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Steam condensate: Piping in a steel panel rad

Ted_9 Member Posts: 1,718
Thanks Al.
As far as the type of radiator, I dont want to mention brand, but they are not rated for steam. Here is a link to one company that makes steam panels. www.steamradiators.com.

I'll look around for the pump and receiver. The pump should be bronze then right?


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  • Ted_9
    Ted_9 Member Posts: 1,718

    I'm working in a building that is all condos. On the top floor, the apartment has steel panel rads. They are conected to the steam system with no vents. So I guess they are using the condensate?

    I need to move on and add a new one. What rules must I follow. Do they have to be pitched? I noticed all of the existing ones had steam traps or strainer.


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  • Al Letellier
    Al Letellier Member Posts: 781
    steel panel rads

    Ted, I didn't know that anyone made a steel panel rad for steam, or at least I've never seen one. Do you know the manufacturer? Check to see if it's rated or UL approved for steam use. If it's two pipe, it must have a thermal trap on the outlet. There has to be a one if there is no vent. Without one the panel won't heat. If they're using condensate, you'll find a receiver and a pump somewhere. Go exploring and check it out.....you could be held liable it those rads aren't steam rated and you touch them.....let guy there pays the bill !!!

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  • Christian Egli
    Christian Egli Member Posts: 277
    The versatility of steam, it's a fit everywhere

    Since all the radiators you are looking at have a trap, I will say they are running on steam. I will also guess it is a two pipe system. Is the supply line to each radiator larger than the condensate line on the return? That would be another clue that it is not water. Typically only one pipe steam would have air vents on the radiators.

    Any radiator and base board fin tube is the perfect addition to a steam system. The ratings will be different, meaning a steam filled radiator can be (possibly something like 20%) smaller than the water filled one.

    One important item to check is if the boiler won't be undersized with the new radiators. It seems you'll be only moving them, so size won't be an issue. Nevertheless I would check the boiler rating against the total connected radiator load and pick up factor, just to make sure.

    If what we are talking about is a whole top floor addition, then I would really worry about the boiler.

    This also applies if you want to feed the radiators with pumped boiler water (in this case you'll also have to take building height into consideration, if you're beyond the third floor, working with water won't be simple).

    What is super important is to do the piping correctly. The steam supply has to be sized large enough for each radiator load and the travel distance, plus it has to be pitched so that condensate can roll back to the boiler. Same goes for the return line, and make sure no puddles of condensate are left anywhere. The radiator itself can be tilted just a little.

    The Golden Rule booklet by Dan Holohan tells all you need to know about important pipe sizes. This will prevent noise. Piping just to match the hole sizes on the radiator does not work at all with steam.

    As far as the thermostatic trap goes, install the same ones you have elsewhere, so that the building is uniform. Propose to the owner that you check all the other traps in the building. Fixing and replacing the failed ones makes the whole system run with much more efficiency and more comfort. Maybe you can get to replace all of them, the summer is the time to do this.

    One option, install a thermostatic valve on the radiators to prevent overheating. For the top floor, this could be a great benefit.

    This sounds like a nice job. Best of luck.
  • Ted_9
    Ted_9 Member Posts: 1,718

    Thanks for your detailed reply.

    First I know its steam but both pipes are the same size. One pipe has a radiator valve, the other has the trap. This is a large building with up to 10 large condos. The boiler must be big, but I havent had the oppertunity to look at it. The steam piping will be very difficult to examine here.

    So, are these radiators filled with water(condensate)? or is it steam? Like I said its two pipes to each rad.

    I'll find out more soon.


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  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,734
    Ted, in this type of steam system

    there are never vents on the radiators.

    The steam comes up thru the supply line as usual. On the return side, air and condensate exit thru the trap. If steam reaches the trap, it closes to keep steam out of the returns.

    Somewhere in the basement, air is vented from the returns and the condensate goes back to the boiler. If there is a return tank and pump, air is vented from the top of the tank. If not, you will find air vents at the ends of the dry (overhead) return lines. These may be standard main vents, or "vent traps" which are larger.

    This design dates back to the early 1900s, when we didn't have reliable air vents for radiators. The first really good one didn't come out until 1912.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Ted_9
    Ted_9 Member Posts: 1,718

    Thanks Steamhead, I'll look into it some more.


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