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steam to hot water conversion

JOE S
JOE S Member Posts: 1
I HAVE A CUSTOMER THAT HAS A LARGE BRICK HOME WITH A TWO PIPE STEAM HEATING SYSTEM . THE EXISTING SYSTEM DOSE NOT HEAT EVENLY AND WHEN THE BOILER WAS INSTALLED THE HEADER WAS IMPROPERLY PIPED. THE BOILER WAS INSTALLED FOUR YEARS AGO BY THE OIL CO.AND THE 3" HEADER WILL HAVE TO BE REPIPED .
WE WERE ON THE JOB INVOLVED WITH A BATHROOM REMODEL WHEN THE ARCHITECT ASKED US TO INSTALL SOME RADIANT FLOOR HEATING WHICH WE PLANNED TO DO WITH A TANK COIL TIED IN BELOW THE WATER LINE. WHEN PLANNING THE INSTALLATION OF THE COIL FOR THE RADIANT THE QUESTION AROSE WOULD IT BE REALISTIC TO THINK THAT THE GUTS OF THE STEAM TRAPS COULD BE REMOVED AND THE EXISTING STEAM RISERS AND RETURNS FROM THE RADIATORS COULD BE USED WITH NEW MAINS AND MONOFLO TEES TO CREATE A CIRCULATING HOT WATER SYSTEM ?
ANY THOUGHT ON THIS ?
THANKS
JOE

Comments

  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    Don't even think about it

    You'd be opening up a real can of worms. Our company does not recommend or perform this type of conversion, and will not work on a system that someone else has converted. We don't want to be "the last ones that worked on it".

    First off, hot-water runs at a minimum of 10 times the pressure of a properly functioning steam system. This does a great job of finding weak spots in pipes and radiators. I've seen conversions that turned into Swiss cheese when filled and pressurized.

    Second, a hot-water radiator running with the usual incoming water at 180 degrees and outgoing water at 160 will only emit 150 BTUs per square foot of radiation, whereas a steam rad will emit 240 BTUs per square foot. The existing rads might be way undersized for use with hot water.

    The "two-pipe steam system" you describe is likely a Vapor system. Vapor was the Cadillac of heating in the day and is still one of the best out there. It should heat quickly, quietly and evenly on about 8 ounces pressure or less. Once whatever problems are solved, that system should outlast all of us.

    If you're not sure how to make it heat properly, you've come to the right place. Where is the job located?

    "Steamhead"

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  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320
    SteamHead's right!

    Should you luck-out, and have a tankless coil or at least an opeing in the existing boiler for one, you can have your cake and eat it!

    "Converting" a vapor system (Cadillac of them all) to anything other than what it once was - is like putting fertilizer on a weed.

    Do it once. Do it right. And, if out of your league, give us a zip code. We can sub, share or advise as required.

  • Ray Landry_3
    Ray Landry_3 Member Posts: 94


    As others have stated, it's like russian roulette tying to turn a system with ancient piping which never held much pressure to speak of into a circulating system, but it can be done. I did an old 5000' sf home 5 years ago converted all rads to hot water, out of the 30 or so there only one leaked, and out of all the pipe and fittings only had two leakers. I got LUCKY. If the customer understands the risk they are taking by filling pipes hidden behind sheetrock walls with water, than go ahead it is possible! Just remember, DISLCAIMER DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER!

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  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,350
    well now

    yes, it is possible -- if you get lucky, like real lucky. But the you must make the customer realise that he is taking 100% of the risk, and the risk is substantial, and the cost of things don't go just exactly right is horrendous -- and he (and you) will be destroying the finest heating system he could possibly have.

    And he is out of his ever lovin' mind.

    I'm with Steamhead and co -- find out and fix the problems with the current system -- they won't be expensive -- and love the result. And do send a zip -- one of the experts on this forum will be more than happy to help!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.
    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
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