Joined on July 25, 2011
Last Post on November 29, 2013
@ February 3, 2013 12:12 PM in PSI at 7. Trying to find main vents.Your second picture shows a Dole #4 vent on top of a vertical extension, as it should be. This vent has no float, so it has to be mounted high enough to prevent water from spitting out of it. It should have the same venting capacity as a Gorton #1, but they are prone to fouling. You can check it as you would any main vent, by holding a lit match, lighter or candle in front of the orifice while the mains are filling and seeing if it blows out the flame.
@ February 3, 2013 11:45 AM in drop header piping?but I'm not even sure what the theoretical limits are, and practical limitations like budget and available materials impinge on the size a lot sooner. It really has more to do with diminishing returns than theoretical limits. At a certain point it just doesn't make sense to pay for bigger pipe and fittings because the expense can't be offset by any comparable increase in efficiency.
@ February 3, 2013 11:15 AM in Best replacement for old Crown c-247 steam boilerAll that really matters is the total EDR of the connected load. You need to make a survey of the existing radiation.
If headroom is limited in the boiler room, you should use a drop header so the boiler risers can extend at least 24" from the maximum water level to the first elbow. The header design can also compensate for the reduced steam chest capacity.
Most modern steam boilers can be used for hot water with a few modifications, so if you're seriously considering such a conversion, that would be the least of your worries. The biggest would be the reduction in heat output at the radiators. The dead men who designed this system selected radiators on the basis of how much heat they could produce by converting steam to hot water. This phase-change yields significantly more heat than simply cooling hot water by a few degrees.
While most steam heating systems incorporated significant excess capacity, given the lack of insulation in older buildings, there's no guarantee that the overkill is sufficient to support a conversion from steam to hot water in any particular case. You would need to start from square one with heat loss calculations to determine the amount of radiation required.
@ February 2, 2013 8:15 PM in Correcting sloppy work...?First, when you give the pipe sizes as 6" and 3", I assume you are measuring the circumference? If that's the case, the main is 2" and the runout to the rear radiator is ¾".
¾" is too small for a radiator runout, but it's probably not directly responsible for the slow heating. Unfortunately, if you fix that problem, you'll see why ¾" is too small for a radiator runout. Is there any possibility you can replace the ¾" pipe with a 1" pipe?
My guess is that they used a ¾" pipe because the fitting they used was originally where the main vent was located. ¾" is the standard thread size for a main vent, and it's not unusual to find extra radiators plumbed into former main vent fittings in the mistaken belief that the radiator venting will adequately vent the main. Unfortunately it doesn't work.
If you want to try something cheap that might improve the situation, try putting a Gorton #1 on the rear radiator and see if it heats any faster. If it does you may notice some water hammer and/or water spitting out the vent. If it doesn't you could try putting smaller vents on some of the other radiators, but this will increase the system pressure.
The long-term fix is to re-pipe the runout and add a main vent.
@ February 2, 2013 6:01 PM in marble tops on radsClear powdercoat finishes are available. It's commonly used on aluminum wheels. Any shop that repairs wheels should be able to do it as long as the oven is big enough. It takes a bit longer for cast iron to get up to 500°, but they will probably know what they need to do.
@ February 2, 2013 4:25 PM in In search of good plumber in BrooklynJohn Cataneo is one of the best steam men in the business.
@ February 2, 2013 4:03 PM in cleaning my burnersYes, this is something you can do yourself, and it needs to be done at the start of every heating season. You just need some special brushes to do it, but these are available in a variety of places. They're basically like tube brushes with very long handles. You should have a wire one and a bristle one. The OEM should include instructions on how to get at the flueways.
The flueways are where the heat is transferred from the hot exhaust gases to the cast iron, which then transfers it to the water. They are like long, narrow, curved passages lined with bumps about the same size and shape as a new pencil eraser. These bumps increase the surface area so it can absorb more heat. In order to do that, the hot gases need to be able to pass through and around those little bumps. It doesn't help if dirt and rust build up in there, and it does. Water vapor in the exhaust causes rust, and any dirt that filters down the chimney can find its way in there. If you don't keep it clean, you're wasting fuel.
BTW, the suggestion to get your CO levels checked is a good one. You can't tell about the composition of your flue gases by looking at the flame. They wouldn't need combustion analyzers if you could. You need to get a gas guy in who has a combustion analyzer and knows how to use it. Have him check the exhaust gas composition (including CO), the flue temperature (if it doesn't get hot enough it will rust out) and check for spillover at the draft hood. Or just say you want a complete combustion analysis. This is also something that should be done every year. If he doesn't find any problems, that's great. That's what you want to hear. It means you have nothing to worry about, and to me, that's worth paying for.
@ February 2, 2013 9:21 AM in cleaning my burnersThat rust could be cause for concern. Are you by any chance losing a lot of water from your boiler? Did you clean out your flueways at the beginning of the season?
@ February 2, 2013 9:15 AM in Actual savings over steam heatingHe's interested in selling his expensive systems and making millions of dollars.
@ February 1, 2013 8:22 PM in Actual savings over steam heatingMay I point out that this forum is called "Strictly Steam"? If you're not here to give accurate information to help steam professionals and owners of steam heating systems or to seek help from the knowledgeable, experienced steam professionals who come here to offer their guidance and advice, please go elsewhere. We're not buying your BS.
@ February 1, 2013 12:00 PM in Steam Main Crossovers?Somebody replaced the wet return on the one-pipe system with a dry return, not realizing they were providing a path for steam to flow unimpeded from one main to the other. I can't see any reason to have a condensate pump when the entire return loop is above the water line.
@ February 1, 2013 11:42 AM in Where in the heck is my water going???You probably know this, but a low pressure gauge should be provided in addition to, rather than instead of, the 30 psi gauge. Useless as they are, most local codes require 30 psi gauges in working order.
@ February 1, 2013 11:14 AM in Actual savings over steam heating$50,000,000 is a lot of money. One can appreciate how that kind of financial incentive might motivate someone to overstate the case for replacing a system that, with a few corrections to the installation and some customer education, could run at 87% efficiency, with a very expensive, completely new system that could, if properly maintained, run at 90% efficiency. That's all we're really talking about here when you compare apples to apples: 3%.
In both cases, proper installation, maintenance and operation are critical to achieving those numbers, but you don't emphasize that. No, you're taking this tiny difference in efficiency between the two technologies and blowing it way out of proportion so you can sell new systems and make your millions.
And if you succeed in convincing people that they need to replace their old, outdated steam systems with shiny, new hydronic systems with condensing boilers? Well, if you're wildly successful you won't be able to keep up with the demand, and people will get their systems installed by knuckleheads who cut corners and butcher them, or the customers will be so sure they've bought the ultimate system--they certainly paid for it--that they don't need to worry about mundane stuff like maintenance, and they won't realize the full potential of their new systems any more than they did with their old ones. But you'll retire a wealthy man.
@ February 1, 2013 5:53 AM in Copper pipe insulationSteam boilers should never be piped in copper. Leaks are inevitable, and the only way to fix them is to disassemble, clean and re-solder the joints. Since you will need to do this repeatedly, you will need to be able to remove and re-apply the insulation--assuming it isn't destroyed by the steam and hot water that comes in contact with it. You might want to use pipe-wraps with self-adhesive seams and apply velcro strips instead of sealing them directly.
Whatever you do, don't spend a lot of money on it. You'll probably end up throwing it away inside of three years anyway.
Insulating return pipes is less critical than insulating steam pipes because there is less heat lost through them due to the lower differential and because the heat loss does not result in steam being condensed before it reaches the radiators. The cost of heating cooled water back to the boiling point is much lower than the cost of producing steam.
The most important consideration in determining whether or to what extent return piping should be insulated is whether or not they run through living space and what the current comfort level in that living space is. If the return piping is warming that space to a comfortable level, insulating them will make it necessary to provide an alternative source of heat, which usually turns out to be more expensive than simply not insulating the pipes.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that during the summer, condensation frequently forms on the outside of wet return piping, which is seldom drained of condensate even when the system is not in use. Because this condensation contains no buffering solutes and there is an abundance of oxygen available, this often causes the piping to rust very aggressively. When wet returns need to be replaced, you'll often find that the attrition to the outside surface is at least as severe as that of the inside.
@ February 1, 2013 4:06 AM in Actual savings over steam heatingApart from being illegible, your documents say nothing with regard to your claims that the steam system was properly maintained or that occupant comfort was improved. Do you expect us to take your word for anything you can't prove? Why offer any evidence at all if you can't support the most critical of your claims? If I offered you a chair with one solid leg, would you sit in it?
Sounds like a mod con job to me.
@ January 31, 2013 10:53 PM in One Pipe ConvectorI'm not sure, but I don't think my system cycles more than once an hour even when it's cold outside, so you might find increasing the CPH doesn't do anything, but it's worth a try. Keep an eye on your pressure though. You don't want the boiler starting up before your main vents cool down enough to open.
@ January 31, 2013 10:50 AM in One Pipe ConvectorI have a similar situation. The convector is about 8 ft. long and is in front of a big bay window, so I'm looking for a cast iron window radiator, as low and wide as possible.
To make things more livable in the meantime, I have set the temperature swing on my thermostat to 1 degree. This will give you shorter, more frequent cycles, which isn't ideal, but it does allow the heat to come on before it gets uncomfortably cold in the room with the convector.
Check the manual that came with your thermostat for instructions on adjusting the swing setting. Most thermostats allow you to adjust it, but it's not something most people know about.
@ January 30, 2013 12:53 PM in Need help buying TRVAs long as you have the receipt they will take them back and put them back on the shelf for some poor sucker to buy.
@ January 29, 2013 10:10 PM in Where in the heck is my water going???Not sure where it's going after that, but that low-rise header is not giving the water that sprays up when the steam bubbles erupt a chance to settle down before they hit that system riser, so you're getting wicked carryover, especially because there's only one boiler riser and it's close to the water line, and the steam flow is pushing all the water towards that side of the shallow steam chest. This boiler would do a lot better with a drop header and two long, tall boiler risers.
That said, I'm not sure if this is related to you water loss--carryover usually comes back with the condensate--but considering how much water is going out the main, you may not be looking for leaks in the right places. Have you checked for leaking radiator valve packings and spitting vents?
@ January 29, 2013 8:37 PM in marble tops on radsI think a picture of a cat curled up sound asleep on a cushion in front of a radiator would make a great logo for a plumbing and heating company specializing in steam. Whenever I walk by and see one of my little friends parked next to a radiator I'm glad I put the time into keeping the heat on.
@ January 29, 2013 8:20 PM in ccf to thermI try to contribute where I can, but there's no way I'll ever give back a tiny fraction of what I've learned from all the smart, experienced, wise and generous people on this site--especially because I'm still learning.
@ January 29, 2013 8:14 PM in ccf to thermIt could be due to pressure from consumer watchdogs, insisting on charging based on value rather than volume.