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O my God!!!!

As part of my growing consulting business, I get to see some amazing sights, and today was no exception. I was asked by a friend to inspect his bosses' steam heating system that hasn't worked right since he bought the home 5 years ago.
I'm from Maine and this was a long ride to western New England ( I won't say where lest I implicate anyone accidentally...not my intension here). I honestly hoped to see a different system thanwe usually see here, but low and behold, it was a single pipe plain Jane.
Here's the story....14 radiators of various size with a combined sq. ft. of about 550, a 965 sq ft rated boiler, every vent shutoff or wide open, all leaking, 19" of A dimension, a pressuretrol that didn't work or the pigtail was plugged, three radiator union straps leaking badly, and on and on...
4 different heating companies played with this thing for 4 YEARS!!!!! I wish I had the money value of the wasted fuel in this system over the years.
Why do people mess with this stuff if they don't know what they are doing? I think it's a very important part of being a pro to admit when you're lost and to put your pride in your back pocket and ask for help.
Thank goodness for sites like this so we can share information. I wish I could assemble the techs who have worked on this system and give a class...this would be a perfect working model of how to fix a screwed up system!!!
No pics...to protect the guilty!!!!

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Comments

  • John@Reliable_5
    John@Reliable_5 Member Posts: 76
    Al, I'm surprised!

    Most guys around me wouldn't even play with it, they just rip them out for fhw. Had a good one today myself, new customer calls for service (no heat) I get there and find a 5 sec. oil boiler/8 zones with all the supplys/flo-checks cut off, burner ripped off, flue pipe down, etc.total mess, I ask customer what's going on? was told " I called ABC co. for a clean-out and after 1/2 hour the guy came up and said I needed a new system" Told them from what I see now it might be cheaper than putting it back together. Blows my mind of what we see out here. P.S. Mark,who you met in Boston just passed and got his lic. John@Reliable
  • Al Letellier
    Al Letellier Member Posts: 781
    Hi John

    It is a sad testimony for this industry, isn't it!!!???!!!
    I and guys like you who care see this stuff every day and it's scary to think just how much more goes on that we don't see. Training is the answer, but we're growing a generation of installers these days and when we offer training, they don't come......unless you pay 'em and feed 'em, and the bosses don't want to pay, so t hey can play (generalized statement here)......we need to get across not only the technical value, but the monetary value of training techs.....the return on the investment is enormous!!!

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  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,726
    Al, there are plenty of steam guys

    in the Western NE area. Go to the Find a Contractor page of this site if you need to locate one. That system can be fixed easily.

    To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • c-rex
    c-rex Member Posts: 48
    years ago

    My dad would send me to tech clinics, and I loved it! It was learning from some one else for a change, it proved dad was right, and it gave me the factory's take on why things get built the way they do.
    Well, I learned, and I made my share of blunders, and was allowed the privalage of fixing them, and slowly got better and older, and then found out how little I know!
    Any way, I got called out on a retro burner the other day, one I had installed twelve or fourteen years ago. I recalled cleaning this old oil fired piglet, down sizing the stack so the flue gases would slow down, adding the baffels, sealing the old feed door,(yeah, it was hand fired wood and coal)and was shocked at what I saw.
    The barometric was patched, the relief plugged, roof cement patching the burner tube entrance, three ignition transformers in the dirt along side the boiler, soot an inch deep on all the near boiler piping, and a homeowner who was angery with me for installing that piece of *****!
    (third owner since the install, first one that could read our name on the service tag). I had a hearty laugh as I showered that night. All that's old ain't bad kids, but this old system's being ripped out(asbestos and all)for the new forced air furnace "cause we need air, and that oil stinks." Yeah buddy, something stinks allright.....
  • Al Letellier
    Al Letellier Member Posts: 781
    steamhead

    I intend to do just that. This gentleman wants me to do the work, but I'm not licensed there and it's just too far away. Once we scope out needed repairs and develop a plan, I'll be looking for someone to do the repairs. Maybe I'll get to meet one of you guys there as he want me to oversee the project. Where are you located??

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  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,726
    I'm in Baltimore

    which is a bit far south, unfortunately. I'd love to get my hands on a system like that and make it run perfectly.

    To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Al Letellier_2
    Al Letellier_2 Member Posts: 15
    steamer in western NE

    Ok, steamhead, you're too far away like I am. Don't see much on the list as to guys any too close either. This one is really bad, even uses concnetric bushing at the rads and traps about 1" of water in some of them?????
    It will be a challenge and may have to come out because of code violations (venting) and a way to big boiler, but time will tell.
    I'll keep you posted as to the project. Thanks for your input.
    Al
  • Firedragon_2
    Firedragon_2 Member Posts: 11
    Al, if you find the

    formula to convincing the managers in this business of the value of 'continuing education' please post it right away. I've been fighting this as a teacher for 28 of my 35 years in the biz and it's sad.

    I just went on a consult job in CT into a 1 Mil home. Basic complaint, noisy operation and dirt from ductwork. I found dirty and crushed air filters that almost lead to a motor fire, filthy ductwork and grills from that situation, soot all over the water heater and furnace and no test holes.

    This is supposed to be one of CT's finest oil companies in the CT River Valley, I wouldn't let them service the salamander for my doghouse after what I saw, and the burnernman was referred to as having 'an attitude'.

    I've given the homeowner my report and figure the oil co. will hear from his insurance company next week. I hate doing stuff like this, but sooner or later someone will figure out that education is cheaper than insurance claims or lawsuits. I know I make more money as a consultant than as a teacher, FACT!
  • Al Letellier_2
    Al Letellier_2 Member Posts: 15
    consulting

    I agree with you about your statement on education, which is why I'm steering my career in that direction. I too, do consulting and insurance work and I see it every day. It is rarely mechanical problems that cause all the grief. It is almost always lack of proper maintenance or customer education (imagine telling a customer to blow down the LWCO every day!!!!).
    As to the secret formula, I don't think it exists. I think too many fuel oil vapors cloud the brains ability to think rationally.....they just seem to have to learn it the hard way. Hopefully, we can make a small dent in the problem if we keep trying. Sooner or later it might sink in a little.
    What's so tough about caring enough to do the job right the first time!!!!????!!!!
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