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Joined on September 15, 2010

Last Post on September 16, 2014

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Could save a lot on fuel

@ April 13, 2014 7:59 AM in High Vac Readings caused by BioFuel 20

I switched on 2012 because my tank had developed a slight weep and i knew my Burnham v75 boiler was not known for having a long life.The new boiler is roughly the same efficiency as the old and my fuel costs went down by almost 45%.

The cost of natiural gas is not going to stay as low as it is now but oil will get more expensive too; the demand for both is just too great for prices to drop. If you can get the line into the house for zero cost I'd do it in a heartbeat.

If you put a conversion burner in your present boiler make sure they do a thorough job of cleaning the boiler and chimney before and after the first heating season. They will also have to line the chimney in most cases.


Your closer to it than I am

@ April 11, 2014 10:45 AM in Vents spraying water

To my eye it looks like the pipe is reduced but I'm not there so as long as the copper is the same size as the boiler outlet that part is ok. With only a single boiler outlet being used, there shouldn't be any issue with pipe expansion issues on the casting but If you do decide to do any piping work I would suggest using threaded steel. Most boiler makers specify threaded steel pipe for the boiler header.

 The way the equalizer is tied in is not going to do much for keeping a steady waterline or making dry steam and that could be adding to your problems.


Bad piping

@ April 11, 2014 9:27 AM in Vents spraying water

thae boiler is not piped properly, The output has been reduced in size, they used copper pipe (it should be threaded steel and configured like the diagram in the manual) and the header is too low (it should be 28" above the boiler water level. I can't see how the equalizer ties in but I suspect that is wrong as well.


Take them off and test them

@ April 5, 2014 10:04 AM in Bad new gorton valves?

Try blowing through them when they are upright and again when they are upside down. Air should pass easily when they are upright but be blocked when they are upside down.

How did the air valves that were originally on there perform? make sure the radiators have a little slope so any water can flow back out of them and be sure the valve at the input of the radiator is open all the way. Next check any horizontal pipes in the basement to be sure they slope to feed any condensate back to the boiler.

If all that checks out post pictures of your boiler, the piping around it and one of the problem radiators.


Go with the smaller boiler

@ April 4, 2014 5:27 PM in Steam boiler sizing dilemma

If you insulate the piping in the basement all you have to do is select a boiler that has the sq ft rating to feed the radiation you have. That rating already has a 30% pickup factor figured in so you don't have to worry. Using a larger boiler would just be inefficient.

It sounds like the installer that told you to use the smaller boiler knows what he is talking about. Make sure the new boiler is installed per the installation manual or better and that all steam carrying pipe is threaded steel. Have the pressure set as low as possible (1.5PSI) and you should be all set. Make sure any lines that are not going to be used are capped off so no mischief can come from them and insulate any piping you can reach with 1" rigid fiberglass pipe insulation.


Alternative skim port

@ April 4, 2014 10:52 AM in Vents spraying water

I would remove the safety valve and the elbow it sits on; then replace the elbow with a T, nipple, and ful port 3/4" valve- put the safety on the top tapping and then you will be able to skim.

A larger tapping would be nice but you have to work with what you have.



@ April 4, 2014 8:56 AM in Vents spraying water

If you have the manual for that boiler they usually identify the plug that should be used for a skim port. If you don't have the manual you can usually download it from the web, what model New Yorker is that?

Your new piping probably introduced oil into the boilers water.To skim you draw water off the boiler above the waterline by opening the capped pipe or turning on the valve. You feed water into the boiler VERY SLOWLY (2hrs for 5 gallons) and let the water trickle out into a bucket. This can be done cold and hot, when doing it hot do not let the boiler come to a boil, you want to draw the water of a calm surface. It usually takes several skimming sessions to get all the oils out.

While you have that manual open look at the piping diagram, your boiler is piped wrong and is making wet steam. Putting in a proper boiler header and equalizer would help dry out the steam.

The material on the pipes looks like asbestos, some of it looks to be in bad shape and should be removed by someone with the knowledge and equipment. After that is done main vents could be added at the ends of the mains.

Did you check that new piping with a level to make sure it's all pitched back to the boiler?


Listen to the Bard

@ April 3, 2014 10:00 PM in Burnham gas conversion

Maybe we should include the MBA's as well


God save your majesty!


I thank you, good people: there shall be no money;

all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will

apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree

like brothers and worship me their lord.


The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.


Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable

thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should

be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled

o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:

but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal

once to a thing, and I was never mine own man

since. How now! who's th

Wet steam caused by oil in the water

@ April 3, 2014 5:42 PM in Vents spraying water

The T I was referring to earlier is at the top of your diagram and a closer look shows those radiators are on the first floor and were not involved in the work that was done.

If your auto water feed is turning on to add water that is being thrown up into the piping probably because of oils in the water caused by the piping work. The only way to get rid of that oil is to thoroughly skim the boiler to slowly float the oil out of the boiler.

Does your steam main rise up as it goes away from the boiler to feed the radiator takeoffs? If it does you have a counterflow system and the returning water travels back along the main back to the boiler against the flow of steam. main vents should be added at the end of the mains to get rid of the air and cut your fuel bills.


Setback and slope

@ April 3, 2014 11:58 AM in Vents spraying water

If it was not spraying and banging before this new work (and you were doing a similar setback) you can be pretty sure the piping is the cause. I suspect some of your horizontal piping is sloped wrong and now has water sitting in it, when steam comes across the water it collapses and you get the bang. use a level and check all the piping to see if you have the correct slope on the piping you can reach. Also where the pipe Tees off on the new run how did you gaurantee both sides of the T slope back to the boiler?

Setting the temperature that far back pretty much guarantees the system will misbehave, if you do half the current setback do the vents still spray and do you still get the banging?


It's not uncommon

@ April 2, 2014 10:36 AM in Burnham gas conversion

I live just south of Boston and when i had my Smith G8 steam boiler installed with a Carlin EZ-Gas all the inspector wanted to see was a gas leak test, so some in this state just care it's done properly. You might try contacting Charles Garrity In Lennoxdale to see if he will come that far or if he know someone in the area that can help you.


What changed

@ April 2, 2014 7:23 AM in Some radiators cool down as boiler fires? (with drawing)

If it worked before and now doesn't, something has changed and we have to figure out what changed. It's been a long winter and I've noticed everything is looser because the wood has dried out more than usual.

Has anything been done that might have changed the slope of the piping? I have a radiator that stopped heating fully at one point while everything else was fine. I noticed the vent on that radiator was panting some and thought I might have water lying in a horizontal pipe somewhere. There is a short horizontal pipe on the second floor that I suspected so I raised the whole radiator up 3/4" and that solved the problem.  Old houses settle over time and what was once may no longer be so. Yours is a two pipe system but pooling water will still cause problems, go over any horizontal pipes you can reach and make sure the slopes are correct and there aren't any dips.

Do you have a low pressure gauge so you can reliably see what the system pressure is doing during the steaming cycle, is there any dip during the cycle that might yield a clue?

More fuel is used

@ March 31, 2014 7:09 AM in Thermostat question Steam oil boiler

to heat a space to 70 than would be used to heat it to 60. If you set the thermostat back at night, anything over 3-4 degrees may not be saving any fuel because it takes a lot of fuel to get everything back up to temperature.

Do all the rooms heat about the same? If they don't you may have an issue where the air vents are not doing their job. All radiators should heat at about the same time and rate. Make sure the location of the thermostat is not causing the system to shut down prematurely. Do you know what pressure the boiler is running at when making steam?

Chase down and fix any drafts and consider using an electric space heater in one room to keep that room a little warmer - this heater should be turned on ONLY WHEN THE ROOM IS OCCUPIED AND NEVER WHEN YOU ARE SLEEPING


Coming from cellar?

@ March 29, 2014 12:14 PM in Black paper lining wall of radiator

If these are on the first floor check the cellar below them as that smell might becoming from below. If you can get the old stuff out you should replace it with some sort of insulation board so the heat doesn't just go through the exterior sheathing.



@ March 27, 2014 4:58 PM in radiators hissing from vents, one valve shooting water

The pressuretrol regulates the maximum pressure the boiler can reach, on most systems you would like to keep the pressure under 1.5PSI.

If you turn a pressuretrol upside down and look into the base of the brass fitting you will see a very small hole that has to be clear. Unfortunately pressuretrols are often poorly calibrated, if you examine the insides carefully you will see there is a very small set screw that lets you adjust the lever between the pressure diaphragm and tension spring. If you turn that set screw just a little bit you can adjust the pressure at which it trips - by small I mean 1/16 of a turn on that 0.05" setscrew.


Pressure too high?

@ March 27, 2014 4:11 PM in radiators hissing from vents, one valve shooting water

Try tightening the bonnet nut right below the radiator valve handle, if that does not work you may need to replace the valve packing.

Do you know if the pressure has always been this high? Is the pressuretrol adjusted down as far as you can? It should be set for 0.5 on the main and 1 on the white wheel inside the front cover and that should turn the boiler off at 1.5 PSI. It's possible the pigtail under the pressuretrol is blocked or that the pressuretrol just is not calibrated.The gauge could be flaky also but if all the air valves are hissing loudly it sounds like the pressure os too high.

What kind of radiator air vents does she have?

Give us more pictures from further back.


Nerver heard of them

@ March 27, 2014 1:39 PM in Steam Trap - Kelmac Jr. Retarder ?

You might try taking one apart to see what the elements look like. If you do post a picture of what you find in there.

Has turning the pressure down changed the way the system acts? Your smart to learn how steam systems work because you can fix 90% of what goes wrong yourself for short money and you can explain what has to be done to a plumber if you get into any hairy piping work. My old steam boiler was only repaired once in it's 16 year life by anybody but me, I did have it cleaned out every year by someone.


More info

@ March 25, 2014 9:15 PM in No steam reaches shut off valves.

A steam boiler has no need for an aquastat if it's not used for domestic hot water UNLESS there is a hot water loop off the boiler that is used for heat.

Post pictures of the boiler and the piping around the boiler.


This might work

@ March 23, 2014 9:45 PM in Does this boiler seem piped right?

If you really want someone local you might try

He is in Milton and he knows whereof he speaks.


I can understand

@ March 23, 2014 6:14 PM in i got to get rid of this steam heat system, i got questions

being upset at the cost of heating oil, especially if you can't get natural gas in your area. A lot of folks had a hard time finding pellets this year and ended up paying a lot more for them when they did because it was a cold winter. Nobody knows what the weather will be like next year - do you feel lucky?

I think they would make a good supplementary heating source but I don't think you'll be happy with it for a primary source of heat unless you intend on spending a lot of money for a complete heating system. It would cost a lot less to get what you have now working efficiently and then using pellets to heat the main area when you are home. Put some money into insulating the house and fix what you have, it will save you money in the long run. Having a pellet system without a regular heating system will make the house less salable when the time comes - not everybody is enamored about tending a stove all winter long and your home insurance carrier might have something to say about it as well.

To answer your question you can just cut the pipes to the radiators and remove the radiators and you can sell the radiators and the boiler (if it's recent and in good shape) but you might regret doing so.


Mine works fine but at lower vac levels

@ March 21, 2014 8:00 PM in Vaporstat sticking / biasing after vacuum

I have a 0-4 mercury bulb based vaporstat that I have run as low as 12oz high and 4oz low limit and it never faulted. It' also reads very accurately which is probably just the luck of the draw. However my system never went over 1/8 revolution of vacuum on my 0-3 gauge so I don't see the depth of vacuum you are seeing.

I run the low end higher now because I have a cycleguard on the new boiler and want the boiler to come back on as quickly as i can if it does trip the high limit - which it only does on long burns in cold weather or when it comes back from a 3 degree setback in the morning.


Pipes, valves and vents

@ March 20, 2014 9:24 PM in Steam boiler banging, hissing and water noise

Can you see the pipe in the basement that goes from the steam main to the radiator that is banging? It sounds like there is water trapped in that pipe because it's slope might be bad. If the radiator is on the second floor you might have to lift the entire radiator (both ends) to correct the slope of a pipe you can't see.

Make sure that radiator valve is all the way open and try a slower air vent on that radiator; as I said earlier the air valves they sell at HD are not very good.

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