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Does this rust spell trouble?

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Jack M
Jack M Member Posts: 229
edited April 2015 in Strictly Steam
I picked up a job removing a steam boiler from a rehab project. The pay is lousy but I get to salvage odds and ends.
When taking the jacket off the boiler I found signs of rust running down the outside of two of the three boiler sections. Is this normal? Was something not plumbed up right. I never saw the boiler running. It was taken out of service 3 weeks ago. The boiler was installed in January of 2013 and last serviced in January of 14. The tag showed it passed with 86 efficiency. But when I pulled in hot water coil it was coated with a thin layer of what looks like rust. I'm not familiar with these things and not sure what is within the realm of normal and what is a flag for problems.





Comments

  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,443
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    No. Normal looking coil. rust on boiler looks like from the casting process. Still not a bad idea to install some cleaner in the system. Fernox or Rhomar.
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
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    That looks like a Burnham Megasteam. If the sections were removed intact, it may still have value as a boiler when reassembled. Why was it removed?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Jack M
    Jack M Member Posts: 229
    edited April 2015
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    If on of the risers were not fitted tight or the system was otherwise leaking steam, wouldn't the the auto-fill constantly be filling the boiler (replacing what was lost)? Would there be some tell-tail sign of this problem (too much make-up water) ? This is what I assumed was going on when I saw the rusty streaks on the casting.
  • Jack M
    Jack M Member Posts: 229
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    I did my best to get a photo with a view of the inside of the boiler with the coil removed. Not exactly what I was expecting for a boiler chamber. I thought is should be wet but not rusty looking. So am understanding correctly that this is normal for steam?


    ?

  • Jack M
    Jack M Member Posts: 229
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    I really hit an impass with taking this down to the cast iron sections. The controls and wiring are removed, smoke stack and piping all taken down. I just cannot figure out how to remove the rear jacket panel. There's an exhaust flange that attaches to the smoke stack. This appears to be fastened in pretty securely to the rear cast iron section. Even with the bolts removed it does not seem to budge. Are these factory installed?
    What holds them in there?

  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
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    Jack M said:

    I really hit an impass with taking this down to the cast iron sections. The controls and wiring are removed, smoke stack and piping all taken down. I just cannot figure out how to remove the rear jacket panel. There's an exhaust flange that attaches to the smoke stack. This appears to be fastened in pretty securely to the rear cast iron section. Even with the bolts removed it does not seem to budge. Are these factory installed?
    What holds them in there?

    High temperature RTV silicone.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
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    Jack M said:

    I did my best to get a photo with a view of the inside of the boiler with the coil removed. Not exactly what I was expecting for a boiler chamber. I thought is should be wet but not rusty looking. So am understanding correctly that this is normal for steam?


    ?

    To me, that looks like normal rusting inside a steam boiler.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Jack M
    Jack M Member Posts: 229
    edited April 2015
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    Gordo said:


    High temperature RTV silicone.

    Ok, guess the rear jacket is not coming off. I don't think I could get at that RTV sealant it if I wanted to. It's in the joint. I have used this stuff on problematic exhaust sytems. When I could not get a seal.
    The exhaust pipes would ussually rust away by the time I needed to seperate the pipe sections again and they came apart easily. This RTV application doe not have rust or years of exposure to exhaust condensation. It looks fresh, like it was just applied.

  • Jack M
    Jack M Member Posts: 229
    edited April 2015
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    "To me, that looks like normal rusting inside a steam boiler."
    But doesn't the site glass have the same water in it? Why does this chamber look so murky when the sight glass is crystal clear.


  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
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    Jack M said:

    Gordo said:


    High temperature RTV silicone.

    Ok, guess the rear jacket is not coming off. I don't think I could get at that RTV sealant it if I wanted to. It's in the joint. I have used this stuff on problematic exhaust sytems. When I could not get a seal.
    The exhaust pipes would ussually rust away by the time I needed to seperate the pipe sections again and they came apart easily. This RTV application doe not have rust or years of exposure to exhaust condensation. It looks fresh, like it was just applied.

    You should be able to pry off the flue collar.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
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    Jack M said:

    "To me, that looks like normal rusting inside a steam boiler."
    But doesn't the site glass have the same water in it? Why does this chamber look so murky when the sight glass is crystal clear.




    That is normal rust inside the boiler. The sightglass is for reading the boiler's water level, not determining the amount of rust inside. It takes a lot of rust in suspension to show up at the sightglass.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    Someone had you rip out a Megasteam that was installed in 2013?

    Another forced hot dust conversion?
    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
    kcoppjonny88
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited April 2015
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    I a little bit puzzled by what Jack M is doing (more interested than anything else). Over the past couple months he has asked a lot of questions about who makes the best boiler, how to size them, how to pipe them, how to vent them, oil burner orifice sizes, etc. and now he found someone who wants him to remove a 2 year old Megasteam boiler, that he is actually taking apart.
    What's up Jack M? Give us the low down. :)

    Edit: As a matter of fact, it looks like this Megasteam in one of his earlier posts asking if it was piped correctly:
    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154352/does-this-above-boiler-piping-look-correct#latest
    Gordo
  • Jack M
    Jack M Member Posts: 229
    edited April 2015
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    ChrisJ said:

    Someone had you rip out a Megasteam that was installed in 2013?

    Another forced hot dust conversion?

    Contractor is installing forced air. New owners want AC in the summer months and radiators take up valuable floor space. These are the times.

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    Jack M said:

    ChrisJ said:

    Someone had you rip out a Megasteam that was installed in 2013?

    Another forced hot dust conversion?

    Contractor is installing forced air. The owners want AC in the summer months and radiators take up valuable floor space. These are the times.

    Someone should smack them and the contractor doing it.
    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
    jonny88RobG
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
    edited April 2015
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    Fred said:

    I a little bit puzzled by what Jack M is doing (more interested than anything else). Over the past couple months he has asked a lot of questions about who makes the best boiler, how to size them, how to pipe them, how to vent them, oil burner orifice sizes, etc. and now he found someone who wants him to remove a 2 year old Megasteam boiler, that he is actually taking apart.
    What's up Jack M? Give us the low down. :)

    Edit: As a matter of fact, it looks like this Megasteam in one of his earlier posts asking if it was piped correctly:
    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154352/does-this-above-boiler-piping-look-correct#latest

    I've already asked him why he is removing this boiler and either he didn't see the question or he is ignoring it, instead he is stressing out about a bit of rust and caulk for some reason.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,901
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    You can't fix stupid.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    jonny88RobG
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
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    Why split it?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Paul48 said:

    Why split it?

    Maybe it's too big for his house???
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
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    Hard to tell, but it looks like 3 sections.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Paul48 said:

    Hard to tell, but it looks like 3 sections.

    3 sections in the pictures but it looks like one end has already been seperated from other sections.
  • Jack M
    Jack M Member Posts: 229
    edited April 2015
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    Gordo said:


    "I've already asked him why he is removing this boiler and either he didn't see the question or he is ignoring it, instead he is stressing out about a bit of rust and caulk for some reason."

    Sorry, must have missed that. A renovation.
    I don't know what its like elsewhere, but in New England people are always advised to rip out steam. Especially when there's an interest in AC. Steam can seem complicated and antiquated. There are too many alternatives. 5 neighbors have ripped out steam in the last 5 years. Gas fired condensing boilers hang on the wall, are quite, don't take up space. Minisplits are sexy.
    I'm no expert. But I do find steam facinating. I grew up in Baltimore County with steam heat. I would follow Dad into work at American Can and they had a huge steam boiler. Had family that ran the Strasburg Railroad and spent time there. My Grandmother had a coal fired steam boiler in her basement and she lived by herself. Got my first live steam engine when I was 7. When Dan printed "Lost Art of Steam" I borrowed a copy. Then found the Wall. I read old posts, ask questions, and try to offer what I can. When I had the chance to strip this thing down I though I might learn something that I couldn't learn from the books or reading here. I now know how a hartford loop is constructed, and an equalizer, how heavy a drop header can be, what the inside of a boiler looks like, what triple pass is, what a nozzle looks like. You get the idea. Most plumbing supply houses don't let you behind the counter and won't give you the time of day if you're not a contractor. That leaves the everyday Joe (like me) with the plumbing isle in Home Depot (no offense intended to the many helpful staff in the plumbing isle that have patiently tried to answer my questions).
    Note: to other homeowners. When your neighbor offers to let you dismantle their boiler, don't say "yes" right away.

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    Except if it just happens to be the exact boiler I was looking for?

    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
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,901
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    Jack M said:

    .... in New England people are always advised to rip out steam. Especially when there's an interest in AC. Steam can seem complicated and antiquated. There are too many alternatives. 5 neighbors have ripped out steam in the last 5 years. Gas fired condensing boilers hang on the wall, are quite, don't take up space. Minisplits are sexy.

    It's called "taking their money".

    There are some contractors who will really push customers to tear out radiator systems. I know of one case where a contractor told some of his customers that a certain insurance company charged more to insure a steam-heated building- which I debunked with a five-minute phone call.

    If the Dead Men could make steam work, there's no reason why today's contractors can't. The answer, of course, is they don't want to- they get more money for a tear-out and complete replacement- winter comfort be damned.

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    RobG
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited April 2015
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    ChrisJ said:

    Except if it just happens to be the exact boiler I was looking for?

    And in your own neighborhood and a virtually new Megasteam, no less. Hard for me to believe anyone would spend the money to install a megasteam (and install it right) and in two heating seasons decide they don't want it anymore. Especially if others around them have been tearing them out for the last 5 years. seems like they would have made that decision before they put in that boiler. Strange world we live in.
    EDIT: I have to sign off and contemplate this for a while.
  • Jack M
    Jack M Member Posts: 229
    edited April 2015
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    "Hard for me to believe anyone would spend the money to install a megasteam (and install it right) and in two heating seasons decide they don't want it anymore. Especially if others around them have been tearing them out for the last 5 years. seems like they would have made that decision before they put in that boiler."


    This is not so uncommon. In many parts of the Northeast the Utility offer significant rebates (not breaking any pricing rules here) to replace old systems. When the boiler (that you never gave one thought to ) is suddenly acting up on a cold winter morning, the oil delivery company gets the service call, the oil delivery company tells the homeowner about the rebate, and that they can get the replacement in pronto. ( cheap, fast, problem solved - and that is all you care about).
    A year later, the house is on the market, the new owner is embarrassed that there's a steam radiator in the dining room and no AC in the summer. When the new owner knocks out the wall to double the size of the kitchen, there's no room for a radiator in the new floorplan next to the mini bar; but we can hide some floor vents in the kickspace below the new cabinets and also close up those windows year-round with AC. No more dusting polen from the woodwork.

    Bob Bona_4
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
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    That's how my reno's go around here in lower CT. Granite counters already in the dumpster for the latest marble, chimneys torn down for moreliving space. Bulky rads and piping to the scrapper for more living space.

    These are much different times. People in general have no interest and time to worry about maintaining HVAC. Small, quiet, and hassle free as possible, with the maximum of floor space and the minimum of any emitter appearance. Give 'em what they want.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
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    I'm a "New England person" and would tell you your nuts for ripping out steam. You want ac, add a mini split system to your house. You want the best heat you'll ever find, get the steam up and running properly...;)
    RobGj a_2
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    Bob Bona said:

    That's how my reno's go around here in lower CT. Granite counters already in the dumpster for the latest marble, chimneys torn down for moreliving space. Bulky rads and piping to the scrapper for more living space.



    These are much different times. People in general have no interest and time to worry about maintaining HVAC. Small, quiet, and hassle free as possible, with the maximum of floor space and the minimum of any emitter appearance. Give 'em what they want.

    How exactly is forced burnt dust quiet?
    I can't tell when my steam system is on or off, ever. Anytime I'm at friends houses with forced hot air I always know when it's on and to be honest, it's annoying.

    Not to mention the constant hot cold hot cold hot cold feeling.

    My dad had forced hot air installed in his house when he built it in 2006 even though I fought and fought for radiant. He expected it to be reliable like his 1958 furnace was, sadly he was in for a learning experience. Now he has 10+ spare differential pressure switches on the shelf as apparently the design stinks. They seem to fail after a year or two so he bought a bunch at once. The evaporator also failed a few short years after it was installed, but that's another story.

    People are ignorant and I guess there's no fixing that. Where's @Steamhead ? Something about fixing stupid?

    Forced hot fudge. Uncomfortable, inefficient, loud, and as far as ductwork, bulky.

    When people want more floor space it's interesting no one ever offers an under the floor mounted radiator setup.
    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
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,901
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    ChrisJ said:

    Where's @Steamhead ? Something about fixing stupid?

    Scroll up.

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
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    Chris J, many other options. Radiant, radiant panels, baseboard, mini split heat pumps, forced air with ECM motors, geothermal to hydro air or wet based emitters. Lot of oil to gas conversions bring down the noise levels. ..

    anything designed and installed improperly will result in unpleasant experiences..
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    Bob Bona said:

    Chris J, many other options. Radiant, radiant panels, baseboard, mini split heat pumps, forced air with ECM motors, geothermal to hydro air or wet based emitters. Lot of oil to gas conversions bring down the noise levels. ..



    anything designed and installed improperly will result in unpleasant experiences..

    mini splits and heat pumps IMO aren't an option in any of the areas I wish to live. Where my dad is they often have an average high of 10-15F.

    Are they even an option in most of the North East?
    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
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
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    You'd be surprised. Inverter technology has come to be able to make those little beasts give heat at 0 ambient. At 25 plus SEER!

    15 years ago I would say no way.

    Always the push back from the women Re aesthetics tho ;)

    Don't get me wrong, if existing steam in a house isn't going to affect the client's needs and expectations and lifestyle, or if it is a clean break from some project adjavent, leave it be for now. Most often than not however, one or more of the issues are an issue and it's time to revamp to something else. Won't turn down that out of principle.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    Bob Bona said:

    You'd be surprised. Inverter technology has come to be able to make those little beasts give heat at 0 ambient. At 25 plus SEER!



    15 years ago I would say no way.



    Always the push back from the women Re aesthetics tho ;)



    Don't get me wrong, if existing steam in a house isn't going to affect the client's needs and expectations and lifestyle, or if it is a clean break from some project adjavent, leave it be for now. Most often than not however, one or more of the issues are an issue and it's time to revamp to something else. Won't turn down that out of principle.


    Interesting.
    I suspect even at 25+ SEER it still costs more to run than NG in most places even at 80% AFUE.

    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
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    I'm appalled, just appalled. People who don't have, and never had steam are afraid of it but those who have lived with it and need a replacement or reconfiguration will do anything in their power to keep it. Even when they want an "Open floor plan" they find ways to accommodate the radiators (which are a part of the historic charm of an older home). If they want modern, open spaces, buy that to begin with and leave the history and charm to those who appreciate it.
    In any case, Jack M appears to have found a practiccally new Megasteam right in his neighborhood and is taking it apart, I assume fpr use in his own home. If he's that lucky, he should be playing the lottery, every day.
    Most of us only see a boiler/piping rip-out when a Scrapper hits an abandoned/foreclosed vacant house and those items end up at a scrap/recycling yard.
    Before anyone tells me "Different strokes for different folks" and "everybody doesn't feel the same way I do" I have to say, I get it and this situation makes that even more clear to me.

    May Jack M bask in the warmth of his new found boiler and may his neighbors turn green (or blue) with envy during the next heating season.
    Bob Bona_4
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
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    I think minisplits are great for cooling and handling the shoulder seasons but in the depths of winter you better have something else. We had 5ft of snow piled up against the house for about 6 weeks this year, i don't fancy going out to shovel snow away from the condenser unit in the middle of a blizzard.

    I'll keep my steam thank you.

    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
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    edited April 2015
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    I take offense at the "push-back from women" comment. I'm a woman and wouldn't trade steam for anything, especially with a large house in a cold climate. I just can't see this in the NE AT ALL and I used to live in Montreal and upstate NY.
    Get Spacepak if you want AC. It's very inconspicuous, doesn't hog space, put the cooling where it's needed up at the ceiling, and is certainly cheaper than a tear-out.
    I don't understand the comment rads take up space... ducting does too and more, plus it's annoying with the off/on. I also don't get the floor space comments. Unless one has underfloor, ceiling and/or wall radiant, there's always the issue of furniture placement. One can't just cover an outlet or air return and expect heat or system longevity. Also, best to have heat at the floor and cooing at the ceiling, so HVAC is still only best for one or the other, depending on duct placement. The cost of a tear0out is ridiculous. I'm rambling, it's so upsetting.
    However, I'm glad if JM can gain from this tragedy.
    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
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
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    What do you do with all the holes in the floor? A new floor will cost more than a mini-split. Keep the steam, if you don't you will regret it.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    I still think there is more to this story than we are being told but what do I know?