Joined on September 16, 2002
Last Post on March 10, 2014
@ February 16, 2014 12:35 PM in Steam Contractor in Albany, NYanyone closer -- but Charles is very good indeed.
@ February 16, 2014 12:34 PM in Steam pipe replacementwhich is leaking, examine it rather carefully and find out what caused the leak. If it is corrosion from outside, well and good. Check the rest of the pipe to make sure that there aren't other weak areas. On the other hand, if the corrosion is coming through from inside (which is rather rare, by the way), the chances of it being the only spot are somewhere between slim and none, and you would be well advised to replace the entire length which has the leak in it, rather than putting in a patch. The cost or labour is in the work, not in the material, and it only makes sense to do it once.
If there aren't handy unions, make sure that you use at least one to make things a lot easier to screw together!
@ February 16, 2014 12:29 PM in clanking soundscannot be properly controlled with the radiator inlet valves. They must be either fully open or fully closed; anything else will cause trouble and probably clanking.
If you can persuade your neighbour downstairs to put a thermostatically controlled vent (repeat: VENT) on the radiator in question, you will both be much happier.
@ February 14, 2014 5:12 PM in Pipe improperly pitched @ 1 radiator( in wall)Dresser couplings which are rated for steam. They aren't all that common... but they do exist. I'm not really keen on that sort of thing, but looking at the spaces you have to play with there one just might be the simplest way to solve the problem.
I'm sure your sister is aware of this, but Dresser and similar couplings can't take push or pull forces at all. So if you do go that route, you will want to securely hold the pipes in position.
@ February 14, 2014 4:33 PM in Pipe improperly pitched @ 1 radiator( in wall)Raise the radiator. If I couldn't do that for some reason, I'd see if I could shorten what I presume is another vertical piece from badly pitched horizontal up to the radiator valve. That would be a lot easier than shortening the riser from the basement.
@ February 14, 2014 4:29 PM in Pourous copper tubing (?)No. Pinhole leaks, usually due to low pH water, yes; in fact, not all that uncommon if the pH is below say 5.5 or so. But porous? No.
@ February 13, 2014 6:56 PM in low water level?is too low -- but this may not be a real problem (although it could have been solved). There are two purposes to a header. One is to take the steam from the boiler risers and distribute it to the steam mains and, at the end, connect to the equalizer. The other is to ensure that the steam going to the mains is "dry" -- that is to say, that it doesn't contain droplets of water.
The droplets of water are there because they are carried up from the boiler through the risers. If the risers are big enough and tall enough -- that's your 24 inches -- most of them, if not all of them will drop out of the steam rushing up the riser and just fall back into the boiler. If the risers are too small or too short, they will be carried along to the header. Now if the header is big enough, the steam will slow down inside it, and the water droplets will fall out, flow along the bottom of the header, and get back to the boiler through the equalizer.
Yours may well be big enough to do that.
How do you tell? If you are getting "wet" steam -- with droplets of water -- you will also be very liable to getting water hammer in the mains, even if the pipes are all pitched properly.
Would it be better if the riser were higher? Probably. Even better would have been to go up and over and down again with the risers, and using a drop header.
Is it working for you? If so, I'd leave it.
There are a couple of other points here. First, having your boiler water level lower, but still within the sight glass, helps a lot in mitigating the potential problem of the low header, since the dimension in question is from the water level in the boiler to the header.
The second point was probably quite unintentional -- but fortunate. Your old Kenawee sits in a pit, and may have had a slightly lower working water line than your new boiler. Putting the new boiler in at a higher elevation pretty well guarantees that any wet returns in your system stayed wet. A dismayingly common failing in new boiler installations is lowering the water line and letting what were wet returns become dry -- at which point all sorts of miscellaneous and puzzling problems occur.
There is one other possible problem with the low header. If the dry returns -- if you have any -- are also low, there is a chance that pressure in the boiler could hold up drainage from the dry returns enough to allow water to stand in them, rather than draining out as it should. However, if you keep the pressure nice and low, this shouldn't be a problem.
@ February 13, 2014 11:13 AM in Kentucky Gas line explosionThat is to say, not completely. Pipeline operators all have a number of inspection and repair programs, particularly for main lines. Distribution lines and what might be called house laterals are much more difficult to inspect. What they are looking for is mostly corrosion damage, but they are also looking for mechanical damage -- dents and gouges. Corrosion is largely prevented by two mechanisms: the first is with pipeline wrapping, which helps insulate (electrically and chemically) from the surrounding soil. The second is by using an impose electrical field to prevent the chemical attack on the steel. Neither mechanism is perfect, and they are monitored. The pipe is also checked for wall thickness and cracks at regular intervals -- but none of the checks are really perfect, either. Sometimes the problems which arise might be described as wear and tear, but more insidious and dangerous problems arise from damage, sometimes during construction but more often after the fact.. The damage may be physical damage to the pipe itself -- dents and scrapes -- or not as obvious, such as damage to the coatings. The former is almost always (not always) from equipment such as a backhoe hitting the pipe; the latter may be caused by something as minor as a shovel. Rarely -- but it does happen -- the pipe itself may be defective in the original construction -- usually a problem with a weld.
You might be interested in reading some of the reports by the NTSB (http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/reports_pipeline.html) or the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/pipeline/index.asp) to see what some of the problems are.
@ February 13, 2014 9:56 AM in low water level?So long as the low water cutoff isn't giving you fits. Some boilers are set up to run higher (the one in the museum I care for runs about 3/4 of the way up the glass) and some are set up to run lower. If you have an automatic water feeder, it will pretty well govern how low you can go. If you are feeding manually, you can be as fussy as you like! Only suggestion I'd have is if you are feeding manually, don't do it until the system has been off for a while -- 15 minutes at the very least -- to let all the return water that is going to return return.
@ February 12, 2014 7:05 PM in using lots of oil quickly!I go through about 200 gallons a week in this weather.
It's cold out. If it's cold out, you need to burn more oil to stay warm. That's most likely your problem.
@ February 12, 2014 7:02 PM in Garage heater sizingwhich rely only on the volume of the space and the desired rise make a number of assumptions as to the construction of the space which they don't bother to mention. And which your building doesn't come close to meeting.
The methods which take into account wall construction and area are considerably more accurate; therefore the second estimate is more likely to be correct.
But for such a use, I'd very much agree with MikeG as to how to heat the place. Spot heaters, and used only when you need them. The only downside to spot heating -- no matter whether it's LP or electric -- is the need to be very careful about fire, particularly if you are working on vehicles. A heater is an ignition source; treat it accordingly.
@ February 11, 2014 8:34 PM in Continuing water hammer issuesa very good start.
However, if the radiator starts to gurgle and bang part way through a cycle, but more towards the beginning, that tells you right away that what is happening is that steam is condensing in the main -- no surprise there, and that's OK -- but that the condensate can't drain properly back to the boiler. So it gets pushed along banging and clanging, and gets into the radiator and squoosh out the vent.
Figure out why the condensate can't get back to the boiler properly. Something, somewhere isn't pitched right.
As to contractors in the Worcester MA area, you could probably persuade Charles Garrity to come that far without much trouble. He's one of the best. He's under "Find a Contractor" listed in Lee, MA
@ February 10, 2014 8:58 AM in Is this my main vent?not mine -- he's a lot better at this stuff than I could ever hope to be!
@ February 9, 2014 8:11 PM in Is this my main vent?taking that Gorton #2 as an example.
There is, already, a bushing showing in the picture. Probably reduces the thread on the T down to half inch, from the look of it. So you need a half inch diameter (pipe size -- the actual diameter is bigger) six inch long nipple which will thread into that bushing after you take the old vent out. Then at the top of that, a half inch coupling (inside -- female -- thread at both ends). That screws onto the top of the nipple, and the Gorton should screw right into the other end of it.
As I said, don't forget the dope or tape...
@ February 9, 2014 7:08 PM in AHA, I think ???is happily boiling away and the pressuretrol isn't tripping, then that just indicates that you have enough boiler for your system but no more. Nothing wrong with that -- in fact, that is pretty much what we all shoot for.
And, very honestly, I wouldn't spend the money on a vapourstat in your situation. In a vapour steam system where some of the bits and pieces simply don't work properly on pressures over a few ounces (nothing over 10 on the place I supervise, for instance) one needs a vapourstat to keep the boiler from getting too enthusiastic. But on one pipe steam, no. Everything still works up to pound and a half or so without any trouble, so you don't need it for that -- and in your case, it appears that the sizes are well enough matched that you don't need to worry about it.
Which is kind of the long 'way around to answer your questions -- first, it is likely that your system never gets up enough pressure to make it worthwhile and, second, that until the thermostat says the you are warm enough in the building, you want the radiation to be putting out all it can, and therefore you need the boiler to keep going to keep steam in the radiation.
@ February 9, 2014 6:59 PM in Is this my main vent?I was referring to the pipe diameter of the mains themselves -- but you have at least given the length, and assuming that they are normal sized pipes a Gorton #1 will do just fine on the shorter -- 5' -- main. I'd use a #2 on the longer one.
You may find that the threads on the vents are a different size from the existing threads on the mains, though. And, given that the vent (at least in your picture) are right at the ends of the mains, you will do well to add a short length of pipe -- called a nipple -- of at least 6 inches to space them up from the main -- if you have the headroom to do that. It will help protect them from water hammer, if you ever got any. You can get nipples of the right size at any good plumbing store -- and for that matter many big box stores have them as well. You can also get bushings there to change the thread size to what you need.
Be sure to use pipe dope or teflon tape on the threads to seal them!
@ February 9, 2014 5:36 PM in Is this my main vent?but that one has been there for a while! Main vents are sized on the basis of the amount of air they need to eliminate -- the length of the main and it's diameter. That said, it's almost impossible to over vent a steam main. Myself I'd be inclined to go with the Gorton #2. It's more expensive, but it vents a lot faster.
However, if you give the diameter and length of the main, we might be able to say that yes the #1 will work just fine.
@ February 9, 2014 2:44 PM in Slope for one pipe systemat least two problems from your post. First, all steam systems need to have slope on both the mains and the dry returns. The best way to determine how much is to get a copy of Dan's The Lost Art of Steam Heating (available from the shop tab) and read up on the systems. Then figure the load on each pipe, and find the correct slope -- the tables in there are comprehensive and quite simple to use. You can also figure out whether your mains are counter flow or parallel flow -- the required slopes and sizes are different.
One major thing to keep in mind when looking at pipe slope is the the water must be able to flow freely back to the boiler, one way or another -- no low spots or flat spots or sags anywhere.
The other problem is the copper piping around the new boiler.. First off, never use copper pipe for steam -- particularly around the boiler (it's OK for wet returns).. The expansion stress in the copper is a lot higher than iron, and it doesn't give the way iron does -- so something else has to; all too often, the boiler. Second, if the installers used copper pipe the odds are very good that they also didn't do the layout of the piping properly. This could be giving you wet steam, which can easily cause water hammer (and other problems) even when things are sloped properly.
If you posted a few pictures of your boiler, showing all that new piping, we could comment further on it.
@ February 8, 2014 3:53 PM in AHA, I think ???Your system almost certainly is operating on ounces. They do, until all the radiation is completely full of steam and condensing as fast as it can. Then -- and only then -- will the pressure start to rise as the boiler puts out more steam than the radiation can condense. At which point the pressuretrol -- and yours is fine for a one pipe system -- will cut off the burner until the radiation can catch up.
Would a vapourstat -- which is calibrated in ounces -- improve things over a presssuretrol in pounds? Not much, for a one pipe system, and they aren't cheap. Would a three pound gauge show the very low operating pressure? Probably... but that's more a matter of satisfying your curiousity than anything else!
@ February 8, 2014 9:59 AM in Idea's as to getting steam horizontally to farthest radiators at other end of house on first floor?is on this one, he's the chap I'd listen to! He's one of the best in the business, and if he's seen it...
@ February 8, 2014 9:58 AM in No Pressure and Water LossWell, for starters, look for the leak... or leaks. Probably not the vents. Do you see steam coming out your chimney? Check all the wet returns for leaks as well...