Security Seal Facebook Twitter GooglePlus Pinterest Newsletter Sign-up
The Wall
Jamie Hall

Jamie Hall

Joined on September 16, 2002

Last Post on July 31, 2014

Contact User

Recent Posts

« 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ... 148 »

And may I add

@ May 9, 2014 9:27 PM in Hartford Loop

that if this is a new there is a potential for a much more serious problem: if the water level in the new boiler really was lowered, you have a good chance of some problems out elsewhere in the system.  The water levels should have been matched within an inch, and this doesn't sound like it..  If this is the case, I do assure you that this may cause problems in normal operation!

Solution?  Don't lower the Hartford!  Raise the boiler!  It's a pain, I know, but that's much the better way to do it.

It's a lot more complicated

@ May 9, 2014 7:29 PM in R Value Of Soils-Underground House Roof

than it looks!  The problem is that the temperature which you have on the "other" side of the wall and insulation is not the design temperature, but rather a mix of the design temperature and the structure temperature -- and conventional ways of predicting the heat loss simply don't work, as the soil itself has a tremendous capacity to absorb or release heat, depending of course on whether the interior is warmer or colder (almost always warmer, actually).

Soil itself, particularly if it is wet (which it usually is) has a rather poor insulating capability -- not all that different from water.  But, since it can't convect or radiate, all the heat transfer is by conduction -- unlike a conventional wall, where the heat transfer on the outside side (inside, too, for that matter) is mostly convection.

Anything much over a few feet from either the surface or the building  the soil temperature will be very close to the annual mean temperature, year 'round.

Have fun!

Do make sure

@ May 7, 2014 8:48 PM in Heat Loss discrepancy

that you have entered everything right -- particularly window type and quality and insulation.

Either figure could make sense.

Joe V

@ May 7, 2014 2:03 PM in Vapor system questions

seems to have hit the high points.

Vapour systems do, however, benefit from intelligent contemplation, and a somewhat leisurely approach.

First off, you can indeed switch to a modern gas fired boiler as your heat source.  No problem at all.  Furthermore, piping it with a drop header is a very good idea indeed.  Main things with making that replacement are first, to install that new boiler so that the new water line is within an inch or two of the old water line.  You may find that you need to raise it on blocks to do that, but it really is important.  All sorts of very odd things can happen out in the system if you don't!  Second is to follow the manufacturer's instructions as to number of risers and sizes of risers and the rest of the near boiler piping -- but to take them as minimums.

Then... install a vapourstat to control the system.  Costs a little more, but it's worth it -- particularly with the type of outlet controls (ball and elbow) which you have on some of the radiators.  They simply don't work right at much over 12 ounces pressure.

Venting can be a bit odd on vapour systems, and it is rather important to do it right.  Many (not all!) vapour systems depend on crossover traps at the ends of the steam mains.  These are thermostatic traps, just like a radiator trap, but installed above the steam main and dry return (you go up and over 90 into the inlet of the trap, then down from the outlet of the trap to the dry return).  These work splendidly well, assuming they are working at all -- and it's well worth checking them.  If that is your setup, there will be main venting on the dry return(s) right near the boiler (there will be anyway) but no main vents on the steam mains -- the crossover traps do the job.  The main venting must be good sized; it's venting everything.

Check all your radiator traps and radiator control outlet elements.  Some may need replacement.  Water and air should get by -- but steam never should.  You can replace the ball and elbow units if you need to, but you may not need to.

Boiler size as Joe noted is important.  Size it based on the total EDR of the connected radiation, not on building heat loss or anything else.

Pipe insulation is also important -- insulate everything you can.

And follow up with more questions or thoughts as you get into the project!

Wise man...

@ May 4, 2014 7:52 PM in Wiring size controversy

There is a time and place for everything -- but wiring 90 amp circuits really is a job for a pro!

90 amps?

@ May 4, 2014 4:42 PM in Wiring size controversy

My friend,, you are no longer playing with marbles.

First, double check the nameplate amperage draw.  Then check to see if there are, in fact, any built in breakers on the unit.  Assuming that it all adds up to 90 amps...

Now.  You will need a separate, fused or breakered disconnect on you main switchboard to handle this thing.  It will have three poles on the breaker, or three fuses.  If it has fuses, it will also have a disconnect switch (three poles).  You  may be able to find a 90 amp disconnect, but I'm going to bet you're going to find a 100 amp unit.  That will work -- if there is a breaker in the unit itself.  If not, and it says 90 amps, it means 90 amps, and you'll have to find that.

The wires from the unit to the disconnect will be No. 2 copper.

If there is a separate neutral terminal on the unit -- there may well be -- it will need a separate No. 2 wire in addition to the three phase wires.  This will go to the disconnect, but does NOT, repeat NOT, have a switch, fuse, or breaker on it of any kind.

Did the water

@ May 3, 2014 7:33 PM in Pilot lit but burners not igniting

get high enough to get into any of the electrics -- including any valves?  If so, you need to have a competent tech. come and replace -- not dry out, replace -- anything and everything in the valves and controls that got damp -- just damp even, not even under water.  No options.

At least that's my take...

Can you manage

@ May 2, 2014 7:40 PM in Plugging steam radiator air vent - apartment way too hot

to rotate the vent half a turn so that it points down instead of up?  That will usually shut the thing off...

Course you don't want to break it...

me too

@ May 1, 2014 9:44 PM in W-M SGO-3 to gas conversion

I want one...

To get back

@ April 30, 2014 4:54 PM in Replacing Oversized Rad with smaller - piping question

to the original question -- the only thing you have to worry about at all with regard to the piping is to make sure that the pipe is big enough and that it slopes enough.  A bigger pipe doesn't have to slope quite so steeply, so there might be something to be said with staying with a bigger pipe -- but there are a lot of possibilities there.  Anyway, there's no problem with a bigger pipe than is needed (well, within reason!).  Just make sure of the pitch...


@ April 29, 2014 8:33 PM in changing chimney vent to thru wall vent

removing a chimney has never been something which I would recommend.  Being a rather solid and substantial piece of the house.  However...

There may be a way to configure the EG series for power wall venting.  It is not, however, found in the EG series installation manual, so it is likely something which Weil-McClain would be at the very least unhappy with.

To which I might add that the water heater needs to vent someplace, too...

Huffing and puffing

@ April 29, 2014 4:49 PM in new radiator vents are puffing

and the big bad wolf... and sloshing... and banging... to me points to water being trapped in a main somewhere, most likely on the way to these two radiators (but not necessarily; steam can be strange that way!).

Check the pitch on every single more or less horizontal piece of pipe -- not just end to end, but all along the pipe.  Sags are bad news... but usually fixable without too much hassle.  Just plain bad pitch may be a bit more of a hassle, but also is usually fixable.

It would be very wise

@ April 29, 2014 8:56 AM in Vaporstat meltdown

to find the root cause of this problem.  A vapourstat -- or pressuretrol -- is very very simply a microswitch with two wires attached to it.  There is no way that the vapourstat itself can "short" the electrical system of anything else.  It can fail closed (always on) or fail open (never on).

There's a wiring problem here.  If by shorting the electrical system of a gas gun or LWCO you mean that they somehow got zapped with 120 when they should have been seeing 24, for example, that's not the microswitch -- that's in the wiring.

The wiring could also short to ground somewhere -- but that really shouldn't damage anything else.  Blow a fuse, maybe...


@ April 27, 2014 9:41 PM in Boiler flow

throttling is certainly one way of increasing your delta T.  Not the best way, perhaps -- a different pump might be better -- but it will work.


Don't use a gate valve for throttling!  They are meant to be either open or closed, and operating partly closed doesn't do them any favours.  You could use a globe valve instead -- although the head loss might be too high -- or a plug or ball valve.


@ April 27, 2014 2:48 PM in Sizing ancient boilers

that should give you the gross input of the boilers -- only I'd let them run for five or ten minutes, rather than one, to reduce the error in clocking the meter.  But that's just me.

You may be able to get an approximation as to their efficiency by the usual measuring the stack gas approach (and might as well check the adjustment while you're at it!), which will help getting at least in the ballpark on net output.


@ April 25, 2014 7:38 PM in Need advice/ help for new heating system

is actually Frank Wilsey, and he runs a company called "All Steamed Up", in Baltimore.  For some reason or other he isn't in the Find a Contractor section.  However, you can contact him through the Wall's e-mail forwarding service.  The easiest way to do that is to look for a thread in the "strictly steam" section which has a post by him (the thread "is my steam boiler way oversized" has at least one post by him) and click on his name which will bring up a handy dandy "contact user" button.

I love the story!

@ April 24, 2014 9:01 AM in mold and dizziness

These folks with their free inspections drive me nuts -- or I drive them nuts.  Every once in a while I tell one who seems to be a particular sucker to come by the ark of a place I care for and tell me how to upgrade it... it's always good for a laugh.

Plants, however, can surely be a problem -- they put a lot of moisture in the air, and can themselves harbour an interesting array of molds and fungi and what not.  Not to mention that there are some of them with rather powerful perfumes (stinks?) some of which I dislike intensely...

Mold can causer

@ April 24, 2014 7:46 AM in mold and dizziness

a lot of problems, for sure -- take a look at

for a list.  Dizziness, however, is not usually regarded as one of them -- although in the case of a severe sinus involvement, it could be (but you'd know about the sinus involvement for sure!).

However, I'm no doctor and don't even pretend to be -- your friend would be well advised to consult on the dizziness issue with an ear/nose/throat specialist or neurologist.  It could be harmless.  It could also be anything but...

Hoffman loop?

@ April 23, 2014 3:45 PM in Hoffman Loop Incorrect?

I honestly don't see a Hoffman [Differential] loop in the pictures... I do see a Hartford loop which is slightly idiosyncratic, but not in itself that bad...  although the horizontal bit of header could be a good bit higher without hurting anything.

There's no free lunch...

@ April 19, 2014 10:18 AM in Can Air Source Heat Pump Sit under the house?

Your basement stays at 55 or thereabouts mostly because that is the mean annual temperature; granted, the chimney base helps.

Now... if you install an air source heat pump in the basement, keep in mind that what a heat pump does is pump heat from one place to another (hence the name...).  In this case from your basement to the rest of the house.  This means that while you are heating the rest of the house, the basement will get colder.

I'm not saying that it's not feasible -- but I am suggesting that you might find that pretty early in the winter you got the basement down to freezing, which might not be all that desirable.

You'd be better thinking about a ground source heat pump, if you have the land and the proper soil conditions.


@ April 18, 2014 9:16 PM in Steam check valve hammering

Got to admit I'd have to call someone considerably brighter than I am on this one... sorry!  Where in New England are you?  Maybe one of the guys under Find a Contractor in your state?

And yes,

@ April 18, 2014 5:42 PM in Three flashes, then okay again.

if the problem causing the error code is intermittent, and clears, then you may be able to reset and run without the code.  Until the problem reoccurs...

You really do want to find out why it occurred and get that fixed. 
« 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ... 148 »