Security Seal Facebook Twitter GooglePlus Pinterest Newsletter Sign-up
The Wall
The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

Joined on May 25, 2008

Last Post on April 14, 2014

Contact User

Recent Posts

1 2 3 4 5 ... 37 »

go to the Burnham site

@ April 14, 2014 4:03 PM in Is my steam boiler way oversized?

and check out what the factory gas burners are for those boilers. 

Another vote for Vent Rite's

@ April 12, 2014 10:05 AM in Radiator air vent preference?

The adjustable version adjusts in the slow range, allowing you to get really find balance in a system.  Remember, vent mains quickly and radiators slowly.  Gortons vents are well made, but the venting sizes are too large. It would be much better if they offered fived sizes with the largest at 6, not D.   For apartments I recommend the Maid of Mist.....they are like the Gortons except that the orifice can be changed.  Makes it much easier to tweak the system without having to buy and swap all sorts of vents.  After you get them balanced, a little locktite on the orifice and that will keep folks from messing with the orifices.  You can swap in the equivalent Gorton later in you want a better vent.

Low gas pressure

@ April 11, 2014 9:38 PM in Is my steam boiler way oversized?

Chicago is almost all low pressure mains and we have lots of really, really big boilers. Typical courtyard buildings are running 2.5 million to 3 millions input boilers and 500,000 btu input water heaters, all off low gas pressures.  The key is sizing the gas piping correctly. 

Probably a litle more sane approach.....

@ April 10, 2014 8:18 AM in Is my steam boiler way oversized?

would be to first convert to natural gas and simply fire the boiler at the proper rate.  Most gas fired boilers seem to work fine with a 50 to 60% down fire, in fact Burnham probably has this as a factory approved high/low set up for the boiler.    Properly tuned, you'll probably see a 3 to 4% increase in firing efficiency when running at these low fire rates.  In this case, you want to keep the boiler oversized to gain heat exchange efficiency, but cut the firing rate.
Over your current set with oil, you'll probably see at least  60 to 70% drop in fuel costs just making this change due to much cheaper natural gas, and much more efficient boiler and system operation.
Also, now that you have a huge boiler with a small fire, the need for correct piping above the boiler drops dramatically because the water and steam will separate much better inside the boiler and there will be much less reliance on the external piping.
This will buy you some time before rebuilding the header.

Sidewall venting.....

@ April 7, 2014 4:14 PM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

is the problem. The general restrictions include not being closer that 10 feet to the lot line, within 7 feet of any window or other opening, no under porches, no outdoor vent piping other than the couple feet for the termination.  Once you start adding the cost of installing chase ways, which must allow inspection of the vent piping, through other owners units (condos) , the fire stops between units,etc,  The cost starts growing rapidly.  There is also the issue of fire separations between units, so ductwork can't be run in ceilings or down in the basement, unless the space is separated with fireproofing.

Look at your electric bills too.......

@ April 7, 2014 8:18 AM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

typical gas forced air uses about $30.00 per month for electricity to run that giant blower motor, draft fan and all the electronics.  Steam only needs to open the gas valve and maybe run a small amount of electronics.    I believe, if my numbers are correct, that forced air uses about 80 times more electricity that an typical steam boiler.  There's plenty of research data out there (Department of Energy and other independent testing) that shows the overall system efficiency of a typical new  single family home forced air system is about 55% to 65%.  Steam appears to be more in the 70 to 75% range, probably due to much lower distribution losses and dramatically lower effect on air leakage of the structure when the system is in operation.  There's many reasons forced air is almost non existent on the world wide market and this is one of them.
Modcon gas also uses many times more electricity than steam, but probably use less gas than a typical steam boiler due to lower system losses ( smaller pipes and lower temperatures) and air leakage rates of the structure may be even lower than steam.  However, you have a whole lot more to go wrong, and if you are in a high density area, can be difficult to legally and safely vent the exhaust.  High efficiency appliance are all but illegal for installation in most areas of Chicago.

My thoughts

@ April 6, 2014 10:09 AM in how should I prepare the system for summer?

You really want to do all the cleaning before the summer because if you let any debris lay in the bottom of the boiler or pipes all summer, it will tend to harden.  I'd do a complete flushing out and cleaning of the boiler return lines and controls. If you have used system cleaning chemicals or treatment in the past, you may want to add a heavy dosage of oxygen scavenging chemical to the boiler water, then overfill into the risers and boil as described above to remove the initial oxygen.  If you do want to clean your system and boiler with cleaner, now would be the time to do it, then lay it up.

Here's an Idea....

@ April 4, 2014 8:17 AM in Need used or cheap commercial steam boiler

maybe you can get a couple of nearly new megasteamers donated since Burnham won't permit conversion to gas (there's one on the wall right now that may become available).  Also, is your steam two pipe?  If it is you may be able to go even smaller on the steamer.   If you orifice the valves, you can drop down to the heat loss of the building plus a 10 to 15% PU factor, not the radiation load.  Also, I have found that most engineers have had little or no training in steam heating, so they have no basis to make the decision that steam in somehow inefficient ( I have my degree in Architecture and quite a bit of engineering came with that).   If they want new systems, the best solution may be a combination of the two.  Size the new systems to accommodate the base load for the typical winter day or warmer ( about 60% load and 90% of the heating season), to nearly halve the size of the new systems, and then let the steam supplement for the 10 days a year that the weather requires additional heat.   With a multi-unit there are so many internal heat gains, that the steam probably would only be needed a couple days a year.

Looking for A/S baseboard end cover

@ March 12, 2014 6:33 PM in Looking for A/S baseboard end cover

See the attached Pic



Inline air seperator with 3/4 inch tank connection?

@ February 18, 2014 4:10 PM in Inline air seperator with 3/4 inch tank connection?

Does anyone make one of these anymore for smaller sizes? I need one for 1 1/4 inch and have used up the last of my stock of B&G IAS.  A simple air scoop or the IAS design (better) is all I need.

Which chart for sizing vents.

@ February 17, 2014 6:54 PM in Which chart for sizing vents.

Assuming noncondensing, which chart gets used for sizing vents on gas fired, power burner , barometric damper equipped or natural.  I believe they are CAT 1, but it really doesn't make sense they would be lumped with draft hoods since draft hood equipped appliances have much larger volumes of gases to vent due to the draft hood air entering the venting system   Does it change when it is pressure fired?  I suspect these are CAT 3 appliances.   The venting charts I have seen do not specifically call out CAT 1 for natural and CAT 3 for fan assisted, even in the codes.

Found the parts...thanks.

@ February 17, 2014 6:41 PM in Looking for replacement Fire eye


Don't forget Nash Jennings

@ February 7, 2014 7:22 AM in Brown Vari Vac System

They still make their very efficient vacuum pump

Looking for replacement Fire eye

@ February 4, 2014 4:54 PM in Looking for replacement Fire eye

My burner tech found a bad s0d20 fire eye that is running ultraviolet on natural gas.  He's been told they are no longer available and the cost to replace the complete control system is quite excessive (like a new burner makes more sense). Any sources for replacement  or rebuilt components?


@ December 21, 2013 4:02 PM in King Valves: unsafe???

  1. King valves are required by code (international mechanical code Section 1005.1) on all  boilers except on systems having a single low pressure steam boiler.


@ December 18, 2013 7:11 AM in Sizing Hidden radiators

If they are actually 162 EDR @ 70 air temp, I would expect the output would be much higher if they are heating -10F outdoor air......something I suppose I need to  watch out for.

Sizing Hidden radiators

@ December 17, 2013 6:05 AM in Sizing Hidden radiators

I have a couple that the numbers just don't seem right.   A 6 x27 horizontal duct feeds the radiator, the ductwork at the radiator is 36 x 32.  The steam supply is 1 inch with a 3/4 inch Moline (orificed) supply valve.  Using the cold flue size I come up with 162 EDR.....sounds like way too much.  Any Ideas?

Check the thermostat

@ October 6, 2013 8:42 AM in Short cycling steam boiler

If you have a digital thermostat and are in the US, they are set up for forced air from the factory.  The internal settings need to be adjusted for a steam system. Not all electronic thermostats can be used for steam, and there are some that try to lump hot water and steam together....also not a good idea.  If you have an older thermostat, the anticipator may need adjustment or is burnt out.

that seems to be about what I was figuring

@ August 6, 2013 8:34 PM in What is the Heat loss for copper pipe....


What is the Heat loss for copper pipe....

@ August 6, 2013 8:19 PM in What is the Heat loss for copper pipe....

at steam temp. with 70F air?  I need it for 3/4 and 1 inch.  The engineering toolbox only goes to about 180 F.

I've wondered that too...

@ July 28, 2013 6:29 PM in Water conservation and old toilets

Hand wash water should get added after each flush, as do daily showers/baths. If this becomes a problem, I would think it may be bigger in commercial applications where there is not additional flow from other sources.   We have a 6 inch clay line to the street, which, with Chicago's combined waste/ storm water sewer probably will be an advantage.   We'll be lining the main sewer soon too.

Water conservation and old toilets

@ July 26, 2013 8:47 PM in Water conservation and old toilets

I know this is plumbing, but I thought more folks might see this.  I have always been into conservation, not the extreme kind, but were you can live a normal life.  I've got our original 1903 or so toilet (wall hung tank), down to under 2 gallons per flush works just fine.  I really don't know why the American toilet manufacturers have made such a fuss over 1.6 gallon toilets...I can approach that standard with 110 year old technology.  One thing I did learn is that the typical toilet flush valve puts way too much refill water into the bowl after the flush.  I you want to easily cut your water use, partially plug the rubber fill tube (a piece of #10 or 12 wire will  do).   Right now I am putting nothing in and the water level is low, but the trap is well sealed.  If I add another 1 qt of water the bowl is full, 2 cups is probably plenty.  So I need at most 2.2 gallons to make a 110 year old toilet flush just fine.   The tank has 3 bricks in it, a 1 gallon jug of water and some rocks to reduce the tank volume.   I also lowered the water level some ( and cut the overflow to keep the required clearance) , but have tried to keep the water level high for more forceful flushing. 
I've also been working on boosting our vehicles mileage.  I've got our 93 Tracer (Escort) wagon  consistently pulling 33 to 34 mpg at 65 to 70 mph highway speeds with about 800 lbs load.  On the open highway with no traffic jams, but 800 lbs load we are close to 38 mpg.      It's only rated at 30 by the new EPA standards.   A few simple mechanical and aero changes made a big difference, and I have a few more items to do that I expect to see significant gains.  Now to do something about the BEAST (2001 Ford E250).
Just a few words of encouragement to those that like to tinker a little to make things better.  It doesn't seem to take much to greatly improve on what is mass produced.
1 2 3 4 5 ... 37 »