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Joined on July 25, 2011

Last Post on August 29, 2014

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At least one union

@ August 29, 2014 10:46 PM in Going around obsticals

and the lengths of the nipples will have to be just right.

Nothing can seal boiler leaks.

@ August 29, 2014 8:25 PM in Bryant 244-7 Series A Gas Steam Boiler

Boiler additives that claim to seal or prevent leaks just cause foaming and wet steam. I think you need to explore financing options.

What are the EDR totals?

@ August 29, 2014 8:19 PM in Unbalanced Steam System?????????

Adjusting venting can affect which radiators get steam first, but it can't change the EDR. If you can identify and measure your radiators, we can help you calculate the EDR. If there's a major disparity, there are things you can do to change the effective EDR of radiators, like radiator covers that either enhance or impede the convection of air around them.

That's not correct.

@ August 29, 2014 7:57 PM in What is the solution?

The tee will expand as a function of its circumference. The opening will get bigger.

Putting penetrant on hot metal just creates a bad smell and leaves a petroleum residue.

But what do I know. Go ahead and try it.

Heat should be applied to the tee, not the plug.

@ August 28, 2014 7:44 PM in What is the solution?

You want to make the outer component expand. Spaying penetrant on pipe joints it usually pointless because the threads are sealed, and spraying it on a hot surface is counterproductive.

They should have upgraded

@ August 28, 2014 7:34 PM in the latest on Boone, NC CO poisoning

to DVDs years ago.


@ August 28, 2014 7:32 PM in Bryant 244-7 Series A Gas Steam Boiler

Apart from the cost, in time and parts--if you can even find them--of restoring an antique, have you considered the greater efficiency available in the newer boilers?


@ August 28, 2014 6:11 PM in Gas-fired water heater pilot keeps going out.

I haven't gotten around to getting a thermocouple yet, so I haven't taken the burner out, but the pilot hasn't gone out since I made the first post.

It must have figured out I had some wallies on the case.

I'll take a look at it this weekend one way or another.

Drips and sizzles

@ August 27, 2014 7:54 AM in Gas-fired water heater pilot keeps going out.

I did hear a few sizzles shortly after the burner came on, but they stopped after the tank warmed up. I assumed it was just condensation since it only happened when the burner was on and the tank was cold. I really hope it's not leaking. I want to replace it with a tankless heater, but I'm not ready to do that yet.

How long do these things generally last? I replaced the anode about three years ago, and at that time a lot of the old one was still there, but it had broken off and fallen inside. It looked like a coral reef in there. Calcium crystals everywhere. We have pretty hard water.

I noticed that the thermocouple doesn't glow like the one in my boiler, but I assumed it was okay since it heated up in under a minute. If anything I thought the flame just wasn't hot enough.

So I guess I'll pick up a thermocouple and pull the burner, clean out the orifice, check for blockage in the line, replace the thermocouple and look for hard water deposits on the burner assembly. If it's just condensation I'm hearing, that won't leave any, but the tank water definitely will.

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll let you know what I find.

You need a twisted nipple.

@ August 26, 2014 10:43 PM in How much flex in piping?

I had a situation where I had rebuilt the wall behind a radiator to add insulation and make it pretty so I didn't have to cover the radiator, and I thought I left enough room for the radiator to go back, but when I screwed the valve back onto the nipple and tried to make up the union, it was off by about 3/8". Oooooops!

So I took out the nipple, made a new one, slightly longer, then hacksawed through it at about a 15° angle, so if you put the pieces together and rotated them, you could get anything from 0 to 30 degrees of bend in the nipple.

Then I took the pieces, screwed one end into the valve, the other into the elbow beneath the floor, just loosely so I could rotate them to get the right angle, then mark them where they needed to line up.

Then I ground a 15-20° chamfer around the outer edges of both cut ends--just a chamfer, not a bevel--then clamped the pieces together and ran a bead all the way around with my little flux-core wirefeed welder. (It's like a little gasless MIG welder.) After it cooled down I cleaned off the slag and inspected the joint and tested for leaks.

The toughest part was screwing the twisted nipple into the elbow until it got tight, then bringing it the rest of the way around to get the angle right, but I got it in and lined it up without breaking it. Because it angles away from the wall, it makes the handwheel on the valve stick out a little, but that actually makes it easier to grip and turn without skinning a knuckle on the radiator.

Before you say, "but I'm not a welder," neither am I. I sucked at it when I was a mechanic. But we didn't have welders like this. They make welding easy, and I picked mine up for about $85.

If you want to give it a try, I can give you more details and show you some pictures.

That's incredible.

@ August 26, 2014 10:16 PM in New House Heating

Those pipes must be cheap to insulate. You can use water pipe wraps. But is that pipe hard to find? Are those new radiators or reconditioned? They look great, especially that ornate one.

My guess is

@ August 26, 2014 10:06 PM in Offsets in pipes between floors?

Since the risers to the second floor have to be plumb (or close to it) a 90 will give you a level radiator, so, just as JStar said, you need 2 or more elbows to give you the right pitch. This is not a problem on the first floor because you never have to go level or plumb with the piping.


@ August 26, 2014 9:47 PM in Jstar to the rescue

Fat chance.

You're in good hands, Fizz.

Gas-fired water heater pilot keeps going out.

@ August 26, 2014 9:42 PM in Gas-fired water heater pilot keeps going out.

I have a 10 year old natural gas-fired 40 gallon water heater that has worked fine for the last 10 years until about a week ago when the pilot went out. I re-lit it and it worked fine for a week, then last night it went out again. I came home tonight to find it out again and re-lit it, and I just went down and checked it and it was out again.

The pilot flame looks reasonably strong. It's not as big as the flame on my steam boiler, and there's no prominent yellow peak, but it looks stable. I don't see any way to adjust it anyway.

The thermocouple seems to work--I have to hold the gas button down for about a minute before the pilot stays lit, but once it heats up it stays lit.

There's no water leak. It's in a floor pan, so I'd be able to see water if it were leaking.

Something has definitely gone bad, but I don't know what to check, and I get the feeling that if I pull the burner assembly I won't even know what to look for, except maybe schmutz in the pilot orifice.


@ August 20, 2014 11:33 AM in New House Heating

For me the answer would depend on the details. Do you have natural gas service? Is the house designed in such a way that you can put a radiator in each room, preferably under the window, if there is one? Are appropriately sized radiators for each room readily available?

If there are one or two rooms that are problematic, it's possible to run a hot water zone from the boiler, with or without a heat exchanger, to supply hot water to radiant coils or convectors. You wouldn't be able to do this in addition to heating potable water, but I would prefer to use a separate water heater anyway.

I can't recommend it.

@ August 8, 2014 10:00 PM in Radiator re-finishing

Rust Oleum hammered finish paints aren't intended for temperatures in excess of 200°, so they're not for steam radiators. They do make a hammered engine paint, available in black and silver, that's good to 500°, and a line of high heat paints, available in black, silver, white, green and almond, and ultra high heat in black, silver and copper.

If you're painting indoors, even with fume extraction, you should use an NIOSH approved organic vapor respirator. Read the MSDS for safety and disposal information.


@ August 3, 2014 11:21 AM in New Boiler Options

What pressure is your system running at?

Are there portions of the wet return that are buried or otherwise inaccessible?

You say that you don't see water on the floor near the boiler when you overfill it, but does the water level decrease if you leave it for a day or two?

The reason I'm asking is that you might just have a leaky return. It's very common. Depending on where the leak is, you might not notice any water loss unless the system is running, because the leak could be above the normal water line and water loss would only occur when water backs up in the return, or it might be small enough that it only leaks while the system is under pressure.

Some of the guys here have use air compressors to leak test systems by plugging up all the vents and pressurizing the system to about 5 psi and seeing how well it holds. I would give this a try before tearing down the boiler.

Header Design

@ August 3, 2014 11:10 AM in Drop Header???

Since you have a lot of headroom to work with, I'd recommend making the boiler risers as tall as possible and as large as the tappings on the boiler. A long, vertical riser prevents carryover from reaching the header, so the header can separate smaller entrained water droplets.

The header itself should have at least as much cross-sectional area as the boiler risers combined, this will keep the velocity as low as or lower than it was in the risers.

Allow at least one pipe diameter between each riser connection, and at least two pipe diameters between the last boiler riser and the first system riser. The system risers should exit at right angles to the header, and the equalizer should come off the end using an elbow the same size as the header. The diameter of the equalizer should remain at least half of the diameter of the header until it reaches with water line.

These are just the rules of thumb I've picked up here and there, so if the pros tell you anything different, they know better.

Undersize Boiler

@ July 26, 2014 10:39 AM in Webster - Two pipe vapor with return trap: New Boiler

If your boiler is undersize you're more likely to have uneven heating because, no matter how well the system was designed, it's tough to get the same amount of steam to every radiator in the house when there isn't enough steam to go around. When the boiler is sized correctly, each radiator gets enough steam to start radiating at its full capacity even though it may not happen at the same time, but when there's not enough steam available, the first radiators to receive steam start condensing it, making less available for the ones that are still trying to fill.

Nice job!

@ July 26, 2014 10:23 AM in new home owner from philadelphia

Everything looks great, but I especially like the header. You are a genius when it comes to designing effective headers in cramped spaces.

I wouldn't powder-coat it.

@ July 21, 2014 7:53 PM in Radiator re-finishing

Powder coating tends to flake off if flexed, and it tends to fail along sharp edges too. I don't have anything specific to recommend, but look for something that covers well with a thin coat. The thicker the paint, the more likely it will crack. And make sure the surface is immaculately clean and prepped according to the instructions. Since this surface isn't in direct contact with the steam, it probably doesn't need to be a high heat paint.

A little inspiration

@ July 16, 2014 8:12 PM in radiator cover box design question

Some of these are better than others, but they all look fairly easy to build.
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