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Multiple steam system issues - sizing, baseray, copper+iron, etc

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SteveZissou
SteveZissou Member Posts: 8
Hello, I finally bought a home with steam heat - an item which I have wanted over the years. I have no steam background but do have very basic furnace and circulated hot water experience. The system, pictured below, seemed to run well enough. The auto water feed ran once a day - which I did not know at the time was an issue. The two 24 foot long baseray runs in the living room didnt get very hot. There was copper and iron pipe living together in the near boiler piping which was exposed when I had an asbestos removal company take all the insulation out of the basement. Finally, a non steam hvac friend pointed out that my 300,000 input boiler was fed by a 1/2" gas line. So as you may have guessed, the boiler started leaking a bunch from a hole in one of the 4 heat exchangers. And upon further inspection two of the burners were burnt up I called in my hvac buddy so we could make a list of what we would need to swap out the boiler so my wife and kids wouldnt freeze during the next month of lockdown. His first comment was that the boiler was twice as big as necessary and did a 5 minute heat loss calc to confirm his theory which from reading HH for 8 hours yesterday I now know to be irrelevant. I come up with about 235,000 doing the square foot of steam calculation. The house is brick 3300 sf 2 floors plus finished attic near Cleveland, Ohio. Two pipe system.
Question one is regarding the baseray (foto below), the square foot of steam seems awefully high compared to the big radiators. Is that correct ?
Question two re the baseray. Do I need to rebuild those as 10 foot runs ? Or is there some way to make the 24 foot runs work ?
Question three re risers and headers. Mine seem to violate the upper riser between two lower risers rule. Am I looking at that correctly ?
Q4: when we put in the new boiler do we need anywhere near the amount of riser piping that exists now ? Is any of it salvageable ?
Q5 Can anyone tell me what make boiler this is ? There is no data plate.
Q6 does it matter much whether I get a Weil Mcain, Slant/Fin, Burnham or other boiler ?
Feeling a bit overwhelmed ! My thanks in advance for any info or advice anyone can provide.

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  • SteveZissou
    SteveZissou Member Posts: 8
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    Pics:





  • SteveZissou
    SteveZissou Member Posts: 8
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    Pic of the baseray

  • PerryHolzman
    PerryHolzman Member Posts: 234
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    I can't assist with the sizing question; but, those look like Crane radiators. They match the ones in my house except they are painted a different color.

    Perry
    SteveZissou
  • SteveZissou
    SteveZissou Member Posts: 8
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    Big Thank you. That name appears correct. I just did a search and there is a 60 page pdf on them here on Heatinghelp.
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
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    Get some of the steam books from the store here, and you will soon know more than most of the knuckleheads, whose substandard work we see here often.
    All boilers are very similar, and it is usually the installer who makes the decision as to choice of make, based on The local availability of spare parts. The sizing as you now know is from the radiator EDR in square feet of steam, which is on the boiler rating plate. The manufacturer will specify the pipe sizes, and layout in the manual, and these must be followed at a minimum. In your case, the order of piping appears to be wrong, sending too much water up into the system.
    Probably there are steam traps on the baseray, and these may not be working properly, but can be repaired with parts from Barnes and Jones, or Tunstall.
    If the data plate is missing, then how do you come up with the 300k btu?
    Luckily, you have all summer to get this replaced!
    One of the best steam experts On here, is in Cleveland: Gerry Gill, so perhaps you can give him a call.—NBC
  • SteveZissou
    SteveZissou Member Posts: 8
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    Thank you for the response post. There is an odd silver sticker which says "not the boiler rating plate" it claims 300 input but no mfg. or other info. Here is a couple more pics. Can the mfg be determined by seeing the heat exchangers ? Also, I will look up Mr. Gill
  • SteveZissou
    SteveZissou Member Posts: 8
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  • SteveZissou
    SteveZissou Member Posts: 8
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  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,415
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    At least you don't have to worry about saving the old near boiler piping -- everything below that insulated vertical is wrong, which is something of an achievement.

    Sizing a steam boiler is simple: add up the EDR of the radiation, and select a boiler which can be fired at that value or slightly less. The EDR rating of the boiler is always part of its information.

    Installing one is also simple, although the basics can -- and if you have a competent steam guy should be: they all come with manufacturer's directions as to how to pipe them. Do it, as a minimum. I'm all for creativity, but not unless you know what you are doing. Those directions are minimum to make the thing work properly.

    On the baseray -- that long a run could, I think, be problematic, but should work. However, make sure that the trap at the outlet end is really working properly, and make sure that there is enough (or at least some!) slope from the inlet to the outlet. The condensate has to be able to drain out.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Alan Welch
    Alan Welch Member Posts: 270
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    It might be possible to convert the cast iron baseboard into a second zone using forced hot water,depending on the size of the room.