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Ideal Gas Boiler (American Radiator Company) conversion

mcdavemcdave Posts: 3Member
We are purchasing a 1918 Craftsman in Helena Montana with what may be the original boiler converted from coal to gas after the war;  an Ideal Gas Boiler:



Boiler No. 1-G-7-C



Series No. 15-B



Input Rating 331500 BTU



Steam Sq Ft 1105



Water Sq Ft 1770



The seller has been fantastic and also provided the following info:

"...we had to have the electronic igniter rebuilt (something about the spacing between the points). The only real problems we ever had with the boiler were with the float valve which after draining seemed to "leak" additional water into the boiler,



raising the water level."  He has been very good about maintaining the boiler:

"I've cleaned the boiler before the start of each heating season and



drained/cleaned out the float valve (every two weeks during the



heating season; ~ once a month during the summer)"





I wanted to post the age-old question about whether to upgrade to an efficient steam boiler or bite the bullet and drop the ceiling on the main and install radiant with a mod con power venting boiler.  We really want to demo the chimney to get space for a kitchen remodel.  The house is brick with lots of windows, 1537 sf/floor (3).



I am learning from "Greening Steam" by Dan, but need more advice. Thanks.
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Comments

  • vaporvacvaporvac Posts: 1,023Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 2013
    Steamperson?

    Do you have a competent steam person where you live? It seems a shame to ruin what sounds to be a lovely old ORIGINAL house by dropping the ceilings. Very spendy too I would imagine. I can't see where a new boiler and burner would come any where near the cost. I'm a homeowner like yourself; feel free to ask me about my personal experiences concerning price and what I ended up with in the end via email. the main problem isn't getting a good wet-based boiler with power burner, but getting someone to intall it. However, the instructions are clear so If your installing can't put in steam, I'd be a bit worried about radiant as well.

    In a cold place like Montana I would think it's nice not to have to worry about your pipes bursting if you go away on vacation.

    I'm also confused concerning the sq ft steam rating and the sq ft of your house.. Is that your measured edr or the rating of the current boiler? Is your total sq ftg @1500 or is that per floor ie. 4500sq ft. ? It's just that the boiler seems overized for a house that's 1500sp ft. do you have one-pipe or two?

    Post some pics so the folks here can see what you've got. Colleen
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
    · ·
  • mcdavemcdave Posts: 3Member
    answers to questions...

    The specs posted on the original post are directly from the mfg plate on the boiler.



    Through trusted recommendations, I have Dave Covert from Combustion Services in Great Falls coming in to inspect next week.  He will be part of the closing contingency for home inspection, but I'm sure will make fair recommendation of conversion options, an barring any pitfalls I would use him to do the work.



    The specs are directly from the plate on the boiler. 



    The House has radiators on the two floors of 1537sf/floor, and the basement is heated by the boiler.



    I can't get inside pics until the inspection next week.
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  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 9,203Member ✭✭✭✭
    If not

    get in touch with us. We've been known to do out-of-town consulting.



    In a place like Helena, where winter temperatures routinely go into single digits, steam is much more attractive than hot-water. All the radiators and most of the pipes drain dry when the system shuts down, so in an extended power or fuel failure you will run much less risk of freezing damage to the system.



    And post some pics of the boiler and the system.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    · ·
  • mcdavemcdave Posts: 3Member
    two pipe system

    The steam system is a two pipe system and i believe the radiators are Thin-tube.
    · ·
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 4,016Member ✭✭✭
    The ratings on the boiler

    are for what is called "EDR".  Which is a measure of the amount of installed radiation.  What you can do after the closing is take a look at the radiators and add them up -- there are tables on this site, or we can help you with it -- and see what they add up to.  That will be the size of any new boiler you might want to install.



    If this is really an original installation, you may be in real luck -- it may not have been "knuckleheaded", or at least not too badly.  In which case, updating the system will be mostly a matter of a new boiler (it will be a lot smaller) and checking vents and traps to make sure they are working right.



    As to the chimney.  Um.  That could, potentially, be a problem as any boiler will need to be exhausted to the outside somewhere.  That would require some thought.  It's not a show stopper by any means, but any new boiler installation will require some real thought as to where its stack or vent is going to be, if it isn't going to be the existing chimney.



    I wouldn't even consider the radiant/hot water route.  You've got a good thing going there; don't spoil it!
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    · ·
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 5,577Member ✭✭✭
    Alternative chimney

    The existing chimney is probably much larger than needed for a correctly sized modern boiler, and could be replaced with a smaller diameter flue pipe up through the roof. Having a chimney of the correct size would make the boiler more efficient as well.

    I would think that the whole chimney will have to be removed from top to bottom, and not just at the kitchen level.--NBC
    · ·
  • mcdave2mcdave2 Posts: 12
    photos/update

    Photos requested  below.  Contractor estimated 198,375 and input of 238,050 btu. 

    Measured 8 rads plus spare for EDR.  Please refer formula to calc.



    Contractor initially recommends "tune up" including cycle time extender and better vapor stat to get .5-3 pound steam.



    Existing system has hartford loop and may show atmospheric vent/trap.

    I have more photos of boiler/rads if needed. Thanks.
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  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 9,203Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2013
    More, please

    the boiler probably dates back to the 1930s or even 1920s.



    That looks like a Vapor system from what we see so far. Post some radiator pics so we know what type they are and can direct you to a sizing chart. Also see if you can find any name or trademark on the radiator shutoffs and whatever they used at the radiator return outlet connections, as well as the vent trap with the green vent on top (the vent itself is a Hoffman). All this will help us ID your system.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    · ·
  • mcdave2mcdave2 Posts: 12
    more pics

    as requested
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  • mcdave2mcdave2 Posts: 12
    gas use/rad size xls

    more info for help with EDR and also gas use in winter.  Thanks
    · ·
  • mcdave2mcdave2 Posts: 12
    radiator inventory

    Room             



    height

    depth

    columns

    width inches







    livings

    20

    8

    5

    81







    livingn

    20

    8

    5

    50







    dining

    20

    8

    5

    77







    entry

    capped in entry















    sunroom

    capped at main in basement











    kitchen

    32

    8

    5

    35







    master

    20

    8

    5

    68







    bath

    20

    8

    5

    35







    guest

    20

    8

    5

    63







    nbed

    20

    8

    5

    68







    sbed

    20

    8

    5

    50







    spare

    20

    8

    5

    50
    · ·
  • vaporvacvaporvac Posts: 1,023Member ✭✭✭
    Hoffman

    That's interesting that the ven is so similar to that on my trapless Trane vapor/vacuum system; they must have been converging on a similar style for the vapor systems. My huge 1916 coal boiler is also an Ideal as are my rads, and it looks just like the large sectionals pictured under the resources section. I'd be interested to see what those rad valves say. i couldn't make it out.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
    · ·
  • mcdave2mcdave2 Posts: 12
    help with EDR

    Can anyone confirm that the replacement steam ng boiler would need an output of 258K here in Helena at 4K ft elevation?



    Room height depth columns width sections

    livings 20 8 5 81 33

    livingn 20 8 5 50 21

    dining 20 8 5 77 32



    kitchen 32 8 5 35 15

    master 20 8 5 68 28

    bath 20 8 5 35 15

    guest 20 8 5 63 26

    nbed 20 8 5 68 28

    sbed 20 8 5 50 21



    Thanks
    · ·
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