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1870s home in Illinois. New owner.

drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
edited November 12 in Strictly Steam
Hey guys,

Bought a big old house in central, IL. I have been reading "The Lost Art" and trying to figure out my 1 pipe steam system. Thankfully the previous owners removed the asbestos off of the hundreds of feet of piping. I just ordered a bunch and that will be my first task. I have had a few different people look at it and have had conflicting information and it just seems like no one knows anything about these things. I have been picking our heating professionals brain from work and it turns out he is a fan of Dan's and has been to some of his talks. Glad I found someone who knows what they are talking about. The previous owners installed a new huge Lennox boiler. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Looks like I need to blow down the low water cutoff once a week during the heating season? Still learning. I have a little bit of water hammer that I hope will go away with the insulation. We love how toasty it feels. Might buy some Varivalves and a Big Mouth or two. Still trying to learn. I have a thermal imaging gun and some of them are not all lit up like I would like them to be. Luckily, all 15 or so radiators were removed, blasted, painted, and re-valved so they should be in decent shape for their age. Radiators are all from St Louis. Was definitely installed before 1915 that I can tell by reading old newspaper clippings. One of the escutcheons says 1884.

Anyways, here is a picture. I will take and post some more and I am sure I will have plenty more questions. I ordered a few hundred feet of insulation 1" thick. House is 4,000 sqft.

-Drew




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Comments

  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 342
    If that iron fretwork next the boiler is any indication of the rest of the place, I bet you got one grand old dame of a house there.
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    edited November 12
    acwagner said:

    If that iron fretwork next the boiler is any indication of the rest of the place, I bet you got one grand old dame of a house there.

    They took that with them but the house is pretty spectacular. Here is an album if you are interested. https://imgur.com/a/9L0qoTD
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,145
    Before re-insulating is a good time to check all steam mains for proper slope and supports.
    There are often hangers that have given up and left the building.
    The abatement people could well have removed some.
    Also pipe this age gets a belly between hangers and could give you hammer. I double up the amount of hangers from the original install just for this reason.

    All tough to see and correct after insulation is installed.
  • neilcneilc Member Posts: 725
    where are you getting the hammering ?
    by the boiler?
    basement?
    out at the rads?

    the piping at the boiler looks too low to your water line,
    post the other angle shot from that corner where the fretwork leans, left of the fretwork.

    what pressure are you set to, running at ?
    picture of the pressure control, please.
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,041
    That header doesn’t look pitched towards the equalizer and is pretty low so probably getting a lot of water is there which will cause some “pulsing” of steam flow at startup.

    But most hammering is likely from saying pipes and radiator pitch.

    Also you can assume most floors have settled so radiators are now siting 1-2” lower than design so their laterals may have lost slope.

    I have one radiator in my house that literally sits 1”’off the floor just hanging on the pipe. I think pipe elbow sits on the foundation and everything else going up 2 floors has sagged.
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    It seems like things were rehung when the asbestos was removed. I have not checked pitch but the pipe going up through the kitchen that has the water hammer looks to have a weird angle in the basement. I will dump a bunch of other pics after these.

    New hardware pretty much everywhere


    Water hammer pipe (going up)



  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    More pics of everything.











  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,340
    mikeg2015 said:

    That header doesn’t look pitched towards the equalizer and is pretty low so probably getting a lot of water is there which will cause some “pulsing” of steam flow at startup.

    This.

    The boiler is branded Lennox but was made by Dunkirk. This type of boiler is very sensitive to improper piping. Besides the header being less than 24" above the highest possible waterline, it looks like they used 2-inch pipe instead of 2-1/2-inch for the risers and 3-inch for the header. This produces wet steam, which can cause banging.

    Where in IL are you? There are several pros in Chicagoland who might be sweet-talked into looking at this............
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34




    This is the only one that does not match the others and it is the largest of them all.






  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    edited November 12
    Steamhead said:

    mikeg2015 said:

    Where in IL are you? There are several pros in Chicagoland who might be sweet-talked into looking at this............
    Champaign area

  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    edited November 12
    Steamhead said:

    mikeg2015 said:

    That header doesn’t look pitched towards the equalizer and is pretty low so probably getting a lot of water is there which will cause some “pulsing” of steam flow at startup.

    Where in IL are you? There are several pros in Chicagoland who might be sweet-talked into looking at this............
    My neighbor is a pipe fitter and has offered to help. Is moving the header up something he should be able to do?

  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,340

    My neighbor is a pipe fitter and has offered to help. Is moving the header up something he should be able to do?

    Yes. He should first get the piping diagram for that boiler, then read "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" to understand why it has to be done a certain way.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    edited November 12
    Steamhead said:

    My neighbor is a pipe fitter and has offered to help. Is moving the header up something he should be able to do?

    Yes. He should first get the piping diagram for that boiler, then read "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" to understand why it has to be done a certain way.
    I don't have any documentation on it. Can you guys point me in the right direction? I can measure but the header does not appear to be 24" above max water line now that you mention it.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,340
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 7,965
    While the pipes are naked of insulation, you can use a Magnetic level to check the slope. Use tape and a mark arrows to indicate the direction of flow based on the pitch. On long pipe runs, check every 10 feet. You will no doubt find two arrows pointing at each other, indicating a sag in which water can pool, causing hammering.
    Certainly, your neighbor can help with this, and the drop header configuration makes it easier to get pipes to line up. If you are stuck with 2 inch risers, because the boiler bushings will not come out, then at least make the header generously big, like the Steam main.
    Maybe using PVC pipe to experiment with the layout beforehand would reduce the time the boiler is off while you are changing the piping.
    This Hoffman 75 main vents will have difficulty letting the air escape with low resistance, as steam begins to rise, so plan on an antler of Gorton G’s on each dry return. Each one is good enough for 20 feet of 2 inch pipe.—NBC
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 5,009
    It helps to stretch a string along pipes to find dips in the piping that might be missed using a level.

    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
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34

    While the pipes are naked of insulation, you can use a Magnetic level to check the slope. Use tape and a mark arrows to indicate the direction of flow based on the pitch. On long pipe runs, check every 10 feet. You will no doubt find two arrows pointing at each other, indicating a sag in which water can pool, causing hammering.
    Certainly, your neighbor can help with this, and the drop header configuration makes it easier to get pipes to line up. If you are stuck with 2 inch risers, because the boiler bushings will not come out, then at least make the header generously big, like the Steam main.
    Maybe using PVC pipe to experiment with the layout beforehand would reduce the time the boiler is off while you are changing the piping.
    This Hoffman 75 main vents will have difficulty letting the air escape with low resistance, as steam begins to rise, so plan on an antler of Gorton G’s on each dry return. Each one is good enough for 20 feet of 2 inch pipe.—NBC

    Nice, it is already snowing here so maybe I wait to tear into it until spring? I really need to get the insulation done so it sounds like i should definitely check the pitch. We want it level and then pitched slightly towards the boiler right?

    Also, I need to know about blowing down or flushing the water weekly. Some people have said never do it. I believe I have seen Dan say do it weekly during heating season. I know nothing about it.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 10,226

    While the pipes are naked of insulation, you can use a Magnetic level to check the slope. Use tape and a mark arrows to indicate the direction of flow based on the pitch. On long pipe runs, check every 10 feet. You will no doubt find two arrows pointing at each other, indicating a sag in which water can pool, causing hammering.
    Certainly, your neighbor can help with this, and the drop header configuration makes it easier to get pipes to line up. If you are stuck with 2 inch risers, because the boiler bushings will not come out, then at least make the header generously big, like the Steam main.
    Maybe using PVC pipe to experiment with the layout beforehand would reduce the time the boiler is off while you are changing the piping.
    This Hoffman 75 main vents will have difficulty letting the air escape with low resistance, as steam begins to rise, so plan on an antler of Gorton G’s on each dry return. Each one is good enough for 20 feet of 2 inch pipe.—NBC

    Nice, it is already snowing here so maybe I wait to tear into it until spring? I really need to get the insulation done so it sounds like i should definitely check the pitch. We want it level and then pitched slightly towards the boiler right?

    Also, I need to know about blowing down or flushing the water weekly. Some people have said never do it. I believe I have seen Dan say do it weekly during heating season. I know nothing about it.
    That's for a float type LWCO.
    You have a probe type, no blow downs.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    ChrisJ said:

    While the pipes are naked of insulation, you can use a Magnetic level to check the slope. Use tape and a mark arrows to indicate the direction of flow based on the pitch. On long pipe runs, check every 10 feet. You will no doubt find two arrows pointing at each other, indicating a sag in which water can pool, causing hammering.
    Certainly, your neighbor can help with this, and the drop header configuration makes it easier to get pipes to line up. If you are stuck with 2 inch risers, because the boiler bushings will not come out, then at least make the header generously big, like the Steam main.
    Maybe using PVC pipe to experiment with the layout beforehand would reduce the time the boiler is off while you are changing the piping.
    This Hoffman 75 main vents will have difficulty letting the air escape with low resistance, as steam begins to rise, so plan on an antler of Gorton G’s on each dry return. Each one is good enough for 20 feet of 2 inch pipe.—NBC

    Nice, it is already snowing here so maybe I wait to tear into it until spring? I really need to get the insulation done so it sounds like i should definitely check the pitch. We want it level and then pitched slightly towards the boiler right?

    Also, I need to know about blowing down or flushing the water weekly. Some people have said never do it. I believe I have seen Dan say do it weekly during heating season. I know nothing about it.
    That's for a float type LWCO.
    You have a probe type, no blow downs.
    So I never drain it?
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,145
    You are lucky that it looks like 2 1/2" was used for the side outlets. (plug marked at sight glass side).

    You need to study the Dan book concerning slope for steam pipes.
    Determine if you have parallel flow or counter flow piping.
    Probably parallel flow for the main from the boiler....the high point is at the boiler and sloping 1" in 20 feet all the way back to the return at the boiler.
    The run outs to rads are most likely counter flow need 1" in 10', IIRC.

    Not a lot of slope in the 1"/20', you can end up dancing to maintain that for the entire length of main and return.
    Really tough to do with the insulation installed.
    Can't install too many hangers either.

  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    JUGHNE said:

    You are lucky that it looks like 2 1/2" was used for the side outlets. (plug marked at sight glass side).

    You need to study the Dan book concerning slope for steam pipes.
    Determine if you have parallel flow or counter flow piping.
    Probably parallel flow for the main from the boiler....the high point is at the boiler and sloping 1" in 20 feet all the way back to the return at the boiler.
    The run outs to rads are most likely counter flow need 1" in 10', IIRC.

    Not a lot of slope in the 1"/20', you can end up dancing to maintain that for the entire length of main and return.
    Really tough to do with the insulation installed.
    Can't install too many hangers either.

    So coming off the main to the rads it needs to slope down 1" in 10' or up?
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,145
    Just keep in mind that all the condensate from steam has to flow back to the boiler somehow. Just like a drain line.
    When the boiler is off all the water should return and all pipes be dry (unless you have wet returns....did not see any in your pictures).
    The run outs from main to 1 pipe rads are counterflow.....steam going up and water coming down the same pipe.
    The 1"/10' is minimum preferred but not always possible.
    The steam main slope is the most critical.
    All the ends of the pipes are fixed in place, so "dancing" with slope is what I mean......if you raise this end did you lower something else etc.
    One exception to fixed points are the rad themselves, sometimes both end have to be raised to get the run out pipe higher by pulling up on the valve end of the rad.
  • JakeCKJakeCK Member Posts: 132
    Wow that is an amazing house! Love the last picture at the end of the album too. Is it a registered historic home?
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    JakeCK said:

    Wow that is an amazing house! Love the last picture at the end of the album too. Is it a registered historic home?

    Thanks! We are working on getting it on the national register. The town was named after the house and it still has original windows, etc. so they act like it should not be too difficult.
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    neilc said:

    where are you getting the hammering ?
    by the boiler?
    basement?
    out at the rads?

    the piping at the boiler looks too low to your water line,
    post the other angle shot from that corner where the fretwork leans, left of the fretwork.

    what pressure are you set to, running at ?
    picture of the pressure control, please.

    Any comments about the pressure?
  • neilcneilc Member Posts: 725
    well, no news is good news, right ?
    can't tell the boiler state by the picture, but the gage at zero, is that cold boiler? or steaming and as the burner shuts off?
    we're not looking for pressure, it's just a common ailment that you're not displaying.
    the pressuretrol, looks set low, and this is good also,
    there might be some adjustment left to turn it down a bit more, back off the adjustment screw till you feel it resist a bit, no further.
    and be aware, these things are finicky at the way bottom, and the boiler may decide to not restart, play this by feel, on a Saturday, while you can be there and watch a cycle or two, and dial it back up if you need to. don't do it tonight while you're sleeping, cold house, no fun.
    inside, under the cover is a white differential wheel, set it to 1(1-5)
  • wxfieldwxfield Member Posts: 3
    The deadmen didn't have thermal imagers, and frankly didn't need them. Just viewing the first image makes me wonder how you aren't getting wet steam at the radiator vents. A properly sized and balanced system should be nearly silent in operation. It's a good thing you are learning here in these forums. Perhaps buy some books on steam by Dan Holohan off Amazon. That will propel your knowledge considerably. There are also some interesting videos showing carry-over using glass piping at the boiler () if you are interested in seeing what's likely happening in your boiler. Your sight glass is filthy with rust..your boiler is probably not flushed properly at the beginning of the season before the burner is lit. The bottom of the sight glass is also heavy with corrosion, test your pH with some litmus strips. Most municipal water systems are just slightly north of neutral..which is good for steel and cast..not so good for copper which has higher valence electrons than steel or cast. You should also be flood-testing your boiler prior to the heating season to locate leaks. Never store a boiler full of water over the summer months unless it's also used for domestic hot water of course. Regardless of the 3/4" vent you place on the returns, they are going to get hammered with wet steam and condensate in their current location. A lazy pipe-fitter installed those vents, they should be located at least 12" before the end of the horizontal run to prevent being saturated with water and a good 12" above the horizontal run if you have the ceiling height to do so. These are just my opinions, your mileage may vary.
  • mroberts5mroberts5 Member Posts: 72
    In addition to the low header, the Hartford loop piping looks off as well.
  • Bill_Kitsch69Bill_Kitsch69 Member Posts: 22
    Insulate.
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    neilc said:

    well, no news is good news, right ?
    can't tell the boiler state by the picture, but the gage at zero, is that cold boiler? or steaming and as the burner shuts off?
    we're not looking for pressure, it's just a common ailment that you're not displaying.
    the pressuretrol, looks set low, and this is good also,
    there might be some adjustment left to turn it down a bit more, back off the adjustment screw till you feel it resist a bit, no further.
    and be aware, these things are finicky at the way bottom, and the boiler may decide to not restart, play this by feel, on a Saturday, while you can be there and watch a cycle or two, and dial it back up if you need to. don't do it tonight while you're sleeping, cold house, no fun.
    inside, under the cover is a white differential wheel, set it to 1(1-5)

    That was with the boiler on. The needle doesn't move. I have read that is a good thing. Boiler is new enough that I would think the gauge works.
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    wxfield said:

    The deadmen didn't have thermal imagers, and frankly didn't need them. Just viewing the first image makes me wonder how you aren't getting wet steam at the radiator vents. A properly sized and balanced system should be nearly silent in operation. It's a good thing you are learning here in these forums. Perhaps buy some books on steam by Dan Holohan off Amazon. That will propel your knowledge considerably. There are also some interesting videos showing carry-over using glass piping at the boiler () if you are interested in seeing what's likely happening in your boiler. Your sight glass is filthy with rust..your boiler is probably not flushed properly at the beginning of the season before the burner is lit. The bottom of the sight glass is also heavy with corrosion, test your pH with some litmus strips. Most municipal water systems are just slightly north of neutral..which is good for steel and cast..not so good for copper which has higher valence electrons than steel or cast. You should also be flood-testing your boiler prior to the heating season to locate leaks. Never store a boiler full of water over the summer months unless it's also used for domestic hot water of course. Regardless of the 3/4" vent you place on the returns, they are going to get hammered with wet steam and condensate in their current location. A lazy pipe-fitter installed those vents, they should be located at least 12" before the end of the horizontal run to prevent being saturated with water and a good 12" above the horizontal run if you have the ceiling height to do so. These are just my opinions, your mileage may vary.

    Thanks for your response. Very interesting.

    I do have wet steam. I only had water hammer at one radiator and it was a loud plink. It does not happen with the radiator turned off. However, last night I had some considerable water hammer coming from the basement. First time I have heard it bang.

    The water in the town I moved to has been trash for a long time. They put in a new treatment plant in 2017 so things should be better now. I will definitely take note of these things before next season.
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    mroberts5 said:

    In addition to the low header, the Hartford loop piping looks off as well.

    Low header, wrong Hartford loop, lazy returns... Looks like I need to redo almost all of my near boiler piping.. sigh...
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    edited November 14

    Insulate.

    This came in the mail yesterday from Buy Insulation Products. Have a 12" magnetic level on the way as well.

  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34
    So this is what I need to be shooting for?


  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,035
    I would think a loud plink at the radiator sounds more likely to be the radiator expanding from heat but it's hard to say from here!

    > Never store a boiler full of water over the summer months unless it's also used for domestic hot water of course.

    I think Dan's books say to leave the water in there.
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, 1913 coal > oil > NG
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 10,226

    I would think a loud plink at the radiator sounds more likely to be the radiator expanding from heat but it's hard to say from here!

    > Never store a boiler full of water over the summer months unless it's also used for domestic hot water of course.

    I think Dan's books say to leave the water in there.

    Pretty much everyone says you should store it full of water.
    Some say to flood it and fill the header as well.

    The only time I've ever heard it should be drained is during work or possible freezing conditions.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Bill_Kitsch69Bill_Kitsch69 Member Posts: 22
    That system calls for a vaporstat, eg L408J1017, and a pressure gauge that will read out in ounces. Hand feed is good perhaps, but put a water meter on if you are feeding regularly, and digital VXT if going to auto-feed.
  • Bill_Kitsch69Bill_Kitsch69 Member Posts: 22
    Shooting from the hip and save unseen nuances, it looks as though you just need to raise the header etc exactly as is to just up under the smoke pipe to get your rise.
  • drewbert41drewbert41 Member Posts: 34

    I would think a loud plink at the radiator sounds more likely to be the radiator expanding from heat but it's hard to say from here!

    > Never store a boiler full of water over the summer months unless it's also used for domestic hot water of course.

    I think Dan's books say to leave the water in there.

    Well, the whole pipe going to the upstairs clinks. I believe it is happening where it 90s over to the rad.
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