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1930 Single Pipe Steam System with new Crown boiler

Sue777
Sue777 Member Posts: 21
edited March 2022 in Strictly Steam
Hi All, Needing advise on where to go from here.  I’m in the Seattle area and recently had to replace a large 1930 coal converted-to-gas boiler due to a rusted pipe.  The old boiler worked great with even heat and no noises.  A company sold me a new Crown Boiler BSI103 Series to attach to the original single pipe steam system. Before purchasing I asked their chief technician to come out and assess my system and verify that he thought a new boiler would work “efficiently” on the old “system.”  The tech came out, said he thought it would work “efficiently.”  The boiler is now installed replacing the old one in the basement.

The problem:  
Besides noises — banging, booms, knocking, and tinging —  Heating is totally uneven.  With main floor thermostat at 65 degrees, it’s either way too hot or way too cold, no in between, this amounts to continually having to manually turn heat on and off.  For the upstairs, one radiator gets heat, but neither of the bedrooms units seem to work or work randomly.  And, the new boiler doesn’t heat the basement like the old one, and doesn’t send heat upstairs into hallway or entry where thermostat is.  

The company has offered to put something under the “radiator footings”  for the noises and to sell me radiator thermostatic venting “apparatuses” to regulate radiators in traditional Tudor interior.

All visible piping is insulated, but not newly installed copper around the boiler.  In terms of venting, there are two vents off the main lines of the boiler, but none of the risers to the main floor radiators are vented.  Should I have these basement risers retro-vented somehow?

There don’t seem to be single pipe steam specialists in this area.  Does anyone know of
any adjustments possible to the Crown boiler that may help heat distribution?  Read something about perhaps lowering the water level and the burner?  Appreciate any and all advice.
Thank you!! 
 
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Comments

  • ScottSecor
    ScottSecor Member Posts: 855
    First of all we are not allowed to discuss pricing. Please post a few photos, try to take shots when your standing back so we can see all of the piping (not just the boiler and not just the gauge glass).

    Oftentimes we see boilers that the installer did not follow the manufacturers instruction manual. Most of the time the installers seem to prefer two inch for near boiler piping over the original 2.5", 3" and 4" that many systems require (easier to deal with and much less expensive). Without seeing photos one can only guess what the piping and water looks like.
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 742
    edited March 2022
    Please take photos of the boiler from different sides including all the near boiler piping.

    Also please edit your post to remove the pricing from your present contractor. :)
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Yes, please, photos. Your mention of copper piping around the boiler is very scary. It should have been black iron (Crown even makes a kit for the near boiler piping), and the fact that they did it in copper suggests that they may not have bothered to pipe it correctly.

    I would also bet good money that they didn't skim the boiler after they installed it.

    And I would also be very suspicious of the sizing of the boiler. Do you know how they decided what size to use?

    I'm not surprised that you don't get as much heat in the basement. One of the reasons newer boilers are more efficient is that they put more of the heat into the steam and less into the surroundings. That is to be expected.

    All that said, consider this: the heat was satisfactory before the new boiler was installed, and nothing -- other than the new boiler -- was changed. Therefore all the new problems are related to problems related to the new boiler. Don't let anyone sell you on changes anywhere else.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    delcrossvSteamingatMohawkSue777ethicalpaul
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 627
    In addition to plenty of pictures, how does the water in the site glass behave when the boiler is hot and providing steam? Does it bounce around alot or go empty when its running?
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 1,005
    Also, pleas post a photo of the boiler label. Do you have any record of the original boiler, even though it is rather "mature"?
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 1,005
    Here's a link to manufacturer's information on the boiler. Click on related documents for the piping, etc.

    https://www.velocityboilerworks.com/product/bermuda-series-bsi/

    They should have left you any paperwork and manuals.


  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,826
    edited March 2022
    I love Crown steam boilers. (Now Velocity Boiler Works) because they are one of the few manufacturers that tell you exactly how to do the near boiler piping.
    Here is the diagram and the actual list of pipes sizes and fittings you need.

    This list is on the website for anyone to see and you can't it make any easier. There is a different list for each size/model number boiler. If your boiler piping does not look exactly like this, get the installer to make it that way.

    Or call an attorney. Take lots of pictures

    Best wishes with resolving your problem.

    Mr.Ed
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    mattmia2
  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

    Thank you for responding so quickly.  I am new to posting so appreciate your tips and I’m slow to figure things out.
  • jhewings
    jhewings Member Posts: 139
    More pics from different angles would be helpful. Show all sides of the boiler if possible in multiple pics.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,826
    If by chance, your boiler is installed as listed. There may need to be some tweaking needed. Boiler skimming, pressure adjustment, and maybe water treatment. But mu money is on Wrong Near Boiler Piping
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,826
    edited March 2022
    So from the pictures we all can see that the piping may be close to the manufacturers design. Copper is not the preferred material, but the manufacturer will not void the warranty because of it. There will be maintenance issues down the line, because you can not access all the fittings for flushing out the lower parts of the piping. Sludge will accumulate over time and someone will need to cut piping and re-solder after maintenance is completed. This will cost much more than if it was installed by the diagram.

    After the job was completed, was the boiler skimmed? In the instructions on page 27 the procedure is called "Boiler boil-out procedure" in the manual. It is item 23 in the boiler start up instructions.

    While you have the original installer still on the hook for resolving this problem you may want to press for steel and iron pipe fittings as listed above in my previous post.



    After the boiler is skimmed and the pressure is adjusted as outlined in the manual, you may have a system that will operate to your satisfaction. Only time will tell.

    I kinda' feel sorry for the contractor. They may have bitten off a little more than he can chew. This will be a learning experience, and you shouldn't have to pay for their education. If you were my customer, I would keep at it until it was right, even if I lost money on the deal. That's the kind of contractor I was. and I learned from each mistake and made a point of letting my customer know I wasn't going to just give up. and it wasn't going to cost them for me to learn. We are in this together.

    If you are lucky enough to have that guy, then I would give him all the room he needs to get it right. If not... Lots of pictures and get a good attorney.

    Mr.Ed
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,516
    @Sue777

    If you could stand 6-8' away from the boiler we are mostly concerned with the piping from the top of the boil and above it up to the floor joists.

    This is not unusual we get horror stories on here weekly.

    The most important thing is what @Jamie Hall said. It worked before they got there it should work now if they did the job right. Don't let anyone take any more money until we get this figured out
    EdTheHeaterManSue777
  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,060
    Any pictures of the piping above and around the old boiler?

    You need to back up more yet, need top of boiler to ceiling pipe connections.

    Also show how the new copper meets up with the old iron pipe.
  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Not bad. Other than having done it all in copper it looks like a pretty decent job. There are the maintenance concerns, but those will be some years down the line.

    I'm almost sure it needs skimming...

    However, I am concerned about one potential glitch which might not have been obvious. This appears to be a parallel flow system, where the steam and the condensate both flow away from the boiler. The condensate probably comes back in the lower pipes, then drops down to the floor level and then goes into the boiler. The one potential glitch is that the pitch of those steam mains and the returning lines may have gotten disturbed. It's not at all hard to do that when installing a new boiler -- the old lines are taken out, and then there really isn't a good reference to just how high the pipes ought to be.

    I can't see the rest of the system, so I can't be positive -- but think like water, and examine all the piping and determine if you were water, how would you get back to the boiler without trying to go down the pipe which the steam is trying to go up? Which way, in fact, do all those pipes slope? Use a good level -- don't try to judge it by eye. If there are places where the water can't drain freely, or gets caught trying to go in the wrong direction, that could account for a lot of the problems you mention.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    EdTheHeaterManmattmia2
  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

    Last two photos have risers to main floor.  One on the left up at the shelf and the other in the distance on the right by the pickle ball racket.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,830
    Sue777 said:


    I see another problem. In this photo, one steam main is being fed from the bull (branch) of the tee. I'm willing to bet the slower radiators are on this main. It takes more energy to get the steam around the corner into the bull than to go straight thru the run of the tee. This should have been fed with 2-1/2" pipe.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,629
    I dont see a skim port installed so I'm assuming it wasn't skimmed and it must be.

    Are the pipes above the boiler 2"? I think they are but they must be at least that.

    Once you do get dry steam you may still need to play with main venting to get it ballanced.

    How does the edr of the radiation compare to the edr (square ft of steam) output of the boiler? If the boiler is too big that may create balance issues you didnt have before and you may need to be more careful with venting to get it balanced.
  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21
    Thank you all for all the information.  All new to me so I’m slow in reading and understanding.

    Does anyone have an opinion on the potential effectiveness of retro-fitting riser vents to balance temperatures?  


  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21
    I do know the company didn’t clean out the system before attaching the new boiler.  Another company bid had an 8 hour clean out planned before they would have placed the boiler.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,629
    edited March 2022
    The new boiler and pipe has manufacturing oils in it. that needs to be removed by slowly trickling the top surface of the water in the boiler out through a tapping on the top side of the boiler. that oil on the surface of the water will cause the steam to erupt violently from the surface and throw water up in to the steam mains.
    Sue777
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,826
    edited March 2022
    Sue777 said:
    I do know the company didn’t clean out the system before attaching the new boiler.  Another company bid had an 8 hour clean out planned before they would have placed the boiler.
    Sue, in a earlier post of mine I mentioned that skimming is in the installation manual on page 27 No. 23. Crown calls it Boiler boil-out.  Must be done after several hours of operation.   

    Get that done ASAP 
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    mattmia2Sue777
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 1,005
    The drawing posted shows one tapping from the boiler @ 2" size. The drawing only shows 1 tee for a main and you have 2. They are fine at 2".

    It looks like the elbow to the second main is a 45, which further "aggravates" the first main being bullheaded. That steam wants to take the path of least resistance and likes sweeping curves vs. right angles.

    Making the arrangement more conventional is a needed change as the statements above advise.

  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21

  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21
    Just read Jamie Hall’s response to Don 175 Jan 2021 on Balancing one pipe steam radiators.  The vents on all my radiators are Hoffman’s special #40 Air vent 10 psi, all on different sizes of cast iron radiators.  In terms of balancing the system would the “adjustable” Vent-rite #1 vents be more useful?  
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,629
    That radiator specifically will somewhat tend to heat poorly, the vent should be on the end opposite the valve, the steam will tend to rise up and fill the first section and close the vent early
    Sue777
  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21
    Steamhead, “I see another problem. In this photo, one steam main is being fed from the bull (branch) of the tee.”


    Can you point out the area of branching you’re concerned with in the photo, “steam main” and the bull (branch)?
  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21
    Interesting Mattmia2, hadn’t noticed that, all others are on opposite sides.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,830
    Sue777 said:

    Steamhead, “I see another problem. In this photo, one steam main is being fed from the bull (branch) of the tee.”


    Can you point out the area of branching you’re concerned with in the photo, “steam main” and the bull (branch)?

    In that picture, the pipe from the boiler comes into the tee from the right. One steam main is connected to the opposite end of the tee (the "run") and the other is connected to the side (the "bull" or branch). The steam favors the main connected to the run, because it doesn't have to go around the corner.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Sue777
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    Doesn't the steam favor the main with the lowest pressure?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 627
    First, that must have been a lot of $$$ for all that copper. And radiator vents on the valve side of the radiator are going to hinder the performance and lower the effective EDR quite a bit if many of them are like that.

    Is there a plug or cap on the other side where an old vent may have been?
  • Sue777
    Sue777 Member Posts: 21
    AdmiralYoda    Apparently, luckily, that radiator does produce heat.  Does look capped on opposite end.  It’s the only radiator in the house with vent and valve? on the same side.