I know you all have heard this question probably a thousand times, so apologies for the repeat. I just purchased a home with steam heat and am trying to figure out if the system is worth saving. I was hoping to make some improvements to the system over time to show myself that it is as awesome as they say, but I am having trouble getting past this piping.
I'm comparing whats in our basement to all the folks on this site and I'm wondering if it's as bad as I think it is?
Boiler is a Utica PEG-E series, 112MBH, but this piping appears, to my totally book-experience-only eyes, to be all wrong. We get some banging during operation and the boiler surges pretty bad while starting up, but it appears to float in the 2-3 inch below water line range once everything is good and hot. I feel that it is absurdly expensive to run, but this is the first 2 floor house that I have paid to heat. It has 2 ~2" mains, one of them splits into 2 branches. Each branch (3 total) has a condensation return line that is at ceiling height and pitches back to the boiler. There are 3 main vents at the end of each condensate return line near the boiler.
Near-boiler Piping: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/editor/rw/ojdrssmpcmkc.jpg
Main vents: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/editor/xf/f41jxj7dqgf0.jpg
My crazy questions:
1) Is this hurting the efficiency of our system enough where it'd be worth it for me to hire someone to fix it? Is this in the realm of something that a DIYer with some wrenching experience and a lot of patience could tackle?
2) Is it normal to not insulate these pipes? A lot of pics online show these uninsulated, but those pics are also just after installation and those pipes are also steel.
3) The boiler manual says that a skim port should be included as part of one of the elbows for the risers, but I am not seeing one - does that mean this boiler has never been skimmed?
4) Is the expansion and contraction of this copper contraption damaging the boiler?
5) Am I being too much of a stickler for the spec? It seems like this would be a cause for the banging and result in a lot of extra condensate in the system?
There's a bunch of other stuff that I would like to address around vents, but this area is daunting for me. Is it a waste to invest in new vents if hammering and wetness is going to destroy them? I have done some light pipe threading in past jobs as a shop gopher, but never in the steam heat world.
Any help would be greatly appreciated....even if it's just telling me "that is messed up, call someone" or "that is fine, stop reading the spec so closely".