I'm the new homeowner of a 1900 rowhouse in NYC (2 floors plus basement) undergoing a gut renovation. We always intended to keep the steam system, but during demolition, every single pipe came out. We're left only with 6 beautiful cast iron radiators and a Crown gas boiler, 2003. Every plumber who bid tried to convince me to install a hot water system, but I want steam.
So, now my plumber is about to install a new steam heating system from the ground up (but using the old boiler, warning me that if it doesn't work, it's not his problem - fair enough). However, I'm a bit worried that he isn't the experienced expert on steam I need for a big job like this. He said at one point that steam radiators do hiss, as though it's normal.
This plumber has already completed the sanitary, water, and gas part of the job (and done it well, from what I can tell), and I'm committed to him as well for the heating.
Here are my questions for you steam heating experts:
1. Am I totally crazy to be putting in a new, from-the-ground-up steam heating system? As everyone tells me, people don't do this today. Repairing old systems, sure. But all new? Who does that?
2. Is it realistic to expect a non-steam-specialized plumber to install the system properly? I bought "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" and am furiously taking notes on all the details to check after the plumber is done. The book is extraordinary, and a pleasure to read, and I now feel incredibly knowledgeable and empowered. But still, I am not a plumber so how can I really know?
3. Is it perhaps a good idea to find a steam expert to hire as a consultant to review my plumber's work before the walls are closed?
4. As far as sizing pipes, am I correct in calculating that a 2 story, 2300 sf steam heated home (not counting basement, which will be on hot water) is pretty straightforward to size, since it's a small system with less than 100,000 Btuh? According to charts in Dan's book, it seems like my house will always need the smallest size pipes in the charts. Maybe I'm oversimplifying though, and I haven't gotten through every chapter yet.
5. Any other comments, thoughts, suggestions, or advice as I go forward? Right now I'm crossing my fingers that I end up with a system that functions quietly and efficiently at low pressure, the way steam can and should. But finger crossing isn't a strategy I feel comfortable with!
Thank you to Dan and to this forum! I have learned so much already.