Security Seal Facebook Twitter GooglePlus Pinterest Newsletter Sign-up
The Wall
nicholas bonham-carter

nicholas bonham-carter

Joined on November 24, 2007

Last Post on July 24, 2014

Contact User

Recent Posts


@ March 2, 2009 9:26 AM in Pregnant Boiler

they might still benefit from fixing this not-so-old 211. probably no new sections would be needed-maybe only gaskets. my 211-a has electronic ignition which would be an easy retrofit, along with the peerless "mod-u-pack hi-lo burner system for better efficiency. if needed. many code problems might be reduced by a repair, rather than a replacement. one thing is certain, if they cannot have simple maintainance performed, like having the pilot/burner cleaned every year, they should not have a more complicated hi-efficiency boiler. also the life-span of the new boiler may not equal that of this not-so-old peerless [come on perry jump on this one]!--nbc

wet vents

@ March 2, 2009 9:06 AM in Replacing radiator valve & wet steam

there always seems to be a small amount of water in the vent when you take it off-from condemsation. where the problem become excessive would be when the vents are so full of water that their floats close and prevent their operation. what was wrong with the ols ones? if you are trying to even out the system heat, the main vents do most of the work, and suffer the most, while the radiator vents only handle about 5% of the air removal, and rarely fail. also remember that low pressures, below 16 ounces assists the even venting. either you can make 1 payment to mr. gorton's vent co. or you can make multiple payments to your fuel co. to squeeeeze the air out through the constipated little openings of the radiator vents!--nbc

trv alternative

@ March 2, 2009 8:55 AM in TVR valves

there is one cheap alternative to trv's to reduce the radiator output: remounting the air vent so it leaves less room for steam, and more room for air. drill a new hole at the top of the radiator and tap it for the vent. plug the old hole. even more drastic, mount the vent at the valve end. while you have the system off for this, prepare the "melting butter test" to see how much more quickly this rad heats up before the others. let the rads cool down and take identical pats of butter on identical plates, out of the fridge, and put 1 on this rad, and 2nd one on another elsewhere on the SAME floor[even better if close to the thermostat]. have someone else watching the butter melt. when each melts, call the other, and you will see how much different the speed of steam arrival is. this difference can usually be evened out by increasing the main venting, so that you have no back-pressure in the mains until the main vents close, and begin forcing steam up the risers. on the top floor all the rad vents should be the same, so the steam arrives all at the same time. remember you can get 3 gorton #2's for the price of 1 trv! i have 54 rads and no trv's and now have pretty even heat, as a result of putting 2 gorton #2's on each dry return. low pressure [12 oz.] also helps keep the system honest.--nbc

condo hammer

@ March 1, 2009 7:58 PM in Looking for a steam heat expert in Chicago

see if you can have a look at the 2nd floor area under the problem radiator, and locate the pipe which serves it. my guess it is a straight run down to the basement. most steam systems are part of the common maintainance [like the roof] of the condo regime, so it might be time to look at the whole system. has this only recently started to behave like this, or has it been on-going. are any other units experiencing noise? have you checked the pitch with a level? your pressure may have risen because of a clogged pig-tail. is regular maintainance performed on the system? i think you and your co-owners would benefit from having a copy of "the lost art of steam heating" available here. it discusses in greater detail the water-hammer causes. the noises are usually accompanied by fuel waste, so now would be the time to find the cause.--nbc

testing for leaks

@ March 1, 2009 6:18 PM in Homeowner trying to troubleshoot neglected and abused steam sys

don't forget to let the boiler cool thoroughly before adding water, and opening the relief valve. a short legth of hose would make draining after the test easier. we admire your sense of inquiry in this, and hope you will be safe in these operations.--nbc

what vent's what

@ March 1, 2009 6:10 PM in Fast Venting mains

in the ideal system, the main air vents allow the air to be pushed out by the steam rushing into the pipes from the boiler. the volume of this air is the total of the horizontal steam pipe capacity PLUS the volume of the boiler steam chest-quite large! the radiator vents let the air out of the vertical riser serving the radiator, and the radiator itself, a smaller volume. if you have a tall top floor [3+], i always recommend using the SAME size larger capacity vents on each radiator at the top. intermediate floors can have lower capacity vents, because they are only doing the radiator and not much riser. if finances are tight, spend money only on the main vents, as they are doing most of the work. it's a choice of one payment to mr. gorton, or continuing payments to your fuel co. most of the time, the rad vents are still functional even after decades!--nbc

one more thought

@ March 1, 2009 5:45 PM in Church Steam Problem

the boiler might be under fired because of a faulty gas meter or regulator, or in the case of oil, some other problem.--nbc

no pressure

@ March 1, 2009 3:48 PM in Church Steam Problem

i think that a good low pressure gauge would show some pressure [not much is needed-12 ounces]. i would suggest that your son-in-law check the pressure, and the venting as mentioned. if the air cannot get out, then the steam cannot get in. a good low pressure gauge can be bought at [0-2 psi]. at the same time a rough diagram of the pipes could be drawn up, to make diagnosis easier. i suspect the water may be dirty, and may need to be skimmed. in addition, i suspect that the steam pressure is too high; and i would doubt the functionality of the main line vents. i do not see a steam pro registered for your area, so you and your son-in-law will become steam savvy. just remember that all of us here started with limited knowlege-just the need to make our systems run as originally installed. now you can tap the experiences of 600 man years of steam/hydronic expertise!--nbc

cost comparison

@ March 1, 2009 11:26 AM in gas heat efficiancy calculator program

leaking supplies

@ March 1, 2009 11:06 AM in Leaking pipes (not pipe fittings)

would the PH affect the supply pipes? i thought only the boiler sections would be affected, unless you have a wet-steam problem, or dampness in the basement air, during the off season. i suppose if there were inadequate venting, and over pressure, with longer running times the acid levels in the pipes would rise and cause pinholes to form along the condensate grooves.--nbc

long life

@ March 1, 2009 9:05 AM in Expected Life of a Utica Starfire Steam Boiler (1962)

is the "running all year long" the reason for this long life? or maybe the yearly sediment draining is the secret. if the same life span could be had for my boiler, i won't have to worry until 2055 when i am 110!-nbc

addiction ?

@ February 7, 2009 6:49 AM in how many will come forward and admit?

yes i am a wall addict. here i am visiting my daughter in shakespeare country, UK and still have to check for what's new! there are certainly worse things to be dependent on, and surelyno crimes have been committed as a result of this.--nbc

copper pipe

@ January 23, 2009 3:39 PM in Copper fittings on steam boilers.

why not do a search here for "copper pipe", and you will see the current thoughts on that subject, in regard to thermal deformation. i am a building owner and manager, and we had a 800,000 american standard steam boiler with 4 in. copper headers, which lasted for 35 years. however i always had little weeps with the joints, and had to wire-brush the calcium deposits off every year before the the annual boiler inspection.--nbc

stop leak

@ January 23, 2009 9:11 AM in Boiler stop leak liqued issues

another thread here is about stop-leak, and maybe his experience will prove useful.i got 8 more years out of my american standard 960,000 btu boiler by using a boiler-seal [made by rectorseal, i think].i advise getting the pressure down to ounces, to help the sealer stay in place. one pressure-spike from an unreliable old pressuretrol, and there goes your seal! even so you never know how often you are going to have to re-do the treatment. also i am sure that it plugged up my main vents. however, i wish we had done the replacement at that time as the system is so much better now. not only because of the new boiler, but also because of the effects of new main vents, and even lower pressure. only problem now is using a thermostat [visionpro] for such a large rambling structure-where to put it?--nbc

portable emergency boiler

@ January 23, 2009 8:15 AM in need help finding cheap semi temporary solution to boiler leak

you may find a portable boiler, but connecting it up to the existing heating system could cost the same as installing a permanent boiler. do i take it that this building is new to you, and you are still finding surprises? when you get through with the install, you will be surprised how much better the system is, lower fuel cost, etc. don't be tempted to take any shortcuts, deviate from mfgs instructions with the installation, or it will be bad results, and you will have to redo it.--nbc P.S. why not get a good low-pressure gauge [ 0-3 psi] and a vaporstat [this will also be used on the new one] to keep the pressure at 12 OUNCES. that will help the oatmeal stay in place. make sure your low water cut off is working perfectly. if your local steam installer does the work, you can get a "feel" for his abilities, for the replacement. if the boiler is so much larger than needed maybe it could be down-fired to further reduce the strain on the oatmeal. it will cost a few franklins, how does that compare to your winter fuel cost? it's ironic that most people take oatmeal to stay "regular", but here it is being used for the opposite purpose!--nbc


@ January 22, 2009 7:42 PM in need help finding cheap semi temporary solution to boiler leak

ask about 2-stage firing for your new boiler-it could be a real economy. i also second the advice above about the correct sizing of the replacement: from the radiators and not from the building. use a vaporstat for your new setup, set for 5 oz. pressure. flax seed is also used as a stop leak [mix with oatmeal?].your local health food store will love you!--nbc


@ January 22, 2009 6:57 PM in sure-fire-sales-methods

this seemed to hit the nail on the head--nbc

steam t-stat

@ January 22, 2009 1:18 PM in Good Programmable TSTAT for Steam

if it is an old mercury bulb thermostat, it may be out of level. therefore 68 will register as 69. with a new digital model the out of level situation does not affect it. many people here swear by the old style mercury bulb type, properly leveled, and set up for anticipation. the old t-stats had a small electric heating coil inside [the anticipator] to trick the thermostat into thinking that the desired set-point had been reached early. this compensates for the heat still in the rads at burner shutdown, which will continue heating the room for a while. the new honeywells have a cycles per hour setting, which will cause the boiler to make only that number of temperature corrections [firings] per hour. this makes the boiler run longer cycles less frequently, which is better for steam. with other types of heating systems the cph might be 6. if you are only a degree off, then that is not too bad, and maybe the money spent on a new thermostat would have been better spent on something else for the system, like new main vents [not radiator vents], as you can buy 4 gorton #2's for 1 h/w visionpro t-stat. the main venting, and low pressure is one of the most important parts of any steam system--nbc PS do a search here [button on orange banner above] for programmable thermostat or setback. you can actually achieve no savings under certain conditions.

steam thermostat

@ January 22, 2009 11:33 AM in Good Programmable TSTAT for Steam

most people swear by the honeywell visionpro set for 1 or 2 cycles per hour. even more important is where you put it. your present thermostat may just be mis-setup for steam or in a bad location. when these steam systems are properly setup, all the radiators should start to heat at the same time. if not, then a thermostat will not be able to compensate for a lack of venting, too much pressure, dirty water, etc. a holistic, system-wide approach to solving steam problems usually works best.--nbc

new boiler or repair the old

@ January 22, 2009 11:26 AM in need help finding cheap semi temporary solution to boiler leak

one thing you can look forward to, would be lower fuel [probably much less] use with a new boiler. you might even look into switching to gas. just make sure you get a proper maintainance program in place, as the new ci boilers with their lower water content, and higher efficiency, will be less forgiving with deferred maintainance. get a copy here of "the lost art of steam heating" so you will be better able to comunicate with your installer. if you have a choice, go with gravity return. if it worked 100 years ago, it can be made to work today. in a vertical building arangement it works better [for us at least]. it's one less mechanical element to fail during a cold friday night! the installation of the new boiler is of supreme importance, if you are going to have a quiet, economical, even heating system. no matter how long the installer has been around, make sure the new one is installed as the mfg. specs-without short cuts.--nbc

old kewannee

@ January 22, 2009 9:10 AM in need help finding cheap semi temporary solution to boiler leak

this would be another good reason to keep the pressure down as low as possible while the leak-stop is curing.--nbc

gurgling radiators

@ January 22, 2009 8:54 AM in Radiator sounds like a coffee maker

this noisy nuisance can be caused by, high pressure, improper piping, dirty water, or a lack of insulation on the pipes. why not post some pictures of the near-boiler piping here so we can see what the boiler looks like. look for the instalation manual that came with your boiler [or find it online]. there should be specific instructions for the piping, which must be followed without deviation as far as pipe size, height above waterline, etc. just so you can be better informed, get a copy of "the lost art of steam heating" here. it will explain in greater detail where these noises come from--nbc