Joined on September 16, 2002
Last Post on March 7, 2014
@ December 6, 2006 1:16 PM in Splitting a Steam Radiatora BIG hammer. Wooden wedges will work, at less risk of breaking stuff (it's cast iron, remember, and brittle) but you may need to go to steel. As noted, the seal between sections is supposed to be a beautifully fitted (those old guys were craftsmen!) 'push nipple'. However... you may find that the nipples are pretty rotted. All is not lost: I have had excellent results using the red RTV sealant for engines to create a new seal between the sections when I put them back together and the nipples are shot. Yes, you can get new nipples. But why?
@ December 6, 2006 1:06 PM in Steam Heat making banging noise on pipespitch but size. The experts can help, but they will need to know the size of the new elements, and the pipe diameter, and whether this is one pipe or two pipe steam.
@ December 6, 2006 1:03 PM in My techs want to use copper on steam.will kill. Enough of the stuff is an asphyxiant (displaces oxygen) and it's real hard to go on without it. Usually it isn't the copper pipe that bursts, it's a joint that gives. One of the first things I learned from these friends of mine on the Wall here is that steam pipes expand and contract like crazy, and copper is soldered... and the solder gives and you have a leak (or worse). Besides, I get a kick out of threading and properly joining pipe!
@ December 1, 2006 9:53 PM in Converting Steam to Hot Waterbeing a convinced steam person... I run a lovely century old vapour steam system, powered by a two year old high-efficiency industrial Weil McClain boiler. I have no way of knowing whether my heating bill would be lower with hot water; I do know that the expense of changing over would have been horrendous. On the comfort thing: steam -- at least vapour steam -- has a curious property I haven't seen mentioned. It is, to a great extent, self-balancing. That is, if one room is colder (for instance, if the wind is blowing hard), the radiator in that room will get more steam, making it warmer. Can't beat that. No moving parts... If the dead heads who put the thing in did it right (mine did) the radiators are properly sized to the rooms, and this will work. There is very little uneveness in temperature, as on colder days (when you need the heat) those great big cast iron monsters shed a nice even heat. Just my opinion...
@ December 1, 2006 4:32 PM in converting steam system to hydronicNot only is the cost high, there is no return on the investment -- a steam system in proper working order is certainly not inferior -- and I think many of us would say it's superior! Don't do it! Find some qualified people -- they're all over this site -- and get the steam working the way it was meant to work, and enjoy!
@ December 1, 2006 9:00 AM in steam, long cycling?I'm not an expert -- building super, which means I don't know much about a lot of stuff and have banged up knuckles. However, unless those radiators are huge (like really really huge) you should have more than enough boiler capacity to heat them all up nice and toasty in about 15 minutes. Not sure where I'd start. Sounds like a regular steam system (not vapour). Pressure's OK. Are all the steam lines insulated? Are you sure you're getting that BTU output out of the burner? (Call a qualified tech on that) The experts will figure it out for you...
@ November 20, 2006 8:21 PM in A Plumbing Problem -- Help!that's one of those names! But the website does work, up to a point -- it would appear that one has to talk to a customer rep. first, which is no bad thing. Tomorrow...
@ November 20, 2006 7:01 PM in A Plumbing Problem -- Help!I thought I'd come to the right place... I'll be on the 'phone to New York tomorrow, soonest -- looks like we can do this.
@ November 20, 2006 6:24 PM in A Plumbing Problem -- Help!Not a steam problem, but there are a lot of old pros who will read this... I hope... and have helped me a lot in years gone by. Problem: in the building I maintain, I have a number of beautiful old fauceets. I want to keep them. They are compression type -- with 3/4 inch seats. They had, when new, a slightly raised lip around the seat. The problem is I can't find a seat reamer that size to refinish the seats when they start to drip -- 5/8 inch is the biggest my suppliers have. HELP! Anybody know where I can find a proper reamer? Washers aren't a problem -- they're available...
@ November 20, 2006 6:19 PM in Thermostat wireThere is no such thing as too many wires (well... yeah, there is). At least 18-4. You may not need them now, but... it's a lot easier to do it now than later.
@ November 8, 2006 7:35 PM in Steam radiator repairYou could use a light oil, I suppose, on the nipples -- but if they are really clean, and the radiator sections are clean, you don't need it. But do use the RTV -- NOT on the nipples, however!!! Put a small bead between the section faces.
@ November 6, 2006 9:15 PM in Zoning a one pipe system in a churchgleaned from hard experience: if you do put a zone valve on a steam supply main, it MUST be a full port valve, and MUST be set to be either open or closed. Saturated steam is real weird stuff, and a partly open (or reduced port) valve will result in condensate on the far side -- and no steam. Been there, done that... T-shirt is kind of dirty.
@ November 6, 2006 8:58 PM in inconsistant water levelssadly. The coil is on the water side, not the furnace side, and at much higher pressure (we hope) -- so if there is a leak...
@ October 31, 2006 12:58 PM in Do you need oil tank insurance?Assuming that what we are talking about is a plain underground tank -- no vault, no double walls... (which, incidentally, I would advise!). The principle is simple: measure -- accurately -- all the oil delivered to your tank. Measure, equally accurately (we're talking less than a quart here), the oil your burner(s) use (yes, you're going to need a flow meter at the burner(s). Measure equally accurately the amount of oil in your tank at the beginning of the period and at the end of the period. Then the total of the oil in the tank at the beginning, plus the amount delivered, minus the amount used, should equal, plus or minus a quart or two, the amount in the tank at the end of the period. If it doesn't, you have a problem.
@ October 30, 2006 3:14 PM in Do you need oil tank insurance?but, my friend, if that puppy leaks and you need a cleanup job, $100K is just about going to cover the investigation, never mind the cleanup, at least here in Connecticut. Assuming that you were executing due vigilance (you do do a complete balance on the tank contents at least monthly, don't you?) and all that sort of good stuff... I would love to have an underground tank. There is no way I can afford one, not in today's regulatory and litigation climate.
@ October 30, 2006 3:03 PM in Steam radiator repairI have had rather good success (so far!) with figuring out where the leak is -- almost always between sections -- and prying the offending sections apart (gently -- cast iron can crack), then cleaning everything very thoroughly (you want to get down to bare metal). You will probably find that the push nipples are eroded to zilch on the bottom. You can get new nipples (right) but so long as they are structurally sound you don't really need to. What I have done -- and it has worked -- is to use the red RTV automotive sealant to form a new gasket between the sections. Then pull the sections back together (do NOT use the rods for this -- they aren't strong enough). So far, so good...
@ August 15, 2006 8:43 PM in Leaking Nipplesoy! If you find a few -- email@example.com
@ August 15, 2006 8:42 PM in Leaking Nipplessteam -- vapour system.
@ August 14, 2006 12:54 PM in Leaking NipplesI was afraid you'd say that... I'll try them. Thanks!
@ August 13, 2006 9:36 PM in Leaking Nipplesto the various chaps who encouraged me to try using the red RTV to seal between radiator sections when faced with badly eroded push nipples -- it worked. Very nicely. However... It somewhat offends my sense of 'rightness' (yeah, I know, if it works, go with it). So the next question is: does anyone know where to get new push nipples for radiators? These are the usual very slightly double tapered puppies, inch and 3/4 diameter by inch and an eighth long. Sufficiently badly corroded/eroded/trashed/whatever so that miking them to get the tape would be ... um ... difficult. Suggestions?
@ July 15, 2006 8:52 AM in Radiator RepairThank you! I'll give it a try, and let you all know how it worked...
@ July 13, 2006 8:15 AM in Radiator RepairAs some of you may remember, I have a lovely vapour steam heating system -- works fine, and I wouldn't change for the world. However... There are a couple of radiators which leak. I would like to keep the old ones, as they fit their locations and I can't get new ones the same size and pattern (yes, I've looked!). And I wonder. I don't know whether the old ones are the type with a tapered nipple between sections, or just a machined fit. However, assuming I can get them apart without destroying them, has anyone any experience in cleaning up the mating surfaces and using a liquid high temperature gasket material, such as the RTV silicones used in automotive engines, to re seal them? Or any other suggestions? Jamie