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Burnham Mega Steam install?

V8toiletV8toilet Member Posts: 71
Follow the recommended installation diagram from Burnham's boiler manual. The only thing I would do is go above and beyond what Burnham recommends for riser and header size. You may want to just install the largest size riser that will fit into the boiler sectional casting or at least go the next pipe size up. If Burnham recommends a 2" riser and header than increase the size to 2-1/2". This will slow the velocity of the steam coming out of the boiler and help keep the steam quality good and dry. A drop header is also better too but not absolutely necessary. A drop header will help remove any unwanted water vapor that gets carried up into the header with the steam if it gets that high.

Much of this is covered in Dan's books in great detail. The "Lost Art of Steam Heat" is a must read book for anyone who wants to know as much about their steam system as possible.

When sizing a boiler you have to match the boilers ability to produce steam to the radiations ability to condense it + about 33% for the piping as well. If you don't match the boilers EDR (Equivalent Direct Radiation) to the radiation in your house or if the contractor doesn't do this properly than you could run into major problems. Doing a heat loss calculation for a steam system won't help you size your boiler unless you plan to change all the radiation in the house to fit the homes heat loss.

As the others have said above you should insulate all your steam pipes with at least 1” fiberglass insulation and you have to make sure that you vent your main lines and any long risers as well individually if you want that steam system to be quick and efficient as possible. There is a venting capacities balancing chart you can buy from this website that will help you size the correct vents for all of your radiation and mains. It’s well worth the $10 or so it costs and if I’m not mistaken some or all of that money goes to charity anyway.


  • BillyBilly Member Posts: 6
    Burnham Mega Steam install?

    I may not do this install myself, but I am trying to understand it better. Here is my situation. I had a 70 year old oil steam unit that was 2000 lbs. when I finally removed it. It may have been 10% efficient at best. Most of the heat ran up the chimney. When I separated the sections, the bottom 2" connections were rusted with sediment almost solid.
    My house is 2600 sf. I did a heat loss and came up with 46,000 btu's. EDR calculation came out to 300 sf (72,000 btu). The boiler I think I need is the Burnham Mega Steam 396. What other calculations do I need to take into account. Is this too small of a unit? Also, I have attached a diagram I created to understand the supply and return.
  • That is

    an amazing diagram Billy . What program did you use ? I love the shadow detail .

    The old boiler was 2000 lbs ? How much oil did you burn a season ? Get ready for a shocking drop in fuel use . Match the Mega with your load and you'll be purrin' away . I'd add swing joints to the 2 boiler risers coming out of the Mega . Even better , use a drop header . Burnham has diagrams on how to do it . And make sure you size the boiler main according the specs , that's a very important detail overlooked by many pros . Do all 3 steam mains have return pipes connected to them ? Are all 3 pipes pitched down away from the boiler ?
  • Steamhead (in transit)Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    I'll second both points

    the MegaSteam and your drawing ability are both first-rate.

    Also insulate the steam pipes if you haven't already, and install properly sized main vents. You won't believe the savings.

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  • tim smithtim smith Member Posts: 2,226
    I will 3rd the kudos on the drawing

    Incredible drawing of that Billy. Tim
  • BillyBilly Member Posts: 6

    Thank you all for the compliments. The program is Autodesk 3dmax 2009. It's overkill for this diagram but we use it for architectural visual communication.
    Nice observation on the condensate return. There are in fact 3 returns. I forgot to draw them in. And yes the main supplies do slope AWAY from the boiler. I actually had a plumber give me an estimate last week and he said my pipes are sloping the wrong way. He said they should be sloping towards the boiler...he's not hired. He also said I should have a 150,000 btu system without taking one measurement of a radiator.
    Great suggestions Ron Jr. I will absolutely apply your advice. I did see the drop header diagram. What is the purpose/benefit to this? Also, all my supply pipes are 2" and my returns are 1 1/2". The header USED to be 3 or 4", b ut that's gone now and the Burnham diagram recommends 2". So the main would be 2" and the supplies would be 2" as well. Is this a problem?
    So back to my main question. What is and how do I calculate load? I had seen somewhere a multiplier for loss as well.
    The Burnham boiler I chose creates 396 sqft of steam. I'm not sure if I chose correctly.
    Thank you all for your help and compliments.
  • black_goldblack_gold Member Posts: 11
    nice drawing!

    Pretty cool diagram you drew there! Sounds like the other posts covered the swing joints on the header and the possibility of the dropped header. There are only two other comments I can think of:
    First the 396 model is the right pick if you have 300 square feet of radiation, and it sounds like you know your stuff, so I won't question that number.
    Second, I bought a kit (I think it came from Burnham) that had all the near boiler piping pre-cut and threaded. A big box of tee's, nipples, and unions and it even included a wye fitting for the hartford loop - you don't see those too often! It was like putting together a Lego kit. I only had to cut two nipples to connect to the existing system.
    I ran a stack of about 370 which was almost 200 degress less than the beast I took out.
    Sounds like you are off to a great start, post a picture of the system once you are finished! Better hurry uo there, it's getting chilly out!
  • hvacfreakhvacfreak Member Posts: 439
    I'm no steam man...

    ...but I do know a few ( and I can't sleep ) , lol.

    1) The drop header insures that liquid water stays in the boiler , and dry steam is sent through the mains to the radiators.

    2) The square ft. EDR is directly associated with the connected load ( radiation )...see Dan's book " The Golden Rules " or " Lost Art " for EDR ratings for old CI radiators. There will be a " loss factor " for the boiler rating I'm sure , and I don't know what that is at this time.

    3) Pay Steamhead to do your may need to put him up in a hotel , he may require first class dining , but whatever the cost...if you want a CORRECT job , that's the guy to do it. I am an HVAC tech ...22 years in the trade , I understand alot of things , P , PI , PID controls and what that means , fab duct from flat metal , install duct , copper , screw pipe , any control wiring , etc. Oil burners or steam install , I refer to " All Steamed Up " in Baltimore. Even to pay for his stay , you will get that back in the first year I'd bet , he is that good.
  • BillyBilly Member Posts: 6

    I know it is getting chilly. I'm waking up to 37 in northern new jersey these days. But it warms up quick.
    I don't really know what I'm doing but thanks to these forums and the people that contribute to them, I'm learning. Very interesting stuff I might add.
    Swing joints, dropped header, insulation on supply and yes I did see the "Near Boiler Pipe Kit" that Burnham has. I will do all of the above.
    Thank you all so much.
  • Matthew GrallertMatthew Grallert Member Posts: 109

    Mega steam, great boiler and it will make a quality water conversion in the future.
  • BillyBilly Member Posts: 6

    Ok, thank you all for everything. I've updated the 3D diagram. I also came across G.W. Gill's web site and his photos were unbelievably helpful in further understanding the piping. He also over-sized the drop headers. It looks like he buffs the steel pipes to a glow. Very nice work.
    Next I need to learn everything about venting.
    Where does the term "Dead Men" come from? One of the best names and logo I've seen for a trade. Wish I was a steam guy so I could wear that patch.
  • BillyBilly Member Posts: 6

    BTW, yes the old boiler was 2000 lbs. I know because I took it to the scrap yard. Here are some pics.
  • Reminds me of when

    I was young and breaking down boilers.
  • TomTom Member Posts: 5

    Any thought of keeping the pipe full dia. as it drops from the header to the return. reducing at the end of the header will cause it to fill with water till it can spill over the reducer. May not matter in a drop header???
  • gerry gillgerry gill Member Posts: 2,669
    thanks Billy..

    that is an awesome drawing job you it a hard program to learn?

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  • BillyBilly Member Posts: 13

    Hello Gerry, great web site and awesome work.
    It is difficult to learn but the worst part is it's $3000-$4000 dollars. This is the program they use for hollywood special effect. Like I said, it is overkill for a piping diagram. Try downloading "Sketch-Up" from Google. It's free and VERY easy to learn. You won't get the same shading but you could work through piping layouts very easily.
    GERRY...while I have your ear...I am trying to find out what this is exactly (your photo) I thought it was called a swing joint. Apparently it's a flange union. My questions are:
    What is a swing joint?
    Why use a flange union instead of a standard union?
    Where do I get this stuff since my supply houses don't even know what they are?

    I've attached another image of my supply list/diagram.
  • gerry gillgerry gill Member Posts: 2,669
    Billy, the ''assembly'' of elbows

    creates a ''swing joint''..a swing joint is composed of more than one elbow fitting to allow expansion..its not a ''single'' fitting but a technique of putting the fittings together..hope that makes some sense..its easier to do and show than to describe..we like flange unions because the ground joint of a regular union is about a 1/4'' bump..or another way to look at it is many times you'd need a 1/4'' play in the pipes to use a standard union..a flanged union can be slid sideways with no play in the pipes..obviously in a drop header a standard union would always work just as easily because of the swing joints above, but i'm an old navy guy and we used flanges in the navy so i'm just kind of partial to them..i would think if you gave the supply house a picture they would know what a flange union is..they may call it by a different name..seems the names of stuff changes from one part of the country to another.

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  • BillyBilly Member Posts: 13

    AH. Ok. I fully understand. I was totally confusing them both for something else. I thought it was some kind of linearly adjustable union. Thank you so much. I was chasing a phantom.
  • ChipsChips Member Posts: 33

    Billy, thanks for the tip on Sketch-Up it looks like a great program. Where did you find the pipe fittings plug-in.
  • BillyBilly Member Posts: 13

    I made the pipe fitting in the 3d program. The entire diagram started just to understand sit better. I quickly built the fittings in 3d at estimated sizes - not accurate sizes. I then realized how great it would be to have exact sizes and get accurate sizes for nipples and so forth.
    You can either create a library of fittings yourself or check with Google Sketch-up libraries to see if anyone has done that. I will look as well and let you know. I will also see if I could export the fittings I made into Sketchup...but they're not accurate.
    If I was doing this full time, I would definetly create a library of parts.
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