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Steamhead

Steamhead

Joined on March 11, 2004

Last Post on April 21, 2014

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You definitely need that Vaporstat, then

@ December 9, 2002 5:23 PM in Trane steam valves

so the boiler pressure can't get any higher than the "B" dimension can handle. You probably have more "B" than before since the W-M EG has a low water line, but why build more pressure than you need? That just wastes fuel. The Vaporstat isn't cheap, but it's the right part for the job. Get the one that has a maximum cut-out setting of 1 PSI. Set it to cut out at about 8 ounces and in at 4 or 6, and watch how well your system works! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

I'm not sure

@ December 9, 2002 5:04 PM in Trane steam valves

what the Tunstall kits contain- but I've heard they make good equipment, so give them a try. You wouldn't want to put TRVs in the main livig area anyway- that's where the thermostat is (or should be) and those radiators need to stay wide open. You could certainly keep "the look" in that part of the house! Does your system still have its "Direct Return Trap"? It looks like an old metal milk jug and hangs near the boiler. If so, and it's working, it will make sure the water gets back to the boiler no matter what the pressure. But I'd consider a Vaporstat anyway- if you have one, the Return Trap would serve as a backup. Tunstall says they can rebuild Return Traps too. The original Trane vents were sized properly for coal, but may not be large enough for oil or gas. I like to use Gorton #2 vents on Vapor since each has about 4 times the capacity of the old Tranes (and the Hoffman #75 or 76 as well)and will vent quickly under a couple ounces pressure. If you can't find them, go to www.gorton-valves.com and ask who handles them in your area. They will sell to you direct if no one does. If you talk to Ken Kunz at Gorton, tell him I sent you. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

That system needs help

@ December 9, 2002 4:54 PM in draining a radiator

sounds like hot-water bleeders on a steam system. You need to acquaint your landlord with a good steam man. There are plenty in the NYC area- go to the Find a Contractor page of this site and follow the instructions. When that system is running properly, your landlord will save a lot of fuel. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

You have a Trane Vapor System (Attention T.P. Tunstall)

@ December 9, 2002 4:37 PM in Trane steam valves

one of the nicest Vapor systems I've seen. I've worked on several around Baltimore and they're still in pretty good shape after all these years. That bellows took the place of the packing- but eventually even packless valves leak. I doubt if an old bellows is repairable- but you may be able to get parts from Tunstall. Go to http://www.tunstall-inc.com/default.html to see what they have to offer. Tunstall may also be able to rebuild them into "Thermostatic Radiator Valves" which can limit the temperature in the room where they're installed. These are great for bedrooms and kitchens. The Trane Vapor system is covered in detail in Dan's "The Lost Art of Steam Heating Companion". Also get "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" if you haven't already. Both are available on the Books and More page of this site. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Michelle, that depends

@ December 9, 2002 1:10 PM in mercury in boiler controls

on the age of the control and who made it. There was a company called Mercoid that used merc switches almost exclusively. I believe they lasted thru the 1950s- I still occasionally see their equipment in service on older boilers. Most other manufacturers also used these switches in some of their gear. Today, the only place I see mercs in new boiler equipment is in Vaporstats and higher-line Pressuretrols. This type of switch is almost mandatory since these safety controls need to be extremely sensitive. These units have rather large mercury tubes- about the size of my thumb- but are very well made and should not break easily. You also find them in Low-Water Cutoffs for larger boilers. Here they are used for their durability. A standard LWCO cannot be used to operate a feed pump the way the heavy-duty ones can. I'm not sure if liquid-filled Aquastats and similar units contain mercury or something else. You might be interested to know that at least one supply house chain in the Baltimore area will accept old mercury thermostats and other equipment to be recycled. P.S. Have you visited the Vintage Telephone Equipment Museum on Marginal Way? It's crammed full of working antiques. I don't think the old dial-switching systems used mercury, but I'll bet some of the radio and long-distance transmission equipment did. Might be an interesting tour. Here's their link- http://www.scn.org/tech/telmuseum/ To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Be sure

@ December 9, 2002 12:37 PM in Risers

the top of your riser is at least 24-inches (or whatever the boiler manufacturer specifies) above the highest possible water level in the boiler. This will also help keep the steam dry since water can't usually rise that far. If you run out of headroom, a "drop header" is the solution. Here's one that Noel built. See how tall the risers are? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

This is NOT a \"building problem\"

@ December 9, 2002 10:04 AM in Advice needed! Banging pipes!

Have the building owner get in touch with a contractor who knows steam. There are plenty in the NYC area. Go to the Find a Contractor page of this site to locate one. When a steam system bangs, it's telling you something is wrong. If the super can't find the problem, get someone in there who can. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Nice Going, BP

@ December 9, 2002 9:57 AM in converting steam radiators to hydronic ones

I'm in the process of saving an old hot-water system now. Watch for info in a future post. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Glad you got to it in time

@ December 9, 2002 9:52 AM in Regulating pressure in a single pipe steam system

now watch the fuel bill go down. That's the usual Honeywell PA404A control. I suppose the differential wheel is inside because once the control is set properly it shouldn't need any further adjustment. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Fiberglass

@ December 9, 2002 9:10 AM in Steam Main Insulation Product Help Request

is the best, as Scott says. Your mains are 2-1/2" pipe, and you want the fiberglass to be 1" thick. It usually comes in 3-foot lengths with a flap holding adhesive and a zip-strip. They go on quite easily. Insulation for the fittings might be a bit tougher. The usual plastic covering over fiberglass wrap can melt. So far I haven't been able to find anything better. But the fittings are only a small percentage of exposed surface, so you can probably get away with just insulating the straight pipes. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Why convert it?

@ December 9, 2002 9:02 AM in converting steam radiators to hydronic ones

Steam systems can be fixed, which is a whole lot easier and cheaper than tearing them out. When running as it should, a steam system's efficiency is comparable to hot water. And a steam system won't freeze! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

In order to free that valve

@ December 8, 2002 2:05 PM in stuck shut off valve

you'd have to drain the system- which you probably don't want to do this time of year. Consider the installation of Thermostatic Radiator Valves. These replace the old shutoffs and only let hot water in when the room cools below the set temperature. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Pete, find a good steam man

@ December 8, 2002 1:55 PM in Regulating pressure in a single pipe steam system

and get him over there quickly! Your system is building way too much pressure and if that is not corrected, something could blow! Now to answer your question- Each boiler has a pressure limit control that stops the burner if the pressure gets too high. Usually this is a small gray box. But sometimes these things malfunction, or the pigtail below the control gets plugged. Or someone sets them too high. One-pipe steam should not go over 2 PSI. The next line of defense is a safety valve on the boiler. These are usually set to blow at 15 pounds. But since the current level of pressure is causing leaks, I don't think you can wait. Your situation is very dangerous. You need someone there to fix it RIGHT NOW. Pay the weekend rate if needed. If you don't know a good steam man in your area, 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"

The Hartford Loop is \"different\" all right

@ December 8, 2002 1:20 PM in oversize steam boiler makeup

it's completely backwards! Lack of proper main vents can cause the boiler to use up more water than needed, to build pressure. This can call the feeder in when it shouldn't. Also, a too-high Pressuretrol setting can do the same thing. Is the header (pipe coming up from boiler and feeding steam mains) copper? If so, it should be repiped with black steel. Copper often doesn't last long on steam lines- it expands and contracts too much. And the return lines should come together well below the boiler waterline, not above it. This isolates the returns from each other. Best thing to do here is go to the Find a Contractor page of this site and follow the instructions to locate a good steam man 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"

Do you see

@ December 8, 2002 1:07 PM in Broomell vapor system (need information)

the model number anywhere (should be T-something) ? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Flushing out

@ December 8, 2002 12:00 PM in Interesting things to do with steam systems

should be done in the opposite direction- from the convector down thru the system and out the drain in the return, with the system shut down. It's more effective and you get to flush the crud out of the return as well. If a radiator isn't producing enough heat, a fan may be a temporary solution until you can find and fix the cause. But only temporarily- one of the advantages of steam is that it doesn't blow air around like scorched-air does. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Vacuum

@ December 8, 2002 11:53 AM in steam boiler losing water

isn't such a good idea now that we're not burning coal. What type of system is it (one-pipe, 2-pipe etc)? Are the air vents designed to hold vacuum? If you're not sure, take some pics and post them- we'll try to identify it. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Pretty Cool, Starch

@ December 8, 2002 11:51 AM in Picture for Mark E.

but who makes the thermometer shown in the drawing? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

That's a 2-pipe, air-vent system

@ December 8, 2002 11:47 AM in two pipe steam system

which is always fun to work with. The rads should be pitched slightly toward the air-vent end. This is the exact opposite of how you pitch the usual one-pipe radiator. Try taking those valves apart and see if they've self-destructed inside. The rads inside the ducts are "indirect" rads. They probably had fresh-air ducts feeding them originally. This type of system was top-of-the-line in its day, but was superseded by the Vapor system in the early 1900s. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

What you see at the end of the steam main

@ December 8, 2002 11:40 AM in Steam System won't heat unless pressure is at least 3 psi

is a "Float & Thermostatic" trap. The float is normally closed, but opens a valve to release condensate to the dry return. The "thermostatic" element is somewhat like a steam trap element- it is normally open to release air, and closes when steam hits it. This is what vents the air from your steam mains into the dry return. Once the air is in the dry return, it exits the system thru those green vents (Hoffman #75 or 76). I'd first suggest you unscrew those green vents and see if they are working. If one of those vents sticks shut, you won't get any heat in the part of the house it serves. If the vents are OK, the F&T trap's thermostatic element may be stuck, preventing air from leaving the main. In this case, some air will vent thru the radiators, but those near the end of the main may never get hot. You can get replacement parts for almost any trap from Barnes & Jones or Tunstall. And the Gorton #2 vent is much better suited to Vapor systems than the green Hoffmans, since it has much greater capacity and therefore requires less pressure to vent. Web sites are: www.barnesandjones.com www.tunstall-inc.com www.gorton-valves.com To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

#12?

@ December 8, 2002 11:25 AM in steam rads: AIR VENT SIZES

Never heard of that one- what brand was it? The Hoffman #40 is undoubtedly too small to properly vent a steam main. Get the video and workbook Gerry mentioned, and you'll be able to pick the vent you need. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Call them back

@ December 7, 2002 9:28 PM in Smoke and the smell of Diesel Fuel

obviously there's still a problem with the burner. A well-adjusted oil burner made in the last 20 years or so should burn efficiently without visible smoke. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"