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Why do people rip out boilers and radiators?

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MilanD
MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
Aside for obvious reason of adding ac and then perhaps upgrading to heat pumps, this makes no sense to me. You can easily keep it as a back-up.... or use mini-splits, much less invasive. At any rate, makes me sad to read posts like this on our local neighborhood Nextdoor board:

"We are removing our boiler and radiators from our home. Anyone know companies or individuals that purchase either boilers or radiators? The boiler is newer and is in great condition. We have several radiators that could be refurbished as well. Thanks!"

Comments

  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
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    Around here the majority of ppl do not like the look of heat emitters- hwbb, rads, and also see them as a decorating problem. Function is secondary to form. Whatever they want, no sense losing sleep over it.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    Bob Bona said:

    Around here the majority of ppl do not like the look of heat emitters- hwbb, rads, and also see them as a decorating problem. Function is secondary to form. Whatever they want, no sense losing sleep over it.

    Call me old-fashioned. I love the look of radiators - and when they are toasty and warm... so comforting.
    GrallertCanuckerBob Bona_4kcopp
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited March 2017
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    Well, I may take the radiators for my self. Maybe even the boiler. I'm going over to take a look next week. I was told the system is working fine, it just 'bangs' sometimes... I was also told 5 different 'contractors' looked at it to the tune of several grand to no avail. It looks like there are a lot of heating 'contractors' here in town who don't know what they are doing... It's a shame. Real shame.
  • RomanGK_26986764589
    RomanGK_26986764589 Member Posts: 229
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    Personally I see radiators as a decoration item itself which also functions as a heat emitter. I also dislike rad covers IMHO rads without covers look better and add to the charm of the house.
    MilanDkcoppluketheplumber
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,921
    edited March 2017
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    Just for you.







    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
    MilanDRomanGK_26986764589MarkS
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,921
    edited March 2017
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    They look strangely familiar.

    Yeah, they're in the meme thread.
    But they're just as good the second time around.

    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_4TinmanMilanD
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited March 2017
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    To the home owner's defense, they said they've poured thousands of $$ into the system and are tired of it not working right. I believe it. How many times did you all hear something like that? And why would home owner believe the 7th 'pro' when they walk through the door?

    It is criminal that there are so many unscrupulous 'pros' out there. I mean, why not just telling a customer you don't know how to fix it and walk away?
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited March 2017
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    > @Hatterasguy said:
    > I mean, why not just telling a customer you don't know how to fix it and walk away?
    >
    > Say what?

    Lol... Well not you @Hatterasguys! But you know what I mean - the 6 people who came trying to fix it... Easy money, I know.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,840
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    Unfortunatly steam & hot water heat is a very small portion of the heating business. The majority is scorched air.

    the east cost has SOME contractors that know steam & water. Go to the mid west and other parts of the country....forget it. The only ones there that know steam is in the industrial or institutional jobs
    MilanD
  • RomanGK_26986764589
    RomanGK_26986764589 Member Posts: 229
    edited March 2017
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    Across the pond in Europe it is the opposite. Hot water radiator heating comprises the majority of residential heating. Even newly erected big office buildings are heated with radiators. Scorched air is in absolute minority and is considered custom and more expensive to install.
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,808
    edited March 2017
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    @EBEBRATT-Ed - I'd like to think there's a few of us in the Midwest who know hydronics.

    But you're right for the most part. The stuff I see on a daily basis has left divots in my skull from all the head scratching trying to figure out what they were thinking.
    Steve Minnich
    delta THatterasguy
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    I think it is evident that has it not been for Dan and his research, this old world steam technology applications in residential and light commercial heating applications would have been lost for ever. Reading the steam books from early 1900s shows mechanical complexities parallel to today's computer networking or hand-held devices' technologies. Steam knowledge goes quite deep, esp. when you get into sophisticated 2-pipe systems of Hoffman or Moat, with all the mechanical devices that makes them operate, and esp when looking at what kind of knowledge went into thinking them up and engineering them in the first place. Goes to show one has to be "somewhat" intelligent and curious for any calling. And more importantly, willing to work and learn.

    I am still at loss that as a novice enthusiast working on one system out of necessity, I seem to have acquired more knowledge about steam than a great majority of people in the residential steam business here locally. Far from saying I know a lot, which makes this even more upsetting and, well, sad. Maybe I'm just too sentimental or have idealistic standards.
    j a_2Solid_Fuel_Mankcopp
  • modconwannabe
    modconwannabe Member Posts: 49
    edited March 2017
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    As a homeowner non-pro, reading these responses reminds me of the old Twain line "To the man with a hammer everything looks like a nail."
    I appreciate steam heat, but just because you buy a house with a certain type of mechanical doesn't mean you're married to it for life!
    Having survived 20 years in a steam-heated apartment building I completely empathize with someone who doesn't want to deal with needing a maestro to balance the system, to eliminate pings that appear one day and sound like drum band at 4am, to deal with hissing rads and puddles that pucker your floorboards, discovering which vent is buggered, waking up in a sweat while also having freezing cold room —to put ice on your kid's hand because they touched a 200-plus degree emitter.
    We didn't originally plan to rip out our system but out of necessity did so during a renovation and while I love the artwork an craftsmanship of old rads they just don't always make sense.

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    @modconwannabe , another saying is "To each his own" and I appreciate that everyone has a preference. I'm fine with that, but, all the issues you describe with the steam system in the apartment building you lived in are the result of a very neglected system, plain and simple. Please don't use that as a gauge for steam heating systems. If you neglect any heating system, forced air included, at some point you will have problems and ignoring those problems will cause them to pile up making the system dis-functional. If you think it takes a maestro to balance a steam system, try working on a forced air system with all its electronics. It takes a Pro to properly diagnose any problem and, if the duct work isn't properly installed (often even when it is) balancing the air flow is still almost an art. There are Pros and Cons to each technology and "Variety is the spice of life" (another old quote). Remember, when you come to a Steam Heat Thread, people are going to be Pro Steam heat. I agree with you, whatever technology happens to be in a home, when you buy it does not mean that you have to live with that the whole time you are there. Some of us are more prone to keeping an antique home more historically correct, whenever possible but everybody isn't so inclined.
    ChrisJRomanGK_26986764589MilanD
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,921
    edited March 2017
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    As a homeowner non-pro, reading these responses reminds me of the old Twain line "To the man with a hammer everything looks like a nail."
    I appreciate steam heat, but just because you buy a house with a certain type of mechanical doesn't mean you're married to it for life!
    Having survived 20 years in a steam-heated apartment building I completely empathize with someone who doesn't want to deal with needing a maestro to balance the system, to eliminate pings that appear one day and sound like drum band at 4am, to deal with hissing rads and puddles that pucker your floorboards, discovering which vent is buggered, waking up in a sweat while also having freezing cold room —to put ice on your kid's hand because they touched a 200-plus degree emitter.
    We didn't originally plan to rip out our system but out of necessity did so during a renovation and while I love the artwork an craftsmanship of old rads they just don't always make sense.

    Your system was broke.

    That's pretty much what you just said.

    And you made me agree with @Fred. Sigh.

    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
    MilanD
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited March 2017
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    ChrisJ said:



    And you made me agree with @Fred. Sigh.

    So much love on this board. It just warms my heart - with steam heat :smiley:
    ChrisJ
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,008
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    We didn't originally plan to rip out our system but out of necessity did so during a renovation and while I love the artwork an craftsmanship of old rads they just don't always make sense.

    It's never "necessary". As long as they still make radiators, we can make them fit pretty much wherever we want. But remodeling contractors as a class hate radiators so they really push people to rip them out. And the customer ends up paying a lot more for the job, and higher energy bills as well.

    No one comes out ahead except the remodeling contractor and the utility company.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Tinman
  • PinkTavo
    PinkTavo Member Posts: 64
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    I just finished designing controls for a new office building. They have baseboard HW everywhere with Constant Volume Rooftop Units that have DX and Gas Heat. The programming is to set this up so that the baseboard replaces the first stage of heat (W1) in the RTU. If it can't keep up, then W2 calls and the gas heat modulates. Pretty different, and a step up I think, from our typical VAV RTU, with terminal units (VAV and Fan-Powered Box zones) that have electric reheat.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,840
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    @PinkTavo , that's not a bad way to go. I have seen jobs that woud use the roof top units to assist when coming out of night setback "morning warm up" we used to call it then the baseboard provides perimeter heat which is more comfortable especially when the building is occupied
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    Looks like I'm getting 9 cast iron rads and a 2001 eg55 for free. It'll cost me truck rental and a couple of guys to move it. Rads are various sizes from 30 up to 85 edr, will need scraping and painting. All the rads are withing 2-3 edr of what my rooms sizes call and a quick slant fin app calculations put this boiler at exactly what my house needs, including the 33% factor taken into account, at 6 degree design temp for Cincinnati. How's this for luck? I know the boiler might not live long, but I checked it out, firebox and the burners look very clean. Free is free.

    Still need to get the cheif to sign off on installing steam at home, but I'm fairly certain I can do most of the piping myself and plan to get my friend from Midwest to help me with wiring. The only thing I need to make sure is that my chimney can handle this. Can these be vented directly or somehow through the wall? I'll ask the distributor, but in the meantime - any of you know?

    At any rate, I'll be 2 rads short and trick will be figuring how to get the pipes to the attic. I'll work on this a little bit and will start a new thread when I'm ready to start (after I get the OK from the CEO).

    New steam install from scratch - am I nuts? Yes. I probably am :smiley:
    RomanGK_26986764589Boon
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,655
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    No, you are not nuts! The cost these days is in the radiators -- and the labour. Looks like you have both of those covered.

    May I suggest that beg, borrow, steal or otherwise acquire a power pipe threader, though. You can do it by hand, but it gets old pretty fast.

    As to routing pipes upstairs -- the main place I care for has some ingenious solutions here and there, since the steam was put in over a 100 years after the house was built. Give me a shout on specific problems.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    MilanD
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Good for you! That's a major retrofit. If it were me, I'd start on the top floor. Get all the rads set in place, let the boss get use to the look, pipe everything down to the basement reasonably quickly so she isn't complaining about dirt/dust for the next six months and then you can take your time building your mains, connecting each rad and installing the boiler/header, etc.
    MilanD
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited March 2017
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    @Jamie Hall @Fred

    Thank you!

    Fred - great suggestion on running pipes from top down and then taking time in the basement. I haven't gotten to how to execute the job but this definitely sounds like the way to go, drop down each riser first, and then work on it in the basement.

    Jamie, I was looking into purchasing a used threader - given I'll do most of the work and will save on labor, and I like toys. :smiley: I do have a plumber friend and may ask him for his threader - don't think he uses it much.

    I don't expect my main to be larger than 2" (given that's about 521 EDR or so total) and risers between 1 and 1-1/4 , with 3 rads in the attic, 4 (or 5) rads on 2nd floor and 5 on 1st. The largest rad is 85 EDR on the 1st floor (on its own riser). All 1st floor rads will, of course, have their own risers. Next rad in size is 80 EDR on the 2nd floor, directly above the 85 EDR one, and then 45-50 EDR above it on the 3rd floor attic (maybe less - it's slanted roof, and not fully 8ft ceiling at the highest point, so I'm thinking 2/3 volume of a cube-shaped room, thus 2/3 EDR if dimension was 8ft ceiling cube room. This means 2nd and 3rd floor pipe will need to carry 130 EDR of steam max. I think 1-1/4" pipe should be fine for that, haven't looked at the charts. Maybe even 1" will do. I'm pretty sure I can get away with one riser pipe for both 2nd and 3rd floor. Rads should be in a relatively same place floor over floor as spaces are all equal over 3 floors, with floor 1 and 2 being identical (used to be 2-family), and 3rd floor attic also follows the 3-room in-line pattern of 1st and 2nd floor.

    The house is a shot-gun style rectangle, inside dimensions are 17wx51L, 3 spaces length-wise, with 3rd 3rd being bath/kitchen on the same square footprint of the front and middle rooms. I think I can get away with one main/loop on the outside wall perimeter. Haven't sat down to figure it out exactly, or to figure out wet returns, or to figure out exactly how to get the pipe to 3rd floor middle room as attic footprint is smaller due to knee wall. I have an idea, but need to make sure. I'll either have to find an appropriate inside wall to run the pipe up there, or run it on the outside wall into the knee-wall and bring it in below floor and then up, or straight out the knee-wall ...

    I saw an interesting return in this very house I'm getting the system from, where after the last rad riser, the main drops down on a 90 for about 8", then carries it at a pitch all the way to the boiler at the ceiling level (minus 8" and slope), and drops it into a wet return and an immediate Hartford loop right by the boiler. Water has space to back into the high dry return at the ceiling, and the drop from it to water line has a satisfactory dimension A. Given my basement is at about 7 ft and full of stuff, this would be a best way to run the return and keep it both off the floor and away from other plumbing.

    I will reach out regarding layout of all pipes as I start putting it down on paper.

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    @MilanD , I don't want to tell you how to do your installation but if it were me, I'd put 1-1/2" supplies to all radiators 80 EDR or more and 1-1/4" to ALL the other rads. One inch pipe will work on smaller rads but, on a one pipe system, it could be marginal on any rads over 25 to 30EDR. I think 2" mains would work but again, if it were me, 2.5" would make me a little more comfortable. JMHO.
    MilanDRomanGK_26986764589
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,109
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    Another thought is to drip some or all of the risers, especially the 2nd & 3rd floors. This gives you a smaller run out with less slope required at each take off. Needs a wet return though which could be on the basement floor.
    Smaller pipe is more user friendly IMO.
    2 pipe rads would have been nice.....maybe some are available in your area??
    MilanD
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,008
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    We have a similar project going on- watch for a new thread with pics when it's done.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    MilanD
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    > @Fred said:
    > @MilanD , I don't want to tell you how to do your installation but if it were me, I'd put 1-1/2" supplies to all radiators 80 EDR or more and 1-1/4" to ALL the other rads. One inch pipe will work on smaller rads but, on a one pipe system, it could be marginal on any rads over 25 to 30EDR. I think 2" mains would work but again, if it were me, 2.5" would make me a little more comfortable. JMHO.

    Excellent points Fred! You are right, of course - I'm planning to go off of pipe sizes of my rads at work. Several smaller rads 28-35 EDR on the 1st floor are on 1", and 1-1/4 for larger 1st floor rads of up to 60 EDR. The 2nd floor house side is all piped on 1-1/4", with rads anywhere from 30 to 84 EDR. 1st fl. auditorium is all on 1-1/4" with rads at 72 EDR, 2nd fl. auditorium 1-1/2" with 75 EDR rads, with 2 rads per 1-1/2" riser.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    > @JUGHNE said:
    > Another thought is to drip some or all of the risers, especially the 2nd & 3rd floors. This gives you a smaller run out with less slope required at each take off. Needs a wet return though which could be on the basement floor.
    > Smaller pipe is more user friendly IMO.
    > 2 pipe rads would have been nice.....maybe some are available in your area??

    Thanks @JUGHNE!!

    I wish I could do 2 pipe. This all being free, I'll stick with 1. This is more a project out of love than necessity. CEO won't be happy with my reasoning.

    I was in the basement this evening thinking about all this. There is less room at the ceiling level than I thought with all the ductwork for the furnace/ac, and overall low ceiling even though joists are all exposed. Given slope I'll have to run, I probably will have to run wet returns vs. high dry drop. Trick is trying to figure out how best to keep them out of the way, and how to best layout the main, and for that matter, where to put the boiler itself. I had a few chimneys removed years ago so I'm limited, although I suppose we can run a liner and stainless out the top. Anyhow, I'm not there yet and there's a lot to think about.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    > @Steamhead said:
    > We have a similar project going on- watch for a new thread with pics when it's done.

    Can't wait to see it!!