Joined on February 6, 2012
Last Post on June 26, 2014
@ June 26, 2014 12:54 PM in Combine two heating zones into one, any savings?Yes, in theory with two zones your boiler/circ could be called on more frequently than if it was all one zone. However, since a call for one zone is only heating half the space, it will be a shorter cycle. Ignoring the losses in the boiler and distribution piping, the result is the same since heat into the space = heat lost by the space. However, in the real world there will be small inefficiencies from more frequent start ups, so a single zone will be slightly more efficient. I wouldn't do it though, since the energy benefit will be very small. The spaces won't be quite equal in load so the benefit of having separate zones to more accurately match the heat loads of the areas will be more important (at least it would be to me).
@ April 4, 2014 8:27 AM in StinkbugsThe stink bugs are up here in New England too - we have had lots of them in our office in Southern New Hampshire the last two years.
@ April 2, 2014 12:37 PM in Help! I have no main vents! + problem radiatorI wouldn't advise drilling and tapping a pipe to install a vent, as the pipe wall isn't really thick enough to give you enough good threads. It might work in a pinch, but isn't ideal. I had a similar situation when I bought my house and had my heating contractor drill holes in the mains and weld Thread-o-let fittings over them, which gives a much better threaded connection. I chose this over trying to take apart my piping, and would bet that it's faster too. Just make sure the welder takes precautions against flying sparks which can be dangerous in an old house.
@ March 25, 2014 2:30 PM in Old Wirsbo Maifold - retire line and capYou don't need to remove the valve from the other side of the header, just leave it there (presuming it's not leaking). It's not hurting anything, and you're more likely to cause leaks by trying to pull it and seal the hole.
@ March 18, 2014 8:59 AM in is this the correct near boiler piping for burnham independence boilerI believe that Counterstrike stainless gas flex line has a black outer jacket. I've got some in my house, connecting a the older hard gas lines to a new gas burner. That looks like what I see in the photos. Properly installed (and grounded when required) these are fine products.
@ March 4, 2014 1:44 PM in Carlin Gas Conversion or new oil tank?If I were you, I'd spring the extra money for 1" thick rigid fiberglass pipe insulation as opposed to wrapping with bats & tape. It will look a lot better, which will work in your favor when you go to sell the place, plus it will be easier work for you to put up. When I did my pipes a couple years ago, I got it all from expressinsulation.com. Your mains aren't that long (I had over 100 feet to do), so the cost is reasonable. Just do the straight runs and skip fittings if you have to keep the cost down.
@ March 4, 2014 12:46 PM in Carlin Gas Conversion or new oil tank?Your timeline to sell is the tricky part of this equation. I have a successfully converted WM oil boiler (newer than yours, a Gold) with a Carlin EZ-Gas and am happy with it - my savings are in line with what BobC reports. I was closer to 50% savings the first year, but gas cost has risen this year so I don't expect it to stay that good. I will have paid back the conversion cost in 2-3 years of running, but since you're going to sell then you may be better off with the oil tank. See what the conversion cost comes back at. If you don't already have a liner in the chimney, you'll likely need one and that will add to the conversion cost significantly (it didn't factor into my math as I had already lined the chimney while burning oil).
@ February 18, 2014 3:35 PM in Too hot upstairs after conversion to gas-fired steam boilerInsulating the basement ceiling would help stop the first level from losing heat through the floors to the now cool basement. You can try balancing the radiators even further apart (an even higher setting on the first floor, and lower on the second - or maybe removing the Vent-Rites on one floor and switching to a different vent to balance more steam to the first floor radiators).
It's a tricky situation (my house is similar after a conversion and insulating pipes). Really with the basement cold the heat loss of the first floor rooms has changed, so ideally you would fix that with insulation or add more radiator capacity. Neither of those is a quick fix, so try more vent adjustment first.
A third possibility would be to install thermostatic vents (TRVs) upstairs. These sense room temp and close the vent before the room overheats.
@ February 17, 2014 10:09 PM in Adding automatic vent damper to old cast iron boiler?I have done a considerable amount of air sealing in the basement, but can't get it to modern standards. House was built in 1890 and the foundation is random sizes of granite block, so stone work has lots of tiny leaks and air can come down through the floors a little too. Basement was warmer when I burned oil as the single swing damper closed more fully when burner was off.
@ February 17, 2014 1:22 PM in Adding automatic vent damper to old cast iron boiler?The air I'd like to stop from going up the stack isn't coming through the burner, but entering at the double-swing barometric damper. I've got a 35 ft. interior chimney which has a strong draft and keeps the damper pulled open all of the time, so the basement heat loss is quite high.
@ February 17, 2014 11:33 AM in Adding automatic vent damper to old cast iron boiler?Thanks, Tim. I knew you'd have the answer! Not was I was hoping to hear, but at least now I can stop thinking about it.
@ February 17, 2014 9:42 AM in Adding automatic vent damper to old cast iron boiler?Can a vent damper like this be used on a Carlin EZ-Gas retrofit? I see how the thermostat calls the damper to open and then the switch in the damper enables the gas burner after fully opening the damper. But how would it handle the post-burn purge time of the EZ-Gas, which is about 30 seconds?
@ February 11, 2014 4:11 PM in How do I calculate main vent sizing?If you don't have quite enough height for the vent and the additional bushing, you could remove the coupling that the current vent threads into and replace it with a 3/4" x 1/2" reducing coupling. That might reduce the overall height by 1/2" or so.
@ February 4, 2014 2:02 PM in Measuring and graphing indoor tempsYes, I think you could get better temp control with a newer thermostat. I've got an inexpensive Honeywell TH2110D running my steam system, and I don't get more than a degree or two of fluctuation from scheduled temps. This stat has intelligent recovery (starts early to achieve setpoints at set times), so I bet the programming helps with normal accuracy too as it learns your system response.
@ January 30, 2014 3:31 PM in Need some serious helpCan you take a photo of the mixing valve and surrounding piping and post it here? From the sound of your first post (flow decreases if the mixed temp turned down), I almost wonder if there isn't enough (or any) circulation on the mixed temp side of the valves. You can certainly use mixing valves to control a lower water temp to the tubing in the floors, but you will need to have that piped and circulated properly for it to work. We can't really tell if that has been done without a photo of the system, or a more detailed description.
@ January 28, 2014 9:14 AM in STEAM BOILER ADDS WATEROne of your return pipes may be partially clogged, so that condensed water from your steam is slow to return back to the boiler. If you can shut off the auto-feeder, watch the gauge for a cycle and after the boiler shuts off, see if the water level comes back slowly to normal. If it does you have slow (clogged) returns - if it stays low until the next burner cycle you may have a leak.
@ January 14, 2014 8:39 AM in 3/8" aluminum pans? [and 3/8" manifolds for that matter]Viega offers the thin staple-up plates in 3/8" size, stock code 15205. I agree with liking the ease of working with 3/8". There ought to be other manufacturers producing a plate in this size, but I haven't searched.
@ January 10, 2014 3:06 PM in Help me understand my heating bill: Average cost per hour to run gas heating system?A steam system can have the call for heat be longer than the burner run time, if the call is long enough that the burner cycles off on pressure. The more oversized your boiler is the more likely that is to happen.
@ January 7, 2014 1:47 PM in Strange occurrence....The reason that you don't see the pressure rise as the steam starts filling the radiators is condensation. If the radiators were already hot when you sent steam to them the pressure would indeed begin to rise, but with them cool what happens is that for a while all of the steam being sent into the radiators is condensing back into water. When that happens, the water is taking up less volume than the steam that it came from so the pressure can't rise yet.
@ December 13, 2013 11:05 AM in Boiler Pressure Spike while under heatThose symptoms sure sound like a bad expansion tank, so keep looking at that. Check the pressure at the air valve on the tank, I would bet there is none. I'd try taking the tank off and checking it out thoroughly.
@ December 12, 2013 8:35 AM in Mystery hot water capacity decreaseGordy has it. When you increased pressure, you got more flow ( as you found that it fills more quickly now). Your indirect can only transfer so many Btus per minute to the water going through it, and so if you move water through more quickly it can't get as hot as before. You also found your own solution to the new behavior, which is to only open the tap half way so you're getting the same flow rate as before.
@ December 4, 2013 2:01 PM in Thermostatic Rad Valve ControlThat looks to me as if the actuator is a non-electric (capillary) model, so it uses a tube and fluid pressure to control the actuator, not electricity. A multimeter won't help in that case.
In many cases if a capillary control is not working properly the capillary tube has been pinched or kinked at some point. With a kink, pinch, or hole in it the fluid can't transmit pressure from the dial to the actuator and it won't work. These capillaries aren't too delicate, but need to be handled with some care or they can be damaged (don't drop anything on them, put tight staples over them, or pull them tight around corners).