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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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Unbalanced system

@ August 24, 2014 10:54 PM in Adding longer baseboard steam radiators

Those baseboards are probably the right length, (unless you know otherwise from a heat-loss survey).
I am assuming this system is unbalanced due to bad main (not rad) venting. All radiation should receive steam at the same time, and these three baseboards are probably the last on the line for steam. As a result, they have only just begun to heat up when the thermostat shuts off the boiler.--NBC

home made thermostat

@ August 24, 2014 12:42 PM in home made thermostat

Inside rust

@ August 21, 2014 7:28 AM in Please Recommend a good gas to radiator boiler system

It does seem that you have had a nice long life in that boiler. Is the rust from condensation of the flue gases, or a leak?--NBC

legends of the south pole

@ August 21, 2014 6:51 AM in legends of the south pole

This article seems to allow the possibility of a different freezing point for water, which is hard to believe. Surely it must be a misinterpretation of some other phenomenon.--NBC

Atmospheric or forced draft burner?

@ August 20, 2014 9:49 AM in Oil boiler with gas conversion burner

In spite of the most careful measurements of the radiation EDR there can be some over sizing or under sizing of the boiler. The atmospheric boiler will not be so easily matched to the load, without a 2--stage gas valve, which is an additional but worthwhile expense. Alternatively, a tag-team of atmospherics can be installed. A pair of smaller boilers may be easier to install, if there is space. Proper controls will only fire both of them at lower pressures (2 ounces), then drop the lag boiler out to maintain the lower pressure.
The gas burner can be tuned through a fairly wide range of BTU outputs to find the sweet spot, which translates to higher efficiency. This efficiency can be demonstrated to the customer, with the mandatory combustion analysis performed at the end of the installation.--NBC
The atmospheric boiler is very quiet, whereas the triple pas boiler, and gas gun can be noisier.--NBC

Choices of heating system

@ August 20, 2014 9:36 AM in New House Heating

It's all about comfort. Think of the most comfortable way to dry your hair: sitting in front of the hot air stream of a hair dryer, or sitting in the sun combing your hair dry.
Warmth from hot surfaces felt on the skin is much more comfortable than the noisy blast of hot air from the register, drying your skin.
Either steam or hot water heating with radiators would be my choice. Hot water systems would give the option of under floor radiant heating, coupled with outdoor reset for greater comfort and economy. Mini-split air conditioners could supply relief from hot summer weather.
As far as comparative cost of operation goes, much depends on the envelope of the house-is it well insulated, and sealed? The comfort of an Hydronic system permits a lower temperature setting; however do not be lured into large night time setbacks to save money, as they will not for periods of less than 24 hours.--NBC

Best boiler

@ August 20, 2014 7:37 AM in Please Recommend a good gas to radiator boiler system

The winner is one installed by the most competent installer, who will choose a make with a stocking distributor in your area, for future ease in obtaining spare parts.
That installer will have done a heat-loss survey., and an analysis of domestic hot water usage to size the new boiler. You can do such a survey by using the software on the SlantFin website.
Further he will follow the manufacturer's instructions for the Installation of the boiler, and also be aware of this website.
What has happened to the old boiler? If you are converting to gas, the old oil boiler may only need a gas burner installed, along with appropriate chimney upgrades.--NBC

Boiler Kaput

@ August 19, 2014 1:32 PM in EDR and margin of error

The definitive boiler leal test is the overfilling of the boiler (which you have done), and then letting it sit for a day or two. Any leakage will be seen on the floor, or in the firebox.
Based on the pictures, I would say that you are correct in assuming a terminal leak.
As regards the figuring df EDR, take the end result of "square feet of EDR" of the radiators, and compare it to the same value as given in the boiler makers specs for the range of boilers they sell. Usually no conversion is needed to BTU.
Probably the leak in the return has cause a constant flow of fresh oxygenated water into the boiler, shortening its life, so don't forget to fix that as well.--NBC

Staying open

@ August 18, 2014 11:24 PM in Honeywell mercury steam valves

Is your system 2-pipe, or 1-pipe?
I suspect a 2-pipe system, with some Honeywell traps which will not close when the steam arrives.
Any trap from that period has been designed for low pressure, such as below 1 psi, so is your system operating in that range?
Check the pressure, and make sure it is below 16 ounces. A good gauge will be needed , from
Replacement capsules are available for traps from tunstall inc.--NBC

Leaky cover

@ August 16, 2014 10:20 AM in Weil Mclain Ultra 155 Leak

What about posting a picture?
You won't know how serious it is until you take it apart. Some professional help may be needed here. Is there anyone who does the yearly service on this who could have a look?--NBC

Traps vs orifices

@ August 14, 2014 11:48 PM in radiator steam traps vertical pattern single union

The steam trap was probably seen as a better way of getting the steam into the radiator,quickly, because of its larger opening, (when cold). The orifice can slow down the arrival of steam, during recovery. This is just another reason not to use short term setbacks.--NBC

Cold water from the well

@ August 14, 2014 11:28 PM in Geothermal vertical loops

If the underground water is so unbelievably cold, then the benefit of drilling a heat sink well would be nil. It might be time to install a wood stove or propane boiler., to make up heat during the the colder months.
Were all the lake loops installed by the same person?--NBC

A very useful chart

@ August 13, 2014 11:58 PM in radiator steam traps vertical pattern single union

It makes me think that a good supply valve could also be used to regulate the steam, and indeed why not regular steam valves adjusted with a very careful hand, and relying on no knuckleheads to disturb the settings.
Sadly the poster here has no such option, as he has no valves.---NBC

Moving wet return

@ August 13, 2014 11:12 AM in engineer

If the wet return is below the waterline of the boiler, then it can be easily rerouted without regard to slope. Make sure there is a valve and tee on it for flushing purposes.
Is this 1-pipe, or 2-pipe?--NBC

Hoffman system

@ August 13, 2014 11:06 AM in radiator steam traps vertical pattern single union

I wonder if the system was designed to run sub-atmospherically ie. vacuum.
Perhaps the pressure was raised to push the air out of some badly maintained main vent.--NBC

Finding alternative heat sink

@ August 13, 2014 10:57 AM in Geothermal vertical loops

Why was the lake installation unsuccessful? Does it at least work during any season in the year?
Several systems have been described here, using the North Sea as a heat-source/sink, so why not a lake?--NBC

Below the waterline

@ August 8, 2014 11:14 PM in Replace gravity with pump in condensate line?

No slope requirements are needed below the waterline.
If you have an opportunity to have Steamhead look at your system, take advantage, as he is the Dali Lama of these systems!--NBC

In the way

@ August 8, 2014 10:39 AM in Replace gravity with pump in condensate line?

You could drop those returns to the basement floor, under the waterline of the boiler, and route them that way.--NBC

Boiler homework

@ August 7, 2014 5:37 PM in kicking the city steam habit

The first thing to do is to look for a real steam man for the installation. Try the find a contractor button above here, or go to your local plumbing /heating supply house, and ask an older counterman who is good with steam.
Even before the steam guru arrives, do a search here for EDR, which is the heat radiation capacity of radiators, and boilers. As the new boiler must be matched to the total radiation (EDR), the radiators must be measured and compared on a chart to determine what the value is. Finally all the radiator values must be added up for the total. Boilers are not only sized in BTU, but also in square feet of EDR. Soon you'll be doing it for your friends who are in the same boat. The important thing is to avoid having a boiler which is too small or large for your radiation.
Is this 1-pipe, or 2-pipe steam?
Do a search on the internet of various brands (Peerless, Weil McClain , Burnham, etc,) to see if there is a stocking distributor in your town. The distributor may have some names as well.
Make sure you have adequate Main vents on the system to let the air out!--NBC

Choices choices

@ August 4, 2014 5:23 AM in choosing (1) Integrated Boiler Hydro-Air and baseboard, vs (2) Separate Furnace and Boiler

I would certainly combine all the heating/hot water units into one system, with one control.
First of all, have any of the contractors calculated the heat-loss of the house? This should be a first step, and you can do it yourself using the SlantFin boiler sizing app available on their website for nothing. This will take into account the new insulation, windows, etc, and point the way towards selecting the right boiler for the whole house. The right boiler will have the capacity to keep up with all the heating/hot water needs, therefore not oversized.
Modern boilers can vary the firing rate, so that the output matches the heat load at any time. However this requires they be chosen carefully. They will also be able to vary the temperature in the hot water loop to suit the outside temperature (outdoor reset), which would be of even greater benefit if you had large cast iron radiators.
Make sure that the contractor has enough hydronic experience. You can use the find a contractor button to see if such an expert is in your area. The benefit of finding someone on this website is the ability to read any postings that person may have written here, and by his writing, know the measure of the man.--NBC

Condensing cast iron

@ August 2, 2014 4:56 PM in Condensing cast iron?

There must be two separate heat exchangers, with the cast iron being the primary, and a smaller secondary stainless one to suck the last heat out of the flue gases.
Probably the return water goes to the secondary exchanger first, and then to the primary..
There is probably a low limit on the primary/secondary loop temperature though.--NBC

Old boiler repair

@ July 31, 2014 11:53 PM in Cast Iron chambers needed

It would be best to bite the bullet, and replace it with a new wet base boiler, and a burner which can be fired within the ranges of the present radiation, and any future additions you may make.
Is this a 1-pipe, or 2-pipe system?
When you dismantle a 40-year old boiler, there can be unpleasant surprises. Finding new press nipples to rejoin the new sections (if even they can be found), could be difficult.
A 7 section boiler is in the range of 1,000,000 to 1,300,000 btu, and could be replaced by a pair of smaller pre-assembled boilers, staged by pressure.--NBC
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