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nicholas bonham-carter

nicholas bonham-carter

Joined on November 24, 2007

Last Post on April 17, 2014

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Leaking 2 inch pipe

@ March 19, 2014 9:42 AM in Replace 2" x 10' cast iron steam pipe cost?

I would be more concerned about his expertise than his price. Changing prices so rapidly would raise an alarm with me. Has he any references?
Where is the leak - in the section of the pipe or in the threads which go into a fitting. Labor is probably the biggest component in the repair cost here.
There are temporary patching devices, much like a wide hose clamp with a rubber gasket on it, which would hold off this permanent solution until warm weather. They will not work well on a location right next to the threads.--NBC

Clearing return line


Try using water, using an adapter on some kitchen sink faucet for a hose, and then adapters for the return piping. Water will work better than compressed gas, because of its mass, and not much pressure is needed.
Is this 1-pipe or 2-pipe?--NBC

Short-cycling with noisy Carlin

@ March 18, 2014 10:59 PM in Steam Boiler Short Cycling from Pressure

Some burners have an optional noise silencing hood which can reduce the blower noise, so you could check to see if one is available for your Carlin.
The fact that the vaporstat trips 20 minutes into the cycle leads me to believe that the cycling on pressure is an oversize issue, rather than a venting issue. Check and see if the carlin can be down fired, or replaced by perhaps a Riello which would be more adjustable for firing rate, and quieter to boot.
You could do an EDR survey of your radiators to see how much oversized the boiler is, and fire the boiler at that new rate.--NBC

Gortons loop-sealed from the return??

@ March 18, 2014 10:45 PM in Two pipe system -return main with vent off mainly sucks in during cycle

Hard to see, but it looks like a circuitous path for the air to travel to escape the return. Maybe I am not seeing what is in the picture? More pictures would help.--NBC

Common to every heating boiler

@ March 18, 2014 10:41 PM in gas fired steam crown boiler

If you have leaks in the system, which cause constant additions of fresh water with plenty of oxygen, the boiler will fail early, and in your case 20 years too early.
Crown will have instructions on their website for the installation of the block, but fix any leaks at the same time.
I think they are bending backwards for you on this.--NBC

Loud sucking noise

@ March 18, 2014 6:41 PM in gorton valves

The main (not rad) vents should be doing the big job of air removal, and vacuum relief. Post some pictures, and we can advise what replacements or additions may be needed. Noisy vents indicate a lack of main venting capacity.--NBC

antique pipes

@ March 18, 2014 12:57 PM in Piping concerns

maybe you could draw a plan of the present piping, with the intended modifications shown.
a skilled pipe-fitter will be able to either cut the pipe between two fittings, or break a fitting with a hammer, and expose good threads.
I would be more concerned that the work would have the necessary pitch, and that the minimum pipe sizes for the radiators served would be kept.--NBC

Corrected rates

@ March 17, 2014 4:45 PM in Heat pump only, or combo?

Our electricity is $.1025 per kilowatt.
Gas is $.55 per therm--NBC

Generous main venting!!

@ March 17, 2014 11:09 AM in Single (really!) pipe steam

What manufacturer said "nothing vents better than an open pipe"?
The soldered joints are pretty well made, and wiped, for a homeowner/hack to have done.
Did he ask whether the block was still under warranty?--NBC

13 minutes

@ March 16, 2014 11:47 PM in Check valve

That slowness of return may be due to poor main venting. Maybe the steam gets to the radiators very slowly, and then begins generating the bulk of the condensate.--NBC

Funeral home

@ March 16, 2014 10:30 PM in Heat pump only, or combo?

Most like a church, with a staff of 10 during normal business hours, with a couple of funerals a week attended by up to 200 people.comfort is a big issue, but I thought during the colder months the gas supplemental heat could be more economical than simply an air-source heat pump.
I know these calculations of energy cost have been covered before here in regard to heating system choices (NGO, LPG, electric etc);but I was interested in the gut reaction of experts here.--NBC

lack of heat, and hot water

@ March 16, 2014 2:51 PM in Has a sink hole ever tried to swallow up a boiler you service?

how will he deal with chilly, unwashed tenants?
who left the fill valve open-some knucklehead maintenance man?---NBC

Heat pump only, or combo?

@ March 16, 2014 1:58 PM in Heat pump only, or combo?

I'm wondering if a 20,000 squ ft newly built, well insulated, building can be heated most economically with only a new air source heat pump (new generation), or if we should have some gas backup, such as a boiler, and radiant.
Our design temperature is 0 degrees, gas cost is $.78 per therm, and electricity is $.048/ kW.
I know that the new generation of heat pumps are more efficient than the old, but am worried about the diminishing amount of heat in air below freezing.
Not a huge amount of information to go on, but any advice would be helpful-thanks--NBC

Go with gravity

@ March 16, 2014 9:56 AM in Excessive Makeup Water Use/Proposed Elimination of Condensate Return Tank

Jaimie is right, restore the wet returns, at least below the LWCO shutoff level , and do away with the condensate tank and pump. Don't worry about the amount of water in the return pipes, as it will not effect the total EDR of the boiler. Make sure you have some well placed valves to enable flushing those lines out at least once a year.
Make sure the main vents on the end of the dry returns are very large. If headroom is a problem, then they may be mounted on an antler piped into the vertical drop (as high as possible of course).--NBC

Leaking check valve

@ March 15, 2014 11:15 PM in Check valve

Is the pressure high enough to force water back through the check valve into the condensate tank? Why do you have a condensate tank, when you could have a gravity system?--NBC

More problems

@ March 15, 2014 11:11 PM in Question about two pipe system

You will definitely need a steam expert to look at this improper installation . He will have to add up all of your radiators' capacity (EDR), and see if the new boiler was correctly sized, which apparently was not done. Then he will describe the piping which should have been done, quoting from the manufacturers instructions. Then best to have him carry on from there, perhaps replacing the new boiler with one of proper size, and repiping as should have been done. Then you will have a well functioning system, and can deal with the old plumber while at least enjoying a quiet, efficient, even heat from this new properly done installation .--NBC

Highly recommended plumber

@ March 15, 2014 10:59 AM in Sight glass "empties" when boiler is firing

All through the year there are pictures of improper installations here, with plenty of problems.
The thing they all have in common is "done by a highly recommended plumber"
And so recommended by whom-neighbor, coworker, fellow church-goer?
Unfortunately, most people wouldn't know if the job was done properly or not, if they have no decrease in in performance from the previous state of operation, "hey, it's steam, what can you expect?"
This situation makes this website even more important for people to visit before the work is done. Also, it makes it more important for qualified installers to register themselves here.--NBC

trap removal

@ March 13, 2014 7:40 PM in General steam trap question

what about using socket wrenches with extension pieces?--NBC

Short bursts of very high pressure

@ March 13, 2014 5:59 PM in pressuretrol psi gauge relationship?

Is your pressuretrol on the same tee as the gauge? If so that would rule out the possibility of a plugged pigtail. I think the linkage on the pressuretrol has become disconnected, and is letting the pressure run up.
There should be some threads on here dealing with pressuretrol repair, if you search.
If your venting is adequate, you should be able to get steam to all the rads with a few ounces of pressure. You may still cut out several times on pressure if the boiler is oversized.--NBC

Fixing Farmers fixes

@ March 13, 2014 12:09 PM in feeding counter flow loops

Show us the pictures, and we'll go from there.
It sounds like bad venting, and resulting cranking up the pressure to compensate would be the first thing., and don't forget to check the thermostat!
Remind them that the initial fine tuning (venting, and pressure adjustment) is best carried out when it's still cold, and the copper pipe removal could be a summer job, along with correcting/dripping the counter flow branches (maybe using the old copper pipe removed from the boiler supplies).
Tell them that the initial improvement they will see from that work is only the beginning, and that the copper needs to be removed for reasons of longevity. If they like visiting scrap yards, tell them to take the scrap copper themselves to sell it. Otherwise they will never know how little it's worth (relatively).
Hope I haven't been preaching to the choir here, as I know from your many contributions here how experienced with steam you are!--NBC

Correcting improper steam piping

@ March 13, 2014 10:34 AM in feeding counter flow loops

What are the symptoms which now cause the home owner to want to correct?
Uneven heat in some areas, cold in others?
Noises water-hammer?
High fuel bills?
Water loss?
Shortened boiler life because of the copper pipe?
All of the above?
If they don't have enough symptoms, they may not know how badly the system is working, and not wish to spend any Monet.
Luckily Peerless has some definite instructions in its Color of Steam book showing exactly how a counter flow main should be piped, and they might benefit from reading that, and the Lost Art of Steam Heating, from here. You don't want to give too much of a description, in case they try to shop your piping program around. I think in one of the threads here is a story of how a steam pro gave detailed repiping instructions as part of a bid, and then the owner shopped the plan out to a cheap knucklehead, who did not follow the instructions. When things didn't work as planned, the owners sued not only the knucklehead, but also the steam pro!!!--NBC

2 stage controls

@ March 12, 2014 11:43 PM in Stage-fired boiler controls?

I think the wiring needs to accommodate not only the vaporstat connection to the lag boiler, but also the switching of the thermostat (second stage wire) to either boiler.
I am not enough of an electrician to do that, but maybe Jaimie can.
To repeat my control theory, the thermostat has 2 output paths: first stage, and second stage. The first stage will fire first, and most often, and if that lead boiler has trouble keeping up with the heating load, then the thermostat will energize the second stage, and the lag boiler will fire. The lag boiler will have the vaporstat wired in series so that when the low pressure is attained, it will cut off, even though the thermostat second stage calls for heat. Soon after a few pressure cycles, the thermostat 2 stage will be satisfied, and the system will be fed with steam from the lead boiler (still running) at sub atmospheric pressures.
In order to switch either boiler from lead to lag, and vice versa, needs some fancy wiring, and yet would be good to do as you don't know which one to choose for either job. Just make sure that the vaporstat is on the second stage output wire from the thermostat, and then connect to some sort of switcher. I don't think a vaporstat is needed on the first stage, because one boiler on its own will not produce any pressure above zero.--NBC
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