Joined on September 16, 2002
Last Post on March 8, 2014
@ February 25, 2014 9:33 PM in Thermometer Heating Survey in my Coop Buildingsto steam heat if you can -- you'll get much more response!
But it looks as though you are starting in the right place -- that is, finding out what is really happening rather than depending on subjective comments. That will help.
Once that is done, though, there is more. You say this is one pipe steam. It's not uncommon for it to be poorly balanced when it hasn't been properly taken care of over the years -- but it is usually not all that much of a hassle to get it much much better.
Do you have access to the heating system? I hope? If so, find out what pressure it is operating at -- 2 psi should be the maximum. Can you make a sketch or at least a written description of the where the steam mains go? Are there any vents on the steam mains themselves, or on the risers? or just on the radiators? Are the steam mains insulated?
And we will have more questions -- but do see if you can shift this thread to "steam heat"
@ February 24, 2014 7:38 PM in pressuretrol and vaporstatI would certainly keep the pressuretrol as a backup and get a vapourstat for primary control. In the overall cost of a new boiler, it's a minor item.
You don't really need a three way switch, though. All you really need is a switch in parallel with the vapourstat. If it's open, you're using the vapourstat. If it's closed, you're not. That leaves the pressuretrol in the circuit at all times -- which probably isn't such a bad idea anyway.
I would add, however, a valve to close off the vapourstat when you are running at the higher blowdown pressure. I know they're supposed to take the higher pressure without damage, but... I just don't like to run gauges and pressure controls beyond their calibrated ranges. Conservative, or something, I guess.
@ February 24, 2014 7:34 PM in Oil to GasShould someone who has an oil license for installation and service be
required to get a gas license? What do you think about this?
If the oil license is okay for both oil and gas do you think the oil
technician requires any training on installing, servicing and codes
@ February 24, 2014 7:32 PM in How many of you carryI don't carry one! However...
When I was engaged in hazardous waste management and engineering, we paid a lot of attention to nasties like CO, having this odd desire to get home and say hi to the kids at the end of the day.
Should fire department first responders and police have detectors?
All this is really not necessary as you would quickly be able to tell if
CO is present the minute you enter a dwelling as it would cause a
headache, sore throat and you would know it was CO. What do you think
about that statement.
phooey. It could kill you before you were aware of it -- though it isn't as bad as hydrogen sulfide that way.
Recent CO incidents have brought to question proper training, personal
CO detection carried on your person, and police and fire personnel
entering buildings and being over come.
Should public buildings be required to have CO detectors?
Yes -- at least in the boiler room or anywhere else there is combustion equipment. They're cheap, dang it.
A wet kit Combustion Analyzer set up will pick up CO immediately and a
zero smoke reading on a gas boiler would tell you if you had high levels
of CO. What do you think about that statement?
Not a whole lot.
On an oil boiler or furnace it is not necessary to have a wet kit (blue
chemical) Fyrite for measuring oxygen? It is not necessary because we
take an over-fire draft reading.
right... although there are decent oxygen sensing probes these days as well. But you do need something.
@ February 24, 2014 7:26 PM in Steam releaseexcess pressure is one.
A closed or partly closed inlet valve to the radiator.
A bad vent.
Just for starters...
@ February 23, 2014 8:42 PM in Short Cyclingthose radiators with hot condensate lines have failed traps. It happens. Next thing to do is identify the make of trap and obtain replacement parts. A good closeup of the trap and we should be able to help...
@ February 23, 2014 4:46 PM in Help with Steam Efficiencythat is an antique -- and so is the control system.
We don't talk price here specifically, but a new boiler is very much the way to go. It would be controlled by a thermostat, not a timer, so it would only run when you needed heat in the house.
If the new boiler is properly sized -- done by the number and size of the radiators, NOT the heat loss of the structure! -- it will run, quite comfortably, until the thermostat shuts it off.
I do foresee a problem, however. California is not exactly the happy hunting ground of steam installation people, and steam heat does require a certain amount of attention to do right, although it isn't really complicated. The installation diagrams which come with a boiler, though, are very thorough, and if you can find a good plumber who doesn't mind threaded pipe, the job can be done without too much trouble -- as well as bringing the rest o the system back to like new -- and you will save a good bit on fuel costs, as well as being a lot more comfortable.
And we will all help as much as we can.
@ February 23, 2014 4:39 PM in mswater from the valve, make sure that the valve is fully open, for starters. Where on the valve does it leak? Around the stem or around the bonnet threads? A valve shouldn't leak no matter what vent is on the radiator...
@ February 23, 2014 4:37 PM in Big problem with even heat distribution, please please help!when it was on the other thread.
First, in response to your direct question on the other thread -- main venting is, simply, providing vents (like the ones on the radiators, but bigger) on the steam mains and risers -- as discussed below.
To recap briefly, this is almost certainly a venting problem, although bad pitch on the riser line which doesn't heat properly may contribute.
Your question is right on the money for starters: do we need vents? Indeed you do. Each main in the basement needs to have a main vent near its end, and these vents need to be fairly large, depending on the size and length of the main. They are there to ensure that each main receives steam at the same speed and time; you can't get even heat (particularly on a larger system) without them. Second, it won't hurt a bit in a multi-story building to have additional main venting -- sized by the size of the risers and their height -- at the top of each riser. Same purpose. Make sure the steam can fill the entire riser rapidly.
Having added those, double check the pitch of all near-horizontal pipes; they must be pitched so that any water in them can flow back to the boiler (called counterflow) or to the far end to a wet return (called parallel flow). Any dips or sags or other places where water can collect will cause trouble.
Then, having done that make sure that every steam main you can find is insulated. Even a short length of uninsulated main will pretty well kill steam delivery to radiators beyond it.
OK. Got this far.
As you have observed, you cannot control the heat from a one pipe steam radiator with the inlet valve. If you close it, even part way, condensate collects in the radiator and creates problems. The way to control a one pipe steam radiator is with the venting on the radiator -- that tuna can thing on the end opposite the inlet. If you need more heat from a radiator, use a bigger vent. If you need less, use a smaller one. Some vents are adjustable, allowing you to fiddle. Some vents can even be hooked up to a thermostat, giving individual automatic control to the radiator.
But... no manner of fiddling with the vents on the radiators is going to be of any use until you get even steam distribution in your system, as described above.
@ February 23, 2014 4:28 PM in Short CyclingThat pressure, to begin with, is much too high. a steam system -- even a block simple two pipe system -- never needs a pressure over 2 psi, and shouldn't start to build pressure until all the radiators are hot. Some steam systems which are really well balanced never build any pressure to speak of at all!
First, it should be possible to set that pressuretrol to no more than 2 psi cutoff, and 1 psi cutin. If not, it needs to be replaced with one which can be.
Second, you say that it takes "a few minutes" for the vent "on the condensate side" to get hot. That vent -- and the whole condensate side -- should never get hot (and that vent should stay open). Each radiator should have, on the outlet, a trap (unless this is one of a variety of vapour systems -- in which the steam pressure should never go over a few ounces, never mind pounds). These traps serve to let air and condensate out, but not steam. The outlet pipe may get hot, sometimes quite hot -- but not steam hot. It is quite possible that one or more of these traps has failed, and is allowing steam to get by, putting pressure on the outlet -- condensate -- side. When that happens, the system will heat very poorly and unevenly, if it heats at all. So you should go around the house and feel the outlets of each radiator when the system is running.
You will need a lot more main venting, but before we can go much farther we need a more complete description of the system, and particularly a description (better yet a picture) of the a typical radiator with its inlet and outlet devices.
@ February 23, 2014 11:38 AM in R8285d 5001 Fan coil relayon the wiring of your boiler. However, there are general rules -- and one of them is that a relay coil or transformer overheats or burns out it's getting too much current. In the case of a relay coil, either the voltage is too high or somewhere in the circuit there is supposed to be a resistance and isn't. It should say, somewhere on the relay, what the rated voltage is, and you could check that.
And in answer to the last question -- sorry, but yes. If a transformer or relay coil overheats and smokes, or you see any distortion on the coil at all, it's gone. There's always a chance it may work for a while, but it's not trustworthy nor particularly safe -- and there is no way you can shut it off by hand to save it once it starts to show signs of problems.
@ February 23, 2014 11:32 AM in Pressuretrolsand would save a lot of hassle. Not that they couldn't be wired up easily enough, by someone who knew what they were doing, but one does wonder why they aren't standard (well, millivolt systems would be sort of a bear, but anything else...).
There are many times when I am very thankful for my wonderful old mercury switch vapourstat!
There are reasons for microswitches, however -- they are cheap, they are pretty reliable, and perhaps most important they can be used without modification on anything from millivolts to 120 vac. Not that one can't make an all solid state switch which would do the same thing, but by the time you got done making it idiot and surge proof it would cost a good deal more than a microswitch.
@ February 22, 2014 10:12 PM in Thermostat calling for heat; boiler does not come onohmeter, turn the power off, disconnect the wires to the pressuretrol, and measure the resistance between the terminals. If the contacts are good in the switch, and the switch is closed, you should read 0.0 ohms. Maybe 0.1. Anything more than that, bad contacts in the switch.
@ February 21, 2014 7:23 PM in Uneven distribution of heatyou might do better in terms of replies on the "strictly steam" thread.
However, that said...
Since you mention air vents, I am going to assume for the moment that this is steam, and one pipe steam at that.
In order for one pipe steam to work properly and evenly, it is essential that two major things happen (there are a bunch of others as well, but for the moment bear with me): you need to get steam throughout all the mains at about the same time, as fast as possible. And, when you are dealing with a multi-story building, the risers need to get filled with steam in the same way. This is done with main venting. Therefore, if there are not main vents on the steam mains and -- since this is multi-story, at the tops of the risers, you need to have them installed. What this will accomplish is to get the steam evenly distributed to the radiators.
Then the amount of heat given off by the radiator is determined by the radiator venting. If you want less heat, use a slower vent. More heat, faster vent. You cannot control one pipe steam with the valve at the inlet -- as you have found, unfortunate things happen when you try.
That's sort of a basic starting point...
@ February 21, 2014 1:54 PM in Soundproofing a boiler roomIf you do manage to really soundproof that space, you should have a remote status panel installed, a remote CO detector, and a remote fire alarm (overheat and smoke).
Otherwise, you will have no way of knowing that something is going amiss until it has really gone west. The status panel should have indications for boiler demand vs. boiler running, all zone valve demand vs. zone valve open, all circulator demand vs. circulator run, as well as temperature in the space -- as well as the fire and CO alarms.
All remoted to somewhere where they can be and will be monitored regularly.
@ February 20, 2014 10:21 PM in taco zone relay constant hum soundyou are right -- in the extreme, a transformer (or relay) with a ferrite closed circuit core designed for no magnetostriction and ribbon wound to prevent any movement of the coils won't hum. Quite true.
My stereo amp does not have such a transformer, sadly, and if I lean down over it -- three inches away -- and everything else is quiet I can hear the hum.
But I don't have the money to pay for a better one...
@ February 20, 2014 10:16 PM in Soundproofing a boiler roomis a real bear, and a fine art. I'm not a bit surprised that the consultant you talked to was pricey -- never mind whatever he or she had in mind as solutions.
What you are trying to do, though, is fairly simple: stop the transmission of sound from the source to the rest of the building.
In practice, what this means is that first there can be no air passages from that room to the rest of the building. None. Not even the tiniest gap where a pipe or a wire goes through a partition or floor. For that, you will need one of the flexible acoustic caulks; there are different makes. This also means that if there is an access door to the space from the rest of the building, it has to have seals on it which are absolutely air tight when it is closed. it would be better if there were no access from the rest of the building, if that can be arranged.
Any pipes which penetrate the partition/ceiling must have flexible (really flexible; I don't mean PEX, I mean something like braided hydraulic hose) on both sides of the wall and through the wall. Same for electrical conduit (which must also be caulked inside).
Second, any partition -- wall, floor -- has to be built so that there is no rigid connection between the two faces and, if possible, there is a sound absorbing blanket -- such as the mass loaded vinyl in one of your links -- between the two faces. A typical arrangement is a wall with two sets of studs (or a ceiling with two sets of joists). The interior wall covering -- in your case, fire rated plaster board -- is attached to one set of studs. The other set of studs is offset an inch, and the other wall covering attached to it, with the flexible sound absorbing sheet between the two walls (for a ceiling, the treatment is the same -- you're talking ceiling and flooring here). Doors are a real headache, although in most cases a really good fire door -- two hour rating -- is also pretty soundproof if the seals are good.
The resilient clips in one of your links may work; I have no experience with them. The principle is the same: no rigid path from one side of the wall (or ceiling) to the other.
You probably don't have to worry about sound transmission through the basement slab, although it wouldn't hurt to have the slab in the mechanical room isolated from the rest of the basement with flexible expansion joints under the soundproof walls.
You may still have to contend with airborne noise from the air intake and exhaust for the burner. Acoustical liners on the air intake ducting, as well as making sure that there are offsets in the ducting, may help.
In closing this, I make absolutely no guarantee that any of the above measures will reduce the noise to a level which is satisfactory to you; no conscientious person would.
@ February 20, 2014 9:52 PM in water in tankCondensation, mostly, when the tank is partly empty. It's the nature of the beast.
If you suspect you have enough water to cause a problem, there are several products which can be used in you can get a dipstick into the tank; they change colour if they hit water. But -- most tanks you can't get a dipstick into.
And if you have enough water in there to shut the burner down, and it does happen (you're getting good flow and pressure when you try to prime, but if you check you're getting water out of the line, not oil) about the only thing you can do is to go back to the tank and drain the water out. If you haven't added oil lately (or shaken the tank!) the water will be on the bottom, and you should be able to drain it into a bucket -- drain at the filter until you get clean oil. If it is an underground tank, you may be able to use the suction line in some manner to do the same thing.
THAT WATER IS A HAZARDOUS WASTE. Be sure you dispose of it properly.
@ February 20, 2014 9:45 PM in Oil furnace won't light!!Seriously. If you suspect that a burner has been treated that way (anything more than two or three pushes), you may have accumulated enough oil in there to have some really serious consequences if you get the burner to fire.
At the very least, open the firebox up and see what you have. I would mop up any visible oil. If there is a fibreglas mat in there -- there often is -- remove and replace it with a new one if it seems to be oily.
Check and make sure that your breaching is tight -- all the screws in where they should be, etc.. I might also close and hold closed with a tool the baro damper if there is one.
Then maybe give it a try... but stand back. Things can get very very exciting.
To the OP: this is not a homeowner problem. I'd get the original company back; it should be a free call. But get a pro; don't even try to fix it yourself.
@ February 20, 2014 9:37 PM in BEST WAY TO PIPE A 2 PIPE STEAM CONVERSION TO A 3 ZONE HOT WATERthis evening, I completely agree with what moneypitfeeder has said.
You have gotten yourself into a very bad position on this job -- certainly one which I would want no part of whatsoever.
And I honestly and truly do wish you luck in digging yourself out of it, and hope it doesn't come back to bite you.
@ February 20, 2014 9:31 PM in A little advice on a new steam system pleasethe best thing to do for the near boiler piping will be to get hold of the manual for that boiler -- if you don't have it, give us the make and model number and we may be able to find a link for it -- and get the boiler piped correctly. You need an equalizer -- I don't see one -- and the header is probably at least a size too small, and too low. Getting that fixed will help matters a lot. If there are cold returns at all, you also need a Hartford Loop.
Get the pressure down -- 2 psi is ample. 1.5 psi cutout is better, if your pressuretrol will go that low. 1 psi differential.
You do need vents on the ends of the main, but as a millwright you shouldn't have much trouble drilling and tapping (NPT) for them. They go on top of the main, about a foot before the end, and the nipple they go on should raise them about a foot above the main, if you have the headroom.
@ February 20, 2014 5:58 PM in taco zone relay constant hum soundall transformers hum. So do all other devices with windings (for the musically inclined, it's a B natural in the USA and Canada). Some are more audible than others -- even with supposedly identical devices.
Anti-vibration mounts as icesailor suggests can help. Other than that, if you are very sensitive to the hum the only solution is to keep changing out units until you find the quietest one. Which is NOT something I would do under warranty, as it is not a fault.