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Two-Pipe Downfeed Steam System

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EnergyESP
EnergyESP Member Posts: 3

Hello,

I am an engineer in Kansas City and I am dealing with a steam system that I am unfamiliar with. The building is 100 years old and located in northwestern Kansas (little back-story). The main steam goes from the boiler room up a three story riser and into the attic. That's were it appears to function as the main steam manifold. What is the benefit of this system? Was it a fad at the time? Also, I do not know what this steam specialty is and would like to know… I have looked through venders pages and can't find something that looks like this. Flash steam? I haven't been to the site yet but looking forward to it.

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  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,844
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    What you have is likely a "Mills" system. Invented by John Mills in the late 1800s. The steam comes off the boiler and goes to the attic. The steam main circles the attic with branch pipes dropping down to the radiation.

    It is a VG system. It's claim to fame is that it keeps the steam and condensate flowing in the same direction throughout the entire system.

    That device may be a steam powered condensate pump or boiler return trap. See if you can get any name or # off of it. @Steamhead may comment.

    Post more pictures if you can.

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,970
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    What sort of valves are on the emitters? Are there steam traps on the returns of the emitters or some other device or just an ell?

  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568
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    It looks like a steam-powered condensate pump.

    Retired and loving it.
    mattmia2
  • EnergyESP
    EnergyESP Member Posts: 3
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    I appreciate your comments. This is typical from the pictures I am looking through. Thermostatic control valve and thermostatic trap. I will know more if we get to the next level and they want to do something. In the mean time I am going to look up this Mills guy! Thanks again.

    mattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,970
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    Usually when there is a device like that and check valves it is some sort of a vapor system but if it was, it isn't set up that way now. Be careful though that it might have once been vapor and may or many not have been reconfigured by someone that may or may not have known how to do it properly.

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,110
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    I had a schoolhouse with that Downflow piping.

    Was slow to heat, trap issues, and air elimination problems.

    Some of the "dry returns" turned into "wet returns" when return piping was replaced.

    Pockets of water sitting in returns.

    Show us more pictures please.

  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568
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    @EnergyESP, you’re never alone.

    Retired and loving it.
    EnergyESP
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,010
    edited July 10
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    I bet that's a Sterling return trap. The lever and weight is similar to the one shown in Lost Art, though the body is different. @EnergyESP , look for Sterling or Sterlco or whatever name appears on that unit. Also, post more pics please!

    "Lost Art" is this book, which you really need to get:

    https://www.heatinghelp.com/store/detail/the-lost-art-of-steam-heating-revisited/

    Where in KS are you located?

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    mattmia2
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,110
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    What problems are they having?

  • EnergyESP
    EnergyESP Member Posts: 3
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    Will do @Steamhead. I am in Kansas City, the job is preliminary and it is located up somewhere up where Nebraska, CO, and KS meet. Not looking forward to the drive. I don't know enough about the facility yet. That's all of the pictures taken of the plant.

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,844
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    I don't think a Mills System was vapor. The trick to getting it to work will be to find out how the air is supposed to vent out.

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,110
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    Do they have the prints for the building? My guess is that they do, just might not be able to find them. They need to ask the oldest person working in the office, women usually have found prints for me in these situations.

    The downfeed I am familiar with did have prints from the 1933 construction showing all piping. It had one riser with 3 branches in the attic. I never did go to the attic to see it but believe there were no air vents up there.

    The 1933 system had all air removal thru the condensate pump, which not very effective because of saging dry returns that were buried.

    Where exactly in KS? I am probably closer to it than you are. I have driven half that distance to work on steam.

    Not a lot of it out here.

  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,244
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    somewhere in the vicinity of St. Francis?

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,010
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    The original wasn't, but some later systems used his idea.

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,244
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    @jughne - looks to be 330 miles / 5-1/2 hours from your area to the location described by OP.

  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,333
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    I think the downflow in Lost Art was one pipe with radiator airvents?

    In Toronto apartment buildings I saw two pipe down flow like in the pictures. But there were no traps on radiators. Air elimination was achieved in boiler room by means of a vacuum tank intermittently evacuated by manually controlled water powered eductor. The method to propel condensate into boiler confused me. Loopedly loops of U s and inverted U s. I believe system worked okay until some creative soul modified.

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,110
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    Perhaps the OP is still driving across Kansas…….no tornadoes lately, IIRC .

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,010
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    IIRC back in the day, Kansas had speed limits as high as 80 MPH. If that's still true it shouldn't take that long….. 😁

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    JUGHNEPC7060