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reduce fuel consumption?

Hello all.

I have a question hopefully you can help with. I have a weil mc clain egh 95 steam boiler. It runs great and no issues. Its feeding 18 radiators in a 2 story 5000 sq ft old building that isnt the poster child for energy effiiciency and insulation hahaha. The problem is that this beast is guzzling gas anytime is runs at an immense rate. To the point that I barely run it bc I dont want to get a massive heating bill.

My question is if there is any possibility of reducing its fuel consumption, either by killing some radiators, or choking down the fuel cutoff valve at the boiler a bit, hence making the flame a bit smaller, or even capping off some of the burner tubes? Theres 14 under the boiler chest. I understand that it may take longer to make steam etc, but just thought if that is a totally stupid idea, or is it even possible or am I just going to have to suck it up and either leave it off or be very careful with how much I run the heat? Im trying not to go bankrupt trying to not freeze to death ;-)

Thanks for any advice
Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam


  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752

    Don't blame the boiler, blame the system.

    Have any pictures of the boiler and piping? Any main vents on the system? What pressure are you running at?
  • I know i know.

    well to give you a quick rundown of the situation, its an old firehouse built in 1883. The building is 25x100 two stories, with 12 foot ceilings. theres no insulation, the walls are plaster and the radiators in the truck bays are big. There is one big riser that feeds up from the basement to the ceiling of the ground level and breaks off into two main loops, one to the front across and back on the other side of building and the second does the same at the back of the building. The upstairs rads feed off the main loop through the floors, and the ground level ones are fed in drops from the ceiling. The system heats up fine and will warm the place up no problem. Then I notice that it short cycles to maintain, kicking on and off overy so often for a few minutes but not really getting all of the radiaotrs hot. I have installed two gorton 2s on the front main loop since its longer, and one gorton 2 on the rear, that helped even out the heat. None of the pipes are insulated, nor is the building. I do plan to at least insulate the cockloft this year and try to kill some of the drafts around the garage doors etc. I know that insulating the pipes will help get the steam to the rads, but I also notice that the pipes themselves are helping to heat the place as well since its pretty much a large open layout of the space. So if I spent thousands insulating the pipes, Id guess Id get the steam into the rads more effectively, but is it that bad that the pipes themselves are acting as a heat source since everything in the place is exposed anyway? The big concern I have is the cost, and back when it was city owned, they didnt give a crap what the bill was, the taxpayers footed the bill. Im just trying to not pay an enormous amount for something that may be too large or can be tamed back a little since Im not pulling trucks in and out all day and leaving the doors open to heat the neighborhood while I hang out in shorts and flip flops in the middle of a february blizzard hahaha. Currently I barely run it, and keep the place in the mid 50s at best, use a space heater that I drag around and bundle up. :-)
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • oh..

    and the system has a honeywell pressuretrol, but its set as low as it can go. theres a pressure guage but it is one of the higher scale ones , and it doesnt even lift the needle when its running. Im sure that means it could be anyones guess as to the pressure, but I didnt want you to think I had it cranked up, and I know that a vaprstat would be more accurate
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,182

    Until we how that boiler is piped it will be hard for anyone to help you. Take pictures that show the boiler and the piping around it. Is this single pipe or two pipe steam? Where are you located, you will probably need a pro like Joe to go over the system and tell you what has to be done.

    All of the exposed piping should have a minimum of 1" of fiberglass insulation on it, this is work you can easily do yourself but the materials are not inexpensive.

    Until you seal up all the drafts and get some insulation in that building it will cost a fortune to heat. You can pay for sealing and insulation or you can pay for the excess fuel to make up for it - the choice is yours.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • You are right

    I agree and am aware. Those things will help, i jsut havent had the time or budget for them yet. I will get some pics up of the system. It is one pipe. Insulation and drafts aside, is there any ability or benefit to turning down the flame or reducing the burners on the boiler to help as well?
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    edited November 2013
    Insulation thread & hi-lo-hi burner?

    There's an excellent thread going on the Main Wall on steam pipe insulation...the many and varied ways of doing it. I wasn't aware that larger pipes need 2" insulation.

    I'll leave it to others to comment on your original ?. However, you might want to check if your burner has variable output settings. I've read that sometimes they do, but were only set up for single -stage firing. It's worth a look-see anyway as that might help with the short-cycling after it reaches temp/pressure. C
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • thank you!

    I will check it out. I dont believe there is a variable burner on my system
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,182
    Fuel reduction

    That boiler can only be down fired by 10% by reducing the gas pressure or replacing the gas orifices; in either case a combustion test would have to be made to make sure it's working correctly (carbon monoxide levels) after any changes. Saving fuel is great, being alive to tell about it is better.

    Until you can afford to address whatever might be wrong with your steam system you should consider using an electric heater in one room to bring that room up to a livable temperature. The old quartz heaters were great in that situation as long as they were used safely. The rest of the building could be left in the 50's but do everything you can to seal any and all air leaks. I assume it's a brick building, don't bother with deep temperature setbacks on that system because the mass of all that brick makes it a fools errand, it takes huge amount of energy to move all that masonry.

    If you want more help, post some pictures.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,338
    Also tell us

    where you're located- we may know someone near you who can help. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
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