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Joined on September 15, 2010

Last Post on September 1, 2014

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Sq ft not BTU

@ September 1, 2014 7:29 PM in Unbalanced Steam System?????????

Forget about the BTU rating on a steam boiler. The boiler has to be rated to deliver the sq ft of steam that is needed for the total EDR of the radiators The sq ft of steam rating on a boiler includes a 33% pickup factor so don't add that in, in fact if the house is well insulated and the steam pipes as well you can cheat on the required sq ft rating.

I'll second the recommendation about lowering the steam pressure, mine is set to 12 oz and that is more than enough.


Won't work long term

@ August 29, 2014 9:25 PM in Bryant 244-7 Series A Gas Steam Boiler

Boiler sealers might work for a week and maybe a month - if your lucky. They will NEVER work for years.

I suggest you look into financing now while you have some control over the situation. If that boiler has to be be replaced on a cold January night you will pay a lot more than you would now when installers are not going crazy.


Steam Master

@ August 26, 2014 9:22 PM in low pressure steam boiler - conditioning

A few of us are using Steam Master tablets to raise the PH of boiler water into a benign region (PH 9.0) where it won't encourage corrosion. This is added to a boiler and left in the boiler for it's life.

If you decide to use this DO NOT FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS, most residential boilers only need one tablet not 4. Also whenever you add water to a boiler or add something to the water in the boiler, you should bring the boiler up to steam to drive off any oxygen in the water.


More heat

@ August 24, 2014 4:44 PM in Adding longer baseboard steam radiators

Do the radiators in the cool rooms get hot at the same time as other radiators in the house? Is this single pipe or two pipe steam?  Do they get hot fully across? Where is the thermostat in relation to these radiators in the cool rooms?

Getting longer cast iron radiators will not be cheap, don't try and use anything but cast iron. The pipe feeding a radiator has to be large enough to feed the surface area of the radiator. Can you tell us the size of pipe (circumference of the pipe would be fine) that feeds each radiator?  Do you know wht the EDR (surface area) of the radiators is? Do you know if there is insulation behind the baseboard radiators and are they recessed into the wall?



@ August 24, 2014 7:19 AM in puchasing a new ammeter, recommendations?

Analog meters have one very handy trait, they give you a very accurate picture of how fast current is ramping up and that is good to know in many applications. I've used quite a few digital models but never found anything as useful as my 30 year old Sperry amp clamp (better copy of the amprobe).

Analog does cost more and most analog clamp ammeters don't do DC. With the new inverter heatpumps I don't know how either works on the chopped waveform.


Why did it fail?

@ August 23, 2014 7:14 AM in Operating noise in a Burnham Indepence PV?

Is your system using too much water? That type of boiler is very sensitive to having fresh water added. If you do have to add water, make sure you bring the system up to steam right after adding the water. If you have a auto fill without a meter on it you could be adding more water than you realize.

Does your water have high chloride content? Some areas between Boston and Providence has high chloride content and that can rot a boiler block.If your not sure you could have your water tested. Keeping the PH of the boiler water at 9 or 10 can inhibit corrosion as long as the chloride content is low.


It depends

@ August 22, 2014 10:09 AM in Should we use new steam boiler for hot water heating?

Could you boost the temperature of that tank and stretch the supply of hot water in the winter? Make sure you install a mixing valve on it's output to limit the temperature of the hot water that is delivered to the taps.

While an indirect is more efficient, would it make sense to have one for a single occupancy apartment? My 40 gal stand alone gas hot water heater only uses about 5 therms a month in the non heating months and that costs me about $17 a month, it is going to take a very long time to recoup the cost of an indirect (on energy savings alone).

If you use a lot of hot water I would consider installing an indirect but make sure you know the costs. For the apartment I'd just install a stand alone gas hot water heater (10 year tank) and I'd replace the anode rod every 3 years to extend it's life.



@ August 19, 2014 9:10 PM in Please Recommend a good gas to radiator boiler system

Is this a forced hot water system or a steam system?

Has a heat loss been done on the house yet?


23 and done

@ August 18, 2014 9:03 PM in Confirmation of boiler failure

You can replace single sections on a boiler but it's hard work and expensive from a labor point of view, Also you may have more than one bad section on that 23 year old boiler.

It's time to get quotes on a new boiler. be sure the new boiler is sized to your installed radiation and make sure it is installed per the manufacturers piping diagram using threaded steel pipe NOT COPPER.

Where are you located?



@ August 17, 2014 6:25 PM in gas condensing boiler recommendation

HX is the heat exchanger which is the heart of any boiler. I believe the 97 has a stainless steel fire tube heat exchanger and that design  is well thought of.


It looks like a vapor system

@ August 14, 2014 9:56 PM in Yet another boiler sizing question from a newbie...

Vapor systems are best run at very low pressure - under 1 PSI. If the house is reasonably well insulated and all the piping in the basement gets insulated with 1" rigid fiberglass you can undersize the boiler. The sq ft of steam rating assumes a 33% pickup factor, if all the pipes are insulated you probably don't need the full 33%.

You have to find a good steam main to look at your system and see what he thinks, your photo does not show enough detail to be sure of what you have. take more photos from different angles so we can see what you have to deal with.

The skill of the installer counts more than anything else in steam systems. He has to make sure all the piping has the correct slope and that the near boiler piping is done correctly. All the traps have to be checked to be sure they are working. The system should have a vaporstat, not a pressuretrol to control the pressure.


Nuclear reactor steam generators

@ August 12, 2014 3:32 PM in Nuclear reactor steam generators

This is a two hour plus discussion of Thorium reactors - very interesting alternative to what we do now. If you go to the 0ne hour 8 minute mark they talk about what they do to control the effects of a break in a high pressure (150 atm) line in the containment building of a solid uranium fueled reactor.

BTW the most attractive thing about a liquid salt reactor compared to a pressurized boiling water reactor is the liquid salt reactor operates at low pressure and that makes everything much simpler and safer. There are a lot of other benefits using liquid salt vs boiling water as well.


too late for me

@ August 6, 2014 1:05 PM in Burnham has tested Beckett gas burners in oil-fired boilers

I'm glad they finally saw the writing on the wall. If they had done this a few years ago I'd have a Megasteam instead of the Smith G8 sitting in my cellar, i contacted Burnham at the time but they did not want to hear anything about gas conversions.

Is there much of a difference between the Beckett and Carlin EZ-Gas gun?


A kilowatt is a kilowatt unless

@ August 4, 2014 7:42 AM in Stanalone Hydronic Electric Baseboard vs Standard Electric Baseboards

You use that kilowatt to drive a heat pump. A heat pump can get two to three times as much heat out of a kilowatt as a baseboard electric heater can; that means the bill for heating can go down a substantially. What have others in the building done?

I assume you have an AC in the condo, maybe that can be replaced with a heat pump that would heat as well as cool. You would still need the electric heat for other rooms but a heat pump could handle the main area. The best heat pumps are good down to about 5 degrees but the efficiency drops off at the lower end.

Other than that you have to fix any drafts and take a close look at the windows. Sliding glass doors can leak a lot of air.


A good move

@ July 29, 2014 7:19 AM in Burner Conversion Question - Weil-McLain P-SG0-3

I had an oil tank that started to weep a few years ago, the price of oil was getting ridiculous so i decided to switch to gas rather than replace the tank. I installed a Smith G-8 (no longer in production) with the EZ-Gas burner because my Burnham V75 boiler was 13 years old and that particular model was not known for longevity.

The combination has worked very well for me and I have saved a lot of money on fuel burned. If your boiler is still in good shape I would not hesitate to convert it, just make sure your installer is familiar with the Carlin gun and that he follows the advice about using the 9 slot diffuser plate.


Leaving the equipment aside for a minute

@ July 15, 2014 7:45 AM in Not Cool:

It seems insulation may be a large part of your problem (you mentioned having to add bat insulation to get the original system working right) and that some decisions made by the new system installers didn't help matters. I suspect your attic insulation isn't doing the job you need of it. You mentioned bat insulation, you might be a lot better off getting rid of all the fiberglass insulation in the attic and replacing it with a lot of blown cellulose because it does a much better job of conforming to irregularities than the bat type of insulation. Make sure they don't nlock the soffit vents when they do the insulation. If you can stop or at least slow down hot air from coming in contact with  the ceiling the system will perform a lot better.

Make very sure there are NO LEAKS in the attic ducts, if you want that check done right you probably have to do it yourself. I would try to avoid working with the insulation myself because it's just miserable job, especially in a hot attic,  for those of us who have survived long enough to retire.

It is important that the new system works the way it should but you should be able to figure that out with some detailed temperature readings. Be careful with IR thermometers, some are very fussy when reading the temperatures of different materials, They work well when looking for the difference between similar surfaces. I trust thermocouples or a good stem thermometer (you can get digital cooking thermometers for almost nothing these days), more for air temps. If I have any doubts about them I test them with a crushed ice bath and then boiling water.

good luck,



@ July 12, 2014 4:03 PM in Identifying boiler capacity

It looks like the EG-45 is a a good starting point if your going to stay with that series of boiler. Your total is 408 sq ft and the 45 is rated for 392, as i said that includes a pickup factor so as long as the piping is insulated it should be about right.

Have your steam man look at the specs and see what he thinks. I tried to attach a pdf spec sheet but this site won't let me. Look on page 38 of this -



Do it right

@ July 12, 2014 3:07 PM in Identifying boiler capacity

It sounds like you have a two pipe steam system, if that is so it should be running well under 1 PSI and that means it should have a vaporstat not a pressuretrol that I see in your picture. Anybody who used copper on a steam header probably did not waste any time with proper sizing of the boiler, I'll bet what you have is oversized by a good bit. Also make sure you really need a condensate pump, most house don't need them; to often they are installed to mask other problems that should be corrected.

Go through the house and survey all the radiation, list the radiators by room and if you don't have a radiator chart give us the following data.

  # of tubes or columns across
  Rad width
  # of tubes or columns deep
  Rad thickness
  Rad Ht (floor to top)

From that we can calculate the EDR of each radiator and then the total EDR of your system. Usually you just match the total EDR to the closest match available in a steam boiler. The EDR rating on a boiler builds in a 33% pickup factor so you can select a boiler a little smaller than your total EDR assuming the piping is all insulated in the basement.

Then when the time comes you have to find an installer that will do a much better job on the installation.


I agree

@ June 28, 2014 6:14 PM in need electrical help

if a boiler comes prewired with safeties in the 24v line it's best to leave it like that in case any question ever comes up that you don't want to be soley responsible for. It's not that you wouldn't do it right but you don't want to get in the cross hairs of some officious insurance inspector.


120 vs 24v

@ June 28, 2014 6:40 AM in need electrical help

Another good reason to interrupt 120vlines instead of the 24v ones is it should reduce nuisance trouble calls. A switch handling 120v is much less likely to not make contact especially when you know they will use the cheapest POS switch if the bean counters have anything to do with it. It costs money to make a good reliable dry contact switch for low voltage and low current environments.

Reduced trouble calls and a safer environment for those working on the equipment is a win win all around. In some cases you might not have the choice but if you do, choose the higher voltage loop to put the safety in.



@ June 25, 2014 6:59 PM in The history of the toilet

When I was fresh out of the army and a little short in the cash department we used to buy Haffenreffer Private Stock (Green death), it was a cheap malt liquor that had a tendency to skunk up if improperly stored. That didn't stop us, we drank it anyway.

After buying a house I made my own beer for over a decade and got a lot of complements on it's taste. I learned that cleanliness is critical when dealing with yeast, you can get all kinds of strange tastes and odors if you don't keep everything clean.

These days i buy the mixed twelve packs of Otter Creek or something similar; I enjoy a little variety.


Good news

@ June 25, 2014 6:55 AM in Old baseboard steam radiator cold

I'm glad to hear you got it working, it's nice to hear the outcome of something like this.

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