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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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Recent Posts

heating the basement

@ February 5, 2011 12:08 AM in Basement Heating?

how cold is your basement without heating?--nbc

15,000 sq/ft upgrade

@ February 3, 2011 8:01 PM in Steam Control

i think you are right to keep the steam, and i am sure that i speak for all here when i say thank you for your complimentary remarks; however it is the cumulative years of experience, and enthusiasm which really solves problems, and answers questions here.
certainly, you must measure your edr, before selecting the replacement boiler. as you noted, there will be quite a difference between the capacity of a steam boiler, and the heat lost by the structure; however, if you measured the therms of gas burnt during heating, those figures would be closer.
the secret to effective, and comfortable steam heating with radiators is good main venting, at low pressure-a few ounces or so, attainable only with a vaporstat, monitored by a 0-15 ounce gauge.
is this building one floor or several? i would try to do without any sort of condensate pump or the like as it introduces the element of mechanical frailty into the system. my own 1,050,000 btu , 55 rad system on 3 floors is all gravity, and i can run it on a ups if the power goes down. most modern sectional boilers are designed to have enough water to fill the system with steam, without running dry, as long as there is no restriction in the return piping.
as far as control systems go, there is probably some steam boiler control from tekmar, which is internet-capable, but why bother? --nbc

boiler control

@ February 3, 2011 5:15 PM in Getting my cycles correct

i am using a honeywell visionpro thermostat, with a remote sensor in the coldest apartment bedroom. the main unit is in my area, so i have exclusive control, over my 55 radiators.
if you have been reading posts here for a while, you will know that there is general agreement that night setback is not economical, as the boiler burns so much fuel to recover, although this model does have that feature. look at the specs on honeywells website, or on pex supply, and see if it's right for you.--nbc

1-pipe problems

@ February 3, 2011 11:50 AM in Short Cycle Problem

if you have a 15 ounce gauge, you can see from the back-pressure during main-venting whether the total main-venting is adequate or not. aim for 2 ounces at a minimum. the low back-pressure enables the mains to fill first, and then the risers will all fill evenly, although with perhaps with a higher back-pressure because of their smaller vents.--nbc

leak detection

@ February 3, 2011 11:42 AM in Hole in the boiler

can you see excessive steam coming out of your chimney?
the other method of detecting a leak is to over-fill the boiler, well above the top and watch for signs of a leak over a period of a few hours.
even that 0-15 psi gauge is not very sensitive at seeing the low pressures needed for steam. i suggest, a 0-3 psi, from the gaugestore .com.--nbc 

band-aid for leaking pipe?

@ February 3, 2011 10:42 AM in Is there a wrap that works for leaking steam elbow?

get out your sawsall, and pipe wrench as probably, it is best to fix it right once and for all.
what is the maximum pressure this system gets up to? if the pressuretrol is running wild, some joints will leak, so turning down the pressure to 1.5 psi max might reduce the problem. for other joints of the same age. you will not be able to see much with the standard 0-30 psi gauge, so get a 0-3 psi from, and you will know what the exact pressure is, and be able to protect the other old joints in the system!
how much make-up water has been being added to this boiler? too much will kill the boiler with the excessive oxygen of the fresh water.--nbc

low pressure gauge

@ February 1, 2011 8:31 PM in uneven heating

 it is wika, but make sure it is 0-15 ounce, not inches of water.--nbc

source for vaporstats

@ February 1, 2011 12:47 PM in found two vaporstats which to buy?

try patriot supply, and go for the L408J1009 --nbc

used vaporstats

@ February 1, 2011 11:02 AM in found two vaporstats which to buy?

if they are not "new in the box" from a real supply company, then i would buy at least two so you will be more likely to have at least one which sort of works. have a look at pex supply for new.--nbc

temperature tell-tale

@ February 1, 2011 8:34 AM in G O R T O N # 2

maybe the gorton could have a transparent back with some sort of visible pointer, then one could see when the vent had closed.--nbc

main vent selection

@ February 1, 2011 8:31 AM in uneven heating

for a start, i would put the maid o mists on the shortest run and a couple of gorton # 2's on the longest run. a good low pressure gauge [ ounce] would show you the back-pressure during venting which should be 2 ounces at most. after you have made the venting changes, you may still need more on the shorter run, because i don't think the maid o mists are very capacious. remember, you can never have too much main venting. ironically, steam travels quickest at low pressures in the post venting stage, so the gauge would show you the steaming pressure as well.
when you are sure that the horizontal mains are venting as quickly as possible, then you could change the radiator vents to something slower like the hoffmans, reserving any larger ones for top floor radiators.--nbc

same old story

@ February 1, 2011 12:25 AM in uneven heating

well it's the same old problem, and the same old solution.
have you looked for any main vents in your system? until you get them working, you will be paying lots of money to your fuel company to force the air out of your system. in addition, the occupants of the building will have plenty of complaints about uneven heat!
get those main vents back in operation. you may need to change the radiator vents  to slower types when you have got the mains functional.--nbc

good job!

@ January 31, 2011 12:26 PM in The Plan so far..

some more thoughts on main venting: if the top of riser vents were the main source of venting, then i think there would be a difference in the speed of steam arriving into various risers because of the difference in distance from the boiler. i think you are on the right path with the filling the mains first, then the risers can all fill starting at the same time, providing more even heat. this would be exaggerated if the distances between each riser were greater.
if you have a 0-15 ounce gauge, you can see the back-pressure as the venting progresses. an assistant could tell you when the risers have started to fill, and during that time the back-pressure will help you determine whether the riser vents are large enough. the back-pressure should probably be very low for the main vents, and slightly higher for the riser venting.--nbc

thermostat under long distance controll

@ January 31, 2011 12:11 PM in Internet Controlled Tstat for Steam heat

it is important that any thermostat chosen be "steam adaptable". most people here like the honeywell visionpro, which although not internet capable can be set to use a password, i believe. it can also use a remote sensor, with the main unit under lock and key.
i presume that you want to cut down on the occupants fiddling with the settings. if the system is well maintained, then the lowest cost of operation is had by maintaining a constant temperature. the remote sensor could be in the coldest room, with the control in a basement locked room, with the temperature set to maybe 66 degrees.
you could also search the tekmar site, and see if there is anything there, which is internet, and steam capable.--nbc

vent selection

@ January 31, 2011 11:26 AM in No Main Venting

the most popular main vent is the gorton #2. i don't know whether your main splits before it returns as the dry return near the boiler, but if so, you would need 1 vent for each.
the gorton website has good diagrams. if you show us pictures of the vent location, we can give better advice, for him.--nbc

internet control

@ January 31, 2011 11:06 AM in Internet Controlled Tstat for Steam heat

what would be the purpose of this remote control? is this a house with only occcasional use [week-ends]? setbacks do not usually result in a savings in fuel cost, unless for several days.--nbc

are main vents needed

@ January 31, 2011 11:03 AM in No Main Venting

yes!!! there is no good reason to pay your fuel company to squeeze the air out of the little radiator vents.
the place to start is looking for where they would have been installed originally. depending on how they were removed, they would be from easy to reinstall to difficult for professionals only. take some pictures of their original location, and we can better advise
another thing which can be done by the homeowner is supply pipe insulation. are yours insulated?.--nbc

modified 2-pipe system

@ January 30, 2011 11:52 PM in Pressure in 14 story steam system

if you have any venting problems with such a drastically modified system, you should seek steam-professional help. remember that the air must leave the pipes before the steam can arrive.
if none is available, can you post a diagram of the new piping layout?--nbc

beauty is in the eye of the beholder

@ January 29, 2011 9:04 PM in Gorton # 2 question (do they need to be straight upright)?

if those gortons are on a bit of a riser on your antler, then would a shorter nipple lower the height?
sometimes height can be gained by using a street-ell instead of a tee on a nipple.
the problem with putting the gortons on display from above through the floor would be supporting the viewing glass, so best to make them a little shorter. they are handsome however!--nbc

acorn finally found

@ January 29, 2011 8:52 PM in my experience trying to remove a rusty elbow

i hope no animals were harmed in making your pictures!
good ideas on the removal. maybe by now you can feel the difference in your system with improved venting.--nbc

soft water=death to cast iron boilers!

@ January 29, 2011 8:42 PM in boiler skiming

at least it's a good possibility. what pump are you referring to? something, or some bad procedure has been responsible for the short lives of the previous boilers. is this a heating only situation? are there any unrepaired leaks? has the pressure been consistently over 2 psi?
as mark has said- his previous boiler was 75 years old! therefore your boiler should be capable of at least 50% of that lifespan.--nbc

new boiler-same old story

@ January 29, 2011 12:52 PM in new boiler water spittlng air vents

did the installers do a "skimming" on the boiler, or merely dump some mysterious white cure-all powder in it. do a search for "skimming" here, and that will be the first step of several needed.
the air vents were replaced several years ago, but are they still working, and adequate?
also check the installation manual for your boiler, and compare the as installed piping with that specified by the manufacturer.--nbc