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Converting Steam to Gas

Victor9877
Victor9877 Member Posts: 2
I have steam oil heat and I'm interested in changing to gas. I had a few contractors over and they gave me a couple of options. One was to replace my oil fired boiler with a gas fired steam boiler. Another option is to convert my current steam system to gas hot water keeping the cast iron baseboard radiators. The contractor told me this is possible because of how the system now is currently set up. He said it "looks like when the set this system up they were trying to make it a "forced system". There is mostly just cooper piping running through the house which is not usually used with steam heat. I am interested in hot water because I can zone it, finally have heat in my finished basement, and not have the loud banging from the pipes. My concern is that the system won't work properly, that the current copper piping has gunk or debris in it from the oil heat steam through out the years of use might not allow the water system to work properly or even damage the the new boiler. I just need to know if it's a good idea to do this, is it going to give me problems in the future. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated in helping me to make my decision. Thank you

Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,771
    Don't do it. A hot-water radiator will only give of roughly 2/3 the heat of a steam one. And you have to get the water real hot to even get that much- which kills the supposed efficiency of a condensing boiler.

    Look at this thread where someone tried to tout the alleged savings from a conversion:

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/145002/actual-savings-over-steam-heating

    Also, hot-water needs over 10 times the operating pressure of steam to work. This WILL cause leaks at any weak points in the system, guaranteed.

    What you can do is run a hot-water basement loop off the bottom of a steam boiler, to heat the basement. This setup would automatically make the basement a separate zone.

    Where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    ethicalpaul
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,637
    First off there won't be any "gunk" to speak of in the steam lines, and very little in the returns-- steam heat is very clean and non-corrosive..

    Second, and far more important -- you won't gain any efficiency or lower your fuel bills by going to hot water. You will gain maintenance headaches as well as some expensive repiping. Don't do it.

    Instead, find a competent steam heating person to fix your existing system so that it operates properly -- the fact that you say it bangs tells me right away that whoever you have working on it doesn't understand it and shouldn't be playing with it.

    Try the "Find a Contractor" feature of this site, or just tell us where you are located and we may know of someone nearby.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,087
    I agree with the above.
    Can you post some pics of the copper piping to the rads and the boiler itself?
    Do you currently have gas? Natural or LP? Permits needed?
    If the current boiler isn't ancient, a conversion burner and safeties to code will be more efficient than an atmospheric gas boiler. Carlin, Riello, Beckett and others offer retrofit specs for numerous boilers.
    Victor9877
  • Victor9877
    Victor9877 Member Posts: 2
    Thank you for your comments, to answer your questions I am located in northern NJ, I have oil fired steam heat, the boiler is from 2005. Here are some pics of the copper piping and the system any more comments will be greatly appreciated











  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,771
    That boiler will run very well with a Carlin EZ-Gas burner.

    Several good steam guys in your area are @Dave0176 , @EzzyT and @JohnNY . Get in touch with one of them.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting