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Need some steam radiator advice

I’m restoring a 1904 Victorian and will need to eventually tackle the heating. From what I’ve been told, and from my (unprofessional) observations, the house runs on steam radiators. The radiators are 2-pipe, with both the inlet and outlet being located near the floor, which I believe is less common. The radiators also have air vents, plus the tops of the radiators are not connected, which seem consistent with steam.


So assuming that is what I’m working with, here’s my question; I’m missing two radiators and am trying to find adequate replacements. Obviously, the ideal solution would be to get an exact match of what was there, but that can be difficult to find. I did find some that are almost an exact match to the originals, except that they are only one pipe. I asked my boiler guy if it would be possible to drill/tap the radiators and basically make them into a two pipe. He didn’t think that was possible, but I figure that’s probably not far from what they did at the factory back in the day. Has anyone ever heard of this and do you think it’s possible? Thanks.

Steve

Comments

  • Cn you post some pictures of your radiators? Maybe one or two of your boiler as well?
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,454
    You have a two pipe air vent system. Not common, but there was a time before the steam trap was invented when they were quite popular.

    The good news is... a one pipe radiator with a vent can be installed on such a system with no hassle. Takke the runout from the steam main and pipe it up in the usual way, just make sure that the pipes are sized and pitched for one pipe steam.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    WMno57busterbrot
  • Adk1guy
    Adk1guy Member Posts: 47
    edited November 2022
    Does the blank end have a boss? That is a round raised area with almost a flat surface that was cast with a thicker place to drill and tap. I'm pretty sure all the end sections are all cast blank and drilled and tapped afterward. Last time I drilled and tapped a steam boiler to take water from below the waterline I found the bosses, drilled them with a hole saw and tapped them with what must be a very expensive tap today. And what do you have to lose by trying?
    busterbrot
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,354
    A picture of the potential radiator would help a lot.

    I have steam only rads in my house, and all of them have a plug opposite the connection. If the ones you are looking at have the plug, then it's fairly straightforward for a professional to remove the plug and add the fittings for the other connection. Plug might not be easy to remove, but it can be done.

    If no plug, things get more difficult and honestly I'd keep looking. With your system, basically any radiator will work, obviously ones with both connections are the best bet, but that does allow you to look at hot water radiators as well, since they will always have both connections, usually at the bottom.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • busterbrot
    busterbrot Member Posts: 2
    I apologize, I don’t have any great pictures of the radiators right this second. I’m attaching a few, but they aren’t great. The house has two different heights of radiators. I’m in the market for the taller ones, but my picture is one of the shorter ones. 

    As far as the potential radiators, I’m attaching a picture of those as well. I believe it has the boss, just a flat circular area, no plug or anything. I realize drilling and tapping may not be worth the trouble, but it sounds like it is at least “possible.”

    Jamie Hall said:
    You have a two pipe air vent system. Not common, but there was a time before the steam trap was invented when they were quite popular. The good news is... a one pipe radiator with a vent can be installed on such a system with no hassle. Takke the runout from the steam main and pipe it up in the usual way, just make sure that the pipes are sized and pitched for one pipe steam.

    Also good to know that they may work with my two pipe system without any major drill work.