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Steam to Hot water

RadiantBob
RadiantBob Member Posts: 5
Looking for a consultant or contractor in the Philly area with experience in conversion from steam to hot water. Vapor steam system, converted to open system when it started leaking. Looking to go to hot water. Current rads are copper fin. Apartments are getting new windows and insulation so rads will be over sized. This is a 200 unit building, project includes domestic hot water and controls. Currently have a pair of 300 HP low pressure steam boilers. Contact me at <a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a>

Comments

  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Heat

    I'll give you consultation right here. Don't convert to hot water. Fix the vapor system and live in comfort and peace.
  • Snowmelt
    Snowmelt Member Posts: 1,334
    Great

    Advice
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,966
    If it leaked

    on the original vapour steam pressures, it's going to be Niagara Falls on hot water.



    You will -- as Joe has said -- be much much better off getting a steam pro -- and there are several in your area -- to come in and restore the system to the way it should be.  Less money, less hassle, better results.



    If you are determined to go ahead, however, what you are looking for isn't a conversion, but a complete tear out and reinstall.  If someone quotes you on a conversion -- and I expect that someone will -- read the contract carefully; I'm sure you will find contingency add ons in it which have the potential to break your bank.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,349
    Agreed

    We don't do steam-to-water conversions. Too much liability.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • RadiantBob
    RadiantBob Member Posts: 5
    Fix - Really?

    I kind of thought the guys that do this stuff on a regular basis are into fixing or restoring. I know that originally the system was probably extremely easy to operate and mostly comfortable for the residence.  Problem is now there has been a ton of money spent, re-piping to add condensate pumps etc, the boilers are at end of live and have been re-tube'd 3 times and now are cracked.  Since this is a major overhaul, I was hoping to use the radiation as HW and control each room.  Regulation on temperature now is opening windows.  I think next step may be to rip the whole system and use heatpumps ( PTACS ) to accomplish control and shift cost to the tenant from the building owner.  This also solves my AC problem and gets rid of the window units.

    Thanks for your input.   Guess I am heading down another road.  
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,966
    We do fix

    and restore, and love it -- and usually have excellent results.



    Conversion isn't the same as fixing and restoring, though...
    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: 8,564
    richardson system

    I wonder how the client would view your decision to convert to heat pumps if he ever would read this post.

    this system obviously worked extremely well, when first installed. vapor systems were not cheap in those days.

    if I were the client, I would want to have the system restored to its original operating condition, fired with gas, rather than simply replaced, by a new system using electricity.--NBC
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,349
    You can control a Vapor system room-by-room

    same way as you'd do with hot-water: using Thermostatic Radiator Valves and an outdoor control to cycle the burners. It's really not that difficult.



    But it occurs to me that you wanted to push the PTAC method all the while, and were never serious about anything else in the first place. If this is true, why did you even bother asking us what we thought?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Emeliza
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,776
    Technically Speaking....

    It actually is possible to convert a good tight steam system to hot water.  I have seen several done, and of those, they were not done well, didn't work well, didn't save any money, and cost a LOT to do the conversion.



    I have heard of some conversions that actually worked out well, so it's not to say that it can't be done.  But, the conversion that was very successful, the work was done by one of the best steam contractors around there.  They didn't design it or recommend it, an engineer did that.  (they don't teach steam anymore in engineering school)  But, through the craftsmanship of the contractor, the thing actually worked. 
    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.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,082
    Costs

    Now I am just a homeowner, but I do a ton of remodeling on mine an others houses.  One thing I often wonder if people miss.  What is the cost of patching all the holes that are left from ripping all the pipes out to install PTAC system?!  I am not asking for a price, but having a contractor patch say 4-6 holes in each ceiling and floor of 200 apartments has a tangible cost that would have to be added into this conversion.  I often wonder if this is glossed over when presenting a conversion like this.  Not to mention disposal of all that pipe.  Just an observation.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,865
    Steam

    I don't know, after working on one hot water system I feel if you know what you're doing steam is easier.

    When I work on my boiler I drain it, do the work, refill it, turn the heat on and go to bed.  No pumps, no bleeding, no expansion tank failures and having to check and adjust precharge.  And maybe I'm wrong being only a homeowner and not seeing much, but it seems like pumps and diaphragm tanks fail an awful lot.  Makes me happy not to have them.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • RadiantBob
    RadiantBob Member Posts: 5
    Not pushing PTACs

    Guys why all the hate. This is an information forum right? I don't have an agenda to move PTAC's in, my agenda is to find a good solution. Steam is GREAT heat, If I can do this project by switching out the steam boilers and activating the vapor system and control with thermostatic valves linked to a bms and still be able to show some kind of a return on investment, Thant would be a good thing. Been doing HW for 20+ years and have successfully converted many residential steam systems with savings usually 50% or more. I lead this with..... looking for a consultant (paid) not looking for a free ride and open to suggestion. If I can find a steam contractor that would take this on, I am all about it.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,865
    edited May 2014
    Hate

    I don't think anyone here showed any hate.

    However after saying "Been doing HW for 20+ years and have successfully converted many residential steam systems with savings usually 50% or more"



    Usually this means the steam systems were not operating correctly and the customer was talked into converting rather than correcting the problems.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • RadiantBob
    RadiantBob Member Posts: 5
    old Steam

    Chris, you are right, The steam systems I've replaced were barely working at all when turned to HW. Most of the ones I did were relatively newer ( 50's) two pipe systems that did not have any maintenance and we had clients looking for radiant heat in sections of the house as well. Not a fair comparison. When updating a HW system we can usually claim the same efficiency gain when taking out an old tankless coil boiler and installing a low temperature hydronic system with indirect. I know a good working steam system is worth maintaining and restoring.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Steam

    You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't spit into the wind. You don't pull the mask off that ol' lone ranger. And you don't convert steam to hot water.



    Or something like that...



    Somebody might get the impression that we take the loss of a steam system very seriously around here.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,349
    Your quote

    "I was hoping to use the radiation as HW and control each room. 

    Regulation on temperature now is opening windows.  I think next step may

    be to rip the whole system and use heatpumps ( PTACS )"



    tells us you expected our responses to reinforce your original proposal. When they did not, your answer was to rip everything out and install PTACs. Think about it- you asked for our advice, then said you were going to do the exact opposite. What are we supposed to think?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,847
    have converted steam to HW

    I was involved with some steam to HW projects in the seventies. I don't think the owners did themselves any favors. Projects ended up more expensive than expected. And HW requires maintenance too. The easiest improvement those owners could have done is keep a record of which steam trap cartridge was changed when.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    Jstar consults...

    I believe Jstar (and someone else, can't recall) services the Philly area. He is the best and does consults. I'm just a homeowner, but he helped me so much on my install along with so many others. I have a two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system. I may be missing something in what you currently have, but steam boilers are used with vapor systems. Get some wet-based staged boilers and you'll be ahead of the game in efficiency and comfort.  I would think with such a large building that steam would be preferable, especially given vacancies, etc. My heat is very even and economical considering the large size of the house.



    Converting to HW is a touchy subject around here. I had considered the same and am so glad I decided against. I will say I never called back the contractors who only pushed conversion, although I had a very tough time finding someone to competently hook up my system as designed. Give Jstar a call.

    CTD
    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
  • RadiantBob
    RadiantBob Member Posts: 5
    Going to look at restoration

    thanks for the comments:  I learned that we can control individual rooms and there is a possibility to restore the vapor system.  That is our first choice.  Fix the low pressure steam is number two, convert to HW is number 3 and last ditch is to use those awful PTAC's
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,330
    Books

    If you haven't found them yet, There are some great steam books on this site.

    Just great easy to read books that will spell out your options. "Greening Steam" sounds like the first one you would like.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,756
    edited May 2014
    The best way to convert steam to hot water?

    Put it in a radiator.



    As we all know, this conversion of steam into hot water, known as condensation, is the basis of why steam heating systems are more efficient even though the boilers typically aren't as efficient.



    In case you don't have an intuitive feel for the significance of phase change, here is a phase change diagram for water. Note that the heat capacity of liquid water, while not labeled on the graph, is 7.53 kJ/mol. In other words, it takes 7.53 kJ to raise 1 mole of water from 0 ºC to 100 ºC.



    When a steam boiler sends steam out to the radiators, it comes back as water. That means every mole of water that left the boiler as steam has given up 40.65 kJ of energy.



    When a hot water boiler sends hot water to the radiators, it comes back as slightly less hot water. How much energy has it given up? Well, if it had given up one-third as much energy as the steam, it would be frozen solid! But of course we know this doesn't happen. The water doesn't even get cold. It's just a little less hot than it was when it left, so it has really only given up a fraction of the 7.53 kJ that would take it to the freezing point. A good estimate would be about 10% of the energy the steam delivers.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24