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Joined on March 11, 2004

Last Post on August 31, 2014

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Once again-

@ August 21, 2014 1:06 AM in Steam versus Hot Air

you can't fix stupid!

By any chance, was the sole bidder related to one of the council members?

Time to throw the bums out!

That's one of steam's advantages

@ August 20, 2014 4:46 PM in New House Heating

the radiators don't need to be anywhere near as big as with hot-water.

When we built the steam system that I had designed years ago, the radiators looked positively tiny- people thought there was no way they could heat the rooms. That is, until heating season came along- now they say they've never been in a more comfortable house.

Thermal Efficiency

@ August 20, 2014 12:17 PM in Oil boiler with gas conversion burner

is the difference. This is expressed as the DOE output (Gross output on larger boilers) in BTU per hour, as a percentage of the Input BTU per hour.

When doing this calculation on a standard calculator, for a boiler having an Input of 187,000 BTUH and a DOE Output of 152,000 BTUH, you would enter 152,000 divided by 187,000 but instead of hitting the = key, you'd hit %. The result here would be 81.28.

Atmospheric steam boilers typically run 80-81% thermal efficiency. Most of this is due to the higher excess air in the combustion process (typically 35-50% as opposed to 25% or less with a power burner, which lets more heat go up the chimney) as well as heat losses from the base, which does not have water moving thru it to absorb heat. DOE does not consider base losses as "losses", since the heat is released in the space around the boiler, but since this heat invariably warms the combustion air and eventually goes up the chimney, we want to eliminate it. We want that heat to go to the radiators.

We find thermal efficiencies of 85-86% on wet-base steam boilers with power burners, because they eliminate those two inefficiencies.

Thermal efficiency is often overlooked since most people are stuck on AFUE, but it plays an important part of the boiler's over-all efficiency.

I've done it

@ August 20, 2014 11:20 AM in New House Heating

go for it!!

That's a Zone Valve

@ August 19, 2014 10:31 PM in Honeywell mercury steam valves

the mercury switch probably functions as an "end switch" which can do things like start the burner when the valve opens.

You may be able to get a new head unit for this thing. If not, you'll have to replace the entire unit. We've had good luck with Belimo zone valves on steam- these are ball valves rather than globe valves and don't restrict the steam flow as much.

How about

@ August 19, 2014 10:26 PM in Not the Usual Failure

posting some pictures? 

Good eye

@ August 19, 2014 10:24 PM in Not the Usual Failure

but it's not as bad as the camera makes it look. This was taken with my 14-year-old Casio, which has been known to make things look off-plumb in the past. I haven't replaced the Casio because the new ones are so much smaller, they don't fit my hands well. 

I'd go with blocks

@ August 19, 2014 1:03 AM in no header and equalizer???

since that will also reduce the possibility of flood damage to the boiler. 

And this is how it worked out

@ August 19, 2014 12:54 AM in Not the Usual Failure

two 2" mains off a 2-1/2" riser from the header, and one on its own 2" riser. The header at the boiler is 3", and increases to 4" where it meets the old one.

We had to re-pitch one of the steam mains as it was holding a lot of water. That of course affected how it tied onto the header.

The boiler is a Slant/Fin Intrepid TR-50, which requires a second 2" riser to the header. It's fired with our usual Carlin EZ-Gas, with an "A" diffuser this time. Still registered 84% on the combustion test print-out.

The sight glass fittings from the old boiler were in very good shape, so we put them on the Return Trap which had tappings for this purpose. But with the Vaporstat, I doubt that Return Trap will see much action unless the pigtail plugs up.

The gentleman who lives here enjoyed watching this come together. We set up a chair in the basement so he could sit comfortably.

Since we had that lovely 4-inch header

@ August 19, 2014 12:43 AM in Not the Usual Failure

we decided to keep it. After removing the old boiler and zone valves, we tilted the header the other way. It now pitches down from right to left, instead of left to right.

That's Gordo in the second pic, showing the piping coming together.

Not the Usual Failure

@ August 19, 2014 12:40 AM in Not the Usual Failure

We've been working for this family since before we started All Steamed Up, Inc.- they were customers of my former company. This is the house where the family patriarch lives- he is 97 years young, and the house is 90. The Vapor system was originally Hoffman, possibly with a Differential Loop, but was updated with Illinois F&T traps, air trap and return trap, and Honeywell zone valves. We believe that was done sometime in the 1940s, same time they installed radiation in the converted side porch. We've seen one other Hoffman-to-Illinois system in Baltimore so far, and I suspect there are others.

The boiler was installed in the 1980s, with the usual incompetent piping job. The basement has severe water infiltration issues, which finally rusted out the wet return. But the boiler didn't rot out in a section- one of the section seals near the boiler steam outlet failed. It still kept the house warm thru last season, though.

Take some pictures

@ August 19, 2014 12:25 AM in Honeywell mercury steam valves

of these units and post them here. Let's have a look at them. 

They were lucky

@ August 19, 2014 12:24 AM in no header and equalizer???

for the last 20 years...... pipe it according to the instructions and do a drop header, then you'll KNOW it's right. 

If you're thinking

@ August 18, 2014 10:22 PM in Anyone Purchase CI Radiators? (Twin Cities Metro, MN)

that a forced-air system (which is what I'm assuming) will equal the sheer comfort of a good steam radiator system, you're wrong. If I were you I'd keep the steam. 


@ August 18, 2014 10:09 PM in cast iron radiator resale value

are you taking them out? You do realize that whatever else you put in, with the possible exception of radiant floors, will not provide anywhere near the comfort and efficiency of your radiators? 

Check your e-mail, Todd

@ August 18, 2014 7:45 PM in Replace gravity with pump in condensate line?

just sent you my cell number.

In Baltimore

@ August 17, 2014 4:21 PM in gas piping.

the piping must hold 30 PSI for 24 hours, and we must use a 60-PSI gauge for the test. The inspector will bleed the air charge when he arrives, to make sure the gauge actually drops when the pressure drops. Yes, people do try to fake it..... which I believe will result in criminal charges.

I'm sure they have their reasons, Icy

@ August 17, 2014 3:52 PM in Gas Piping - teflon tape

but we have to comply. 

I'll second JStar!

@ August 17, 2014 2:32 PM in New heating system

and to make it easy, here's his company info:

In Baltimore

@ August 17, 2014 2:22 PM in Gas Piping - teflon tape

inspectors do not allow Teflon tape on gas piping. Doesn't matter that NFPA 54 doesn't specifically prohibit it- they will not pass a job with taped joints. Many contractors sidestep this by using CSST- we do not, for reasons we've discussed before.

If we see gas piping with Teflon tape, we know it was probably a DIY job.

Your quote

@ August 16, 2014 11:20 PM in New heating system

"choices presented were  new high efficiency boiler with hydrocoil with
proper zoning of existing and addition vs variable speed high efficiency
hot air heat requiring three furnaces which is less expensive"

You need to talk to some people who know a thing or two about comfort. Your current contractor has no clue. Where are you located?

None of the things you're proposing

@ August 15, 2014 11:45 PM in New heating system

will equal the comfort or efficiency of your hot-water system. Why not keep it? 
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