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Did the Deadmen screw this one up?

AbracadabraAbracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
edited January 2016 in Strictly Steam
Came across a strange one today while on a job to quote a replacement boiler.

Peerless 211-7 connected to a 7886 sq.ft. load able to raise pressure to 1psi. 2 stage gas valve, vaporstat set to cut-out at 16oz. Watched the gauge go from 8-16oz. So you won't have to look, a 211-7 is rated for 3150 sq.ft.
I first thought that half the radiators were off. Nope.. all hot all the way across. Measured and checked all radiators in all units.

To match the load I have to quote at least a 211-15. Owner is complaining I'm trying to stick him with with an expensive boiler he doesn't need since the -7 is doing the job right now.

Mains are well vented and insulated, with hoffman #40s on all radiators.
From my experience, the EDR total I'm coming up with seems extraordinarily high for the size apartments in this building. 14 units, each a 4 room, 1 bedroom apartment. Radiators total between 600-700sq.ft. per unit. I typically see 150-180 sq.ft. for a similar size unit. 1920s construction, new thermopane windows, 12" masonry walls, no insulation, wood lathe plaster.

What gives? Any ideas? Did the Deadmen add too much radiation here?
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Comments

  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,476
    edited January 2016
    Well as you know I'm against a large pickup factor, but this is ridiculous.

    Are there a hundred layers of paint on all of the radiators?

    Even with zero pickup factor that boiler should only be able to drive what, 4200sqft of radiation? Are you sure all of the radiators heat 100% even the lower half on the vent side?
    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
  • FranklinDFranklinD Member Posts: 399
    I'm just a homeowner, so my input is just a random thought I had while reading this (and thinking "Holy crow!").

    The radiator I'm sitting next to in my living room is 90 EDR (hot water). I can't imagine having the equivalent of 7 of those in a four-room apartment. Especially when they wouldn't be running 110* water, but 200* steam. Just the space alone...700 sq ft @ 240 btu is 168,000 btu/hr, right?

    Are these regular cast iron radiators? I might be picturing this way wrong...maybe the apartments are really big compared to what I see in my head.

    You've definitely piqued my interest!
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
    Lover of Old Homes & Gravity Hot Water Systems
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,500
    I don't get it either! I have a 5000 sq.ft. house, similar construction, 12" walls, masonary, Original single pane windows, lathe and plaster and I have a total EDR of 700 EDR. Something is not right there and it doesn't seem possible that a boiler that is half the required size could heat all rads, all the way across. Does the boiler run 24/7? Far fetched as it may be, are there any electro-mechnical valves on the mains that might be timed to open/close like zones so that only one or two mains are feed at a time? Were the apartments uncomfortably hot?
  • AbracadabraAbracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    edited January 2016
    The apartments are of a slightly larger sq.ft. than I normally see.. My best guess is something like maybe 1000sq.ft tops if that.
    Radiators are huge... these are 4 and 5 column (yes column, not tube, not small tube, not large tube... column) radiators. These are ridiculously deep radiators. I've been in over 200 apartment buildings in Chicago and usually run across 2 and sometimes 3 column rads, but this is a first for me. living room has 2 radiators 15 section each, 5 column, 38"(150+150). dining room has a 14 section 5 column 38"(140). BR has 1 rad 15 section 5 column (150), bath has a 6 section 5 column 38" (60) and kitchen has a 5 column 26" 7 section (49). That comes to 699 sq. ft for me.

    System appears to be original 1 pipe steam except for the current boiler.

    @ChrisJ actually, not a lot of any paint on the radiators. They are all however covered with radiator covers. And having seen the other thread about radiator covers, looks like these would deduct 10%.

    As I was measuring radiators and figured I'd be running into this situation, I would touch each radiator and all except for 2 in the entire building were extremely hot all the way across. I didn't have my IR camera with me, but I would have loved to have taken some IR pics of these beasts.

    @Fred current temps in Chicago today were in the 20s and boiler was 1 hour on, 90 off. No valves that I could see on the mains. If the owner calls me back there I'm going to do a complete survey of the mains. There does not appear to be any controls to operate valves on the mains.

    I'm kind of stumped...

    Oh.. and I asked the owner if the tenants used the double hung temp control method, he said not that he's noticed.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,177
    Post some pics of some of the radiators. We gotta see this.
    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
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,476
    Well if I was you I'd do two things.

    One : Replace the boiler with the same model and size.

    Two : keep a close eye out for Rod Serling introducing you to a camera. This is a very bad sign and I'm not sure what to do at this point.
    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
    SWEI
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,552
    edited January 2016
    There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

    On this episode an innocent contractor comes in to replace a boiler. Why do they need so much heat? What he doesn't know is they are all deadmen......
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
    MarkS
  • Double DDouble D Member Posts: 352
    @ChrisJ, Rod Serling or Bob Ripley?
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,476
    Double D said:

    @ChrisJ, Rod Serling or Bob Ripley?

    Hmmm,
    Why Bob Ripley?
    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
    Double D
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,861
    So there is probably not any set back temp overnight?

    Could the low fire be operating most of the time as if a low coal fire would be operating pretty continuously?
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,476
    edited January 2016
    JUGHNE said:

    So there is probably not any set back temp overnight?

    Could the low fire be operating most of the time as if a low coal fire would be operating pretty continuously?

    None of this explains how a boiler half the size necessary to drive the load could possibly produce 1 PSI with all of the connected radiation full.

    It's not just heating the building, it's producing pressure while 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
  • Double DDouble D Member Posts: 352
    Believe it or not. I guess I just gave away my age. http://www.ripleys.com/
    ChrisJ
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,158
    Really slow vents? Have you timed the gas meter?
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,158
    How did you measure the pressure? If it was on the boiler gauge I would disregard it.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,500
    @Abracadabra , Did you actually look inside the boiler skins or just the spec plate on it? Is it possible it is a larger boiler that someone put the wrong plate on or is it possible they put the plate on it because code requires different inspections when a boiler gets over a certain size?
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,476
    edited January 2016
    What was the temperature in the apartments when you were running the boiler?

    EDR ratings are all at 72F with 215F steam I believe. If your room is above this, your EDR is lower. If your pressure is lower, your EDR is lower.

    A 50 sqft EDR radiator isn't 50 sqft EDR in a 90F room with 1 PSI steam.

    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
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,500
    ChrisJ said:

    What was the temperature in the apartments when you were running the boiler?

    EDR ratings are all at 72F with 215F steam I believe. If your room is above this, your EDR is lower. If your pressure is lower, your EDR is lower.

    A 50 sqft EDR radiator isn't 50 sqft EDR in a 90F room with 1 PSI steam.

    I don't think you could get a room over 72 (I'm surprised you could get to 72) or pressure up to 1 PSI, with a boiler that is under-sized by 50% and runs for 60 minutes, off for 90 minutes. In my mind, it all leads to a mis-labeled boiler or some staggered control of the mains??? This one will be interesting. I hope Abra get a chance to get back in there.

  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,476
    Fred said:

    ChrisJ said:

    What was the temperature in the apartments when you were running the boiler?

    EDR ratings are all at 72F with 215F steam I believe. If your room is above this, your EDR is lower. If your pressure is lower, your EDR is lower.

    A 50 sqft EDR radiator isn't 50 sqft EDR in a 90F room with 1 PSI steam.

    I don't think you could get a room over 72 (I'm surprised you could get to 72) or pressure up to 1 PSI, with a boiler that is under-sized by 50% and runs for 60 minutes, off for 90 minutes. In my mind, it all leads to a mis-labeled boiler or some staggered control of the mains??? This one will be interesting. I hope Abra get a chance to get back in there.

    Fred.....
    For all you know it was 70F out when he did the test.

    :)
    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
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,500
    ChrisJ said:

    Fred said:

    ChrisJ said:

    What was the temperature in the apartments when you were running the boiler?

    EDR ratings are all at 72F with 215F steam I believe. If your room is above this, your EDR is lower. If your pressure is lower, your EDR is lower.

    A 50 sqft EDR radiator isn't 50 sqft EDR in a 90F room with 1 PSI steam.

    I don't think you could get a room over 72 (I'm surprised you could get to 72) or pressure up to 1 PSI, with a boiler that is under-sized by 50% and runs for 60 minutes, off for 90 minutes. In my mind, it all leads to a mis-labeled boiler or some staggered control of the mains??? This one will be interesting. I hope Abra get a chance to get back in there.

    Fred.....
    For all you know it was 70F out when he did the test.

    :)
    He said it was 20*
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,476
    Fred said:

    ChrisJ said:

    Fred said:

    ChrisJ said:

    What was the temperature in the apartments when you were running the boiler?

    EDR ratings are all at 72F with 215F steam I believe. If your room is above this, your EDR is lower. If your pressure is lower, your EDR is lower.

    A 50 sqft EDR radiator isn't 50 sqft EDR in a 90F room with 1 PSI steam.

    I don't think you could get a room over 72 (I'm surprised you could get to 72) or pressure up to 1 PSI, with a boiler that is under-sized by 50% and runs for 60 minutes, off for 90 minutes. In my mind, it all leads to a mis-labeled boiler or some staggered control of the mains??? This one will be interesting. I hope Abra get a chance to get back in there.

    Fred.....
    For all you know it was 70F out when he did the test.

    :)
    He said it was 20*
    Oh.

    Cue Rod Serling again.
    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
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,177
    I think these might be 5-TUBE rads, not 5-column. There's quite a difference. Waiting for pics....................
    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
  • AbracadabraAbracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Spent nearly an hour talking to the owner on the phone today. I think I've lost his trust. He's made it pretty clear he thinks I'm trying to pull one over on him. He got my name from a very good customer, so I'm going to leverage that to try and get back into the building next week to take pics and do a survey of the mains. It's getting to the point of saying I should just let go of it. God knows I don't need the hassle. But the other side of me is curious how the hell this works.

    To answer some questions:
    @JUGHNE I don't recall seeing any type of setback system. A lot of boilers in Chicago that I've seen have either a R&D Control or a n old HeatTimer, with a few Tekmars every so often. This didn't have anything like that. What I did see was a simple paragon timer with all the trippers on it.

    @Charlie from wmass all rads had hoffman 40. Mains seemed well vented. From what I remember had several gorton #2s on each of 3 returns. pressure gauge was a 0-5?. Showed 0 when boiler was off. Seen them fail stuck at a number. But I'm assuming that since it goes 0 to 1 it's relatively functional?

    @Hatterasguy I didn't check every single column. As we went around counting rads, i'd brush my hand across the top from one end to the other. Top of all sections were hot with the exception of a couple apartments.

    @ChrisJ temperature was ok. Was 20ish? outside. I kept my jacket on inside. Wasn't over 75 inside, that's for sure.

    @Fred it's definitely a -7. Jacket bottom is all rusted to hell. Didn't have to remove a single panel to count the sections ;)

    @Steamhead Definitely column. I see tube rads all the time. I often see 2 and sometimes 3 column rads. This is my first close encounter with a 5 column rad. They were so wide, it really stuck out in my mind. Sections connected only at the bottom, tops had cast-in lugs locking them together with bolts running across the top and bottom. I would bet the 5 column rads were about 12-14" wide.

    Couldn't sleep this morning after I got up at 4am and my mind was thinking.. has anyone seen any deadmen type of steam zoning system on mains that operates without electricity? Something that would work one side of the building, then switch to the other half? I'd think anything like this would be visible in the boiler room tho



  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,552

    Spent nearly an hour talking to the owner on the phone today. I think I've lost his trust. He's made it pretty clear he thinks I'm trying to pull one over on him.

    Send him here, we will vouch for you and reiterate what you are seeing is strange. Does he want the best or the rest?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,500
    Crazy! Was this an open basement with no masonary divisions? Is there any possibility there is a second boiler located in another section of the basement that serves half the building? Was it the owner that walked you around the place or someone he sent that may not have known about a second boiler?
  • jumperjumper Member Posts: 1,563
    If boiler produces enough BTU for building but not enough for installed radiation,what's supposed to happen? Will the radiators eventually warm up? If not,where does heat go? 800,000 BTU seems enough for fourteen unit apartment.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,861
    FWIW, I have 4 ref books for EDR. 2 are Dan's, they only go up to 4 column's. One IBR guide only goes up to 4 column's. Another IBR book has 5 columns but the max height is 22".
    You must have some reference that has the 5 columns that are 38" tall. Is that the E.D.R. book? I don't have that one.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,500
    jumper said:

    If boiler produces enough BTU for building but not enough for installed radiation,what's supposed to happen? Will the radiators eventually warm up? If not,where does heat go? 800,000 BTU seems enough for fourteen unit apartment.

    On a normal 200 sq ft EDR per unit, I'd agree. Not when the attached EDR is 7886 sq. ft.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,861
    As Fred said, maybe another boiler room? I was just in a building where the maintenance/caretaker (20 plus years) person didn't know where the water heaters were.
  • AbracadabraAbracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    @JUGHNE all my books pages have come loose from the spine from overuse. I really need to order new ones.. Here's a pic I just snapped of the one page I'm using

    @Fred divided basements with brick firewalls. Went into the old coal room and the attached boiler room. Went into one other basement to look over gas meter and piping.

  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,861
    That is a pretty serious book, 38" 5 columns must have been made and you found them. I was just looking at some ceiling rads in a building full of thin tubes, the ceiling rads I thought looked like 2 columns and so I figured them that way, the whole building looks to be Crane.
  • jumperjumper Member Posts: 1,563
    Fred said:

    jumper said:

    If boiler produces enough BTU for building but not enough for installed radiation,what's supposed to happen? Will the radiators eventually warm up? If not,where does heat go? 800,000 BTU seems enough for fourteen unit apartment.

    On a normal 200 sq ft EDR per unit, I'd agree. Not when the attached EDR is 7886 sq. ft.
    So what will happen? We definitely see buildings with better windows than original and often some insulation added. Then the building has too much radiation. If it's two pipe, TRVs are eventually added. Next step is to down size boiler? Can we then remove innards from radiator traps? Won't now over sized radiators condense all steam?
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,158
    Only as the physics of the system allow. Not always how you want it to. All the steam tends to go to some radiators and none to others.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,158
    I would really like to see a photo of the radiators.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,500
    The boiler is sized to its connected EDR, whatever that may be and regardless of the improvements made to the envelope. I would assume these large rads will never heat all the way across if the thermostat is satisfied but they will heat to set temp. Of course if this place is really that over radiated, one really needs to try to understand why. It is possible to remove some of the radiation but that's a lot of work with no real benefit (except maybe a few feet of floor space). IMHO
    In this case, it appears all the rads are heating all the way across. That is a real mistery, at this point.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,476
    Fred said:

    The boiler is sized to its connected EDR, whatever that may be and regardless of the improvements made to the envelope. I would assume these large rads will never heat all the way across if the thermostat is satisfied but they will heat to set temp. Of course if this place is really that over radiated, one really needs to try to understand why. It is possible to remove some of the radiation but that's a lot of work with no real benefit (except maybe a few feet of floor space). IMHO
    In this case, it appears all the rads are heating all the way across. That is a real mistery, at this point.

    I vote you send Jeeves over and let him investigate. :)
    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
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,500
    He's busy right now. Taking me to scan the estate. We'll be back around 6PM is that leaves enough time. :)
    ChrisJ
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,500
    OK, we're back. Didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. :)
  • jumperjumper Member Posts: 1,563
    Another way of thinking about too small a boiler relative to EDR. When a big old boiler is replaced with multiple smaller boilers. That was often done in the seventies. After start up the number of boilers fired up depended on outside temperature (and time of day).So on a mild day a single fired boiler is too small for installed EDR.
  • RomanGK_26986764589RomanGK_26986764589 Member Posts: 221
    edited January 2016
    Can this undersized boiler work together with a district steam system? May be the building is also hooked up to a district steam?This may explain how all the rads are getting hot.
  • AbracadabraAbracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    @RomanGK_26986764589 there is no "district steam" in Chicago.

    So a hopefully positive update. After talking to the owner for over 30 minutes, he has agreed to allow me to view all basements and see a couple of apartments to take pics of the rads to post. We are supposed to meet on Friday.
    KC_Jones said:

    Spent nearly an hour talking to the owner on the phone today. I think I've lost his trust. He's made it pretty clear he thinks I'm trying to pull one over on him.

    Send him here, we will vouch for you and reiterate what you are seeing is strange. Does he want the best or the rest?
    Oh... missed this before... @KC_Jones this guy is like 80 years old... kind of ornery and has no use for the internet.

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