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Need help in Denver, Co

George3 Member Posts: 9
I am a homeowner with a 2 pipe steam heating system that has issues - steam is slow or does not reach all the radiators. All the radiator traps in system have been replaced last year. The original boiler was replaced 10 y ago but it's piping does not make sense to me and some contractors that have seen it. The condensate return pipe connects back into the mains steam outlet above the boiler which does not make sense. Shouldn’t it go back into either the condensate tank or in the boiler but bellow it's water level where the Hartford loop is? It is also done all with copper pipes which I understand is not desirable for steam.

It seems to be hard to find a knowledgeable/experienced contractor on steam heating systems.

No one comes up if I do search in the Heating Help "Find Contractor".

Can anyone please recommend contractor in Denver Area to have a look at my system and recommend/repair what is needed.


  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,515
    mile-high steam problems

    can you post some pictures of the boiler piping for us to see?

    how is the air allowed to escape from the main pipes and boiler as steam is starting to rise?

    if you order some of the steam books from the shop here, it would increase your understanding of steam systems in general, and make it easier to explain things to a contractor whose own knowlege of steam may be hazy.--nbc
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,607
    Mark Eatherton...

    Is the man I would recommend. His post are all over "the wall".
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • George3
    George3 Member Posts: 9
    Boiler piping photos

    Thanks for you help!

    In the last 2 years I already ordered few books on seam heating from this site and have been educating myself.

    By searching "The Wall" with key word "Denver" I found both Dave Stroman and Mark Eatherton posting from my area. 

    Already contacted Dave and he was quick to respond and even looked at my system.  He agreed that there is a problem with the boiler piping and is currently working on a an estimate for me.

    I am posting few photos with my current boiler piping. 

    The system is vented at the end of the return pipe(near the ceiling above the boiler) before the condensate flows back at the inlet of the Main steam pipe. There is a second vent at the end of the Main pipe which circles the basement ceiling and returns  above the boiler and flows into the condensate tank.

     Your opinions are appreciated on how the return should be piped back to the boiler or the condensate tank.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,864
    Well at least

    someone put a Gorton #2 on that main. As for the rest of that piping- tear it out and start over. For a look at how it ought to be, go here:

    And if I had any money, I'd bet you do NOT need that condensate tank!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,010
    holy crapazoid batman!

    think theres enough copper pipe on that steamer?...there must be some serious tension placed on that block when that copper header expands!..Steamheads right!..

    start over..
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • Dave Stroman
    Dave Stroman Member Posts: 761
    Near boiler piping

    After looking at this system, holy crapazoid is right.  The condensate tank will not needed.  And someone with a briliant mind took the end of the condensate return and tied it back into the steam header!  And this has been installed for 10 years and still sort of heats the house.  He has had muliple "heating professionals" look at this who could not see any problems.  Sort of funny that this homeowner, armed with Dan's books, knew more than than they did.  If he has me do the work I will post a photo of a new dropped header.  Steel of course.

    Dave Stroman
    Dave Stroman
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Copper Crapazoid in Colorado

    When I see something like this I always have the urge to want to hunt down the guy that did this installation just to ask how on earth did he decide that the boiler piping should be configured this way? Why would one possibly consider the return should routed right back into the header? Possibly "perpetual motion" steam heating?

    It's also scarey that a lot of "heating professionals" didn't see anything wrong with this configuration. One thing for sure when it finally gets straightened out there will be a big improvement both from the economical and comfort standpoint.

    - Rod
  • Linum09
    Linum09 Member Posts: 1
    edited October 2012
    I have the Exact same Crapezoid in Denver

    I found this thread and thought I must have posted it! I live in Denver and have a boiler that was replaced about the same time, and my near-boiler piping looks exactly the same: leaky copper, no Hartford loop, un-needed condensate tank and pump. And it hasn't worked for crapola, either, in the 3 years I've had the house.

    I've had several supposed experts look at it, but have gotten different answers from all of them. I am giving Dave Stroman and/or Mark Etherton a call tomorrow!

    By the way, George; how did it turn out?
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,515
    Both by the hand of the same "master"?

    Please keep us informed as to how this system improves as it is replied, and we love pictures.--NBC
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,427
    You might want to use the

    "Contact User" feature if you want to get in touch with George. Some people drift away once we get their lives sorted out for them. We try not to take it personally. :-D
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Dave Stroman
    Dave Stroman Member Posts: 761
    Much more better

    Here is what the piping looked like when we were done.  The receiver tank was removed.  Now things work.
    Dave Stroman
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,864
    Looking good!

    now go help Linum09.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • George3
    George3 Member Posts: 9
    Its like a brand new steam system now

    Sorry for not updating you guys on my re-done boiler piping. Thanks everyone for your opinions and help. Special thanks to Dave Stroman and his guys for fixing my boiler mess in a very professional way. 

    After several days of initial boiler water skimming it had worked flawlessly ever since.

    I have also insulated the new piping and some of the old piping that did not have insulation. Overall these improvements resulted in about 20+% lower gas bill last winter.

    Some radiators that did not heat at all since when the boiler was incorrectly installed 13y. ago now in fact output so much heat that I had to turn them down. Some were in bay windows and were heating the ceiling and the poorly isolated roof above so much that last winter this created ice damming and leaks damaged my roof and ceiling. Now I am fixing my roof above the bay windows.  Isn't that funny how fixing one thing sometimes leads to odd problems. 

    Linum09 please contact me if you need help or advice.

    I know how difficult it was for me to find knowledgeable person in Denver who really understands steam systems.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356

    From a relative steam newbie: What's the drain in the middle of the header for?

  • Dave Stroman
    Dave Stroman Member Posts: 761
    Steam header port

    The port in the middle of the steam header with the ball valve on it is for testing steam traps.  We put it on per the owners request.  Not a bad idea. 
    Dave Stroman
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