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Dead Men Tales: A Dead Men Secret

HeatingHelp
HeatingHelp Posts: 490
edited April 18 in THE MAIN WALL




A Dead Men Secret

The Dead Men had a clever solution for balancing gravity hot-water heating systems. They told each other about it, but they never wrote it down so that you and I, stuck in the 21st Century would know. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares this secret that was almost lost to history.

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Thank you to SupplyHouse.com for supporting this podcast.

Comments

  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 502
    Sort of begs the question: Only on the 3rd floor? or both upper floors with bigger holes on the 2nd floor and smaller on the 3rd?
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,063
    Just the third. I know. 😳
    Retired and loving it.
    delcrossv
  • FStephenMasek
    FStephenMasek Member Posts: 26
    Pipe size? Burrs? Gravity hot water heating systems I see in farm and rural houses in Lithuania have pipe bent with heat, and welded connections. The heat source is always a stove in the kitchen, fueled with wood or coal. They work well.
    Author of Illustrated Practical Asbestos: For Consultants, Contractors, Property Managers & Regulators
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,063
    I saw this in Germany. They told me this was the first hot-water system installed in the country. It's now the Schlosshotel Kronberg, built 1889-1893, for German Empress Victoria.




    Retired and loving it.
    delcrossv
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,126
    135-year-old piping, it sure is butt ugly but it must work
    reggi
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,063
    It was deliciously warm.
    Retired and loving it.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,709
    It is lead pipe, isn't it?
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,063
    I think so.
    Retired and loving it.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 188
    Did the Princess have the Curtain to draw for controlling the heat they gave off ? 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
    PC7060
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,063
    Probably 
    Retired and loving it.
    reggi
  • Adk1guy
    Adk1guy Member Posts: 11
    Dan, I would appreciate your input on the following relating to gravity systems.

    We often had problems with 3rd floors overheating with gravity systems converted to forced HW. I was taught it was because the new little boiler had a hot water coil and was controlled by a triple aquastat that would let the circ run a slug of hot water into the large piping, then shut off the circ and that slug of hot water would rise by gravity, and repeat.

    And the solution I was taught, was not use the "heating boiler" for domestic HW, run the circs 24/7, and modulate the temp with and indoor/outdoor control. We called it constant circulation modulated temperature. We used analog controls we could get at grainers, no wiring, that have an adjustable set point dial, and ratio adjustment from zero to idk, i never had to go higher than 1 to 1.5.

    One problem was anytime a strange tech was called for a no heat problem they they would 1st determine the controls were all wrong and install a triple aquastat and set the low limit at 140 or higher. When the burner still wouldn't run they would change parts until it did. To this day if a strange tech comes in they scratch their heads and fail to find the problem. (the last time is a good story in itself} Another problem is occupants complain the radiators aren't hot, despite the room being comfortable.

    I run my own a 3 story apt house today, all on a single zone, this way. There are three old gravity supplies so I put a 007 on each running 24/7, and I teed all the returns. The thermostat in the hall is in series with the Grainger indoor/outdoor. They run my oil fired Buderus through a cold start relay. The building heats fine except a couple of apts are too cool (I could enlarge the orifice if there is one). I've always wished I could find a control that would shut the 007s off 20 minutes after the thermostat is satisfied. Instead I turn them on at the beginning of the heating season and try to remember to shut them off at the end of heating season.
    Cheers from Saranac Lake and a respectful remembrance our mutual friend. Not my place to name names but his sign still hangs on his old shop along the river.



    mattmia2
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,063
    You’re doing everything right. I can’t help with the knuckleheads. 
    Retired and loving it.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • willie13
    willie13 Member Posts: 7
    I have successfully converted quite a few gravity systems with new oil fired boilers by piping the boiler with a variable speed injection system, like a radiant job. This keeps the oil boiler from creating flue gas condensation and we have modulated temperatures in the radiation that mimics the old gravity system. This also allows us to then add an indirect piped directly to the boiler, not dealing with all of that water volume. Thanks for the great story.
  • Labenaqui
    Labenaqui Member Posts: 50
    edited April 15
    The "Gravities" of my youth are the bases of my senior enterprise. Emulating their natural zero-energy distribution in a "modernized system" provides a truly optimized hydronic heating process and appliance.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,709
    @Adk1guy using flow checks to stop the gravity circulation is another way to do it. Outdoor reset and flow checks would probably be the best way.

    This explains why you see flow checks in diagrams of one zone systems, they are leftover from the days of tankless coils.
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 738
    edited April 15
    G
    Adk1guy said:

    I've always wished I could find a control that would shut the 007s off 20 minutes after the thermostat is satisfied.


    @Adk1guy - I've had similar problem and found a Delay on Break Solid state relay works very well. You can get in either 24VDC or 120V configurations and hold the load side up for a user configurable period of time.

    https://www.supplyhouse.com/Littelfuse-TDUB3000A-Digi-Set-Timer-Delay-On-Break.

    I've used the DC version to hold the call for heat on for 15 minutes after the TStats is satisfied to even out a short cycling problem. You could us the AC version to hold the pumps on after boiler shutdown down too.
  • FStephenMasek
    FStephenMasek Member Posts: 26
    Why would anyone think it is lead pipe? You see pipe welded and bent like that all over "Eastern Europe" (really central Europe, as the dead center of Europe is in Lithuania, and I've stood on the spot).
    Author of Illustrated Practical Asbestos: For Consultants, Contractors, Property Managers & Regulators
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,063
    Because of its age. That’s my reasoning. 
    Retired and loving it.
    mattmia2
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,583
    Hi, Looking at a fairly visible connection, it looks like it could be a wiped joint, lead to brass. I don't think it would look like that were it copper to brass.
    Just a thought. ;)

    Yours, Larry
    mattmia2
  • RockcliffeMansion
    RockcliffeMansion Member Posts: 1
    Great story and lesson. We have an original (1898-1900) gravity hot water heating system (no circulator) at the Mansion (3 full stories). It was converted from coal to gas in the late 1960's. For the most part, the system works great. However, we have several radiators on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors that just won't get warm. Like the contractor in this story, we've bled them till the cows come home, even though there's only water in them, resulting in absolutely no improvement. All of the technicians we have consulted have concluded that there must be an "air pocket" somewhere. We've never considered (or even heard of) inserting "orafices" on the 3rd floor at the supply valves, but perhaps we'll give it a try. These are such wonderful stories and teaching tools. Thanks for publishing these stories. We're so impressed with your writings that we bought your book "Hydronic Heating". We're hoping it will help us figure out why some of our radiators are not getting warm. P.S. You may have already spotted it, but there is a typo in the 9th paragraph from the bottom, 4th sentence. It begins with "The did this", but should begin instead with "They did this". Thank you again.
    reggi
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,063
    Thanks so much!
    Retired and loving it.
    reggi