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Some questions about another steam system, with pictures.

ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
So while I'm trying to figure out my own steam system, I'm also looking at my parents' system in Brooklyn. They've got mostly cast-iron convectors, recessed on the first floor and freestanding on the second, with one thick-tube radiator in the front hall, and one oddball wall-mount thing (see pic 5) in the side hall. The system heats unevenly, or maybe it's just that the front upstairs rooms are above the outside hallways so more cold air leaks in. I did do an inventory of the convector sizes vs. vent sizes, but no pattern emerges. I'll save that for my next thread for now.

The thing is, recently there's been lots of clanging in the basement office, which is the former coal bunker next to the boiler room. We're trying to figure out what changed. They have a feeder, so the water level stays about the same as it always has. Now the pictures.

Pic 1: Aren't there usually two risers going up to the header? There's a knockout plate in the top cover of the boiler on the other side, but they didn't put any pipe there.

Pic 2: THe boiler room is right at the back of the house. The main on the left goes to the front of the house, drops to a dry return with a vent, then drops to a wet return about four feet later. The one on the right loops around the back of the house through to the office, then . . .

Pic 3: . . . short-circuits to a dry return line through this thing. What is it, and why is it there? Is that supposed to take the place of a vent? (like in the "cottage" in the end of TLAOSH) because I have no idea where the other end of that second main goes. It disappears into the wall, but doesn't come out the other side. Maybe it ties into the other main, maybe it goes upstairs, maybe it goes through a black hole to Mars and supplies the water vapor they've been finding there. If there's a far end with another main vent, I can't find it (without breaking walls, which my mom wouldn't really appreciate). If that apparatus up by the ceiling has gone bad, would that be what's causing the water hammer, and if so, where can I get another one?

Not to mention, where's the beginning of that dry return?

Pic 4: That there's what serves as a main vent for the entire house, or at least for that longer main. The vents on the convectors are a mishmosh of Hoffman 40s, Gorton C's and D's, a Gorton 6 in the room with the thermostat, and one weird sort of variable vent of dubious functionality called a Heat-Timer Thermo-Valve. The main vent, conversely, is a Dole #1933, with an aperture the size of a pinhole. I have to say that taking the smallest vent in the entire house and putting it on the main seems kind of bass-ackwards to me. I'd have swapped it for a Gorton #2, except for two problems: first, I couldn't find one locally (I was limited for time, so I only called the two nearest plumbing supplies. They both had only #1s, and one of them even asked me what the difference was between a 1 and a 2. Yes he did.), and second, there's really not enough vertical clearance under the beam, so I'm going to have to build an offset with some elbows and nipples before I can install it there. Which raises the question: if it's on an offset like that, does it still need to be 6" above the return? Or do the elbows, etc. protect it from water hammer? Because even not under the beam, there's no room for a #2 and a 6" nipple. Maybe I'd better just put a couple of 1s instead.

I also note in passing that none of the mains in the basement are insulated. They undoubtedly were once covered with asbestos, but the previous owner would have had to remove that before selling the house. Most of the main is inside a channel built downward from the ceiling and inaccessible without opening that up; the rest is very close to the ceiling. Not sure if there's going to be enough room to put insulation back on.

Pic 5: There's that weird wallmount unit. Anybody know what that is, and how to calculate EDR on it?

Pic 6: Is that copper pipe supposed to be in lieu of a Hartford loop? And if so, shouldn't it go higher up before tying back down into the boiler?
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Comments

  • Let's start at the beginning-it's methane on Mars.
    Definitely more main venting is needed on the mains!!!
    The boiler piping could be better, and should all be insulated.
    Hard to say what that trap is doing there, as no one-pipe system would normally have a trap, except for the despised condensate tank option.
    Start with the main venting. Unless it's the size of a garden shed, put a couple of Gorton 2's on each dry return.
    When you suggest that, they may say they are warm enough now, and they are used to any vent noise, and high fuel bills- "hey it's steam"!
    So get your own system working so perfectly, and silently, that they can experience the quality of steam, as it once was before lack of maintenance.--NBC
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,418
    That looks like a Burnham Series 4 boiler. They are good sized boilers. What the Sq ft. rating on the side panel? Have you measured the total EDR of their radiators? That boiler definately should have 2 risers on it and the header should be a 3" preferably 4" Header.
    What is the pressuretrol set at? What is the pressure running?
    You definately need more venting on those mains and you need to figure out where the other main goes. Make sure all the radiators are properly pitched.
    The wall radiator is just that, a wall mounted radiator. EDR info is available in Dan's EDR book or if you post the measurements here, we may be able to tell you what the EDR is, length, width, # of sections.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,724
    Picture 3 -- that's a crossover trap. Functions like a king size vent -- provided the dry return is vented
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2014
    Fred: to answer your questions.

    Boiler spec: I didn't write this down when I was there, so I called my mom and asked her to read it over the phone. The boiler is a Burnham 411-BI, rating by I=B=R is 853 square feet, BTU 204,800 for steam. There's another rating below that of 350K input, 273K output. (what's that, net and gross?)

    Total radiation from the convectors is 402.9 square feet (6 sections of 7-1/2" at 3.4 sq.ft./section plus 170 sections of 5" at
    2.25 sq.ft./section), plus that one regular radiator (I didn't measure it, at a guess it's 22" tall x 12 sections which would be 36 sq ft, close enough for what is literally a back-of-the-envelope calculation), and the wall hung unit which I have no clue what the size is, so 438.9 sq feet plus the wall unit. Maybe 450 altogether. Maybe I can get a better measurement if I call them tomorrow.

    Unless I've screwed up the math somewhere, this means that the boiler is about twice as large as it has to be. Although all those uninsulated pipes are probably radiating a bit as well.

    The header has about 8" circumference, which translates to a 2-1/2" pipe.

    Pressuretrol was already set about as low as it goes, I didn't touch it. So that would be 1/2 psi cut-in, dunno what the diff is. The gauge is the usual useless 0-30, so can't tell you what the operating pressure is (it was warm enough in the house that the thermostat wasn't calling anyway).
  • With a boiler of that size, I would think a 4 inch header, and 2 appropriate 3 inch risers would be needed. Who did the work?--NBC
  • ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
    You got me. We bought the house like that about 18 years ago.
  • His sticker may be on the boiler, so you may not want to call him back!--NBC
  • jimmythegreekjimmythegreek Member Posts: 51
    I have a similar setup that I had to repipe ad remaster in my commercial building. I too "bought it that way" but knew what I was looking at going into it. The average gas bill was over 2k a month in the dead of winter, now 2 yrs later im around 1k a month. Its worth the savings and comfort to put some money into that system.

    As said u need another riser at full size, no bushings. U cannot keep the header piping for mains in the middle like that, u wanna come off an end, but you can reuse ALOT of that piping and just add pieces to it, its in good shape looks wise. Connect the 2 risers and pipe the header off one end into a C and connect the two mains the best you can, or a drop header is even better. Make an antler and get at least 2 gortons on each main to start with. If you wanna save the current rad vents boil and clean them w vinegar and start figuring out what needs more or less venting. That noise will go away when its properly installed and the fuel bill will go down, U can usually get ur money back in 2 seasons on a re-do like this. check all rads for pitch and insulate what you can, at the least do all the near boiler piping and any areas where u know theres cold getting in nearby from outside
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,418
    edited December 2014

    I have a similar setup that I had to repipe ad remaster in my commercial building. I too "bought it that way" but knew what I was looking at going into it. The average gas bill was over 2k a month in the dead of winter, now 2 yrs later im around 1k a month. Its worth the savings and comfort to put some money into that system.

    As said u need another riser at full size, no bushings. U cannot keep the header piping for mains in the middle like that, u wanna come off an end, but you can reuse ALOT of that piping and just add pieces to it, its in good shape looks wise. Connect the 2 risers and pipe the header off one end into a C and connect the two mains the best you can, or a drop header is even better. Make an antler and get at least 2 gortons on each main to start with. If you wanna save the current rad vents boil and clean them w vinegar and start figuring out what needs more or less venting. That noise will go away when its properly installed and the fuel bill will go down, U can usually get ur money back in 2 seasons on a re-do like this. check all rads for pitch and insulate what you can, at the least do all the near boiler piping and any areas where u know theres cold getting in nearby from outside

    First, the boiler is way too big (almost double what is needed). I have the same boiler only a little larger at 866 sq. ft. I have two risers from the boiler up and the tappings on this boiler is only 2 inch but mine open to 3 inches going into a 4 inch header.
    Now as for the Header/Main configuration. My header, original to the 112 year old house is 40+ inches above the water line with two mains right inbetween the boiler risers and (as I noted a couple times on this site), I absolutely have no problems with my system. It is sooo quiet I don't know when it is running, the pressure typically runs at less than 2 ounces (usually 1 ounce), all radiators heat well and at about the same time (Venting is essential) and my gas bill, today is about 1/3 of what it was when I bought this house 24 years ago. The boiler is 32 years old and had no maintenance and practically no venting when I bought the house, Boiler would empty out with each cycle due to dirty, oily water, pressure was running at 4 to 5PSI and a couple flanges on the Main leaked a bit. I will repipe the Header and probably put a drop header in when this boiler gives up the ghost but until then, it works beautifully and I attribute that to the size and height of the header, the low operating pressure and the proper venting and maintenance. (AND I'M KNOCKING ON WOOD THE WHOLE TIME I WRITE THIS!)
    Back to your issue, some how you need to see what can be done to downfire that burner or if it is possible to put a smaller one in or maybe even put in a two stage gas valve and lock it in on low fire only. It is way too big as it sits. Put the correct amount of venting on each Main and make sure the pigtail the pressuretrol is mounted on is clean and open so that the pressure remains as low as possible. I'd strongly suggest a Vaporstat. Put a second riser on that boiler (the tappings on this boiler are across the wide side of the boiler so carry the second riser over to the right end of the header and tie it in next to the current riser. Do make the Header at least 4 inches and if you do that, I don't think you need to worry about the placement of the Mains as long as you can work the other riser and Tee into the right side.

  • ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
    God now I feel like an idiot. :|

    I just realized why it's so big; I totally forgot that there's also pumped hot water baseboard heating in the basement that taps into the bottom of the boiler. Guess that's where all those extra BTUs go. That's what happens when you post late at night. I totally forgot about that in my calculations... That green thing in picture 6 is the pump. (If I follow the pipes correctly, one end comes from the boiler side of the loop, at the top end of the copper pipe, and the other goes around the boiler and ties into what I bet is the mud leg.)

    Which of course makes me wonder. When nobody's in the basement, they shut that down, and wind up with way more heating capacity than they need. What's that do to the steam half of the system?
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 5,101
    As long as the baseboard does not exceed the pickup factor of the system you can ignore it.

    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
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,418
    edited December 2014
    I assume that hot water zone runs at different intervals from when the boiler is making steam so I don't think it significantly impacts the fact that the boiler is still twice the size needed. i'm not sure how those are typically set up. Maybe one of the Pro's can speak to that.
  • ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
    The basement has a totally separate thermostat. Two of them in fact, one on the boiler to regulate the water temp (I think it turns the burner on and off to maintain whatever temp it's set at, probably about 180. You can see it in pic 6, it's that tall grey box with the BX cable coming out its head) and another on the wall in the basement to measure the air temperature. Very primitive unit, no setbacks or nothing.

    i suppose it could be treated like a domestic water heating coil, only with the sink left running all the time?
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,418
    edited December 2014
    Most Steam boilers can be set up with one hot water loop, either for DHW or heating and I believe they are designed so that one or the other has priority when there is a call for heat or hot water (Be it DHW or baseboard heat) but I don't think they can run at the same time as you don't want the hot water loop to run at steam temperatures so I think if steam heat has priority, that will run until the thermostat is satisfied and then heat water to run at the design temp for that. If the Hot water loop has priority, and steam is running, the steam will stop and heat the hot water loop until that requirement is met and then start the steam cycle again (if the thermostat was not satisfied). In any case, I don't believe that loop mitagates the fact your radiator EDR is about 450 sq. ft. and your boiler is 853 sq. ft. Someone correct me if my understanding is wrong.
    That boiler was installed in the 1982/1983 timeframe and I'm betting someone just matched the old coal converted boiler. The size of that gas line suggests to me it was probably an old coal conversion to gas.
    I also notice there is no dirt leg on that gas line.
  • ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2014
    We know for a fact it was originally coal; the room that has the trap, which is now an office, used to have bare cinder block walls, and we were picking bits of anthracite out from between the blocks...

    As to the dirt leg, there's a plug there, I suppose someone could add a nipple and a cap, but I ain't touching that myself. If it's necessary, let Keyspan come out and do it.

    (It's not mine, BTW, it's my parents'. Mine is in another thread, also another state.)

    Oh and Fred, I don't know if this boiler was supposed to be set up for hot water. There's no separate "coil" as such, it's just plain boiler water being pumped through the baseboards. Out the mud leg and back into the wet return, or vice versa, I don't know which direction it goes. This being the case, who knows if there's any kind of high limit on the temperature in the baseboards, for all I know it may actually be pumping at steam temperature if the upstairs thermostat is calling for steam.

    I can propose an experiment: wait for the steam to be up (ergo water at boiling point), then turn on the baseboards and see if the pump comes on, or if it waits until it cools down. I used to live down there until about 1998, and intermittently after that until I got married, and I don't remember it shutting down when the steam was up, but I could be mistaken.

    I'm going to have to get a closer look at the controls for the hot water, next time I'm out there. That bigger grey box above and to the right of the pressuretrol has something to do with it.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,418
    edited December 2014
    I'm hoping some of the Pro's jump in on this thread as I'm not understanding how the boiler water ever gets up to steam temps if this hot water loop runs at the same time as the Steam cycle. It would seem to me that moving the water into and out of the boiler would really affect generating steam and if/when it did get up to temp, that boiling hot would not be appropriate for a hot water loop. It would also seem that pumping that water out of the lowest part of the boiler would also move all the dirt through through that pump and those hot water baseboard radiators.
  • ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
    Well, it's cracked now. I told my mother that she should have it repiped back when this thread was new, but things got put off and now it needs to be replaced altogether...

    The contractor my mother called for an estimate, when I asked him on the phone, said he always piped boilers as per their manuals, and he planned on using a drop header. OTOH, he'd never heard of a Big Mouth and wanted to know why there was a trap where a vent should be. I sometimes wonder if anyone who's not on this board has heard of them, or if it's just us.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,947
    @Shalom
    Where are you located? You should check "find a contractor" on this site.

    It's the end of the heating season. You have time to do some research to get the best boiler and the right contractor. I wouldn't rush into anything
  • ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
    It's my mother's house in Brooklyn, I left a message with @JohnNY but he hasn't called back yet.
  • dopey27177dopey27177 Member Posts: 286
    Back in the day when coal was used to heat a house the vents on
    radiators had check valves built in. When air was released and the coal burnt down the system went into a vacuum whereby steam was produced at much lower temperature sometimes as low as 150 degrees.

    When coal was abandoned and oil took its place the vent valves were removed and replaced with Dole or Hoffman vent valves.
    Often no piping changes were made.

    You show two steam mains, each steam main should have a main vent valve at the point where the dry return starts. Both dry returns need to drop into a wet return before it reenters the boiler.

    1. Picture 1: The boiler should have had both steam tappings used and the header should have been one pipe size larger. Additionally the piping should have been insulated.
    2. Picture 2: The piping needs insulation.
    3. Picture 3: The steam trap was used to remove air at a point where it does no good. It needs to be removed and the piping needs to be capped or plugged. I am making an assumption here, that was probably the vent for the second steam main.
    4. The vent should be installed on the high point of the steam main. If I am not mistaking I see a pipe with a cap on it and if it is part of the steam main a Gorton D valve can be installed at that location. The D valve vents 4 Cubic feet of air per minute the same as a Gorton #1 valve, if my memory is correct it is tapped for a 1/8" is much shorter than a #1 valve, This is an angle valve and needs to installed in a 1/8" tapping. You can use a half inch nipple and a 1/2 x 1/8 elbow for the installaton. The D valve is equal to 27 radiator vent valves.
    5. Picture #5: What is the relationship of the wall hung radiator to the boiler water level. Since this set up for steam and if the radiator is well above the the boiler water line and is connected properly to the return the inlet piping is to small to allow the condensate to drain out of the supply pipe when steam is entering the radiator. The supply pipe will need to be made larger before connecting to the radiator See attachment for horizontal pipe connections to radiators. The wall hung radiator may be about 40 EDR
    6. Picture # 6: The wet return connection to the Hartford Loop must not use a nipple longer than a shoulder nipple preferably a close nipple. As to the the hot water loop, when in operation it will not affect the boiler ability to produce sufficient steam to heat the house. If there is no air in the piping system there will be no flash steam made to cause banging. The only noise you might hear is the expansion and contraction of the copper pipe as the very hot water will cause that pipe to flex or rub against wall penetrations and movement on pipe supports.

    The drawing was taken from my book "Steam The Perfect Fluid For Heating And Some Of The Problems" It is available from Dan' library and Barnes and Noble.

    Jake
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,724
    A few more thoughts, not to be contrary minded but... You do not need vents on the steam mains, provided both of them have crossover traps (like your picture 3) to the dry returns. What you do need is a good big vent on the dry returns; if this is truly a two pipe system, the dry returns can hook together before they drop to the wet return and the boiler, and the main vents can be placed right there. Which is probably where it or they was or were at one time.

    A crossover trap is bigger than all but the biggest possible main vents (in fact, all a Big Mouth is is a crossover trap which isn't connected to a dry return).

    While @dopey27177 's comments are correct for some steam systems, comments 3 and 4 are not for this one.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,947
    @Shalom
    and the inlet to the thermostatic crossover trap should be changed to an eccentric reducer or a reducing elbow. It's making the steam main hold water
  • dopey27177dopey27177 Member Posts: 286
    The crossover trap vents air but where is the vent that vents the system air for that main.

    You stated that one steam main goes some place maybe to Mars. You really need to find the end of that steam main and locate the dry or wet return because a vent valve needs to be installed at the end of the steam main.

    Jamie Hall:

    If you read me right I said I am making an assumption.

    That assumption is based on my experience working on old systems in Brooklyn. I was born and raised there and worked for a company that specialized in making the old coal fired jobs work properly after the oil companies made the conversions. I think I worked on nearly all the different types of coal fired steam systems installed pre 1930.

    Jake

    Oh by the way a Gorton # 1 or D valve is perfect for small houses.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,724
    "The crossover trap vents air but where is the vent that vents the system air for that main."

    The dry returns should be vented. In fact, in a two pipe system, they must be vented! The idea is that the crossover trap vents the air in the main into the dry return, and the main vents -- which are on the dry return -- do the venting.

    And indeed -- our OP does need to find the end of that main which goes out to Mars -- and add either a crossover trap or main vent. If the system is not any one of the many vapour systems which had differential pressure controls at the boiler, a main vent will do. If it is, however (such as a Hoffman equipped) adding a vent anywhere other than at the widget will defeat the widget -- with unpredictable results.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
    edited May 11
    So first of all, the pic of the main vent is obsolete, I put a Tee with two Gorton D's on it shortly after I posted this thread (like this image)
    but I took that down and put a Big Mouth on there last year.

    Second... the radiators are all single pipe.

    The mains were probably insulated with asbestos. Now they are insulated with nothing at all. Can't see the first floor mains though, they were all buried in a box-like structure when they redid the basement. I did take a picture from the end of it, and a few pics up into the walls, if I can find my digital camera I might post those. I have no clue what the second floor main does. Can't see my mother being happy with me breaking holes in her walls to find it.

    The other thread about this system is at https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/152970/can-i-use-a-varivalve-as-a-main-vent-and-where-to-put-it , incorporated herein by reference.

    Note that the questions about the boiler itself is also obsolete as the boiler needs to be replaced. All three plumbers my mother called told her that it's way oversized, which was all y'all's opinion here as well.

    I also did a video walkaround which I posted in the other thread: https://www.youtube.com/embed/aLpRrkkSvB8
  • Joe_DunhamJoe_Dunham Member Posts: 32
    A big mouth is just a radiator trap that vents to atmosphere. it is usually installed 90 degrees to what it would be if it were on a radiator. BUT it MUST be open to atmosphere. Where does this trap dump? Wheres the pipe go? it looks like it is dripping what may be a low point so if that's the case its there to remove condensate (radiator traps do both) from what may be a low point in that main. It may have been added in attempt to deal with noise, but it may be mis-applied. if its there for condensate it should go to a pump, not the wet return.
    Is the circulator tied into was is supped to be the equalizer? hard to see.

  • ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
    edited May 13
    So now the question is, how many BTU does the new boiler need to be, for a total EDR of about 439 square feet plus the wall hung unit, plus the baseboard? I'm afraid the guy my mother wound up calling is gonna oversize it again, I'm not in charge, I can't go there because I've had the Wuhan Flu and they haven't. (He did say it needs to be smaller, but I dunno if he realizes just how much smaller.) I can tell you he didn't go around the house counting radiators, never even left the basement. Neither did the other three guys she called for estimates. I asked him where he got his numbers, and he said from 30 years experience putting boilers in these size houses in Brooklyn... are the people posting on this board the only ones who do it mathematically?

    Or is my math wrong? Way back at the top of this thread, five years ago, I counted 402.9 square feet (6 sections of 7-1/2" deep convectors at 3.4 sq.ft./section, plus 170 sections of 5" convectors at 2.25 sq.ft./section), plus one regular radiator at about 36 sq ft, and the wall hung unit. Maybe 450 altogether. I got those numbers from https://heatinghelp.com/assets/documents/299.pdf (the convectors look exactly like the Sunrad unit on that page). Someone want to look at my numbers and see if I'm off?
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,145
    edited May 13
    30 years of doing something in Brooklyn is a lousy method. There are lots of people who have been doing lots of things for 30+ years in Brooklyn.........Anyone who does not count radiators and measure EDR, should be shown the door. The guys selling stuff on the streets of Brooklyn don't use guesswork and neither should the boiler installers.
    BobCethicalpaul
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,724
    Steam. You have the total of 439 EDR, right? Unless the wall hung unit (I'm sure it's described up there somewhere...) is very large, you can ignore that. Look for a boiler with a steam EDR rating of right around 440. It's part of every steam boiler rating plate. The pickup factor built in to that number will take care of the wall hung unit, and you're good to go.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    STEAM DOCTOR
  • ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
    edited May 13
    Ah well, it's done anyways. She went with a guy who was recommended to her, not the guy I spoke to with the 30 years experience (or is that one year experience repeated 30 times?) but one of the other four, and he sold her a Williamson GSA-250. Per their website that's got 654 square feet capacity, I tried to tell her that was still bigger than she needs, but she says it's a done deal and it's time to move on to the next crisis. I guess 200 feet oversized is better than 400, but even so, there's a right way to do things.

    She said none of the 5 contractors wanted to give her anything less than the 250, and one wanted to sell her a 270. She''s concerned that if she gets the size I recommended, what happens if the upstairs is cold when it goes down to 5 degrees? I tried to tell her that if the boiler is matched to the connected radiation she'll never run out of steam, but she doesn't want to hear it.

    (She also said they didn't want anybody walking around every room in the house given the current pandemic and the fact that my father is at high risk with his medical history. They actually pried open the cellar door for the first time in years and had them come down the basement stairs from the back yard. Wonder what they did with all the spiders that accumulate in that stairwell. The thing is, I walked around the house five years ago and did the measurements, and none of them ever asked me, but it's settled.)

    So the question is, what can we do to mitigate the oversized boiler that's coming down those back stairs in the next couple days. At least this guy said he's going to pipe it per the manual, with two risers, a backflow preventer (that's required by code, it's not like he's doing us a favor), and so on.

    Still need to figure out what the heck is going on with that trap in the office ceiling, and get the radiators convectors balanced with the right vents. There's no rhyme or reason to the sizing on the vents, they're mostly too big for where they are (lotta C's and D's, but remember the main vent was undersized until I fixed that), and my gut feeling is that the last time they painted the house, the painters unscrewed all the vents and threw them in a bucket (because the convectors are all nicely painted, but there's no paint on the vents) and then screwed 'em back in at random, whichever one came to hand. I don't know if they even realized there's a difference.
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,145
    The Williamson only has one tapping. Highly doubt that he is installing two risers.
    ethicalpaul
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,145
    Manual requires 3" riser from boiler and 3" header.
    ethicalpaul
  • STEAM DOCTORSTEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,145
    GSA-175 would have been perfect.
    ethicalpaul
  • ShalomShalom Member Posts: 153
    Yeah I see that now, I downloaded the manual. Well I guess as long as he uses the right pipe size (3" per the manual) he's good.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,724
    As to the 50% over size... oy. Well, not much, really positive you can do. First, and most obvious, of course, is to make sure you have enough main venting. Vent the dickens out of it. That will delay to pressure rise when it first fires up on a cycle. Second, make sure the pressuretrol is set properly -- absolutely no more than 1.5 psi cutoff with a 1.0 psi subtractive differential.

    If that's all you do, it will still short cycle on runs of any real length, so you may want to take a page out of @PMJ 's book, and put a delay timer on the refire during a cycle. Some setup so that once it has been firing and shuts off, it won't restart for a time. I'd start with 10 minutes, but your mileage may vary. There are various ways to do that. Might get in touch with @PMJ directly.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    ethicalpaul
  • PrecaudPrecaud Member Posts: 307

    ... so you may want to take a page out of @PMJ 's book, and put a delay timer on the refire during a cycle. Some setup so that once it has been firing and shuts off, it won't restart for a time. I'd start with 10 minutes, but your mileage may vary

    It's a shame this programmable delay isn't built into modern thermostats. It's a feature that would cost nothing to implement. Some tstats have a "compressor delay" setting, which establishes a minimum off-time between cycles, but the longest I've seen is 5 minutes for that.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,577
    Shalom said:

    Yeah I see that now, I downloaded the manual. Well I guess as long as he uses the right pipe size (3" per the manual) he's good.

    Who's taking bets on this one? Sorry to be flip, but I've seen this story dozens of times and I've only been around here a couple years.
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,577
    Precaud said:

    ... so you may want to take a page out of @PMJ 's book, and put a delay timer on the refire during a cycle. Some setup so that once it has been firing and shuts off, it won't restart for a time. I'd start with 10 minutes, but your mileage may vary

    It's a shame this programmable delay isn't built into modern thermostats. It's a feature that would cost nothing to implement. Some tstats have a "compressor delay" setting, which establishes a minimum off-time between cycles, but the longest I've seen is 5 minutes for that.
    That would be cool, but the thermostat has no idea of when steam pressure is reached. I suppose a home owner or contractor could time a typical steam cycle (if that exists) and program that time delay into the thermostat, but that would be a very non-foolproof system.

    I'd like to see a pressuretrol come with a delay on it. That would be a lot more hands-off and straightforward. But so many people can't seem to set a pressuretrol correctly as it is, so I guess we're back where we started.
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • PrecaudPrecaud Member Posts: 307

    That would be cool, but the thermostat has no idea of when steam pressure is reached.

    For this purpose, I don't see why it would have to.
    I suppose a home owner or contractor could time a typical steam cycle (if that exists) and program that time delay into the thermostat, but that would be a very non-foolproof system.
    Some tweaking would be needed, whether its done by external timer or the tstat.
    I'd like to see a pressuretrol come with a delay on it. That would be a lot more hands-off and straightforward. But so many people can't seem to set a pressuretrol correctly as it is, so I guess we're back where we started.
    But that would only address short-cycling on pressure.

    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
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