one -- and each one needs to be addressed correctly.
@ May 7, 2013 1:20 PM in Water Lossmay have come up with an interesting way to add to their bill.
If there is a definable, conservative trace element in the feed water and
if the concentration of that trace element is known and known to be constant in the feed water and
if there are no chemical reactions involving that specific element and
if that element does not evaporate or get carried out by wet steam and
if you measure the change in concentration in that element with time
you can, in principle, detect and measure a steam leak. You can't detect or measure a condensate or boiler leak.
And I wouldn't be on it, anyway.
@ May 4, 2013 8:43 PM in T-Stata version of the good old Honeywell T87 which went down that far. Don't know if it's still available...
@ May 3, 2013 9:28 AM in Lesson learned NEVER let the wife tag along to the home showare so right...
@ May 3, 2013 9:26 AM in 3 basement building - insulate piping in all of them?too. It would not be as easy to control (much as I love steam, I have to admit that hydronic systems are easier to control) but, on the other hand, you wouldn't have the pump(s) and controls you would need for the hydronic.
The hydronic, though, could be baseboard type units, and would almost certainly do a more even job of heating the spaces, which might be a concern.
Cost? New radiators aren't cheap...
@ May 2, 2013 9:00 PM in 3 basement building - insulate piping in all of them?is control. It may seem to make sense to use the heat from a steam main as part of the heat for a space such as a basement. However, this can (and usually does) cause problems with excess condensate in the mains, as well as slow heat delivery to the ends of the mains.
If you need heat in the basement -- and i don't doubt that you do! -- it is much much better to provide it in some other way. The best being, from my point of view, an hydronic loop or two or three (depending on how much control you want) off the boiler. I would be very surprised indeed if your boiler did not have enough capacity to do this; after all, it is doing it now, and not very efficiently at that. if you were to do that, you'd have better control of your steam delivery to the various units, and better efficiency on the steam side, and complete control of the amount of heat in the various basements.
So the answer is yes, insulate, and install the hydronic if you and when you find you need it.
@ April 30, 2013 10:17 PM in Leaky steam supply valveanything with teeth on it! They'll mess up the nut. A good channel lock, though, should do it OK.
However, watch out for union nuts. The old "righty tighty lefty loosey" doesn't always apply the way you think it's going to. If trying to turn it one way doesn't work, try the other -- sounds obvious, perhaps, and if you've already done that, sorry... but as I say, it's not always obvious which way tightens on a union when you're just looking at it.
@ April 30, 2013 8:42 AM in Automatic Water Feeder shuts off power at low water? Plumber says it's the thermostatlowwater, that you have gathered at least one thing from this thread: your controls are completely mis-wired. I really can't answer your particular question -- why does the power shut off at low water? -- from looking at your diagram (but thank you for the diagram!), as some of the internals are not completely clear.
However, that doesn't stop me from saying -- quite firmly -- that I don't think, from the look of it, that there is one single correct circuit in the whole thing except for the two wires from the thermostat to the thermostat EIN. Those are probably right...
I would suggest that you rip out all the wiring (except those two wires) and start all over again with the parts manuals to hand. If you are good at electricity, you might be able to do this yourself. Otherwise, do yourself a favour and take Charles' suggestion: find a good steam boiler man in your area and let him straighten it out.
It isn't rocket science, but it does have to be done properly.
@ April 28, 2013 9:39 PM in Check valve positiona regular swing check should -- in my view -- always be installed so that the flow through it is horizontal or upwards -- never downwards.
@ April 28, 2013 9:37 PM in wet air ventsas in drops of water, or wet as in puddles on the floor? If the former, no problem -- it doesn't close until steam hits it, so it's going to have some condensate in it. If the latter, it probably isn't a pitch problem; if it's a problem at all, it may be that the vent is a bit too fast.
@ April 26, 2013 5:29 PM in Automatic Water Feeder shuts off power at low water? Plumber says it's the thermostatthat thing is wired correctly. Nor is there any way that the problem is the thermostat; plumbers are not always the best electricians (I would note that electricians are frequently lousy plumbers; it goes both ways).
A thermostat is a switch which responds to temperature -- that's true whether it's a T87 or a Nest or anything in between.
Get the wiring straightened out. Shouldn't be that hard...
@ April 24, 2013 9:07 AM in How thick should steam pipe insulation bethen maybe the bear over there won't eat me.
Which is part of the answer to the apparent practical difficulties with the IECC.
There are two reasons for insulation on steam pipes (pipes carrying hot or cold fluids which are not affected by phase change have only one reason). The first is to ensure that as much of the energy content of the fluid gets to the destination as is reasonably possible. The second is to minimise the amount of phase change in the pipe (that is, condensation of the steam to water in our case). There is actually a third reason, but it is sort of irrelevant to energy -- high pressure or superheated steam pipes are dangerously hot to the touch!
Where does that get us? The IECC is looking solely at the transfer of heat from source to point of use -- the boiler to the radiator. Or turbine. Looked at from that standpoint, requiring very large thicknesses of insulation makes environmental sense (whether it makes economic sense or not is another question in entirely; analysis of that question is fascinating but not relevant here!). With low pressure saturated steam for heating, the phase change is much more important -- and there it is more related to how the resulting condensate can be handled and where the pipe in question is actually located. If the pipe is located in an otherwise heated space, the energy is not lost. There is no loss in overall efficiency of the heating plant due to heat loss from the pipe. There may, however, be significant issues with balancing the system, or with excess condensate causing problems -- which is why one wants to insulate the steam mains in a heating system.
Looked at from that standpoint, then, in my humble opinion anything over 1" is going to be wild overkill.
Now if your steam main is running in an otherwise unheated tunnel between buildings, lets say, then yes -- more is going to be better, almost to the silly point!
For what it's worth...
@ April 23, 2013 7:50 PM in wicked water hammer and boiling in pipesIf you can get Charles to come over and take a look (he'll charge for that, and it's worth every penny) that would be wonderful. And I will vouch for his work: he installed the current boiler in my system, and did an excellent and thorough job, and really took the time to fully examine and understand the system.
@ April 22, 2013 9:40 AM in Slow condensate returnthat somewhere out there you have a fair amount of condensate hiding. The water level from the feeder is probably a bit high, and you may be getting some carry over -- but that should come right back through the equalizer. 20 minutes for the condensate to come back up seems long to me.
So... I would take a look at any and all wet returns, to see if there might be one which is partly clogged. Or really clogged. I also like NBC's idea of a return at just the right height to store some water, although I'd expect that to come right back when the system shut down...
@ April 21, 2013 4:18 PM in uninsulated steam pipeNo harm to more insulation... just to give a very very rough idea, though -- 1" should get the heat gain from the pipe down to about 400 BTU; 2" would cut that in half. If even that is a problem, a chase -- insulated or not -- vented to somewhere else could drop it to zero in your space, depending on the temperature of the air going through the chase.
@ April 20, 2013 4:59 PM in uninsulated steam pipewon't stop all the heat -- that's impossible -- but it will certainly reduce the amount of heat you need to deal with considerably. A 4" steam pipe, 12 feet long, is going to dump a remarkable amount of heat, uninsulated -- somewhere around 3K BTU. I would suggest a minimum of 1" fiberglass or equivalent; half inch really doesn't do much.
@ April 19, 2013 9:53 PM in Info on conversion of steam to hot water of a two pipe steam systemIf I were faced with something like this... I'd be very inclined to recommend to the client that the only really sound way to do it would be to take the existing mechanicals -- the whole lot -- out. Might keep the radiant floor piping, but certainly not the water heater... And start all over again either with high-efficiency hydronic (including new radiation) or perhaps with some sort of heat pump system... I wouldn't try to use any of the existing radiation or piping, although you might get lucky and at least not have too many leaks. But it would still be a camel. Much easier to do it right from scratch.
@ April 17, 2013 10:20 PM in Adding a hydronic zone to a steam systemand others will probably expand on my comments...
Yes, you can set up an aquastat to run the boiler when the hydronic zone calls for heat and the boiler water isn't hot enough. No, there is no simple way to keep the boiler from then heating the radiators upstairs. It might, it might not, depending on how you have the controls wired and a few other factors -- and it wouldn't be very consistent. Tankless water heaters are not, in general, recommended for use on hydronic heat systems...