Joined on September 16, 2002
Last Post on December 10, 2013
@ December 2, 2013 5:56 PM in Helpthat you haven't done anything irreversible yet. There is no reason that I can think of that you can't have your forced hot water zone in the basement off a steam boiler -- they have plenty of water volume to do that if you wanted to do it directly off the boiler (although I'd be inclined to use a heat exchanger and go indirect). Whoever told you that there wasn't enough water volume in a new boiler is either badly misinformed, if not untruthful (see Joe's (JStar) comment) or has no clue as to how to do steam and is trying to sell you what he thinks he can work on. Or both. Either way, you are going to be the loser -- probably by a factor of at least two in terms of cost.
Find a good steam guy in the area -- there are several (check find a contractor, using the State search) and get this done right.
@ December 2, 2013 11:12 AM in Residual heat from boiler and radiator pipingIt's not that hard to calculate, actually. Half inch pipe is more or less 1/8 square feet of radiation equivalent per foot of pipe. Give or take. So your 220 feet would be somewhere around say 25 square feet of radiation, equivalent. Perhaps, at a reasonable home run temp, around 2500 BTU lost.
Which is trivial.
So is the heat lost to the area from a modern boiler -- they are designed, no surprise, to put as much of the heat as possible into the circulating water!
So my suggestion would be to not worry about it and put a decent sized radiator in there with its own TRV.
@ December 1, 2013 10:36 PM in Water Hammer -- an interesting object lessonI have as many of you know a very nice vapour steam system, works just fine. One of the bits of radiation is a 20 foot long double fin iron tube convector -- steam comes in one end of the upper tub, travels along, turns down, returns and eventually out (total of 40 feet of fin tube).
Was vacuuming the other day, and knocked the support out from under the far end of the unit, dropping it about half an inch -- but I didn't realise I'd done that. Until Cedric fired up the next time, at which point I had the most amazing percussion section going in the room (iron fin tube has a nice ring to it).
Put the block back under the end, and all is silent again.
Who would have thought that half an inch in 20 feet would make that much difference?
Moral of the story: I, and others, have preached correct pitch more times than I can count. We're right.
@ December 1, 2013 10:29 PM in Helpdid you get rid of the steam? You now have a textbook example of why it is almost always cheaper and easier and more satisfactory to bring the steam system back to where it should be!
As LiBob51 says, forget the condensing part of the mod/con. It won't, with baseboards (you have to run warmer).
I can't recommend PEX for hot water heat, although it may be satisfactory for some radiant installations. It gets too wet noodlish. You can repipe everything in copper, although you need to be a bit careful to allow for expansion and contraction to avoid odd noises (and, potentially, fractured joints). I honestly doubt very much if you will get satisfactory results from a single loop, never mind that you won't be able to control various zones. You will be happier with zoning the system using home runs and a proper manifold system. Much happier.
You'd have been even happier -- and a good deal richer -- had you kept the steam and brought it up to speed...
@ December 1, 2013 11:52 AM in Do I need a main vent that opens soon after pressuretrol cuts off burner?first, the system should not go into vacuum during a call for heat from the thermostat (for a one pipe steam system, that is, like yours). So the first thing to do is to replace that pressuretrol with a vapourstat, and set it so that it shuts off at say 12 ounces or so; that should be plenty. Then set the differential so 6 or so -- that will start the burner again, if necessary, before the pressure drops to a vacuum (note that if you have a post purge/pre purge in there, it is likely that those will control the burner off time, rather than the vapourstat settings).
Then you can also add a Hoffman 76 to that menorah (keep the two Gortons). The Hoffman will open rather rapidly on cooling, and should really eliminate the problem.
@ November 30, 2013 11:28 AM in What is the advantage if anythat you are not used to dealing with them. Both types of systems have their advantages and disadvantages.
One pipe steam can be a little easier to control in terms of balancing -- adjusting the venting rate on the radiators. On the other hand, two pipe steam can be balanced by adjusting the valves themselves on the radiators. Take your pick...
One pipe steam uses less pipe, usually. On the other hand, it usually requires bigger pipe. Take your pick.
One pipe steam requires vents on each radiator and main vents on the steam mains. Two pipe steam only requires vents or crossover traps on the steam mains, and if the latter only main vents at the boiler. Take your pick.
Two pipe steam can run on absurdly low pressures; one pipe generally requires slightly more pressure.
In my humble opinion, one pipe steam (particularly counterflow) is a little more subject to water hammer than two pipe -- but they can both make a horrible racket if things aren't piped and pitched right.
And so on...
@ November 29, 2013 8:04 PM in Steam riser: flange or coupling?except for one minor detail -- how would you get it apart again if you ever had to? If you've got that one covered...
@ November 29, 2013 8:03 PM in Gas-Fired Steam Boilersor amused at the contortions folks go through to get the guvmint "freebies" (it's your tax money, hard at work).
Someone above hit the fundamental problem here, though: to get the credits/rebates/whatevers, the item has to be approved by the state, and they do that using the AFUE figures provided by the manufacturers who test specific equipment combinations under very specific conditions -- which may or may not apply to your actual situation.
A good burner man with a well set up boiler should be able to get 84% plus out of it, and maybe better, and it's real. That does not mean that installation qualifies for anything, though... while a poorly installed and maintained/adjusted boiler rated at, say, 86% may be lucky to be running at 70% in its real world installation, but be eligible for all the rebates and what have you going.
End of rant.
@ November 29, 2013 7:55 PM in How much water?but it is more than it should be if the system were tight. I wouldn't be that surprised, though, if fixing the leaks on the valves made a big difference. Surprising how much water a "slight" leak really is!
@ November 29, 2013 6:04 PM in Main Vent locationssometimes the main vents are elsewhere -- most vapour systems and some two pipe. However, in most cases (not all) they are at, or very near, the end of the steam mains. So long as they are beyond the last riser, though, the placement won't make any significant difference in how fast the steam gets to the last riser and, therefore, how fast it gets to those radiators.
@ November 29, 2013 4:56 PM in High Humidity/Boiler Leak?is there any way you can tell how much water it is feeding? If it is more than a gallon or two per week, it's more than it really should be and you may well have a steam leak -- or leaks -- somewhere.
Steam leaks can be very very hard to find. You would think not, but the steam escapes and immediately just turns into higher humidity, which is invisible. You don't mention whether this is a one pipe or two pipe system (one pipe has vents on the radiators and only one pipe to each radiator). If it is a one pipe system, though, the radiator vents may well be stuck open, or at least some of them -- and that will raise the humidity amazingly fast (it doesn't take all that much steam). Other likely spots are leaking valves at the radiators -- again, you won't likely see it. Main steam vents if there are any can also stick open.
Then, of course, there is the possibility that that boiler is leaking steam -- not into the firebox (you would see that out the chimney on a cool or cold day) but into the basement.
This is going to take some detective work on your part...
@ November 28, 2013 7:23 PM in Possible issueMany vapour systems-- and the system in question here may have been one -- were designed so that, if all was working as it should work, steam never made it past the radiators. Either they were equipped with an orifice or variable valve to allow only enough steam to enter that could be condensed, or they were equipped with any one of a bewildering array of contraptions to prevent steam from leaving the radiator, but allowing air and water to leave freely (the most common being a simple thermostatic/float trap on the outlet).
Air was handled in the dry return. Air from the main was allowed to reach the dry return through a crossover trap (that same thermostatic/float type trap) at the end of the steam mains, which allowed air from the mains to vent rapidly into the dry returns. Condensate was handled partly in the dry returns in some systems, but eventually -- in virtually all of them -- was handled by the wet returns, which connected directly to the boiler at the Hartford Loop (no fancy tanks/pumps/widgets/check valves).
Some systems had the dry return vented directly to the atmosphere through an open pipe, but most had some sort of centrally located vent to allow air to escape from the dry returns.
Now... the only time pressure should build beyond the few ounces required to establish flow in the mains is when all the radiators are condensing at maximum capacity and all the traps, if used, are closed. At that point the vapourstat should shut off the boiler; if it doesn't you are wasting fuel.
Some systems -- most commonly Hoffman Equipped -- had various ingenious devices to direct live steam into the dry returns to pressurize them and force the condensate back into the boiler if the pressure rose too high (the Hoffman Differential Loop is one such gadget). Those needed a vent which would close on steam located at the boiler, and no other vents whatsoever anywhere else in the system.
@ November 27, 2013 9:51 PM in 2 pipe steam with dan fauce valvesprovided it's at, or very near, the radiator. In a main or riser a reduced port valve can cause a problem (a lot of condensation just beyond it, when the steam tries to expand again).
@ November 27, 2013 9:13 PM in Copper vs Steelnot to use copper. So long as steam doesn't get to it -- and it certainly shouldn't in this application! -- it should be fine. Now whether I'd use sweat fittings or compression or flares, Don't really know. Depends on which type you think you can get leak tight for vacuum most effectively!
@ November 27, 2013 9:11 PM in 2 pipe steam with dan fauce valvesWhat size and type are the valves, and why are they there? Valves on steam lines must be full port types, and certainly not globes, unless they are right at the radiator.
@ November 27, 2013 9:08 PM in need help with one pipe steam system,, rookie!yes, the bad pipe work around the boiler could be causing a good many, if not most, of your problems, although there may well be other difficulties as well.
It does sound as though you have a one pipe system (the air vents on the radiators!) -- although it is easy to tell -- if there is only pipe to each radiator, that's what you have. One pipe systems are a little more sensitive to bad near boiler piping, but all steam systems are sensitive to pipe pitch, as some steam does condense in the mains and risers. In one pipe systems, the risers and mains and runouts carry all the condensate from the radiators as well as the steam, so it is important that they are pitched correctly. The book will have a very good description of all of this.
I don't see insulation on the piping near the boiler. When you get the near boiler piping straightened out, you should insulate all the pipes which carry steam. It will help a lot.
@ November 24, 2013 5:19 PM in Gorton Water Fountainsmain vents are not intended to close against water, although Hoffmans will do that. As BN said, don't shoot the messenger, fix the problem.
Perhaps the best fix would be to move the vents to a location where your mains don't have water in them... assuming that there is some very good reason for there to be water in the mains (other than condensate, which should be removed by drips, or flowing somewhere where it will be removed).
@ November 11, 2013 10:38 PM in Lwcoor a manual reset in addition to the automatic one? The former would seem overkill. The latter... don't know if it's required, but in my humble opinion it's a very good idea -- along with a manual reset pressuretrol high limit (say 5 psi for residential).
@ November 8, 2013 8:02 PM in radiator gushing water, loud banging, gurgling soundstake some time to double check the pitch of all the pipes involved. It may be just that the venting is so fast that it is pulling condensate back into the radiator. It may also be that there is a section of pipe which is too flat.
Also check you near boiler piping. You might post a picture of it...
As to the Nest. I'd lose it. It's made for hot air heat, not anything else. Get a good regular thermostat instead.
@ November 8, 2013 7:57 PM in zero pressure on boileryou are in pretty decent shape. You probably do need main vents, which will help even out when steam gets to the various radiators.
It is not at all unusual for a steam heating system to not raise significant pressure -- particularly if all you have to read it on is the required 30 psi gauge. If the system is balanced reasonably well, all the steam produced by the boiler is condensed in the radiators, and the pressure at the boiler will never go over a few ounces. The only exception to this is on recovering from a very deep setback -- say over 5 degrees on a cold day -- when the boiler runs long enough so that all the radiators are fully hot. Then it may cycle off on pressure. But that's rare.
As has been said, dial that pressuretrol back to 2 psi shutoff (some are additive differential, some subtractive -- make sure which you have, and the be sure to set it so that the cutout will be not more than 2 psi (1.5 is better, but you may not be able to get there with a pressuretrol) and the cutin then should be around 1 psi.
I might warn you that if the pressuretrol is set much over that, and you do begin to raise pressure, there's a good chance that you will ruin the vents (as well as burning a lot of fuel you don't need to) -- they don't like high pressure.
@ November 8, 2013 7:49 PM in Gas companies in CT make big push into oil territoryI'd love to switch to natural gas, and I dare say that Charles would help me do it. However... I live in a rural area. The nearest gas main is 8 miles -- hilly, rocky miles -- away. Any bets on how soon the gas company might extend gas service to these rural areas? Right... this program, like so many, will help folks in the cities and suburban areas, and I have no gripe with that. But, again like so many, it won't do a thing for us peasants who live in the country. But... there aren't that many of us, so we don't count when it comes to counting the voites.
End of rant...