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piping madness...or genius?

I am new to central PA and the<strong> closest steam heating specialists are ~60mi away</strong> and dont seem like they want to come all the way out to my 4500 sq foot victorian (only <strong>3500 ft are heated</strong>).

I have decided to replace my ~25-30yr old oil burning utica starfire 226K primarily because of the price of <strong>oil which is more than 2x the price of gas</strong> <span>(based on calculator and gas averages in 2010-2011).  </span><span>My oil cost last year was ~$5800.</span>

I dont know if i TRUST the local HVAC guys to help my one pipe steam system.

I am a DIYer contemplating ordering a Utica PEG225c in 7 sections <span>from</span>, hauling it down steps, and reassembling downstairs. Yes, I am aware that steam may be the most difficult heat to control. I had a HVAC guy come today and asked him if my pressertrol which was initially set at 4 was ok for the system, he said "well different systems need different pressures".

I have ordered and<strong> I AM reading Dans "the lost art of steam heating</strong>" which is <strong>fantastic</strong> and I though I read numerous times that you are never really supposed to raise the cut in over really 0.5-1psi.  This makes me doubt his steam knowledge.

Anyways I have my boiler near piping pics attached. I believe I have a parrallel up system with 2 mains or is it 3? From what I have studied this piping looks a mess.Problems: seemingly MULTIPLE,  only 1 riser when there is suppose to be 2, bullnosing, no main vent at the end of the main prior to return, etc.LOOK AT THE PICS ALL TEXT IS ON THE PICS. 3773 and 3783a are probably the best viewpoints. In pic 3774 yellow dot is a main line vent seemingly in wrong area

SO <strong>madness or genius?</strong> i think madnes, am i wrong? I can provide more pics if needed

Thank you


  • MJ_in_centralPAMJ_in_centralPA Member Posts: 20
    more pics

    more pics... oh and the return piping is confusing me as well...
  • MJ_in_centralPAMJ_in_centralPA Member Posts: 20
    more pics

    i rotated the first one up right
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,876
    edited November 2011
    Where in central PA are you?

    There has to be some way to get a pro out there...............

    First off- what are the lengths and diameters of your steam mains, and what vents are on them?

    How much EDR (radiation) is on the system? What is the current boiler's rating?

    Are all the steam pipes insulated?

    The PEG series boilers aren't the most efficient out there. Their thermal efficiency (BTU out as a percentage of BTUs in) is 80% or so, whereas a Smith 8 or Slant/Fin Intrepid series with a power gas burner is about 86%.

    If you need another pair of eyes on this, contact me. I'm in Baltimore but have been known to do out-of-town consulting.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • MJ_in_centralPAMJ_in_centralPA Member Posts: 20
    edited November 2011
    more info on the piping madness

    thanks all for the advice...a pro will come out but they wanna charge 2hrs of labor for each person (multiple if there bringing a new boiler down) anytime they need come out...gonna call them again today maybe

    again the main reason I want to change now is that oil is too expensive, more than 2x the gas price, another factor is that the system is unbalanced and the front of the house is cold and back is comfortable, clearly the piping is amess

    to answer your ?'s though


    I have three mains coming off of weird header : lets call them #1 #2 #3

    #2 is a 2" pipe that is 22' long, comes off L side of header and serves 108 sq EDR (or 19% of system load)- the rads off of this have no trouble heating their space,almost TOO well

    #3 is also a 2" pipe that is ~18' long & is labeled pink in my pics and only serves  68sqEDR or (11%)- rads from this heat the space well,

    #1 is the problem and the biggest

    #1 is a 2 1/2" main
    (labeled red) & comes off to R of 'header', it circles 3/4 of the basement for a length of 68' before become a 22' dry return and then a wet return for 10' near to boiler- it serves remaining 70% of EDR

    it is subdivided into lets say #1a and #1b

    #1b is a 26ft 2' take off at ~22' after the the main comes off the header (it also returns to the boiler via a dry the wet return), it serves 104sq EDR- these rads also work well and heat almost TOO well also there is a maid of the mist main vent (ONLY ONE) just after this takeout

    #1a is the problem: it serves the main entry and living area which r large spaces, for 1st and 2nd floors, these areas are always cold, rads dont heat up enough, cold rads are at 42' and 60' from header

    ?#2 answer total system EDR is 568

    ?#3 yes, pretty much all are insulated with 'bad stuff' which is coming off monday and i plan to reinsulate

    ?#4 i am looking for a new gas steam boiler, not oil, too expensive, I can pay for my new boiler in about 2-3 yrs with money i'll save

    thank you for your advice, i think I will try to c if they can come out, i live in 17815, kind of far from baltimore
  • MJ_in_centralPAMJ_in_centralPA Member Posts: 20
    edited November 2011

    a few things i didnt mention

    currently have a utica oil 226K

    I was planning to replace w utica peg225c which seems spot on for my 568sq edr, I have replaced nearly all of my old rad vents w new vari-vents (all they had)

    I would plan to pipe the 2 1/2' risers x 2 into 3' header, then 3 separate take offs, first being the main 2 1/2' line

    It seems to me that in addition to the improper near boiler piping, the vent at 22' and lack of vent at end of main is causing my cold rads at 42' and 60'

    So...I was planning to take out the vent at 22' and put a large vent at end of main ~65' close to when it changes to dry 2' vent

    But I'm no professional
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Sheer Madness:

    That is quite a thing.

    I may be wrong on this but my approach to this is that before I would change the boiler, I would correct that piping nightmare so that the system was balanced and working properly. You seem to have vertical room above the boiler so all supplies could be re-done so they work. The same with the returns. If properly corrected, it is just a matter of replacing the boiler and connecting to the properly piped system and away you go.

    I'm not a steam expert but that piping looks like a schitt show piped bu someone who doesn't know Jack Schitt, the dubber pipe fitter. If you just replace the boiler without fixing the piping, all you have is a screwed up piping system with a nice new boiler.

    I'm assuming that you didn't own the house when the present boiler went in and was piped. It was dine by a dubber because right at the top, the relief valve is piped and installed improperly. If the installer can't install a relief valve properly, what else is wrong?

    If you want to save money, insulate the heck out of the house.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Sheer Madness 2:

    Is that a 15# steam Pressure Relief Valve or a 30# hot water relief valve?
  • MJ_in_centralPAMJ_in_centralPA Member Posts: 20
    madness...madness i tell u

    ha...good eye, it is indeed a 30psi 3/4" valve NOT piped to floor, can a boiler exploded under 30 psi? i guess it hasnt yet so it probably wont

    i did purchase the home 3 years ago, long after this crazy installation

    that is a good idea to do the piping first, but i would have to change it yet again once i get my gas boiler in seeing that the utica peg225c has 2 side risers and not top risers as i have now

    well the steam specialist are coming in 2 weeks to look at it...wonder what that will cost...maybe they will cut me a deal if I order and put it together myself?
  • gerry gillgerry gill Member Posts: 2,978
    how far away

    are you from Dave Yates?

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

  • MJ_in_centralPAMJ_in_centralPA Member Posts: 20

    2hr 15min

    i have "Steam specialist" out of williamsport pa coming, but not for 2 weeks due to my/there schedule....i'm learning much and am getting itchy hands....i am gathering the nerve to perhaps tackle this myself...

    anybody heard of steam specialist?
  • MJ_in_centralPAMJ_in_centralPA Member Posts: 20
    Gifford loop?....or just more madness

    finding even more problems here, i dont think i have a hartford loop, i am ?ing if have a gifford loop either based on the other piping madness

    my water sight glass is 27-33.5" from bottom to top from the ground, with my water level ~29...refer to my pics

    i have a mdonald 101a water feeder which is connected only to bottommost boiler return and NOT connected to the wet return

    the wet return comes up and horizontal at 39" off the ground in a long straight towards the camera to T into the 'equalizer'

    the combined return then head down and horizontally at 33" into the distance off the ground for their final descent to return to the boiler

    so the T being at 39"...isnt that TOO high for a Gifford loop to work effectively?, do I have a gifford loop?

    Isn't the Gifford loop superior to hartford loop?

    If my feeder fails, will my boiler run dry and crack?
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,876

    That's Bloomsburg, isn't it? I've been there.

    I think your high fuel consumption is as much system-related as it is oil-related. Straighten out the system first and you will use less of whatever fuel you end up with.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • lchmblchmb Member Posts: 2,992
    just a

    suggestion. Make the best investment you will ever make and have Steamhead come out and inspect your system. His knowledge of steam is incredible and having someong who know's what he does help you set up and size/design a replacement would be money in the bank...(having him do it would be even better but)

  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,876
    Much further

    than whoever is in Williamsport. Dave is in York, which is 40 miles or so above Baltimore.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • billtwocasebilltwocase Member Posts: 2,385

    Frank would work some magic on that creative system. A nice Megasteam in place of that horrid looking Utica would be a wise investment as well. 
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,876
    Thanks, guys

    that means a lot.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
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