I've read, and been re-reading Lost Art of Steam Heating. So I'm really bothered that I've inherited an inefficient running steam boiler. I just moved back to the Bronx and am a Franciscan brother who serves the homeless. So whoever "fixed" our system has left problems that no one else sees.
Firstly, it's a relatively new steam boiler, 2 pipe system, steam traps appearing to work. The easiest problem to see is that it cuts in at 2 psig and cuts out at 10psig, and the gauge confirms it. Then I noticed the inlet to the condensate pump was not on, probably intentionally. The brothers said (and the boiler room paint confirms) that "this pipe was shooting out steam", the open air pipe from the condensate pump, so steam coming through the return at some point. It looks like the F&T is new. There is a functioning air vent at the top of the return in the boiler room; I can hear it venting. But it looks like there is new copper piping that may have tried to bypass the condensate pump and turn it into a gravity feed. It works, so I shouldn't complain, but they have it cranked up.
I "cranked it down" to cut in at 1/2psig and out at 2. I ran into trouble. Although I couldn't watch the boiler the whole time, it seemed to be cutting out due to low water, though I could still see it in the gauge glass. Thermostat was calling for heat, and it wasn't cutting out because of pressure. Turning up the pressure seems needed to return the condensate.
So should I think this is fine and not worry since we have heat? Is this a reasonable and desirable alternative to replacing a faulty condensate pump? Would it be cost effective long term to buy a pump (not asking for prices)? Thanks guys.
Brother Max CFR