Joined on July 25, 2011
Last Post on December 10, 2013
@ December 10, 2013 9:03 PM in 3 Boiler Caravan - 6" Header - Kings Park, NYI wouldn't think of putting anything cast iron on an inclined plank without a come-along and a safety chain attached.
A shop crane or gantry might work, but there are shop cranes and there are shop cranes. Most of the automotive ones run 1-2 tons. Shops the work on diesels have serious stuff.
This thread reminds me of the time I moved a grand piano into a theater where my sister was performing. Third floor balcony. Up the fire escape. Didn't put a scratch on it, and it didn't even need much tuning. I was a lot more patient back then.
@ December 10, 2013 8:01 PM in steam one pipe radiator issueYou might say it's just getting started. Radiators work by turning steam into water. How much water? One cubic foot of steam condenses down to just a little over a cubic inch of water. That's about six hundredths of a percent. That leaves room for a lot more steam, which also condenses, allowing more steam to… well, you get the picture.
A standard radiator vent will close when the radiator fills with steam and remain closed until the the thermostat stops the boiler, the system begins to cool, and the pressure falls below its drop-off point.
A thermostatic radiator vent senses how warm the room is already, at the beginning of each cycle, determines how much heating is required to make up the difference, and allows just enough air to escape to allow just enough steam to enter, to bring the room up to its target temperature by the end of the cycle.
The steam will still collapse and allow more steam to enter, but if the radiator is, say, half full of air and half steam, the radiator will only be condensing at half its maximum rate. (Actually a little more, because the surface are doesn't change, but I'm trying to simplify it.)
So the trick to making it work is finding the right set-point to let in just the right amount of steam before shutting down the vent. This can take a lot of patience and persistence. To keep from losing your mind, make sure you record the setting each time you adjust it, because people will fiddle with it. If you don't keep track of the adjustments you have made yourself, you won't know what the hell is going on.
But just remember, the radiator will continue to heat throughout the cycle, even after the vent closes. The trick is to make the vent close when just enough steam has entered that it will reach just the right temperature by the end of the cycle.
@ December 9, 2013 8:19 PM in push nipple for steam radiatorThere's an outfit called Online Metals that has about any kind of metal stock you'll ever need. And guides to help you pick the right alloy for your application. Their prices are good, but the shipping is a little steep (no duh, they're shipping metal!) but when you need small quantities of something specific they might be your best bet.
@ December 9, 2013 7:05 PM in push nipple for steam radiatorAny decent automotive machine shop should be able to make them if you can give them the dimensions or a few nipples in halfway decent shape. I know where you can get seamless steel tubing if you need it.
You should clean out the ports with a small cylinder hone and have the new nipples made a slightly oversize so you can get a good, tight fit. If you can't press the sections together as close as they were before, you can all ways have a little taken off.
@ December 9, 2013 8:59 AM in Atmospheric out, Power Burner inYou've never seen those pictures of Frank with his tuba?
You should really browse his old posts sometime. I do it mainly just to soak up the steam wisdom, but there's a lot of entertainment value there too.
@ November 29, 2013 11:46 AM in relief valve/skimming port/additivesApart from the larger size, it's also at the right level. If you use the relief valve port you always need to lower the water level when you're done.
But don't neglect the relief valve port. You should test your relief valve at least once a year and make sure it doesn't fill up with sludge.
@ November 29, 2013 11:35 AM in Converting oil burner to gas burner questionsI'm by no means an expert on the subject, but I get the impression that certain burner-boiler combinations work better than others.
If you don't get a response here, try re-posting this question in the Gas Heating forum or the main wall.
@ November 29, 2013 11:29 AM in need help with one pipe steam system,, rookie!It could be any number of different things, but it's hard to narrow it down without seeing how the boiler is piped and an overall look at the whole system. A picture is really worth a thousand words here.
@ November 27, 2013 10:38 PM in Minimum distance to take-off to Mains?What you can get away with when you don't cut any corners. These guys see the IOM specs as minimal requirements rather than something to strive for, so they build extra capacity into everything they can, and that gives them a margin for compromise when dealing with architectural constraints. So where in some cases it might cause some water to get trapped in the header if the system riser is too close to the boiler riser, it can't if you've already wrung out every last drop and your velocity through the header is very low. Whereas if you cut corners and do knucklehead work, something like this would be like the last nail in the coffin.
@ November 25, 2013 6:32 PM in Wet return line cloggedCan you post some pictures of your basement?
Sometimes if the main is high enough you can run a dry return under it, or at least part of the way so then the part you'd need to run along the floor wouldn't need to go through your whole basement.
@ November 24, 2013 7:19 PM in Radiator shut off valve and boiler sight glassIf your system is a one-pipe steam system you can turn off the radiator by turning the vent upside-down, assuming the vent works. It's not unusual for the valves to go bad, but rather than replacing it now you can just flip the vent and deal with it in the spring.
If you have a two-pipe system, the radiator won't have a vent, but it's a little hard to tell what you have because the valve in the picture doesn't look like a typical one-pipe radiator supply valve, and the pipe looks smaller than usual, but it's connected at the bottom, which is typical of one-pipe.
It's normal for boiler water to contain some rust, and draining it and replacing it with fresh water only does more damage to the boiler. If you add fresh water to a boiler you should always bring it to a boil immediately to drive off the dissolved oxygen.
@ November 24, 2013 6:42 PM in Water Hammer Question:It's just transmitted sound. If you bang on a pipe that's connected to a radiator, most of the noise will come from the radiator. The super needs to fix the water hammer wherever it is. If he isn't up to the job, he can call in a professional.
@ November 24, 2013 11:37 AM in Water over gauge glassWhen you drain water from the return, the water in the boiler should not drop below the level of the bottom of the Hartford loop. The top of the Hartford loop should be 2" below the normal water level, which should be at about 2/3 the height of the gauge glass, so usually the bottom of the Hartford loop should be above the bottom of the gauge glass, so you should see a little water in the bottom of the glass, but if your Hartford loop is lower, you won't see the water. If you have a spirit level, hold it even with the bottom of the Hartford loop and see if it meets the gauge glass when you hold it level. If it's too low it's going to be hard to tell exactly where the water stops draining, but if it's actually draining below the bottom of the Hartford loop, there's something very strange about the way your boiler is piped. Some detailed pictures might help shed some light on what's going on.
There are three possible causes for slow condensate return in a 1-pipe system. You've already eliminated one--wet steam--by installing a drop header, so that leaves two: either your return is obstructed or your "A" dimension is insufficient to keep the condensate from backing up into the mains or other steam-carrying piping. Two-pipe systems can have other problems, depending on their design, so if you have a two-pipe system we'll need the details.
To distinguish an obstructed return from an "A" dimension issue, shut down the boiler when the water level is at its lowest point, wait a minute, then open the pressure relief valve (with a string or wire from a safe distance). If the water level rises rapidly, it's the "A" dimension. If it returns very slowly, your return is obstructed.
@ November 19, 2013 5:46 AM in Newbie to vents and mains insulationChances are he'd have better luck getting the bushing out without breaking, but he should wait until spring so he can strip off all the breakable stuff before he goes to town on it.
@ November 18, 2013 10:33 PM in recessed convector but not Solraybut it's very similar. You could probably use those ratings if you can't find anything closer.
@ November 18, 2013 9:55 PM in Adding Steamaster Tablets to Your BoilerMyself I use the PRV. It keeps me honest about making sure the nipple is clear at the beginning of each season.
@ November 18, 2013 9:42 PM in Newbie to vents and mains insulationJust wanted to clear up a little terminology for you.
The number of columns (or tubes, in a tube radiator, like the one in your kitchen) is the number of units from the wall out. Most of your column-type radiators look like they're three-column radiators. The tube radiator in the kitchen could be either three or four-tube. It's hard to tell from that angle.
The number of sections is the number of units from end to end. Your kitchen radiator has 22 sections. They're called sections because these are the units that are actually cast separately and then assembled. Your kitchen radiator was built from 22 separate castings, identical except for the two ends sections, which are usually identical to each other but different from the other sections in that they have legs and an extra boss or two to receive the vent tappings, all joined together by tapered push-nipples at the top and bottom and held together by two or four threaded draw rods. The construction of the column-type radiators is similar, but they usually have threaded nipples, lack draw rods, and in the case of those intended strictly for steam systems, they are only connected at the bottom.
Your column radiators look very familiar. I'll try to find the time to look them up if somebody doesn't beat me to it. These pros can usually ID them on sight--and tell you where they were made, when the company went out of business, what else they made and so on. If I'm lucky I can recognize them when I find them in Dan's EDR book (Every Damn Radiator).
@ November 18, 2013 9:14 PM in Newbie to vents and mains insulationYou can get the gauge off, but you'll need to take most of the trim off first. Otherwise you'll end up breaking something. It takes a little bit more than enough torque to rock the boiler, but, amazingly, the bronze casting won't break. Well, probably not. That's another reason to wait for summer. You don't want to be drilling out a broken off gauge stem with the prospect of freezing to death on your mind.
You'll probably find the actual blockage inside the tapping the gauge came out of. You can just poke it in with your finger then put the gauge back in with some PTFE tape on it. (No, it's not Teflon! DuPont told me so.) Originally they used pipe joint compound, which is why they're such a pain to get out. It's also why your WD-40 absolutely, positively will not get anywhere near those threads. (I bet they use the same kind of compound on the pipelines in the plants where they make WD-40.)
@ November 18, 2013 8:45 PM in Newbie to vents and mains insulationSteam systems make more noise coming back from a setback than at any other time. Either reduce it to a couple of degrees or get rid of your alarm clock and set the thermostat to call for heat about 10 minutes before you need to get up and wake to the Anvil Chorus every morning. ;)
You're probably going to be preoccupied until you get the noise issues resolved, but above you asked about insulating the returns. As far as heat loss, it's not such a big deal, but here's something to consider. Most guys will recommend leaving the water in the system over the summer, which is fine--the water becomes so saturated with iron and so devoid of oxygen that it can't attack the boiler and pipes like fresh water can--but this overlooks what happens to the outside of the pipes. Every time the temperature in your basement rises, the humidity shoots up, and the water in the returns is colder than the air, so fresh, oxygenated water will be condensing all over the outside of the pipe and eating into it like acid. As scale forms, it expands and forms loose leafy flakes that trap and hold moisture like a sponge. In about ten years those pipes will have much more severe damage on the outside than the inside. Insulating the pipes can prevent this by keeping that damp, basement air from coming in contact with your cold pipes.
@ November 18, 2013 8:11 PM in Steam Boiler Water Level ProblemIt increases surface tension and forms a barrier that makes it difficult for steam bubbles to escape until they expand and coalesce to become big enough to break out, and when they do it's a much more violent, energetic event that sprays massive amounts of water into the escaping steam exiting the boiler. All this water is going out into the system, pooling in pipes and radiators, then gradually returning after the boiler shuts down. The delay in condensate return is probably what's causing the low water condition.
Wet steam doesn't carry as much heat as dry steam, and it damages vents and shortens the life of the piping and radiators. Meanwhile, the fluctuating water level is shortening the life of the boiler, so you have a system that operates inefficiently, makes noise, wastes money, and wears out before its time.
Skimming is critical. There's no substitute for it. Draining the water removes some of the oil, but most of it lines the inside of the boiler as the water level goes down--remember, there's a lot of surface area in there! The temporary improvement lasts about as long as it takes that oil film to boil off the walls of the sections and float back to the top. To get rid of it, you have to skim. As for cleaning the boiler sections prior to assembly, that's a nice theory, but, well, you don't need us to tell you it didn't work.
One thing that can help to make the skimming process faster and easier is the addition of some washing soda (not baking soda!) to the water. Use about 2 oz. per 100 ft² EDR or whatever your IOM recommends. Washing soda makes the water more polar which repels suspended oil droplets and prevents them from dispersing. You should drain the boiler completely when you're done.
@ November 17, 2013 7:42 PM in Weekly Water Addition by Automatic Water FeederEven if you were letting out a quart every time you blew it down that still leaves 3 1/2 gallons unaccounted for. That's a lot of water to lose in a week. You shouldn't be losing that much in a season.
@ November 17, 2013 12:10 PM in Testing a 15psi pressure safety valve on my steam boilerNo header, bullhead tee… Nice stuff.
Nothing to do with why the PRV isn't working. It's probably piped out the side and the nipple has filled up with sludge.
If you don't test that valve at least once every season, the nipple will fill up with all the crud that either floats to the top or gets churned up and splashed into it. It's usually not too hard to clean out, but it's enough to keep the vent from working even with 15psi behind it.
While you have the valve off you might also want to see what pressure it opens under.