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Joined on January 7, 2012

Last Post on March 17, 2014

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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.

bronze pumps

@ December 9, 2012 11:27 AM in Steam Boiler to Baseboard Heat

Okay....Come to think of it Ive seen those bronze pumps for steam before.....

power burner and hydronics

@ December 9, 2012 12:53 AM in Gas Power Burner+Hydronics

SteaminDemon, Thank you for your explanation. I greatly understand all these types of systems, and have studied the possible improvements of condensing boilers for years. My question was more about the x4 on any type of oil fired boiler. I understand it's best for steam, and not as efficient with hydronic, but I take it that it's pointless to have a retrofitted boiler with a power gas burner for hydronic when you can throw in a fancy condensing boiler. But here's another thought: does anyone know if the Buderus 115ws can do steam? Buderus didn't have much info on it.

Thanks very much

Teflon Tape

@ December 5, 2012 10:19 PM in leaking radiator valve

Huh. Okay. That's interesting. You learn something new every day! :)

teflon tape

@ December 5, 2012 10:11 PM in leaking radiator valve

I take it teflon tape is actually not safe for hydronic? I've used it before for my own home and for other installs and have had no issues at all.

Teflon Tape

@ December 5, 2012 8:46 PM in leaking radiator valve

If you've got hydronic your set to go with teflon tape. Also check the solder joints.

Hope that helps some


Teflon tape

@ December 5, 2012 8:24 PM in leaking radiator valve

Hi CapeCod...I'm from Cape Cod. Falmouth actually.

Any way, is this is steam or hydronic? (hot water). You say radiant. Is it steam or hydronic? If it's hydronic, it's safer and easier to use teflon. If it's steam, it can get kind of murky. I've seen teflon used on steam, but not often.



@ December 1, 2012 2:31 PM in Boiler Recommendations - Please

I have had many bad experiences with fracturing burnhams. I have not heard of people having to get sludge removed from a condensing heat exchanger? This seems strange.

Something Spooky

@ November 29, 2012 11:33 PM in Something Spooky

A departure from day-to-day HVAC and steam talk, but.....

I have a question for some seasoned steam fitters or contractors out there. Any haunted boiler rooms?

It's bizarre, but I was reading a thread about a mansion's boiler room and it reminded me of a mansion on Cape Cod where the mechanical contractors were installing two Lochinvar Knights during restoration after the house had 20+ years of abandonment. Staying late one night, they had discovered their things being moved all over. They searched for three+ hours after a box of three Grundfos pumps had disappeared, and they found them in the center of a crawl space. True story, I know the contractor who did the job. Any of you had any weird experiences on the job?

Just a thought! haha!


@ November 29, 2012 11:17 PM in Boiler Recommendations - Please


Burnham IS not the best for residential, and this is because the shape (from what I've experienced) of the cast iron heat exchangers do NOT take thermal change WELL. But in terms of the Alpine, There have been poor reviews of Burnham condensing boilers (vs. cast iron) circulating. I agree with your contractor there. Bad idea to go with a Burnham.

Weil McLain is better, but not by a whole lot...The ultras are very popular, however I have heard lots of complaints about costumer service not honoring warranty.

The prestige trimax is a great boiler. I'd go with that one. I would also take a long look at the line of Lochinvar and Buderus products, The most pricy but highest quality on the market in my experience. Hope that helps.:)



@ November 29, 2012 11:08 PM in Gas Power Burner+Hydronics

What have you heard about the Power flame X4?
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