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Dan's books and random thoughts - questions.

DavidK_2 Member Posts: 131
I live in a 1938 cape. Single pipe steam. Reboilered about 22 years ago (just before I moved in - Dunkirk blue circle - apparently the old one split and the low water valve flooded the basement - the new one has no on demand water fill. I drain and refill a couple of times a year). Everything seems to be working fine. Knock on wood. I actually prefer to add water as needed (about once a month) so I have a reason to go down and check on it. The neighborhood is mixed - some single pipe, some two pipe, some hot water. One builder but it looks like they used many heating installers. Nobody around anymore really seems to know much about these old systems.

I ran into this site when looking for more information about gas fired single pipe steam systems. I was very close to buying the three book "Steamy Deal!".

But by the time I added it to my cart, payed tax, and shipping it was getting close to my $100 lets think about this limit.

My house has been remodeled a few times (again, before I moved in). There is no radiator in the bathroom, or the kitchen. But there are three radiators in the basement - I assume at least two of them came from where there is no radiator now. Now I've got this crazy idea that perhaps I could add heat to the bathroom and family room addition (comes off from the back of the kitchen) - maybe using the radiators in the basement, maybe buying "new" ones that better fit the remodeled space. As near as I can tell the outlets on the main header still exist, they were capped with vents (maybe the vents that came from the radiators?)

Will Dan's books give me the information I need to be able to do this? I have limited plumbing experience. I have always been able to do whatever I try, but I like to know how to do it before I start - and I need a fall back plan.

I'm guessing I decide where to put the radiators, then get some iron pipe, and thread it all together - sounds easy, but I'm sure it is not that simple. Or maybe it is (assuming I got pitch correct). . .

Will Dan's books fill in the gap? Is there one that you particularly think will help me, or should I just go for the package? (I was thinking perhaps "the lost art" would be a good starting place.) In addition to the "higher level" overall picture stuff, I would also benefit from apprentice level "here is how you work with iron pipe" information.

I'm also curious about the option of using the steam boiler to heat an in floor radiant system (although that would give up one of the best features of my current system - no pumps required - I can run it for a couple of days on a car battery). Right now, if we lose power I still have heat and hot water, and I like it that way . . .

Anyway, thanks for reading,


Edit - if you in, or near, the 518 area code, and know steam, please feel to contact me :)


  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,078

    Dan's books will give you just about any answer you need..the rest just comes with experiance.
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,289

    Before I start anywhere else, I really recommend buying the books -- almost everything you will ever need to know to troubleshoot and maintain steam heat is in there somewhere.  I realise the total in the cart might look a little high, but it really isn't, not for three very fine technical (but not formidable -- they're easy reading) books.  Most of those of us who have them, furthermore, figure they've saved us their own cost two or three times over at least!

    That said, piping steam isn't all that hard, but there is a learning curve involved.  You can almost certainly use the odd radiators you have around, provided they don't leak.  I wouldn't even try to reuse any old air vents, though -- get good (not big box store, but good) new ones.

    The pitch, size and arrangement of the piping are all critical factors -- and all explained in "The Lost Art...".  And they can, very easily, be done wrong.  On the other hand, it is just as easy to do it right, if you know what right is -- and the books do cover that.

    As to the mechanics of plumbing with iron pipe: threading pipe isn't that hard to do, and pipe threaders aren't hideously expensive (they aren't cheap either, but what is?).  You do not need a power threader -- a manual one will do.  Nor do you need one that will take more than 2" pipe; if you're working bigger than that, you're really not in even extended DIY territory any more.  I would, however, suggest that you get some extra pipe and fittings and practice some both assembling pipe and threading it -- and then checking for leaks.  I've not seen any good "apprentice level" written information; the way I learned, and the way I dare say most of us did, was by doing it -- and spoiling some pipe in the process, from time to time.

    As to heating a radiant loop off a steam boiler, it can be done and actually is rather frequently done, although you do have to be sure that you have the capacity in the boiler for it.  And it does sacrifice any ability you might have had to run off a car battery!  It is a little tricky though, both in terms of installation and control wiring.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • DavidK_2
    DavidK_2 Member Posts: 131

    I think I'll no longer consider radiant floor heating - though it is appealing since the radiator would be hidden :)

    Do all three books deal with single pipe systems - that is my only interest for now.


  • Books

    All three books cover one pipe steam heating ( I have 1 pipe) and practically every other aspect of residential steam heating. Get the books! Mine have paid for themselves a hundred times over!   Probably the best investment I 've ever made!

    - Rod
  • SteamHeat
    SteamHeat Member Posts: 159
    If you have to economise.

    I have all the steam books from the website. Every one of them is useful, particularly if you are undertaking a major project.

    If you want to limit your expenditure then get "We Got Steam Heat" and "The Lost Art Of Steam Heating." Most of the useful info is in these two. I have gotten valuable info from all of the books, but these two have the most info for my purposes. Your mileage may vary. That said, I felt I got enough out of the other books to keep them all. It was worth the investment. "If you think education is expensive, consider the cost of ignorance."

    Hope this helps.
  • DavidK_2
    DavidK_2 Member Posts: 131
    think I'll go with

    The Steamy Deal!

    Thanks for your feedback
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