Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

My poor brother

He just learned a very expensive lesson. He bought my grandmother's house four years ago and apparently he didn't know that he had to maintain the steam heating system other than having the PM done each year by the oil company. Thanks to his auto-feeder crapping out and the LWCO not shutting off the burner, he's replacing his 13 y/o WM boiler with a new MegaSteam. He didn't know that at the very least, he had to keep an eye on the sight glass to see if the boiler had enough water.

I feel really bad about this because not only do we both have similar steam heating systems in our houses, I know how to maintain his system because I used to watch it when my grandmother was living in the house. My very wise grandmother taught me at a very young age how to monitor the sight glass and manually add water on the original asbestos-covered 1940's-era boiler.

My brother and I don't live close together and I rarely ever get to visit his house these days, so I really didn't have the chance to notice anything was wrong. I just assumed that he knew what to do or the the service tech told him how to maintain the system. After all he hasn't had a problem in the four years he and his wife have lived there. Well except for that one time during the first winter when he ran out of oil - that should have been a clue for me to train him.

I guess I should have trained him when I was there for a week helping him paint the house and move in four years ago. Yesterday I ordered him Dan's books "We Got Steam Heat" and "Lost Art of Steam Heating" so he can learn how to maintain the system. He's a fairly smart technical guy who understands everything about cars, but he has know idea how a steam heating system works.


  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,481
    good man

    Those books will give him the information he needs to maintain his steam system and they will save him a lot of money in the long run. I'm sorry he lost that WM boiler but the Megasteam is really a great boiler. I would have installed one myself this year but it's not approved for gas and i didn't want to lose the warranty on a new boiler.

    BTW the Hoffman 1a's are a good vent but they are not as quiet as some. The Gorton's and Maid O mist's are quieter. Just be aware the threads on the maid o mists are a little large so you have to adjust them with a 1/8-27 die before trying to mount them on a radiator.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • pcloadletter
    pcloadletter Member Posts: 38
    The boiler was installed over the weekend

    He showed me a bunch of pictures and the installers seemed to know what they were doing. However, they did not install a drop header, just a regular one. It goes to the side like mine but doesn't drop down. Does this make a huge difference?
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
    Drop Headers

    Originally these were used to allow the boiler risers to extend vertically far enough above the water line (24") to prevent carryover--water droplets caused by the release of steam from the surface of the water being carried into the supply piping--when the steam mains were less than 24" above the water line. If the installers were able to install long enough risers using the existing headroom, a drop header isn't needed. (Bear in mind that the water level may be a foot or more below the top of the boiler jacket, so a 12" riser may be all that is needed.)

    Most of us have come to conclusion that drop headers are easier to install because they yield a more flexible geometry that makes nipple lengths less critical and makes it easier to make connections.

    If a simple header is used, the risers should still employ swing-arms--i.e. the risers should terminate in 90° elbows that are connected to the side of the header through 10" or longer nipples of the same diameter pipe--and the system risers should come off the header between the equalizer and the nearest swing arm, not between the swing arms.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
This discussion has been closed.