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Steam Boiler Sizing, Small Home

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Hi, I'm hoping someone can help me determine what size steam boiler is appropriate for my home, built in the 1920s. I live in New England.
Two-story 1,167 sq. ft. home. Seven radiators, total EDR is 204. It's a one-pipe steam system. Natural gas.
Thank you so much in advance.
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Comments

  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,703
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    if you're sure of your "Seven radiators, total EDR is 204", then that's the size boiler you're looking for,
    204 sq ft ,

    but more importantly, you need the correct installer,
    the blue box at the top of the thread, find a contractor,
    or be more specific than new england
    known to beat dead horses
    BirchLeaf
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
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    Basically the smallest boiler made by any of the manufacturers.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    BirchLeafethicalpaul
  • Dan_NJ
    Dan_NJ Member Posts: 247
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    I'm partial to Peerless because that's what I have. 63-03L is 233 sq ft steam - the lowest output 63 series they make. Don't know about the other makes but they're out there. Proper installation is more important than brand. Get the right installer and everything else will work itself out.
    BirchLeafethicalpaul
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
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    What is the correct BTU input of the steam boiler that's appropriate for my home?
    (Thank you for your answers.)
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,324
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    BirchLeaf said:

    What is the correct BTU input of the steam boiler that's appropriate for my home?
    (Thank you for your answers.)

    BTUh output is quite irrelevant. You know the EDR total of your radiation. You want to match that to the EDR output of the boiler as closely as you can.

    End of story. Don't make it more complicated than it needs to be.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    BirchLeafethicalpaul
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
    edited February 2022
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    Weil Mclain EG-30 has an input of 75,000 BTU and is rated for 196 sq ft of steam, it would be a very good fit to your radiation.

    That is just one example to give you an idea based on your question, but as said already, don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.  The manufacturers have ratings for EDR, use those for sizing.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    BirchLeafethicalpaul
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
    edited February 2022
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    @KC_Jones,
    Thank you so very much! This is exactly what I needed.
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
    edited February 2022
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    @Jamie Hall,
    I'm just a homeowner. When I look at the steam boiler, all I see listed is BTU output; that's what stands out to me. I wouldn't even know how to make it complicated. I'll try to locate the EDR output of the steam boiler, but I don't easily see it.


  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,543
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    @BirchLeaf

    Where in NE are you located? There is a lot more to this than picking the boiler.

    We see horror stories here weekly of bad installs from people in the business that think they know what they are doing.

    Use caution
    BirchLeafmattmia2
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
    edited February 2022
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    @EBEBRATT-Ed,
    I'm already in a horror story. That's why I posted on here. I had no idea what BTU output or EDR were until last week when I started researching. Wish I had known sooner. Thank you!


    JohnNY
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,324
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    BirchLeaf said:

    Jamie Hall,
    I'm just a homeowner. When I look at the steam boiler, all I see listed is BTU output; that's what stands out to me. I wouldn't even know how to make it complicated. I'll try to locate the EDR output of the steam boiler, but I don't easily see it.


    No problem. We all start somewhere. If you look at the boiler nameplate -- or the specifications page for a boiler -- you will see at least three numbers, and sometimes four: the gross BTUh input, which is a measure of how much fuel the boiler can burn per hour. Then there is the net BTUh, which is that gross BTUh corrected for efficiency and other intrinsic losses. Then, for a steam boiler, there will also be an EDR rating on the nameplate. That is the number you are trying to match, and it is corrected not only for boiler efficiency, but also to take into account losses (well, they aren't really losses, but let that be) in the piping to give the useful amount of radiation the boiler can power.

    Note that advertising and brief brochures tend to give prominence to the gross BTUh, and sometimes the net. You have to dig a little.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    BirchLeaf
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,543
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    @BirchLeaf

    Note: EDR and "square feet of steam" is the same thing
    ethicalpaulBirchLeaf
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
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    @BirchLeaf

    Note: EDR and "square feet of steam" is the same thing

    Yes, this is the key. They never seem to put "EDR" on the boiler. It's always Sq Ft of steam when I've seen it.

    No matter what do not let any installer try to talk you into anything bigger. You have the exact same EDR as I have and I can tell you without doubt that the smallest boiler of any of the manufacturers is what you want.

    I'd recommend Peerless 63-03L because I installed mine and it's great. But the Weil-Mclain one that KC named is good. WM has a couple lower-priced brands that are basically the same boiler. Look for Williamson for example to save some $.

    I would stay away from Utica or Burnham no matter how magic the installer was.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    BirchLeaffranzsf
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
    edited February 2022
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    @Jamie Hall
    I looked at the nameplate and it says:
    Net AHRI Output: Steam 77 MBH; Steam 321 sq. ft.
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
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    @ethicalpaul I didn't even realize about BTU, until a few weeks ago. (Larger to me would just be dimensions :'( )
    It's in, I can tell something's wrong, and have to figure out what to do.
    Thank you for your recommendation of Peerless 63-03L (and other less expensive brands). @Dan_NJ also suggested Peerless.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,543
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    @BirchLeaf '

    did you have a boiler installed that is too large?
    BirchLeaf
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
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    @EBEBRATT-Ed
    Yes. The heating guy chose it and put it in.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,478
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    If that is a very recent install there may not be much to choose from when it comes to steam boiler sizes

    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
    BirchLeaf
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,324
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    Up there somewhere you have listed you EDR as 204. The boiler nameplate says 321 square feet. Your boiler is more than half again as big as it needs to be, which will cause short cycling and waste energy. Not uncommon.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    BirchLeaf
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
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    We see this on this site all the time. Sizing the boilers isn't hard at all, but for some reason tons of "professionals" can't get it right.

    Having an ovesized boiler is common, but it's not right no matter how common it is.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    BirchLeafethicalpaulmattmia2
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
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    @Jamie Hall
    I know. They say it's fine. I'm sick about this. They never measured the radiators. He said he'd get a boiler with the same BTU as old one (112,500). It was only after it was installed that they told me it was 125,000. They said there was a 100,000 available, but that they couldn't go lower than what was previously there. I don't know what to do.
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
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    @KC_Jones I don't know what to do. They never measured the radiators. Do you have any suggestions? I want them to remove it and get my money back.
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 629
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    @BirchLeaf what seems to be your concerns? The guys on here are pretty good and can probably answer your questions and probably guide you through some homeowner maintenance or adjustments.

    Some pictures of your boiler piping will usually spur plenty of conversation.
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
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    @AdmiralYoda
    Heating guys installed steam boiler that's almost 2x the size I need.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,324
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    Can't say righty about getting your money back and getting the right size installed -- or at least closer. Most likely not, unless you have a super good relationship with the installer.

    However, all is not lost. First, check the install manual and see if the piping at least looks similar (no harm to taking a few pictures and uploading them so we can look too). Then, check whatever pressure control is on it and make sure that's set correctly -- again, a picture of it and we can guide you on that.

    After that, let's see how it actually works in the wild. I would avoid setbacks if possible -- just let it run at a constant temperature. Then see what it does in terms of "cycling" -- turning on and off before the thermostat is satisfied. There are two times that is a concern -- turning off too soon right at the beginning of a call for heat, which means you need more venting, and turning on and off towards the end of a call for heat. That can either be no worse than a nuisance, but it can also be a big nuisance -- in which case there are means, such as some timer arrangements -- to make the boiler "seem" smaller which work rather well.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    BirchLeaf
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,739
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    BirchLeaf said:

    @KC_Jones I don't know what to do. They never measured the radiators. Do you have any suggestions? I want them to remove it and get my money back.

    If that's what you want, you're going to have to talk to them and tell them that.

    If you can show actual functional issues with the performance due to the oversizing you might have a leg to stand on.

    Here's another question, did they even pipe it correctly? If not, that could be more leverage on the issue. Post some pictures of the install and we could give you some advice on that.

    You will have an uphill battle here. Have you made final payment on the install? If you haven't that is a bit of leverage on your side, but again, it's going to be an uphill battle.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    BirchLeafethicalpaul
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,861
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    We really need pictures of the boiler and its close piping from 3 different angles about 6' - 8' away.
    BirchLeaf
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
    edited February 2022
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    @KC_Jones Yes, I've already paid.
    The boiler warranty states it will not cover any claims resulting from "The failure to properly size the product for its use."
    I will try to post pics soon.
    ethicalpaul
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
    edited February 2022
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    @Jamie Hall I will try that. He should remove the boiler and put one that's the correct  size. He failed to properly size this one and the warranty won't cover problems caused by improper sizing.
    ethicalpaul
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,324
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    BirchLeaf said:

    @Jamie Hall I will try that. He should remove the boiler and put one that's the correct  size. He failed to properly size this one and the warranty won't cover problems caused by improper sizing.

    Aye, he probably should. He probably won't. So... the question really is do you want to beat your head on the wall, or would it be simpler to see what we can do to get what you have working well? It will, you know. It won't be perfect, but things rarely are. If it were mine at this point, I'd see what I could do along those lines, and let it be. But that's me.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Grallert
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
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    I feel for you @BirchLeaf. In my opinion you are the victim of grossly negligent work and possible consumer fraud. They didn't do what they should have done and they lied to you about it. The idea that they can't put something in smaller than what was there is ridiculous and all-too-common. They have overcharged you for a boiler larger than you should have and they have sentenced you to 1-2 decades of waste and bad performance as a result.

    To get them to correct it, I would be seeking help from the installer, the boiler manufacturer, the boiler manufacturer's sales reps, my state's HVAC or plumbing licensing folks, in ascending order. Keep every shred of communication during this process and be prepared to bring it all to small claims court to recover what you can.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    BirchLeaf
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,543
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    I think this will go nowhere. @ethicalpaul the boiler MFG and the supplier don't care it's not their issue.

    If it is piped wrong and probably is you can probably use the fact that the boiler is the wrong size to get the piping fixed. @BirchLeaf insist that the installer pipe this boiler the way the mfg shows.

    That's probably the best your going to get.
    mattmia2
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
    edited February 2022
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    Maybe so @EBEBRATT-Ed but I think it's important to rattle all those cages so that this problem doesn't remain silent to all parties.

    You don't think it would be useful to put in a complaint with the state's licensing group and/or consumer protection agencies? Consumers rely on these agencies to ensure that professionals that are licensed and hired to do a job actually do it well...isn't that the theory??

    Isn't that why I can't be hired to install a boiler for someone?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    BirchLeafmattmia2
  • Jon_blaney
    Jon_blaney Member Posts: 316
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    Maybe what we need here is a no-fly list. Companies you should not deal with. A walk of shame.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,706
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    Maybe what we need here is a no-fly list. Companies you should not deal with. A walk of shame.

    Sounds like begging for a defamation of character lawsuit to me.

    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
    pecmsgCanuckermattmia2
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,324
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    Aren't we a ferocious lot? My my. Go read John 8 vs. 6-7. The best we can do is try to help people understand how to do things right, and make sure that we always do them right ourselves.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,543
    edited February 2022
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    @ethicalpaul

    The reasons for licenses is to protect the consumer from fraud (if you can prove it) and an UNSAFE installation that doesn't meet code.

    1. So would someone have a case for fraud by installing an oversized boiler? Maybe. Is it a winnable case? Probably not. Especially if the installer can prove he matched the new boiler to the old boiler BTU wise

    2.Is the job unsafe? Probably not, We haven't seen pictures. Most states have no code for residential heating installations and if they do they seldom enforce it. In most cases they are only concerned with the obvious things like:

    Permit for gas and oil installs & gas line testing
    Relief valve on the boiler
    backflow preventer on the water (if required)

    They don't care if you pipe the steam in copper sweat, propress & Mega Press are all steam legal.And the boiler MFG are good with this. And as far as undersized piping they don't care.

    The supply house would be more concerned with losing sales to the contractor than keeping 1 customer happy

    I have taken out permits in Connecticut and on the permit applications (in some towns) they ask for a heat loss for heating equipment etc.

    I don't think they care if the boiler is too large. Too small they could have an issue
  • Dan_NJ
    Dan_NJ Member Posts: 247
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    Maybe there already is an example of this on the site, but it might be good for readers to have access to a "sample" contract that spells out exactly what should be covered and what is expected of a steam boiler install. To at least have a chance at evaluating various bids and why some are lower than others?
    mark schofieldBirchLeafmattmia2