Joined on September 16, 2002
Last Post on March 8, 2014
@ March 2, 2014 6:04 PM in Unequal circulators in seriescan work, but figuring out just what each pump is doing and creating the combined flow vs. head curve is a little tricky. What needs to be done is to add the heads for each pump at the same flow rate across the performance curve. That will give you the combined head.
A caution, however (I haven't looked at the pump curves): if one pump's maximum flow at low heads is significantly different from the other's, and the system operates in that range, you will have trouble. The one with the lower maximum flow must be downstream, as there will be a significant headloss across that pump (which will be acting as a turbine and overspeeding) which could (probably would) cause cavitation in the other pump -- and may cause problems with the motor as well.
@ March 2, 2014 5:54 PM in Knocking and hammeringSquick and draining is all very fine, but it isn't going to solve the problem.
Which sounds like water hammer, which is caused by water (usually condensate) getting stuck in steam mains (or, occasionally, returns) where it shouldn't be.
It would help if we knew if this were one pipe or two pipe steam, but while you are getting that information, here are some starters.
First, check the pressure on the boiler. Regardless of whether it's one pipe or two pipe or vapour, it should never go over 2 psi, and 1.5 psi is better if you can persuade the pressuretrol to go that low (not all of them will). If it's vapour, it will need to be much lower still -- but we'll get to that later. While you're at it, make sure that the pressuretrol is actually working to shut off the system. It wouldn't hurt to take the pigtail off the boiler and clean it, and the opening in the boiler, out so that it is free.
Then, start working your way from the boiler outwards. What you are looking for is all steam pipes must pitch so that condensate which forms in them can make its way back to the boiler. In some one pipe systems the pipes pitch back to the boiler; in others, and in almost all two pipe systems, they will pitch away from the boiler and eventually find a "drip" down to a wet return, and then back to the boiler. Runouts to individual risers or radiators must all pitch back to the steam main. It's not just end to end; check every foot of every pipe for sags and dips.
You might also take and send along a few pictures of the near boiler piping. Some installations are such that that piping can cause "wet" steam -- steam with a lot of water droplets in it -- which doesn't help at all.
Anyway. There are some things to start on. When you can, get back and tell us more details about the system.
@ March 2, 2014 3:04 PM in Will expansion and contraction cycles of a radiator mar the tile the radiator sits on?but...
Wouldn't hurt anything, either -- and might make it quieter. However, assuming that the radiator is already pitched well, I personally think it would be better (although it sounds a little back woods!) to use small squares cut from a plastic milk carton under the feet. They slide easily -- we often recommend them to reduce or eliminate expansion noises in piping and radiators -- and they won't rust. Besides, they're cheap...
Oh yes -- and they will take the heat, no problem.
@ March 2, 2014 12:12 PM in Vapor Systemsometimes how the knucklleheads expected these things to work. Hoffmann equipped systems are basically pretty simple -- and do a splendid job of even heat.. As Steamhead said, don't overlook the crossover traps at the ends of the mains; they are very important.
A sigle Gorton #2 should be just fine to replace that old Hoffmann vent.
@ March 2, 2014 12:07 PM in New Home, Which heat source????with a decent southern exposure and a salt box design, if oriented towards the south and properly done, could be 100% solar for space heating. My father in law and I did several of those, some in your area. To do that does require some architectural modification, but very little -- nothing most people would notice -- and very little extra expense over any good superinsulated house. It's mostly a matter of storing the heat effectively and making intelligent use of heat exchangers to maintain indoor air quality (which can be a real problem in superinsulated houses).
@ March 1, 2014 5:17 PM in Fire Sprinkler Protectionproperly set up and plumbed is much the best way to go.
@ March 1, 2014 3:36 PM in A challenge...Webers, SUs, Rochester, Carters... some set ups were easier to handle than others! Multiple carb. setups with SUs were a bear. Triple Webers weren't too bad (some Corvettes). The big Rochester Quadrajets weren't a whole lot easier. Carters with mechanical secondaries and manual chokes (think Stage II muscle cars of various flavours) were the easiest.
Those were the days...
@ March 1, 2014 10:01 AM in A challenge...and an offer.
We often talk here about "pickup factor" (in steam) or "mod/con" (in hydronics) etc. And in large power boilers, variable firing rates are common -- they have to be. But I have yet to see or hear of really good variable firing for residential or small commercial use.
Now with at least some types of gas burners it doesn't seem to be that hard to achieve variable firing; there seem to be options out there.
But not all of us have reasonable access to gas.
And back in the bad old days, there were devices -- beautiful devices -- for coal fired boilers which varied the draught according to the pressure in the system (look at some of Dan's wonderful historical documents).
So. Here is the challenge. Would some oil burner manufacturer be interested in working on an oil burner design which had at least a 3 to 1 turn down from full fire to low fire (more would be better -- gas turbines achieve at least 10 to 1 turn down) but which maintained a proper flame pattern in the fire chamber over the entire range and which maintained a proper fuel/air ratio for maximum efficiency (and minimum air pollution) over the entire turn down range? I envision something with a controllled oil flow (could this be done with variable pressure? Or would it need a variable nozzle pattern as well?) and a controlled air flow (perhaps working on a feedback from an oxygen sensor or two?)(probably requiring both control of forced draught as well as over fire and stack draughts) all responding -- very sensitively -- to a steam pressure sensor.
Here is the offer: if some manufacturer is interested in developing such a contraption, and would provide the installation and tech. support, I would be interested in letting them play with my system...
@ February 28, 2014 5:08 PM in Pickup factor. Help me understandnor is it compensation for poor insulation or poor venting. Indeed, if your insulation is poor, you either should use 50% -- or add all the piping into your EDR calculations. If your venting is poor, that will throw everything off.
No, what it really is is a way to compensate for the energy -- heat -- it takes to warm all that metal up. Just as it takes more throttle to accelerate a car from a stop to, say, 50 mph than it does to drive at a steady 50, it takes some additional energy to get the metal up to temperature in the heating system over what is needed strictly for the radiation. Is 33% too much? Perhaps, depending on the system. You will see this in the system cycling on pressure towards the end of a very long run. Is it perhaps too little? Probably not -- but a system with an undersized boiler is a pretty sad affair, so one wants to be a bit conservative. Is it a decent rule of thumb for sizing a system? Yes. It's worked and worked well, for a bit over a century now, and there isn't much reason to change it.
@ February 28, 2014 1:58 PM in Piping on removed one-pipe radiators?that is a lovely antique system!
It isn't particularly inefficient to be running steam through those loops simply because there is very little steam running into them -- only as much as the line itself will condense. If those lines are insulated, that's not very much. The steam can't go anywhere at the end, and without vents on the line the air can't get out of the line at the end, so.. not much steam wasted.
@ February 28, 2014 1:56 PM in coal furnace burning out in backhow many folks here are old enough to actually have stoked a coal furnace?
The main "secret" is to make sure that the coal is burning evenly -- all across the grate. The procedure isn't that hard, but is a bit of a nuisance.
Shake the grate to get the ashes down.
Rake through the burning layer to distribute evenly over the grate, and ensure that there are no clinkers hiding.
Add a thin layer of coal evenly over the entire grate.. Even in a very large power boiler the burning coal layer should be no more than a couple of inches thick! Otherwise you can get uneven draught and hot or cold spots.
@ February 28, 2014 11:27 AM in Piping on removed one-pipe radiators?with air vents is a little unusual... and very very old. Are you sure that that's what it is? Some pictures of the radiators would be illuminating,..
As to the capped risers, they shouldn't be a problem -- so long as the return to which you are referring is a wet return; that is to say, below the water line of the boiler. Those were drips for those risers.
Now if they go down to a dry return, that's not good. So we need to know...
@ February 27, 2014 8:55 PM in Back up boiler sizePersonally, I'd stick with a small oil boiler, as Aaron suggested. The alternative would be LPG, which has some points very much in favour, but at least last I looked was a toss-up on cost. If you do go LPG, make darn sure the gas tank and pipes are sized for the maximum demand on the coldest day. That sometimes gets overlooked, particularly if you are in an area where there are a lot of "second homes".
Either oil or LPG can be run without a problem with a generator, if it is properly installed.
Electric can't. If the power goes out, you would have to stoke that stove, or freeze.
Steve has a good comment too: size the boiler big enough to actually heat the house comfortably. There may be a bit more first cost -- but it won't cost any more to run, and if it should happen, and God forbid it should, the stove stoker person isn't able to stoke and you want to stay put, you'll be much happier. Been there, done that.
@ February 27, 2014 8:44 PM in Pressuretrol Issuefrom somewhere that pressuretrols have a calibration adjustment on them. They do get out of whack, and if it is on the same pigtail as your gauge, they really should be in closer agreement.
@ February 27, 2014 8:42 PM in Low pressure steam, but long burner cycleWhat problem? Sounds as though it's working just like it's supposed to.
If you are concerned about how long the burner runs... if it's keeping the house at your set temperature, that's how long it needs to run to get enough heat into the house. It's been cold out there (-2 F as I type here!)
@ February 27, 2014 8:39 PM in Installation of Hot Water Heating Pex Pipes and Runtal Radiatorsheating medium was steam, to be hot water
piping was threaded iron, to be pex
radiators, at a guess, were cast iron, to be runtal wall panels.
That's not a conversion, that's a complete tear out and rebuild.
@ February 26, 2014 9:22 PM in Furnace will run 3 cycles then shut off! Help!of do it yourself oil burner trouble shooting. To do it properly takes the proper test equipment -- and some experience. See if you can find a good tech!
@ February 26, 2014 9:18 PM in Vapor SystemIf you have a differential loop on the system it absolutely will NOT work at over somewhere between 6 and 12 ounces. You MUST put a vapourstat on that system. Set it to begin with at 12 ounces with a 6 ounce differential. Fire it up and let it run until pressure starts to build. If the burner shuts off on the vapourstat before the loop trips (you'll probably know -- the return will get steam) you're good to go. Otherwise, keep lowering the cutout until the loop does not trip. Make sure your differential lets it cut back in.
You will probably see a significant fuel saving. More important, the system will heat much more evenly and rapidly.
While you are at it, check for bad traps...
@ February 26, 2014 9:13 PM in Could this be Steam Boiler or the Oil Burner's problem?is way out of whack, and it sounds as though your tech may not have the experience -- or possibly the necessary testing gear -- to diagnose and fix it. See if you can persuade him to bring a more experienced man in.
@ February 26, 2014 1:11 PM in Is 0 pressure okay?if you are losing water. Otherwise, a steam system with decent venting, properly sized, will operate on practically no pressure at all -- a few ounces at most.
Annoying when those pressuretrols fall apart when you try to set them too low, isn't it?
@ February 26, 2014 11:03 AM in Need Help - New Gas Boiler for Steam System ProblemsOMG. Where to begin?
I think I see copper pipe. I think I see polyurethane foam insulation on steam pipes.
I can't really make out from the photos how the steam pipes and header are piped, but it looks like horizontal main takeoffs from the header.
And you are using 10 gallons per hour? A good system shouldn't use more than 10 gallons every couple of years.
I am sorry to say it, but it looks to me as though you have a full scale catastrophe here.
Where are you located? What needs to happen is to find a man who is actually a steam heat man (or woman!), and get him or her to reinstall the boiler properly. You may be able to find such a person from the "find a contractor" tab above -- look by state, not zip code -- or just tell us where you are and we may well know of someone nearby.
@ February 26, 2014 9:55 AM in High heating bills - looking for some ideas!besides what has already been said.
It's quite difficult to judge a cloud of steam from the chimney -- but as a general way of going, it would be invisible to just slightly wispy on a dry day, and perhaps a little more on a very humid day. Anything much more than that suggests a possible problem.
As others have suggested, checking the water usage is the quickest and easiest way to be certain; anything over a gallon a week is very much excessive.
On the other hand, the fact that you can get up to 4 psi suggests otherwise; a boiler with a significant leak will have problems getting up steam pressure. However, if the pressuretrol is set to cutout at 2 psi, but you get up to 4 -- either the pressuretrol isn't doing its job, or the gauge is wonky. It is not at all uncommon for the pipe to the pressuretrol -- called a pigtail -- to get clogged, but it is rather simple to fix that.