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Condensate Ceiling Heater

I'm remodeling a 1904 Garden Level apartment for conversion to a condo and it appears to have condensate return ceiling heaters.I would like to have these taken down, sand blasted, and re-installed. The joints may be very difficult to separate, been there since 1904. I've never seen or heard of these type of heaters. They look simple, exposed pipes, but they are not sloped and it is not obvious how the condensate flows thru the three pipes. I assume there is a "scoop" at the inlet.

Has anyone seen these heaters, or know how they work?


Ted Tio


  • They appear to have a vent on the manifold, and so are probably functioning as steam radiators. I would paint them in place.
    Have they been heating satisfactorily? If you have control over the rest of the house, and the boiler, it would be a good idea to make everything work as silently/economically as possible, for the new residents.--NBC
  • tedtio
    tedtio Member Posts: 3

    They work great! Allows feels warm in the space that they heat.

    Yes, there is a vent. Is it possible that the steam off the condensate is drawn off, and routed thru? That makes sense, as the condensing steam would create a low pressure area, drawing in the steam.

    Painting may be possible, but some of them have been painted many times, and are pealing in thick chunks. May be possible to refurbish in place. One contractor suggested to completely replace with new piping. As I think this through, the internal piping may not be in good shape, and the pipe could be damaged causing more and more repairs. Refurbish in place may be the best option.

    Thanks! Ted
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,432
    Talk to your local paint store, a REAL paint store not the big box that also sells paint. There are a lot of really good paints out now that would work well for that piping. I painted all my near boiler piping after I installed it with a latex paint and so far it is holding up nicely to the heat without issue. The trick is always in the prep. remove all loose paint sand thoroughly prime and paint. I agree refurbish in place. That old piping will last for a lot of years, but the minute you start messing with it all bets are off.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,802
    Dumb question: not seeing any unions and all fittings look to be threaded, how are those pipes screwed together? Maybe a left hand/right hand coupling not shown or I don't see it. Or LH/RH nipples in the supply Manifold like the bottom of a CI rad??Thanks
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,094
    Looks like a pipe coil to me. They were used before the came up with wall rads.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,802
    My curiousity peaked thinking about this steam system. My best guess is the manifolds were purchased fm fractory (LH/RH nipples on supply and solid one piece return manifold complete ready for 3 runs) and field installed piping finished it. Are both ends of this coil connected to steam piping??
  • tedtio
    tedtio Member Posts: 3
    It is difficult to see from the photos posted, but all the joints are threaded.

    The pipe is connected to the condensate drain piping.

    Coil pipe? The building was built in 1903. Were these in common use then.

    The original boiler is still in place, but not used. It is a Kewanee coal boiler.

    Thanks for all the comments! The old steam systems are interesting. I do see these from time to time in downtown Minneapolis.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,802
    I am assuming this a one pipe steam system? And looking at the first picture that the steam comes from the left; and in the second picture there is no connection to the pipe next to that end of the ceiling radiator, just a vent for a 1 pipe system. If so than this is a really short 3 column 1 pipe rad. and would need minimal slope just for counterflow condensate to get out of the radiator thru the valve back into the main. And to take it down the only connection is the union at the valve and the trapeze hangers. If I had to paint this I would rather have it on sawhorses rather than work off a ladder.
    But still how was it screwed together??---I'll probably never see one and won't build one. But just want to know.