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Steamhead

Steamhead

Joined on March 11, 2004

Last Post on September 16, 2014

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I've seen this happen

@ May 20, 2003 12:37 AM in Alex's theories brings up a question

The problem was debris in the bottom of the chimney that partially blocked the smoke pipe, and the solution was obvious. The positive-pressure condition that resulted in the smoke pipe, actually held the draft regulator closed. Now, some flue gas did leak out, but not much (though any amount is too much). When I saw this, it was obvious what was happening. BTW, I wasn't there to fix the boiler, but called the owner's attention to it and she said go ahead and clean it! They have switched oil suppliers since then, and rightly so. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

You are correct

@ May 20, 2003 12:29 AM in threading 2 inch pipe

you will have to cut and thread a new piece of 2-inch black pipe. When you replace this pipe, do whatever it takes to keep the pipe from lying in the dirt. You'll probably have to dig it out, and maybe build a small retaining wall to keep dirt from falling in. And insulate the pipes well. If there is no main vent at the end of this pipe, add a tee and install a properly-sized one. You may need to leave a little access hatch to get at the vent should it need replacement, but the effort is worth it. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

I love those old Spencers

@ May 19, 2003 11:46 PM in Old boiler

Here's the image from the 1923 Spencer catalog (thanks Dan, for sending me copies). The "Sectional Hot Water Heater #27-5-W", having a grate 27 inches wide and five sections, is rated 2100 square feet EDR. This works out to a net rating of 315,000 BTU/hour assuming each square foot emits 150 BTU, which would occur with a boiler water temperature of 180 degrees. Note that old boilers were often oversized so the owner or janitor would not have to shovel coal as often. The Spencer magazine-feed setup was one solution to this- coal was shoveled into the center door along the top, and fed down onto the grates as fast as it was burned. Nevertheless, I'd run a heat-loss on the building as well as count up the radiation, to be sure you know how much heat is needed and what water temperature will provide it. The Spencer Sectional boilers had a two-level flue design (see the second image). Hot flue gases rose from the back of the firebox to the first flueway. They then passed to the front of the boiler, rose again, and passed to the rear of the boiler and out the smoke pipe. This appears to be a more efficient setup than the usual 1920s sectional boiler. If the boiler appears to be in good shape, you might be able to get decent efficiency out of it using a properly sized flame-retention burner, preferably with an inlet air damper to keep cold air from drafting thru it. Placing bricks or spirals in the flueways to slow the hot gases will help too. Can't wait to see your pics! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

He told them

@ May 19, 2003 7:41 AM in Believe you or not: $2,000 tip for the job:

to read his posts here on the Wall. Guess this is it.......... To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

A couple more things to add

@ May 18, 2003 10:42 PM in Believe you or not: $2,000 tip for the job:

Yes, Alex, I also have seen boilers that were choked with soot after having been allegedly "cleaned". Around here, they always seem to be "serviced" by the same oil suppliers. When I find one, I show it to the owner and advise them to switch oil suppliers. After seeing this, they always do. However, there are many good oil suppliers who do the right thing. These people know there's a right way to increase their sales- by adding more customers. The way to do that is to keep your existing customers happy, so they'll refer others who are looking for a reputable supplier. As far as draft goes, obviously you have never dealt with an old chimney designed for a coal-burning boiler. These chimneys have much more draft than those being built now, since they had to pull air thru a bed of coal. With a modern oil- or gas-fired boiler hooked to one of these old chimneys, the excessive draft can pull all the heat out of the boiler! Some form of draft regulation is mandatory here, FACT (sorry F-D, couldn't resist)! I don't know how they do things in Russia, but in America, boiler makers realize their gear could be used in a number of different situations. So they test their equipment and establish proper installation and operation parameters and procedures that must be followed for the unit to work well. One of the guiding principles in this business is "READ THE FREAKIN' MANUAL"! It is the result of much exhaustive testing, and if it is not followed and the boiler doesn't work properly, the manufacturer will NOT back you, FACT! Oh, did I mention you might hurt or kill someone too? I have never been called to troubleshoot a system where ALL the instructions were followed, FACT! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

The heat system would never have frozen

@ May 18, 2003 10:12 PM in The importance of freeze protection

if it were steam. That's one of the things I like about steam heat. Now, the water pipes might freeze, but it's a whole lot easier and more comfortable to fix them if you can start up the heat system right away. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Also try

@ May 18, 2003 7:55 AM in Computer question

SpyBot Search & Destroy. It can also kill those nasty programs that run in the background and send your personal info to their hosts. Best of all, it's free too (though donations are requested). Download it here: http://security.kolla.de/index.php?lang=en&page=download To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

That might have been part of it

@ May 15, 2003 9:32 PM in up sell

I remember hearing they weren't very efficient or reliable, maybe faulty setup played a part there. It would be interesting to run our favorite old boilers thru the AFUE test to see how they stack up against newer ones. I know of a Spencer #2-5 that would probably do rather well.... To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

With that old GE gone

@ May 15, 2003 8:00 PM in up sell

he will probably be able to heat house with the additions and Jacuzzi on not much more oil than the GE used. Nice work, Dave. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Looking Good

@ May 14, 2003 5:35 PM in Acronyms - Dan H.

If I might suggest- we should do as good a job as we can to define what these terms mean, for example "BTU- amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit". This will be a big help to all the budding Wetheads who will use the list! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

From the Land of Steam

@ May 14, 2003 5:21 PM in Acronyms - Dan H.

"A" Dimension= distance water will rise in the drip at the end of the steam main, when there IS left-over steam pressure at the drip "B" Dimension= distance water will rise in the drip at the end of the steam main, when there is NO left-over steam pressure at the drip (pressure blocked by a trap, water seal, orifice or motorized valve) BTU- British Thermal Unit, the amount of heat needed to raise 1 pound of water (roughly 1 pint) by 1 degree Fahrenheit. BTUH- amount of BTUs needed per hour. EDR= heat output, equivalent direct radiation, measured in square feet. Actual output will vary according to what is being circulated thru the radiator. LWCO= low water cutoff MBH- heat input or output, 1,000 BTU per hour. M was used because it is the Roman numeral for 1,000. Pressure and Flow: CFH= air or gas flow, cubic feet per hour CFM= air or gas flow, cubic feet per minute GPH= liquid flow, gallons per hour, as used on oil burner nozzles and fuel units GPM= liquid flow, gallons per minute, as used on many types of pumps PSI= pressure, pounds per square inch, usually "gauge" PSIA= pressure, pounds per square inch, absolute (disregarding atmospheric pressure) PSIG= presure, pounds per square inch, gauge (where zero on the gauge is atmospheric pressure) Boiler Ratings: Input= amount of heat produced at the burner. Rating is GPH on oil boilers and MBH on gas units. DOE Heating Capacity or Gross Output= amount of heat delivered to the outlet pipe of the boiler. Net (or IBR)= amount of heat available at the radiators, after deducting the pick-up factor (heat needed to warm the pipes). This is the rating you use to match the boiler's capacity to the heating load. AFUE= annual fuel utilization efficiency, a measure of fuel in to heat out over the course of a typical heating season, including any off-cycle losses. Roughly equivalent to Miles per Gallon on a car. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

I wouldn't mind buying one

@ May 14, 2003 9:08 AM in A book worth reading (and you can borrow it for free!) - Dan H.

it would occupy a space on the shelf between the Warren Webster and Richard Crane bios. They're good reads too! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Zone flow will vary

@ May 11, 2003 9:31 PM in Whats the problem

depending on how many zones are calling at the same time. This is why I prefer an individual, properly-sized circ for each zone. With a single circ sized to run all zones at once, and only one zone calling, that zone may be noisy. If the circ is not big enough, you may not get enough heat in all zones if they all call at once. Of course, it's more expensive to provide an indivudual circ, flo-check and relay for each zone. But the results are worth it. Each zone should have all the same type of radiation (fin-tube or cast-iron). They should all be sized to use the same water temperature, or you'll need to provide different temps to different zones. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

A Vacuum Breaker

@ May 11, 2003 9:19 PM in vacuum in steam boiler

is the solution here. Mount it on or near the boiler (on the steam side) so the vacuum will be broken as close as possible to the return line connection to the boiler. I think Hoffman makes one but can't remember the model- maybe #61 or #62? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Thanks

@ May 10, 2003 3:53 AM in I dont know what I would have done with out the WALL

for the kind words! I'll look you up the next time I get out that way. I'd love to see this system myself! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

As usual-

@ May 10, 2003 3:47 AM in Tall York replacement

great job! How much do you think they'll save on oil? I'll bet around 30% or so.......... To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Something to watch out for

@ May 10, 2003 3:34 AM in Radiator Traps

Now that the steam in your system is circulating as it should, it will probably wash a LOT of dirt back toward the boiler. If this dirt is allowed to build up, it will impair the formation of steam, and gunk up the low-water cutoff so it won't stop the burner if the water gets too low. For the remainder of this heating season and the first month or so of the next one, blow down your low-water cutoff every day by opening the drain valve on the bottom. Do this while the burner is running- the cutoff should stop the burner as the float chamber drains out. If the burner does not stop when you blow down, CALL FOR SERVICE IMMEDIATELY! The boiler will crack if it is fired without enough water in it. Fixing or replacing a low-water cutoff is much less expensive and time consuming than replacing a boiler. The boiler itself may need to be flushed and/or skimmed also. If you notice the water in the glass zooming up and down by more than an inch or so, or if you hear anything other than a smooth, barely audible boiling sound coming from the inside of the boiler, there is dirt in the boiler and it will need cleaning. Dan covers this in the last chapter of "The Lost Art of Steam Heating". To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Cold to hot in 20 minutes?

@ May 9, 2003 7:24 PM in Radiator Traps

Sounds like we could down-fire that boiler by one or two nozzle sizes and still get plenty of heat! Glad I could help. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Beautiful

@ May 8, 2003 10:59 PM in Completed this one today (SE)

Keep raising the bar, Steve! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Any boiler you buy now

@ May 8, 2003 10:32 PM in Oil to Gas Hot Water Conversion

(not "furnace") will be more efficient than your old one. This is true of oil-fired boilers as well as gas-fired ones. There are some gas-fired boilers that have annual efficiencies (AFUE) over 90%. However, these are more complicated mechanically as well as electronically than the usual boilers which have roughly 82-86% AFUE. Some of them have had teething problems over the years, and if they break down, you may have to wait for parts. A standard boiler with AFUE in the 82-86% range is likely assembled with standard parts and controls, which can be serviced easily if they break down. If your present boiler does not have a flame-retention burner, but its design is similar to current models, it may pay to just replace the burner. In a good boiler, a new burner may save 10-15% on oil. A new oil burner will also burn with zero smoke (if set up properly) so the boiler will stay clean over the course of the heating season. Whichever way you go, make sure you have a good contractor to do the installation. This is the most important part of the job. Good equipment is good equipment, but it cannot make up for a poor installation. Go to the Find a Contractor page of this site to locate someone near you. If you're in the Baltimore area, e-mail me! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Two out of three, Swampy

@ May 8, 2003 7:07 PM in Natural Gas Rate

I weighed in on the "boiler-dumping" and the Enron debacle some time ago. You're right on both counts. The only pollution-free source of electricity I can think of is hydro-electric. There are some environmental concerns with hydro but it does not generate pollutants the way fossil fuel and nuclear plants do. If a dam breaks that can be a problem. Of course, this would be less of an issue if we didn't consume so much energy. As I see it, a big part of a Wethead's job is to make a customer's system run as efficiently as possible. Everyone wins this way. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Here ya go

@ May 8, 2003 6:46 PM in Radiator Traps

the rough-in specs were on page 288. Packless valves had bellows arrangements which sealed around the stem. This was very important on systems that could run in a vacuum. Over time, these bellows would wear out and leak. As long as you're not pulling a vacuum- which is not a good idea when burning oil or gas- using packing on the stems should be OK. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"