Joined on September 16, 2002
Last Post on December 4, 2013
@ October 28, 2013 2:58 PM in Casting Sand in Radiatorof casting sand in there isn't going to hurt anything.
@ October 28, 2013 2:57 PM in What are these pipes?is set up as a parallel flow, one pipe system. What this means is that the steam and the condensate flow in the same direction in the steam mains. The green pipes collect the condensate at the ends of the steam mains and return it to the boiler.
The steam mains should all be pitched away from the boiler, towards the green lines at the ends.
In a counterflow system, the condensate flows back to the boiler, opposite to the steam. This requires larger pipes.
I trust that there are main vents at the ends of the steam lines? If not, adding them will help you get more even heat, faster.
@ October 27, 2013 9:19 PM in a question on EDRthe same 240 BTU per square foot with water at 215 as you will with condensing steam -- also at 215. Trouble is, a pound of steam condensing releases 1,000 BTU. A drop in water temperature of 1 degree releases 1 BTU per pound. So... you will need an awful lot of water going through that radiator, in terms of pounds, to get the amount of heat out of it that you would get with 1 pound of steam. if you wanted to hold the whole radiator at 214 with water -- to get almost the heat you would out of steam you could tolerate only a 2 degree drop in water temperature (215 in, 213 out, 214 average) or 500 pounds of water to do what 1 pound of steam would do.
@ October 27, 2013 9:08 PM in Steam? Hot Water? Force Hot Air?that the boiler broke -- a rather broad term, by the way -- but it is more than likely that the rest of the system is just fine, or at most needs some tweaking to perform the way it ought to perform.
Stay with the steam. Replacing a boiler isn't that hard.
@ October 27, 2013 9:05 PM in Need help with water service noise / banging....and your further notes, you are also going to need an expansion tank on the service side of your check valve/PRV arrangement. This should be precharged, of course, to the street service pressure.
@ October 27, 2013 7:35 PM in Need help with water service noise / banging....Well, really just one. What appears to be happening is that the pressure reducing valve (which acts like kind of check on reverse flow) or the swing check you installed are closing and opening abruptly, creating the water hammer. It should stop if you are running no water at all; it should also stop if you run enough water to drop the pressure through the valves to below the pressure reducing valve setting,
If it's doing it all the time, you might want to check and be sure you have no leaks or drips in your inside plumbing,
This kind of thing can be very very difficult to cure, however. The first thing I would be inclined to look at is just how close the expansion tank is to the PRV. The closer it is -- preferably immediately after, with as close a connection as possible to the main -- the better it will be; if there is any significant amount of pipe between the two, this kind of thing can happen (it can also happen on deep well pumps). The second thing to check is to make sure that that expansion tank is big enough (it would be hard to have it too big!) and that it is in fact precharged to your PRV's set pressure.
You may have to do considerable fiddling to cure this.
A rather obvious question, though -- 78 psi street pressure isn't out of line. Why do you feel a need to reduce it at all?
The constant or near constant hammering is definitely not good, and you should try and fix it as soon as you can,
@ October 27, 2013 5:20 PM in Thermostatwhen you give no indication at all as to what your problem is.
@ October 26, 2013 8:37 PM in Improve a Moderately Screwed Up Richardson Vapor System?you would chime in! Thank you!
@ October 26, 2013 8:36 PM in Burnham pressuretrolhave two pressuretrols; not a bad idea at all. And usually one of them is manual reset. If I read your post correctly, it is the manual reset one which is shutting the boiler off -- and that shouldn't happen. The manual reset one is a safety device, in case something goes wrong with the regular pressuretrol.
We conclude, tentatively, that something is amiss with the regular pressuretrol, or its settings, or the manual reset one's settings (the fact that the system shuts off before the place gets warm is a different problem. Patience).
First, a quick check. The regular pressuretrol should be set so that the cutoff is no higher than 1.5 psi, with a 1 psi differential. Some pressuretrols are additive (the differential is added to the main to get the cutoff) and some subtractive; you'll have to figure out what you have). The manual reset pressuretrol should be set no higher than 5 psi.
Second, The pressuretrols are connected to the boiler with pigtails. It is quite possible that they are clogged. They should be removed (with the boiler off and cold!) and cleaned out and blown through to make sure they are open. Also check the openings into the boiler itself.
Unlikely, unless someone has been playing games, but check the wiring -- the pressuretrols should be in series with the low water cut outs, never in parallel with the LWCOs or each other.
Pressuretrols do fail, but rather rarely.
You say the system shuts down on the manual pressuretrol before it gets warm. Not good. This could mean very seriously inadequate main venting. It could be that the manual pressuretrol is mis-set. Need more info.
@ October 26, 2013 7:51 PM in Improve a Moderately Screwed Up Richardson Vapor System?one of the real experts on the Wall will reply! But, on the theory that fools rush in... a few comments.
On the radiators all heating up, but not completely. Do they all heat completely on a very long recovery? Or is this all the time? If the latter, it is quite possible that the valves are a little too closed on the ones that don't heat all the way. The objective of the exercise was to set those valves so that the radiator would heat enough -- but no more.
Related to that: does the lack of heat upstairs relate to radiators too small for the spaces? Or do they not heat completely? Or are all those radiators off one main, and the others off a different one?
The radiators with air vents suggest that the Richardson elbow vent hole may be clogged. And it doesn't look, from the pictures, as though there is an easy way to get at them. This is worthy of further exploration. On the other hand, do the radiators with the air vents all go into a return which is itself inadequately vented -- or not vented at all? If so, that's the place to start.
That is a water seal loop between main #2 and return #2. It also functions as a drip for condensate from main #2. Leave it be, but keep your pressure down.
It certainly wouldn't hurt to switch to a vapourstat.
It also wouldn't hurt to replace that old Hoffman with a couple of Gorton #2s.
That pipe up the chimney may very well be a vent. Perhaps originally, the vent. If what you are trying to do is get air out, and you have a way to keep steam from getting to the returns, why not? Simple, no moving parts... It probably isn't hurting anything to leave it as is, but if you were to cap it, you might want to add one or two more Gorton#2s to take up the slack!
As I said above, leave the water seal loop. However, in this setup it probably wouldn't hurt to add main vents at the ends of both steam mains (some vapour systems don't use them; it looks as though this one could benefit, though).
And I'm not sure those are Richardsons. Which is why I hope a genuine expert chimes in! But the only thing running the system at too high a pressure might have done is to blow the water seals -- but if the valves are set right, no steam will get there anyway.
Just some thoughts...
@ October 26, 2013 4:06 PM in current thermostatsvarious models, depending mostly on how fancy you want to get with your programming.
@ October 25, 2013 7:58 PM in OT basement sump pump or floor drain with inline check valve?for both options. A floor drain with a check valve doesn't need any power to operate (it will need a trap, properly vented, however). There are -- or used to be, anyway, floor drains with the check valve built in; I recall at least one type where the check was essentially a ball which usually dropped down but, if backwater occurred, floated up and sealed against a seat in the drain itself. Don't know if it's still available... been 40 years now since I did that much plumbing. On the other hand, almost any other type of check valve could clog and either need attention or fail to seal on reverse flow.
A sump pump, in the other hand, doesn't have that particular problem. However, it does need electricity to operate -- and flooding is more likely to occur in connexion with storms, which is when you are more likely to not have power. Also, the pump would have to be sized big enough to handle the maximum rate of flooding which you anticipate.
@ October 25, 2013 5:33 PM in Sizing New Radiatorsit is reasonably safe to go with what was there. It's also simplest...
To determine the heat load of a space isn't all that hard, though. You need to determine the total R factor of the various walls and ceilings and windows, their areas, and the temperature on the other side (an outside wall is easy -- that's the design temperature for your area. It's best to assume that an attic is also at design temperature, unless it is occupied. Other spaces... are trickier, as you need to factor in whether or not they are heated, and how well, etc.). Then the heat loss through that surface is simply the area of the surface, times the difference between the design indoor temperature and the temperature on the other side, divided by the total R. Then add them all up, and there you are. That's in BTU/hr. Radiators are measured in EDR, and the EDR of a radiator times 240 is also the BTU/hr.
As I say, it's sometimes easier to just go by what was there!
@ October 25, 2013 9:23 AM in Steam Heating Woes, new owner please helpare easier than others. Water hammer in a particular pipe? Water spitting out of the vent the pipe feeds? Newer copper installation? Guilty as charged. I don't have my copy of Lost Art handy -- maybe someone else does -- but that pipe will need to be reinstalled -- preferably in black iron -- from the leaking T to the radiator, and pitched so that the condensate can drain back easily to the main. Not that big a job, but it may not be one that a handyman might want to attempt (for instance, pipe may need to be threaded).
The vent that is spitting water is probably shot; they can take some abuse, but not that much -- but don't bother to do anything about it until you fix the pipe.
@ October 24, 2013 10:12 AM in How much of a temperature swing for Gas-Fired Boiler thermostat?here on the Wall regarding setbacks for steam heat, and you will see a variety of opinions if you research them.
It is hard to determine a consensus from them, but sort of a central range is that a setback of more than 3 to 5 degrees is not going to save you anything in terms of fuel usage; it may, in fact, cost you.
That said, a not uncommon arrangement is what Jeff suggested: drop the temperature at night about 4 degrees from the day or occupied setting. Then, in time for you to get up and enjoy a warm bathroom and breakfast nook, set the system to recover -- perhaps, though, since you are not there during the day, to something a little less than the evening temperature. Then in the evening, in time for you to come home, have it come up another degree or two to a comfortable evening setting. Then back down to the night setting.
Worth a try, anyway...
@ October 23, 2013 8:54 PM in Is existing boiler wrong?in most parts of the US -- particularly the northeast -- electric heat is no bargain, no matter what boiler is used...
@ October 23, 2013 6:18 PM in New Natural gas wood stove and steam heat.just shut off those radiators. With most single pipe vents, the most reliable way to shut them off it to literally turn them upside down -- just rotate them half a turn.
You will probably find that the boiler then cycles on pressure more than you would really like -- as it is now oversized by the amount of those three radiators -- but that won't hurt the boiler.
Make sure that that wireless thermostat is really compatible with steam heat -- that is, that it has the capability of being set to one cycle per hour or that the anticipator, if it is that sort, can be set properly. Also be aware that steam heat is not really happy with setbacks of much more than a a few degrees -- say three.
@ October 23, 2013 2:43 PM in Bosch Greenstar Combi 100 / Not sufficiently heating three zonesa rather obvious question: is it just the baseboards which seem cold, or it is not capable of heating the house and satisfying the thermostat? If it's the latter, it's time to start looking at some of the things NBC was mentioning. If it's the former, could it be that it is simply running a cooler temperature, but longer, for more efficiency? That would be controlled by the outdoor reset curve, if it has one...
@ October 21, 2013 7:03 PM in Help w 2 pipe systemif that really is an orifice system -- or, for that matter, any other flavour of vapour system, which it certainly appears to be...
The pressure is 'way too high. The very first thing you do is get yourself a vaporstat, and add it to the boiler, preferably on its own pigtail. Set it to a cutout of no more than 12 ounces, and a differential of 8 ounces to start with anyway. That alone may help a lot.
Those systems simply won't work right on any higher pressure at all, and a pressure as high as you have it set may explain a lot of the unevenness and the fact that some radiators don't heat at all.
Having done that, replace the two vents on the top of the dry return with Gorton #2s. That's not hard to do, either, and should help a lot more. You don't need any other vents, nor do you need an F&T.
Then you can set about fixing the near boiler piping, which is a catastrophe. It's a bit of a wonder that it heats properly at all...
@ October 21, 2013 5:06 PM in Installing new thermostatsthat those old thermostats are 120 or even 240 volt, and that each controls one section or area of baseboard directly.
You undoubtedly could get a wifi enabled thermostat or thermostats, and use them to drive relays to drive the baseboard sections. Be an interesting wiring job.
If you do get wifi enabled thermostats, be sure that your security on them is really tight. Not only is there the possibility of some enterprising soul adjusting your thermostats for you -- more to the point, if they have a readout of temperature available, the same enterprising soul is likely to add two (it's cold in there) and two (thermostats are set low) and come up with four (Nobody's Home!!!) and drive up with a U-Haul and clean you out.
@ October 20, 2013 9:48 PM in Crown vs Utica vs Weil-McLainAll three of those makes are excellent.
Virtually all of the bad reviews you will see -- not only of boilers, but almost any consumer-reviewed product -- are either installation problems (by far the most common) or stem from unrealistic expectations on the part of the consumer -- sometimes fed by unrealistic claims by the installer.
Bottom line: as has often been said here, if you are getting a new boiler installed (or an old one repaired!) you are really buying the installer, and his or her ability to do the job right. The best boiler in the world will misbehave if installed by a knucklehead, but some of the geniuses who write on this Wall can get pretty much any old teakettle to purr like a kitten. You get what you pay for.
@ October 20, 2013 9:44 PM in firing rate of he boiler?Vapourstats can be used on any steam system, but they are much more common on vapour systems which simply have to have low pressures to work properly. Pressuretrols can be used on most systems other than vapour, but they have to be set low -- pound and a half cutout -- which is right at the lower end of their range.
Overfiring can cause short cycling on steam, although any steam system with a single firing rate burner will begin to cycle on pressure at the end of a long (say half an hour) run, when all the radiation is full of steam. If you are so fortunate as to have a two stage burner, it will, as NBC says, be controlled by a vapourstat, to switch from high to low fire when pressure starts to build.
Short cycling much earlier in a cycle either suggests poor main venting -- the most common cause -- or a seriously over sized (or over fired) boiler.
The wrong thermostat setting (cycles per hour or anticipator) can also cause short cycle problems with steam.
Hot water systems are controlled by both a thermostat and an aquastat -- the thermostat tells the system that heat is needed (it does that for steam, too, of course!). The aquastat -- in more efficient systems, in conjunction with an outdoor reset -- tells the boiler that the circulating water isn't hot enough, and turns on the boiler. There is a fairly large "dead band" -- the difference between boiler on temperature and boiler off temperature -- in most hot water systems, and it is the width of that dead band combined with the heat demand of the system which will determine cycle length. If you have the outdoor reset set properly, if available, and the aquastat set properly, the cycles should be reasonably long, but the system will always cycle except when it is delivering the maximum design heat -- which is going to be pretty rarely (you hope).
In answer to what actually controls firing rate, rather than cycle time -- in most residential situations it is fixed at installation. Average heat delivery is controlled by the cycling, and therefore by whatever devices are controlling the cycling.
Clear as mud?