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This was one up on Chicago's northside...very little space for working near the boiler and anywhere else...so it was a regular process of rotating materials from the boiler room to outside to another storage area. Parking was fun too....being right near a major hospital. On the positive side, I stayed in a nice local hotel that was a short 10 minute walk to the jobsite. I bet I was a bit of a sight coming in every evening covered with rust and debris!
We started out with an evaluation of the system after the owner''s had been dealing with years of uneven heating and high fuel bills. They were looking seriously at taking out all or most of the steam and installing hi velocity heating and cooling. The building is an antebellum structure, probably originally a single family home that was enlarged and converted to a 2 flat in the early 1900's. Beautiful stonework on the exterior and much of the original decorative plaster on the interior. It would have been a crime to knock holes into walls and ceilings to install the ductwork.
When we began digging into the system, we found many of the usual culprits.....undersized main venting, oversized and incorrectly piped steamer, and a 21 foot long cast iron baseboard piped as a two pipe but both supply and return tied directly into the original single pipe steam riser. I guessed that was the case before we even pulled off the baseboard to examine the piping. We also found some extensive attic spaces that were causing very heavy heat losses in the chilliest areas that also had the largely useless baseboard.
Since the boiler was about 40 years old, oversized (320,00 input) and mispiped, the owner decided to replace it with the new (175,000 input) Burnham that was sized to handle some extra radiation that might be installed later for heating another floor. I'll be heading back to install a radiator to replace the baseboard and we'll see how the spaces heat after the insulation and sealing work is done before we install another radiator.
After the system gets some run time and cleaning, the main vents will be upgraded and new adjustable Hoffman 1A''s will get installed to help balance the system. Rebuilding the top of the chimney and installing a stainless liner is in the works too.
Even without a good boiler cleaning, the boiler steamed very nicely with the oversized 3 inch header and system riser. We had it running a good hour and the system heated silently.... a very good sign.
The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)
Chicago's Steam Heating Expert
Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help