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Mystery heating system please help

GW Member Posts: 4,676
Hi guys,

I'm a bit baffled by this large by huge house I visited the other day. The lady wants to can her current system, and I'm wondering if I can utilize some of the existing steel piping routes. There is a 20-25 year old steam boiler there now, and the old beast is still where it was a million years ago- the new one was placed just to the side. It's wrapped in plastic and does appear to have gage glass tapping on the side.

Here's what has me puzzled- 90% of the rads are two pipe, no traps at all. In the basement, there are no traps, no receivers, pumps, nothing. Now, if it wasn't for one rad in a small bath that was one pipe, I would say " by gosh some one made a steam system out of a water system".

All of the returns travel back through a variety of mains in the basement.

Besides the fact that the old steel pipes may not hold 15 psi of water, does anyone have a comment on what I'm looking at here?


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Gary Wilson
Wilson Services, Inc
Northampton, MA
[email protected]


  • sounds like a vapor steam system

    the radiator valves probably are either graduated inlet type that can be pinned in a max open position like ''mouat''valves are, or there are orifice discs in the inlet union connection..If only the amount of steam that a radiator could condense was allowed into the radiator there is no need for traps..see if you can find a name on the side of the valves, or on some strange object in the piping by the old boiler..it would be interesting to find out who made this system.
  • Boilerpro_3
    Boilerpro_3 Member Posts: 1,231
    Might you have something that looks like this

    on the basement ceiling? It is the "vacumn pump" for a Moline vapor/ vacumn system. Check out Dan's books for more info. These systems are truly exceptional and have no moving parts except the old main vent. It is easy to get this system working exceptionally well as just a vapor system.

  • Mad Dog
    Mad Dog Member Posts: 2,595
    Gary!! You are forbidden to convert that to hot water

    You have an old vapor system of some kind.....just needs some tweaking. We'll get you threu... Mad Dog

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  • David Sutton_3
    David Sutton_3 Member Posts: 160
    how about some pictures ??

    would love to see this old system..Thanks David
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,714
    That definitely sounds like Vapor

    Vapor was the Cadillac of heating in its day, and is still one of the best systems out there now. When properly set up, it's quick, quiet and efficient.

    See if you can find any trade marks or other info on the radiator valves and any odd-looking gear in the basement. Also check the bushings and elbows at the radiator return connections- sometimes these have water seals, check valves or other things hidden inside.

    Also, it would help if you could post some pictures!

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