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nicholas bonham-carter

nicholas bonham-carter

Joined on November 24, 2007

Last Post on April 16, 2014

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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

short cycling with new pressuretrol

@ February 12, 2011 10:28 AM in New pressuretrol same problems

is the short cycling taking place as the boiler is first starting to make steam, and push the air out? check your main venting, and increase it.
is the short-cycling happening when pressure is up? check the amount of radiation you have against the boiler capacity. if the boiler is too large, you may be able to down-fire a bit.
a good low pressure gauge would help diagnose this problem, [ 0-3 psi].--nbc

overhead feed

@ February 11, 2011 10:24 AM in One pipe steam problem, Ideas Guy's.

does that mean that the steam travels from the boiler straight to the top floor, and then begins feeding radiators from top to bottom? if so that route is twice as long as the conventional feed, and therefore needs even more main venting. for a start, i would put a gorton #2 along side those hoffmann 75's, if not several.
with not much air movement when you take off the vent on the lowest radiator, i would suspect a sag in some horizontal, trapping the condensate, and preventing the air from escaping. when firing, does the top radiator have air coming out when the vent is removed?  maybe if the trap guts are temporarily removed, you will see more pressure down in the return.
this would be an ideal use for an ir camera, to see where the steam gets held up. . if the pigtail is plugged, then the useless 0-30 gauge would only show a tiny bit of movement, while the traps and vents were rendered inoperative by over-pressure. that sort of system should get steam to all radiators with only a couple of ounces of pressure. it might be time for a good low-pressure gauge [ 0-3 psi].--nbc

dunham packless repair

@ February 10, 2011 8:09 PM in Dunham Packless Radiator Valve Repair

i found a crossection of the valve here:
if you can loosen the bonnet of the valve, you may be able to relubricate the inner workings, maybe using non-petroleum plumbers grease.--nbc

fun at MIT

@ February 10, 2011 1:20 PM in ran into this today,

well even "click and clack" the tappet bros have a degree from MIT, so perhaps you are next!
after all, you are the "clack" of!--nbc

infra red reflections

@ February 10, 2011 12:32 PM in ran into this today,

thanks for the observations. by the comment of increasing cost, i was referring to the prices of the different models, and what added features would be more useful as a result of the increase in price.
i should probably take the training course, before making my choice.--nbc

choice of ir camera

@ February 10, 2011 11:51 AM in ran into this today,

i wonder how satisfied everyone is who has bought an ir camera with the choice of model in that initial purchase.
in our real estate management activities, i can see that the possibility of detecting roof leaks, bad electrical connections, and solving heat loss problems, would justify the purchase of one. what is daunting is the different models available, at ever increasing prices, and the learning curve of being able to use one to its full potential.
so would all who have one, please recount experiences, and wishes for more features [a separate thread may be required].

thanks for the complement!

@ February 9, 2011 11:03 PM in ran into this today,

i have always wanted an i.r. camera. maybe if i had had some experience with one, i would be able to explain, after some study, whats going on here with brad white's emissions!--nbc

what sort of system is this

@ February 9, 2011 10:57 PM in Boiler question

no need to drain the system when the heating season is over. what sort of system do you have?--nbc

high pressure effects

@ February 9, 2011 10:54 PM in 3 flat owner with noisy vertical riser in interior wall from 1st to 2nd fl

the pressure of your system is more than twice the maximum. check the pigtail for obstruction.
get a good low pressure gauge, and look at it occasionally.--nbc

low pressure trophy!

@ February 9, 2011 6:58 PM in How low can you go?

go to the head of the class! your efforts at making your system function properly will reward you with greater comfort and economy.
i don't think there is a need to increase the number of cycles, or the anticipation on the thermostat, because the radiators will only heat up to steam temperature, and they are storing that heat to be radiated slowly into the room. when they have given off as much heat as they held, and the room temperature drops a degree, then back on goes the boiler to repeat the process of heating the rads. if the source of heat was 300 lbs. of iron heated by torch, then you would have to pay attention to cutting off the flame before the iron became red-hot.--nbc

Valve height

@ February 9, 2011 5:05 PM in Trying to remove radiator spud

those 45 deg elbows should be able to be aligned for good drainage, or you could try a 90 deg elbow, then a close nipple with full port ball valve, plus another close nipple and union, finally a short nipple into the radiator. This setup may have more height.
If you take the old valve with to the plumbing supply house, you will have a happy hour or seeing what fits!--nbc