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Hello, and thanks for this forum.  I feel lucky to have found this place.  I am a steam heat rookie.  From reading here I bought and read Dan's book.  TWICE!  It was great.

Heating bills last season (first season I ever had steam heat) were sky high.  That's how I found this place - looking for help or resources to get the system running more efficiently.  The bills were so high, I considered ripping the whole heating system out and replacing it with something different.  But luckily I found this place and Dan's book.  I'm hoping (praying, actually), that the gas bills might be a little more reasonable this time around.

I had asbestos removed a couple weeks ago.  The white paint on the pipes is from the removal process.  The pipes that are their natural color did not have asbestos on them.  I guess the previous homeowner removed some of it themselves some years ago.

Since having the removal done I began insulating the pipes with 1" fiberglass sleeves.  I'm not finished yet, but the process is not at all difficult.  It's just a little time consuming.  I'm hoping to finish the job this Saturday.

I'm attaching some pictures of my "twins" in the basement.  I see at least one area of concern.  It looks like there was a copper pipe repair / replacement done.  The presence of the copper pipe is a concern in itself, but it also looks like the repair process changed the pitch of the attached pipes.  I'm hoping for some comments, feedback and suggestions about this.  Am I mistaken in what I think I see?   Also, if there are other problems, please let me know.  The vents look old and rusty.  Should I replace them?  Are there enough?

Last year the bills were high and the system was noisy.  It wasn't a nice introductino to steam heat.  I hope between the forum and the book to have a more peaceful relationship this season.

Thanks for taking the time to look and read, and I'd appreciate any comments / suggestions.


  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752

    Congratulations on keeping the steam! We promise that by the time the system is feeling well, your fuel bills will be much more painless.

    The piping on the left boiler is all wrong. That will cause wet, inefficient steam. Wet steam costs a lot of money to heat your house.

    The copper repair is not only pitched wrong, but the copper itself is a problem. It will slowly destroy all of the steel and cast iron in the system.

    Main vents are a critical part of the system, and will go a long way to increasing your system's efficiency. Let us know how long each main is, and we can advise on the proper size vents.

    Have you ever measured the radiators to find out if the boiler is sized correctly?
  • Lucky13
    Lucky13 Member Posts: 3
    thank you

    The left boiler runs to the 2nd floor.  That's where the sky-high bills were from last season.  The copper repair line runs to the smaller, 1st floor boiler.  That system runs pretty quietly and fairly inexpensively compared to the 2nd floor, but if the copper is going to destroy the system, I want it out of there.

    So that means I'm going to need some work done on both boilers.  RATS!  LOL.. I was hoping just the pipe insulation and maybe replacing a couple vents would do the trick.  But truthfully, once I read the book (about the copper and the knuckleheads), and once I saw that repair pipe, I kind of knew it would have to go.  I didn't realize the piping was wrong on the 2nd floor boiler, so thanks for pointing that out.

    I've not measured the radiators yet, but that's easy enough.  I can knock that out tomorrow.

    I have the length measurements written down somewhere from when I ordered the insulation.  I can dig that out and I'll post it up tomorrow.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,573
    edited October 2013
    Correcting wrong supply piping

    The good news is the risers are full size, and we're not bushed down, as well as using both trappings!

    You could probably do it yourself with a drop header. Crack the 2 riser elbows just above the boiler, and unionize, then rise up a couple of feet to plain elbows/horizontals, and drop back down to a horizontal header one size larger. The takeoff to the main should not be in between the supplies, and the reduction of pipe size in the equalizer should always be in the vertical. Perhaps working from both ends towards the middle will make it easier. Assemble it dry first to check for layout, and fit, and then dope/tape it up for a permanent installation, and don't forget the insulation.

    This may entail many trips to the plumbing supply house, but the results will be dramatic in fuel use reduction. Take your time, be methodical, and do not listen to talk radio during the work!--NBC
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    edited October 2013
    Two Boilers

    Hi- Why two boilers? I'm sort of assuming that one is for a rental unit?

    - Rod

    Attached is a work sheet which may be of help to you on figuring out Radiator EDR
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Piping Problems

    Hi-  As you probably know from reading the piping on the larger boiler is NOT properly configured. I've attached a labeled photo of your boilers On the larger boiler, I see two steam mains which I have labeled "A" & "B" but only one Return which I labeled Return "1". Since you have 2 steams mains on the is boiler, If they are both parallel mains,  there should be a second return.  Is there another return on this boiler?

    Main Vents-  I think your main vents are on the small side  and from the looks of things maybe non functional. Each main or its return needs to have main venting.

     In one of the attached pictures the main vent is canted off to the side. (I included an inset so illustrate how to correct this mounting.)

    To operate properly, Main Vents should be installed so that they are vertical. The more popular main vents on the wall are the Hoffman #75 and the Gorton #1 and Gorton #2

    Venting capacity wise:

    one Gorton #2 = 3 Gorton #1(s)

    one Gorton #2 = 2 Hoffman #75

    You can get these vents from your local heating supply or from Pex Supply on the Internet.

    Unlike radiators you can't over vent steam mains. If you could supply us with the pipe size and length of each of your steam mains we can calculate how much main venting is required for each main.  On venting you might want to take a look at Gerry Gill's website.

    Gerry Gill is a VERY experienced Cleveland steam pro. His website has a lot of good info on steam heating and venting. http://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/

    - Rod
  • Lucky13
    Lucky13 Member Posts: 3

    Yep, it's a 2 family home - that's why the 2 boilers.  The label "Wacky I" on the picture literally made me laugh out loud.  Thank you so much.  I had a bad day at work.  I needed a chuckle and that gave it to me.

    I'll get to measuring the things I'm supposed to and get the numbers posted up as soon as I can.

    Thanks to all who took the time to look and reply already.  The advice and feedback is greatly appreciated.  I'm not too confident about tackling the piping problem on my own.  I'm so new to this stuff.  I've never done anything like it before.  We'll see... maybe.  But more likely I'll be calling in a pro.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752

    So, I went to look at this system last month. The boiler was abut 30 years old, so it made more sense to replace the whole system and start over, rather than fixing the laundry list of piping issues. Here's the new boiler and piping.

    Aside from the boiler, and near boiler piping, there was a section of main on each system that was improperly pitched, trapping water, and stopping steam from moving freely. The copper pipe was an obvious repair for a leaking steel pipe due to water laying around in the main. However, they never actually resolved the pitch problem.
This discussion has been closed.