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Joined on March 11, 2004

Last Post on August 27, 2014

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Yikes- Chris was only 51

@ June 30, 2014 10:32 PM in One of the greatest heating tech' has passed away

younger than me.

A poster on one of the other sites said he had a heart attack, and no one was with him at the time. So far, that's all we know.

First order of business

@ June 29, 2014 3:15 PM in Utica boiler clicking

is to call a pro. Fixing gas equipment is not a DIY job, especially with propane that can pool on the floor and be ignited, causing an explosion. Seriously. People have died this way.

If that boiler has electric ignition, I suspect it's the old White-Rodgers setup due to its age. The successor to the AGB series, the MGB, originally came with this system when ordered with electric ignition. I seem to recall this system is no longer approved for propane (if it ever was), since it will try to light the pilot indefinitely rather than locking out as newer systems do.

If I'm right, you'd need to upgrade the ignition system and main gas valve. Honeywell still makes a kit for this that is approved for use with propane. At any rate, parts for the White-Rodgers system are getting hard to find.

Call a pro. Try the Find a Contractor page of this site.

Call a pro

@ June 28, 2014 9:33 PM in Pilot goes out when trying to turn on..

fixing gas equipment is not a DIY job. The risk is way too great. 

One question that hasn't been asked

@ June 28, 2014 4:33 PM in Heat loss on DC rowhouse?

is your current system a steam or hot-water system?


@ June 25, 2014 7:37 PM in One Pipe Steam - What Is This?

it might be a False Water Line.

More pics are needed.

If you click on my company's name

@ June 23, 2014 10:39 PM in Need help rating these radiators.

at the bottom of this post, it will take you to a discussion of a project where we cut a co-op building's gas consumption by a third- by de-knuckleheading the steam system. Despite what you may have been told, it really is possible.

Two points:

@ June 23, 2014 9:44 PM in Need help rating these radiators.

1- Radiators with blowers- also known as fan-driven convectors- were never standardized like a lot of cast-iron radiators were. We would need to know who made these units and what their dimensions are. Pictures would help.

2- Calculating the heat loss of a building is not, has never been and will never be the way to determine an A/C load. They are two entirely different things.

You've had recommendations to contact Dave Bunnell, "The Steam Whisperer", and I'll add my recommendation. He's one of the best in the business. Why don't you get in touch with him?

I still use a similar boiler

@ June 20, 2014 1:06 AM in Can Anyone Identify this Honeywell Control?

which came with a Sunray FC burner. The problem with that burner was that before I got into the combustion end of the business, techs would try to set it up like a Beckett. You can't do it that way. Sunray burners have their own setup technique, which is more like Carlin's. Once they're set up they run very well.

I actually had a chance to meet the gentleman who designed my Sunray: Dr. Bola Kamath. This man is a combustion genius. I think of him whenever I work on one of his burners.

I've tried the OEM Carlin burner in my boiler, as well as the Beckett AFG and am currently running a Beckett NX. Proper setup is key for any of these units to run well. If a burner doesn't run properly in my boiler I change it- I'm too busy working on other people's boilers to have much time to mess with mine!

Now as to that control- yes, it was original to these boilers. It was designed to make packaged boilers easier to assemble at the factory, by eliminating separate controls and their associated wiring. But I suppose it got so expensive that using separate controls and wiring was cheaper- later versions of these boilers had separate controls.

We also need to re-state

@ June 20, 2014 12:44 AM in Oil to Gas conversion

the other advantage of converting an oil-fired boiler to gas... better efficiency.

AFUE can be quite misleading. We need to look at a boiler's thermal efficiency, which means what percentage the DOE or Gross Output rating is of the Input rating. Typical atmospheric (so-called gas-designed) gas-fired steam boilers have thermal efficiencies of 80-82%, whereas wet-base steamers normally sold as oil-fired boilers and equipped with good power gas burners rate up to 86%.

There are two reasons for this:

1- The wet-base boiler's cast-iron heat transfer surface almost completely surrounds the flame, whereas the atmospheric's flame is completely below the cast-iron. So the atmospheric loses a lot of heat out of the base. DOE doesn't care about this because technically the heat is released inside the building, but we want the heat to go to the radiators- not the basement, unless there are radiators located there.

2- The power burner offers much better control over the combustion air supply than the atmospheric. Excess air on an atmospheric is often 35-50% whereas a power burner can usually run at less than 25% without making CO. Excess air just blows heat up the chimney, so for best efficiency it needs to be limited. How do I know these figures are correct? Because we test every unit we work on using a digital analyzer! Can everyone in this thread say the same?

If you use a conversion burner with different available air tubes, flanges etc such as the Carlin EZ-Gas, you can easily transfer the burner if it becomes necessary. This protects the customer's investment.

I have read that in Europe, in cases where condensing boilers are not used, this wet-base/power-burner setup is standard. They call it "blown gas". We seem to be the only major country still using a lot of atmospherics.

Another possibility here

@ June 18, 2014 9:53 AM in Hot Radiators

is a lack of heat-transfer grease in the aquastat well, resulting in the aquastat bulb not getting the full effect of the heat so it wouldn't shut off the burner.

It may have an adjustable differential

@ June 17, 2014 1:11 AM in Hot Radiators

remove the cover (WITH THE POWER TURNED OFF) take a picture and post it here. 

I generally

@ June 16, 2014 9:21 PM in Main Vent

drill and tap up to 1/2-inch pipe thread. Drilling becomes very unwieldy in larger sizes, so we call in the welder for these.

Anything lower than halfway down

@ June 15, 2014 2:58 PM in Main Vent

will allow water to back up in the vent piping. See my signature pic for an example.

I'd be looking at

@ June 14, 2014 12:12 PM in Hoffman Boiler Feed, persistent trickle feed and overflow

changing back to gravity return. 90% of the condensate tanks I've seen are unnecessary. This would not only get rid of the pumps, but also any F&T traps that were added.

Here's one we installed

@ June 13, 2014 5:33 PM in steam in the summer!

which is controlled the same way yours should be:

My usual phone

@ June 13, 2014 5:24 PM in Steam-Heated Hotel!

does take better pics- this is an older one that I keep for vacations, when I only want certain people to be able to call me. Next time I'll have a real camera with me.


@ June 13, 2014 12:58 PM in Steam-Heated Hotel!

I'm told there are certain places on the Net where that term could make me a LOT of money......


The Lovely Naoko just rolls her eyes, but she knew what she was getting into and married me anyway. I must be doing something right, since we just had our 10th anniversary.

Well, that's the best reason

@ June 13, 2014 12:49 PM in Name this part

that it's no longer in service.

See if you can find a name on it. Maybe you'll get lucky and discover it's a Breckenridge!

Is the leak

@ June 13, 2014 1:08 AM in Princess Model

at the joint between two sections? If so, all you probably need is to replace the push-nipple that joins the sections.

I got the tour

@ June 13, 2014 12:41 AM in Steam-Heated Hotel!

this system once heated the entire hotel but now covers only the public areas, and the head of maintenance is trying to talk the owner into completely tearing it out.

The boilers are a twinned pair of Dunkirks, badly piped as usual. There is the usual unnecessary boiler-feed tank and extra F&T traps that add moving parts to the system. The tank has only one pump feeding both boilers so there are probably water-level issues as well.

I was not able to get to the ends of the steam mains to see if they are vented. They couldn't get a hold of the keys to those rooms.

The manager I talked to, one of the family that owns the hotel, is not opposed to restoring the system. He says he will have us come up later this year, and this time we'll have full access.

I saw an old chain wrench hanging from a cut-off pipe in the boiler room, and took a couple pics of it.

The last pic was taken from our room, which looks out over the valley where Uniontown is. The sun was trying to break thru the fog that resulted from an earlier  severe thunderstorm.

I hope we got to this in time.

It's a very old main vent

@ June 12, 2014 11:01 PM in Name this part

which uses a carbon post as the expansion member.

You say it "was" on a return line?

This Plumber

@ June 11, 2014 5:32 PM in What are the implications of reducing radiator count on a one pipe steam system

sounds like he's creating more work for you to pay him for, either because he hates steam, or just to make more money.

Keep the steam in those rooms.

Steam is also a great way to heat an addition. We've done a few this way and are working on a small one now. I'll post pics when it's done.
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