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The Wall


Joined on February 18, 2014

Last Post on July 15, 2014

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I noticed that too

@ July 15, 2014 1:11 PM in Do I need a chimney liner?

Looks like a shiny piece of pipe back in there.  Another thing I noticed was the one boiler reduces right at the appliance, at least it appears to reduce.  I always thought that was a big no no.  Another issue that I don't think was mentioned is the acid.  The combustion gases from gas appliance can produce an acid if they condense.  This is what can ultimately destroy the masonry chimney.  This is the biggest reason for lining (so I was told).  I have a 100+ year old house and am currently in process of abandoning the masonry chimney and having a new B vent installed inside the house.  If you saw my chimney and what can happen you wouldn't question the lining issue believe me.  Just another homeowner.

2 stage gas valve

@ July 12, 2014 9:52 PM in Identifying boiler capacity

Gerry Gill is a big fan of them as well.

Homeowner opinion

@ July 11, 2014 11:08 AM in Did my plumber "F" up my system?

If all those new pipes are run in an area that won't be accessible when the bathroom is done that could be an issue.  If there is a problem in the future you could end up having to rip apart the brand new bathroom to have it fixed.  It sounds by your description like this will all be buried in the floors and walls.  Like was said by others it might work just fine, but what about long term?  Working and not leaking today to me isn't much of a guarantee that in 2 years the whole thing could let go.  And now you are remodeling the bathroom again, and who will your GC hire to fix the pipes the second time?  Same guy that did it wrong the first time?  It could be a vicious aggravating cycle that doesn't end.  You could also post some pictures of this piping and people might be able to give better opinions.  Like I said just my opinion as a homeowner.


@ July 10, 2014 11:46 AM in Lightening Strikes

Either of these the ones you are talking about?

Fiberglass and the itches

@ July 6, 2014 6:55 PM in stupidity

I worked for a fiberglass company for a couple years and the only way I found to keep it away was layers.  I always wore a long sleeve T-shirt under my long sleeve Dickies button up shirt and that usually helped.  It was scorching hot, but I dealt and drank tons of water.  Not quite attic hot, but we weren't allowed fans or much ventilation because it could mess with the curing process of the fiberglass as well as all the EPA regulations for VOC's etc.  Heat stroke and exhaustion were primary concerns in the summer so we all had training and always watched out for people.  Conversation was encouraged because holding a conversation required brain function and when you get hot that can be a first sign of problems.  Oh and we had respirators on a lot so that didn't help.  Sending people into an attic, in the summer and alone seems ludicrous to me on all levels.  Cutting corners and sacrificing safety is never worth the profits.  Kakashi is a hero and should be commended you saved a life as far as I am concerned that is a fact.


@ July 1, 2014 10:08 PM in New gas boiler sizing

That boiler doesn't look that old.  I think someone mentioned already about putting a gas conversion burner in it as an interim until the boiler needs replaced.  Maybe an expert could comment on that and answer this, could a gas conversion be sized to down fire that boiler and work on a new smaller boiler later?  Just a thought, but really need an expert that knows about this to comment.

Floor jack?

@ July 1, 2014 7:11 PM in Moving a radiator to put floor down

Some floor jacks sit pretty low so possibly jack it up and slide a dolly under it?  Another option could be to lever it up with an old pipe or something?  Make sure to put a piece of plywood or something under the end so you don't destroy the floor.  Something else, depending on the type of floating floor be very careful when you put those rads back.  I have installed thousands of sq ft. of flooring (hard wood and floating) some of those floating floors aren't as good as others.  In my parents house we installed bamboo over the concrete slab.  The flooring dents if you look at it wrong even though bamboo is very hard (which it is).  The problem is it is basically made like plywood and the layers under the top bamboo layer are white pine which is very soft for this reason it dents easily.  Just wanted to throw it out at you.  The better floors are "hard wood" all the way through, but you pay for them. Good luck with your project and post some pics on your page when you are done I love seeing remodeling work!

just a homeowner here....

@ July 1, 2014 9:27 AM in New gas boiler sizing

That being said be careful about the price thing.  I will reiterate what Rich said above generally speaking you either get quality or cheap, but almost never get both.  If you have set a dollar amount in your head and are trying to hit that number in my opinion you are doing it wrong.  I appreciate we (as homeowners) only have so much money to spend, but to be honest I would get a loan if I had to, to make sure the job was done properly.  Try and get more quotes, there is a find a contractor link on this site and it can be a good place to start.  Don't be afraid to put the search range up to a high number (50 miles) the worst that can happen is they will say no.  Many of the good contractors will travel pretty far.  Your judgement on what is too high should be based on the estimates you get not on some number you have invented in your head.  Heating systems are very expensive (many thousands) in many cases you can get into 5 figures even on a modest house.  Find more contractors get as many quotes as you can and personally I would stop chasing after people that don't want to get back to you.  If they don't want your business then why would you want them?  Good luck with everything!

No thankfully

@ June 25, 2014 4:05 PM in Trap on 4" sewer main in basement

What I have left looks a lot better than that.  Yikes.  When I had my house inspected the main line running across the basement had a ton of stalactites hanging from it so I had the previous owner replace it before I bought the house.  Unfortunately he did the work himself and stopped short of the end of the pipe by about 24" and that is what now needs replaced.  He stopped because the last section seemed okay and it is where the basement utility sink ties in so I guess he just took the lazy route.  Oh well it has lasted me 12 years and I can't expect to never have to do anything to my house!  lol

All I know is....

@ June 24, 2014 9:51 PM in The history of the toilet

Water tastes a whole lot better when fermented with some barley and hops....enjoying some fermented water right now.  Cheers!


@ June 24, 2014 5:48 PM in The history of the toilet

They say that is one reason beer became so popular.  It was a way to make safe liquid for drinking and it also had preservatives in it (hops) so it would keep for a while without refrigeration which they didn't have anyway.

No foundation vent

@ June 24, 2014 11:12 AM in Trap on 4" sewer main in basement

The only "main vent" is the one running through the roof and it is 4" the whole way up, seemed massive when I moved in, but makes more sense after your explanation.  There is currently a Fernco installed to join the 4" PVC to the 4" cast iron pipe.  And yes my brother in law already suggested a no hub coupler.  I trust his judgement, just wanted some insight on the main trap since he hadn't really dealt with them before.   I guess in the area he works either they removed them before his time or never had them hard to say.  Oh and the main stack (since it's vertical) is in mint condition.  In the process of remodeling I have inspected the entire length and it is rock solid thankfully!  Again thanks for all the insight, coming to the wall is always educational!

Good condition

@ June 23, 2014 10:49 PM in Trap on 4" sewer main in basement

It is in good condition and flowing freely the only problem I have is the rotting piece (24" long) of cast iron leading into it.  Most of the DWV in the house has been changed to PVC only this area and a main stack vent are still cast iron.  The trap in the basement I guess would be considered a running trap because the closest vent is a good 30' away on the other side of the basement.  It's the main vent in the house.  I will admit some of the plumbing is a bit butchered from previous owners, but this trap appears original...well original for the plumbing.  As near as I can tell the plumbing and for sure electrical wasn't original in the house.  I will probably call the borough office and see if they can tell me if I still need it or not.  I have found PA is a bit fast and loose when it comes to building codes especially with plumbing and electrical.  They didn't have sate wide building codes until like 2003 until then it's whatever each town felt like doing.  Thanks for the reply!  These old houses can be quite educational!

Trap on 4" sewer main in basement

@ June 23, 2014 7:41 PM in Trap on 4" sewer main in basement

So I had a sewer back up the other day and decided this was beyond my abilities (and equipment) as a homeowner.  My wife's brother is a plumber so we called him in to help.  Long story short I got to see my sewer pipe on TV and we are now running clear and have a clean bill of health.  Anyway he is a plumber in Maryland and I live in Pennsylvania and I had something in my basement he says he has never seen.  About 2-3' before my drain leaves the house I have a trap (with cleanout and it's fine).  Now I don't know if this is still code or what the deal is, but he says in Maryland there MIGHT be something like that outside the house, but he has never seen anything like it inside the house.  My house is over 100 years old and this is all cast iron fittings so it's very old.  Does anyone know anything about this type of setup?  Does the trap really need to be there?  I have a small section of cast iron pipe that comes out of this trap that needs replaced.  He is suggesting I eliminate the trap as part of this replacement.  I figured I would throw it on here because of all the great information I have gotten already.  Would it be worth it to just call the town office and ask them?  Just want to figure out my path going forward any help is appreciated thanks!

Not that it's funny haha....

@ June 18, 2014 12:16 PM in Made in America

More like funny sad, but your comment reminds me of all those tiny American flags they hand out at parades that are made in China.  Cool stamps.  My father has a picture of himself similar to those.  He worked in coal fired power plants for 32 years and has a picture of him and 2 others on top of a huge piece of equipment with an impact gun (big hanging from a chain fall) all are a bit dirty and grungy, but they got it done.  I keep asking for a copy of it from him because it's one of my favorite pictures.  There were a lot of tough men and women that built this great country and it's always good to see some appreciation shown for their efforts.


@ June 18, 2014 9:36 AM in Hot Radiators

If you look up the meaning of the word all it really means is you get paid and you have been trained.  It doesn't say anything about not being a shyster or a thief or just a jerk.  This is a common misconception in society.  People assume 2 things a professional is good at what they do and they will not "hurt" you.  A friends wife says flat out a "professional" always does it better because you pay them.  Now to me that is funny.  No offense intended towards anyone, but I always feel the need to point this out to people.  Personally on my house if I am paying you I don't want a professional, I pay you to be the EXPERT.  If I know more than you or I even feel like I know more than you, you won't be getting my money.  Oh and just to clarify, if you are an expert there is no way I should possibly be able to feel like I know more than you.  Just my 2 cents as a homeowner.

Just a homeowner...

@ June 17, 2014 10:23 AM in Calculate btus for OIl and Gas steam

Another thing to mention on a HW conversion is if the radiators can even be converted.  My house has steam only radiators that can not be converted (not that I want to).  You also don't mention what type of steam you have?  Do you have one pipe, two pipe (with or without air vents).  This information would help get you even more advice.  Also as mentioned hot water conversions can be risky.  Don't get caught up in a modern high efficiency boiler either (hot water).  Those depend on low temperature water to work correctly (140 return temp max I think).  The pros know all this better than I do, just mentioning some of the things I have read on this topic.  This seems to pop up every few weeks on this board.

Little confused

@ June 8, 2014 7:53 AM in Wife HATES old steam radiators. Don't care for covers. Alternatives?

You are talking about individual room control, but then mention hot air.  With hot air you don't have individual room control either?  Well you maybe sort of could with a bunch of dampers in the duct work or something, not really sure how well that would even work.  You can put duct into the ceiling, but some of it still needs to run down the wall other wise the supply and return can "short circuit" and the system will never really be comfortable.  There needs to be some amount of cross circulation to function correctly.  If you put the supply and return in the ceiling, hot air rises so you will suck all the hot air off the top of the room and never really get it comfortable.  I work for an industrial Refrigeration and HVAC company as a designer, but like I said honestly just a homeowner.  Not trying to talk you out of anything, just trying to give  you some information to think about.  The more informed you are the better you can pick a contractor.  And as Steamhead and I both stated you will never be as comfortable with hot air as you are with steam or any other hydronic system.  Hydronic heating is a Cadillac and hot air is the Yugo.  I am sure there are a couple HVAC guys that might blast me for that one, but we are all entitled to our opinions.


@ June 7, 2014 11:20 PM in Wife HATES old steam radiators. Don't care for covers. Alternatives?

Actually you can regulate the steam room by room.  If you are getting uneven heating there is usually a problem with the system.  These systems can be balanced and can work beautifully.  Here is a link to a TRV to control individual radiators.  I have 2 of them in my house and they work fantastic!

Like I said opinions

@ June 7, 2014 11:15 PM in Wife HATES old steam radiators. Don't care for covers. Alternatives?

I love the look of the rads, it fits in with an old house.  To me (just my opinion) if you like old houses you like rads it's a package deal.  Anyway as far as taking up space yours aren't really that big if that one you posted is similar to all of them.  Also lets say you do ducts and there is a duct where that rad is, you still can't use that space because you will block the duct so you haven't really gained anything.  Also a CORRECTLY done duct system will probably have more ducts than the number of rads you currently have.  For ducts you typically need at minimum 2 ducts per room (supply and return) and they need to stay open for airflow.  Again just my opinion.  It sounds like you have decided what to do so I would recommend calling some HVAC contractors and getting some quotes.  There is a find a contractor link on this site which is a good place to start.  Good luck.  Oh and those rads absolutely positively have value no matter what, so don't scrap them.  They don't need to be fancy to have value.  They would be an upgrade for me because of the small size, mine are over 3 feet tall!

Opinions are like.....

@ June 7, 2014 10:53 PM in Wife HATES old steam radiators. Don't care for covers. Alternatives?

I am a homeowner and wanted to give my perspective on this.  As far as the kids personally I wouldn't worry about it.  Millions and millions of children have grown up with steam heat with little or no problems.  I have 3 kids (7 year old and 4 year old twins) and we have only had one very minor incident.  One of them touched a pipe while the system was running and he cried, but did NOT get burned.  The temp that these run at could burn you, but you will remove your hand long before that can happen.  I actually tested this theory by placing my hand on the rad to see what would happen.  Yes it hurts, but no permanent damage.  As I tell my wife if they touch it they will only do it once.  I would be way more concerned about hot pots on a stove or a deep fryer than those radiators.  What is it you don't like about them?  Do they possibly need painted?  As far as any kind of a ducted system you should think about comfort, that ducted system won't give the same comfort as that steam IMHO.  I agree with Jamie about the covers some of them are gorgeous.  I made one for my kids room when I remodeled it and it blends in with all the built in cabinets and the floating shelves in the corner.  I even did it as a built in with the baseboard wrapping in front of it.  In addition a totally new system with ducts is going to cost you big time.  We don't discuss price on this site, but you will be in for a shock when you get the quote.  In addition there is the cost of tearing out the old and patching all the holes etc.  The bottom line is it's your house and you have to do what you want.  If you do decide to tear it out, please do not just throw out those radiators sell them or find someone who sells them.  They are a treasure and deserve to be preserved especially if you have nice ones.  Just my 2 cents as a homeowner.

Full modulation

@ June 4, 2014 8:38 AM in Sizing New Gas Steam Boiler

Here is an interesting read if you haven't seen this already.
Just one of many posts Mark S has made on this topic.  Just to point out one thing though.  I have TRV controls on some of my radiators so the connected load on my system is variable so that is a case when full modulation would be beneficial.  If it could be done affordable my burner could modulate lower and lower based upon how pressure is building in the system (all TRV satisfied means less load and pressure would build faster).  So there is definitely a case for full modulation and almost every system is different so we all have different requirements.
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