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Purchased house - sorting out the previous owner's steam heat problems

femaledogfemaledog Posts: 8Member
edited March 15 in Strictly Steam
Hi guys. First I wanted to say thank you for this site, which is the best knowledgebase of steamheating tips and tricks available. Using what was written here, I was able to take a mostly non-functional system and bring it back to life.

I pitched all the radiators, and installed properly sized valves (not oversized).

I set the pressuretrol to 0.5 / 1 diff. Previous owner had it at 3 psi + 4 diff.

It is using less gas now and all the rooms get nice and hot, where when I moved in some radiators were just not working at all. My next move is going to be to upgrade the main vents (which can hardly be called that, as you'll see from the attached pictures.)

I need to add some more insulation, and there is what is presumed asbestos (because of age and appearance) insulating the main run.

I wanted to upload some pictures and see what you thought of the way this boiler was installed and piped, for academic reasons mostly. The system is currently working very well in spite of having inadequate main venting.

This is about a 30 foot total run. 20ish feet off to the front of the building, which is a right angle off the boiler and a straight shot, and then a strange 180 degree turn that leads to the rear of the building, which is colder probably because of that 180 in the pipe, which runs about 10 feet.

My plan is to put a big mouth in the front vent on the longer run and a gorton #1 on the shorter run.

rear vent


front vent


misc boiler and pipe pics. The glass itself here is dirty, not the water. Initially the water was very dirty and I had to drain and clean it because rusty water was bubbling up through the vents. That condition has been resolved, but the glass itself is discolored and I have not cleaned that yet.



here's the 180. front of the building is to the left of the picture, rear to the right.


Comments

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,027Member
    Seen worse boiler piping -- you'll want to do better on the next one, but for this one -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    The main vents... well, those are cute, and they aren't ideally located, but I expect your ideas as to what to do with them may work. If you find you need a bigger vent on the rear -- the one that comes off the side of the main -- I'd go with a Gorton #2 rather than a BigMouth, as there is a good chance that from time to time some condensate might get in there and the Gorton, with its float, will handle that better.

    That insulation is the old asbestos insulation. It works just fine -- wonderful insulation, but it is asbestos. Two approaches. The more obvious is to remove it -- but that has its own downsides. The other is to encapsulate it. There is a wonderful plaster impregnated gauze tape -- comes in various widths -- which surgeons use to make casts -- and modellers use to make scenery (cheaper from a model railroad shop...). Soak it in water, wrap it around, tidy up the mess and let it harden and stop worrying about it.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • femaledogfemaledog Posts: 8Member
    Thank you for the reply, Jamie.

    I had considered the big mouth not closing on water issue. I guess I may experiment and in the event that a Gorton #2 would serve me better, try a big mouth in a more suitable location in another building.

    Regarding the asbestos, that seems like a simple and cost effective solution.
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Posts: 642Member
    Don’t tear out he asbestos. Waste of money. It’s a great insulator and I think more risk removing it that just encapsulating it or doing nothing. Only reason for removal is for completely demolition or if it will be an occupied space.
  • femaledogfemaledog Posts: 8Member
    mikeg2015 said:

    Don’t tear out he asbestos. Waste of money. It’s a great insulator and I think more risk removing it that just encapsulating it or doing nothing. Only reason for removal is for completely demolition or if it will be an occupied space.

    Or to put mustard on it and eat it, but that depends entirely how much Jerky Boys you listened to. :D
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,289Member
    What @Jamie Hall said
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,459Member
    The larger steam main, is this the high point of that piping?
    If so then we assume it is parallel flow. The smaller main off to the right is counterflow, with that condensate flowing back down the riser?
  • FredFred Posts: 7,733Member
    Looking at his third picture, @JUGHNE , they both look like counter flow. I don't know where the returns come from unless one or both of the counter flows become parallel flow somewhere down the line.
  • femaledogfemaledog Posts: 8Member
    I'm afraid I don't know enough about parallel flow vs counterflow to say.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,027Member
    femaledog said:

    I'm afraid I don't know enough about parallel flow vs counterflow to say.

    You'll learn. We all have, at some time in the past. But it really isn't magic or a mystery -- in counterflow, the steam main slopes back, towards the boiler. Any condensate -- water -- flows towards the boiler along the bottom of the pipe, while steam flows the other way, towards the radiators. In parallel flow, the steam and water are going in the same direction -- away from the boiler -- and the condensate is collected at the far end and returned to the boiler in another pipe. As a practical matter, you can use a large level to determine which way the pipe slopes -- if it's down towards the boiler, it's counterflow.. If it's the other way, it's parallel flow.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,459Member
    And after some distance it can change from counter flow to parallel flow. Start low, go up to a fitting and then go down to the return. So perhaps only a small amount of pipe will be counter flow with the condensate returning against the flow of steam. Then it can change to where the condensate flows parallel with the steam flow. This condensate then returns thru the returns.
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,778Member
    This excellent little book about steam systems and their operation may make the concepts more clear. Page 22&24.—NBC

    https://www.peerlessboilers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/OnePipeSteam.pdf
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,930Member
    @nicholas bonham-carter I'll second your recommendation of that Peerless book, well worth the few dollars it cost.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Posts: 562Member
    I love that book. Well worth the zero dollars it costs! It makes me want to buy Peerless
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, 1913 coal > oil > NG
  • femaledogfemaledog Posts: 8Member
    edited March 16
    Maybe this is parallel after all. I do have a downward return like the "ONE-PIPE PARALLEL SYSTEM
    with WET RETURN" diagram in that pdf.
  • femaledogfemaledog Posts: 8Member
    edited March 16
    Two lessons were learned:

    one: don't work on the pipes yourself if the plumbing supply houses are closed, because when you break the nipple off in the pipe and you don't have the extractor, well you know. At least it was warm in NYC last night.

    two: the big mouth is awesome. A pro did this install for me after my frustrations reached a peak with the broken threads and an extremely stuck bushing. He ended up breaking the bushing and cutting it out with a reciprocating saw and chisel. I don't think I would have had the stones for that. It is venting and I have not seen any water yet after a day's worth of cycles.

    I hope that turndown is ok. The idea was to not blast water forward, if for some reason it came out.








  • gerry gillgerry gill Posts: 2,896Member
    turndown is fine.
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com

    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • femaledogfemaledog Posts: 8Member
    Thanks Gerry. And thank you to all of you who have commented. It has been a big help.
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