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nicholas bonham-carter

nicholas bonham-carter

Joined on November 24, 2007

Last Post on April 24, 2014

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big rad

@ January 12, 2009 12:51 PM in big radiators

try raising all 4 legs up 2 quarters at the valve end, and 4 at the vent end. the legs may have sunk into the floor, and thus altered the pitch of the supply underneath. check with a level as well.--nbc


@ January 12, 2009 12:08 PM in Mouat System - Hammering Pipes

check your pressure. moat systems are extremely sensitive to pressures in excess of a few ounces. do you have a good low-pressure gauge, and if so what is your pressure? the pigtail on the vaporstat may have become plugged recently, allowing your pressure to get out of control. do a search using the button in the orange banner above for moat, and you may find a thread with a similar situation.--nbc

how long does it take

@ January 12, 2009 7:38 AM in The Young Blood @ Triple Crown

probably an impossible question, but how long could it take for enough experience to go out solo on an install like that? i am assuming someone without any previous hvac experience, but good head on shoulders--nbc


@ January 12, 2009 7:30 AM in Is This A Wet Steam Problem?

the main vents on the main steam lines are the most important, in your situation. the radiator vents can only handle the air removal [and vacuum relief] in the riser pipe from main to radiator. if you keep increasing your main venting, you will find the system becomes almost completely silent. as it goes now, any air not removed by the main vents is going out your radiators. i think you could say that whenever you hear noise of any kind in 1-pipe steam, the fuel company hears the sound of the cash-register ringing!--nbc

gauge not working?

@ January 12, 2009 6:17 AM in Pigtail on pressuretrol clogged??

probably you have the standard 0-30 psi gauge that came with the boiler and is required for safety code purposes.the most efficient oporating pressures for steam are in the 1 psi or lower. the original gauge would be unable to show such a low pressure. a good low pressure gauge [ 0-3 psi], mounted on the same pigtail, will be able to show you what your actual pressure is. from that reading you can tell if your main vents are being over pressured, pigtail blocked, or if the system is at its most suitable pressure. without such a gauge you won't know if you are cycling on pressure instead of thermostat. it's like having an oil pressure gauge in your's not needed every day, but could save your engine when there is trouble.--nbc


@ January 11, 2009 12:36 PM in steam guage

there should be a tapping on the main vents, at the end of the dry return, just before dropping down to the wet return, on a parallel flow system. if a counterflow system, then the vents are at the end of the steam main after the last radiator. these have often been plugged up by someone who did not realize how critically important they are for good comfortable, economic, and quiet operation. it's a good sign that the pressure is already where it should be. that implies early installation by a steam pro, instead of a knucklehead! forgot to mention the importance of insulation on the mains, not only for economy, but also for good condensate flow control.--nbc

things to check for steam

@ January 11, 2009 11:23 AM in steam guage

put a good 0-3 psi gauge on the same pigtail as the pressuretrol.verify pressure is less than 1.5 psi max. work with owner to reduce this further to 12 oz. lower pressure travels up to the radiators more quickly than high. check main vents for proper operation. if any doubts, replace with gorton #2's. their price will be recoup in a short period of time by reduced fuel consumption. check thermostat location, and anticipator and adjust for longer cycles. check water cleanliness. if any doubts, skimm clean. use no chemicals if possible. get 2 copies of dans's book here, "the lost art of steam heating", and give 1 to owner, keep the other for yourself. --nbc


@ January 10, 2009 7:08 PM in Steam Radiator size question

if you found a few valves that close, that's quite unusual. this might be a situation where thermostatic radiator vents would benefit you. they mount in the same hole as the air-vent and monitor the room temp. when the room is too hot, they allow no venting to take place and effectively shut off the radiator. if you have hoffman air vents, then turning them upside down does the same thing, without the automatic feature [yourself being the automatic actuator!] try that with your vents and see if it works.--nbc

shot valves ?

@ January 10, 2009 5:57 PM in Steam Radiator size question

what's wrong with the valves. don't expect even new ones to be closeable-they should only be on. if they are leaking around the valve stem, under the handle; then you can re-pack the valve stem with graphite string. that would be easier and cheaper than buying and installing a new valve.--nbc

water-logged radiator

@ January 10, 2009 8:06 AM in Furthest Radiator from the Boiler Problem?

try lowering your pressure to below 1.5 psi. under one psi is even better. you will probably need a good low-pressure gauge [ 0-3 psi] check the valve on the radiator, to see if it is not open all the way [they should never be closed]. you are right when the radiator is full of water, no heat! check the main steam line vents for proper operation-one of them may have failed with your high pressure.--nbc

magic box

@ January 10, 2009 7:58 AM in Boiler not working today

you could try to see what that box is monitoring. probably watching the pilot, lwco, steam pressure etc. can you trace any wires to get an idea if there is any obvious electrical fault? if out on pressure check the a google search of that box with serial numbers and see if a description comes up as to what it is really doing. i agree that this may be a job for an experienced tech, but there is no harm in being the "eyes" for the tech, especially at this time of the year. i have seen plenty of lower level techs buying part after part too!--nbc

vent installation

@ January 9, 2009 11:56 AM in No main vents - how to deal with

a hole could be drilled and tapped for vents where the return comes back to the boiler. it's not too impossible a job, but i would wait until summer; then there will be no problem going without heat! or there may be a convenient union close to the end of the dry return which will allow their installation. so you are for the moment forced to use the rads for venting. check with pex supply, or patriot supply, or state supply for vent pricing. when the piggy bank has recovered you will greatly benefit from having proper main vents in the future.--nbc


@ January 9, 2009 11:46 AM in New to steam heat, need feedback!

it's sometimes useful to put a piece of tape on the pipes every 10 ft. or so, and using a level, make an arrow showing the direction of slope. that helped me in my "pipe room" which was even more tangled than yours. i discovered where the hammering started from, when i saw 2 arrows pointing towards each other! many boiler installation manuals will spec the steam to enter the TOP of a counterflow main. many pros here warn of too much venting on a counterflow, but i have no experience with that situation.--nbc

pigtail or no pigtail

@ January 9, 2009 10:32 AM in Weil McLain install questions

don't you need some form of water-seal, or syphon protection for every gauge, p-trol, and vaporstat to isolate it from the steam?--nbc

where to start

@ January 9, 2009 10:29 AM in No Heat

hard to remember what sort of system everyone has here, so trying to see if there is some sort of reset situation is a place to start for the ho. where it finishes is finding the cause, and professional rectification. resets have certainly fooled me from time to time.--nbc


@ January 9, 2009 9:48 AM in No Heat

try turning the power off and on, to make something reset, then look for a button on the low water cut off, or on the hi-limit pressuretrol. i think it could be a reset problem--nbc


@ January 9, 2009 8:41 AM in New boiler set up for power outage heating

what about repiping the water supply, so that draining it is a 5-minute job,[and putting some anti-freeze in the traps]. then the source of heat could be set to a lower temp, until return, when the co-gen set roars into life.--nbc

maybe not counterflow

@ January 9, 2009 8:23 AM in Main vent placement on \"counterflow\" main?

as long as it works, fine. this does seem to be a parallel flow piping arrangement, and although not in your case, would usually have the main vent at the end of the dry return, before it drops down to the boiler. one reason to have it so far to the end, is that the remaining air which has not been removed, can become a "wild card". when the burning stops and the vacuum develops. this remaining air then expands and tries to move to the vent, against the direction of condensate flow. if you have no problems, then it can remain as it is. if you have irregular condensate flow at the end then it would be wise to move the vent to its usual location.--nbc


@ January 9, 2009 12:11 AM in Main vent placement on \"counterflow\" main?

counterflows that i have seen pictured slope up as they extend further from the boiler until thy end after the last radiator take-off with a vent at that point. parallel flow systems start out high above the boiler, and are pitched down, as they extend throughout the area they serve; until they finally drop down to the floor, as the wet return, with their vent just before they drop. a cup of water poured into the steam main above the boiler should run out into the wet return. it's always better to have the vent as close to the end as possible[but protected from water-hammer]. this reduces the volume of air in the system, even beyond the last radiator take-off. air is more unpredictable than steam as far as expansion etc. as it is heating up. if there is any way to put a vent on its usual place it would be well worth the effort. maybe a hole could be drilled and tapped. the gorton # 2 only needs 1/2 in.--nbc

ancient boiler

@ January 8, 2009 11:54 PM in H.B. Smith 25 Mills

it looks even older than 25 yrs! not to worry, put a nipple and ball valve in that tapping you described. the mfgs. website, or dans book will have some directions how to procede with skimming. i don't see the hartford loop, nor do i see much height in the header above the waterline [a likely source of wet steam]. luckily the pipes are insulated pretty well-a plus. determining the pressure, and getting it down below 16 oz. would be my priority on this boiler, along with plenty of venting capacity.--nbc


@ January 8, 2009 8:25 PM in Weil McLain install questions

your new boiler probably has provision for a different type of pigtail, or syphon tube. the tapping for the pressure controls and gauge, is piped down then along horizontally with "tees" for the various items. this traps some water just like a pigtail, and therefore protects the p-trol, etc. from steam. make sure the nipples the p-trols are mounted on are tall enough, so that the elevated skimming waterline height doesn't upset the vaporstat [if you get one]. maybe you have 2 p-trols because you have a 2-stage gas valve for a hi-lo-hi burner. they did you no favors when they included those early-style p-trols. they are very inaccurate at the low pressures suitable for steam. on mine when i set down low it became uncontrollable, and went up to 10 psi! if the piggy-bank has any more money in it, consider a vaporstat, and a 0-15 oz. gauge, then you will have the right gear for first firing.--nbc

new knowlege

@ January 8, 2009 5:37 PM in Dan, It's Time To Look To The Future

never heard that phrase before, but after you identified the situation, i was able to do a little research: best advice seems to be: "don't feed the troll"!--nbc