I bought a house with steam heat not knowing what I had gotten myself into. When winter arrived, all the problems showed - banging pipes, hissing vents, unbalanced heating, and water loss from the boiler. I starting doing my homework and bought We Got Steam Heat and almost crapped my pants when I realized there was copper in lots of places there shouldn't be copper. Very obviously, the copper had been added when a renovation was done. I repitched the radiators. This got a couple of them working, but it also revealed leaks and did not fix the water hammer, of course. Once the weather got cold, I needed to add water EOD. Brough out TBros (of This Old House fame) and they sounded like knuckleheads and never sent me the estimate. Through this website, I found Boston Standard. On their website, they claim they have done workshops with Dan Hollahan. I hired them and they just did some work for me. Because there is some copper that cannot be replaced without MAJOR work, they had to some of it behind. They assumed me that the problems would be greatly reduced.
House - 1200 sq Mansard, two stories
UTICA boiler - both TBros and B.S. said it's not the best boiler piped perfect, but it was OK and not the main issue.
Radiators - 8 1-pipe. 1 2-pipe. Three large rads downstairs in a semi-open space. 1 small rad in the bathroom. Upstairs bathroom is a small 2-pipe. Three upstairs bedrooms have medium rads.
1. replaced all the copper in the basement with black. Also replaced as much copper as they could on the rads to the first floor.
2. changed out the cheap automatic vents for alleged better quality adjustables.
3. Fixed a leak in once the copper pipes that couldn't be replaced without tearing out a whole wall. As it was, they didn't to tear out a 1'x1' portion.
4. Serviced the boiler.
5. replaced the main vents.
1. Heat is more balanced. This required that I did the adjustments on the vents after they left. Still a work in progress, but it's a notable improvement.
2. Banging is somewhat reduced and less violent than it was before.
3. Leak seems fixed and I'm losing less water.
1. The 2-pip rad is now banging. It didn't before. This was the one with the leaks.
2. Still a lot of banging from other rads.
3. Hissing is about the same.
1. After the service, water in the view glass looks MUCH dirtier than before and when the boiler is running, it now drops below the low-water mark. Is this normal?
2. I thought having the right main vents and rad vents would solve the hissing? Am I wrong to expect this?
3. He dialed the pressure up to 2 psi. Before, the the gauge barely moved. Is this too much for a 9 rad, 1200 sq ft house?
4. Why heck would a 2 pip rad bang?
Right now, not feeling particularly satisfied. Before I call and complain, I want to know whether or not I have the right to complain. If anybody can give me some feedback, I would really appreciate it.