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Help finding professional near Detroit, MI

Hi everyone.

I am interested in finding a professional to take a look at my combination one-pipe, two-pipe system. My immediate problem seems to be the conversion burner which has a magnetic diaphragm gas valve (Bryant Model #1C634) that keeps cycling on and off when the thermostat is calling for heat. I can't find a replacement part for it. If I can fix it cheap and easy for now that may be all I do, but I am considering a new boiler and general overhaul to get it back operating properly. My system has many ailments and the boiler is a conversion which is very inefficient (my basement gets toasty when the heat is on). Other ailments are a cold 2nd floor (radiators never get hot before the thermostat kicks off) and water hammer which I have silenced by plugging certain radiator air vents just for some peace and quiet. Anyway...I want someone like you guys to work on my system...especially if I go for the gusto!!! Thanks for the help.

Comments

  • motown steam pro?

    did you try "find a professional" on the control bar above?

    even if you can only find an old wrench jockey who can read dan's books available from the shop here, we can help you get'r done!--nbc
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    I tried but

    the closest pro I could find was Cleveland. I will try them to see if they will travel, but I was hoping someone on the wall would know someone in the area.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,566
    ancient steam pro needed

    maybe there could be a retired steam pro in your area able to correct any problems.--nbc
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,566
    ancient steam pro needed

    maybe there could be a retired steam pro in your area able to correct any problems.--nbc
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    That's a good idea

    What is a good way to go about finding old pros? Start calling companies?

    By the way, here is my beauty...

    The last 2 pictures show the conversion burner. It is a Bryant...don't know how old. The last picture shows the magnetic diaphragm gas valve that I am having problems with it switching on and off when the t-stat is calling for heat.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,637
    Have you considered

    simply replacing the entire boiler? Your efficiency would be much better, and repairs wouldn't be an issue. Here's a pic of one of the more-efficient gas-fired steamers out there. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    Yes

    I am considering it for sure. I just don't know if I am ready to spend that kind of money right now. What's the ballpark price of a new system like that?
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,566
    old gas valve

    why not jumper the thermostat connections, to simulate a call for heat, and see whether the valve behaves in the same way?--nbc

    [url=http://www.peerlessboilers.com/Default.aspx?TabId=171]http://www.peerlessboilers.com/Default.aspx?TabId=171

    maybe one of these peerless distributors knows an old steam mechanic..

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  • Not the smartest thing

    I`ve seen you post NB-C!



    How could you even suggest he repair this junk? It came-over on the ARK,,, do yourself a favor & take Steamheads idea :-)



    Some of us have better things to do than fit gages on radiators that serve no purpose,, then sit there  & watch them while drinking coffee,,,, sheesh!
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    edited October 2009
    Well

    don't be hard on NBC. I'm the one that said I didn't have the money to do a replacement right now. I know it's junk but it keeps the family warm until I can replace it....which may be sooner than Iater since I don't hear many recommendations on fixing it.



    So...why Peerless? If I start shopping around what are the brands to look for? -Chris
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,566
    boiler brands

    the boiler brand is less important than the qualifications of the installer, and the availability of a manufacturers rep, with parts stockage

    once you have found someone knowlegeable, you can go through the comparison of repair vs. replace. the key point is: does it lose much water in the heating season. if it does not appear to leak [after a thorough examination], then you can make up a list of things to do in order of priority.  naturally having to do too many things at once could cost as much as a new boiler-that is the gamble. however, if a new gas valve, and/or burner will give you a few more years of life [at maybe a cost of 10-20 % of new boiler replacement, then it might be worth it. maybe the burner that is replaced now could also fit on the new boiler in a few years.

    any piping replaced now should also take into account the eventual boiler replacement to come in the future.

    the upside of replacement could be a major decrease in fuel usage/cost. your present boiler may not be the right size for your system.

    while you are looking at things, make sure the flue is tight,  so all of you also make it through those extra years!-nbc
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    thanks nbc

    I am going to start researching to find a pro. I'm sure I will have more questions later once i decide what to do so I will post again! Thanks -Chris
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    OK.....

    so I ordered the lost art book. But in the meantime, first thing is how do you size the boiler to your house? And, are there any gas fired steam boilers on the market that meet the 90% eff rating and qualify for the 30% tax credit? I have been researching new boilers by:

    Peerless - Series 63

    Smith - GB200 & 250

    Weil-McLain - EG Series

    Dunkirk - Plymouth Steam II Series

    Crown - Bermuda Series

    Any other general comments on these models would be appreciated???
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,637
    edited October 2009
    They're all atmospheric-type boilers

    which are less efficient than wet-base, power-burner units. The difference is about 6%. The one in the earlier pic is a Smith G-8. Here's another, a Slant/Fin Intrepid. Both can be fired with oil or power-gas burners, and these combinations have full factory sanction and support.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Look around "Off the Wall"

    Hi- Glad to hear you have ordered "The Lost Art..."  You will find that it is a huge help. Also when you have a question it maybe helpful as we can refer you to a page or diagram. While you are waiting for its arrival you might want to look around to what is referred to as "Off the Wall"  as there is a lot of good information available.   ("On the Wall" refers to this forum and " Off the Wall" refers information on  the rest of this website) Check out Resources and Systems tabs at the top of this page.

    Here are a few links which might be of interest to you:

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/236/Homeowners/1490/How-to-have-a-boiler-replaced-without-getting-steamed

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/11/Hot-Tech-Tips/144/Boiler-Sizing

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/11/Hot-Tech-Tips/128/A-Steam-Heating-Primer

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/11/Hot-Tech-Tips/186/How-to-replace-an-old-steam-heating-boiler

    Here's a good video on Near`Boiler Piping:

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/107/Steam-Heating/118/Steam-boiler-near-boiler-piping



    I would suggest you pay particular attention to Steamhead's recommendations.

    as he is a very experienced "Steam Pro".
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    Wet-Base

    Thanks Steamhead. So what's the differnce with wet-base?

    I see a Smith 8-Series which i assume is the G8 and I see the Slant/Fin. Both are oil-fired though. Can that be changed at the factory to gas-fired?
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    quick links

    Rod, thanks for all the links to make my life easier! - Chris
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,637
    They are normally

    sold as oil-fired units, but the factory either can ship them with gas burners or will approve certain models of gas burners for use with them. On the Smith, the Carlin EZ-Gas is the only approved burner, while the Slant/Fin is approved with the EZ-Gas, the HeatWise SU or the Midco EC gas burners. All are good units. Midco is the manufacturer located closest to you (Chicago) so that might be the best option.



    We'll see this type of boiler more often as efficiency standards go up.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    First quote

    OK, so I had my first guy in to quote a new boiler and getting all the radiators working correctly. Overall he seemed knowledgable and was aware of Heating Help and Dan's books so I think he was experienced. He was not the installer though he had done it in the past. A couple questions for you guys...

    1) My system is combination 2-pipe and 1-pipe. For the (3) 2-pipe rads, there is no trap or orifice and they all have air vents. The guy mentioned that 2-pipe rads should have traps and no air vents. Is this correct? And can we add a trap below the floor line on the return and it will function correctly?



    2) I asked him about venting the main. He said for my system it wouldn't need it and all control of the rads could be handled through the vents or traps on the rads. I was concerned that we would be able to get the rads heating correctly. If the main is not too long, does this seem reasonable? I still have rads within a couple feet of the boiler and main is ~25-30ft to last rad and a riser that heads to the 2nd floor (another ~12ft up)? I can get exact measurements if needed.

    Thanks for helping. -Chris
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,566
    aware of "the lost art.."

    but did he ever read the book?

    on 1-pipe systems, main vents must  be installed for quick response, and economy.

    on 2-pipe radiators, no radiator vents should be installed. were there traps before? if not, then how was the air let out? there may have been some sort of orifice in the inlet, to let only the amount of steam in which can be condensed, and no more; perhaps now lost somehow.

    if you don't have main vents, you are relying on the gas co to push your air out. in your contract with him, you could get him to agree to install  any needed main vents later [supplied by you] at no labor charge.--nbc
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    edited October 2009
    traps

    There definitely are no traps or orifices on the 2-pipe rads now or since I've been in the house (10 yrs). 2 of the 2-pipe rads work fine without noise. 1 of them bangs and it is at the end of the main. However, the riser to the 2nd floor is just before this rad and the upstairs rads are both 1-pipe. And it looks to me like the pitch of the main is wrong between the upstairs riser and this rad, sending the return water from the upstairs to the end of the main and towards this rad and probably causing the hammer.

    Anyways, i've attached a schematic of my system and have a question about a portion of the return piping which is shown in the first picture. What is this?

    -Chris
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,637
    edited October 2009
    Your 2-pipe section might be

    a "2-pipe, air-vent" setup. This is how they did 2-pipe before (and sometimes after) radiator traps and water seals came out.



    If there is a shutoff valve on the return as well as the supply to each radiator, it's 2P/AV.



    And how is that coil by the stairs piped into the system?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    I knew you'd ask that...

    I tried to markup the picture but was having trouble so I just put it up. The larger pipe to the top left coming into the coil is the main. The other end of the coil is the return back to the boiler. The larger pipe going up is a riser to a 1st floor rad and the return is just behind it.



    There is a shutoff on the supply to each rad, but not the return.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,637
    Are there any air vents

    on the return lines?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    just one

    near the boiler. Here is a schematic of my system.
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    Any ideas???

    So any ideas on what this interesting coil is? Here is a better schematic of my system to show how it is piped in. -Chris
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,637
    edited October 2009
    Someone wanted to heat the basement

    that's all I can figure.



    If you want this to work right, you'll have to keep the steam from getting into the dry returns. This means using traps or orificing radiator valves on the 2-pipe rads and the coil, or venting at the rads rather than the dry return.



    If the basement doesn't need to be heated, the coil can be removed. Don't scrap it, those return-bends can be hard to find! Since the main pitches down towards the coil, you'll have to drip the main in some way. The easiest way would be a 4-foot-deep loop seal that discharges into the dry return at least 1 inch below the level of the steam main. Install a steam main vent before the loop seal.



    Then you can either have a pro install traps on the 2-pipe rads and plug the air vent holes on them, or remove the dry return vent, plug its hole, and run it as a 2-pipe air-vent system.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    4 foot deep loop seal?

    I don't need the heat in the basement so I will probably remove it. I like the idea of turning it into a 2P/AV system to avoid having to put traps in. How does the steam stay out of the dry return though with this type of system? I haven't found anything on this type of system in my lost art book yet. Can you give me some more detail on what the loop seal is, how it functions and where it goes in the system? Do I need it regardless of whether I remove the coil or not?

    -Chris
  • Loop Seals

    Info on Loop Seals in  "The Lost Art of Steam Heating"    Chapter 7 - Page 87-88,  Page 100
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    chapter 7

    Thanks Rod! Will read more and then come back to the wall....
  • ceikey
    ceikey Member Posts: 60
    Right Size?

    I'll come back to the loop seal later cause I still have questions...

    I'm sizing my boiler for the 278 sq ft of EDR in my system. In the lost art it talks about a safe approach for sizing by using a 1.5 factor (instead of the 1.33 built in factor). My piping is pretty intact and I don't have any extra runs that have been capped off over the years. Should I still use this 1.5 factor? I don't want to oversize the boiler. It pretty much means a difference in one boiler size from most manufacturers.   -Chris
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,637
    If the pipes are insulated

    I'd use the built-in 1.33 factor. No need to add more.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
This discussion has been closed.