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Check Out My Steam System - Need Some Advice (Pictures)

You guys have been incredibly helpful. I've littered the discussion board lately with some half intelligent questions. As I've learned quite a bit I figured it would be best to narrow down the focus of the discussions and answer some of the varied questions that I've been getting. So here goes. For reference here are some of the threads I've started recently:
forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/152366/leaking-radiator-replace-repair-or-ignore#latesthttp://
http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/152369/pressuretrol-reccomendation#latest
http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/152372/signs-a-boiler-is-nearing-the-end-of-its-life#latest
http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/152364/no-main-vents-worth-installing#latest

What I've concluded so far from the above threads are these facts:
1. I have no main vents. There are two mains that are not connected by a header.
2. Once I install main vents I would like to replace the Pressuretrol with a Vaporstat.
3. I have a leaky radiator that needs to be fixed. Fresh water = bad.

So that leads me to my next set of questions:
1. Should I install a Gorton #2 vent on each main leg? Or more? Where exactly on the mains?
2. When I install a Vaporstat what would be a good cut in / differential setting? 10oz with an 8oz differential?
3. I'd like to learn more about my boiler. It is a Peerless G-461-SP-1. Do any manuals exist out there? I can't find out a single thing about it.
4. What would be an appropriate sized replacement boiler....not for this moment....but someday.

Now for the good stuff - PICTURES!!!!

Here is how my system is set up: Did I get my EDR calculations correct? I had to round up to the next largest size radiator as there did not seem to be a 18-1/2" height column on the chart. I used this link to help calculate EDR:
http://columbiaheatingsupply.com/page_images/Sizing%20Cast%20Iron%20Radiator%20Heating%20Capacity%20Guide.pdf



Here are pictures of the boiler piping:








Comments

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,625
    Personally I wouldn't jump right to a vaporstat. I would spend the money on a good low pressure gauge something like 0-3PSI and put it on a tee on your current pigtail. This will be a much more useful investment to help you tune the system. Then I would go after the venting. You can start with 1 Gorton #2 on that longer main, but it would probably be well served with 2 of them. With that shall we say interesting near boiler piping there is probably only so much you will be able to do with vents to make the system better. It looks like that boiler is about 30% over sized if your EDR calculations are correct. For sizing a new one you want to get as close to your EDR as you can. Most manufacturers list the sq ft of steam the boiler is designed to work with. Just go by that number and get as close as you can to your calculations. On your current boiler it is listed as 305, and you calculated your EDR at 224 so that is 36% over sized. Not terrible, but over sized.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 318
    Thanks for the advice! The gauge on there now is a 0-5psi but I probably wouldn't mind replacing it with a 0-15 or 0-30oz.

    And since I'm a pipe fitting NewB....what is the easiest way to install a vent? Take everything apart so a T can be installed somewhere? Or am I overthinking this and there is a glaringly obvious simple way?

    I actually think my EDR #'s may be a bit high. I had to round up to the 20" high column for most of the radiators. Their actual heights are 18.5".
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 318
    I should also mention that I have the existing pressuretroll set to cut in at 1.25psi with a 1psi differential.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,625
    Can you see the pipes at the end of your mains? Sometimes vents fail and people remove and plug the holes. Did you look around on your mains for a plug near the end or at the end? even a short distance before the end of main. You might have a place for one and don't realize it. If you don't have a plugged hole then you will have to get a bit more creative either take some piping apart or SOMETIMES there is a way to drill and tap a hole in a fitting or pipe. That option is not for the inexperienced though. Actually really either option would require someone with some mechanical skills, not sure how comfortable you are with that. Remember any project involving the piping should be well thought out if you are thinking of tackling it in the winter....if it goes south you have no heat.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 318
    Its been about 7 years since I installed the insulation on the pipes and I was MUCH LESS educated about steam than I am now. But I don't remember any plugs that I had to cover up. A visual check last night didn't show any bulges or obvious signs that I installed the insulation over a plug of some kind.

    But it doesn't mean there isn't something there. I could remove some of the insulation and do a better job checking.

    If all else fails I'd rather attempt taping a hole somewhere than lay some new pipe. I'm pretty comfortable with taping. Not so good at running new pipe. What is the best place to tap a hole...on an elbow?
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or are the two boiler outlets feeding separate mains? Don't know why it's so hard to see the piping through that spiral wrap pattern, but (for me anyway) it is vexing.
    RobG
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,625
    SWEI said:

    Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or are the two boiler outlets feeding separate mains? Don't know why it's so hard to see the piping through that spiral wrap pattern, but (for me anyway) it is vexing.

    No tricks that's what is going on.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 318
    Yep. Two boiler outlets.....two mains. Not connected together at all. I'm learning that is not typical....but is it a bad thing? I'm not against fixing it so it is piped correctly!
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,182
    that boiler is not piped correctly, in the best of all worlds it would be properly repiped. I would not start something like that in November, add some main vents and see how that affects the operation and deal with the piping in the spring.

    The vents want to be towards the end of each main after the last radiator takeoff, hopefully 15 " back from the end of each but that isn't always possible. If there is a fitting that would be nice, otherwise maybe you could have a THREAD - O -LET welded ontop of the pipe at the right location.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 318
    Regarding the funky main piping at the boiler. I probably don't have it in me to tackle that on my own to correct it. It will cost a few bucks to have a pro do it.

    How will my system benefit from correcting the piping? Will it be more efficient? Or just more "correct"?
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,625

    Regarding the funky main piping at the boiler. I probably don't have it in me to tackle that on my own to correct it. It will cost a few bucks to have a pro do it.

    How will my system benefit from correcting the piping? Will it be more efficient? Or just more "correct"?

    Yes to both. It will also probably be quieter. Think about how your system works now.....got it? Now imagine not knowing it's on. That's what a properly tuned steam system is like. I have a couple creaks of expansion noise against wood, but other than that I don't even know it's on just feel the warmth. No vent noise no water hammer no nothing. Just silent warmth. Getting the whole system "correct" gets you to that point. So since the near boiler piping is part of that yes it makes a difference. Now the question is, is it worth it to re-pipe the old boiler or just leave it and fix the near boiler piping when you need a new boiler? That is a question you need to ask yourself. I don't know how old that boiler is so it's hard to even fathom a guess on that one.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 318
    Its about 26-28 years old I'm pretty sure. I'm thinking it would be best to tackle the leaking radiator and get some main vents on the system first.....and see how it performs after that.

    I'm still shocked there is no main venting. The house has been heated with steam for 115 years, so who knows what has gone on between now and then and how much of the piping is original.

    Judging by how the piping at the boiler was installed I'm willing to bet that the mains (if any) were removed when the new boiler was put in.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,515
    That near boiler piping is really bad. At some point it needs to be corrected but if it is heating the house, for now you probably need to plan for a boiler replacement when you can afford it or when the boiler fails, whichever comes first. Hate to see you spend money fixing that piping only to have it torn out in 2 to 5 years when a new boiler may be required. Check your returns right at the end of the horizontal run, where they turn down into a vertical drop to the floor. Many old systems have the venting (or plug) right in the top of that elbow.

    Turn you Pressuretrol down to .5PSI Cut-in and turn the Differential wheel inside that Pressuretrol to 1PSI. The lower the pressure the better. With the near boiler piping you currently have, I'm not sure you will see much benefit using a Vaporstat at this point, especially since you haven't yet taken full advantage of the lowest settings on the Pressuretrol. Also be 100% sure the opening in the LWCO and the Pigtail are clean and clear. My Pressuretrol use to be mounted just like yours, on the LWCO and that tapping is a gunk magnet. It should be cleaned at the beginning and about the middle of each heating season. It would be better served to put a Tee on the fitting with your gauge and move the Pressuretrol to that Pigtail. You can then just put a 1/4 inch plug in the top of the LWCO.
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 318
    Wow...thanks for all the great comments (and bad news regarding the piping). FYI...the pressuretroll is currently set for a 0.25psi cut in with 1psi differential.

    The problem I will have in the future is finding someone who actually knows what they are doing with proper steam piping and boiler installation. Alot of people around here will claim to know how to do it.....finding the person who can do it right is the hard part.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,515
    That Pressuretrol won't go down to .25. The minimum setting is .5. If you turn the adjustment screw lower than that, you unscrew it from the linkage inside the unit and it won't work. Check that and set it at .5. Make sure the white wheel inside that unit is set at 1. That gives you at Cut-in of .5PSI and a Differential of 1PSI for a Cut-Out of 1.5PSI (.5PSI + 1PSI = 1.5PSI)
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 318
    edited November 2014
    Hmmmm. Screw is just about to the end of the threads, probably can't be lowered anymore. White wheel is at 1psi. House is cold so let the boiler work and it got up to 1.25psi, shut off, went down to about .25psi.....then repeated a bunch of times until the thermostat was satisfied.

    There is a 0-5psi gauge on there now...could be off a bit? It reads zero when things are cold.

    The pressuretrol was adjusted and the gauge was installed at the beginning of the 2012-2013 heating season. The gauge is new , the old one was a 0-100psi that was broken.

    The pressuretrol was previously at 1.5-2 psi with a 1.5psi differential. I just lowered it as low as it could go.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,625
    Gauge could be off a bit, but the pressuretrols are notorious for being off at these low settings....don't even get me started on the inaccuracy of the vaporstats!
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 318
    While I weep in sadness on the state of my piping....lets pretend that there are no plugs in my mains where the vents used to be and I have to drill and tap the elbows for some vents. Will the areas I circled in blue in the diagram above be sufficient?

    The 16.5' run going to radiator #2 is in a crawlspace....and I really, really, really would rather not do any work in there so its not really practical to install a vent at the end of that run.

    Would two Gorton #2's near the blue circle at radiator #5/6 and one Gorton #2 at the blue circle between radiator #1/2?

    Maybe a single Gorton #1 near radiator #1?

    Any known reputable steam guys here work in central MA???
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 318
    edited November 2014
    Thank you thank you. It will probably be some time before I call because we are heating primarily with wood for now....but this is something I would like to shore up some day!

    Just googled his address.....1hr-45 min from his place to mine! Says he is almost on the NY border in Lee. Springfield is more like 1hr give or take. Either way...good to know there is someone out there!
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    I would give Charlie a call.
    RobG
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,625
    Don't be discouraged by distance, some of these steam guys will travel great distances to at least give you a consultation. If they help you get a good plan of attack and write every thing down sometimes you can then locate a local person willing to follow the plan. As long as they can handle the black pipe and fittings they should be able to do the work.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 318
    edited November 2014
    Again, thank you everyone for the help. Money is tight right now and we burn wood for about 90% of our heat so getting this fixed isn't a huge priority.

    But I have to ask.... Assuming I was to use the steam for 100% of my heat, how much money would adding maiin vents, lowering the pressure to ounces, fixing the near boiler piping, and repairing a leaky radiator save me???

    I know many variables go into this, and its more of a guess...but lets pretend its an average January and it would cost $300 for the month to heat the system as-is.

    Thanks! You guys rock!
  • You could try putting 2 Gorton D's on the radiators at the end of each main. That unorthodox method would at least get the air out more quickly. At the same time, the intermediate rads should have slower vents.
    Just time your steam arrival time before, and after to see the difference. That also would reduce the short-cycling.--NBC
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,090
    edited November 2014
    Main vens are used each and every cycle. The only way to quatify there saving would be to determine how long the system runs without them compared to with them and extrapolate for the entire heating season. Years ago I removed my rad covers. The were causing the boiler to run on average an extra 10 minutes on every heating cycle. There were holding back the heat because they messed up the convective heat coming off the rads. Took longer to satisfy the thermostat. The saving have been huge. That with the huge drop in natural gas prices compared to the oil I used to use, paid for my conversion in a few years.
  • David Nadle
    David Nadle Member Posts: 624
    More data is needed.

    Apologies if this seems obvious but I've seen people misunderstand in the past, thinking that lowering your pressuretrol setting or adding a vaporstat will lower your operating pressure. It obviously only affects the limit. And you may be hitting that limit only a small percentage of the time, on very cold days.

    So it's pretty difficult to estimate how much money you'll save without knowing more about how long the boiler is running and at what pressure.

    I think you should fix the leaky radiator first, add main vents second, and hold off on the rest until the boiler is replaced.
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