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Uneven Heating & General 20's Trane Advice

<span>Hi, this is my first

post here. I'm the board president of an </span><span>8-story building built in 1927. I need to

gain some knowledge about our heating system so I can lay down the law with my

neighbors about maintaining our system and modifying it. </span>


<span>There are two units

on each floor, one has a predominantly north exposure, the other south. The

building was originally built with Trane convectors recessed in the walls behind

a wooden cover with a metal chase and register and damper about 18" from the

ceiling. The bathrooms and kitchens just had, as far as I can tell, simply a

metal box in the wall creating a chase for convection with steam pipes inside

them. One bathroom on each side of the building is at an outside corner and the

convective heating proved inadequate and most have been supplemented or replaced

with radiators or cast iron baseboard (though some people with new windows

report they can turn off the radiator). Except on the eighth floor, which has

smaller units with different layouts, all the convectors are on inside walls.

There was also no individual control of the convectors beyond the dampers, which

I assume was intentional. </span>


<span>Many of the

convectors have been replaced with radiators because the unit owners "felt cold"

- the building has always been owner-occupied and there was lax enforcement of

proper practices for modifications to the heating system. Currently, some people

are cold while others are boiling hot and it seems that the output from some

convectors is minimal and possibly even from a few selected risers as well.



<span>We've been told that

the boiler needs replacement, it's the original boiler, I can't remember off

hand the manufacturer. It's on a Heat-Timer EPU controller, which seems to

"stick" when we have changes in temperature, as is common in Chicago. I also

suspect it isn't set correctly and may not be the correct unit/module for

convectors. </span>


<span>Obviously there will

be some difference between north and south sides of the building on sunny days

or really windy days. </span>


<span>Here's my basic



<span>1. How are the

convectors vented, I've seen mention here that the Trane system was unique.

Could this be responsible for the underheating problems?</span>


<span>2. Mixing of

radiators and convectors - bad, right? </span>


<span>3. When, and if, we

replace the boiler, can the building be "zoned" based more on interior

temperature rather than our current system or is there a better way to do it?



<span>4. What's a good

source of information for me to bone up on our system? </span>


<span>5. What else should

I know? </span>


<span>Sorry for being

long-winded in a first post. </span>


  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    can't stop a trane...

    but you can speed it up.

    you are so lucky to be in Chicago, where one of the most expert pros here is located:


    read a few of his posts, and see if you like his communication slills, and then give him a call.--nbc
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 351
    edited January 2013

    Thanks, I noticed that.

    I should also have mentioned the photos in the first post are of one of my convectors and the radiator in one of my bathrooms (pre-painting the room) which shows the original lower register for the convection heating in the bathroom. The upper register was removed at some point and plastered over.
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    edited January 2013
    Chicago Steam Pro

    I'll second NBC's recommendation. Dave Bunnell is one of the top steam heating pros in the country. His phone is: 1-877-567-7070  He's very innovative and can get the maximum from a system in both comfort and efficiency.

    - Rod
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,889
    And I'll pile on...

    with the recommendations for Dave.  And I will add that in a somewhat complex system such as yours, comments we all might make over the 'net would be mostly whistling in the dark.

    Do get hold of Dave and get him to come over.  Your situation is not impossible in the least, and I would imagine that he can greatly increase your comfort and lower your heating bills at the same time!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    edited January 2013
    Keep us in the loop

    We love to hear how these restoration projects turn out, so please keep us in the loop with things as they develop!

    One thing to remember is that when you have repaired all the deferred maintenance, the fuel use will be less, even though the comfort level has improved for everyone. Don't let anyone be afraid that the improvements you are about to make will cause an increase in fuel cost, quite the contrary!!--NBC
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 351
    Hope I didn't jinx myself...

    I hope I didn't jinx myself by posting yesterday - the burner had to be reset twice last night... I had to learn to do it (easy) and our janitor thinks he has solved the immediate problem.

    I meant to get some photos. Our boiler room needs some tidying up. It's a Heggie & Woodruff  if I remember correctly and originally also provided domestic hot water.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    night time reset

    why does the boiler need resetting?

    why should it be replaced?

    what is the janitor's fix?--nbc
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    night time reset

    why does the boiler need resetting?

    why should it be replaced?

    what is the janitor's fix?--nbc
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 351

    I think he said the calibration port was dirty, but I was too tired at 6:30. I went down to see what he was doing. It was a purple rod to the side of the burner, but part of the assembly which entered at an angle.

    The red warning light which said "FGS or FSG Alert" was on and he had me open the panel and press the reset.

    I haven't heard if this has worked yet.

    We were told this by a "boiler guy" - the reasoning seemed sketchy to me. The correspondence was via our building manager and was really only a proposal/bid rather than a why. We had a crack in the boiler repaired this summer and the boiler itself has seemed to work fine until now. There is some rust at the base of the boiler but I think this is in the supporting base rather than in the boiler proper.
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,785
    Dave is the Best around!

    Call Dave Bunnell.   He can assess the system and its problems and will give you the best advice for repairs and changes necessary to get this system back into shape so that it can last another 80 years.
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 351
    Thanks Again

    Thanks for the advice. So far everything seems to be running smoothly but we'll see after our coming cold snap. 
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