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Joined on May 5, 2011

Last Post on August 12, 2014

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Risk to children?

@ June 8, 2014 8:22 AM in Wife HATES old steam radiators. Don't care for covers. Alternatives?

You just said you grew up with single pipe steam, how did you make it out alive without protection from those burning hot radiators?
We're about to have a baby and the last concern I have is them somehow managing to burn themselves on one of my bare radiators.  Steam radiators are not hot enough to cause an instant burn and I certainly hope my child has the brains to not hold a body part there long enough.  I know our cats and Chihuahua manage just fine.  Sorry, but I've heard many people make this argument and it's just annoying now. 

Ugly is of course a personal opinion and I really can't argue that, personally, I like how they look.  I grew up in a house with forced hot air and honestly even if I hated how the radiators looked I'd still keep them.  Every time we visit my parents who have forced hot air I get reminded of how much I hate it and they have a modern 90% system in a house they built in 2006.

I can, and do regulate two of my rooms individually with single pipe steam.  Have a look at the pictures in my signature and you'll see two TRVs I installed.  They work beautifully.


@ June 7, 2014 5:04 PM in Boiler replaced - Boiler trap removed

I suspect it may be easiest if you pipe that boiler similar to how I piped mine as it looks like the mains line up in the same fasion.  Have a look at the pictures found in the link of my signature.

I used two 2" risers out of the boiler into a 3" drop header, though if I could redo it I'd probably run 3" out of the boiler part way into reducers as it may produce drier steam and wouldn't cost much more.  Not sure what size tappings the boiler you're working with has, many only have 2".


@ June 7, 2014 11:58 AM in Want opinions on thermostat location

Yep, I figured that out and have mine mounted 60" to the center of the tstat from the floor.


@ June 7, 2014 7:58 AM in Boiler replaced - Boiler trap removed

Sorry bout that. :)
Though I am curious about the flue, is that acceptable or not?  I'm asking because I'm not a pro and am curious.


@ June 7, 2014 7:26 AM in Boiler replaced - Boiler trap removed

It looks like they did get the pressure relief valve piped right at least.  Everything else on the other hand...

I see the water heater doesn't have a drip leg on the gas piping, can't see if the boiler does or not.  Is it acceptable to reduce the flue pipe like that at the wall?


@ June 6, 2014 10:08 PM in Sizing New Gas Steam Boiler

The 33% increase if I recall came about sometime in the 1950s when some tests were done and it's mainly intended for recovery after a setback.  They found that was the amount that gave the fastest recovery without using insane amounts of fuel.  kinda like a happy medium.

I could be remembering wrong, but that is what I recall.

Personally, if I could do my system over again (which is exactly matched to the EDR + 33%) I would go for  0 to 10% over, not 33%  My system works fine, but if I do a decent sized recovery it will slowly start to build pressure.  Many guys say you need to heat all of the piping, which is why you need the 33% however I disagree.  If you look at how a system works, you heat all of the piping, and then heat the radiators, you don't do both at once.  Once the piping is hot, it uses very little steam to keep it hot.  Furthermore, you don't heat the radiators all at once either, they start at one end and work their way across.  If you vent your mains appropriately, and vent your radiators carefully and insulate all of your piping I see no reason why you even need a pickup factor at all. Fact is, most systems are like mine and have radiators that are already 50% too big for the rooms, so why oversize the boiler on top of it.  You will need to vent the radiators very slow with something like a Hoffman 40 or Gorton #4.  You can probably work up to #5s on some radiators but you will have to take your time.  The end result will be a silent, easy running efficient steam system.

Please keep in mind, I'm not a professional nor have I had the chance to experiment with this.  it's just what my opinion is right now.  Proceed accordingly.


@ June 6, 2014 9:56 PM in Radiation Identification

I think we're going to need some pictures for this one.


@ June 6, 2014 8:24 PM in Want opinions on thermostat location

Just wanted to update the thread with the results (hate it when people don't do that).

I moved the thermostat to the location on 3/14/14 and had wonderful results.  Much more consistent temperature control so I am very pleased with the change.  The thermostat is mounted to a old work electrical box with some Belden 18-4 wire going to it.

My stove

@ June 6, 2014 8:02 PM in gas range,no vent?

My stove is 54,000 btus for the 5 top burners (17,000, 12,000, 9000, 9000, 7,000). The oven is 16,500 and the broiler is 10,000.  That means oven + all 5 burners could peak at 70,500 btus especially while preheating the oven.  If I do self clean AND run all 5 burners that's 80,500 btu.  Just because "you don't usually" doesn't mean it will never happen.

On self clean for hours and hours you're talking 26,500 btu run nearly continuously.

My 40,000 btu water heater may always run wide open, but its almost always for short periods.

I stand by my previous statement. Gas stoves and ovens should always be vented outdoors.

If it was mine

@ June 6, 2014 8:40 AM in Skim Port Drain Plug Removal Advice

If it was mine I'd throw my 2' wrench on it with the handle straight up and just start pulling and see where I end up. If that didn't work, and didn't seem to move the boiler I may even try stepping up to a 4' wrench.

Something tells me that plug will turn and once you get it moving the tight quarters shouldn't be too big of a deal.

The easiest solution would probably be a huge socket and a large impact gun but I have a feeling you don't have one.

Please keep in mind I'm a homeowner, not a pro.

Same question

@ June 6, 2014 6:47 AM in gas range,no vent?

I had the same question years ago as everyone kept telling me how dangerous water heaters are and how they must be vented properly.   My stove produces a lot more output than my water heater and oven runs for longer periods especially if the oven is going so why must the water heater be vented, but not the stove?

My conclusion is, the water heater is dangerous, and so is the stove so a vented exhaust fan is a must and should be run on low at an absolute minimum anytime the stove or oven is in use.  I installed a 400cfm variable speed fan that moves 200cfm on low extremely quietly and it's always on whenever a burner is list.

Besides CO and the fact the burner is consuming oxygen anyone that has seen what a self cleaning oven can do or even just frying something hot in a pan would come to the conclusion a decent vent is required.  After installing the 400cfm fan we can actually use the self cleaning oven without putting fans in several windows and the place doesn't fill up with smoke.

I'm a homeowner, not a pro and I don't even play one on tv.


@ June 3, 2014 8:20 PM in Summer shutdown notes

From what I've seen I use between 1 and 1.5 gallons of water per heating season.  I used to use less, until I switched to Gorton vents on all radiators and added a lot more venting.  I suspect all of my water loss is via venting as we all know the air coming out of the system is very humid.

If you think about how many times a system breaths per day,  for example on a typical cold day my system breaths out at least 48 times a day.  So my opinion is, the faster you vent, and the more cycles you run the more water you will use.


@ May 31, 2014 1:12 PM in Skim Port Drain Plug Removal Advice

I don't know how well it works, but I've skimmed via my gauge glass  a few times just to clean the glass.  Remove the drain from the bottom of the gauge glass and let the water trickle down through it.

That said, what's up with your piping!?  The pictures don't really show it but it certainly doesn't look right.


@ May 21, 2014 10:47 PM in Radiator feet pedestal?

Oh if someone would just release a 90% AFUE NG steam boiler.

Can you imagine?


@ May 19, 2014 1:53 PM in Steam to Hot water

I don't think anyone here showed any hate.
However after saying "Been doing HW for 20+ years and have successfully converted many residential steam systems with savings usually 50% or more"

Usually this means the steam systems were not operating correctly and the customer was talked into converting rather than correcting the problems.


@ May 17, 2014 11:41 AM in Steamhead,Chris

We have a friend that has an IN5 piped with a single 2" riser into a 2" header and it does ok so I'd bet two 2" into a 2" header will fine as well.  I think Gateway Plumbing and Heating did it for her after the original installer thought propress without a header was a good idea and refused to fix it.  That was the first time I was near a steam boiler that actually scared me.

What did you use as thread sealant?  Dope, tape, RTV?  After doing mine with megaloc, and in some places megaloc and blue monster tape and spending months trying to get the oils out I'd be tempted to try black RTV.  I think Gerry Gill had used nothing but RTV on his own system.

Have you fired it up yet?

Heat pump??

@ May 16, 2014 9:41 PM in Three Recent Steamers

I'm really disappointed.
A real steam guy would be heating his pool with a steam boiler.  I'm not sure how but I'm sure there is a way to heat a pool with steam and obviously keep the water temperatures in normal ranges.

On a serious note, why not use a 96-98% NG hot water boiler to heat a pool?  I'd think that would use far less electricity than a heat pump and you could keep it separate from the pool water.

Steamhead and Gordo, beautiful work as always!  


@ May 16, 2014 8:20 PM in Steam to Hot water

I don't know, after working on one hot water system I feel if you know what you're doing steam is easier.
When I work on my boiler I drain it, do the work, refill it, turn the heat on and go to bed.  No pumps, no bleeding, no expansion tank failures and having to check and adjust precharge.  And maybe I'm wrong being only a homeowner and not seeing much, but it seems like pumps and diaphragm tanks fail an awful lot.  Makes me happy not to have them.


@ May 12, 2014 10:03 AM in Heat Loss discrepancy

icesailor, I completely disagree that heatloss is only via convection.

You put a cold concrete sidewalk near a house and there is an example of IR loss. Trees, mailboxes, anything cold will suck heat from the walls, windows and doors of a home.


@ May 11, 2014 1:13 PM in Questions regarding the main vent and auto water feeder that cuts off the boiler every 10 minutes

First off, how would a 100,000 btu oil fired boiler holding 12-14 gallons make steam faster than a 100,000 btu atmospheric gas boiler holding 10 gallons?  Doesn't sound plausible to me.

The 10 minute interrupt LWCO is designed for poor water conditions, nothing else.  Foaming is caused by dirty water or, excessive PH or too much water treatment.   Personally I would remove that and install a standard probe type LWCO such as the hydrolevel safguard 400.

This is a 24V product and should work with your system but have a pro confirm.

As far as how long it should take to steam from an ice cold start my system generally takes 20-21 minutes to get steam to the radiators. Again this is from an ice cold start after sitting for a day or 2.  During the heating season when it runs often it's more in the neighborhood of 2-3 minutes.

IR radiation

@ May 10, 2014 3:43 PM in Heat Loss discrepancy

They all work on IR radiation, that is what heat is.  I think technically it's via photons in the IR spectrum.
The difference is with hot air furances none of the IR heats objects in the room, only air passing through the heat exchanger.   With cast iron radiators you get a huge amount of IR output, but some convection as well.  With baseboard you get some IR, but mostly convection.

Dielectric union

@ May 8, 2014 10:06 PM in Copper steam coil

First, let me state I am a homeowner and do NOT have much experience with this.  On my steam system I did not use dielectric unions as I both could not find any and was told to avoid them by a friend of the family who has been a plumber for 40 years.
He has owned his own plumbing business for 40 years and told me he has seen far more dielectric unions fail than just using a good heavy copper adapter.  Whether this is good advice or not I cannot say, but I have not had problems.

I think the only one I noticed that tried to use something on his setup was Gerry Gill I think used a brass nipple to connect his header to his copper steam main.  If I missed others I'm sorry, it wasn't intentional.
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