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Here are the pics as promised

BobbyC Member Posts: 96

Here are the pics of my current set up as promised and the gauges on the new boiler.  Install is happening today and I'll post pics of th new install.


  • Al Roethlisberger
    Al Roethlisberger Member Posts: 194
    edited October 2009
    Copper to Black Iron/Steel pipe, any issue?

    I hope I am not opening a "religious" can of worms, but like shown in the photos above, I do see a lot of professional installs mixing copper and black steel pipe, particularly in near boiler piping and retrofits and wondered if this was anything to be concerned about from a corrosion and water contamination perspective(again due to corrosion from electrolysis)?

    In my case where I'll be doing the near boiler piping retrofit myself, it would be quite a bit easier to use copper since I don't have large pipe diameter cutters and threaders handy.  So if there is a safe way to mix the two metals without compromising the steel/iron components in the system, I'd be interested to know.

    After reading through several archived threads on dielectric unions, etc. it seems that an acceptable replacement is a transition with brass and that the lower amount of free oxygen in a sealed FHW system doesn't tend to corrode the system as compared to piping in something like a drinking water system.

    So I don't know if I've already answered my own questions..... but was just wondering.


    Just a DIY'er trying to learn, and improve and maintain his converted ca 1929 overhead gravity hot water system since there is no one local that can.
  • Pictures

    Hi- I added some comments to your pictures.

    Picture #1  - I mentioned this before, ideally you would have separate risers to each main.

    Picture #2 - This is a "No-No" - The dry returns shouldn't join before they go below the boiler waterline. Normally they are extended to the floor where they join the wet return.

    As they are now they "cross feed". 

    - Rod
  • BobbyC
    BobbyC Member Posts: 96
    Great info Rod

    Thanks.  I talked to him about the returns and he agreed. He said they should only connect below the water line so I'm guessing I will see that fixed.

    I think he's gonna just use the one riser from the header.  Seemed a little apprehensive touching that old original piping.  how much difference will I see in performance from two risers from the header or the single one?
  • BobbyC
    BobbyC Member Posts: 96
    No Copper


    I'm not expert but I can tell you the consensus on this website is to not use copper.  Stick with the black iron if you can....
  • Single Riser

    The old riser setup  to the main  will probably be fine.  In pictures I've seen, a lot of steam pros do it this way and I'm sure if they expected problems they would have changed it.

    Theoretically it is better doing it with individual risers to each main  but in your case the riser pipe seems plenty big.  And of course it was probably done by "the Deadmen" and they knew what they were doing. Glad he agreed to the returns as that is  I would have been more worried about.

    - Rod
  • BobbyC
    BobbyC Member Posts: 96
    Sounds good

    Thanks Rod.  I'll post some pictures of the install once it's done and look for some advice on venting etc.. I do have a slight bang on the first floor somewhere but he mentioned taking a look at that.

    Much Appreciated....
  • in the last picture

    In that last picture, new boiler, pigtail loop in horz position ? For real or as a joke? Take pictures of whole new boiler/near pipings so we can see the new header, hartford loop as well the fittings for skimming... wondering if your installer as well you have the book called ' the lost art of steam system' ?
  • BobbyC
    BobbyC Member Posts: 96

    The gauges were just horizontal cause the boiler was just on the side.  It's in place now and 1/2 of the piping is done and the gauge is in the vertical position.

    I'll post final pics ASAP.

  • BobbyC
    BobbyC Member Posts: 96
    Day 1 Pics

    Day 1 Install Pics.. Comments?
  • Looks Good

    Looks like it is coming along. The height looks okay,  I see a spirit level on the top of the boiler so I imagine he's got the header`slope going toward the equalizer okay

    - Rod
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,566
    returns below the waterline

    not only below the waterline, but well below, such as at least below the LWCO cut-off point. any wild horizontals around the waterline level can temporarily hide water and lead to a "mysterious migration of water" as i had during the 1st 2 weeks of our new boiler, until i brought all the returns down to the floor.--nbc
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,566
    flue pipe

    see if the flue pipe, and elbow will fit before you go too far, as it looks tight--nbc
  • BobbyC
    BobbyC Member Posts: 96

    Seem like he has everything sloped the right way.  He said he did at least.  The riser from the boiler has some good height too.  He finished all the near boiler piping, hartford loop and returns yesterday and should have the water, gas and electric done today.  So all the black iron is done. 

    I got my skim valve on the side, two different tabs if I ever wanted to add a super store.

    I'll post final pics of the install and look for guidance on venting options.

    Thanks for the input Rod and Nbc....
  • brian_44
    brian_44 Member Posts: 59


    I'm curious as to the age and condition of your old boiler. Reason I ask is I see it was done in copper and I'm wondering if that is what "did it in" so to speak.  I've read (and do not disagree with anyone who says it) that copper anyplace above the boiler that carries steam is a big NO-NO...and I see your new system is being piped with the good stuff. However, I've received feedback from many in the field who have taken old boilers down that were piped in copper and say everything inside looked just fine and that there were no visual problems from the systems having been run with copper present above the water lines.  The biggest complaint I've heard of is copper pipe that wasn't properly sweated, so it leaked prematurely.

    MY installation looks great, except the only thing I didn't like was that it was piped in copper. I went toe to toe with the fellow installing it (it was a friend) and he assured me that if anything...ANYTHING...goes wrong he'll come back and fix it himself. (Even if it means getting me a brand new boiler!) 

    SO, (and anyone can comment on this...) I'm wondering if since it's a NEW boiler, is it in my best interest to pay to re-pipe it with cast iron? Do these side effects present themselves more in large commercial systems and not so much in residential?  I also wonder what Weil-Mclain would say? Would they void the warranty (nothing in the manual says that).

    Just curious...
  • Need Piping Photos

    Hi Brian-

        The reason copper isn't recommended is that  the expansion and contraction of the copper over time breaks the sweated joins. Copper pipe is very thin and steel pipe is much thicker. Think of twisting both back and forth, which is likely to break first?!

    Generally there isn't a problem with the copper affecting the boiler. However if copper was used it's a sure sign that the person didn't know much about steam and may have done something else that would affect the boiler.

    If you post some pictures of your boiler piping we can take a look at it for you as this is the place where most problems begin. Shoot them from all sides so that it takes in all the near`boiler piping. Shoot In high resolution then we can blow up the parts we need to look at and trace out the piping.
  • BobbyC
    BobbyC Member Posts: 96


    My old boiler was only 10 years old.  It was a Smith and everyone I spoke to said it should of lasted longer.  It started to leak above the water line between two cast sections.  The sections were at the end were the riser tap came up from the cast block and the copper was used.  One can not say for sure but when he broke the copper out it didn't look too good.  I think it might of been a combination of the copper, lack of maintenance, maybe ran dry (no water feeder) but I'm not an expert and these are only assumptions.  Most guys were adamant using black iron and one guy I spoke to wanted to use copper but was open to using black iron.  He was an older guy and I just think he didn't want to spend the time and the energy threading the black iron pipe and swinging the wrenches.  Copper is a little quicker and easier to install to my knowledge.

    I can feel your pain because I know you want to have the best install possible.  Your best bet, like Rod mentioned, is to post pictures of the install here and there are alot of steam subject matter experts that can provide sound advice.  I think making sure the near boiler piping is to mfg recommendations and designed in a way to optimize dry steam is most important but I'll let the pro's decide.

    Best of luck and I hope everything works out great. 
  • brian_44
    brian_44 Member Posts: 59
    Will post photos tonight...

    ...Even if I am a little bit nervous about what I may hear, but better to deal with any potential issues now. 
This discussion has been closed.