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Joined on September 24, 2009

Last Post on September 10, 2014

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@ September 10, 2014 11:44 PM in Pump Lifespan Question

If loop is above the water level of boiler. Don't use flo checks. If zone is overheating then throttle the isolation valves a bit. Will take some trial and error. Would leave a circulator in place, just in case loop calls and steam portion hasn't been calling for a while.


@ September 9, 2014 10:09 PM in Steam boiler loses water when off.

You can also calculate water height by attaching hose to boiler drain. Raise outlet side of hose to height of header. When water starts coming out then you know that the water has reached the header

Clogged rad

@ September 1, 2014 12:17 PM in Unbalanced Steam System?????????

I wouldn't bother pulling the radiator. Radiators don't clog. The first thing to check is the main venting. Size is critical. It is nearly impossible to balance a steam system without proper main venting.. Wet steam could also contribute to uneven steam distribution.
I am based around the corner from you. Feel free to contact me.


@ September 1, 2014 9:20 AM in SUBMERGED Boilers and Water heater. What absolutely needs replacing?

Good morning. When boilers or other equipment come into contact with salt water then the risks are considerably magnified. Any residue that adheres to the boiler (including the ever important flue/products of combustion/ carbon monoxide passageways) will gradually eat away the boiler. The most significant result can be the disintegration of the flue passageways which can lead to fires, flame rollout and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Here is an interesting fact that I became aware of recently. When they remove airplane "black boxes" from salt water, they are never exposed to air. They are transferred from the salt water directly into containers of fresh water. They are then transferred in sealed containers of salt water. Reason behind this is that if the "black boxes " are exposed to fresh air after coming into contact with salt water, they will begin to disintegrate. I dont know what the black boxes are made of so this may not be a good comparison. Bottom line is don't take chances with anyones life.

Just to confirm

@ August 20, 2014 10:12 PM in Oil boiler with gas conversion burner

Steamhead. The efficiency numbers you are talking about are on a triple pass boiler or a non triple pass converted oil boiler?

Jstar. I might take you up on your offer. I also need to talk with you at some point about hi/lo firing steam boilers.

Thank you.

Standard vs triple pass

@ August 20, 2014 9:40 AM in Oil boiler with gas conversion burner

I have people whispering(or shouting in some cases) in my ear, that conversion burners are only more efficient if used with triple pass boilers. However, a standard atmospheric gas boiler is more efficient than a standard oil boil with a conversion burner.

True or false???

Thank you.

Oil boiler with gas conversion burner

@ August 20, 2014 8:33 AM in Oil boiler with gas conversion burner

Good morning to all. Looking to install my first new steam gas boiler using an oil boiler with a conversion gas burner. What are the estimated efficiencies comparing a standard atmospheric gas boiler to a standard oil boiler with gas burner to a triple pass oil boiler with gas burner? There is a substantial difference in price between the triple pass boilers and the standard oil boilers. I want to be able to give my customer all the options. Thank you.

Buried returns

@ July 24, 2014 12:34 PM in Steam boiler loses water when off.

Do you have any underground returns? If yes, then they are a likely culprit.

Mod/con poll. Installers only.

@ July 11, 2014 1:11 PM in Mod/con poll. Installers only.

Good afternoon. I have finally crawled out from under my bed. The last mod/con post turned out to be a little bit more then I expected. I would like to propose a simple poll.

Setting: Customer with heat load of 125000 BTU. New York City(i.e. long heating season). Old house. Not much insulation. High temp baseboard.  Needs new gas hot water boiler. Wants to know your opinion on cast iron boiler boilers vs. mod/con.

Do you tell him
1) No brainer. Go for the mod/con.
2) No brainer. Go for the cast iron boiler and use any extra money for other energy saving upgrades(insulation,outdoor reset etc.).
3) Tell him that its not black and white. Tell him all the pros and cons and let him decide.

Rules of the poll:
1. Poll is open only to installers(not homeowners,distributors, company reps etc).
2. The only answers allowed are 1, 2, or 3. No explanations or other dialogue allowed.
3. Please detail approximately how many RESIDENTIAL mod/cons you have installed and how long you have been installing them for.


@ July 10, 2014 11:40 PM in Did my plumber "F" up my system?

Will it work? You can turn up the heat and see what happens. The amount of bends might be problematic. No way to tell from here.
Copper will work to get the steam from the main to the radiator. However, copper is not nearly as durable when used to carry steam. The expansion due to the heating of the copper pipe can cause the solder joints to crack.
It is possible that there is no good way to run steam pipes to the new radiator location. Again, hard to tell from here.
If not, then you have the option of having a hot water zone. Basicly, you would have hot water pumped from the boiler into the radiator. In essence, you would have a separate zone and system for that one radiator. Again, cant tell from here if that is necessary or not. Just an option.
I wouldn't trust a plumbing inspector opinion on how to pipe steam systems. Good shot that he doesnt know more then the contractor. Anyway, there may not be any codes relating to proper and effective steam piping.
Maybe post some pics.

Basic question

@ July 7, 2014 10:06 AM in Getting into mod/con business

All advise has been well taken. This is a business that I do not want to jump into unless I am 110% confident of my competence and 110% confident t that I am giving the customer the best bang for the buck.
I really need to backtrack to a more basic question. Are mod/cons worth it? After factoring in the additional installation cost, the additional maintenance costs, the additional repair costs, the shorter boiler lifespan, possible water treatment costs etc, are mod/cons are worthwhile investment?
This is not meant as an attack question. This is a "I really need to know " question. This is the question that all of my customers will be asking me. I cant install these boilers (or any other product) unless I am sure that the answer is YES!
Most of my customers are in residential, older, uninsulated homes with heat loads maxing out around 200 mbtu.
All opinions, advise and insights are greatly appreciated.


@ July 3, 2014 11:29 PM in Getting into mod/con business

If you read the original post, you will see that I referenced the need for training. That is a given. The drawback of manufacturer's training is that everyone is trying to push their product. I am looking for independent and unbiased opinions from the experts out in the field. Nuff said.


@ July 3, 2014 10:07 PM in Getting into mod/con business

I haven't had much time to give this topic much thought. As soon as I have time to clear my head,I will come back with some more intelligent questions. Just a few basic questions.
1. I have read online all sorts of horror stories. Various parts breaking resulting in expensive repairs and long delays in getting heat back on. Repeat lockouts. Savings not being as high as advertised. Warrenty problems. Etc. Are these stories the norm are the exception? Are they result of manufacturing defects or poor installations?
2. What water quality issues are relevant to mod/cons? Hard water,acidic water etc?
3. Some of the areas that I service have unpredictable gas pressures (particularly during extreme cold spells). What effect will that have on the mod/cons?
4. Does the condensing factor result in significant savings on hi temp systems? I understand that the modulation factor will result in significant savings on all systems. An outdoor reset will bring the condensing factor into play during the warmer parts of the heating system. However, are those savings enough to justify the extra expense of condensing boilers? Would modulation without condensing be a better option on hi temp systems?

Getting into mod/con business

@ July 1, 2014 3:30 PM in Getting into mod/con business

Good afternoon to all. I am (finally) considering getting into the mod/con installation and service business. Obviously, manufacturer's training is a must. I have a few basic questions (I am sure that many more will follow).
1. The bulk of my work is in Queens and Nassau county. Which makes and models have readily accessible replacement parts in this area? I can't have a situation where parts go bad and it takes a few days or more to get replacement parts.
2. Which mod cons are best in terms of durability, ease of installation and service, customer service, warranty length and coverage, ease in getting warranty honored, etc?


@ June 10, 2014 10:09 PM in Adding on to existing Monoflo system

The pex will have more resistance to flow then the piping installed by the dead men. The result might be no flow through the pex zone. Doesn't hurt to try.


@ June 10, 2014 9:55 PM in What are the implications of reducing radiator count on a one pipe steam system

Removing radiators effectively creates a bigger boiler to radiator ratio. A boiler that is to big for its radiators will cause all sorts of problems.
Step number one is to figure out the EDR or radiator btu output of all the remaining radiators. Next step is to compare that to the boiler ratings.

Step by step

@ June 10, 2014 9:22 PM in Two Pipe Steam System with Air Vents

The return configuration wont affect the heating unless the condensate backed up enough to block the inlet piping of the radiator. It is possible but not likely(famous last words).
You have to attack this step by step. First step is to remove the air vents and fire the boiler.If you don't get heat, then try to crack a union by the radiator inlet. Be careful. Water or steam may come out.
You could replace the returns. However, it might not be necessary any may not cure any problems.
If the returns are backing up and blocking the radiators then a vaporstat and hefty main venting might be a better idea.


@ June 9, 2014 11:33 PM in Two Pipe Steam System with Air Vents

Cant say that I have ever seen something like what you are describing. Maybe the piping between the return side of the radiator and the main is supposed to be some sort of steam trap. Any piping below the main will be filled with water. This will in effect, create a steam trap. The water above the main will return through the main IF(as Jamie said) there is enough height in the piping to create enough pressure to overcome the steam pressure in the main.
Try removing the air vents and see what happens.
This system might be a good candidate for a vaporstat(to ensure low steam pressure in the main).
You could also try to put an air vent in the return piping above the height of the steam main(you just need to drill and tap a 1/8" hole). This will give the benefit of steam pressure in the return to overcome the pressure in the steam main.

pick up factor

@ June 3, 2014 7:59 AM in Sizing New Gas Steam Boiler

Take a look at this attachment. Should give you all the info you need for making an exact calculation of piping heat loss. Courtesy of Mr. Gill's website.


@ April 11, 2014 9:31 AM in Radiator air vent preference?

I have been installing only Gortons for years. No problems at all. Only thing that I would not do is to follow the Gorton venting guide. It is amateurish. Get the venting guide available in the shop section on this site. Venting is like the human respiratory system. It is critical to the health of any steam heating system.


@ April 2, 2014 10:56 AM in Radiator cracking

Was the crack in the same spot on all three rads? What type of rads? Are the rads in a very cold spot? Maybe thermal shock(not likely) . Also so they have cracks or holes or leaks between sections etc?


@ March 28, 2014 12:26 AM in Steam problem

Was that plugged T connected to the boiler or to the steam main. If the latter, then you can disregard my analysis.

Time for sleep.
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