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The Wall
nicholas bonham-carter

nicholas bonham-carter

Joined on November 24, 2007

Last Post on September 2, 2014

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Recent Posts

into steam

@ July 20, 2008 12:03 PM in When to replace boiler?

yes i am, but as building owner--large house apt. conversion 60 rads 1,000,000 btu 1-pipesystem. as we could not change to hot water, we did end up replacing the boiler ,and then addressed the various other piping problems which we thought were "just a part of steam heat" now from the wall and my own experiences i know that steam can be quiet,confortable,and fairly quick to respond to temperature drops.gas consumption is better now than before [10%]. i would certainly try to get your present system working as well as possible first unless you know the boiler leaks or has some other big problem.the steam piping may not be such a difficult thing to correct.did you post some pictures [or a walk around video] which some of the master steam mechanics on this site can analyse for obvious errors of installation. my steam man here[neb.] taught me to do some of my own corrective return piping as we were getting the bugs out of the is possible that steam may someday catch up with mod-con boilers in raw efficiency as engineers devise ways of extracting the last of the heat from the flue--perhaps to dry your clothes or make hot water!!then we steam people may have the last laugh instead of putting up with occasional snide remarks.--nbc

what to do

@ July 20, 2008 1:58 AM in When to replace boiler?

hear hear steamhead! what about testing those returns and the boiler for leaks before the heating season by overfilling up to the pressure relief valve and seeing if-- water stays inside the boiler; water comes out inside the boiler;water disappears who knows where [buried returns?] by all means get a truly qualified and experienced steam expert in your area [please let it be baltimore] to check the burner at the start of the heating season also paying particular attention to: VENTING [can you ever have too much main venting capacity?] OPERATING PRESSURE [ounces needed not pounds!] WATER CLEANLINESS [learn how to skim the boiler yourself from the expert.] MAIN STEAM PIPE INSULATION THERMOSTAT PLACEMENT AND ANTICIPATION [maybe a honeywell visionpro rated for steam would be better] you will be amazed how much better these systems run when returned to their original operating conditions as the dead men intended .good luck--and keep the steam--nbc

old films-- true presence

@ July 18, 2008 8:06 AM in Remember This Old Movie?

they would certainly not be able to duplicate the Presence of those old actors [and actresses] ;nor of the dramatic effect of black and white film. they would instead rely on computer-generated visual effects to shock us with Rocky's final electro-pyrotechnics instead of leaving the scene mostly to our own imagination. i am sure i have seen the lights dimming during the electrocution in another film [the governors pardon arrives just after the light dim!]--nbc

plan 9

@ July 16, 2008 9:51 AM in Worst movie ever

you have to watch P-9 with "ed wood" with johnny depp for the right effect--nbc

evil copper steam main

@ July 13, 2008 2:10 AM in New Gas Steam Boiler

since there are always some installers who insist on using copper piping for steam mains why not recognise this alternative method with instructions specifically for copper piping.because of the expansion-contraction issue these proposed new manufacturers specs for copper piping could well be more complicated to install thus preventing the knuckleheads from doing the wrong thing for the right person!--nbc

evil copper steam main

@ July 13, 2008 2:10 AM in New Gas Steam Boiler

since there are always some installers who insist on using copper piping for steam mains why not recognise this alternative method with instructions specifically for copper piping.because of the expansion-contraction issue these proposed new manufacturers specs for copper piping could well be more complicated to install thus preventing the knuckleheads from doing the wrong thing for the right person!--nbc

thermostatic vents

@ July 11, 2008 9:01 AM in therostatic valves in apartment buildings

if i were you i would make sure of the following things were checked on any 1-pipe steam system before spending money on the thermostatic vents: is your burner set up well for max combustion efficiency? boiler in good shape producing DRY steam? are your pressures at the ideal 4-12 OUNCE range?get a good 0-36 oz. gauge from and a vaporstat so you know where you are and can regulate properly.amazingly low pressure steam moves more quickly in the pipes than high pressure steam. is your thermostat [rated for STEAM] in the right place away from draughts which may start the system uneccessarily?you could try a moderate setback of 3-5 vision pro seems to be one thermostat recommended for steam. most 1-pipe systems were well thought out and installed to provide reasonable economy.only later on in the life of many systems did later improper repairs rear their ugly heads! is the system silent?if not you should find the cause and correct the piping as noise ,hammer is wasted energy. naturally check your insulation and your fuel bills will go down--nbc p.s. almost forgot the most important thing--main and radiator air VENTS! are they all there--not plugged--now is the time to check. my guess is that after your system is once again operating as the "dead men" intended you will not need many TRVS ;so even can be the heat in a properly maintained steam system. at the start of the heating season you can keep the thermostat lower than usual and then determine who is cold and why. iencourage my tennants to call me and tell me if they are chilly and what the exact temp is in the apartment and since doing all these things to my own system had very few calls and 10% fuel savings with more reduction possible this winter. get a copy of dan's book on this site and study it. good luck

steam info

@ July 10, 2008 2:01 AM in Webster low pressure steam system aka Webster System Radiation

this is the place to find all you need to know about your ancient steam you need to buy dan's books about steam systems and their problems on this site. no steam problem is unsolvable with this combination of information!--nbc

new boiler

@ July 7, 2008 11:26 PM in steam boiler

don't forget to make sure the new boiler is fired to OUNCES [12 is ideal] of pressure and not pounds. this will follow more closely the original design ,which may even have dipped lower in its youth when fired with coal. air venting on the mains should be checked too. -good luck--nbc

boiloer overfill

@ July 4, 2008 12:50 PM in question re boiler overfill

i luckily have never attended a boiler cracking ;however from all i have heard is that: the boiler would have to be steaming..or dry firing..or have badly installsd return piping without the makeup feed line connected to the RETURN [as opposed to a direct connection to the boiler]..or so dirty and filled with rust and mud that the sections heat unevenly and crack[dirty burner can cause imbalanced heating too] i would think a fresh crack would be below the waterline and not be rusty. does this have a hot water coil? if so its level should be higher in summer for economy,but not lose any water at all unless there were a preexisting leak. once again this would be a good time to have insurance to help sort this out.good luck and have a nice 4th--nbc

boiler depreciation

@ July 3, 2008 11:23 AM in question re boiler overfill

i anyone were able to claim the replacement cost for this boiler from an insurance company they would depreciate the present value of the boiler to practically zero.just as if you have a hailstorm on a 20 year-old shingle roof your compensation from insurance would be very low. even if your actions were responsable for the demise of the boiler[which i doubt] you should not be liable for the entire expense of the replacement. were you ever shown what NOT to do with this boiler? the fact that boiler had a long and noisy night [uncouth noises as the ARCO manual describes them] leads me to believe that the whole system is in a state of disrepair due to lack of maintainance. hopefully you have renters insurance and that the adjuster will take on the disagreeable job of dealing with your landlord. make sure that when this boiler is replaced that the installer follows the good advice found in dan's books[available on this site] so all your heating money isn't wasted up the chimney. good luck--nbc

fun for the kids

@ July 2, 2008 6:21 PM in fun for the kids

interesting website concept


@ June 28, 2008 12:33 AM in design me a system

how about a design for a steam system that works,like the one you already have--only properly setup and maintained?

who to ask?

@ June 26, 2008 9:38 PM in An end, and a beginning...

i have marvelled at your knowledge of not only Honeywell products ,but also how those products interact with all the old and new systems discussed here. i hope you will continue to contribute from your vast store of knowlege in general on this site.--nbc

copper theft

@ June 26, 2008 9:29 PM in copper thieves getting bolder - jail time this time

i lost my bird feeder with copper-PLATED top and bottem recently [20 feet from my back door].the worst part of this is that these creeps are everywhere and too close to home!--nbc

the old problem

@ June 26, 2008 9:23 PM in Quickbooks is a farging VIRUS!!!!!!!...................(Starch)

in the beginning of time ,if the architect [or builder] built the temple or pyramid and if "THEY DIDN'T COME" he lost his head [or some other part!] this later transpired to modern construction ["i built it according to the plans so the engineer is at fault"] in early computer problem disputes the software people would blame the hardware and vise versa. this problem of yours looks like a windows problem to me and so i am surprised that the wise men of bombay have not suggested that you reinstall windows [or repair system files] on the computer that holds the main QB file. there is a way to repair windows system files by booting off the windows installation disk and following some sort of procedure and i would advise that as the next step[ i suggest you go to help to get this right].make sure you back up all your QB [and other important] files before you do this..because you never know how things will turn out--[like old steam systems!]good luck--nbc

steam valve replacement

@ June 26, 2008 8:01 PM in radiator

the theory is with 1-pipe steam valves that if you close the valve some small amount of steam will still get through and then condensate will build up in the radiator robbing the system of its water and maybe triggering a pump to thus overfill the system. this advice may come from the time when old valves were tired with worn out disks. if you keep the pressure LOW [below 12oz.] you should have no uncontrollable radiator leaks,so order a good 0-3psi gauge from and install a vaporstat if you don't already have one. one reason that people turn off valves is to reduce heat, so a thermostatic vent could solve that problem; however running low steam pressure gets the old system close to its original design specs from the "dead men" who were quite accurate in their radiator sizing.--nbc

explosive pressure

@ June 26, 2008 12:40 AM in standerd fittings used in hydrolic systems

i think the pressure of hydraulic systems can be be much higher than the 150 psi most plumbing fittings are rated for--such as 1000 psi. your experience is similar to those of people changing their steam systems to hot water--nbc

new/old use for steam

@ June 25, 2008 11:25 PM in new/old use for steam

maybe some of you here have seen "carrier" on public television. i wonder if you noticed that the only way to launch those planes off the deck was with STEAM.used apparently with a compound pulley system to enlarge the stroke of the piston in tranfering it's power to the shoe dragging the aircraft off to it's meeting with the edge of the deck. after seeing that, can anyone doubt the power and beauty and "calmness" of steam when properly adjusted?--nbc


@ June 25, 2008 11:10 PM in Converting steam to hot water

remember the difference between the original design operating pressure of early steam systems of 12oz. and compare that with 30psi[480 oz.] could any one stand 40 times more pressure?--nbc

brain strainer

@ June 25, 2008 1:13 PM in brain teaser

valve ?

@ June 24, 2008 8:48 PM in radiator

if it's 1-pipe steam ,the general rule is don't turn it off ;so in that case maybe you could do without a valve-just pipe straight through.--nbc