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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

uneven heat

@ April 19, 2009 12:40 PM in Quick Question re: TRVs

by other apartments overheating, are you talking about more than 5 degrees of difference? as far as piping layout goes, i think a counter-flow system may be harder to put a TRV on, as many of these rely more on oversized rad vents, than in the case of the parallel-flow system. reducing the venting on 1 rad would affect them all.--nbc

TRV's saving fuel?

@ April 19, 2009 12:26 PM in Quick Question re: TRVs

if you have 2 one-pipe radiators sharing a common riser side-by-side, they will each have steam arriving at the same time. each one will heat up at the same rate. if one of them has it's vent closed, then will the open one heat up more quickly? if that is the case, then that radiator needs less run-time of the boiler to be hot [as long as the control system is aware]. as far as turning off radiators, to save money, i would suggest using the air vent to do this, by turning it upside down, as the steam valves frequently allow enough steam in when closed to fill the radiator with condensate, starving the boiler. this a type of TRV with the room occupant as the actuating mechanism. i do agree that anything which reduces open windows in winter, other than for fresh air [or allowing a trapped bat to fly out the window!!] is a big plus.--nbc

good point!

@ April 18, 2009 9:53 AM in Quick Question re: TRVs

good point about the infamous double hung thermostat. now DHT will join the ranks of TRV et al.--nbc

nice picture

@ April 17, 2009 11:20 PM in Faces with posts.

i looked without success for "plumber new york" [about 1910]. it was in a great collection of photos of various nyc professions, as i remember. however in the absence of the original, we will have to admire your picture!!--nbc

how about some pix?

@ April 17, 2009 11:01 PM in vanishing profession?

as you know, we all here love seeing the older systems, so how about some pix of your "hybrid system".--nbc

classic photo

@ April 17, 2009 7:41 PM in Faces with posts.

reminds me of an ancient picture taken about 1905 by some famous old photog of " plumber NYC". his pipe wrench was longer if i recall....nbc

TRV's and cost of operation

@ April 17, 2009 7:37 PM in Quick Question re: TRVs

i will take a stab at this by saying that they primarily affect comfort, in that they will not necessarily reduce the run-time of the burner, and therefore its use of fuel. of course i have stated before that they are only to be installed after the rest of the system is in tip-top shape: VENTING + LOW PRESSURE + THERMOSTAT FUNCTION + BURNER HEALTH. i will certainly be interested to hear other views on this!--nbc


@ April 17, 2009 2:49 PM in Radiator spewing out water

did we ask you if the valve was fully open? if steam valves are partly closed, the steam will seep into, but the water will not be able to leave, the radiator. sometimes the disk on the valve stem will fall down and partially plug the valve. the super could unscrew the bonnet of the valve and check that.--nbc

vanishing profession?

@ April 17, 2009 8:24 AM in vanishing profession?

is there really a shortage of competent steam pros out there. "need help with my steam system" asks if there are any pros in western new york. is there a shortage, or is it just an unwillingness to advertize on this site? i know that there is an exam of sorts, to verify some degree of competency in the listees here, but can it be so arduous? in these times that try mens pocketbooks, there will be many home owners, and building owners; who will just want to repair what they have, instead of replacement. success with repair demands the finding of a real pro. how does one find that pro, if he does not advertise somewhere like here? some say that in tough times, the last thing you want to do without is your advertising, just like the fisherman who uses no hook [because of the expense]--nbc

testing a cold rad

@ April 17, 2009 7:40 AM in Help with my steam system

you can make a test to see if you have a water-lock blocking the flow of steam to the cold room. you must have an assistant at the thermostat to be able to turn the thermostat off at a moments' notice. turn the stat up to max, with the air vent off. listen close to the opening for gurgling sounds of air bubbling through water. be aware that steam filling a room can remove wallpaper in minutes, so be careful to turn the boiler off before this happens, and reinstall the vent, after the test. i state the obvious because i have "been there". once you suspect a low spot trapping water and steam, the next job is to find it, and correct it!!--nbc

changing the vacuum

@ April 17, 2009 7:23 AM in Help with my steam system

the hoffman 75 vacuum is the same as the standard 75, except for a small disk under the cap at the top. unscrew the cap and take the disk out. if it had been a vacuum system, then that would tell me that low pressures [sometimes 2 ounces] will be even more important with this system.--nbc


@ April 17, 2009 6:55 AM in Help with my steam system

flame rollout is faulty, or delayed combustion, resulting in a tongue of flame appearing briefly outside the boiler, usually caused by dirty or misadjusted burners. it could be indicative of an excess of carbon monoxide. in your picture it looks as though the boiler front is getting hot around the burner. as far as the pressuretrol is concerned, turn the pigtail, so its horizontal axis is perpendicular to the "eye" of the pigtail, and this will prevent the tilting during heating up of the pigtail. the size of the pipes indicates to me that the hoffman 75 will not be enough venting.--nbc

worth a thousand words

@ April 16, 2009 6:57 PM in Help with my steam system

how about some pictures? of course the steam main lines usually start out high against the ceiling and slope downwards as they run through the basement, feeding various risers as they go [parallel flow system], or the main starts out lower and slopes upwards as it goes from one riser to the next [counter flow]. maybe you have some sort of hybrid, as a result of some previous changes to the sytem. 19 inches is a lot of vertical sag to winch up. this may explain the pressure, which ideally should be under 16 ounces max. the orientation of the pigtail is only important if you have a mercury-switch type pressuretrol, which you can see if you take the cover off. if the pigtail tilts the pressuretrol with the heat from the vertical, then it will not do its job accurately. the thing to do is to make a plan of your piping and with a level make sure your slopes are in the same direction, otherwise you will have a pocket, where steam cannot pass through. you may still need additional venting on the mains with gorton #2's on the venting locations. use a tee to add them to the hoffmans, and make sure they are in a location protected from water-hammer. the problem with the slow radiator may be due to the slowness of steam arriving there, after the thermostat has been satisfied in its location.--nbc

breaking the camera

@ April 16, 2009 12:42 PM in Faces with posts.

hey clammy, isn't it time to break the camera with your photo??--nbc


@ April 16, 2009 12:40 PM in Hawks Hatching-OT

we have some nests as well, certainly a change from those dancing housewives trying to sell mortgages or whatever!!-nbc

a bad fit ?

@ April 16, 2009 9:53 AM in thoughts on steam system

yes! it is difficult to combine one system, which needs 20 PSI [kitchen}, with another which needs only ounces [steam heating]. also different, the heating needs only minutes of operation every hour, while the cooking is concentrated into the mornings and afternoons, for long periods of duration. why not do a radiator survey, and see if one of those fultons could handle the heat; and the other handle the kitchen. that way their control systems could be entirely separate. right now the kitchen leaks are killing the whole system! surely the leaks can be fixed. also to consider is the fact that heating is only a 5 month duration, but cooking goes on year long! are the fultons so "small" in the pipe department? i am sure you want to keep the velocities down, with large pipe headers, so maybe they are not the best fit for heating. some of them on the website, look very tall, so that their height may make it difficult to get "dimension A" in place. just tell them, that first they have to fix those leaks in the kitchen, or be replacing the boilers in the near future! do the steam kettles really need 20 PSI? maybe that is part of the leaking problem there. their gas bill may start going down immediately, with lower pressure. good luck explaining all this to the board of trustees!!!!!--nbc

spewing air vent

@ April 15, 2009 3:07 PM in Radiator spewing out water

it's sometimes possible that an uninsulated riser in a steam system can condense the rising steam so quickly, that there is more water than usual in the radiator which is picked up by the steam and thrown out of the vent. you say they checked the pitch of the pipe, but how is the pitch of the radiator itself? only a level will show if it slopes towards the entry pipe. i would suggest to the management that they get a copy of "the lost art of steam heat" from here, which will go over the conditions which can cause this. here is a list for the moment: 1. is the boiler water dirty [can send too much water, and too little steam up the pipe]? 2. how high above the boiler is your apt? the steam pressure as low as possible [under 16 ounces]? 4.what is the make of the air vent [do not remove-a picture will do] some makes are more spitty than others. 5.ask them if the main steam lines are well vented also --nbc


@ April 14, 2009 5:43 PM in new boiler fuel consumption

don't know what P.M. is--nbc

new boiler consumption

@ April 14, 2009 4:18 PM in new boiler fuel consumption

i calculated our gas consumption in cu ft./degree day from our gas company, and it seems that we are using 25% less gas per degree day in jan/feb 09 than in dec 07 with the old 1-pipe steam american standard [caked with boiler-sealing deposits]. not only are we using less fuel, but our standard of comfort is greatly improved. part of this is due to a new boiler without boiler-seal "insulation" in the sections. the other part is due to a new thermostat with better anticipation, plus lots of additional main line venting. hopefully, this will give encouragement to anyone wondering what the payback might be for various maintainance items--nbc

companies on the wall

@ April 14, 2009 9:17 AM in thermostatic steam vent valves

there used to be more input from many companies here, unfortunately, some would have a bad experience from some homeowner over warrenty issues. as a result, very few still identify their presence here--a great shame! i am not against TRV's, i just have not needed them yet. they are somewhat expensive for my 55 rad system, and all too often, are used to compensate for an undervented [on the mains] system. why not post some of your IR pictures, to show us what your system looks like, as it heats up?--nbc

one more for the post office

@ April 13, 2009 12:22 AM in Faces with posts.

just a building owner this was a baby squirrel rescue--nbc

famous steam man?

@ April 12, 2009 12:42 AM in Faces with posts.

could one of the people in this photo be a famous steam man? [you can zoom in for amazing detail]--nbc