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convert steam heat to hot water system

Tombig_4 Member Posts: 45
I live in a 2,700 sqaure foot house built in 1874 that is presently heated by steam. It is time to replace the oil fired boiler. I am trying to decide wheter to remove the steam radiators and replace the entire system with a Viesman hot water system or keep the steam radiators. I have always been happy with the steam heat and like the look and feel of the old radiators, but I want to be efficient. It would cost approximately $10,000 to convert versus $7,000 for a new steam boler. Any advise?


  • Steam to H.W. heating conversion

    The major factor in this decision is will the conversion pay back?

    You stated that heat is good and you like the old radiators better than the new type.

    Here is what is needed to propely evaluate the old steam system...

    How much will it cost to upgrade the steam system?
    1. Replace all old insulation with new 2" thick fibeglass insulation if needed.
    2. Replace defective vent valves and or steam traps where applicable and if needed.
    3. Recalculate the heat load and system start up loss to make sure the new steam boiler is sized correctly.
    4. size the boiler with out a steam coil to produce hot water.
    5. Install a gas fired instantaneous hot water heater capable of suppling 2.5 gpm h.w. at 120 degreesF. This is a little expensive but the savings on installing a smaller steam boiler and producing hot water on demand without heat loss from storage will pay for itself probably in two years.

    Replacing the stean system with a hot water heating system has its benefits.

    1. Check the integrity of the cast iron radiators. If the radiators can hold 30 psi water pressure with no leaks you can retain them and convert them to hot water..There is money saver if rasdiators are O.K.

    2. Replace all the steam piping with copper supply and return pipe.
    3. The piping design for this conversion should be a reverse return water heating system. Reverse return water heating systems are self balancing and allow air to flow through the system to its release point mor efficiently than direct return piping systems or loop systems.

    You have only one shot to pipe the water heating system properly and the extra cost is well worth the investment.

    I am a an old steam man and prefer steam to water heating systems. My prefernce is based on this precept, The installed steam system was designed and installed properly and not bastardized over the years by incompetant service people or home owners.

    I have no objections to people converting steam to hot water. I have a problem when consultants or contractors recommend the conversion without a proper system evaluation.

    Conversions can get very expensive if not designed and planned properly.

    Remember this fact if your home needs 100,000 BTUH to heat the house the house does not care wheather you use steam or hot water heat. You must also factor in to cost of fuel the cost of electricity to run the circulating pumps or pump.

    What ever your decision, use the gas fired instantaneous heater to produce hot water. The savings applies to both systems.

    Jacob Myron
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    We don't normally discuss prices here

    but does that figure cover a complete tear-out, repiping and all new radiators? I rather doubt it....

    And it doesn't address the disruption to the house, patching of holes etc.

    Keep the steam. If you'll be burning gas, the Smith G-8 is the most efficient. On oil, Burnham's MegaSteam is king, and it would be my choice for gas too if they offered it with a gas burner.

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
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