Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

How bad is my system?

RobD Member Posts: 1
I am trying to make my heating system as efficient as it can be and am scared that it might be a total mess. So i am posting photos to see what the pros think of the way my steam heat system is installed. I hope you can help or offer any advice. My first idea is to fully insulate pipes in basement. The images are of (closeup of the boiler, the pipe that goes upstairs along the basement ceiling, the return pipe [???thinking of replacing that because of corrosion???] and components upstairs like radiator, vent used and an insulated pipe going upstairs. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  • Old Steam system

    Hi Rob- These old steam systems are pretty robust. They were originally installed by what you 'll see referred to on this website as "The Deadmen" who were master craftsmen at the trade -Steam Heating .  Since your system was originally installed, if it is the typical system, there has been a lack of maintenance and "knuckleheads" have probably made modifications.  "Knuckleheads" are those people who work on steam systems and really don't have a clue to what they are doing.  The fact is that very few people, heating professionals and home owners really understand steam systems.

    All you now have to do is correct what the knuckleheads have done to your system and perhaps do some refurbishing. The good thing is these systems, as I mentioned, are robust (That's why they have lasted so long) and it's usually fairly easy to get them back to proper running order.

    The first thing you need to do is get Dan's books on steam heating. They are really a "must" for anyone with an old steam system. You want to get "We Got Steam Heat" http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Books/5/61/We-Got-Steam-Heat-A-Homeowners-Guide-to-Peaceful-Coexistence

    and also "The Lost Art of Steam Heating"


    They are also available as a package. Look in the "Store" at the top of this page for "A Steamy Deal". Dan's books are easy reading, humorous and packed full of facts and diagrams about steam heating. In a few evenings reading you'll understand your steam system much better. With the knowledge in the books you will then be able to diagnose and correct any problems in your system. My copies have paid for themselves a hundred times over. Steam heating is really comfortable and economical once you get the "bugs" out of it.

    Looking at the pictures of your steam system, could you post some more pictures of your boiler piping and the piping connections to the pipes above? take the shots from different angles showing the piping.  What problems are you having with your system?

    - Rod
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    just some thoughts

    check your pressure-should be as low as possible. under 1 psi is ideal. your pressuretrol may not be accurate at those low pressures so a good low pressure gauge is very useful [gaugestore.com 0-3 psi, or if you get a vaporstat at the same time get a 0-15 oz.].

    the "maybe a valve" is probably not big enough, even if it works, a gorton #2 would make a big difference.

    the make up water feed should be piped in further down the return line so as to give more protection against thermal shock.

    finally it looks like the return is coming in a little bit high, in relation to the waterline, and could cause waterline instability [at least that  happened to me!]

    dan's books will go into greater detail on  these things.--nbc
This discussion has been closed.