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Steamhead

Steamhead

Joined on March 11, 2004

Last Post on August 22, 2014

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Two-pipe Steam with Dry Returns

@ November 7, 2002 10:49 PM in Vapor system question

shouldn't have vents on the rads. The air vents into the dry return thru a trap, or past a water seal (may be hidden in the return bushing or return ell) or there may be an orifice at the supply connection to limit the amount of incoming steam to what the rad can condense. However it gets into the dry return, the air vents out thru a large vent, usually installed in the boiler room at the end of the dry return. Look at the end of that dry return- I'll bet you find a plugged tee where the vent used to be. The only exception would be if the system has shutoff valves at both the supply and return connections to each rad. But these systems (at least the ones I've seen) usually have wet returns only, not dry ones. Changing the oil burner from an old one to a flame-retention one usually involves putting a smaller nozzle in the new burner. This is because flame-retention burners produce hotter flames, and results in better fuel economy. Check with the burner maker or rep for specifics on the burner you will use. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

And

@ November 7, 2002 8:55 PM in replaced all vents with adjustable type-now 1 hissing

install a properly sized main vent- that way whatever you replace that rad vent with will last much longer. Plus your fuel bills will drop. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

F&T traps on Returns?

@ November 7, 2002 8:39 PM in Vapor system question

Doesn't sound right- they should be at the ends of the steam mains, but not between the return line and the pump. The radiator traps keep the steam out of the return (when theyre working that is). And speaking of that pump- if this is an old Vapor system, is the pump really needed? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

It was common

@ November 7, 2002 9:10 AM in is it ever OK to not have a main vent???

on small coal-fired systems to not use main vents, because the coal fire burned all day. Once the air was out of the system it stayed out. This is not the case with oil or gas firing. You have to get the steam to the end of the main before it starts rising to the radiators- this should happen in about a minute. I add main vents to every steam system I work on that doesn't already have them, and resize a lot of existing ones. I've never run into a case where they didn't help! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Acronyms

@ November 7, 2002 9:02 AM in Old house, steam heat, big problems!

MBH= 1000 btu per hour. You hit that one on the head. DOE Heating Capacity= how much heat is available at the steam outlet on the boiler, using the testing procedure specified by the US Dept of Energy. You should also see a "Net" rating which is a bit lower, that is the heat that is assumed to reach the radiators after the system has been warmed up. "Square Feet" does not refer to the area of the house, but to the radiation. The original steam radiators were glorified tin boxes and were rated by their surface area in square feet. It was found that 1 square foot of surface would emit 240 BTU per hour. The ratings for the later pipe, column, wall and tubular radiation were calculated according to how much steam they would condense, but the "Square Feet" rating was continued, probably because the Dead Men were used to it by then. Make sense? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Or

@ November 6, 2002 10:29 AM in boiler blues?

your system pressure is too high, causing more water to boil and compress the steam. The pressure on a 1-pipe system should never be more than 2 pounds. On Vapor systems the pressure sometimes should not rise above 1/2 pound. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

I think some controls

@ November 6, 2002 10:23 AM in WWSD for system pump with constant circulation

will shut the main loop circs down at the right outdoor temp, but I'm not sure which ones. Check w/tekmar and others for more info. BTW- I had to look at your WWSD twice- at first I thought you meant "What Would Steamhead Do"! ;-) To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

But those hotter radiators

@ November 6, 2002 10:19 AM in Does it pay to convert from steam to hot water?

also radiate (rather than convect) more heat too. This is the kind of heat that warms you through to your bones, just like.... well, you get the idea ;-) . Not all of that heat ends up at ceiling level. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

They did some of this research

@ November 6, 2002 10:16 AM in Does it pay to convert from steam to hot water?

at the University of Illinois, but I don't remember which campus. And speaking of "improving a steam system's performance", BP- did you get a chance to Master Vent that system we looked at? If so, how far did the the fuel bills drop? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Dave, I think you're pretty sharp too

@ November 5, 2002 9:04 AM in Does it pay to convert from steam to hot water?

no need to apologize. I think the real question here is "what kind of efficiency can Rick get, for how much?". Or, is the added efficiency going from an 85% steam boiler to a 90% or 95% hot-water one worth the extra cost, effort and disruption to the house? And steam is much much less likely to freeze and burst in a long power failure than hot-water- yes, there's always antifreeze but that's another maintenance chore that can get overlooked. We Wetheads like to go all-out on our own houses, but often our customers have slightly different priorities and budgets. Rick, I'm sure this thread will soon contain lots of lively debate- which is one reason we're here. Keep checking in. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Here ya go, Noel and Jamie

@ November 5, 2002 8:23 AM in Jamie's cottage

piping diagram for the later Loops, showing max height of waterline. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

G-2

@ November 5, 2002 8:17 AM in G-2 American Standard

was probably installed in the 1950s or early 1960s. They last a long time! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Gorton#1 vs. Hoffman #75

@ November 5, 2002 8:15 AM in Hoffman 75 Main Vent

Both of these vents have about the same capacity. If you replaced three G-1 vents with a H-75, you'd be going backwards! We've had a lot of good advice in this thread. What I'd do if we still had problems is to see if the pipe from the steam main to the radiator is longer than usual. If so you need more vent capacity to clear the air out of the pipe- either on the radiator or the riser. If the pipe's length wasn't the problem, and there was nothing physically blocking the pipe, I'd check to see if the pipe was sized correctly. A too-small pipe won't pass enough steam to fill the radiator. The same thing can happen if the pipe is pitched wrong, allowing water to accumulate (and usually, but not always, causing banging). The main vents should be sized to fill the main with steam in a minute, measured from the time the boiler starts making steam. If one radiator is slow, we need to focus on that one radiator and its associated piping. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Dirt!

@ November 5, 2002 8:02 AM in boiler itself gurgles

I've run into the same thing. That's steam bubbling up thru sludge- just like in a rumbling water heater. You need to give that boiler a thorough water-side cleaning- the return lines too. Once in a while, an improper flame size or shape can cause this too- but mostly it's dirt! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

That may be an old Vapor system

@ November 5, 2002 7:56 AM in Steam 2-pipe problem - no heat

if it has both dry (high) and wet (low) returns. There should not be a trap on the return line- only at the end of the steam main and at each radiator. Has there always been a pump on the return? If it was added after the system was installed, it may not be needed. Just ask Noel about the Vapor systems at the college he used to work for..... To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

That would be a major project

@ November 5, 2002 7:43 AM in Does it pay to convert from steam to hot water?

and may not be worth it. A well-functioning steam distribution system is about as efficient as hot water. Yes, it does take more BTUs to boil a quantity of water than it does to just heat it up- but there is much less water involved in a steam system than hot-water. And you can get steam boilers with annual efficiencies (AFUE) up to 85%. The key here is "well-functioning". This means your steam pipes are insulated, main vents properly sized, radiator vents properly sized, traps (if used) in good shape, and the boiler clean and properly tuned. There are some hot-water boilers that have AFUEs over 90%, but these are more expensive to buy and service. Obviously it's going to cost a bundle to run a second set of pipes. And we don't know if your radiators will even work with hot-water- you may have to replace them too if you want to convert. Since you already have two separate steam zones, it sounds to me like the best way is to install two good steam boilers and make sure the insulation, vents etc. are installed properly. Use the Find a Contractor page of this site to locate someone near you who can investigate further. As to boilers, there are many good ones out there- it's the installation that really counts! To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Are the original convectors

@ November 5, 2002 7:31 AM in Spitting bathroom vent

connected one-pipe also? If so I'll bet theyre cast-iron on the inside, rather than fin-tube as that piece of bathroom baseboard is. If you're not sure, remove one of the covers, take a picture and post it- we can tell you for sure. A piece of cast-iron baseboard will work much better with one-pipe steam, since it has more internal area. You can get this type of baseboard from Burnham, Slant/Fin and (I think) Weil-McLain. If your original convectors are fin-tube, I'd repipe your fin-tube baseboard as a two-pipe unit. You want to match the type of original radiation (cast-iron or fin-tube) so they will heat up and cool down at a similar rate. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Amen

@ November 5, 2002 7:23 AM in Get out the vote...............hb

if you aren't happy with the way someone represents YOU, vote them out. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Shannon, that old \"Snowman\" boiler

@ November 3, 2002 4:52 PM in Stupid homeowner, one cold radiator

probably has an annual efficiency of 40-55%. I wouldn't bother putting a circulator on it- I'd just replace it. You could cut your fuel bill almost in half by doing so, and you'd still be able to enjoy those glorious old flue radiators. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Just make sure

@ November 3, 2002 4:43 PM in peaked to early?

Babcock & Wilcox doesnt build that reactor. Remember Three Mile Island? To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

You mean

@ November 3, 2002 4:39 PM in Nipple Wrench?

like one of these (deluxe model)? Found it in a most unlikely place- an '80s Mansfield. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"

Mark, you probably have an old chimney

@ November 3, 2002 4:32 PM in Help!! Excess draft

that was designed to pull air thru a coal fire. This required a lot more draft capability than is needed for oil or gas. It's not uncommon for one of these chimneys to overpower a new boiler. Two draft regulators would probaby work well, but they must be installed properly. Don't let that inept oilman sour you on heating contractors. There are lots of good ones out there. The more you know- and since you've passed the state exams you're way ahead of most HOs- the better a good contractor will look as you search. Use the Find a Contractor page of this site to locate one near you. This way, you'll know the job was done right. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"