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Heating Design/Update

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Neal_2
Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
The boiler in question is in Lincoln Park.

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  • Neal_2
    Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
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    Heating Design/Update

    My aunt lives in a historic three-flat in Chicago that has steam heat (a single boiler for the building that supplies the radiators in the apartment on each floor).

    Unfortunately, creating a comfortable temperature for her on the third floor (where the only thermostat is located) means the folks on the lower floors alternately bake or freeze. Perennially, there is a lot of verbal communication between the tenants and my aunt to adjust the temperature. Most of it is polite.

    While the furnace is about fifteen years old, the piping to the radiators is historical. The radiators themselves are fairly historical too.

    Is there a way to achieve uniform temperatures in all of the units? Also, is there a way for the tenants to individually control the temperature in their unit using the single boiler (i.e., potentially different temperaturs on different floors from a single boiler)? If not, is there a cost-efficient way to heat the units individually that uses the existing piping? (The building is very nearly on the Historic Register, so extensive re-piping or remodeling would be problematic and prohibitively expensive.)

    We would be grateful for any information you could provide.

    Thank you.

  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928
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    Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) will allow individual space temperature adjustment in each and every room.

    Especially easy to install on a one-pipe steam system as you don't even have to remove the radiators. Of course there may well be other issues as well. Steam systems frequently suffer from a severe lack of maintenance.
  • I agreed with Mike

    Installing TRV on each radatiors will solve the over/under heating plms. However, there other things that needs to be looked at, the overall system, ventings, pipings,insulations, etc etc.... Whatever needed, can be done .... By the pros,pls..
  • Neal_2
    Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
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    What a terrific forum this is.

    What you and Mike say makes a lot of sense. I will definitely learn more about TRVs and other potential solutions.

    I guess now the question is how to find a trustworthy resource (or expert) in the Chicago area to review the situation without having it turn into a sales pitch for their particular "solution."

    Do you have any suggestions for finding that person(s)?

    Thank you.

    Neal
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928
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    Check "Find a Professional" here at this site. You're rather fortunate to live in the Chicago area as there are still lots of residential steam systems AND people with the knowledge to work on them properly. "Steamhead" comes to mind...

    I'd also suggest Dan Holohan's (the owner of this site) book "We Got Steam Heat" at an absolute minimum with "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" for significantly more depth and details.

    There certainly are things that nearly any homeowner can to to maintain/repair their steam systems. Some of the "automatic" devices are in fact the cause of trouble since they make it very easy to forget some simple, rather frequent and routine maintenance that should be done on steam systems.

    Unless you're POSITIVE that the system has been regularly and properly maintained, I would HIGHLY suggest a thorough review and "tune up" by a good steam man! But again, those books I mentioned will be VERY helpful!!!

    Price-wise TRVs fall in what I call the "moderate" category. For what they do, I call them a downright bargain. Their installation definitely falls in the do-it-yourself category, but it's so relatively simple on one-pipe steam that DIY would result in little or no savings. It's two-pipe hot water systems where DIY can really save provided you have some time, simple tools and lots of muscle...
  • Neal_2
    Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
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    While I will read the books, I think the most useful perspective will come from an expert.

    Other than a listing in Find A Professional, are there tips for knowing a steamhead, if that's the term, from a lunkhead?

    I'm not sure I understand what you mean by <<Price-wise TRVs fall in what I call the "moderate" category.>>

    If I understand, for a one-pipe system, TRVs work well, but the cost of having them installed professionally is comparable to the cost of doing it myself. Have I got it right?

    As someone who's been described as a simple tool with lots of time and muscle, it sounds like I'm the guy for a DIY two-pipe system. I'm not sure where the savings for a two-pipe system would occur. For that matter, I'm not sure what a two-pipe system is. (Is that one with two loops or circuits?)

    Thanks.

    Neal
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928
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    "Steamhead" is the moniker for a frequent contributor here at The Wall. Not sure if he lists under "Find a Professional" Search for "Steamhead" as author and you can always write to him privately. Select "reply" to one of his messages, scroll up and you'll see his e-mail address. (The slight complication is to prevent "robots" from grabbing email addresses for Spam purposes.)

    Presuming your system is steam (sometimes people confuse steam and hot water) it's either one-pipe or two-pipe. One-pipe systems have a SINGLE pipe connecting each radiator with an air vent (usually looks like a big bullet) at the other end. On this type of steam system the TRV will replace the air vent--that's why it's so easy to install.

    Two-pipe steam systems are generally more complicated and were frequently so-called "vapor" systems originally. TRV installation will be more involved on a two-pipe steam system but "special" devices already in the system make them MUCH less straight forward for DIY installation than with two-pipe hot water.
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928
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    Forgot to say:

    Buy and STUDY those books I suggested. Compare to the system in question. Dan's writing style is EXCEPTIONALLY friendly to the reader. Don't forget that the involved book is based on the "Lost Art" so it does not assume much in the way of prior knowledge and the homeowner book based on "We've Got It" will teach you the jargon!

    Armed with this knowledge you WILL be able to tell the true "Steamheads" from the hacks!
  • Christian Egli_2
    Christian Egli_2 Member Posts: 812
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    Trapped? This is the place to vent

    Dear Neal,

    You don't give much knowledge of your system, I am going to assume it hasn't been given a good look over since 15 years ago.

    With such time gone by, your steam traps (or alternately your vents if there is only one pipe connection on each radiator) need to be given a check up. Opened, cleaned, tested, etc...

    This is usually called a steam survey. Getting a pro is the best bet. I know Boilerpro who posts here is from somewhere possibly near you. He would be fantastic.

    Once this all done, it is entirely possible that everything will work so nicely that all of the residents will be elated.

    Dan Holohan's books will help sort all this out.

    At this point, you'll be able to figure what type of thermostatic valves you need and where you might need them. You don't need them everywhere. Perhaps your system already has modulating valves, then all that is necessary is to teach the residents how to use them.

    Next, installing a new boiler control system that bases heat need on outdoor weather rather than your Aunt's input might take your control issues out of the hands of one single resident.

    Time for expletives? Blame the wonderful Chicago weather you have.

    Do you have any pictures? as this might be a very nice historical set up many of us might enjoy.

    Thanks for maintaining your steam. You've already figured out the smartest thing: not to gut your whole building for a very costly retrofit that can't promise you anything your current historical system can't do.
  • Neal_2
    Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
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    <<You don't give much knowledge of your system, I am going to assume it hasn't been given a good look over since 15 years ago.>>

    I think that's a fair assumption. My aunt's been handling the maintenance and she hasn't mentioned anything that sounds like what we're talking about here.

    <<I know Boilerpro who posts here is from somewhere possibly near you. He would be fantastic.>>

    I will get right on it.

    <<Dan Holohan's books will help sort all this out.>>

    I'll jump on them too.

    <<Next, installing a new boiler control system that bases heat need on outdoor weather rather than your Aunt's input might take your control issues out of the hands of one single resident>>.

    That is an excellent suggestion.

    <<Do you have any pictures? as this might be a very nice historical set up many of us might enjoy.>>

    I don't. But I'll be happy to take some. Is there anything to show that would be especially useful?

    Thanks again to everyone for the valuable insights.

    The Wall is THE BEST!

    Neal
  • Brad White_62
    Brad White_62 Member Posts: 3
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    Take Heart, Neal!

    (First- Help, I am trapped in italics not of my doing! :) )

    EDIT:
    Stonehouse has saved me from italics! Thanks, HTML Man.
    At least I was not leaning to the left :)...

    All of the advice you got so far is spot-on. I second Mike T.'s TRV advice. Check out Tunstall Associates, Danfoss as being the two that I know of that have intgral vacuum breakers. (You need these to let the condensed steam -water- out back to the boiler.) Key point on these: They do not "call for heat". They hold back heat from rooms where it is not needed/wanted. Think of them as "high limit" devices. Generally if you are handy, you can install them yourself. Small wrench, pipe dope and if confined, some 1/8" pipe elbows and nipples are all you will need.

    Other things that will become apparent are certain practices, almost a mantra here, such as:

    Crank it Down :
    (Reduce the steam pressure, generally to less than a pound.

    Insulate the Pipes :
    (Frequently asbestos-abated pipes were never re-insulated. Like having a radiator you never wanted in a place you rarely live in.)

    Install TRV's :
    in rooms which tend to over-heat: Bedrooms where you may want it cool, guest rooms.

    Vent the Mains and Radiators Well :
    Steam in, air out, water back as our friend Mr. Linhardt says.


    The building may benefit from central controls such as a Tekmar 269. Takes into account outdoor temperature, indoor temperature and adjusts cycles per hour. Takes your aunt out of the equation so she does not have to be the Human Thermostat. Give her the gift of spare time! :)
  • Christian Egli_2
    Christian Egli_2 Member Posts: 812
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    What to picture on the centerfold

    Here are picture poses that are of much value.

    From the radiator:

    1) Focus one picture on the valve. 2) Focus on the other end where there is either -a trap (worthy of a big close-up) -or an air vent. Embossed names to keep track of are those on the valve and those on the trap.

    From the piping:

    1) Capture the departure point from where the biggest pipes leave the boiler area to go around the basement or perhaps way up to the attic. 2) Capture the end of this (or these, if there is two or more) main steam line, it usually does something most fascinating. There at the end, focus on any trap or vent like device if there is any, there might be a plugged hole. The end of main might be right next the boiler or as far away as you can get.

    From the boiler:

    1) Frame a large shot of the gadget including the near boiler piping which should twist around from the top of the boiler down to its side. 2) If there is anything that looks like a big cast iron ham, then that is worthy of it's own shots. 3) If there is a cast iron box on the floor with a pump to its side... click click. 4) If there is a big radiator dangling from the ceiling with mysterious pipes connected to it... by all means, waste a whole roll of film.

    Specialties, if any:

    There may be some small pipes that connect the bigger steam main directly to the smaller condensate return lines without going to a radiator first. These crossover connections should have the most interesting accessories attached to them. A trap like device warrants a picture. A carrot shaped device will get all of us drooling.

    I am hoping this system which is so special to your Aunt, my just be special indeed. Moline perhaps?

    Thanks for enjoying this site.
  • I'm in west chicago il

    I agreed wholehearlty that u get those books as the other wallies recommened...
  • Neal_2
    Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
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    > Check _A

    > href=http://www.heatinghelp.com/getlisted.cfm_"Fin

    > d a Professional"_/A_ here at this site. You're

    > rather fortunate to live in the Chicago area as

    > there are still lots of residential steam systems

    > AND people with the knowledge to work on them

    > properly. "Steamhead" comes to mind...

    >

    > I'd

    > also suggest Dan Holohan's (the owner of this

    > site) book _A

    > href=http://www.heatinghelp.com/shopcart/product.c

    > fm?category=2-109_"We Got Steam Heat"_/A_ at an

    > absolute minimum with _A

    > href=http://www.heatinghelp.com/shopcart/product.c

    > fm?category=2-3_"The Lost Art of Steam

    > Heating"_/A_ for significantly more depth and

    > details.

    >

    > There certainly are things that

    > nearly any homeowner can to to maintain/repair

    > their steam systems. Some of the "automatic"

    > devices are in fact the cause of trouble since

    > they make it very easy to forget some simple,

    > rather frequent and routine maintenance that

    > should be done on steam systems.

    >

    > Unless you're

    > POSITIVE that the system has been regularly and

    > properly maintained, I would HIGHLY suggest a

    > thorough review and "tune up" by a good steam

    > man! But again, those books I mentioned will be

    > VERY helpful!!!

    >

    > Price-wise TRVs fall in what I

    > call the "moderate" category. For what they do,

    > I call them a downright bargain. Their

    > installation definitely falls in the

    > do-it-yourself category, but it's so relatively

    > simple on one-pipe steam that DIY would result in

    > little or no savings. It's two-pipe hot water

    > systems where DIY can really save provided you

    > have some time, simple tools and lots of

    > muscle...



  • The Wire Nut
    The Wire Nut Member Posts: 422
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    Steam

    Neal (and all)...

    Avoid using the greater than-less than symbols in pairs as the Wall's system interprets them as HTML formatting commands and thus we jumped into italics.... Maybe the new site (tomorrow!) will have a cure for this...

    Also, Steamhead is in Baltimore, I know he's a traveller but I think Chi-town's a bit far...

    The best place to start is "We've Got Steam Heat", if you can get through that and you feel the yourself in the presence of the deadmen, then devour "The Lost Art..." It's changed a lot of lives, including my own...

    And you're right about The Wall, it's geneses and growth say a lot about it's creator....

    Alex
    "Let me control you"

    Lost in SOHO NYC and Balmy Whites Valley PA
  • thanks, Steamhead

    Thanks for explaning, I thought its was my eyes going bad from reading all the wallies' posts on my sidekick!
  • Neal_2
    Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
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    Apologies and Thanks

    To Stonehouse (and all),

    Sorry about the chevrons. I thought I was quoting the previous message.

    The Wall is the coolest. If I could only get you folks to help with the other challenges in my life, I'd be completely set.

    Thanks.

    Neal
  • The Wire Nut
    The Wire Nut Member Posts: 422
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    Italics...

    Let's see if this restores the normal font... (hidden codes here)... (yea, that seemed to work, at least for this post)



    And Neal, ask away, I think you'll find that there are a lot of diverse people and skills on this site, many are home owners like you, and me and let's not forget Constantin!

    Alex
    "Let me control you"

    Lost in SOHO NYC and Balmy Whites Valley PA
  • Boilerpro_5
    Boilerpro_5 Member Posts: 407
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    Got your message, Neal

    And a reply should be arriving soon, Look below to find out more!

    Boilerpro

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
  • Neal_2
    Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
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    Heating Design/Update - The Photos

    Inspired by your support (and a conversation with Boilerpro), I've gathered more concrete information about the furnace.

    Also, I mentioned the site, and the help, to my aunt, and she is thrilled at the prospects of finally having comfortable heat for herself and the tenant downstairs.

    Here's what I've got. (It seems like a more contemporary furnace than I'd been led to believe. I apologize to those who might have been expecting a lost treasure.)

    Weil-McLain Co. Inc., Michigan City, IN
    Hydronic Division

    Model LG-5
    Series #2

    Net I.B.R. Output
    Steam- 900 sq. ft.
    Water: 250.4 M.B.H.

    AGA Rating btu/hr
    Input: 360,000
    Output: 288,000

    Min. Safety Relief Valve Cap - 288 lbs/hr

    A.S.M.E. Max WP
    Water: 50 psi
    Steam: 15 psi

    If it's of any value, the furnace is serviced by Emanuel Bros. (Chicago) and the last service was 10/05.

    There is also a McDonnell No. 101-A General Purpose Valve in the mix here (see photos).

    I've also attached some photos. To make things interesting, scrap ducting was piled on top of the furnace. It is not functional or connected to anything.

    Again, thanks for all of your support and encouragement.

    Neal





  • Neal_2
    Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
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    Heating Design/Update - The Photos

    Inspired by your support (and a conversation with Boilerpro), I've gathered more concrete information about the furnace.

    Also, I mentioned the site, and the help, to my aunt, and she is thrilled at the prospects of finally having comfortable heat for herself and the tenant downstairs.

    Here's what I've got. (It seems like a more contemporary furnace than I'd been led to believe. I apologize to those who might have been expecting a lost treasure.)

    Weil-McLain Co. Inc., Michigan City, IN
    Hydronic Division

    Model LG-5
    Series #2

    Net I.B.R. Output
    Steam- 900 sq. ft.
    Water: 250.4 M.B.H.

    AGA Rating btu/hr
    Input: 360,000
    Output: 288,000

    Min. Safety Relief Valve Cap - 288 lbs/hr

    A.S.M.E. Max WP
    Water: 50 psi
    Steam: 15 psi

    If it's of any value, the furnace is serviced by Emanuel Bros. (Chicago) and the last service was 10/05.

    There is also a McDonnell No. 101-A General Purpose Valve in the mix here (see photos).

    I've also attached some photos. To make things interesting, scrap ducting was piled on top of the furnace. It is not functional or connected to anything.

    Again, thanks for all of your support and encouragement.

    Neal
  • Unknown
    Options
    the system

    Neal, posting the pixs really help a lot..
    I see u have an oldie ('60) boiler (not furance) with mixture of standing radiators and baseboard ( gonna be careful w/them) radiators... This job is very doable with the boiler (not furance) pros that are experinced with boiler (not furance) pipings AND the whole heating system.
    When u call for a furance service work, u will most likely to get a furance person to work on ur BOILER..... Please,please for wethead's sake don't call our boiler furance... Keep them questons coming and we BOILERMEN will help ya out...
  • Christian Egli_2
    Christian Egli_2 Member Posts: 812
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    Good luck with your steam

    Thanks for the pictures. Looking at east side - above boiler, I don't think I see any end of main vents. If there are none indeed, then having some added (as well as at the top of your risers) will improve heat delivery by nearly bringing steam to each radiator simultaneously.

    On this system, make sure you always keep the valves either fully open or fully shut, but not half way.

    Ammark makes thermostatic valves that go on the supply side of one pipe radiators, otherwise all the others brands go on the air vent hole.

  • Neal_2
    Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
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    First, I stand corrected. I will not ever refer to a boiler as a furnace (or a furance), ever again. Further proof of my ignorance and why I'm glad to be surrounded by such knowledgeable pro's.

    Next, re: > Looking at east side -

    > above boiler, I don't think I see any end of main

    > vents. If there are none indeed, then having some

    > added (as well as at the top of your risers) will

    > improve heat delivery by nearly bringing steam to

    > each radiator simultaneously.

    >


    I'm not sure if the system has any or not. There is a lot going on around the boiler (is "pipes" a forbidden word?). I have plenty of pictures, though. What am I looking for? Where would they be in relation to the boiler.

    > Ammark

    > makes thermostatic valves that go on the supply

    > side of one pipe radiators, otherwise all the

    > others brands go on the air vent hole.




    Are there advantages to supply side vs. air vent hole placement?

    Thanks.

    Neal
  • Unknown
    Options
    pipes

    Pipes/pipings are the correct term to use for boiler and related system.. Pls don't use "plumbing" on hydronic heating system..
    On steam system, u have to have venting(s) to let the air out and best on return piping(s), etc... Have u ordered them books as recommended by the other wetheads?
  • Neal_2
    Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
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    The books arrived this afternoon.

    I'll be devouring them directly.
  • Unknown
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    where's Neal?

    Wondering if Neal let his grass grows and finished reading the books that been recommended to him.. What's his decision?
  • Neal_2
    Neal_2 Member Posts: 16
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    Thanks for following up. It's nice to be missed.

    I've been immersing myself in learning, with the books and, on a marginally related topic, electricity with Carol Fey.

    At the moment, the closest steam professional is boilerpro, and he's quite a way out of town. So the issue has been tabled for the moment.

    Though, if anyone has any additional suggestions, they would be gratefully welcomed.

    Thanks.

    Neal
  • Unknown
    Options
    I'm in west

    I'm in west chicago I'll and one of Dan's first "students" in steam heating class..(will be going again in June) where's about u located in chicago? I'm not much of city guy but consults in anyway...
This discussion has been closed.