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.

HSB calls for scrapping all steam heat

ttekushan_3
ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 942
edited July 2016 in Strictly Steam
Attached is the recommendation from Hartford Steam Boiler to replace a good steam heating system and a nice 5 yo Smith 28 HE / Webster full modulation NG burner+ oxygen trim. The boiler in question always measures in the mid 80's efficiency wise.

It's the system in the best condition throughout the facility.

This inspector states it as a fact that You Are Considering Getting Rid of the Steam in the interests of "Sound Engineering Judgement"

That's news to everyone around here.

He had no such recommendations for the rusty 65% atmospheric hot water hulks elsewhere on site.

So this is where steam is going?

I'm quite infuriated over this one though I shouldn't be surprised by this display of single-minded mindless.
terry

Comments

  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,306
    How much money would be saved after factoring in the cost of running the pumps and doing the annual servicing required on the new high efficiency system?

    Sometimes simple is best.

    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
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,334
    To be fair, that doesn't technically say anything about converting to forced hot water. Am I missing something?
    Canucker
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,306
    Your right about that

    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
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    It's almost like a form letter. I'm afraid I'm missing it too.
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 942
    Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond.

    What is not clear from my posting as it appears (but was clear in the original that sailed off into the digital aether) is that each boiler has it's own report sheet. The page shown is not a summary document but the steamer's inspection report alone. This notice is notably absent from each HW boiler report.

    Looking at the small stack of pages in context, the steam system alone is clearly singled out. Which is otherwise inexplicable at this facility since the steam equipment here far outclasses the HW. [for the record, I'd like to address that but if ain't broke- you know the rest]
    Regardless, it totally should have been the other way around or at least evenly applied. It was not.

    As far as Munich RE / HSB's line, "Newer hydronic heating systems available today…" and given the drift in the definition of "hydronic" as referring to hot water heating as opposed to steam, (I even see Ashrae documents entitled "hydronic vs steam" heating), they're pretty clear they'd like to see a change away from this particular system as it is.

    Being an insurer, I figured health, safety, and lowered risk was their goal. Like many euro companies intertwined with their governmental regulatory structures, there's always that tendency to mandate a technology rather than an outcome. With a faith that the chosen technology will achieve that outcome.

    I just figure this is another step in the direction of waking up one day living in a full fledged EU style regulatory environment. And I'm never sure who or what it serves in reality, despite the moral proclamations employed to advocate it.

    Just my $2 (inflation, you know). And thanks for reading!
    terry
    kcopp
  • EFRAIN
    EFRAIN Member Posts: 1
    Steam will give you 970 BTU's/lb like, immediately, whereas a H/W loop will take longer to heat the same space at 180 F. Further, H/W loops must be PROPERLY maintained, as should steam Boilers, to insure effective heat transfer across the coils or radiators.

    I will admit that yearly maintenance of steam traps (thermo, Hoffman and bucket) is a must - however with monthly listening to the traps operation one can pinpoint potential problems before system problems force the issue - AND this can be minimized with proper Boiler operation AND WATERSIDE TESTING. DO NOT ALLOW FLOODING!

    I'll leave at this point to keep it short...

    Frank Rosa (Water Treatment Consultant)
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,831
    Maybe it's more common to wreck a steam boiler than a HHW?
    What fails more often,LWCO or flowswitch? And in the latter case burner shuts down.
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 995
    Sorry to break your bubble but we have done multiple conversions to hot water using modcons. The last one I did at a major temple had one leak which was existing. The temple is loving it with all the gas savings. I took out two 3 million btu boilers serving two heat exchangers and a roof top plus 8 rads with 4 HTP ModCon 500. The steam units were converted to glycol. First note that ALL steam installation have oversized radiators. Second, it more expensive to make steam than heat hot water. Third, you do not get the advantage with steam of indoor/outdoor reset. Do the math, physics do not lie!
    HatterasguyCharlie from wmass
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,822
    edited July 2016
    Henry said:

    Sorry to break your bubble but we have done multiple conversions to hot water using modcons. The last one I did at a major temple had one leak which was existing. The temple is loving it with all the gas savings. I took out two 3 million btu boilers serving two heat exchangers and a roof top plus 8 rads with 4 HTP ModCon 500. The steam units were converted to glycol. First note that ALL steam installation have oversized radiators. Second, it more expensive to make steam than heat hot water. Third, you do not get the advantage with steam of indoor/outdoor reset. Do the math, physics do not lie!

    And the cost of all of the work vs the fuel savings?
    You're right, numbers do not lie.

    I've got people trying to sell me new windows that will "save me money" and yet it would take 30 years for me to break even.


    @Steamhead What do you think the ROI would be on a large system such as Henry speaks of being converted from what could be a properly working steam system to a top of the line ODR hot water system?
    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: 15,329
    ChrisJ said:

    Henry said:

    Sorry to break your bubble but we have done multiple conversions to hot water using modcons. The last one I did at a major temple had one leak which was existing. The temple is loving it with all the gas savings. I took out two 3 million btu boilers serving two heat exchangers and a roof top plus 8 rads with 4 HTP ModCon 500. The steam units were converted to glycol. First note that ALL steam installation have oversized radiators. Second, it more expensive to make steam than heat hot water. Third, you do not get the advantage with steam of indoor/outdoor reset. Do the math, physics do not lie!

    And the cost of all of the work vs the fuel savings?
    You're right, numbers do not lie.

    I've got people trying to sell me new windows that will "save me money" and yet it would take 30 years for me to break even.


    @Steamhead What do you think the ROI would be on a large system such as Henry speaks of being converted from what could be a properly working steam system to a top of the line ODR hot water system?
    Once again, and typically, Henry has failed to tell us what condition the steam system was in. How about it, Henry? Were there any working traps on that system? Was there steam blowing out of the condensate receiver? Did they have to cycle the boilers manually because the controls weren't working? I've found all of these conditions in the fine print of so-called "case studies" comparing new hot-water systems to what turned out to be badly neglected steam systems. This is not a valid comparison, never was and never will be.

    What's going to happen when your shiny new mega-dollar mod-cons get the typical neglect from the maintenance department? Are they going to last ten years? How efficient will they be two years from now? If they break down, how long will it take to get parts?

    For those who don't remember, take a look at this thread:

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/145002/actual-savings-over-steam-heating
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    ChrisJdelta T
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,334
    I gotta give @Henry credit, he keeps coming back for more :lol:
    Charlie from wmassttekushan_3ChrisJ
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 942
    edited July 2016
    It's kinda funny. This building in question is one where, prior to the installation of the Smith/Webster boiler, we reduced the electronic control's Call For Heat duty cycle by 52% by simply unclogging the boiler tubes, cleaning the fire side, and adjusting the burner of the decrepit and abused old Bryan/Gordon Piatt steam boiler system. Tuned up the modulating pneumatic thermostats, a trap survey, and some pipe leveling. Oh. And we added about 5000 square feet of floor space to the system. The work paid back in a few months and has been paying dividends since.

    It got better still with the new boiler room equipment 5 years ago. @Steamhead is right about having to know what the condition of the existing system is before attributing poor performance to anything other than poor maintenance, failing equipment, and a poor choice of control strategies for the characteristics of the building/heating system.

    The room thermostats modulate on demand, and the firing rate does the same in turn. Run time responds to outdoor temp, firing rate responds to actual conditions in the building. Convectors only supply the heat needed by varying the effective size of the heated surface. Deep setbacks are possible with ultra short recovery time. It all works pretty darn well, is quite simple by today's standards, and results in low fuel usage. The results are there.

    We saved that church a ton of money in both the short and long term, with results better than they believed were possible (after having listened to sales pitches over several years). Now they can afford more community outreach. It serves their mission's interests best. Or we could mandate they spend $500K to save a hundred or two a month over what they have now. Makes sense. /sarc

    What I do tell them is they should concentrate on getting control of the heat loss through the roof. I suppose the danger there is that it could make the system even more oversized. Oh no!

    Seriously. A radiator isn't oversized if the boiler doesn't "see" the whole thing. By the same token, opening everything wide open on a system like this in a cold building allows for room temp recovery times that are absolutely mind bending, because those convector outputs we so closely control, can swing many times their ratings when surrounded by cold air if enough steam volume is available. We use the system's varied abilities and versatility both daily and seasonally.

    All you have to do is design it to act in accordance with steam's strengths as applied to the characteristics of the structure. The results, by any metric are very pleasing, in comfort, fuel usage, durability, and longevity.

    I don't see the problem with it. Quite the contrary.
    terry
    ChrisJSWEIdelta T
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,752
    I have just started (2015) to service a 1938 school house with a 2 pipe system that would have been a candidate for the hot water conversion "upgrade" that Henry would recommend..........however the only thing that prevented something like that happening is that the building is slated for demo in the next 5 years or so.

    The steam boiler is a 1973 Kwanee rated at 52.3 HP, 1750 MBTUH. It would have been installed by a professional boiler company. (One who must come nearly 200 miles to the site).
    It was craned into a new basement room outside the building where the original 1914 boiler room was, a concrete cap placed over the room. Good looking welding on 5" header etc. The gas train has all the proper devices/items shown in the books. The point is that one would assume that this installation was engineered and installed correctly.

    No one remembers the heating system working well at all.
    Uneven heating for the building and the absolute worst water hammering that I never thought possible without breaking something......apparently since 1973. There had been a lot of attempts by many to fix things.

    So, here is what I found:

    Pressure set at 6 PSI. Boiler runs all season to maintain pressure.
    Two 3" zone valves controlled by 2 T-stats. (East & West)
    One 3 1/2" main feeding 2 abandoned fan coils (Stage/gym)
    Original boiler (1914) used 3 gravity returns.
    Condensate pump added for one wet return pipe.
    2 dry returns teed together then a check valve and dropped into
    the discharge of the cond pump.
    No air venting what so ever for the 2 dry returns.
    Wet return vented thru cond pump.

    Once zone valve opens the 6 PSI would push all the water setting in 120' of large main (3") and returns back into boiler (The Hammers of Hell) and raise boiler water level well above water line seen in sight glass......then water would drop and not return, fill valve kicks in.

    So some simple solutions:
    Lower pressure as low as control would allow. (2.25)
    Reconnect 2 dry returns into cond pump.
    Open pipe air vent for each dry return well above horizontal piping to check which return had bad traps. (This made me spin my wheels a lot as I assumed the 1973 (possibly) dead men knew what they were doing......apparently not.)
    Figure out that the T-stats were put in for top floor and lower floor zonings.......wrong.......zones were east & west...not top and bottom. (Obvious piping if you just look...it is all exposed)

    There are maybe 10 F&T dead bodies laying around the boiler room. The original were maybe Websters that had a pattern similar to the Hoffman in line traps. The replacements were the Hoffman H design so many have to have the condensate trapped at the F&T with the line running uphill. No air venting there.

    The 2 huge air handlers received steam all season long and acted as radiators, (someone actually put new F&T's on them, the AHU's had not been used in anyone's memory).
    The stage had been enclosed into a single room, these 2 AHU produced so much heat that a window AC was installed to counter this heat gain!......I just shut off the 2" gate valves to the coils. ;)

    I could go on but we all know there is more. 6 PSI...wet steam...water hammer that soils your whitie tidies....rad traps that must be near death.....F&T traps with the discharge line trapped.

    So this would be a good sell for Henry type business. I don't mean to beat him up much but as Steamhead pointed out anything looks better than a system that operates like this.

    I will go back with more improvements, mostly low hanging fruit. As said the building is destined for the wrecking ball in a few years.

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,329
    If it's a school, that explains the system's condition. School systems are notorious for poor maintenance and overall knuckleheading.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    SWEI
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,752
    From my time spent there, it seems that the lack of air venting on the 2 dry returns and condensate stacking in mains and returns was the single biggest problem.
    This was piped as such by the 1974 boiler installation crew. I have CSI'd many mech/elec installs just to figure out the timeline, sometimes for no reason (I really bore the grandson).
    But by fittings, paint, type of pipe hangers and undisturbed asbestos insulation the order of installation can be somewhat figured out.

    The big city crew put this in wrong, (IMO). The small city locals assumed as I did initially that the piping must be right. Only with the help of this site and, and over the years, having read all of Dan's books did I come to the conclusion that the 1974 Dead Men were wrong........that would be another topic....."Do we assume that the original installation was always done correctly??

    There are piles or replaced F&T's, buckets of rad traps and TRVs from repairs to eliminate the water hammer, which caused the failures to begin with. Most local plumber/HVAC never see a steam system but might take a shot at it (literally) :'(

    School boards have a tough time. Upper admin people all get well into 6 figures as they must be properly degreed. Teachers have in effect a union that sets their rates and bennies.
    The only whipping boys left are maintenance, janitors, kitchen and assistants whose wages are fairly lean. And are asked to do more with less.
  • PinkTavo
    PinkTavo Member Posts: 64
    edited October 2016
    JUGHNE...you can add small churches to that. My brother is a Pastor at two small churches in Ohio (probably 50 members at one, 100 at the other). He is pretty much the "handyman" too; especially at the pre-1900's church. I know he doesn't take on anything un-safe with heating systems, but has to pinch the pennies, so I am sure some issues are put off until they can be budgeted over time.
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,831
    This thread makes me sad. I can remember when schools were well maintained and steam heat was the best. The long runs made HHW inferior to steam.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,449
    @jumper interesting that all the new large institutional type buildings I've worked in are all hot water. At least all the post 1975 buildings.

    Taylor
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,831

    @jumper interesting that all the new large institutional type buildings I've worked in are all hot water. At least all the post 1975 buildings.



    Taylor

    HHW prevailed even earlier where I'm from.