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Joined on January 7, 2012

Last Post on August 20, 2014

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draft & wind

@ August 20, 2014 3:51 PM in Oil fired flue without barometric damper?

Having grown up in Falmouth on Buzzard's Bay, I have seen a variety of draft issues on Cape. Sandwich ridge is an unusual situation. The house is located in East Sandwich on Service Road, off of Route 6. (Mid Cape hwy). This area is, as is obvious, densely wooded, and is often completely stagnant. It blows just like any other place on Cape during a storm, however in the summer it's totally dead up there. I completely agree that the boiler flue does not draw as well as the two others, and that during the winter there is more of an issue, but in any case, a Peerless JOT from 1986 will be a problem at this point.


@ August 12, 2014 12:39 PM in Oil fired flue without barometric damper?

There are two fireplaces, equalling in three separated flues in one chimney. I do not know if the fireplace clean outs at the bottom in the basement are connected. The building is located in Sandwich, MA, on Cape Cod, and although it sits atop a ridge, it is not coastal nor is it windy. Fireplaces draw VERY well.

proper care and cleaning

@ August 12, 2014 1:05 AM in Oil fired flue without barometric damper?

I understand that the front of this boiler was removed often for cleaning. One puffback has already occurred, and obstructions soot wise have been found in the flue as far up as the first floor fireplace. (BTW…flues are separate…not to worry:). Boiler had VERY thorough cleaning. I've seen it done.

Peerless JOT

@ August 10, 2014 7:00 PM in Oil fired flue without barometric damper?

1986. It was installed in 1986. The damper was removed in 2004.

Oil fired flue without barometric damper?

@ August 10, 2014 2:31 PM in Oil fired flue without barometric damper?

I came across this system, and the boiler is lacking a barometric damper in the flue pipe. In one of the photos you can see that the oil fired water heater has got it's own damper. Since the flue from the water heater is conjoined with the flue from the boiler, the technician assumed that the boiler would draw it's draft from the water heater's damper. (FYI: This system was originally installed with both dampers). The boiler is shot due to soot build up, and oil soot has baked into the cast iron sections, making it impossible to clean. Did the removal of the damper cause this to worsen?



@ May 28, 2014 10:17 PM in Crazy idea

Here's what I'm thinking. The furnace is in a crawlspace, and the crawlspace has ventilation soffit like vents in the walls. I would run insulated flex duct from one of the far vents, allowing the intake from the outside to become tempered by inside air. The intake is far from the furnace exhaust, and far from anything harmful. It is also accessible. There would be a CO2 sensor (pneumatically operated or using DDC) in the supply plenum to control a damper at the return plenum. It would only modulate when the furnace is in use, otherwise it would remain shut. There would also be a secondary filter there.

Crazy idea

@ May 28, 2014 1:10 AM in Crazy idea

Hello All,
I've gotten a crazy idea from the way commercial HVAC has been done for many years. Perhaps some of you could tell me if It'd possible, insane, dangerous, or why it doesn't exist. Why is it that residential hot air furnaces haven't got make up air supply ducts going to the return plenum? Just a damper that's controlled by the temp of the air exiting the supply plenum, and is supplied by a small vent in an exterior basement wall. I think this sounds like a great idea. Any reason why it hasn't been done?

system type

@ May 14, 2014 8:32 PM in Pneumatic controlled univent

What I can tell you is that it has no longer got a night setback. Down in the back of the boiler room we've got a new quincy compressor, which cycles in lead lag. The night set back controls have been taken off line, and there literally just direct air from the dryer to the t-stats. At one point, however, (probably until the 70's) the system was manual, when the school district could afford the staff to adjust the pneumatics and maintain things.


@ May 13, 2014 10:25 PM in Pneumatic controlled univent

This job is in a Colorado school. Being a public school, the DDC money just isn't there. That can't happen. Right now, we need need to get fresh air moving through the heat exchanger, so a piping diagram for this pneumatic would be much appreciated if anyone has got one. The Powers pneumatically operated temp. sensor (large copper wand thing above blower) has been cut off, and I'm trying to find some diagrams that fit the old Nesbitt specs.

pneumatic DA univent

@ May 13, 2014 1:54 PM in Pneumatic controlled univent

Hello all,
I have been working on servicing 1952 Nesbitt Syncritizer unit ventilators, which are part of a two pipe steam system of the same vintage. The system uses a pneumatic DA control system, which is in great disrepair. All units have pneumatically operated damper actuators which modulate between outside air intake and inside air intake. However, I have come across many which have been disabled, and the associated pneumatic circuit for them has been cut off. Does anyone have an idea of how to salvage this? I have some photos attached.

Old boiler room equipment

@ March 17, 2014 12:41 PM in Old boiler room equipment

Okay, So I've seen a strange old system, and I'm looking for some explanation. It's from 1951, and has got three of these massive old Birchfield boilers. It's a classic two pipe steam system from that era. This I understand. However, the boilers have old Ray rotary burners. Can anyone explain these things? They look incredibly inefficient. They burn crude oil, (not no.6) and require air atomization. However, the combustion atomizing air is derived from the building's pneumatic controls. (???) that doesn't seem right. Any thoughts?


pneumatics cont.

@ November 30, 2013 2:08 PM in Burner retrofit for scotch box

Funny you should mention the open windows. In this 1952 building, that's all we've got to cool the place down. At times, we loose pneumatic, and the heat exchangers on the air handlers read 200+ degrees F. I might cut the fans if the rooms get above 93 degrees, (even with open windows) but then all the heat and damage goes to the heat exchanger. These air handlers were built by a company called Drum, and I don't think it exists anymore. The heat exchangers are not copper coils, they're like cast iron radiators.

The system has a quincy duplex compressor that has been modified over the years. It has a Hanksion air dryer from 2010. The thermostats are all JC, and the actuators range from JC to Honeywell to Siemens. The mediums in the air lines are copper, (1952) plastic irrigation tubing (1997), and light rubber tubing to the thermostats. (2011). The reason we can not tune the system is because we would need to get behind walls, and then we run into disturbed and loose asbestos in the cinderblocks. Remember, the building is 1952.


@ November 28, 2013 7:15 PM in Burner retrofit for scotch box

The real cause for the issues we face is the DA pneumatic system we've got.  It leaks constantly, which generates false calls for heat.  The compressor cannot generate dry air, due to the fact that the refrigerated air dryer is busted up.  (That is a separate issue we are currently working on).  You may wonder, why not just work on the pneumatics instead of the GOPEG burners?  Or even upgrade to DDC?  The reason is cost.  The controls in this building are an infinite world of expense, and I understand that it will have to be dealt with at some point.  Until then, we just need a few lower cost ways to upgrade the boilers. 


Burner retrofit for scotch box

@ November 26, 2013 12:00 PM in Burner retrofit for scotch box

Hi all,
I've got three Hurst LPE steam boilers that were installed in 1995-1997. They have Gordon Piatt model R gas burners which run nicely, however finding parts can be a pain. They aren't too efficient either. The building runs with a DA pneumatic and has a Quincy compressor. Im wondering this: Can we do a burner retrofit to cut down on our stack temps and carbon footprint? are there low NOX burners available for this boiler? Does a low NOX burner work well with a boiler like this?

I'm also wondering about our stack and flue set up. It's complex and redundant, and takes a longer purge time to run air through it. on cold windy days, we get some back draft, which is obviously not good. Should this be taken care of before/along with the burner retrofit?

just like to mention - whom ever installed this overlooked hartford loops - so there's that

attached are photos



@ July 8, 2013 11:28 PM in Historical College Renovation Steam to ? St. Louis

Here's a good question: are they're any Pneumatic controls in the building(s)? If so, that could be a cause for major energy loss.

One pipe hydraulic sperator

@ January 13, 2013 7:47 PM in Munchkin boiler

I did read in a manual for an HTP boiler (makes munchkin, I believe) that the supply and return have to share a special hydraulic separator. This makes sense, seeing that you have to have a cool temperature return to the boiler, but If this is left out will there be major issues?

Munchkin boiler

@ January 6, 2013 10:37 PM in Munchkin boiler

I have searched the wall and found many issues with Munchkin and HTP boilers. I assume they are generally poor quality? I have also heard bad things directly from techs.


J04 draft

@ January 4, 2013 5:59 PM in PEERLESS boiler average life Question

I believe the older j04's had an awful draft, as the openings below the sections where less than an inch wide. They can last long, but they may be replaced if the draft is too slow. These openings are also difficult to clean.


@ December 27, 2012 12:35 PM in Weil-McLain Water Woes

Also check your traps to see if they have been bled, as that's a primary cause for banging.


@ December 27, 2012 12:35 PM in Weil-McLain Water Woes

Also check your traps to see if they have been bled, as that's a primary cause for banging.

Hot surface ignition

@ December 27, 2012 12:32 PM in Furnace wont heat- blower is fine and I hear a click for sparker

You've got contact/hot surface ignition if there is no pilot light on the unit. instead of a pilot, a prong will be electrically heated in the path of the gas lances until it's visibly glowing orange, and once the gas contacts this, it ignites. The hot surface ignitors go bad every so often. But when you say no pilot, does this mean your pilot's out, or the furnace has not pilot with it? The latter is what I've been talking about.


Zone valves

@ December 25, 2012 10:03 AM in 2 out of 4 Heating Zones Just Stopped Working!

Zone valves (silver boxes) go bad. Especially the valves, and I say that because many people have each zone controlled by an actual circulator pump rather than a "silver box." I would recommend you replace all five valves with five pumps. They last longer, and I have never had any trouble with doing that. The way I see it, if you've got two zones down, replace the valves, or do all pumps. I think that your zone valves have just gone bad.

Now you've got a very nice set up there. Very nice boiler. Most homeowners never give their equipment in the basement a second thought, but if you want to avoid problems in the future, you really should have your boiler serviced and checked on a yearly basis by a tech. Maybe it seems funny, as your boiler fires with gas and thus is cleaner burning, but what you've got there will need some cleaning. Your boiler has a blower inside, which on one side takes in air and on the other it takes in natural gas. It mixes air and gas, and blows the combination into a mesh cylinder that is inside of a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is a round aluminum enclosure that transfers heat going from the center of it to the water that heats your house and goes through the zones. This mesh cylinder has an ignition device on the outside surface, and will ignite a very clean burning flame from the blower and mesh into the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is so efficient, that the exhaust gasses are cool enough to go through PVC pipe. That's why it's there in the photos. It's important have someone clean out that mesh cylinder and heat exchanger, as build up of different kinds of sediment can lower efficiency and screw up the whole thing down the road. No matter what your system's like, I always say service it some way some how.
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