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Dig pit in basement?

Jonah Member Posts: 18
Hello. This forum seems give access to the true authorities on steam

heating, which is why I'm here. My wife and I bought a nice(cheap) old

house with a dead boiler. We can't stand the idea of paying oil fuel

prices and so have decided on coal instead. Our heating system is

one-pipe steam. There are few coal boiler manufacturers that have a

steam option, and of those one is far cheaper (yet reputable and well

reviewed) than the others.

But we have a problem, I think... The boiler size we need, which was

determined through edr calculations, is tall with a high nwl (50"). The

lowest wet return is 62" from floor and the lowest steam main is 72 1/2"

. I figured a dropped header would be necessary, but I understand the

header should be 24" above nwl? There is not even 24" from the top of

the boiler to the lowest(or highest) steam main!

What can be done? Do I need to dig a hole in my basement? Can I just

drop the header close to the top of the boiler and make sure it is

really big to allow space for both steam and all the condensate?

I have ordered "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" by Mr. Holohan, but until

it arrives I am at the mercy of people I can ask a million questions.

<a href="http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-reply/1239576/DIg-Bigger-Header-Both">Reply</a>

<a href="http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-edit-post/1239576/DIg-Bigger-Header-Both">Edit</a>


  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Coal Boiler

    Replied on the Main Wall

    - rod
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,934
    A pit

    may be the very best answer and, unless you are on rock, shouldn't be that hard to do.  You might have a problem with ground water at some seasons of the year, although it would seem unlikely.  If I read your dimensions correctly (including the conversation on the main wall) it would seem you might have to go down as much as 16 inches -- but that's doable if a pain in the neck.  In your situation I would be very much inclined to take my measurements from the water line, rather than the top of the boiler casing -- and just make sure that you maintain that water line.

    A drop header will help you get drier steam.  I would be interested to see what the boiler manufacturer has to say about the near boiler piping, though!  Let us know.

    How does this boiler control pressure?  Back in the day there were some nifty contraptions which related system pressure to draught -- usually a wondrously balanced arrangement of chains and bellows and counterbalances which opened the draught -- usually an under fire damper -- when pressure dropped, and opened it as pressure rose.  How does this one do it?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,934
    edited September 2011
    Sorry... double post

    now how'd I do that?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jonah
    Jonah Member Posts: 18
    There wasn't much

    in the installation instructions for steam. The only main difference I saw between the instructions for hot water system and steam was a single page showing and partially explaining the Hartford loop. There were no header size requirements, no warnings against any flow mistakes or anything. The company that makes these things is a smaller one, and the steam setup is not the norm with these I think. I spoke with their main steam man and he told me that he once had to pipe a header only six inches above the jacket(about twelve inches above nwl). He said it worked, but of course was not ideal. He told me that with a much oversized header I might get away without digging a pit. Personally I don't mind spending the extra time and effort if it will produce an ideal outcome vs. a screwy system.

    My basement does flood. There are actually channels formed in the 70 year old concrete floor all leading to a sump that drains to the storm drain in the street. This works, but of course is not ideal. If I do dig, I plan on forming up some 18 curbs all around the pit. Maybe a step up and down too.

    Is it crazy to even consider putting a large and expensive appliance into a pit in a wet basement, even if I go to extreme measures to keep out water?
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067

    It doesn't sound like their "steam man" knows much about steam.  The important dimension in the near boiler piping is getting the height on the risers, coming out of the boiler, high enough to dry out the steam, The header can go lower.  The "A" dimension is the one that you need to worry about.

    As for "the pit" - I'm wondering if you might have a problem with permitting from both the city and from your insurance company. Neither one likes a potential flood problem. You might want to check on this with both of them.

    Out of interest sake, how is the pressure controlled on this boiler?  The one we had when I was a kid had a blower for draft which shutoff along with the worm feeder when the set pressure / temperature was reached.

    - Rod
  • Jonah
    Jonah Member Posts: 18
    I hate to

    bring up a potential problem with either gov't or insurance. I they don't specifically require or ask, I don't worry or mention. That's as long as I have my own assurance everything I'm doing is safe, proper, etc.

    Now I'm not sure what the means of pressure control on the unit is. The whole thing, I think, just works on heat demand based on the thermostat. There's a large blower and then there's a smaller one that kicks on when the coal bed needs stoking, just enough to keep it alive if there's no call for more heat. The feeder is a sort of plate at the bottom of the hopper pitched toward the fire box that slides up and down, releasing the coal from hopper to it's fiery hell. I'm pretty sure the motor speed for that is simply based on the heat demand as well. But I'm really not sure about the pressure control...

    I'm sure that would make quite a difference at certain times of the heating cycle.


    I have been assuming that the thing works fine based on other reviews and comments made by customer who DID use it for their steam systems. I wonder how it'll stand up to "The lost Art of Steam Heating".
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Steam Boiler Safety

    While building codes and insurance requirements can be rather trying at times, on the other hand, they save a lot of people from death and injury. Even if the installation isn't actually inspected it is important to do it to or have it done "to code" so that you know it is safe.

    On a modern residential steam boiler there are:

    1.  A water sight glass which shows the water level in the boiler.

    2.  A  safety  valve which will release the steam pressure if it ever reaches 15 PSI.

          This is a last ditch device which hopefully will work and prevent the boiler from

          blowing up if the pressure controller fails.

    3.  A low water cutoff- If the water level in the boiler drops to a dangerous level, the low water cutoff instantly cuts off the fuel to the burner.  Having your boiler run dry results in an extremely dangerous condition.

    4. A Pressure control - Residential steam systems should be run at under 2 PSI and the pressure control shuts of the burner when the pressure reaches a maximum set point (below 2 psi) and then turns the burner on again when the pressure drops to a set turn on point.

    Modern steam boilers are very safe and trouble free. Proof of this is the age of many steam systems operating today which if human, could collect social security.

    Solid Fuels, like wood and coal, aren’t as easy to make safe.  In case of an emergency, you can’t shut off the fire instantly like you can with a gas or oil burner.   The heat produced by solid fuel is also much harder to control versus the precision metering of gas and oil.  While a cooler fire could just make you chilly , a fire that gets too hot can cause BIG problems very quickly.

    If I were considering installing a coal burning boiler I would want to know how exactly how the boiler manufacturer addressed  the above  numbered items and whether in fact they were adequate.  I wasn’t overly impressed by the comments you mentioned coming from the “steam expert” so if I were you I’d really want to check the whole thing out rather than go on some vague verbal recommendations.   I see a lot of potential “Pit Falls” (No pun intended)  with this type of boiler and one of the things I would consider if this was such good thing, why isn’t everyone doing it?  Believe me, we are all complaining about our fuel bills!

    - Rod
  • Jonah
    Jonah Member Posts: 18
    Of course the

    boiler isn't a huge pressurized cauldron with a pile hot coals underneath it. There is the sight glass, low water cut-off, and a "high pressure shut off" by the steam gauge. This is a pressure sensor that would kick of all blowers if pressure surged, right? They're standard on all boilers, I thought. At least this one in this picture I'll try to attach looks familiar to me. In the picture you may notice a "burner opening dual fuel only" and yes, we are getting the coal/oil option. There's a swing check at the bottom of the equalizer... I thought that any checks down there would be junked out before too long?

        Let me know what you think of the picture, as it is all piping info the company sent me.

    And maybe my book will be delivered today!
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    edited October 2011
    Boiler Drawings

    Hi- Actually it is a “a huge pressurized cauldron with a pile hot coals underneath it”. With gas or oil, it’s huge pressurized cauldron with a burner underneath it, which by shutting off the fuel removes the heat instantly.  Not so with solid fuel.

    Another problem I would worry about is if you cut off the air to a burning pile of coal,  you are then producing a lot of carbon monoxide gas. I would want to make sure my system, chimneys etc. was pretty darn tight and I had lots of carbon monoxide detectors

    Are these drawings all the installation information they provided you?  No pipe sizing and layout information?   Steam wise this is rather a screwy drawing. In the top drawing they have an header/ equalizer pipe which they call a “drain line” and at the bottom of the equalizer, where it goes back into the boiler, there is a check valve. This is a bit “screwy” as the reason equalizer pipes came about was to eliminate the need for a check valve. (See Page 62 in “The Lost Art...”) Also using a check valve increases the “A” Dimension you need to have by about 4 inches to 32 inches so you will have to add 4 inches to the depth of your pit.

    Another thing I would be concerned about is on the drawing they show the “water feed ” being introduced near the top of the boiler. Dumping cold water into a hot boiler ISN’T very swift. “New” water is normally introduced at the bottom of the equalizer where it has a chance to mix with the hot water and warm up before entering the boiler. Some of the pros even like to introduce water farther back from the boiler and they connect it to the return line, again with the idea of allowing the “new” water to be  warmed up first before entering a hot boiler.

    While using coal might initially seem like a good idea, my bet is that with the dual fuel option you will quickly tire of the hassle with coal and rely more and more on oil. The downside of this is you will be using a hermaphrodite boiler which probably isn’t very fuel efficient, at least oil wise.

    Modern oil burners have come a long way and the oil unit that is considered the most efficient by the pros, is the Burnham Megasteam. You didn’t mention whether you have natural gas available but if you do or think it will be available some time in the near future, there are other more flexible options available.

    The following is a link to the Burnham Megasteam I&O (Installation & Operation) manual.


    It’s interesting reading and gives you an idea of what sort of documentation you should have /be getting from a boiler manufacturer.  

    I realize that my previous experience with coal has probably prejudiced me towards it, however thinking it over I can’t see where the situation has changed that much to make it less of a hassle using it.  That, coupled with the installation hassle (digging pits etc.), plus questionable future efficiency and pay back, I would think you would be much better off with a “standard” boiler installation from a well known boiler company.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    - Rod
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    Cost of coal btu

    Hear-hear rod.

    Unless you have a coal-mine, or live next to railway tracks where the coal trains unload, I would doubt that any savings will be realised.

    Much better would be the tuning up of your present system to be as efficient as possible.

    With some reduction to the pressure, and increased main venting, you may well find a dramatic lowering of fuel consumption, as I did when I corrected all of the deferred maintenance, and knuckle headed later repairs.--nbc
  • Jonah
    Jonah Member Posts: 18
    Coal is still

    a lot cheaper than oil, even if you live in Vermont, like I do. I admit it is more work(even if less than you may think). And there are some inconveniences to it all. Coal is not nearly as volatile on the market either. Its price doesn't spike every time another energy source's price does. Economics aside, will it work well? That's something I want to be sure of before I jump into it. I got onto a coal forum to try and find others with coal fired steam boilers and had a little success. I'm told, and tell me if this sounds wrong, that the fact that there IS a constancy in the heat makes solid fuel boilers better(or at least in many cases) for steam systems. I must admit, with my very limited knowledge of how steam works, it makes sense to me. More stability in system temp and no bursts of condensate from steam entering pipes that have cooled down a whole lot. It may also explain why that picture shows water inlet so high on the unit. Maybe? Again I still don't know much, obviously. What do y'all think?
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Coal Boiler

    Coal- I have no idea about the coal market but if I were you, I would  check your sources of supply and try to determine how long term reliable they are, how they base their pricing and how actually stable (the pricing and supply) it is.   From what I’m told about the wood pellet business, is that they use the pricing of the equivalent btu s in propane and price the wood pellets to compete with that. If the price of propane goes up, so does the price of wood pellets!  As there are a limited amount of suppliers, historically would seem that they possibly also cooperate on pricing.  Have you calculated your daily use of coal and what it would cost including deliveries and all?

    Steam - I don’t know if you have read this yet but since you are waiting for “The Lost Art..” this might give you a good start. http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/321/Steam-Heating-Basics/128/A-Steam-Heating-Primer

    With solid fuels there is more constancy in heat as the fire burns full time. With modern oil or gas heating the heating is on and off, sort of like heating with bursts from a flame thrower.  The affect from this is very prominent in hot air systems  where you will get uneven heat.  With steam and hot water the affect isn’t any where near as noticeable as the radiators and the hot water don’t cool rapidly (as air) and still give off heat even when the burner is shut off. They sort of “coast”!  A steam radiator (212 degrees F)  will keep putting out heat for a long time after the burner is turned off.

    The boiler drawings raise more questions than they answer. Do you have pictures of this unit you can post? What is the square feet of steam that this boiler produces and how well does that match your radiation?

    - Rod
  • Jonah
    Jonah Member Posts: 18
    I forget

    right now what the edr is... i think almost 500 square feet? The boiler I'm eyeballing is sized for 560 sq ft radiation, and the pipes weren't included in my radiator edr calcs. Also the same guy I mentioned on the coal forum, who almost bought one of these(he bought a refurbished one instead) said the company is really flexible and willing to make alterations according to customer needs/demands. Like riser taps, valve placement for skimming, etc. And they have told me personally that they can accommodate any needs I might have(such as maybe two risers instead of one). So they are flexible.  The coal guy also told me, and mind you he does have a steam system and did recommend Dan's books and this forum, that he recommends this boiler and that it has a huge steam jacket compared with other ones.

         I'm not sure about the pricing stability for the rest of time, of course. I just know the future for oil prices is too freaky to depend on. The graph for coal prices compared to other fuel prices throughout the years is very intriguing to me, though I do admit I have no idea why it remains so stable compared to the other energy sources. And there are  a couple dealers up here who have been in the business for a long time, including one in tax-free NH, just across the river from me. So we'll see. 
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    About coal.

    My father had a coal-fired hot air furnace that heated his house. The former owner had added a blower so it was forced hot air, but it was originally convection. I was a kid then (in the 1940s) and IIRC, coal was $4/ton to begin with and worked its way up to $7/ton by the end of WW-II. The city picked up the ashes twice a week. They went into about 3 foot high galvanized steel ash cans. Later the city said we could use only cans half that size because the old ones were too heavy to lift. Then they cut ash collections to once a week. When they stopped collecting, my father had a gas burner blowing into the former ash pit provide the heat. Formerly, Buffalo, N.Y. had manufactured gas, but at about that time, natural gas became available.

    I heard about 10 years ago or so that coal around here (in N.J.) was going for over $100/ton. I do not know what it is now. I know my town will not pick up ashes. I do not know if they will even allow you to burn coal -- fear of air pollution. You can now get a ticket if you let your car idle for over 30 seconds where I live.
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Do-It-Yourself Boiler

         I don’t know really how to say this but the more I hear about this boiler, if it were me, my inclination would be to treat it like old loaded land mine and turn very slowly about and quietly tip-toe away.  As I said the drawings don’t personally give me much confidence in the boiler and when you say “they can accommodate any needs I might have” like adding, moving fittings, that scares the heck out of me. Building boilers is NOT a Do - it -yourself project.  Reputable boiler manufacturers put a lot of time into engineering and testing and they don’t make major changes without a lot of consideration and testing first.

          Could I build a boiler? Yes, I think I could . I was a certified welder long ago, I have a background in hydraulics and understand liquids and pressures. (I’ve even read “The Lost Art..” cover to cover.... 3 times! :)   Am I competent to build a boiler?  NO WAY!

     Keep in mind the old saying: “Pioneers get all the arrows ...so it doesn’t pay to be a pioneer!”   I hope you see where I’m coming from here.

        I’m sure you will check it all out before deciding on the path you wish to take. The only thing I see is that if you need a new boiler for this coming winter, I’m not sure if you really have enough time to properly check everything out.

    - Rod
  • Jonah
    Jonah Member Posts: 18

    I see your point. I might exaggerate by saying they'll accommodate to ANY need, but I mean they're flexible with what seems like flexible stuff to me. They've been making them for over fifty years so I suppose they have tested and tried what customizations work. But... I'm not sure. They make the boilers to order, and so when yours goes onto the line, they know who it's going to. I've got two wood stoves and a few cords of wood, so I might hold out long enough to make thorough investigations. I want to get ahold of folks who actually have these boilers in their homes and use them for steam. Maybe talk to some plumbers who've installed them and most of all I'd like to receive "The Lost Art..." in the mail!

          I'm sure I'll be postin' back before too long.  Thanks for all the info and patience with a procrastinator!
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067

    Checking with other owners who have the same steam boiler is a very good idea. If you can I would visit them and look at their installations.(take photos!)  If that isn't possible, I'd have a check list of questions and talk to them by phone and also see if they would send photos of their boiler and piping to you.

    Speaking of photos- Why don't you post some here of your present system and we can work out a general outline of the new piping so you'll know what to expect.

    - Rod
  • Jonah
    Jonah Member Posts: 18
    Here are

    some pictures of the system I have now.  I have checked all the pipes for pitch and they are all pitched in the right direction. I'm not sure how much fall the return should have, but it has a ton.There are two mains, I guess. One has a return, and the other is supply and return. The one without the separate return only feeds two radiators, so maybe it'll be fine. The other one feeds the rest of the house.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Hope ya don't mind

    I turned the pictures right side up.  I hope.
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067

    Hi- Took me a while to download the pictures and orient myself. You have to go back and forth a lot between pictures to trace each individual pipe. Your pictures and angles were really good so that helped a lot.  The first thought that stuck me was that the guy that did this piping must have piped submarines before he tried steam piping. :)

    As you can see in the attached photo I labeled out the piping and have more questions.

    I labeled what could be steam mains (?)  as “A” to “D”


    Main “A” - How many radiators are attached ?

    Main “B”-  How many radiators are attached ?

    Main “C”-  How many radiators are attached ?

    Main “D”-  How many radiators are attached ?

    Which one is parallel flow and attached to Return “A” ?  I see the one Main Vent on Return ”A” just before it drops down to floor level so this counts a main vents on the parallel  main.

    Do any of the other mains have main vents?  Conterflow mains need main vents too! These are usually placed about 15 inches back for the end of the pipe (farthest end away from the boiler.)

    I have no idea how well this configuration worked, though with no header and without a proper equalizer it had to be really lacking in efficiency. It was almost like he didn’t know what to do with the equalizer so he made it into a drip line.

    There seem to be a lot of cross connected drips. Generally drips should route individually to the wet return and not connect together above the boiler waterline. In the attached picture,  Drip “1” and Return “A” do this I think, (they join very close to the boiler’s line) however it would have been better to extend them down farther before joining.

    - Rod
  • Jonah
    Jonah Member Posts: 18
    Thanks a lot

    for taking the time to look at all the photos and post back! Main A has 3 or 4 radiators on it(some big, though I can't give total edr) Main B or C, not sure which, is just one radiator and the other is an 1 1/2" vertical feeding 2 radiators upstairs. Main D is counterflow line feeding only two radiators, but one is upstairs.  I'm not home right now so I'll double check this all when I return.  Thanks again for the help and interest!
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Found another "Main" ?

    Hi- I was looking at your photos some more and after "tweeking" them a bit more think I missed a "Main" . I've labeled the new found main,  Main "E"  in the attached photo. I realize that some of these "mains" are actually radiator laterals but for now we can call them - "mains"   Same questions: How many radiator attached to main "E" ?

    Also does Main "D" extend as I put in the note in the picture?

    - Rod
  • Jonah
    Jonah Member Posts: 18

    you scared me for a second. I had to run down and see what line that was. It's just the main waste line with a hanger that looks just like the insulation bands on the old asbestos.  Haha. So there's no E main.

         I can't seem to find the formulae for calculating edr that I found through google a few weeks ago. Antiqueplumbing.com has the chart but it says for "slenderized" radiators and I don't think that includes the column type, does it?

         Here is a list of the radiators with their "sizes" that each main supplies, not that I expect anyone to do the work of calculation. I'll do that as soon as I find the/a formula. Of course then anyone can correct me if I'm wrong too...

           Main A has a 24" with 4 tubes, 15 sections

                                  16" 2 col.  33 sections

                                   36" 3 col. 11 sections

    Not sure whether it's B or C that supplies ONLY a 36" 6 tubes, 14 sections.

    Not sure whether B or C that supplies both a 36", 2 col., 10 sections and

                                                                                      36" 2 col. 8 sections.

    D supplies a 24" 5 tube, 20section and 36" 2 col. 5 sections.    Thanks!
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    EDR Sheet

    Hi- Attached is a sheet which will help you calculate EDR of your system,

    - Rod
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Need Another Picture

    LOL - No “E” main!   I guess I should be more careful about “Over Tweeking” though I’m glad it isn’t another main as that just further complicates things. Could you please take another picture from the same position as the attached picture was taken?  I need to see a little more to the right and a little more up to include where main “A” goes into the wall.   I want to see if main “A” could be re routed and am wondering why they hooked it up as they did and thought maybe there was a beam or something blocking the route.

    - Rod
  • Jonah
    Jonah Member Posts: 18
    Thanks for

    the edr chart. These pictures I got before the camera died and aren't exactly what you asked for, but maybe will serve same purpose. In one photo you see main A leaving boiler room to the south(right). In the other photo you see main A and return looking west. Just North of these you see an arched cubby(maybe where there was an earlier boiler or furnace?) . This is just below a fireplace and there's no way you could take the main through there, at least not easily and without destruction. This fireplace is connected to the chimney the boiler vents to(we don't use fireplace). North of this is a doorway that is actually in line with the farthest(at least horizontally farthest) radiator on this main, where return line starts as parallel pipe. The height for this doorway is only about even with top of Main A as it exits boiler room(there is a beam). 

         I'd better leave it at that for this post, as this is my third attempt after computer erases everything I write when I accidentally hit some key or other....
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    edited October 2011
    Pipe Measuriing

    I know what you mean about the frustration of losing what you have just typed out . I used to have that happen a lot but finally changed to typing out my responses in a word processor and then cutting and pasting the whole response in the Wall reply form

    Thanks for posting the new pictures. They’re just what was needed as I wasn’t sure whether Main “A” when through the wall between the floor joists or below them . If it was between them then there would be a problem in re routing.

    At this point I can see a couple of way to pipe the system.  Let me know how many radiators there are on each main and their EDR.  As will need the pipe sizes of the mains and their approximate length.

    The easiest way to determine pipe size is to measure circumference of the pipe.  Just wrap a strip of ½ wide paper around the pipe and make a mark and then measure the length of the marked paper with a rule. I’ve attached a chart with the circumferences of the common sizes of black pipe.

    Are you planning on putting the new boiler in appropriately the same location?

    - Rod
  • Jonah
    Jonah Member Posts: 18
    Did some

    measuring. But first let me say I mean(particularly if the coal boiler works out) to move boiler North(to left if facing destination of main A) about 2-3 feet to line up stack outlet with chimney. I doubt that makes too much difference, but perhaps. I did not include pipe sizes coming off of mains to radiators, but of course I will check that too if it would help. Main A is    2 inch

                                  40-45 ft in length

    serving radiators with edr of:57, 45, and 55.  Two radiators are on 1st floor, one on second.

    Main B is 1 1/4"

                       8' long

    serving one radiator at 84? edr   (14 sections, 6 tubes 38 in high. And a little more than 10" deep).

    Main C is 1 1/2" pipe,

    about       20' in length (mostly vertical)

     serving a radiator of 40 edr and one of 32.

    Main D is 1 1/2" pipe

                   20-25 ft long

    serves rads of 60, and 20 edr. 60 edr rad is at end of main on 1st floor, 20 edr rad is upstairs.

           I'm not sure whether you could use any of the extra info, but amazon still has not got my book to me. Oh well, soon enough I'm sure.    Thanks!
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    System Diagram

    Hi- I took the figures you gave and drew out a very rough diagram of the system The radiators are represented by the EDRs but may not be in the correct order. No big deal as it is more important to get an idea of the total EDR on each main at this time. I studied your photos and it seems to me they there are a couple of ways to go so I drew out two configurations - one labeled “2 Steam Risers form the Header” and the other “3 Steam Risers from the Header”.

    I’m not sure which is the best way to go. Do you have any knowledge as how well the present system worked and possibly  any problems it had, like slow radiators or radiators that weren't heating? That would give us an idea of which mains had problems.  I remember you mentioned high fuel usage which, considering the present boiler piping configuration, isn’t surprising.

    As for moving the boiler a few feet in any direction that should work okay. The vent  to the chimney is probably the only thing that has limited flexibility location wise. I always amazes me that a lot of boilers seem to be placed exactly in the center of a workable area and not in a more convenient place. You would almost think that it was done on purpose to deny any other practical use of the area.

    On the drawings I marked on each main where the main vents would ideally go. I don’t know how practical this is to do so you wil probably have to work out each main venting individually.

    The existing main vent on Return “A” can remain at that location though you may want to put an “antler" in place and add more venting or switch to a Gorton #2.

    - Rod
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