Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Debunking Myths of 1 pipe steam in Multifamily residential buidings

Fact or Fiction??
  1. Let's say you have an FST 125 boiler and gravity return, some buried pipes. It is normal to measure 70 gallons of boiler feed makeup water per day (installed a meter on the cold water feed to the boiler) because it is a 1 pipe steam system and steam leaks out of the air vents regularly.
  1. Section 7.2 of the O&M EASTCO guide only applies only to boilers serving 2 pipe steam -- " If during normal operation it is necessary to add water to this Boiler more frequently than once a month consult a qualified service technician to check your system for leaks"
  1. During a heating cycle the air vents frequently open and close. This is a sign that steam is released from the radiator (as air has already been pushed out on the startup cycle) to allow additional steam to enter and condensate to return.
I have attended several of Dan Holohan's lectures, read his books and followed posts on this wall. However, when presenting this information in a formal engineering firm setting it is not considered technical enough and not a legitimate guide that I may refer to when writing specs for a heating contractor. There also seems to be a lot of misunderstanding on how 1 pipe steam is to be operated and maintained in the multifamily setting.

Any insight, suggestions, technical guides or standards is welcome.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,922
    I sympathise. As I am a retired engineer who got his stamp ages ago, the hard way, I've seen all too often "engineers" who have absolutely not practical experience at all with pretty much anything trying to make it all up from half-remembered texts (if there were any at all) and snippets of garbage from who knows where, and totally ignoring the experience of men and women who have been working on something all their lives, hand on.

    The problem is not limited to one pipe steam, by the way...

    I'm afraid though that written technical guides or standards for steam heat are pretty thin on the ground, and I'm not sure where to direct you.

    Some boiler manufacturers have recommendations for makeup water -- and there is no difference there between multi-family and any other heating system, nor between single pipe and two pipe steam (the boiler doesn't know the difference). You could refer to those to demolish your first and second myths up there.

    The third one is a little harder to demolish from some written guide -- although it is obviously lunatic to anyone who knows how a steam heating system actually works.

    Good luck...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 352
    Are you writing specifications for a new install/large repair or are you writing a user or operations manual?
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    edited January 2015
    Perhaps this should start with a list of requirements:

    1. The boiler shall be sized correctly to the radiation of the building. If possible, a multi-stage burner shall be chosen and installed, so as to work with the rising pressure of the system. Any makeup feed water must pass through a metering device to enable the early detection of system leaks.

    2. The boiler shall be piped in accordance with the manufacture's instructions in iron pipe. If a welded header is used, it shall be isolated by at least 2 90 degree fittings each riser, to insure adequate swing joints, accommodating the differing coefficients of expansion between boiler and header.

    3. The height of the new boiler waterline must be above any part it the wet returns.

    4. Adequate main line venting shall be installed on the dry returns, and risers over 50 feet, to ensure air removal at no more than 2 ounces of back-pressure.

    5. Maximum pressure devices shall be installed to limit the system to a verified 16 ounces per square inch.

    6. The boiler shall be cleaned properly of all oils following procedures required by the Mfg. Alternately the supply piping shall be designed to isolate the oily water into one part of the equalizer, from where it can be easily drained.

    7. When the system has been tested for silent operation, then the supply pipes shall be insulated with 1 inch fiberglass.

    8. A boiler control system shall be chosen and installed which enables the system to react to outside temperature, as well as inside temperature. The control shall be remotely operable (Internet capable) by a person of average technical intelligence, and be in a secure location, and protected from unauthorized interference by a secure password.
    just a start here--NBC
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,922
    Nice list. The only thing I would add is in number 8 -- if the control is remotely operable, including using wi-fi or hard connection to a network, including the internet, it shall be password protected and set to a high level of security.
    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: 8,576
    Good idea, I will add that-thanks-NBC
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,667


    6. The boiler shall be cleaned properly of all oils following procedures required by the Mfg. Alternately the supply piping shall be designed to isolate the oily water into one part of the equalizer, from where it can be easily drained.

    NBC,
    could you expand on this?
    or send me to a diagram somewhere,
    have you an oil trap design to share?
    known to beat dead horses
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,667
    I am envisioning a storm drain / septic tank outlet, oil and trash arrangement,
    condensate out the bottom as per usual, some sort of higher skim port, I guess around water line,
    it's a little cloudy in my mind right now , , ,
    known to beat dead horses
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    I will be working on this now that I have been told to get this labor-saving device/arrangement where my mouth is.
    And I hope you will all help!--NBC
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    Somewhere I have the schematic he drew for my system. If it's not buried in my I hear a Trane a Comin' post, it's buried in my emails. I'll search. I hope to pipe it in this summer, but I still need to hook up my Vstats first!
    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
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542

    I will be working on this now that I have been told to get this labor-saving device/arrangement where my mouth is.
    And I hope you will all help!--NBC

    Think of something like a fat seperator that would probably have to function during off cycles when the water is calm. I'm not too sure anything can do an auto skim/oil seperation at the equalizer or header. Too much turbulance I would think??
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    How about something like the Ultracept. It's a great oil/ sediment separator, I have used them for other kinds of projects. They aint cheap though.

    http://www.jrsmith.com/product.aspx?ProductId=387&title=Ultracept®+Oil/Water+Separator&productcategoryid=102&spr=true
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    RobG said:

    How about something like the Ultracept. It's a great oil/ sediment separator, I have used them for other kinds of projects. They aint cheap though.

    http://www.jrsmith.com/product.aspx?ProductId=387&title=Ultracept®+Oil/Water+Separator&productcategoryid=102&spr=true

    That looks like it has a lot of potential. i wonder what the temp range is and if it has to be plumbed into a port at the water level? I would think plumbing it into the equalizer/header or return pipe wouldn't be the way togo as it would not capture oils in the boiler itself (at least not until they are moved out into the system, which could take a long time).
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited January 2015
    @nicholas bonham-carter, here is your "Fat Seperator solution. If this filter/ tank could be built on a small scale (say 1 or 2 gallon container) and attached in the wet return (at the nearest point before going into the boiler (between the equalizer and the boiler tapping) and sit on the floor behind the boiler (or where ever the tapping is on any given boiler) it actually might work to capture the oils. see excerpt below from TanksDirect:

    How do Oil Water Separators Work?
    The basic premise under which oil water separators work is density. Oil is less dense than water, which is why it floats on the surface of water. Wastewater containing oil enters the tank from a drain and travels through a number of filters. These filters are designed to catch solids and small particles of oil less than 10 microns in size. The majority of the oil floats to the top of the tank, where it accumulates until reaching a certain level, at which time a sensor is triggered, informing the operator to pump out the oil. The treated wastewater is discharged into the sewer system with no more than 10 ppm of free oil.

    What are Oil Water Separators Used For?Oil water separators are used for a number of applications including:
    •Treatment of food industry wastewater. Wastewater in the food industry contains oil, grease, and suspended solids that need to be removed before the water enters the municipal wastewater management system.
    •Treatment of stormwater. The process of treating stormwater, known as attenuation, removes suspended solids and slowly releases the water back into the environment. This prevents runoff and subsequent erosion, as well as removes contaminants that could harm the environment.
    •Industrial wastewater treatment. Industrial wastewater may contain petroleum, which is harmful to the environment. Oil water separators are used to remove petroleum and other contaminants from industrial wastewater.

    If you need an oil water separator, contact Tanks Direct. Our oil water separators can be custom designed to fit your wastewater treatment needs.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    do you think there is a lot of velocity in the equalizer? we just want all the oil to splash in there through the header, and stay separated from the rest of the boiler water. a ball valve at Hartford loop height could be periodically opened to drain out the oily surface there from the equalizer. maybe a much larger equalizer would not have enough velocity to suck the oily surface down into the wet returns.
    alternatively, some connection with the float type MM LWCO, could trap the oily water until the weekly blow down.--NBC
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542

    do you think there is a lot of velocity in the equalizer? we just want all the oil to splash in there through the header, and stay separated from the rest of the boiler water. a ball valve at Hartford loop height could be periodically opened to drain out the oily surface there from the equalizer. maybe a much larger equalizer would not have enough velocity to suck the oily surface down into the wet returns.
    alternatively, some connection with the float type MM LWCO, could trap the oily water until the weekly blow down.--NBC

    My thought was that pipe repairs and anything away from the boiler will get back to the boiler and never get to the header/equalizer. I am thinking if some oil filter/trap was below the water line and between the equalizer and boiler, after the initial skim of a new boiler, that filter/trap would catch it and the water would be less impacted by steam and or velocity.
    I don't think the LWCO is the right place because that is at the lowest water level and oil floats.
    I think a fliter approach, coupled with a small tank that allows the oil to float on top in that tank (the top of the tank would be above the boiler return inlet would work much better.