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nicholas bonham-carter

nicholas bonham-carter

Joined on November 24, 2007

Last Post on April 23, 2014

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Recent Posts

new boiler-cold rad

@ February 23, 2011 12:28 PM in One Cold Radiator

why not post some pictures of your boiler supply piping. if not piped correctly, large amounts of water can be pushed up into the supplies, interfering with main venting, resulting in unbalanced steam distribution. the fact that you have copper supplies leads me to believe that the piping is wrong, and not to factory requirements.
is the capacity of the boiler large enough for the radiation, [not the heat-loss]?
what sort of main vent is currently on the main, or dry return?
is the same thermostat still controlling the system as the original?
if you turn off the boiler, and remove the cold radiator air vent, what would happen [have someone ready to flip the boiler switch off when you do this test!]--nbc

this has been on my mind too!

@ February 23, 2011 11:25 AM in Why do we use outside temperature to trigger boiler instead of inside temp?

tekmar have an excellent tech support, and perhaps they can answer this best. i think the initial contact has to be by internet, and then they call you back.
ask them what the difference would be between using one of their thermostats with averaging remote indoor sensors located in the north west/windy corner room, and a 279 steam control with also averaging sensors, plus the outdoor sensor.
i spoke to daniel at 250-545-7749 [] maybe try that first.
let us know what you find out!--nbc

we've all done that

@ February 23, 2011 11:04 AM in Accurate??

the only way to be absolutely sure of the post impact accuracy, is to get another; and put it on a tee so you can see whether the 2 readings coincide. assuming they do, you can mount the extra on the vent of an upstairs radiator. on my system, it's the only way i can tell it's running.--nbc

vacuum questions

@ February 22, 2011 7:37 PM in Vacuum systems

while you are waiting for a response from the sages of steam here, you could do a search here for "vacuum", and it will probably give you some links in the library, and other threads.
is this 1-pipe, or 2-pipe heating?
vacuum systems are a favorite topic, so you will probably get quite a bit of interest!--nbc

burmham rep

@ February 22, 2011 4:14 PM in Will skimming fix classic steam heating problems-new gas boiler?

call them and ask about the warranty on your boiler, mentioning that it is difficult for you to talk to your installer.  mention that the rep has already advised squick, but that a more permanent solution is needed.--nbc

you're right!

@ February 22, 2011 4:09 PM in Pressuretrol pigtail issue and upgrading Pressuretrols to Vaporstats

look at my setup, also on a peerless 211a [sadly no mod-u-pak yet].
you definitely need to mount those devices from the lower location, but piped up high. as you can see, i have dual pigtails in addition to the main "dropped instrumentation header", but they are not absolutely necessary, and could be straight pipes. notice that i have a shelf bracket to provide some extra support, and your setup will be longer, so definitely needed.
i think that you may be able to get by with only a single vaporstat to control the switching to low fire.--nbc

installing low pressure gauge

@ February 22, 2011 12:13 PM in Pressuretrol set low, pressure gauge reads high

i think the wika gauges we all like are ok for 5psi over their range, but you can ask when ordering. you could install a valve before the gauge, but do not put the valve in front of the pressuretrol. it is best to have the gauge, and pressuretrol on the same tee so you can see what's happening.--nbc

newish boiler losing water

@ February 21, 2011 7:54 PM in wet steam?

how often are you adding water? when you need to add water, is it at the cut-off point?have you looked at the piping you have to see if the diameters are correct with the manual? in the picture, it almost looks like the cabinet cut-out is much bigger than the diameter of the riser pipe. you may measure it with a flexible sewing tape, to get the circumference, and from that the diameter may be obtained.
if too much water is being drawn up into the supplies by improper piping, then of course, the water is not lost, only temporarily misplaced, and will eventually come back.
still the water must be going somewhere, so set up the thermostat, and have a look at your chimney for excessive steam, while it is firing. if you see any white vapor, then it is time to do an over-filling leak test.--nbc

thirsty boiler

@ February 20, 2011 9:18 PM in wet steam?

what sort of system is this, 1-pipe or 2-pipe? how old is the boiler? has the plumber done a leak test by flooding the boiler? can you see steam coming from your chimney? are any of the pipes buried underground, or running in a hidden spot where a leak might go unnoticed? do you occasionally have an over-full waterline?
as we have all been told, matter can be neither created nor destroyed, so the water must be going somewhere; it's just a matter of finding out where!--nbc

how to deal with bad installation

@ February 20, 2011 9:10 PM in Will skimming fix classic steam heating problems-new gas boiler?

call the local burnham rep, and see if he can assist with showing the plummer what is wrong. ask him if the warranty would be in effect with improper piping. a call to burnham will give the location/contact info of the burnham rep.
burnham goes to great lengths to show exactly how to pipe the supply and return piping just to avoid all these sorts of problems, and your man neglected to follow the instructions even remotely.
this boiler must be completely re-piped in iron pipe, before it will ever work properly. skimming will be required at the end of the re-pipe, along with flushing out the old squick.--nbc

snake oil cure

@ February 20, 2011 1:13 PM in Will skimming fix classic steam heating problems-new gas boiler?

in my opinion, neither squick, nor any chemical should ever be added to a boiler, without a need for correction of some water supply fault, such as too many chlorides in the municipal water supply.
i don't know what "everyone" says are the typical problems with steam, however you can be sure that when your house was built, and the new system fired up, it did not have these problems! was the thermostat changed at the same time, and if so, is it steam settable?
were the main [not radiator] vents checked, at the time of the installation.
follow rod's suggestion and post some pictures. check your pressure for it being over 2 psi for basic functionality, [8 ounces for economy and comfort]. see if you can find the installation manual for your boiler, and compare the piping requirements with what you have as far as diameters and layout.--nbc

keep the radiators

@ February 20, 2011 11:20 AM in CAST IRON BASEBOARD

the solution is to make the radiators all fill with steam at the same time, which is not happening now. most likely, there is a sagging pipe in the supply or return which is holding a pool of condensate, which resists the steam/air flow.
the air in the pipes needs to be allowed to escape, before the steam can arrive at the radiators. the baseboard would not be a cure for this slow steam. many times, this is caused by over-pressure. many old systems function best on 2 ounces of pressure, and if allowed to go higher, have balance problems, because the traps are unable to function under such high pressure.
rest assured that the radiators in your house all gave out adequate heat for each room, when first installed. the trick is to find out what has changed to make the system unbalanced. check your pressure with an accurate low-pressure gauge [ psi], and examine all pipes for correct pitch with a level.--nbc

hi-temp silicone

@ February 19, 2011 12:45 PM in HELP! Cracked hot water housing

is there a time for the silicone to cure before putting the final turn on the bolts holding the plate to the block?
i have seen sheets of rubber sold for making gaskets. that might be better as far as having an even thickbess.--nbc

radiator removal

@ February 17, 2011 11:03 AM in cracked steam boiler

we ran a 3 floor building 1-pipe system, without the top floor radiators for several years with no problems, other than over-sizing. in my opinion the boiler could not crack solely because radiators were removed.
it it certain that the boiler cracked [dry-firing, or adding cold water improperly while hot], or is there a hole from corrosion [too much makeup water]? if the makeup water feed is not piped into the return properly, there can be a problem. perhaps as well, if   all the water suddenly emptied out while steaming, there would be enough thermal shock to crack a section [no hartford loop?].--nbc

solar collector

@ February 17, 2011 8:17 AM in solar collector

has anyone else done anything like this?--nbc

antler or menorah

@ February 15, 2011 2:14 PM in more that one main vent

these are made up of "tees" and elbows, nipples etc, from the hardware store. maybe someone can add a good picture to this thread.--nbc
found one:

sight glass cleaning

@ February 15, 2011 2:12 PM in rust blocked automatic feeder?

the valves at the top and bottom must be closed for removal of the glass tube for cleaning. nuts at the top and bottom of the tube hold it in place. when these are unscrewed, the tube can be removed and scrubbed out with a small brush. be sure to reopen the valves when this is finished.
if there are other "neglected duties" with this boiler, then why not schedule a steam professional, who will show you how to do those tasks you can perform yourself. better tell him you will be a student, to weed out any chauvinists!
there are many women visitors here who can now do their own maintenance, but it does make it easier to be shown the procedures first, while maybe taking a video. 
for instance, has the low-water-cutoff been flushed regularly?--nbc

my dropped instrument header

@ February 15, 2011 12:35 PM in Dropped instrument header

here is mine. i tried snubbers on the uprights, under the pigtails; however removed them because i thought they were "snubbing" too much, causing a slow response.
the mass of water in the horizontal, plus the pigtails seems to even things out.
the unions will allow me to dismantle for cleaning pretty easily.--nbc

raising the floor

@ February 12, 2011 7:42 PM in installing new hardwood and raising the height on old cast iron radiators ??

maybe you can see now how much play there is in the riser, before you start. if there is no play then you could use the 2 45 deg street elbow method outlined in a recent thread. will this work take place after the end of the heating season?--nbc 

found it:


@ February 12, 2011 1:25 PM in Anyone Use the Honeywell Prestige Comfort Station T-stat?

are you sure that the remote contains the sensor in that thermostat? i would certainly like to see a wireless thermostat system which either used radio waves or electric wiring, like the old radio shack plug and talk intercoms.  
are those steam arrival times minutes and seconds, or hours and minutes. i wonder what the long delay is for riser i. the gortons and hoffmans you have are pretty light on a long main of 50 feet. i have 3 gorton 2's on each of a similar section of mine, 17 in all on 6 dry returns! my back-pressure during venting is 2 ounces on my gauge, so i do not have to pay the gas company to forcibly evict the air from my system. after i changed from 6 hoffmans, to that plus the 17 gortons, the gas company changed the meter because we were burning a third less gas! your mileage may vary, but if you could get steam into the mains at all the same time, that is less fuel burnt before heating starts.--nbc

pressuretrol problems

@ February 12, 2011 11:36 AM in New pressuretrol same problems

sometimes they are bad straight from the box, as was mine. luckily i got my good low pressure gauge, and could see something was wrong.
i would try a vaporstat and see if that doesn't keep the pressure down. when they had mercury switches, the pigtail which can bend with the heat could throw the settings off, but not the new micro-switch models. is the port on the boiler plugged, so that even with a new pigtail, it isn't able to see the pressure?--nbc

wireless control

@ February 12, 2011 11:29 AM in Anyone Use the Honeywell Prestige Comfort Station T-stat?

although, it seems like a plus to be able to control your system from your chair, the most comfortable steam heating systems should need no such constant resetting of temperature.
is there an area in your house which is cooler than the rest? why not investigate the cause of this imbalance, and rectify. what sort of thermostat is in your house now? is it configured for steam? set-backs often use as much fuel in recovering the higher temperature as was saved!
for the price of this thermostat you could buy several large main [not rad] vents, and a good low-pressure gauge to go with them. actually, you may be able to squeak in a vaporstat as well if you install it yourself!--nbc