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nicholas bonham-carter

nicholas bonham-carter

Joined on November 24, 2007

Last Post on September 1, 2014

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steam for the inn

@ March 11, 2011 7:38 PM in Steam vs. Hot Water vs. Heat Exchange in an Inn

only time for a short reply for the moment.
a changeover to hot water is not advised, as the pressure in the system will be much higher, and give rise to leaks. also the radiators may not be big enough to give off heat from water which is 170 deg, instead of 212 deg. you would have to change the radiators, and supply pipes to be safe.
1. as far as i can see from the photo, the supply pipes at the top are not piped as the burnham manual would require, which no doubt is pushing water up into the mains along with the steam. we'll find a picture of your model piped properly, and post it, if you tell us your model no.
2. your pressure seems much too high at 4 psi. that over-pressure may be the cause of the thermostatic vents on the rads not doing their best for comfort. and yet i don't know why the pressure is so high, as you have a vaporstat, which should be keeping the pressure well under 16 ounces. it must need cleaning. my system vents the air out by the time pressure is 2 ounces, and will only get up to the cut-out during very cold, plunging temperatures  i don't use set-backs].
can you take some pictures of your main vents which could be on the return piping coming back to the boiler. they are either tuna can shaped. or rocket-shaped.
now i believe that the vaporstat pigtail is mis-oriented by 90 deg. so that as the pigtail heats up it changes shape, and throws the vaporstat out of the horizontal, thus affecting its pressure range. maybe someone else will double check my diagnosis on that. what is your location?--nbc

steam at the inn, repair or replace

@ March 11, 2011 4:51 PM in Steam vs. Hot Water vs. Heat Exchange in an Inn

that boiler seems to be 1,200,000 btu, just a little bigger than mine, which supplies 55 radiators. i also began to think that our 1-pipe steam would never be comfortable. after a new boiler, this time with proper piping, and a number of changes, such as those we will suggest to you for your boiler; we are burning a third less gas than before. the additional benefit is the high level of comfort-no more freezing or roasting!
how old is your boiler?
can you post some pictures of the pipes coming out of the top of the boiler?
are you burning gas or oil?
when firing, can you tell us your pressure?
you will be amazed how nice steam heat can be when all the deferred maintenance has been performed, and you will save enough fuel money soon to buy those mitsubishi a/c's!
can you show us a closeup picture of the boxes in the last picture probably labled "pressuretrol", or "vaporstat"--nbc

best boiler

@ March 11, 2011 1:59 PM in what brand to buy?

first narrow your selection to those boilers distributed by a stocking distributor in your area, and next consult with your heating pro as to what make he is most knowledgeable with.
do a heat loss as well, and then select the percentage of efficiency you would like, bearing in mind that the higher efficiency boilers will need more maintenance than more conventional types. also, your situation with baseboards may or may not be ideal for a condensing boiler.--nbc

radiator hammering

@ March 10, 2011 12:58 PM in Hammering on boiler shutdown

what sort of vent do you have on this radiator?
are you sure it is water-hammer, and not the sound of expanding/contracting metal rubbing against a wood joist?
how do you know that your pressure is really following the settings of the pressuretrol?
is this riser closest to the boiler, off the main?--nbc 

follow this thread

@ March 10, 2011 12:03 AM in Can you resell or donate a used boiler?
perhaps the boiler could be downfired.
could it be resold to the installing plumber?
a donation of such a heavy item would be difficult.--nbc

duplicate deleted

@ March 9, 2011 11:59 PM in Can you resell or donate a used boiler?

making room in the basement

@ March 9, 2011 11:55 PM in Can steam heat piping be replaced?

can you post some pictures of the boiler, and from that we could tell if it is steam, or hot water.
there are some excellent mini-split heat-pumps-a/c's, and they do a very good job. they are not cheap, but will last a long time. have you asked a professional from the "find a contractor" button above. remember, that anyone you consult, especially if you have steam, must be a steam/hydronics professional. a mere hvac guy, or plummmmmer is not going to do the best job for you.--nbc

now that you have some vaporstats....

@ March 9, 2011 11:46 PM in Time Sensitive Question About Vaporstat mounting location

try to get those operating pressures down to the ounces range, and see what the difference is.--nbc

multiple pressuretrols

@ March 9, 2011 5:53 PM in Time Sensitive Question About Vaporstat mounting location

clammy, he has the mod-u-pac, i mentioned to you:  with 3 stages of firing:50%, 75%, and 100%--nbc

installing gorton main vents

@ March 9, 2011 12:01 PM in Boiler pipes venting - elevate or not

the base of the gortons are made of brass, so you will be ok with screwing into iron or copper.
i put mine on top of some brass ball valves, for later ease of cleaning. use some teflon tape on the threads to enable their later removal, and don't put too much torque on the body, only use the lower flats for tightening!--nbc

hot water vs steam

@ March 9, 2011 11:54 AM in Thoughts on steam systems opitions

i would certainly not advise anyone to change over without a complete re pipe, but as a cost comparison, it might make it easier for the home-owner to see the cost of clammy's steam corrections in a more favorable light.
if you give someone the choice of spending $x to repair what is there, or $4x to convert to hot water [both using the same boiler], then the lower price of the steam repair is easier to bear. [hope i explained my thoughts clearly]--nbc


@ March 9, 2011 11:43 AM in Emergency steamer replacement

can you please elaborate on the "V5055/V4062 setup" for the 211 a?--nbc

repipe or replace?

@ March 9, 2011 10:09 AM in Thoughts on steam systems opitions

what symptoms were there which prompted them to call you in in the first place?
are there all convectors in this house, or is it a mixed system, with some cast-iron radiators? could this radiation mix have contributed to some of the original symptoms?
will they contemplate an addition to the house sometime in the next few years?
can this system make some hot water for them, to use up some of the excess  heating capacity?
can you compare the cost of re-piping/down-firing with running all new pex and hot-water rads/convectors for a hot water system, using the same boiler?
just thinking out loud.--nbc

protecting the main vents

@ March 8, 2011 1:27 AM in Boiler pipes venting - elevate or not

that vent should be protected by a menorah or antler, whose right angles will slow down any violent movements of water in the pipes. the danger to any main vent is damage caused by slugs of hammered water hitting them in their bottoms, which like any bottoms need protection.
it looks as though you need a newer, and bigger vent on that dry return, and any other dry returns in the system [is there one more?].--nbc

where to skim?

@ March 8, 2011 12:51 AM in Emergency steamer replacement

nice job, but where is the skimming port?
and where is our favotite wika low pressure gauge?--nbc

fog horn sound from auto/over-fill

@ March 8, 2011 12:46 AM in HELP! Automatic feed sounds like a freight train!

how often is this happening, as there should not be such a great loss of water as to make this a daily occurrence
that sound is obviously coming from a chattering valve in the auto/over-fill. go to the website of the manufacturer [maybe mcdonell-miller], and you will find out if a rebuild kit is available. unless you are very handy, it might be time to call a pro, or wait until spring.
you may be able to moderate the problem by closing off the supply valve to the unit, and only opening it when you go down to check the boiler every couple of days [you do check the boiler regularly don't you?].--nbc

brooklyn boiler/freezer

@ March 7, 2011 7:27 PM in Unbalanced heat distribution

it is hard to diagnose this from a distance, but i'll gather some information. this hot-water or steam? if steam, is it 1-pipe or 2-pipe?
2.has the system always been so unbalanced? if not, was there something done to the system which preceded the imbalance?
3.what sort of thermostat is now in use [make/model]?
obviously, the system when first installed, would not have had these problems, so the goal is to bring it back to its previous state of operation.--nbc

mysterious new water-hammer

@ March 7, 2011 6:33 PM in Pipes banging no matter what I do

the removal of one [presumably] small radiator should not cause water-hammer to suddenly begin.
when were the valves/vents replaced? were these the main vents? if they were the radiator vents, did you replace with the same type? if the radiator vents are too aggressive, and the main vents are inoperative, or under-sized, then the imbalance thus created can allow water-hammer.
if during the work, the boiler water became contaminated with a bit of thread-cutting oil, then the waterline might become unsteady enough for the hammer to start, or if the boiler became over full. perhaps that radiator was holding a section of the main steam-line piping up straight, and without it being now connected the line is sagging causing a pool of condensate to be trapped in the way of the steam. check that your pressure is as low as possible as well.--nbc

good news

@ March 7, 2011 4:43 PM in Need Buffalo, NY contractor

maybe tim should advertise his services on this web site! you are not the first from buffalo to be looking for professional help!--nbc

hissing riser

@ March 7, 2011 12:36 PM in Capped Riser

it sounds as though the cap is leaking, possibly due to over-pressure. have your steam man check the pressure and reduce to under 2 psi MAX. reducing the pressure will reduce fuel cost as well [even more savings by further pressure reduction with a vaporstat].
naturally, the cap should be reset with some new teflon tape.--nbc


@ March 7, 2011 12:17 PM in Need Buffalo, NY contractor

if you can describe the symptoms here maybe we can get you through for a few days or more with a simple but temporary fix.
when you say "short-cycle", is that caused by low/high water, high pressure, or...?--nbc
i am surprised that your current steam man hasn't suggested someone else as a stand-in.

steam to hot water

@ March 7, 2011 7:26 AM in New Boilers for Steam System Previously Converted to Hot Water

if those boilers are 1.50 mbtu each, then perhaps they were over-sized. most likely, they were sized according to the old steam boiler.
i doubt if the landlord will have the temerity and smarts to at least consider the possibility of steam, unless he were to consider the cost of repiping the under-sized returns! in fact i wonder if anyone will think of doing a heat survey.
the clause in the lease which "excuses" poor heating performance could be against the landlord tennant laws in many states.--nbc