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Drop header or not

So I’m having a new gas steam boiler installed in next few weeks and been reading a lot of posts and seeing pics on this site, and I think I want installer to install a drop header. He said he would replace all nbp to manufactures specs. Is a regular header sufficient enough or does a drop header really make steam flow a lot better? Does adding a drop header void any manufacturers warranty for not piping to their specs? I have 3 mains btw. Also been seeing pics of installs with big valves (king gate valves I think their called?) on supplies, is that necessary? Any advice to steer me in right direction? Thanks in advance

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,152
    Keep in mind that the manufacturer's specification is a minimum. I can't imagine that installing a nice drop header would affect the warranty, and it does make for dryer steam.

    I happen to like king valves -- although I much prefer ball valves (full port) to gates, although they are more expensive. If you have them, as well as ball shutoffs on the wet returns, it is easy to raise the pressure in the boiler without affecting the rest of the system -- should you need to do that.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Ron Jr._3
    Ron Jr._3 Member Posts: 603
    I've had town inspectors fail a job because the diagram for a drop header is not in the boiler manual. Like they would print every diagram or scenario for every type of install ...

    That being said , a drop header is always beneficial to any low pressure steam system. Especially Italy at the cost of a few extra ells and nips !
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 423
    If you have the proper sized drop headers any excess condensate would flow back to the boilers water level coming off the end of the drop headers.

    There are a lot of beautiful full size drop headers shown in pictures here on the heating help forums steam pages and on the web in new installations and the manufacturers also have illustrations of how they want to see drop headers installed for their boilers.

    The drop header(s) piping is sized to match the two top tappings in the steam chest which lets the boiler make more dry steam at a faster rate through the twin steam chest tappings and also making the boiler more efficient in the process in making dry steam using a common condensate drain from the drop headers back to the boilers water level.

    The drop headers also allow the dry steam to be fed faster heating the radiators faster with proper venting.
    Adding temperature control valves on each radiator will also save you money over the long term if you do not have them already.

    Checking the radiators to make sure they are draining back properly and installing new air vents or cleaning the old ones
    (if they are easy to clean) at this time would also be a good idea to make them heat better as well.

    I think I explained everything correctly or at least I hope I did.
  • Before installing Thermostatic valves on the rads, I would make sure the main vents are generous, and can let the air out with no resistance. Your radiators were hopefully sized properly for each room, and if the steam arrives at each one at the same time, the system will be in balance, with no thermostatic valves needed. They are often a band-aid for the underlying problem of bad venting.
    using no setbacks will help you maintain a lower temperature, with more comfort.--NBC
  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,010
    A drop header of which i am a huge fan of is nice but not necessary. As long as the standard header is piped to spec, if will work.
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

    JohnNY
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,980
    IMO I think the drop header would be of more benefit than the king valves....….and less money....

    I have seen only a few boilers with king valves, from 2" up to 6", the big ones are 40-50 years old, never been operated and if you got them closed they would most likely not seal tight.

    The 2" ones are only 15 years old and will not move.
  • amakro15
    amakro15 Member Posts: 39
    Thank you all for the feedback.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 10,363
    @amakro15

    drop headers and valves are nice but as long as the boiler is piped to the mfg minimum you will be fine.
    skim the boiler and new and larger air vents if needed are important
  • amakro15
    amakro15 Member Posts: 39
    edited September 2018
    Would installing a 3” header If manufacturers specs call for 2 1/2” header cause any issues. Are manufacturers specs a basic minimum? Can pipe sizes be increased?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,152
    amakro15 said:

    Would installing a 3” header If manufacturers specs call for 2 1/2” header cause any issues. Are manufacturers specs a basic minimum? Can pipe sizes be increased?

    Manufacturer's specs are bare minima. The bigger pipe size will do a better job of drying the steam...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Dave0176
    Dave0176 Member Posts: 1,172
    @amakro15 Besides the piping, Id make sure he is installing a proper sized boiler, sized to your radiators. If it’s oversized no type of piping is going to help.
    DL Mechanical LLC Heating, Cooling and Plumbing 732-266-5386
    NJ Master HVACR Lic# 4630
    Specializing in Steam Heating, Serving the residents of New Jersey
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/dl-mechanical-llc

    https://m.facebook.com/DL-Mechanical-LLC-315309995326627/?ref=content_filter

    I cannot force people to spend money, I can only suggest how to spend it wisely.......
  • Pay me now, or pay me later.

    That's your equation.

    The dropped header will be more efficient, but will cost more to be installed.

    The King Valves will greatly aide boiler maintenace and servicing, but will cost more to install.

    High capacity main vents are so critical as to not be an option.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
    CanuckerDouble D
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 423

    amakro15 said:

    Would installing a 3” header If manufacturers specs call for 2 1/2” header cause any issues. Are manufacturers specs a basic minimum? Can pipe sizes be increased?

    Manufacturer's specs are bare minimum. The bigger pipe size will do a better job of drying the steam...
    ======================================================

    I tried explaining that to a fellow that is installing a used EFM highboy coal stoker in his basement for steam heat and expert that he is he told me that drop headers were only for modern small capacity steam boilers.

    I explained that he will save money on coal as the dry steam will get to the radiators faster with the larger drop header piping and he would have not of it.

  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 2,761

    A drop header of which i am a huge fan of is nice but not necessary. As long as the standard header is piped to spec, if will work.

    Thank you, Gerry.
    I love a nice drop header and they make a great photo but they're often installed at more expense than benefit.
    3" and 4" fittings are disproportionately more costly than the smaller sizes listed in many installation diagrams. King valves, as opposed to flanges, can be another dealbreaker when pricing competitively.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, Master Plumber
    in New York
    in New Jersey
    for Consulting Work
    or take his class.
    Double D