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Would this work for a one pipe steam radiator conversion?

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  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,902
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    No. They were repiping a hot-water system in that video. Pex-Al-Pex would never handle steam.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
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    1Matthias
  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
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    Thanks, I should have been more clear. I have steam radiators but need a new boiler and all new piping (see previous thread) but wanted to see if it was possible to convert to hot water and still use my radiators by doing this conversion.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,902
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    I wouldn't count on that. Your radiators might not be of a type that will work with hot water, and even if they are they are likely too small to do the job, since a HW rad only gives off roughly 2/3 the heat of the same size steam rad.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
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    1Matthias
  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
    edited December 2018
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    @Steamhead
    You bring up a very interesting point. I have been doing my homework and it seems as though I am oversized in radiation.
    I was told that:
    "A steam boiler with more than 200K of output is still probably more than 2x oversized for the building load @ +10F if you are insulating & air sealing. ASHRAE recommends 1.4x, not more."

    "Reducing the total radiation is probably a first step to re-engineering the system once you have the room by room heat load numbers in front of you. You probably have way more radiators in the building than is necessary to actually heat the place, and maybe enough sizes to re-arrange where they are and reduce the total number to better match output to load. The ASHRAE 1.4x oversize factor is still the right target, but the radiation, not just the boiler has to hit that range.

    If the boiler is undersized for the radiation not all radiators will get heat. If oversized for the radiation it creates several other issues. The range that still works for the radiation is reasonable, but not 50% or even 30% over/under sizing for the radiation"

    This was from one of the engineers online. So what I am wondering is if I am way oversized for steam, maybe I am just right for hot water if the radiators are able to be converted. I will try to upload a pic of the radiators now.

  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
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    2 radiators (house is going through a reno)
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,902
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    The first one, maybe. Take a pic from directly in front like the second one.

    The second one, definitely steam-only. You can tell because there are no push nipples across the top. They are only on the bottom, which is great for steam but makes them useless on hot-water.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
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  • 1Matthias
    1Matthias Member Posts: 148
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    First one could be converted, the second one doesn't have the correct tappings/connections (Top & bottom), and would require replacement. Personally, I would not convert the system.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,902
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    I've seen some steam-only rads with upper tappings like that. Pic needed.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
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  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,902
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    The fourth one- steam only.

    If you can take pics of the other three straight on, so we can see between the sections............
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
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  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
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    Sorry @Steamhead, this is an investment property of mine. I am searching through pictures that had already been taken of the house. I don't live there. Is it common for a house to have so many different types of radiators or do you think these were mixed and matched over the years?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,902
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    Probably mixed and matched over the years.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
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  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
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    @Steamhead
    I have a pretty big dilemma on my hands right now. I don't know if you saw my previous thread but the house I purchased has a 450k BTU old boiler which is garbage, a fire, and the radiators are way oversized. In addition to all of that, all of the piping in the basement for the steam system is totally shot. I would have to rip all of it out, redesign it, and reinstall it. The basement is also an apartment so I couldn't have the pipes hanging, and everything would have to be ran carefully through the joist. Its possible, but costly.

    I really have put in a massive amount of time, along with all of the helpful people on this site to try and save the steam system but it just really makes no sense to save, and at this point, what am I really saving? I need a new Chimney liner, boiler, piping, and now, even radiators. Its pretty much building a brand new system from the ground up. Anyway... That being said, I think I have it narrowed down to going straight HVAC or Hydronic. Running baseboards in the house is out. Combi units are out.

    The leaves me with either 4 separate boilers in the basements mechanical room or one. I am leaning towards the latter. If I can manage to someone save majority of these radiators and convert all that are possible to be hydronic as opposed to steam, and went with one boiler as opposed to 4 with possible BTU meters to monitor tenant usage, this is starting to make financial sense.

    I have about 25-30 radiators throughout the house. Buying them all new would cost me a fortune and sway me way more the HVAC route. Thoughts? This way I could even do individual zoning per apartment and there would be no need to spend money on the chimney liner. Appreciate it
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,902
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    @Newburgh70 , I really can't comment on the other radiators until I can see them from the proper angle. I'll wait for more pics.

    Regarding hanging pipes, one of my Dead Men's Books says it is possible to run a steam main perfectly flat, up against the floor joists, IF each radiator runout is taken from the bottom of the main, pitching away from the main 1" in 20 feet, and the risers to the radiators are dripped into the wet return. I've never actually seen this done, but I can't see any reason it wouldn't work.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
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  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    Just how “shot” is the steam piping? Most of my piping for 55 rads dates from 1885, and is in good shape.
    As long as the system in the end is well balanced, and the thermostat is under your control, I wouldn’t consider the extra complication of zoning any system worth the effort.—NBC
  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
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    @nicholas bonham-carter
    Shot as in cut pipes, stolen pipes, pipes absolutely everywhere. Nothing is salvageable. Everything would need to be brand new including the main.
  • Newburgh70
    Newburgh70 Member Posts: 52
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    Hi guys! Happy holidays!
    @Steamhead

    Here are some more pics of some radiators. There seems to be many different kinds
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,902
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    Mostly steam-only, except for the two three-section ones and the last two in the second group.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
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  • mikeg2015
    mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,194
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    Trouble is, force air ductwork isn’t cheap either.

    Installing a new header might not be as expensive as you think.

    I’ll bet a reasonably priced 300k BTU boiler will be adequate even if on paper it’s a little undersized. Use small vents and balance the system and I think it will work fine. Can even use TRVs as well to zone it.

    That being said, in my area most have just abandoned the system and put in forced air.
    1Matthias
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,902
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    Also consider a steam mini-tube system, which can use the existing rads. You'd need to add return connections, but that's fairly easy to do:

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/131555/new-steam-mini-tube-system-installed-in-my-own-house-iron-fireman-style

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/151994/new-steam-mini-tube-installation-in-ohio/
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting