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Which pipes do I insulate?

SethK
SethK Member Posts: 43
Currently nothing is insulated. Half the house is heated from a rectangular loop of 2 inch pipe, where the last side of the rectangle does not feed any radiators, so I'll call that a 2" return. The other half of the house has a straight 2" main and a straight 1.25" return. Then there a bunch of bends of 2" pipe at the boiler totaling about 15 feet of pipe. Then a bunch of 1.25" risers (none are inside walls) and a 1" pipe to a radiator bolted onto the ceiling of the basement.

It's a 150-year-old post-and-beam house, the basement is gutted so I have access to everything. I just don't know if I should order insulation for every inch of pipe or just certain pipes.

As a side question, only one of the two outputs on top of the boiler are connected to steam pipes. Is that something that can significantly affect efficiency?

Thanks!

Comments

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    There are advantages to using both tappings out of the top of the boiler and into the Header but, depending on the size of the boiler, many manufacturers suggest using only one as a minimum installation requirement. you don't say what brand or size the boiler is or what size that riser and header are so it is difficult to determine what value a second riser might add.

    As far as insulating the pipes, insulate them all if they are above the boiler water line, the boiler risers, header, mains and dry returns are most important. wet returns (those lines below the boiler water line) do not need to be insulated.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,661
    I'm going to agree with @Fred except that I think any pipe that gets even warm will benefit from insulation.

    I'd insulate my wet return if I didn't think it would get destroyed from people walking over it.

    Anything that is warmer than the room it is in will loose heat and can benefit from insulation. This includes even the drain on your boiler.
    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
  • SethK
    SethK Member Posts: 43
    Thanks!

    My boiler is Burnham Hydronics PIN5SNC-ME2

    Here is a picture of the boiler http://imgur.com/AJJIbI6

    The first bend is about 16" above the top of the boiler. Should it be higher?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    SethK said:

    Thanks!

    My boiler is Burnham Hydronics PIN5SNC-ME2

    Here is a picture of the boiler http://imgur.com/AJJIbI6

    The first bend is about 16" above the top of the boiler. Should it be higher?

    Unfortunately it is not piped correctly. There is no Header there, the one riser goes straight up into a bull head Tee and feeds two Mains. The Bull head should not be there and each of those Mains should drop down and tie into the missing header. Needs some work to be right.

  • SethK
    SethK Member Posts: 43
    Figures. Nothing in this house is quite right.

    What will happen due to the way it is plumbed?

    Are we talking a huge job to fix it, or just a couple hours of work? And is that something a DIY-er could do, or will I need a real plumber? Thanks again.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited January 2015
    It is something a DIY-er could do if you are willing to commit to doing it right and you are handy. It is more than a couple hour job, maybe a couple days. The first thing to do is get the owner's/Installation Manual and understand how it should be plumbed (The installation Manual presents the "Minimum" requirements so there are still some improvements that could be made to the installation.
    From what I can see, this looks like a 1 pipe system. Is that correct ? (1 pipe going into each radiator and each radiator has a vent on the opposite side). If so, here are things I can see from the picture:
    1. It has 1 riser out of the boiler right now (which is minimum). If you can open the other tapping and use both Riser tappings, that would be a big inprovement.
    Use Elbows at the top end of the risers and short nipples to tie into the side of the new Header you will install.
    2. The Header that needs to be installed should be at least 1 full size larger that the risers out of the boiler. If they are 2" pipes, make the header 3" diameter. Header should be at least 28" above the Boiler water line. (Unless you install a drop header which needs additional discusssion/explaination if you go that route)
    3. Take that Tee out where the two mains tie in up at the ceiling and drop those down individually and tie them into the Header. They can drop straight down and tie into the top of the header.
    4. Boiler risers need to tie into Header first, then Mains tie in next and the equalizer (pipe going down to back of boiler) ties in at the end after the Mains, preferably a minimum of 15" past the last main.
    5. I am pretty sure that Hartford Loop is above the Boiler water line and needs to be dropped down.
    6. The wet returns (pipes that tie in where that drain above the bucket) look too close to the water line. They need to be dropped down much closer to the floor and then the Hartford loo comes back up (but stays a couple inches below the water line).
    7. I think I see a vent on the return up towards the ceiling in the background. looks like you need more venting as well. Each Main should have vents at the end of the Main.
    8. It probably would be a good idea to measure all your radiators and do an EDR comparison of that total EDR to the rated EDR of the Boiler. There isn't much you can do about the boiler size at this point, however, if it is way over sized or undersized it would be good to know just how close the size is to correct. It maybe possible some adjustment can be made (if it is over-sized, it can be down-fired a little or maybe have a two stage gas valve installed). If under-sized, not much can be done until the boiler needs to be replaced.) Based on the way that install looks, I doubt the installer did his "due dilligence" and did that EDR survey.
  • SethK
    SethK Member Posts: 43
    Wow, I didn't realize how many things were wrong. Thank you for your help, it sounds like I should wait for warmer weather before tackling the piping.

    I've been meaning to do the EDR computations. I have a feeling the radiators are all way over-sized for the rooms as well, and I had suspected that one tiny vent on the main was not good. I've already bought the largest vent I could find but I think it's going to need several.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Yes, that is a Spring/Summer job.