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Steamhead

Steamhead

Joined on March 11, 2004

Last Post on April 24, 2014

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Perhaps the most important thing

@ December 17, 2002 6:01 PM in Boiler Maintenance

is to flush the float chamber of the low-water cutoff- assuming yours is a float type. Most such units are piped into the tappings for the sight glass on the boiler. Do this once a week under normal circumstances, and once a day for several weeks after the system has been worked on. When you do this, do so after the burner has just started. The control, if good, will stop the burner- if it does not, get it fixed right away as the boiler will crack if the burner starts and there's no water in the boiler. Pay attention to the system. Is it noisy? Is anything leaking? Do all the vents close when steam reaches them? Do some rooms heat up faster than others? It might pay to call an experienced steam man to show you all this, and troubleshoot any of the above conditions. Go to the Find a Contractor page of this site to locate one near you. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

What is the sound of one Return Trap returning?

@ December 17, 2002 5:02 PM in Trane system upgrades - results

The ones I've seen are fairly quiet. Remember, Vapor was the Cadillac of heating in its day and was expected to be quiet. It may be that the system pressure isn't high enough raise the returning water enough to trip the Trap. If the level never gets to near the top of the sight glass, this is probably the reason. If the boiler cycles a lot on low pressures and the steam distributes poorly, you may have a venting problem. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

\"Vapor\"

@ December 17, 2002 4:51 PM in Saw my first vacuum system yesterday

in this case is actually steam at a few ounces above atmospheric pressure. Most of these systems were designed to max out at 8 ounces or so. The reason vacuum doesn't work well on oil or gas is that the system often goes into vacuum before all the air is out. When this happens, the remaining air can expand enough to block steam flow. If there's a vent right on top of the "butter churn" it's a float trap/air eliminator, not a return trap. See the "Here's my Trane" post for a look at one. That system also uses water seals on the rads instead of traps. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

According to the Hydronic Rating Handbok

@ December 17, 2002 4:39 PM in HIGRADE BOILER #24-10

the Higrade was made by Thatcher. They don't show that model number though, and I believe Thatcher is long gone. Keep in mind however- many old steam boilers were oversized so they could hold more fuel on the grate.... this meant the owner didn't have to shovel coal more than once or twice a day. If you want to replace that old boiler, it's far better to measure up all the radiation in the building and use this figure to select the right size boiler. Get a copy of Dan's "E.D.R." book for radiator sizing charts- I believe there are some Thatchers in there. Also a copy of "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" for an in-depth look at the system you're working with. If you come across something that isn't in the book, take a picture and post it here. We can probably identify it. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

That's older than the ones I've seen

@ December 17, 2002 4:25 PM in Here's my Trane

but never fear, it's covered in Dan's "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" on pages 257-258. What you call a Return Trap really isn't. There's no steam line going to it- just the dry returns. It's a Float Trap/Air Eliminator, or maybe just a separating chamber for returning water and air. This system uses water seals instead of traps on the rads. On page 257 of Lost Art, you'll see how the return ells have small holes drilled into them- one wide open for air, the other under water for water. If you ever add onto this system, use traps on the rad returns. At least one of your main vents looks like it's leaking- the green one- and the other is likely too small. Measure the length and diameter of your mains to see how much air we have to vent. I like to use Gorton #2 vents on Vapor systems since they have higher capacities than anything else out there. I'd definitely change the vent on the Float Trap/air eliminator to a Gorton #2. If you can't find Gorton vents in your area, go to www.gorton-valves.com and they will steer you to someone near you who carries them, or if no one does they will sell them to you direct. BTW- is that an old Ideal Sectional boiler? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Definitely use your radiators

@ December 16, 2002 7:27 PM in gut rehab, reuse old radiators

You will not need a bigger boiler- the water will just be cooler than it was originally, due to the reduced heat loss. Size your boiler to the loss, and make sure it can handle low-temp water. You can transition from PEX to copper or steel under the floor, and use Thermostatic Radiator Valves to control the heat in each room. I wouldn't think of using baseboard when you have glorious old cast-iron radiators that will warm you thru to your bones! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Couldn't get a good angle

@ December 16, 2002 7:19 PM in Unusual 2-pipe Steam System

but I'll have the owners make some room next time! R.E. Michel carries Vaporstats but you have to go to the Glen Burnie warehouse or have them ship it to your usual store. Try Bob Yates at McArdle & Walsh, and tell him I sent you. He can get Gortons too. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

It can

@ December 16, 2002 7:16 PM in Unusual 2-pipe Steam System

That's one of the things that makes me think this system was originally 1-pipe. 2-pipe air-vent systems frequently used the steam-only rad but Vapor systems generally used the hot-water type. You got better control when the rad heated from top to bottom instead of side to side. This is a fascinating system. Trying to decipher the changes made over the years is challenging. I'll post updates as they happen. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Sounds like a bad push nipple

@ December 16, 2002 6:54 PM in Dripping Radiator

which can be replaced. But I'm drawing a blank- anyone know the name of the company that can duplicate them? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Do the Traps first

@ December 16, 2002 6:51 PM in Replacing Valves and Steam Traps

and the valves later. This way you complete the most important thing first- the traps. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Main Problem

@ December 16, 2002 6:41 PM in Unusual 2-pipe Steam System

was right here. Someone had plugged the vent connection on the steam main. I had to cut the plug out. Amazing what a difference these two Gorton #2 vents made. I'm not sure what, if anything, is supposed to be keeping steam out of the dry return on this one. I was going to disconnect a radiator to see, but ran out of time. But we'll be back- one radiator doesn't heat at all and I think the problem is in the runout or riser. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Boiler and piping

@ December 16, 2002 6:35 PM in Unusual 2-pipe Steam System

You can see the dry returns coming back to the boiler. The return vents are just to the rear of the ceiling light bulb on the right. I installed two Gorton #2s. There's also a False Water Line in back of the boiler, but you can't see it. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Is it Vapor or not?

@ December 16, 2002 6:30 PM in Unusual 2-pipe Steam System

This system appears to have started life as one-pipe, and was converted to 2-pipe or Vapor. Original radiators are American Peerless steam-only column units. Here's one of them- note the inlet pipe which is larger than needed for Vapor, but just right for one-pipe. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Jeez, I hate it

@ December 16, 2002 6:28 PM in Saw my first vacuum system yesterday

when that happens! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Reuben Trane must be smiling from Heaven

@ December 16, 2002 6:26 PM in Saw my first vacuum system yesterday

at the sheer number of old Trane Vapor systems we've found and restored. That "snowman" boiler was about 60% efficient on coal, worse on oil or gas. If there was no Return Trap there (looked like an old metal milk jug), the connections were probably plugged when the Return Trap was removed. The original Trane vents were vacuum-type. No need for vacuum on an oil- or gas-fired system so that explains the standard vents, and the system not dropping into vacuum. You did leave them your card, didn't you? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Reuben Trane must be smiling from Heaven

@ December 16, 2002 6:26 PM in Saw my first vacuum system yesterday

at the sheer number of old Trane Vapor systems we've found and restored. That "snowman" boiler was about 60% efficient on coal, worse on oil or gas. If there was no Return Trap there (looked like an old metal milk jug), the connections were probably plugged when the Return Trap was removed. The original Trane vents were vacuum-type. No need for vacuum on an oil- or gas-fired system so that explains the standard vents, and the system not dropping into vacuum. You did leave them your card, didn't you? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Reuben Trane must be smiling from Heaven

@ December 16, 2002 6:25 PM in Saw my first vacuum system yesterday

at the sheer number of old Trane Vapor systems we've found and restored. That "snowman" boiler was about 60% efficient on coal, worse on oil or gas. If there was no Return Trap there (looked like an old metal milk jug), the connections were probably plugged when the Return Trap was removed. The original Trane vents were vacuum-type. No need for vacuum on an oil- or gas-fired system so that explains the standard vents, and the system not dropping into vacuum. You did leave them your card, didn't you? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Move the pump

@ December 16, 2002 6:16 PM in Vent Placement Questions

so it pumps away from the tank and air scoop. This will allow the scoop to work at maximum efficiency. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

It's probably Vapor

@ December 16, 2002 12:39 PM in Saw my first vacuum system yesterday

if the original vacuum vents were replaced with standard vents, it won't dip into vacuum. Still a great system though! Do you remember who made it, such as Trane, Webster, Dunham etc? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

And it will run well

@ December 16, 2002 12:35 PM in Trane system upgrades - results

for another 80 years! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Wow (Attention Hydrotherm Reps)

@ December 16, 2002 12:46 AM in Need HELP steam

you have a challenge there. If there is sludge all thru the boiler, where did it come from? You probably have a system in dire need of cleaning. Tell us more about the system. One-pipe? Vapor? Let us know what you find when you tear the boiler down. And we'd sure like to know about the quality of support you get from Hydrotherm. From what you've told us so far, Burnham, Slant/Fin, Smith or Weil-McLain might be a better choice based on support alone. Their people work the Wall frequently. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Where are you located, Don?

@ December 15, 2002 10:48 PM in options for hydronic heating

I'm sure there's someone near you who can handle the job. Go to the Find a Contractor page of this site to locate someone near you. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"