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Alan (California Radiant) Forbes

Alan (California Radiant) Forbes

Joined on August 14, 2009

Last Post on April 23, 2014

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Move to California

@ February 5, 2010 12:22 AM in TT Solo Prestige vs. power outage

Even out here, when the power goes out, you've got no heat unless you have a generator.


@ February 1, 2010 11:24 AM in Radiator bleeder valve port(s)

Your idea is very novel, but I know of nothing like that on the market.

You will have to deal with the existing tapping or make a new one.  Yes, heating the surface will help.

And make sure the radiator is made to work with hot water. The sections should have waterway connections at the top and bottom.  If only at the bottom, you will have to install air bleeders on each section.

You mention

@ January 31, 2010 4:20 PM in Can Old & New Hot Water Systems Be Combined?

that you have expansion tanks and a pumped system.  If it weren't for that, I'd guess that you might have a steam system.  The reason is that you mention someone draining "'black gunk' from all the boilers" which would indicate steam (not hot water)  On a steam system, the float in the low water cut-off needs to be kept clean and flushing the float chamber once a week is necessary.  Typically, you don't drain hydronic systems; it's not good for them.

Gravity systems were popular at the turn of the century, mostly because pumps weren't around yet.  Pumps are now required to provide the flow necessary to pick up the heat on modern boilers that have a smaller heat exchange surface.

To answer your question, radiators are sized the same for pumped vs. gravity systems.  The only thing that changes when doing a gravity conversion is that a thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) is added to the radiator piping.


@ January 29, 2010 6:53 PM in Best FLUX!

I've been using flux from Crest/Good:


and even though Mark Eatherton rails against it, I cut a hole in the top for my acid brush.

Copper tubing?  Typle M  I've never seen a reason to use type L; It's more expensive, takes longer to cut and has a reduced capacity.

Happy Birthday, Dan!

@ January 28, 2010 12:02 PM in Happy Birthday Dan Holohan

....and many more. 

It's too early for beer, but I'm hoisting my tea cup to you right now.

All the very best,


St. Louis

@ January 28, 2010 11:57 AM in Can Old & New Hot Water Systems Be Combined?

Your house sounds wonderful.  I'd be camped out in your cool basement on the hot summer days.

So, the plumbers are tearing up your house?  What about the electricians?  I've been on so many jobs where the owners have tried to save the wall coverings and by the time the subs have done their work, the owners realize that they should have gone back to the studs.  In the long run, it's cheaper and you end up with a better product.  Those old steel risers probably have minimal insulation.

Curiously, I don't see any plumbing contractors listed for your area in "Find a Professional"  on this website.  If I were you, I'd ask around; yours can't be the only house in St. Louis with hydronic heat. St. Louis is a historic city with historic buildings that have historic heating systems like yours.  Is there a neighborhood association? 

Failing that, search for hydronic heating suppliers in town and ask for a few references.  Call some boiler manufacturers and ask them for the numbers of a local representative or dealers; some of my favorites are:

Viessmann Manufacturing

Triangle Tube

All the best,


St. Louis Hydronic Contractor

@ January 27, 2010 11:38 PM in St. Louis Hydronic Contractor

If you're out there, please look below at the thread, "Can Old & New Hot Water Systems Be Combined?" and let the owner know how to get in touch with you.


@ January 27, 2010 12:25 AM in Can Old & New Hot Water Systems Be Combined?

More and more, it's sounding like you're doing a fair amount of renovation, i.e. gutting the building back down to the framing?  Yes? No?  If so, I'd replace the piping with new copper.  I'd only consider using the existing iron pipe if it's a major expense to remove wall and ceiling coverings.

Dave: The perp. (Tremolux) says only the radiators are forsaken; I'd bet the piping is fine, but being from California, I'm at the $5 limit blackjack table.

First floor circulator fans?  The profile for radiant heating is uniform temperatures, floor to ceiling.

As far as mixing cast iron radiators with steel panel radiators, there's been a standing argument here that cast iron radiators will hold their heat longer than the steel radiators because there's more mass there; I'm sure it's true and if it is, some rooms may heat differently than others.

Oh, there it is: "The pipes in the walls will have to stay put.."  OK then, replace as much as you can.

And yes, insulate well.  But we still have know idea where you live.  Do you have any good hydronic heating contractors there?

All the best........

Hybrid System

@ January 25, 2010 9:46 PM in Can Old & New Hot Water Systems Be Combined?

First floor radiant (low temperature) and upstairs radiators (high temperature) should not be a problem; it's done all the time off the same boiler.  The boiler operates at the higher temperature and a mixing valve is installed for the low temperature radiant.

As far as your pipes, they should be in good order since the water in a hydronic system is free of oxygen and minerals.  But I'd still pressure test the pipes.

Was this a gravity system, i.e. no pump?


@ January 25, 2010 1:04 AM in 17 year old pigtail

The hiss is not a normal sound coming from the P-trol, but it seems to be operating fine.  Even so, it the trap seal has been lost in the pigtail because of a leak in the P-trol, the life of the P-trol is shortened. I'd repalce the P-trol and the pigtail; make sure the pigtail is brass; it will last longer.  The electrical connections are easy; just 2 wires.  I've had a leaky P-trol straight out of the box.

The 3/8" x 1/4" bushing or reducer is not normal, but is not necessarily wrong.

Dirty Mains

@ January 23, 2010 7:06 PM in Water Level

It might take a long time for the condensate to return to the boiler because the mains have mineral build-up or sediment blocking the way.  By the time the water comes back, the boiler has already replenished itself and the water level goes up.

Also, your main vents may not be working, causing a vacuum.  Check them and make sure they are both letting air out and back in when the system turns off and cools.


@ January 23, 2010 4:11 PM in 90% or mnore recommended boiler that you like to install & service

Love the Prestige, but you still have to make sure the flow through the heat exchanger is adequate to pick up all that heat.  But often times, you have a one zone house or multiple large zones, the smallest of which would be capable of picking up the heat on low fire.  At times like these, you may not need primary-secondary (pumping the boiler) piping.

A. S. Boiler

@ January 20, 2010 4:33 PM in American Standard Boiler Heat

Your hydronic system should only need a minimum of service, but the best way to familiarize yourself with the normal operation of your boiler is to find someone who knows what they are doing (see "Find a Professional" above) and have them explain things to you; point at devices and tell you what they are for, etc.

Your American Standard boiler is probably 50 years old? A thing of beauty.  I have a few of them on my route and they are a well designed piece of equipment; not the most efficient animal on the block, though. You will probably get a few technicians that will tell you to get rid of it for something more efficient. It's your call.

As far as the noises you are hearing; it sounds as though someone has installed a pump that is too big.  Can you tell us the model number of the pump?  And if you have a digital camera, take some pictures of your system and post them here so we can get a good look.

All the best,



@ January 19, 2010 6:29 PM in Replacing Steam System! (out of necessity)

If you're on the first floor and the mechanical room is directly below, you can radiantly heat the floors if the underside of the floors are accessible from the basement.

You can also use the steam pipe as a supply for the radiators, but you would then need to install return pipes from the radiators back to the boiler.  The radiators will need to be checked to make sure they are appropriate for hot water, i.e. waterways connected between sections at top and bottom.

Myself?  If the existing steam system is so compromised, I'd replace everything for a brand new system.  There are too many problems dealing with 100 year old pipe and radiators.

Flow Switch

@ January 18, 2010 2:51 PM in comm. flow switch application issue?

The only thing that comes to mind is to check that the flow switch paddle moves freely.  They usually give you assorted paddles depending on the size of the line.  With your small line size, the paddle needs to be small.

Industry Wide?

@ January 15, 2010 11:35 AM in New Steam Boiler - Copper Piping

I haven't read through all the posts and maybe this has been discussed, but what about the other manufacturers?  Burnham? Weil-McLain? Slant-Fin? Crown? Do they have anything in their instructions saying to use iron pipe and not copper?

Of course, it might be a moot point since a Peerless is installed, but I'd like to hear how other manufacturers handle it, if at all.  And if not, why not?


@ January 14, 2010 3:47 PM in Had to bang of LWCO for Burner to start

What kind do you have?  If you don't know the model number, send us a picture.

Check for voltage

@ January 11, 2010 10:50 PM in Taco 571-2 Zone Valave Question

If you've got 24 volts to the powerhead and the valve is not open, replace it.

If it's hot, that can be a sign of a faulty head. 

Way To Go

@ January 11, 2010 9:30 PM in Customer Kudos!

It makes it all worth while.

All the best from Berkeley,



@ January 8, 2010 6:08 PM in Radiant Heat & Humidity?

Radiant heat does not make the air any dryer. 

Many farced air heating contractors will try to scare homeowners with this argument.


@ January 8, 2010 5:36 PM in Vaporstat Wiring

it as a new topic in "The Main Wall" forum (the other forums don't get as much traffic).I don't have time to wrap my head around it right now; I'm just between jobs.


@ January 8, 2010 12:15 PM in Pipe drill jig recommendations

You don't really need a jig.  Just drill and tap the top of the pipe.
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