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odd steam heater configuration

I would leave them there, if there are no problems.



  • Chris_96
    Chris_96 Member Posts: 3
    no main valves on basement pipes

    I own a house with the original boiler still intact, a Peerless "1909 Series," built in 1930. I have been trying to compare the setup for our system to diagrams for conventional one-pipe steam systems and it just doesn't match.

    First, most diagrams seem to have one main pipe coming out of the boiler (the header), which then breaks down to different pipes spreading throughout the house. My system has two distinct sets of pipes coming out of the boiler, not one. Also, I've been looking for main vents on the pipes in our basement and can't find them at all. There aren't any on our pipes, period. The original system seems to have been built without these main vents, since I can't find any holes on the pipes which would accomodate a main vent. (However, there is a pipe coming straight up out of the boiler itself, which looks like an emergency steam release pipe. It's capped too. Could this be for the main vent?) FYI, the pipes are also configured without a Hartford loop.

    Could anyone give me some background info on this type of setup? I'm especially curious about the cut-in and cut-out settings for a system of this nature. Mine were set fairly high (cut in around 1.5 psi; cut out around 3 psi), and I suspect that I may have to turn these down.

    Our boiler is also ridiculously inefficient, much moreso than usual. I know that it needs cleaning/routine maintenance, but I was wondering if there is a way to install main vents on the system. We get a lot of spitting and gurgling during the winter, especially on cold days when the boiler is used more frequently and the water boils more quickly.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
  • a little history

    One pipe steam has evolved since it was first created. Initially, it was a coal fired system installed in a big building that didn't heat all of the rooms all year. It was replacing stoves in individual rooms with radiators with HAND OPERATED vents on them. want heat? Open a vent for a few minutes till steam arrived, then close the vent.

    There were no main vents, no balance, and the boiler was located between the chimney and the coal chute, with one big main running around the perimeter of the building.

    In the 30's, there was a coal strike. People converted to burning oil. With oil, you could heat as many rooms as you wanted to, night and day. Balancing systems became an option. Those long mains wouldn't do with a fire that started and stopped a few times each hour. Main vents were invented, along with the tap on the main to install them in. Adjustable automatic radiator vents were invented.

    Splitting the main into shorter, faster-filling mains became popular. Locating the boiler in the middle of the job helped balance.

    Boilers then had immense space inside them to allow the water to drop out of the steam BEFORE it left the boiler. You didn't need the external header to direct the water back into the bottom of the boiler then. Boilers were piped like yours, each main came right out of the boiler.

    New boilers can't be piped that way. A header will need to be built, when you change the boiler. Built correctly, they can save fuel over an incorrect installation. Your mains will tie into the new header individually.

  • Chris_96
    Chris_96 Member Posts: 3

    Noel -

    Thanks for your reply. Question for you - what PSI should my system be set at? My house isn't big (1500 sq ft., I think). Could you give a ballpark estimate here?

  • 1-2 psi

    That's the industry standard for designing 1 pipe steam systems.

    2 pipe can be even lower.

  • Chris_96
    Chris_96 Member Posts: 3
    cut-in and cut-out

    Noel -

    Thanks for the info! One more question for you - what are "cut-in" and "cut-out" settings on the pressuretrol? I think I have an idea what they mean, but more info would be helpful here. I also have my new cut-in and cut-out settings at: about .75 in. for cut-in and about 1 for cut-out settings. I suppose I could lower these a tiny bit (especially the cut-out setting), yes?

  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    Main vents

    can usually be added rather easily. You'll find this will make the system heat faster and more evenly, assuming the vents are properly sized.

    Measure the length and diameter of each steam main and we can tell you what you need.

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