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Dead Men Tales: Grabbing the Elephant

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HeatingHelp
HeatingHelp Administrator Posts: 651
edited October 2022 in THE MAIN WALL


Grabbing the Elephant

In this episode, Dan Holohan tells the tale of a grand NYC building, a tenant set on modernizing his portion of the steam-heating system, and the mechanical mayhem that followed.

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Comments

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,157
    edited October 2022
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    Let's talk about the elephant in the room, and I'm not talking about that guys wife! But if she sings, then it's all over!

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,364
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    Hi, This sounds like one of those stories that eventually involved lawyers and money. Hopefully no guns. 🤠
    Yours, Larry
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • breeve
    breeve Member Posts: 8
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    Particularly interesting to me about this story is the way it provides another, very direct, clear, example of the value of having a relevant and coherent "model." The "obvious" question a listener asks is: "What did the guy we are calling the "consulting engineer" conceive was going actually to happen in the piping system -- as to air and steam and heat -- and why did he think so?" Looking at the before-existing system, one would think he would have been forced to recognize: 1. That the air vents were air vents, and that to get steam to rise the air had to leave the system (and, in any case, any new system had to have a distinct route to get rid of air), 2. That no steam traps notwithstanding, steam becomes condensate -- which has to be returned (essentially all the way to the boiler). 3. Etc. So, comes the question: Did the consulting engineer have a mental image of the functioning of the flat panel/ no air vents / thermostatic trap system? And, if so, what did he think was going to happen?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,850
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    breeve said:

    Particularly interesting to me about this story is the way it provides another, very direct, clear, example of the value of having a relevant and coherent "model." The "obvious" question a listener asks is: "What did the guy we are calling the "consulting engineer" conceive was going actually to happen in the piping system -- as to air and steam and heat -- and why did he think so?" Looking at the before-existing system, one would think he would have been forced to recognize: 1. That the air vents were air vents, and that to get steam to rise the air had to leave the system (and, in any case, any new system had to have a distinct route to get rid of air), 2. That no steam traps notwithstanding, steam becomes condensate -- which has to be returned (essentially all the way to the boiler). 3. Etc. So, comes the question: Did the consulting engineer have a mental image of the functioning of the flat panel/ no air vents / thermostatic trap system? And, if so, what did he think was going to happen?

    My guess is that the consulting engineer spent most of their time in construction meetings and had about 2 minutes to actually look at the system on site.
    PRRneilcEdTheHeaterMan
  • MikeDurigon
    MikeDurigon Member Posts: 33
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    Interesting story. Is there a simple answer to my question. If steam runs down thru the condensate lines what prevents the steam from flashing
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,553
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    The engineer saw two pipes and just assumed it was done incorrectly because he believed that all two-pipe steam systems needed steam traps. He didn't know the history of steam heating and the sequence of development through which two-pipe steam went before it became what we see in buildings of the 1930s and '40s. He also never stopped to question how it had been working well for so long.
    Retired and loving it.
  • Ranhvacr
    Ranhvacr Member Posts: 1
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    I cannot say definitely that I now everything about steam. But my past experience has taught me that if you are not sure about something and the system has work well for a 100 years to stop in your tracks and ask questions before proceeding. Very unfortunate situation not only for the customer but for the engineer. Now I have another lesson learned to place in my mental tool box.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,712
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    something about hands in pockets and taking a couple steps backwards ( ? )
    known to beat dead horses