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Jamie Hall

Jamie Hall

Joined on September 16, 2002

Last Post on September 15, 2014

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I'd kind of have to agree

@ August 13, 2014 7:45 PM in Oil fired flue without barometric damper?

with icesailor here (and I have sailed over most of that area, too!).

I don't see how, I really don't, you can have anything like a reasonably constant draught on that boiler without two things, neither of which I see: a barometric damper, to reduce the variations in draught from variations in the wind, and a control damper.  You might get away without the control damper...

The key thing to remember here is that a burner can only be properly adjusted for one draught condition (assuming, of course, that it isn't self-adjusting!).  Some seem to be more tolerant of variations in draught than others, but it can only be correct at one draught.  Now if your draught in the chimney is varying, and there is no control for it...  at least some of the time that burner is operating out of adjustment, and maybe way out of adjustment.

OK -- let's think about this

@ August 13, 2014 7:35 PM in Geothermal vertical loops

Your lake water heat exchangers are 10 to 12 feet down, so in the winter time they are in water which is about 39 F -- 4 C.  In order to heat your facility, you need to extract the heat from the water in your loop going through the heat exchangers and raise it's quality (that's the job of the compressor).  That's going to cool the water coming from the lake -- the heat has to come from somewhere, after all; there's no free lunch.  So the return water to the lake is going to cooler than 39 F.  Problem: you only have, at most, a 7 F temperature difference to play with (actually, you'd want to not use all of that -- say 3 F temperature difference, max.

Now the the heat which you can extract is a function of the temperature difference and the flow rate, just exactly like hydronic heating -- same formula.  And, like hydronic heating, to get more heat you either need more flow or more delta T.  You don't have the option of more delta T, so you need more flow.

I haven't seen your installation -- obviously -- nor have I seen the design documents, nor the controls.  From the sound of things, however -- based on what you have written -- it sounds as though you need three things: more flow in the lake loop -- probably a lot more flow -- and, most likely, bigger heat exchangers in the lake; you are working with a very small delta T on those heat exchangers, so you are going to need to move a lot of water.   You also need a control logic which cycles the compressors off when the temperature of the return water to the lake drops to some low value -- I'd pick somewhere around 35 F or 2 C as the minimum.  That way you won't get the freezeups you mention.

Check very carefully!

@ August 13, 2014 3:53 PM in engineer

that small radiator at the end of the main to which you refer may be important for getting proper venting of that main.  There has to be a way for the air to get out of the steam main -- either into the dry return to which you refer, or into the air. 

Top secret?!

@ August 13, 2014 3:50 PM in radiator steam traps vertical pattern single union

Joe, I love it.

You are right, though -- sizing the orifices is a bit of a hit or miss proposition, although there are sizing guides which can get you close.

In answer to the pressure question, you can make an orifice controlled system work on almost any pressure, believe it or not -- but it is much much easier to make it work on a very low pressure, such as you can achieve with a vapourstat set to cutout somewhere around 12 ounces or so, and cut back in around 6.  That should be all the pressure you would ever need for this system.

Say again, please?

@ August 13, 2014 3:44 PM in Geothermal vertical loops

Lake Huron -- and Georgian Bay -- does sometimes freeze over.  But it does not freeze to the bottom.  As has been pointed out, at some depth -- and probably not that far down -- you will have lake water at a more or less constant 39 F (4 C).  From this a properly designed geothermal system should be able to extract all the heat it needs to heat your property or, conversely, reject all the heat you need to manage to cool your property.

There are two approaches: a closed system, in which you have a system of pipes in the lake (probably at or very near the bottom) with sufficient surface area to extract or reject the heat needed, or an open system, in which you simply pump lake water through your geothermal system heat exchangers directly.  Unless you are in a particularly grungy area of Georgian Bay, I would think the latter would work just fine.

So the question is -- why was the system unsuccessful?  What, exactly, were the lake conditions which caused problems?

I have not drilled wells in the granite in that specific area (if it is granite?) but in general wells in igneous or metamorphic rock has rather poor yields, and may be quite unsuited for open system (pump the water out of one well and back into another) geothermal.

If you decide to use 2

@ August 11, 2014 8:27 PM in One riser or two?

they should both be 3 inch.  As has been noted, two 2 inch are actually smaller in area than one 3 inch.

There is some advantage to having two, but on the 75 it isn't really necessary, provided that the rest of the header piping and all is correct.  I'd put my effort into building a drop header for it, instead of going with two 3 inch -- you'll have better steam quality.

Don't do it.

@ August 8, 2014 10:04 AM in Replace gravity with pump in condensate line?

Gravity works every time.  No power outages.  No failed pumps.  It just works.

There is no reason at all why a condensate line has to have a consistent pitch.  It can very happily go down under something, and around a few corners, and then back up to the boiler.  Granted, it would be advisable to put a cleanout plug at the lowest point, but you don't have to have a continuous pitch.

So -- just lower the line and route it however you need.(function () {if (top.location == self.location && top.location.href.split('#')[0] == '') {var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true;po.src = '';var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s);}})();

A cleanout arrangement

@ August 6, 2014 9:52 AM in Condensate Return Line Cleanout System: looking for recommendations

is a good idea -- although you may find that once a year is more than enough.  Surprising how clean steam is...

If it were mine to play with, though, I'd have a ball valve where the lines meet the boiler piping, so you could isolate the boiler from the returns (not a bad idea anyway -- that way, with a king valve on the connection from the header to the house system you can completely isolate the boiler if you even need to raise the pressure on it slightly).  But I wouldn't bother with big valves on the rest of the return system -- they're expensive.  Instead, have drain cocks (you need them anyway) and use T's with a threaded plug.  Just close the main valve, open the drain cocks, undo the plugs and blast away with your hose...

Which is why

@ July 31, 2014 9:44 PM in Drop Header???

I suggested that welded steel just might be the way to go.  In places where you need to be able to disconnect piping, or need to allow a little give in the assembly -- like hooking up to the existing steam mains -- I'd use flanges welded onto the pipes.

Assuming your EDR numbers are correct

@ July 31, 2014 9:42 PM in Oil to Gas Conversion

and, as vaporvac notes, you are not planning to add radiation in the future, the IN5 is the one to go with.  One of the things you want to avoid with steam is getting the boiler oversized.  It doesn't help any in getting more heat, and will cost you money not only in the boiler itself, but it won't run as efficiently.

Match your boiler to your radiation.

At least the man

@ July 31, 2014 4:30 PM in Drop Header???

used both tappings on the boiler... give him credit for that, perhaps.

A drop header will give you much dryer steam.  It may also be a little easier to pipe in, all things considered.  Yes, I would use 5 inch for the connection from the drop header to the existing system, and I would use 5 inch for the header itself.  The risers and the pipes coming over and back down to the header can be whatever size Weil McClain recommends for that boiler (yes, I could look it up, but...).  You would connect the two risers to the header, near each other -- say 10 inches apart to 20 , then 10 to 20  inches further along connect a line going and over to the system connection (you might put a king valve in that; there is something to be said for being able to shut off the system and confine the steam to the boiler and near boiler piping from time to time -- but 5 inch valves were not cheap, last I looked).  Then, finally, make your connection down as the equalizer.

Do it in threaded black iron, or welded steel, please.  Not copper!

Well now...

@ July 27, 2014 2:05 PM in Builing an addition

forced air is not more efficient than hot water.  In fact, a properly installed and controlled hot water system is the most efficient way to heat your home.  Furthermore, it's a lot more comfortable than forced air.

So -- I would recommend that you replace the old boiler with one properly sized to fit your home, including the new radiation (consider baseboards or even radiant floors in parts of the new second floor), with proper controls (including outdoor reset) and zoning.

For cooling you probably should replace the old central air; you could use another unit, or mini-splits, in the new upstairs.

didn't know that, Joe

@ July 26, 2014 9:18 PM in Another Steam Boiler Sizing Concern

I thought they were a little better than that.  Charles tells me that Cedric, my nice Carlin fired oil burning Weil-McClain, manages about 85 after he's finished playing with it, so I figured a gas unit would do as well...

A properly tuned

@ July 26, 2014 7:28 PM in Another Steam Boiler Sizing Concern

gas boiler, whether powered or not, should be able to achieve 85% efficiency.  So that is not a consideration.

What is far more important is that the boiler be sized to match the radiation, which your contractors appear to have done.  An oversized boiler will be nothing but trouble.  Don't do it.

ice is right

@ July 25, 2014 3:35 PM in handling power outages on a well

as usual...

A few other comments, though.

The main one is that your available volume in a power failure will be the effective volume in the pressure tank -- that is to say the air volume between the high and low switch pressures.  In your storage tank, that would be exactly zero since you have no air in there!  That is if you are depending on air pressure.  However, you could have an elevated vented tank, and depend on gravity instead.  If you did that you would have the total volume of the tank available.  Can you place the tank in your attic?  That would give you enough pressure for most fixtures.  You would need to isolate the tank under normal conditions as the attic placement would only give you about 10 psi.

Buried returns

@ July 24, 2014 4:29 PM in Steam boiler loses water when off.

are surely one place to look.  Could also be a leak between sections or even a rusted out place so yes, inside the boiler is a possibility!

Venting valve?

@ July 20, 2014 7:58 PM in Use two-pipe radiator in one-pipe system?

I presume you mean a valve on the outlet?  Or a trap?

Yes, you can plug the outlet.  You will, however, have to put a regular one pipe radiator steam vent on the thing -- usually about two thirds of the way up on the end opposite the inlet.  There may be a boss cast into the radiator already for it which you can drill out and tap.

Thunder Bay?

@ July 14, 2014 5:08 PM in boiler or forced air - need advice

and a Beaver pilot?  Glad to meet you!

A word to Tony: he isn't just kidding: Thunder Bay can get a bit chilly.  40 to 50 below (Fahrenheit or Celsius, take your pick) is by no means unheard of.  And the last time I was there, it was a bit breezy, as well...

I wouldn't go with a heat pump as my primary heat source in that climate, unless it was a geothermal type with a really good, deep water supply (frost can get to two metres plus).

Snowmelt's approach sounds pretty decent to me...

I don't remember a subforum

@ July 13, 2014 11:35 AM in am i hallucinating or did there used to be a subforum for forced-air furnaces

for scorched air, but I could well have missed it...

On your particular question -- raising your fan speed should increase the flow velocity and cfm.  Should.  Squirrel cage blowers can be, well, a bit squirrely.  But it shouldn't hurt anything, and is worth a try.  It will also increase the load on the motor, though, so if you try it you will want to check the running amps on the motor to make sure you're not overloading it.

Whether it will solve the cold air distribution problems or not...

If that nice guy

@ July 8, 2014 8:31 PM in Can I add hydronic furnace to steam system with IWH?

from Western Mass is who I think he might be, a) he is one of the very best in the business and b) I wouldn't worry about the two hour drive.  Again, if it's who I think it is, he and I have a very workable solution to that particular problem: he does all my normal service, yearly -- but I also have a service contract with my oil dealer, and if things go wrong in the middle of the night in a blizzard at 20 below, I call them.  Then I can call him at his and my convenience to fix the fix the oil dealer service guys fixed...

There are several

@ July 8, 2014 3:05 PM in Can I add hydronic furnace to steam system with IWH?

really good folks who service your area -- use "Find a Contractor" and search by state.  Don't be put off by distance -- the ones I know will pretty well cover the whole state, including your area.

As to what to do and who does what -- any of the good steam guys you find above can do the whole show for you.  No need to split the work up.

True enough, Hot Rod

@ July 5, 2014 9:03 PM in True RMS

and thank you.  I was mired in the sine waves of the twentieth century!
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