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Steamhead

Steamhead

Joined on March 11, 2004

Last Post on September 1, 2014

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I'll bet

@ February 19, 2003 8:46 PM in Steam boiler water hammer

those zone valves have turned the A dimension into a B dimension, causing water to back up into the mains. Then when steam hits the water- BANG! Lock them open as Steve suggested, I'll bet the noise goes away. Best way to zone steam is with TRVs. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Dan wrote a story like this

@ February 19, 2003 4:12 PM in Illudium Pew-36 Explosive Space Modulator

which included Gunkulators and Turboencabulators. It's in his limited-edition book "Ye Compleate Workes of Dan Holohan" from a few years ago. One of his funniest. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Look at the boiler

@ February 19, 2003 4:08 PM in Radiator Failure

if there is a glass tube showing the water level, it's steam. Since it's two-pipe, it's probably a "Vapor" steam system, which was the Cadillac of heating in its day. Post some pictures here of anything you're unsure of, and we'll do our best to help. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

The answer

@ February 19, 2003 4:05 PM in Steam vent question

David has 40 feet of 3-inch pipe. The proper vent is a Gorton #2. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Here are your pics, Michele

@ February 19, 2003 3:33 PM in Steam to Hot Water Conversion

The boiler pic is first. That should be an Ideal "Type A Heat Machine". This was one of the best residential boilers of its day. Whoever built that system went first-class! The "Columbia" is the name of the gas conversion burner. The new vent looks like a Gorton or Maid-o-Mist #1. I think that's a bit small for that system- my choice is the Gorton #2 which has four times the capacity of the #1. The "trap area" shows a green vent which I think is a Hoffman #76. It looks like this is venting the steam main- I think a Gorton #2 is a better choice here too. But measure the length and diameter of the main first to be sure. "Varying the quantity of steam" is simply a matter of how long the burner runs each cycle, in response to the thermostat. www.gorton-valves.com To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Murph, tell us more

@ February 18, 2003 11:02 AM in What would you do......???

about what he needs. Maybe someone on the Wall would be kind enough to donate the equipment......... To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Answers-

@ February 18, 2003 10:50 AM in Steam to Hot Water Conversion

Any steam boiler made today must have an annual efficiency (AFUE, which is something like miles-per-gallon for a car) of at least 80%. I've seen steamers as high as 86%. There are very few really bad steam boilers out there- I like Burnham, Columbia and Slant/Fin but there are people who swear by Crown, Dunkirk, Peerless, Smith, Weil-McLain (made right over there in Michigan City, IN) and others. What really matters with any boiler is how well it is installed. No boiler can be expected to perform well if the installer does a poor job. In steam, the piping around the boiler is crucial to good operation. The manufacturer provides a piping diagram which the installer must follow to the letter. The fast-cooldown problem is probably caused by uninsulated steam pipes. Remember, steam is a gas that really wants to condense back into a liquid. But you want it to condense in the radiators, not the pipes. When steam condenses to water, it shrinks 1700 times. This can cause a vacuum in those uninsulated pipes which can pull steam out of the radiators. The traps that generally need attention are the ones on the radiators. You can still get parts for almost any trap. If there are two big "traps" in the return lines near the boiler, one is probably a float trap/air eliminator. This is the main air vent for the entire system. The other is a return trap, which makes sure the water can return to the boiler no matter what the boiler's pressure. BTW, do you know who made the ones on your system? Outdoor-reset controllers do exist for steam. But before investing in one, I'd straighten out the system. Most times this will solve the problems that made you think of outdoor-reset in the first place. A standard or suitable digital-programmable thermostat works quite well on the usual steam or Vapor system. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

If you're having trouble

@ February 17, 2003 10:34 PM in Steam to Hot Water Conversion

geting the house warm, you may have a bad trap or an air-venting problem. These are really easy to fix, and cost far less than converting to hot-water. You may want to go to the "Find a Contractor" page of this site to locate someone near you who can give you a second opinion. Too bad you're not in the Baltimore area- I'd love to get my hands on your system! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

And (thanks, Ron)

@ February 17, 2003 10:16 PM in Steam to Hot Water Conversion

if the existing radiators really are in the way, you can still get cast-iron radiators in different shapes and sizes. These can be made to go where needed, same as the original ones were. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Radiators vs. Baseboard

@ February 17, 2003 9:38 PM in Steam to Hot Water Conversion

The cast-iron radiator is one of the best things ever invented to heat a building with. It gets its name from the fact that part of the heat it gives off is "radiated" much the same as the heat from the sun shines on you. Air passing over the radiator is also heated by convection, where warmer air rises and pulls cooler air over the radiator. Also, cast-iron holds its heat when the water or steam shuts off. Most baseboard, on the other hand, works by convection only. There is little if any radiation from one of these units, which IMHO detracts from comfort. Baseboard also cools quickly when the system shuts off. Baseboard has the advantage that it takes up much less space than cast-iron radiators do. But I think the increased comfort justifies the space radiators take up. If space is a problem, several manufacturers make cast-iron baseboard which works almost as well as radiators do. It costs more than the usual fin-tube baseboard, but is worth it. If you have a steam or hot-water system with radiators, I would simply fix any problems and let it run another 80 years. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Best of luck

@ February 17, 2003 9:26 PM in The coming year is looking real good for business..Boilerpro

you should have the wet-heat market sewn up in that area before long! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

John's right, Alex

@ February 17, 2003 7:54 PM in System on its last legs?

I should have clarified that. A burner can be running at 80% efficiency, but if the boiler cannot capture the heat and transfer it to the water effectively, its overall efficiency will be low. That's the trouble with Snowman boilers. There isn't much heat-transfer surface in them. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

What I Like Best

@ February 17, 2003 7:47 PM in Your favorite thing about the wall?

The vast wealth of talent and knowledge, and the willingness to share it. It doesn't get any better than right here! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Pipe sizes

@ February 17, 2003 7:34 PM in Steam vent question

is that 3-inches the outside diameter or the inside? If outside, they're 2-1/2" inside. In order to tell you what vent you need, we also need the length from the boiler to the end of the main. That way, we know how much air we have to vent. That capped nipple is where the vent was. Is that the only steam main in the house? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Install them

@ February 17, 2003 3:28 PM in Steam vent question

about a foot before the ends of the mains, but after the last radiator takeoffs. How long are thre mains, and what size pipe is used? This will tell us what vents you need. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Alex, you need a new boiler

@ February 17, 2003 3:25 PM in System on its last legs?

and some air vents. This will cut your fuel bills and make the heat come up faster. The "snowman" boilers are probably no better than 40% efficient on oil or gas. You can double your efficiency just by replacing that boiler. Massachusetts is loaded with good steam men- go to the Find a Contractor page of this site to locate one. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

That's probably a Vapor system

@ February 17, 2003 3:19 PM in Steam to Hot Water Conversion

which was the Cadillac of heating in its day, and is still one of the best out there. Assuming it's in good repair and the boilers are similar, a steam or Vapor system can approach the efficiency of hot water. The difference is that in steam or Vapor, you vary the quantity of steam. This is similar to varying water temperature in a hot-water system. I like these systems. They run at about a tenth of the pressure of hot-water, and they won't freeze up during power failures like hot-water can. When installed and maintained properly, they are quick, quiet and efficient. There are quite a few pitfalls when doing such a conversion. Dan addresses them in this article: http://www.heatinghelp.com/newsletter.cfm?Id=22 If that were my system, I'd install a modern, efficient steam boiler. Then I'd make sure all the vents and traps (if used) were in good shape and properly sized. If you go this way, you'll have a great system that will last for many more years. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

I'd tell them

@ February 17, 2003 11:40 AM in Stormy business

this is why you do annual maintenance- so the unit shouldn't break down during a blizzard! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Staying home today

@ February 17, 2003 11:21 AM in Stormy business

no point in even trying to get out. Couldn't get my Ranger ten feet down my street if I did try. Mayor says residential areas won't be plowed till the snow stops- they're only keeping main streets open for now. But I did talk my brother-in-law thru restarting his Bryant sealed-combustion furnasty. Seems some snow got in thru the air intake- sound familiar, Dave? And thanks to whoever it was who posted about turning the thermostat down for five minutes to reset the electronic control unit. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Mike, why not check with W-M

@ February 17, 2003 10:43 AM in Derating Gas Boiler

for their take on it? Tell them what you have and how much it's oversized, and see what they have to say. Bill Wright frequents the Wall, his e-mail is bwright@weil-mclain.com . Ron already came up with the second part of my post, but it's worth repeating: TEST IT before and after. With a modern digital combustion analyzer you can see if the stack temp gets too low or the excess air or CO too high. But you knew that. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Just Measured 13 inches

@ February 17, 2003 10:23 AM in A little snow

off my front porch. We had 4 inches Saturday so that's a total of 17 inches in the past 3 days. 1996 and 1983 were worse, but this storm may come close to the records they set. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

That should be as easy

@ February 16, 2003 11:18 PM in baseboard/steam?

as falling off the proverbial log. But before you do, make sure you install the same type of device the original system uses (trap or inlet orifice) to keep the steam out of the dry return. If the Baseray's heat output is marginal for the room, consider using a small-tube radiator. These things pack a lot of heat in a small space. Burnham still makes them, and there are loads of used ones around. A TRV will work nicely in the kitchen also. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"