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Joined on September 15, 2010

Last Post on April 16, 2014

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Are you on Quabbin water?

@ February 19, 2014 8:02 PM in Last Rites?

if your town gets water from the Quabbin the quality of the water should not be an issue BUT if the town gets it's water from wells it could be a problem.

I don't see any glaring problems with your piping. Make sure you find someone who is really good on steam systems when you get the system fixed. It's not going to be cheap but it's important it be done correctly so it lasts for a long time.


Types of files

@ February 19, 2014 6:34 PM in Steam utilities (Excel)

you can only upload JPG and PDF files to the wall.


Why did it fail?

@ February 19, 2014 6:32 PM in Last Rites?

Before replacing the section or boiler try to find out why it failed so soon.

Has it been using water for  a long period of time? A steam boiler should use very little water, if you start having to add water more than once a month find out why, fresh water contains oxygen and that eats cast iron..

Was the old boiler near boiler piping correct? Incorrect near boiler piping can shorten a boilers life, post some pictures of what you have now so we can tell you if there is a problem with the way its piped.

Some areas of the country have high chlorides in the water (areas of eastern MA and RI for example), find out if the water in your area has high chlorides.

If you have any of these problems and fix it your new boiler should have a nice long life.


If you did not close the valve

@ February 18, 2014 10:04 PM in Trying to drain water too full

assume it is open, until proven wrong. the valve you show will lower the water level.

However there should also be a drain valve on the boiler itself. The one you found will work but see if you can find another. Breaking a valve is a PITA but it's important that all valves work; when the heating season is over do whatever has to be done to be sure all valves are operational.


Lower down

@ February 18, 2014 9:01 PM in Trying to drain water too full

on the boiler, where the system return is there is a valve with a hose fitting on it. First make sure both valves on the gauge glass are open  (full CCW) Put a pan or a bucket under that and open the valve. When the water level in the glass is right turn that valve back off and you should be ok.


If the system

@ February 18, 2014 7:42 PM in Pressuretrol setting

has a cycle guard on it the boiler will shut down every 10 to 20 minutes of run time depending on which model you have. That LWCO shuts the boiler down to check the water level with a calm water surface and it does so for 90 seconds. The most aggravating thing is it adds up the time and will shut the boiler down when the run time hits the setpoint, if the boiler ran for 19 minutes on the last run, it will shut down after 1 minute on the next call for heat.

makes no sense at all to me.


I am on my own?

@ February 18, 2014 12:55 PM in Steam boiler replacement quote

If you and your uncle decide to do this yourself you will have the support of a lot of people on this board, they will give you any information you need.

Post some pictures of the current boiler and the piping so we can tell you what we think. If you decide to let someone install it for you at least you will know what has to be fixed in addition to "connecting it up to the existing piping".



@ February 18, 2014 11:14 AM in Steam boiler replacement quote

i would ask the contractor why he wants to install a boiler of that size and I would also ask that he agree to follow the manufacturer's piping diagram for configuration and pipe sizes at a minimum. All steam carrying piping to be done in threaded steel pipe.

Additionally ask that he install proper venting on the mains and radiators. He should also inspect and correct any existing piping deficiencies after quoting the costs to do so.

A boiler will last a long time if it's installed correctly so it's important to have it done right.


Keep it slow

@ February 16, 2014 1:53 PM in clanking sounds

It sounds like there is water sitting in a horizontal pipe that gets worse when there is more water condensing (from radiators that are busy converting steam into condensate). Slow venting all around might help, a thermostatic valve in your neighbors unit might help but there is now way of telling.

If the problem is in the horizontal runout to your or your neighbors radiators it would be worthwhile trying raise each radiator about 1/2" or so (individually) to see if that helps.The true fix would be to find and fix the horizontal pipe but that would entail a lot of dismantling.


Old houses

@ February 13, 2014 9:29 PM in New furnace started kicking after a season of quiet

It's possible that some of the pipe slopes have changed because the house has settled, I know my 1918 house had issues after getting the boiler changed. Go over any horizontal pipe you can get to and make sure they all have some slope and that you don't have a dip somewhere (use a level, don't trust your eye) that might be pooling water.


Steam can be forgiving

@ February 13, 2014 8:50 PM in New furnace started kicking after a season of quiet

That boiler is not piped per the manufacturers recommendation and I'm a bit surprised it was once working well. If you compare the piping diagram in the installation manual to what you have it will become apparent that the installer was very innovative.

The fact it was working tells me that something has changed (maybe something partially clogged), try lowering the water level a little bit and see if that changes the way it acts.



@ February 13, 2014 11:46 AM in Radiators Hissing and steaming after insulation applied

If you have 100 ft of 2" pipe you have to vent about 2.2 cu ft of air, that old vent might be good for 0.1 CFM if it's working correctly. It will take 20 minutes for that vent to clear out the air and you are paying for that every time the boiler turns on. You would like to reduce that time to a minute or two and that main should be insulated.

You should probably have 2ea Gorton #2 vents on that main. The problem is they are large vents (7" tall or so), how long is the 3/4" pipe your vent is on top of? That might be replaceable with a shorter pipe so an antler could be build for multiple vents.



@ February 13, 2014 11:18 AM in Radiators Hissing and steaming after insulation applied

That vent is probably much too small, how long is the steam main it comes off of and about what size pipe is it? From that we can calculate the volume of air that has to be removed. Also how much height is there above that vent?

Replacing one just takes a good wrench and some teflon tape.


If I'm seeing it right

@ February 13, 2014 7:24 AM in Continuing water hammer issues

Your hartford loop connection looks like it is at least a foot long - it is supposed to about 1 inch long. I can see where the wet returns all join together below the water line and then it comes up and joins the equalizer, that connection is supposed to be a close nipple not a foot long. That can cause all kinds of problems. The piping diagram is usually very specific about near boiler piping, compare the diagram with what you have.

Post more pictures so we can see if there are any other areas that need addressing.


one ton = 180 gal of oil

@ February 12, 2014 5:32 PM in Kenawee Smokeless Firebox No. 111

2000 pounds of coal equals 180 gallons of oil; if its a large building it would take a lot of coal when you consider the efficiency of those old monsters.



@ February 12, 2014 3:52 PM in Can I replace this pressuretrol with a vaporstat

The right vaporstat will allow the boiler to run in a lower pressure range IF the pigtail is clear and the port into the boiler is also clear. It usually is not worth replacing a working pressuretrol in most cases but if your going to have to install a new one it's probably worth paying extra for the vaporstat.

All you have to do is unwire the old one (after disconnecting the power), twist it off and twist on the new one (and wiring it up). make sure pipe dope or teflon tape is used on the plumbing connections.



@ February 12, 2014 7:25 AM in Story of Chief Big Boiler and Cousin Little Pipe

In my post above I suggested trying a Maid O Mist #6 because of it's small removable orifice. The #6 is not slow it actually has a 0.15" orifice.

I meant to tell you to use the Maid O mist #4 which does have the removable 0.028" orifice, the Hoffman 40 has a 0.04" orifice. I'm sorry if this led to any confusion.



@ February 12, 2014 7:17 AM in Bleeping blinking lights - what do they all mean??

One failure mode is where the leak occurs above the normal waterline INTO the firebox. The only clues would be disappearing water and a plume of steam coming out of the chimney.

One way to find out if this is true is to overfill the boiler and let it sit for several hours and then looking around the boiler and into the firebox for any signs of water. Water in the firebox would have been turned into steam by the fire but now will just sit inside the firebox.

Hopefully there is another reason for the waters disappearance.

That changes things

@ February 11, 2014 9:21 PM in How do I calculate main vent sizing?

BUT not enough to select a different vent. You could get by with 2ea Gorton #1's on each main but then you would need elbows, T's, and nipples so the cost would be very close. Nobody ever has to much main venting so you should probably just stay the course and use the Gorton #1's.

BTW what kind of radiator vents are you using.


Jeff is right

@ February 11, 2014 4:17 PM in How do I calculate main vent sizing?

That kind of coupler should save some height, you would just need to use a couple of wrenches to remove the existing coupler and that should not be hard because the pipe dope looks fresh.

A few wraps of teflon tape would be fine but try not to get tape on the first couple pf threads so it doesn't strip off and get into the vent.


It will be tight

@ February 11, 2014 3:32 PM in How do I calculate main vent sizing?

You will need a couple of 3/4 by 1/2" hex bushings like this -

7' of overhead will be very tight because I believe the vent is 7" overall and you still have to get the adapter in there - but the valve screws into the adapter so it might work.  Try going to a plumbing supply store (print out the picture of the fitting and take it with you) and ask them for the bushing and valve so you can see if it will fit. If it doesn't maybe you can replace that 3/4" nipple with a shorter one.

Also the Gorton #2 is about the size of a 12oz tuna can so you need some room to swing it.


Slow return

@ February 11, 2014 2:08 PM in LWCO trips during cycle

I assume you don't have an automatic water feeder on the boiler. Does the water level slowly drop an inch or more as the boiler makes steam? How long does it take the water to come back to it's normal water level after the boiler shuts down? What pressure is the boiler running at when making steam (just before it shuts down)?

If the water level does decrease till it trips the LWCO it might indicate a slow return, do you have a valve on the return pipe so you can drain water out of it? If so open it up (when the boiler is just warm) and see if you get a lot of crud out of it.

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