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Main and header questions

Hmrj323 Member Posts: 13
I want to thank anyone in advance that may respond. Many of my questions have been answered and explained in a manor that a novice like me could completely understand. I appreciate that very much!

I have attached two drawings of my proposed run for my new steam boiler and before I get into motion of running the piping I wanted to check with the pros. I have two questions on the file Mains run circled in yellow and one for the drop header file.

Question one, can I run one line and tee in both directions? Or is it better the way I have drawn? obviously teeing it would have me adjust the drop header drawing.

Question two, where my proposed mains end is only about 12"-18" apart. Can this be tied together and just have one continuous one pipe loop and relocate the return? Or is it better as I have drawn.

Drop header, is the spacing correct for what I have drawn up?

It is drawn out this way just to help eliminate the over-head thumping that my head has taken on the piping in the past!

Just so everyone is familiar with the project, I am replacing my 28 year old weil mcclain eg55 cracked boiler with a slant/fin galaxy GXH-230. The previous home owner (a DIY'er) main piping was wrong. When I opened up the first main about 2 feet from the header I had about 2 gallons of water come out of the pipe from last winter! Explains the incredible thump from the first radiator in that run. It literally sounded like a sink hole opened up in the corner of the house daily!

Here is what I feel was wrong with the old pipe run; 1, No drop header ( couple radiators sound like water bongs!, 2- no vents on mains, 3-obviously the pitch with 2 gallons of water in a main, 4- ran 2" pipe for mains when boiler discharge was 3".

So, having the luxury of a few extra bucks I decided to redo all the mains and returns. Unfortunately there were no dead men around or willing to take on steam in my area so thanks to all of you, I believe I have educated myself enough to tackle this project. I did find a company that will "switch them out" but can't do layout and troubleshooting. I will at least have them come in to make sure I am up to code and safe on the gas and exhaust for the first firing. When that time comes I am sure I will turn to you all for "things to keep an eye on".

 Again thanks for any responses and please feel free to mark up the attachments. I don't mind having some fun poked at my questions so a little humor to reduce the stress would be fine!!


  • Hmrj323
    Hmrj323 Member Posts: 13
    Was really hoping for a response on this!

    Shocked that no one responded with some intuitive words of wisdom. Pipe and threader delivered today and was hoping that someone could tell me if this pipe plan is good or not. Really don't want to screw this up. Calling for snow possibly this weekend in SW PA and we have no heat until this is complete.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,999
    Just got home

    looks like that should work fine. That boiler has a 2-1/2" steam outlet, but increasing to 3" will help dry out the steam.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Hmrj323
    Hmrj323 Member Posts: 13
    Thanks for the review

    Again thank you, I unfortunately got this a little late and all the 2.5" pipe came in already and they are calling for possible snow tonight and tomorrow!

    I tried calling you the other day about a question, but I figured it out. I know this is heat season for all of us in the NE so I didn't want to bother you on your emergency number. Unfortunately we don't have any steam heads in our area all heating companies only re-install the boilers but no one can troubleshoot the system and piping.

    I will post some pictures of my progress as soon as I get this damn rental threader working properly!
  • moneypitfeeder
    moneypitfeeder Member Posts: 249
    Just a PA homeowner

    Hi (let me preface, I'm not a pro) but to answer your questions:

    Question 1: No, do not add a tee in, that would make a bullhead which is to be avoided, pipe it as you have drawn.

    Question 2: Drop both return lines below the water line and then join wherever appropriate to return to the boiler.

    Your drop header looks like you have more than enough space/height allowed for, if you look at some of my posts, you can see my drop header which is much more compressed and still works great.

    Good luck on your endeavors, I hope it goes smoothly for you. Use plenty of cutting oil for making the threads and you should be fine.
    steam newbie
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,573
    Good advice-one caveat

    Wipe the cutting oil off the inside of the pipes before you screw them together, and there will be less to skim.--nbc
  • Hmrj323
    Hmrj323 Member Posts: 13
    Rental showed up

    Rental company delivered the threader in the rain and water got inot the cutting resevoir, really bad combination. Large threader dies were no good and new ones are being sent overnight with 3 more gallons of Heavy cutting oil (Had their tech come out so I didn't get charged for the dies). Not happy about the condition especially for the rental charges! Will deal with them when project is over!!! Don't want to piss them off so they take it away!

    Does anyone know the life expectancy of black iron with steam systems? I did have one 90 degree elbow that was cracked. Reason why I was asking is, wasn't sure if house was built around piping because the way the second floor risers were installed was a son-of-a-gun to get out of there and it still looked like the original sub-flooring.

    Can second floor risers be straight pipe from the mains in basement? These had two 90 elbows installed and it doesn't change the conveinence of the pipe with regards to their location in the rooms.House is recorded as being built in 1920 but local residents say it is older than that! The risers to the second floor rads were impossible to break free offf of the mains and too close to the wood main supports to heat them up. Two days worth of PB blaster, 3' pipe wrench with a 5' cheater couldn't do the job! So ordering more pipe.

    While I am waiting on pipe I polished the valves. Cleaned them up and checked packings and operability, still working very well. Look nice anything to use to keep brass from tarnishing? First floor rads were sand blasted and powder coated about 8 years ago and still look awesome.
  • Hmrj323
    Hmrj323 Member Posts: 13
    Finished Install

    Finished the Install of my new Galaxy GH-230. After some minor tweaking to pitch of mains and a couple blown out gate valves I have got it working perfectly. Huge difference after learning so much from everyone on this site.

    This project turned into a nightmare fast, but after replacing all piping throughout the whole home from 2" mains to 2.5", adding in 3" drop header, Gorton #2 main vents, and installing unions to all radiators from the main everything is working great. All radiators heat evenly (first time all radiator sections get warm), not a single knock, bang or gurgle. Adding in the 2.5" ball valves allowed me to properly heat the boiler to skim it and after only 8 days I finally got rid of the oil smell from the vents of the radiators. Basement still a little funky from burning off the black coating on all the new piping.

    Built in skimmer on the slant fin greatly reduces cleaning time and water consumption. Hopefully my gas bill will reflect the upgrade/repair! I will say this too, I have a whole new respect for pipe fitters!!! This was a bear of a project, especially with no help at all. Total pipe installed on the system was 140' of 2.5" mains and 140' of 1-1/4" rad lines.

    Thank you everyone for your knowledge and support. Below I have attached some pictures of the boiler and drop header. Let me know what you think of it. I unfortunately ran out of money to insulate the pipes, so that will be next year, but right now I am getting some pretty good dry steam. I am sure next years addition of insulation will only increase it efficiency.
  • Hmrj323
    Hmrj323 Member Posts: 13
    All is working well

    I just wanted to take a moment and thank all that have replied to my posts. I have finally received my first months gas bill and it has been reduced by over 50%. Comparing to last years bill we were actually 1 degree colder this year and my fuel consumption was 59% less than the previous year. I would expect this number to increase next year when I finally have the money to install the pipe insulation. I do not have a single knock or leak throughout all 300'+ of new piping run through two floors and 11 different radiators. They are all heating evenly and the venting perfectly.

    If it was not for the support from wonderful folks on this site I would never have been able to complete this project. I have learned a lot from here and I hope that I may be able to help others based on what I have learned from doing this ground up restore/new install to my home.
  • wow, what great results

    Although I was not one of those who answered your questions back in october, it is great to hear the story of a home-owner turned pipefitter, resulting in a revived and properly functioning steam system. Congratulations! And thanks for sharing the results.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,573
    Especially the fuel consumption results!!

    So many people have been misinformed about steam heating, and it's propensity for:

    Loud banging

    Excessive fuel consumption

    Uneven heating

    Mystical, and incomprehensible design principles

    In spite of these commonly held beliefs, you have proven them wrong, and therefore deserve some sort of award, even above and beyond the 60% savings on fuel!--NBC
  • Hmrj323
    Hmrj323 Member Posts: 13
    So, new update. Winter came early for us because we are taking care of our elderly neighbor who has been very ill. Since we had a hospital bed moved in our house for him we had to turn on the heat early!
    When I put the boiler to bed for the summer I over filled the boiler slightly into the riser pipe to ensure that the boiler was full and air could not get at the carbon and speed up the rusting process. I figured the riser could be the sacrificial pipe for rusting!
    Anyways, received my first bill and got the same results (about 59% fuel reduction). Higher bill, but heat is turned up to 75F to accommodate my neighbor! I would never ever set it that high that is why we have sweaters and sweat pants!!!
    I have noticed one thing , My 3 main Gorton#2's do not seem to be venting as well as before. When it would first run I could hear the air venting out. From them sitting for about 6 months could they have gotten clogged? I took them off and blew into them and they seem to be venting fine. Should I have put an air compressor nozzle to them instead of me just blowing into them? Is there something else I should be looking for or just replace them?
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    THey might have gotten some crud stuck in them. Try cleaning them out? Sometimes I soak them in CLR or some white vinegar for a while.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,573
    You are a good neighbor/Samaritan, and a good pipe-fitter! You deserve that saving in fuel.
    Even rolls of fiberglass insulation batts, would be better than bare pipe, and not much money will be sacrificed when you finally put on the proper insulation in its place.--NBC