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Finding a qualified steam technician

I'm sorry to post such a mundane question to such a content rich site, but I am in deep need of a qualified steam boiler technician for a two pipe residential system here in Louisville, KY. Can anyone point me in the right direction? The first several calls I made to HVAC companies have been fruitless (there's LOTS of forced air here in Louisville).

Any help would be appreciated.



  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Let's see if @vaporvac will respond to this post. She hasn't been on here in a while but she had a two pipe steam guy that she was very happy with. Maybe she can email you some info. They are in the Cincinnati area so I don't know if her guy will travel to Louisville.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    Depending on what your job is, perhaps you can catch Midwest Mechanical Co. from Cincinnati. It's a great outfit. They are commercial people, but travel all around installing breweries from Cleveland down to Louiseville and Lexington. Perhaps your job is doable. What are you looking to do? New boiler?
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,296
    If all else fails there is Dan's book the LAOSH which you should have anyhow if you stay in the house and keep steam.

    I am sure all the Louisville contractors would be happy to scrap it and install scorched air..too bad
  • sethcsnell
    sethcsnell Member Posts: 2
    I should have been clearer, I'm looking for tune-up work on the system -- e.g. improving heat distribution throughout the whole house.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,878

    I should have been clearer, I'm looking for tune-up work on the system -- e.g. improving heat distribution throughout the whole house.

    Step one. Purchase "We Got Steam Heat" and "The Lost Art of Steam Heat", both available on this site or on Amazon. They're good, entertaining reading -- and by the time you absorb them you will know a lot about steam heat.


    Step two. Take what you've learned from Step on, and set about figuring out how your system is supposed to work, and how it is working -- and, from that, what needs to be done to make it work the way you want it to. You will find that a good bit of it is doable by a reasonably capable handy person with the right tools, and a lot more is doable by said person with the aid of some help from this site -- which we will be happy to provide, given reasonably specific questions. And all of it can be done by a good plumber with the right tools and a willingness to learn.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ratioNew England SteamWorks
  • zackwatt
    zackwatt Member Posts: 81
    Living in Louisville myself, I have had the same challenge of trying to find a capable steam technician. I haven't had much luck from anyone in Cincinnati either. :(

    Don't think I have tried Midwest Mechanical though...

    My system is two-pipe as well, and I've spent the last couple of years reading Dan's books, the great content on this site, and tinkering with my system. All of which have yielded very positive results!

    IMO, here's my "tune-up" for beginners
    • Check thermostat is set properly for steam operation
    • Check all all the boiler components are working and set correctly
    • Ensure the safe guards actually work and can protect your investment
    • Ensure no system leaks, check air vents, traps, radiator valves, etc. Keeping fresh water add back as close to zero is the key.
    • Install a skim port if you don't have one
    • Clean, Flush, and Skim boiler as needed, this may take many rounds if its never been done
    • Treat boiler water with Steamaster tablets to obtain best pH level
    • Add appropriate main line air venting (Big mouths baby!!!)
    • Check main and condensate return line pipe slope and adjust pipe hangers as required
    • Check radiators for proper slope toward the traps
    • Install a flue damper to keep the heat you've paid for
    • Oh and about those pipes...Insulate! Insulate! Insulate!
    That's a pretty quick summery of everything I was able to do myself after finding this great resource and giving Dan't books a read, or two. It has definitely made a huge improvement to my system's operation and overall house comfort.

    And I'm still not done with my system either, as the header isn't really piped the most effective or efficient as it could be, and the installers didn't delete the quite annoying condensate pump. But that's no low budget weekend project...