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Vacuum Steam Heating System

DBSJr Member Posts: 4
I'm working in a NYC apartment building that has a vacuum steam heating system.  We are renovating a large apartment and want to replace PTACs with steam radiators.  I'm not sure how to pipe the radiators on this type of system.  Do I need a steam trap?  are there special types of control valves I need?  I'd love to find a reference tha can give me some good design guidance for these types of steam systems.  Any suggestions on where to turn?


  • nicholas bonham-carter
    Petacs ?

    What sort of emmiters are in the space now? Are they working as they are? Radiators were commonly used with the vacuum systems of the early 20 th century, so should work. Just make sure that the rest of the system will still work the same way with the new radiators.

    For an excellent description of various ancient vacuum steam systems, go to the shop here, and get some of the steamy deal books.--nbc
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    edited February 2012
    Adding Radiators

    Hi -  I think you would be far better off to get an experienced steam pro to do the installation for you. Look in the :"Find a Contractor" section at the top of this page. Scroll down past the zip code section and look in the "States" section for a steam pro in New York.

    While steam heating is relatively easy to understand, there's a lot more to it  than just connecting up a few pipes. This sort of project is definitely not something you want to start your steam experience on. When tying into an existing system often the piping  situation isn't ideal and a lot of compromises need to be made. An experienced steam pro knows just how much he can push the envelope and still get the radiators to function properly.

    A good book on steam systems is "The Lost Art of Steam Heating"


      Another useful book is the Burnham Heating Helper  You can download a copy at this link,  http://pro.usboiler.net/PDF/htghelper.pdf   It has the tables and formula to figure out pipe sizes needed.  

     Since this is a two pipe system you most probably will need a trap on the return pipe of each radiator. You also might want to look into TRVs (Thermostatic Radiator Valves) for the inlet side of the radiator. Danfoss makes a very good model.   Discuss these options with the steam pro.

    - Rod
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