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Fixing to buy a steam heated house.

adamfre
adamfre Member Posts: 122
Good evening all!

I am in the process of buying an old 1870's home that has not been occupied for a while, and the boiler has not been fired for 3 seasons (the system appears to have been properly drained). Anywho, the price I am going to pay is partially based on if the boiler still works. Being I have never owned or operated a boiler the safe bet seems to be have a professional involved in the inspection and operation of the heating system before we close on the house :). although I do intend to buy the books recommended and read everything on this site to help me learn how to maintain it!

My first of what will surely be several, several questions in my attempt to learn this system, is there a Peerless person out there that can identify my system, and year of manufacture? I'll post pics of the data plates. The output characteristics listed on the data plates seem to indicate it is a model 62-09?

I'll also post a picture of some of the near boiler piping, the previous owners complained bitterly about the heating, and after reading a bit on this site this header design may be considered.... A bit cobbled together?

Thanks all!!
Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
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Comments

  • Paul S_3
    Paul S_3 Member Posts: 1,257
    Where you located?
    ASM Mechanical Company
    Located in Staten Island NY
    Servicing all 5 boroughs of NYC.
    347-692-4777
    [email protected]
    ASMHVACNYC.COM
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/asm-mechanical-company
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    Central Indiana.
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,228
    I found a manual online and have enclosed it.

    Ry to determine what size boiler you should have, all to often boilers are oversized and waste fuel. Make a list of all the radiators and try to determine their EDR (sq ft of radiator area) with the chart enclosed. Is this a single pipe system or is it two pipe? Find the main air vents and tell us how long the steam mains are.

    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
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the reply, and the manuals, it's greatly appreciated. I went through the house today and gathered the measurements of all the radiators in order to come up with an EDR in case I needed it. I'm stumped on 3 of them, they are mounted in partial duct beneath the floor. Someone tried to stub AC into them and left an incomplete mess (that actually made since in my head heh). I'm sure somewhere on here I will find info regarding them.

    Most radiators are 2 pipe with an air valve installed on the radiator. I'll post a photo of a typical example.
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • Paul S_3
    Paul S_3 Member Posts: 1,257
    edited April 2016
    Indirect heating, air moves over those rads in duct by gravity.."hot air" rises "cold air" (more dense) sinks...they shouldnt of added ac there....2 pipe air vent system?....you should have a professional take a look at the system before you make purchase preferably from this site...who is knowledgeable in steam heating and inditect heating
    ASM Mechanical Company
    Located in Staten Island NY
    Servicing all 5 boroughs of NYC.
    347-692-4777
    ASMME[email protected]
    ASMHVACNYC.COM
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/asm-mechanical-company
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    edited April 2016
    Has anyone tried to put water in it recently? I'd do that before I even got a professional in to go over it. Fill it all the way up into the boiler risers and let it sit to see if water runs or drips out of it. Judging from the outside,It looks like it has been neglected for a long time. If it holds water, I'd have a Pro go over it before I attempted to fire it up. Have them clean the burners, do a combustion analysis and see if they can adjust it into specs, check the flue (doesn't even look like the flue pipe is connected) and chimney. If it has wet returns, check them. Having not been used for 3 years, it is very likely the crud in any wet returns has hardened and condensate may not be able to return to the boiler like it should. I'm not sure if this is a counter flow system, can't see if there is a return pipe above that equalizer (on the right side of the boiler). Also, not sure where that pipe above the boiler riser, on the left side goes to. Does that feed a radiator or is it suppose to be a return? in either case That's not right. From the looks of the bushings there, it looks like it may have been added as some "after thought". More pictures please.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,948
    edited April 2016
    Is this in the country? Do you have natural gas or a LP tank as the nameplate suggests? It looks as if you may have your own well and pump.....another item to check out if there is not city water in the house. More pictures all sides of boiler and back up a little. Pictures of the pipes under the radiators, especially if one drops to the floor for each radiator.

    Sweet valves by the way.
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    Yes, I believe it is a 2 pipe air-vent system, similar to what is described in 'A Steam Heating Primer' by Dan Holohan. And I am definitely having a pro look at it sometime in the next few weeks.
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,065
    A professional would be a good idea -- but I have a notion that they may be a bit thin on the ground in central Indiana.

    However, that said, the boiler piping isn't hopeless. It isn't the best it could be, either, but it isn't hopeless. There is no good reason why the boiler shouldn't work, but I wouldn't bet on it's lasting all that long, either.

    Two pipe air vent systems can work very well. They are a little fussier than either later two pipe or vapour systems, but not much more so than "conventional" one pipe systems. Those three indirects can also work very well indeed, but may need some restoration -- I doubt that the AC is helping them much.

    As a very first cut, though, I'd be willing to go out on a limb here and say that I'm not surprised that the previous owner had problems -- and I will also not be at all surprised if you find that the boiler pressure settings are too high, and that there is inadequate venting on the mains, and that the radiator venting is poorly setup. You may also find that some wizard has closed, or partly closed some of the radiator valves -- which won't help at all.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,838
    Indianapolis area?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    Hi Fred,
    Good thought regarding filling it with water and letting it sit, I should be able to try that next weekend after the weather warms back up. The wet returns have me concerned, they basically run across the basement floor and into the neighboring room, that pipe being extremely corroded due to the direct contact with the floor. If anything that section probably is in need of replacement. That pipe on the left shoots off to 2 radiators, next time I am there I will try to schematic that run, it was a strange one. I will definitely take more pics!

    Jughne, it's in a rural town. City water, natural gas.

    Hatterasguy, lol! The house is 5700 sq ft, has 11 radiators.

    Jamie Hall, I'm having an easy time finding people who know what a boiler is, but finding someone who works with them is going to be a challenge.
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    Steamhead, about 30 miles outside of Vincennes.
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • Paul S_3
    Paul S_3 Member Posts: 1,257
    Did you try using the " find a contractor " link above?
    ASM Mechanical Company
    Located in Staten Island NY
    Servicing all 5 boroughs of NYC.
    347-692-4777
    [email protected]
    ASMHVACNYC.COM
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/asm-mechanical-company
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,838
    edited April 2016
    adamfre said:

    Steamhead, about 30 miles outside of Vincennes.

    OK- roughly between Terre Haute and Evansville. I think I've been through that area but don't remember much about it.

    But those radiators- don't think I've ever seen any that looked quite like that. Are there any names on them, maybe around where the pipes connect?

    If you have trouble finding someone in that area, we might be able to arrange a consulting trip. I've been known to travel for this.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    Steamhead, I think most of the radiators are Detroit Steam Radiator Co. I'll attach a pic of the one in the formal dining, it appears to have a built in food warmer.

    Pauls, The professional search feature did turn up a commercial service company about 100 miles from me, he may not want to mess with a job like this, so I may be giving Steamhead a call.

    Hatterasguy, if this system was not performing up to par, I hate to imagine how much their gas bills were.....

    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,838
    American Radiator Co was selling rads under the Detroit name about 1897. They may have absorbed the Detroit Steam Radiator Co after your system was installed. More info here:

    https://heatinghelp.com/heating-museum/1897-american-radiator-company-catalog/

    You can find all the square foot ratings of your rads here, including the "dining room radiator". By this time the ratings were pretty much standardized.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    Steamhead, looks like it may have my indirect radiators listed as well. Thanks for this!
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,228
    Those radiators are real beauties, I'm glad you got the house and not some house flipper who would just trash the system and replace it with forced hot air. That house will be a real showplace when your done with 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
    Erin Holohan HaskelladamfreSWEI
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,974
    I might have missed it, but has anyone mentioned the boiler being piped incorrectly?

    That second riser feeds into the bottom of the header and the header looks way too small for such a monster of a 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
    adamfre
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,829
    Maybe I am the crazy one here, but personally I would assume a replacement and a serious tuning will be needed. I would negotiate that into the price. Given what the OP has posted this seems like the only "safe bet". That boiler could last 10 years or 10 minutes. Even if it does work and has no holes. It's been sitting empty, in an old most likely damp basement for 3 years. I live in an old house with a damp basement and without a dehumidifier steel rusts in days, not weeks or months it will rust and rust ALOT in days. I can't imagine that cast iron is in very good shape at this point. No one can say for sure over the internet, and if you don't have a seriously good steam man in your area I don't think I would trust the advice of any pro you call in. I generally approach things from a worst case scenario and a house that's been abandoned for 3 years is really a worse case scenario. To the OP I am guessing you are going to get a really good deal on this house since it's been abandoned for so long? That boiler should be another item to use for negotiation. If you can work out something with @Steamhead that is your best bet. Just my $.02 worth.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    adamfre
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    BobC, the house is really a diamond in the rough. It will be fun to bring it back, heating system and all :)
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    @ChrisJ, stay tuned! I'm going to try to get over to the house tonight to take more pictures. I don't yet know much about steam heat, but I can tell you what I've got is.... probably pretty bad LOL
    @KC_Jones, EXACTLY my concern. What happens if it fires and works the day I test it, but a week down the road the rust finally gives way or a gas valve sticks or the damper sticks closed or...??
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    Those radiators are BOSS.

    photo boss_zps35i0hfyr.jpg
    Peter Owens
    SteamIQ
    adamfreKC_Jones
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    Come to think of it, if anyone out there has a request for something they want to see (that is steam heat related LOL) post your request, I'll try to photo it tonight.
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,510
    Take some closeup pix of the valve on the inlet, and outlet of the radiators, especially showing a manufacturer's name.
    If there are other devices connected to the piping, take photos of those too.
    A diagram of the supply and return piping would be handy if you can manage it.--NBC
    adamfre
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    Beautiful Radiators. When you are there, try to look in each room and see if any radiators have been removed. I have a large home also, about 5000 sq. ft., not as large as yours with 15 radiators. Most as large or larger than those in your pictures (if they are representative sizes) Eleven, seems to be fewer than I would have expected and if some are missing (look for holes or plugs in the flooring where they might have been) it might help explain why the previous owner complained about insufficient heat. Do let us know what your radiator EDR total is.
    adamfre
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    @Fred, I was wrong regarding the radiator count, it's 14. At one time there was a 15th in the kitchen, but that one has been removed with the old lines going to it plugged.
    I went back through my notes last night after @Steamhead posted the link to America Radiator's catalog. Using the information in the catalog I quickly came up with an EDR of 542, but being I've never attempted to calculate an EDR before I'd like to do the math a few more times to make sure I come up with the same number, then post on here how I came up with said number so someone can tell me I did it wrong, and I'll wack away at it until I get it right. LOL
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    @adamfre , look around for a couple more or signs that a couple more were removed.
    adamfre
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    Radiators info

    I failed getting out to the to the house tonight. So, I figured I would post pics of all the radiators I have, along with what I think their EDR. Let me know if you think I've failed at the math...

    Pic # | EDR
    1. 72
    2. 44
    3. 72
    4. 72
    5. 28
    6. 42
    7. 12
    8. 36
    9. 36
    10. 36
    11. 20
    12. 28
    13. 20
    14. 24

    For whatever reason I can't upload images at the moment. Let me reboot and I will try to stick them in my next post.
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    AND I fail at uploading tonight. Time for more alcohol. Anywho, the below link should take you to my iCloud account with the pics there. The number of the pic should match the info in the above post

    https://icloud.com/sharedalbum/#B0O5oqs3q3U7BJ
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,510
    Looking at those beautiful radiators is like alcohol for us-what beauties!
    Definitely flood the boiler up to the header, and see what leaks there may be.
    How is the structure/roof of the house? Love some pictures!--NBC
  • Fizz
    Fizz Member Posts: 538
    Radiators are spectacular! Nice find. Lol with moving forward. You're on the right site for sure!
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    That dining room radiator with the food warmer is so cool.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,829
    I showed that food warmer to my wife, who never says anything about the steam heat. She wants one of those now. I told her a couple of hens teeth and I could get her one.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    adamfre
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    Thanks gang! I'll have to take a few pics of the house to show you later, it's pretty unique as well :)
    Any chance someone can go through my EDR numbers I posted above? Do they look sane, or did I mess them up?
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    edited April 2016
    Beautiful rads! Your numbers look reasonable from what I can see. Did you find those specific radiators in Dan's "Every Darn Radiator" book? If you did, I think you are good with the numbers. The only reservation I have, if you didn't use Dan's book, is that the columns look a little wider than the typical column radiator and they may have a little more EDR. Also, you may want to consider putting a rad back in the kitchen and adding that EDR to your numbers. My house had one removed also and unless you do a lot of cooking, both during the day and late into the evening, you need a heat source in the kitchen. I added mine back in the first season I was here.
  • adamfre
    adamfre Member Posts: 122
    edited April 2016
    Hey @Fred, I used the American Radiator catalog for the numbers. And I agree, I'm going to have to add that radiator back to the kitchen. *fires up HVAC-calc*
    Just want to stay warm in the winter. :D
  • Lance
    Lance Member Posts: 170
    In evaluating your situation and comments I find all the comments lacking one thing, the state of the building and it's heat loss evaluation. A house built in this period with window sash weights, and other loose construction standards means it might be worth looking into lowering the air infiltration and adding insulation. Once this is done with a new heat loss calculation, the whole steam system might be downsized to save even more money. Either way the Peerless boiler's main weakness is it is old and not the original which makes me ask was the Peerless installed as good as it should have been. Did anybody protect the old for three year storage? I doubt it. Add some safeties, go CSD1 if possible if not required. Do the whole building evaluation. Might also be wise to consider zoning the steam system.
    Good luck, Press for price concession for improvements, its warranted. My humble opinion is all I can offer.
    Lance
    adamfre
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,974
    Lance said:

    In evaluating your situation and comments I find all the comments lacking one thing, the state of the building and it's heat loss evaluation. A house built in this period with window sash weights, and other loose construction standards means it might be worth looking into lowering the air infiltration and adding insulation. Once this is done with a new heat loss calculation, the whole steam system might be downsized to save even more money. Either way the Peerless boiler's main weakness is it is old and not the original which makes me ask was the Peerless installed as good as it should have been. Did anybody protect the old for three year storage? I doubt it. Add some safeties, go CSD1 if possible if not required. Do the whole building evaluation. Might also be wise to consider zoning the steam system.
    Good luck, Press for price concession for improvements, its warranted. My humble opinion is all I can offer.
    Lance


    I had looked into replacing all of my 150 year old windows, and ripping the siding off to insulate etc.

    Problem is, it'd take 20 years just to break even and that's assuming I did all of the labor. I would increase comfort, but besides that I could never justify it at least not in my 1600sqft home. Empty balloon framed walls and all.

    Besides, the air exchange keeps the house smelling fresh. :)
    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
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,510
    edited April 2016
    You can reduce the heat loss pretty well with combination storm windows-I like the black colored ones.
    Zoning steam systems for such a small system would be quite complicated, involving some additional connections to the wet returns. Better would be careful balancing, and installing some TRV's
    If the heat loss of the house is improved, and the replacement boiler downsized, the system may become unbalanced because of the disparity between the size of the boiler, and the connected radiation.
    If the hetloss is reduced then the savings will come from a decrease in boiler runtime, and not from a smaller boiler.--NBC