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Joined on March 11, 2004

Last Post on July 23, 2014

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You were lucky

@ May 1, 2014 8:55 AM in Problem with new kickspace heater

most times these things don't work properly at all on such a system, even with all the air out. With piping that large, and the other radiators in the house having similar piping, the water simply bypasses the toe-kick heater. We've run into this more times than we can count.

And I think the pros in this thread know how to get air out of a toe-kick unit.

Rob, please

@ April 29, 2014 11:51 PM in Radiator feet pedestal?

send us the info.


@ April 28, 2014 5:02 PM in Please take this survey


The only reliable solution

@ April 27, 2014 2:08 PM in Problem with new kickspace heater

is to find a cast-iron radiator that will fit under the bench and hook it up using 1-1/4" piping. Anything else is a kludge that will likely result in call-backs.

The diagram for that boiler

@ April 27, 2014 12:37 PM in Three Recent Steamers

shows that a single 2-inch riser from the boiler is OK for up to an IN6. The second riser is optional. Whichever way you go, I'd increase the header size to 2-1/2" to really slow down the steam velocity.

Main vents are key. If you measure the length and diameter of the steam mains, we can tell you what you need.

If the chimney just has a bad lining

@ April 27, 2014 12:19 PM in Steam Boiler

and the structure is otherwise OK, the best bet would be to have it lined with stainless steel. This does not add any moving parts to the installation that will cause trouble down the road.

If the basic structure of the chimney is failing, I'd still have it rebuilt and properly lined even though that would probably cost more. The reason is the same- fewer moving parts requiring service. Who needs to have to respond to a 1:00 AM no-heat call caused by a bad power vent?

But if you absolutely have to abandon the chimney, there is only one gas steamer with built-in power venting I know of- the Burnham Independence. Unfortunately, we've replaced a lot of Independence boilers in the last several years due to rotting out above the waterline- I'm not sure if this is because of a problem with them, or simply because there are so many more of them.

If the existing boiler is in good shape, Field and Tjernlund both make power venters that you can use with it. These come with safety interlocks that MUST be wired in correctly to avoid CO getting into the building.

Also be aware that there are limits to where you can exhaust a sidewall-vented boiler, such as clearances above snow lines and from doors and windows. The place to start is whatever Gas Code is used in your area, possibly NFPA 54 or the International Gas Code. Some places also restrict where you can exhaust such a boiler with respect to property lines.

If this sounds like a lot- it is. That's why I like chimneys.

Of course!

@ April 27, 2014 11:45 AM in Three Recent Steamers

that's one reason we post them. What boiler are you going to install?

It's not bad

@ April 27, 2014 11:43 AM in Three Recent Steamers

the water supply is one of the very few things the Baltimore City government hasn't totally screwed up. 

These two are no louder than others

@ April 27, 2014 11:37 AM in Three Recent Steamers

Slant/Fin has recently updated them by adding baffles to the gaps between the sections. If you look at the rating charts you see their AFUE ratings have gone up a bit (for whatever that's worth) and they're using lower firing rates as well. We're seeing 84% combustion efficiency on these baffled 4-section units when using EZ-Gas burners having 9-slot diffusers rather than the "A" diffusers normally supplied for these firing rates, and this is running them at 9% CO2 which allows some headroom in case the available air supply changes. Stack temp is in the mid to high 300s.

Note that we usually install barometrics one size larger than the flue connectors on these jobs, since these old coal-designed chimneys almost always pull way more draft than these units need. The oversized barometric insures a stable draft even on the coldest days, since the chimney cannot overwhelm it. We also have stopped using the Kaowool rug in the bottom of the firing zone- it's not needed on a gas flame.

We have one customer where an Intrepid/EZ-Gas turned out to be louder than expected due to a resonance in the chimney. I have ordered a set of baffles for that job to see if they help.

Most definitely

@ April 26, 2014 4:22 PM in Corroded Boiler part?

have that vent replaced. I think that's a Maid-o-Mist- there are better ones out there. 

Couple more questions

@ April 26, 2014 4:21 PM in Steam Boiler

Oil or gas?

What size?

Why do you need fan-assist (adds complication and more service calls)?

Thanks, all

@ April 26, 2014 2:27 PM in Need advice/ help for new heating system

for the recommendations!

Have the chimney inspected

@ April 26, 2014 1:40 PM in Chimney Liner

it may be partially clogged. It should pull more draft than that. 

That would be the easiest way

@ April 26, 2014 1:14 PM in eg-45 start up questions on surging and wet steam

just use the existing 3-inch riser, since it might be difficult to get it out of the boiler, and continue from there with 3-inch. That boiler is small enough that staying with a single 3-inch riser should not result in a high enough exit velocity as to pull water out of the boiler. You also want to ascertain that the riser height is at least 24 inches above the highest possible waterline, higher if possible, which will filter out any water that does get into the riser

You should be able to get insulation supplies from online vendors like Patriot Supply, PEX Supply or State Supply. The big-box stores don't sell insulation in these sizes.

Flush the boiler out if/when it gets dirty. One way to do the returns is to remove the main vents and run a hose into their piping, draining the dirty water out before it gets to the boiler. After flushing, run the system enough so all the water in the system is boiled and condensed, to drive out all the excess oxygen. Running it until the returns get warm all the way back to the boiler should accomplish this.

In general, you need to heat the boiler up before skimming. This will make sure all the oils rise to the top. See the boiler instructions for details, also check out Dan's take in "The Lost Art of Steam Heating". Letting it drip overnight would let the boiler cool down too much.

If the new water feeder is a Hydrolevel VXT, just watch the digital display to see if the system is taking on too much water. The probe-type low-water cutoff will need to be checked once a year, to see that the probe is clean and that the control works as it should. You'll still want to check the water level once a week or so to see that it isn't getting too high or too low.

Hope this helps.

The R8184M

@ April 25, 2014 11:29 PM in Honeywell Oil Burner Control

has a transformer which is used to operate air-conditioning control circuits. So if this burner is used on a furnasty with central air, you need something to take over that function.

There are two inherent drawbacks to the R8184 control series: 1- most models have a 45-second trial for ignition, which is way too long and can allow "puffbacks" to happen if ignition is delayed, and 2- they do not cut off the ignition spark after the burner has started, which wears out the electrodes prematurely and can cause delayed ignition.

Beckett, Carlin and Honeywell all offer electronic controls that can replace an R8184 and upgrade to a 15-second trial for ignition, and which will also cut off the spark once the burner has started. I would use one of these rather than another R8184. I believe all three manufacturers offer transformer kits that can power your A/C controls too.

And I strongly recommend you have a pro do the upgrade.

Another Intrepid/EZ-Gas

@ April 25, 2014 10:04 PM in Three Recent Steamers

purring along. The lady of the house said the installation was beautiful. I hope she shows it off to her neighbors!

And last but not least

@ April 25, 2014 10:01 PM in Three Recent Steamers

was this 1960s-vintage American-Standard. This series of boilers has very high stack temperatures- they were designed when fuel was cheap. This one replaced what was probably a coal boiler converted to oil with a Quiet May burner- we found a service tag from 1944 having that info. The Quiet May burners were made right here in Baltimore.

This boiler had not only started to leak above the waterline, but had cracked at the bottom of one of the end sections. You can see in the section photos how much dirt and sludge had invaded the boiler- and on an atmospheric boiler like this, accumulations at the bottom of the sections do a great job of impeding the heat transfer and overheating the cast-iron.

In this case

@ April 25, 2014 9:52 PM in Three Recent Steamers

the Slant/Fin Intrepid was the best choice, both in its capacity and in how it fit the space. We reversed the order of the steam main connections to the header so the longer main got steam first. The oil tank and lines were removed after we took this picture.

Number 2

@ April 25, 2014 9:49 PM in Three Recent Steamers

was a 4-section Columbia that WAS maxed-out. Over the years, this boiler has been offered in firing rates from 1 GPH (140,000 BTUH) to 1.50 GPH (210,000 BTUH). Using a higher firing rate reduces its efficiency and I'm sure contributed to its shorter life, along with the leaky returns which we replaced some years ago.

This project was also an oil-to-gas conversion. This boiler had also been "serviced" regularly by the oil company, but they seemed to forget to brush and vacuum it. We've all seen worse, but still...........

And the new one is.....

@ April 25, 2014 9:42 PM in Three Recent Steamers

a Columbia with a Carlin EZ-Gas. We didn't have to max this one out to handle the load, so the cast-iron will run a bit cooler and should last longer. And it fit the available space quite well.

Three Recent Steamers

@ April 25, 2014 9:40 PM in Three Recent Steamers

We've been so busy lately that we haven't posted much. But we have a bit more time now, also it's good to be able to offset some posters who insist on trying to talk their customers into ripping out steam systems. So Gordo and I bring you a compilation of some recent steam boiler replacements.

Here's the first one. This was a Burnham Independence that rotted out above the waterline- the underground wet return had been recently replaced. We knew about the leak a couple months ago but didn't want to take the system down while it was so cold if we could help it. It kept chugging along,

On that boiler

@ April 25, 2014 9:33 PM in eg-45 start up questions on surging and wet steam

I would install a 3-inch riser and header. The cost difference isn't that much and it will do a much better job of drying out the steam.
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