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Kriebel Vapor Vacuum System

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the Kriebel had its own twist on Vapor/Vacuum.

In the usual Vapor system you wanted to keep the steam out of the dry returns. The Kriebel was one of the very few such systems where it was OK to have steam enter the dry returns. Once the steam reached the special Kriebel vent, it closed the vent, and as the coal fire died down the system went into vacuum.

We've worked on a couple Kriebels here in Baltimore. One had the Kriebel vent and the other did not, but we couldn't tell if it originally did.

When we work on these systems, we generally replace whatever vent is on the dry return with at least one Gorton #2, vent the steam mains properly and also install a Vaporstat. Since the original Kriebel radiator shutoffs also include orificing capability, we can adjust the pressure on the Vaporstat so all radiators heat quickly and evenly, and little or no steam gets into the dry return.

"Steamhead"

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Comments

  • Robert Sisk
    Robert Sisk Member Posts: 7
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    Kriebel Vapor Vacuum System

    In my 90 year old house, the heating system is a two pipe, Kriebel Vapor Vacuum system. Many years ago, the boiler was changed to oil from coal and the current burner is a Carlin 301. The system operates only in the vapor mode since the burner is strictly an on-or-off device. My question is this: is there any benfit to switching to a modulating burner and attempting to mimic the declining heat output of coal to allow the vacuum mode to kick in? I have read that a properly designed vapor vacuum system could produce steam down to 140 deg F and could improve efficiency by up to 30%. A second question: is there benefit in switching to a modulating burner that can burn either oil or natural gas to take advantage of pricing fluctuations?
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    The problem with vacuum on oil or gas

    is the drastically shorter firing cycles can result in vacuum forming before all the air is out of the system. This can result in trapped air expanding in the pipes and radiators, which can block steam flow.

    Also, as far as I know, lo-hi-lo oil burners are not made small enough for your system.

    As we've done on Kriebels before, I'd properly vent all your steam mains and change the original vacuum vent to at least one Gorton #2 vent. Also, if the boiler is original, a new one will save oil.

    Try the Find a Professional page of this site to locate a steam man near you.

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  • Robert Sisk
    Robert Sisk Member Posts: 7
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    Kriebel Vapor Vacuum

    The boiler is original and is way too big to change. I can forward a picture. I have installed two #2 Gortons and the system seems to vent pretty well. I'm just trying to see if a modern, modulating burner can bring the vacuum system back to life.
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    No boiler

    is too big to change. Post a pic of it, it might be easier than you think.

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  • Robert Sisk
    Robert Sisk Member Posts: 7
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    Picture of boiler

  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    That's a Mills!

    which, believe it or not, is still being made in an updated version. Actually, it's not that hard to believe- it was and is one of the best boiler designs ever made. John Mills, who designed it, was one of the early geniuses of this industry. Whoever had that put in really went first-class.

    You have two options here:

    1- have your contractor get in touch with the Smith company to get their recommendation for a burner upgrade, or-

    2- Replace it. Though it looks formidable, this boiler is built in sections. Once a licensed asbestos contractor removes the old insulation, a demo crew can break the boiler down and remove it piece by piece.

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  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320
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    Having worked on more than a few,

    It is my understanding the Kriebel system was in fact merely vapor, not vacuum. Unless field modified to add vacuum, the Kriebel's I've seen were 3-pipe variation/form; 1)steam up, 2)air out and 3)condensate return.

    Assuming the boiler is properly sized, a modulating natural gas burner was available from Power Flame and a few others. Oil? I doubt it. "Step mod" would be a good choice if it has to be oil. Both big players make them. Beckett and Carlin.

    Matching the nozzle firing rate to the standing EDR rather than the existing boiler - which is probably oversized - would help as well.

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  • Robert Sisk
    Robert Sisk Member Posts: 7
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    That's a Mills

    Yes, I knew that much and its still running efficiently at full load. Recent measurements of stack temp and CO2 indicated 83% so I don't think replacing it would be cost effective. The question is can I gain efficiency by changing the mode of operation to try and tqake advantage of the Kriebel system.
  • Robert Sisk
    Robert Sisk Member Posts: 7
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    It is a vacuum system as well

    Check out the Kriebel 1910 patent info listed in the library section of this site. Every raidator in my house has the "baffler" or check valve on the dry return.
  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320
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    Semantics?

    All steamers have the potential to create vacuums, the outrageous collapse of steam back to water makes that so. However, the term vacuum also implies vacuum pumps. The old Vari-Vac being a classic example of a mechanically induced vacuum by mechanical means - not the simple physics of what happens all the time with any steam system when the boiler turns off.

    The baffler "check" is not there to create a vacuum (although it can and frequently does) as much as to prevent back-feeding of steam, air and condensate and over-riding the setting of the inlet valve - in those instances when pressure differentials might induce steam to travel through the "back door" into a rad already controlled by the inlet valve, which are typically a "vari-valve" usually made in Philly...

    Having worked on a few Kriebel systems, I never saw the device noted in a patent from this site's archive actually installed on them. I suspect the device was an option, not fundamental to Kriebel's in general. It was my experience, the baffler/check was part of what made a Kriebel system a Kriebel, not the device noted in the library. If you do have the vacuum inducer part on your system, I would be very surprised. A photo of that component would be of great interest, should you in fact have that version.

    We completely restored a Kriebel system in Upper Montclair with great results after a local plumber decided to remove a few "defective" bafflers and tried Danfoss valves; a mistake that rendered the affected rads insensitive to any real radiator control via the previously adjustable inlet control valve

    A very simple fix was developed. You might want to contact Palmer Heating in Clark, NJ for further info. They specialize in steam, vapor, vacuum and common low pressure heating systems, both residential and commercial.

    The owner happens to be my son. I retired a few years ago.

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  • Jim Bennett
    Jim Bennett Member Posts: 607
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    I lightened up....

    the picture. Nice looking boiler! Someone has taken very good care of it.

    Jim

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Robert Sisk
    Robert Sisk Member Posts: 7
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    I have installed both a vaporstat and two Gorton #2's so I think I've done everything I can to make the existing hardware work as an efficient vapor system. Now I want to see if I can get it to work as an efficient vacuum vapor system. What kind of burner will allow it to make steam at sub-atmospheric pressures to extend times between full burn cycles?
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