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New Steam System Owner Looking for Advice on Improvements

Fellow Steam-heads I have a bit of a problem! I am the new proud owner of a abused one pipe steam system (equipped with self flushing returns via bursting). With my brief knowledge of steam heat (I have read most of Dan's lost art of steam heat) I would assume that those returns are suppose to be wet returns hence the patching and diameter of the pipe. It seems the deadmen in ohio didn't quite get the memo on hartford loops. I am planning on replacing the return and incorporating a hartford loop. Any other suggestions would be appreciated because atm it kicks like a mule as well.
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Comments

  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,360
    Needs total repipe. That is sad looking near boiler piping. 
    Dayton_Dude
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    I figured. Btw big fan. The boiler 2 years old. Drop header sort of deal. I found out who installed it from prev owner so I don't call them ever
  • EzzyT
    EzzyT Member Posts: 1,166
    Yes a complete near boiler Repipe would be in the works along with main venting and dry or wet return Repipe too.
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    I kinda figured that. Especially after I saw that the return was patched... Out of curiosity this is something I should have done in warmer months?
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,347
    don't disrespect the dead men,
    they didn't do that,
    and you know who not to call , , ,
    Dayton_Dude
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    Absolutely! Things were done for a reason. Though 3 boilers later there may have been some disrespect in the past 90 years.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,605
    Not only the boiler piping... that return line probably should be a wet return, although depending on just how it is piped out in the rest of the system it could also be dry. More likely wet. Problem is, it isn't either one, That needs to be completely redone as either one or the other -- depending, as I say, on how it is piped elsewhere. More likely needs to be dropped and made into a wet return.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,685
    edited November 2020
    From what I have seen, if you have returns above the water line, considered "dry returns", that have rusted thru, there is a chance that they have not been sloped to drain and are retaining water to be eaten up, usually on the bottom.

    I see it now to the right of the chimney, back sloped maybe??
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    I think they were wet returns at one point (hence the patching, and the diameter). It is also running behind a main breaker which doesn't seem to be the best. I plan on dropping them.
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    With what I have gathered from talking to my neighbors prev owner didn't maintain the system as well as they should have.
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    Thus far:
    Repipe Near boiler pipes (drop header?)
    Drop Return such it is below the waterline (add drain for flushing) and Hartford loop.

    Also not in the photo there a garden valve on the boiler that will be replaced with a ball valve and the sight glass needs drain valve for cleaning. Anything else I need to pay attention too?
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    Oh I have been reading up on Dan's books. I was getting his help on what I could do for my Mom's 2 pipe steam system (she had a couple traps that need some TLC... But that is a summer project). I am the proud owner of the Lost Art and Greening Steam.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,347
    edited November 2020
    add the skim port,
    check your low water cutoff,
    check your pigtail,
    bottom out the Ptrol,
    main venting ?
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,685
    Have you located any main air vents on the main in the basement?
    With the HL, you could get rid of the check valve in the return, just another sludge collector IMO.

    The motorized flue damper seems to be in an odd place, they usually are closer to the boiler, IDK.
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    I have not found the main vent. I assume it is hidden in a wall which is not ideal. Though Jughne this boiler was installed by... a non-steam company. I would not be surprised if there were a whole lot of things done wrong!
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    Thus far:
    Repipe Near boiler pipes (drop header?)
    Drop Return such it is below the waterline (add drain for flushing), Hartford loop, get rid of check valve (AKA sludge magnate).
    Find Main Vent
    Check pitch of Radiators
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    Thoughts on a secondary low pressure gage and/or in line sight glass on the outlet? I know Ethical Paul has one as a wet steam indicator.
    ethicalpaul
  • EzzyT
    EzzyT Member Posts: 1,166
    I always install a low pressure gauge and a water seal. I personally am not a fan of pigtails. 
    ethicalpaul
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    It seems like the tail is just another sludge magnate?
  • EzzyT
    EzzyT Member Posts: 1,166
    @Dayton_Dude can we all assume your located in Dayton Ohio? If so @Fred might know if a good heating contractor in your area.
    Dayton_Dude
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    I am in Dayton! I am one of three homes on my block that have steam heat. One of my neighbors recommended Dan's book since he maintains his own system.
    ethicalpaul
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    edited November 2020
    EzzyT said:

    @Dayton_Dude can we all assume your located in Dayton Ohio? If so @Fred might know if a good heating contractor in your area.

    Heating With Steam, on Springfield St. Great Reputation! Do also buy Dan's books.
    937.254.8898
    email us at: [email protected]
    C. G. Egli Inc
    515 Springfield St
    Dayton OH 45403
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    I have bought a whole bunch of Dan's books (for myself and my Folks). I can officially say I have been bitten by the bug
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    edited November 2020
    -Re-pipe the boiler
    - Measure the total radiator EDR and compare that number to the EDR rating on the boiler plate (looks like a large boiler, probably over-sized but at least you will know what you are dealing with)
    - Use both riser tappings out of the boiler and rise at least 24" above the water line. Drop header is best.
    - Make sure there are elbows into the header(swing Joints)
    - Drop the wet returns to near floor
    - Add a Hartford loop
    - Add a skim port, above the water line so you can skim oil off of the surface of the water, especially after the new piping.
    - Make sure you have good venting on the main
    - Is there only one Main or is there a Tee that ties two mains together (out of view of that picture)? If it is Tee'd, separate them and drop each into the new header.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    BTW, the Near pipe configuration should be: Riser out of boiler, 2nd riser out of boiler, Riser to main, 2nd riser to main (if there are two mains, and then the equalizer after the mains.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,700
    As @Jamie Hall
    mentioned the returns are a mess, neither dry or wet at least with the boiler you have now. I would expect water hammer in the returns
    dennis53
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    Extra pictures






  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    Yep! It hammers like nobodies business hence the leaks that have developed. The original plan was to fix the return at the end of the season.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,089
    Thoughts on a secondary low pressure gage and/or in line sight glass on the outlet? I know Ethical Paul has one as a wet steam indicator.
    If you can find someone who cracks open the manual, you won’t need the sight glass, but I definitely find it interesting.

    A low-psi gauge is great. It’s easy to add yourself too 
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    BTW paul you have a killer setup! I have an aerospace/fluid flow/Turbulence background so I found it pretty cool seeing wet steam vary with the water level.
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,089
    Thanks @Dayton_Dude I’ve been surprised a few times for sure
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    Part of me wants to put an unsteady pressure transducer in the flow (Assumed fully developed) just to see how it fluctuates. Kulites are pretty water/chemical resistant.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,089
    With logging vs water temperature and fire status? I’d buy that for a dollar!
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,379
    A false waterline could make the return wet again. 
    Retired and loving it.
    Dayton_Dude
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    I think I would still replace them. They are 90 years old and at this point don't owe me anything. By the way this is Tom Cook. I figured I would get help from the group this time.
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    With logging vs water temperature and fire status? I’d buy that for a dollar!

    That wouldnt be too hard... Thermistor/therocouple on the outlet... some sort of level sensor to look at water fluctuation. Hooked up to a microcontroller. Heck the sight glass observer could be a camera hooked up to a raspberry pi get some computer vision in there and you could monitor your system
  • Dayton_Dude
    Dayton_Dude Member Posts: 49
    Though you would have to back out steam temp since it will be externally attached. Thermal conductivity of black iron and your set... dynamic pressure would be ideal then you can back out your velocity. Dust off some psychometric charts and you could get all sorts of fun stuff. Better than that you could consult the steam tables (the bain of most mechanical engineering students life)
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,685
    Do you have a gravity induced domestic hot water recirculating system in the house. The bottom connection at the water heater with the check valve looks like it.....no pump?
    How does it work for you?

    Also FWIW, the return pipe support method with the 1/2" scraps driven into the wall is quite old school method and could be original. Have not seen that in anything recent.