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cast iron radiators steam to convert to baseboard

Celia
Celia Member Posts: 5
edited March 2018 in Radiant Heating
I have problems with my radiators are cast iron steam, I have them covered and my gas bills are bing very high almost pay the same as the mortgage. What I can do? It would be a good idea to change to baseboard? Thanks

Comments

  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,854
    edited March 2018
    I'm not a steam guy, I work with Hydronics. But I would never, ever replace cast iron radiators with baseboards. Cast iron radiators with steam is one of the best ways to heat your home and is superior to baseboards. You likely have other issues related to the operation of the boiler.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,279
    We hope your pressure gauge is wrong.
    What does it read when boiler off and cool?

    Baseboards would be a step backwards from your radiators.
    That money might be better spent on the boiler & piping.
    Could you back up for a wider view of the boiler and piping,
    but a good clear close up of the control next to the gauge?

    And a sample picture of a radiator with a cover removed?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,434
    As said - @JUGHNE I hope your pressure gauge is wrong.

    However, at risk of pointing out the obvious, your radiators would not be too hot if the boiler didn't run, or run as long. What is the thermostat calling for and why?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    Don't change those radiators for baseboard. The questions about your systems are numerous:
    - Do you have good main vents on each of your mains? Adequate Main venting will significantly cut the amount of time the boiler has to run to get heat to the radiators.
    - Is this a one pipe or two pipe system? If one pipe, are the radiator vents working properly?
    - Do you need those covers on those radiators? They can reduce output by as much as 15%
    - What pressure is the boiler running at? The Pressuretrol should be set at .5PSI Cut-Out (scale on front) and the Differential (white wheel inside the Pressuretrol) should be set at "1". The higher the system pressure the slower steam will move through the system, to the radiators. From what I can see, the Pressuretrol is set too high.
    - That Pressuretrol looks like it may be setting at water level. If so, it needs to be raised so that the Pressuretrol can actually manage the system Pressure. Also, Pressuretrols mounted on that MM #67 low water Cut-off will clog the pigtail (looped pipe) almost immediately (within a couple months). If that happens, again, the Pressuretrol can't do its job. Raise it up and, if possible move it to another boiler tapping.
    Believe it or not, my first year, in this house (large house) my gas bill ran as high as $900.00/month. After getting things squared away, I may see a $300.00 bill once or twice a heating season and I'm still using the same old boiler, 27 years later.
    Celia
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,755
    @Celia , where are you located? We have plenty of Steam Guys available who can help you. No need to change the radiators!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    The cost of a visit from a good steam guy could pay for itself 10 fold...
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,433
    All good suggestions above.

    The first thing you want to do is buy this book https://heatinghelp.com/store/detail/we-got-steam-heat.

    It will tell you, as an owner how steam heat is supposed to work and give you valuable tips on finding a qualified contractor.

    Whatever you do, do not call the local plumber or heating contractor with the big ad, and let them fiddle with it (that's probably why your system in having issues).

    Steam heating requires a special skill set. Take the time to find the right company and enjoy comfortable and efficient heat.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • the_donut
    the_donut Member Posts: 374
    Also take a picture a few steps back from boiler at different angles so we can see more of your near boiler piping. Looks to me that ther is insufficient height from the top of the boiler to the bottom of the horizontal pipe above the boiler.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,086
    beside the pressure and piping pictures and everything else mentioned above,
    consider removing the covers and letting that heat out, freely,
    it's over 100/150, pushing 200* inside those boxes so your rooms can be 68 - 70,
    that pressure gage should be reading no more than 1.5,
    and you're burning a whole lot of fuel keeping the pressure past 1.5.
    call one of these pro's
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
    known to beat dead horses
  • Celia
    Celia Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for all the comments. I have Family Daycare and that's why I keep them covered. I have around 6 radiators.I live Fitchburg Ma
  • AnthraciteEnergetics
    AnthraciteEnergetics Member Posts: 77
    edited March 2018
    In addition to the steam consultation, a call to an insulator is likely in order too, if gas bills are as high as the mortgage. They'll need to insulate the steam mains if they are not already, air seal the house (watching for combustion air needs), insulate the attic, then the walls then the old wood windows (preferably fixing them rather than replacing if they are not too far gone) in that order.

    About 20% of the gas energy used by a steam boiler is lost via the chimney. The rest goes into your home either into uninhabited space (basement) or living space.

    State or utility may provide subsidy or tax benefits for insulation and air sealing. Natural gas is inexpensive right now so that's a lot of energy to heat a house with only 6 radiators.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,755
    As close to Boston as you are, you shouldn't have any trouble finding a good steam man. There are plenty on the Find a Contractor page of this site, here:

    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/

    It is possible to design a cover that won't impair the radiators' heating power. Go here for diagrams and discussion:

    https://heatinghelp.com/heating-museum/radiator-enclosures/
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,396
    Those almost look like hospital rads...and by the way, no covers needed...kids learn quick :lol:
    brandonfBobC
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 871
    You need to get a good steam pro in there pronto, and fix the problems with the system. Most likely you have inadequate main venting, and your pressuretrol is set way too high. I doubt you pressure gauge is reading correctly, as your relief valve should be blowing off steam at that pressure. You will likely also need some new radiator vents if they have not been changed. Is there any banging in the system?

    KEEP THE STEAM!!!! The right professional can likely repair this system for much MUCH less than the cost of replacing it with baseboard. There are quite a few good steam companies in your area. Use the 'Find a Contractor' link on the main site and get one of them out there to take a look.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,434
    Fitchburg, I think you said? Try @Charlie from wmass . Busy he is, but he's one of the best.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Celia
    Celia Member Posts: 5
    > @Steamhead said:
    > @Celia , where are you located? We have plenty of Steam Guys available who can help you. No need to change the radiators!

    Fitchburg, Ma
  • D107
    D107 Member Posts: 1,814
    edited March 2018
    FWIW Writing on rad seems to say H.B. Smith...1929 Catalog says "Princess Direct Radiator". Some good history there.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    That's an old radiator vent. are the radiator vents working properly? If not the rads won't heat properly, if at all.