Boiler just died


  #41  
Old 01-08-07, 09:27 PM
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HVAC-EMT,

thanks that is very helpful information....

it appears that i will end up putting same capacity boiler as the previous one....it seems highly unlikely that any heating companies will recommend a smaller boiler..unless I take a chance and get a smaller capacity boiler installed.. I was suggested Burnham Independent IN6 ( 175 K BTUs)....previously i had Burnham 407 with 170K BTUs.
 

Last edited by DIYaddict; 01-09-07 at 08:55 PM. Reason: quote removed
  #42  
Old 01-09-07, 04:08 AM
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EDR stands for equivalent direct radiation. For steam, you have to measure the radiators to size the boiler. You want to be neither significantly oversized nor undersized.

It is quite possible that the 170k boiler was sized properly to begin with.

I would be equally concerned that the installer knows how to install steam systems. There are ways that steam must be piped for good results. Fortunately, the Burnham install manuals are generally excellent and you can tell just by looking and comparing to the figures whether the installer followed the directions.

Burnham makes good equipment. I have one and like it.

A good book on steam is "we got steam heat" by Dan Holohan. Also "lost art of steam heating" by him. Might be in your local library, or can be had at www dot heatinghelp dot com.
 

Last edited by xiphias; 01-09-07 at 11:12 AM.
  #43  
Old 01-09-07, 11:05 AM
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Today, I had another person give me an estimate. he did the radiator meausrements..he said i needed 450 sq ft of steam...( he mentioned something like that!) and said 150 K BTU would be sufficient for the house. Does it make sense?
 
  #44  
Old 01-09-07, 11:25 AM
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Assuming the 450 sq ft of steam is correct (and I couldn't begin to tell you whether it is...), then a quick look here

http://www.burnham.com/ratings/indep.cfm

suggests an Independence IN6 would likely be a perfect match.

You have now improved and exceeded anything I knew about steam. Thanks.

Now check the references and pick someone good. Good luck!
 
  #45  
Old 01-09-07, 11:43 AM
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If you know the brand of boiler he was recommending you could look it up. For a Burnham megasteamer, the 1.05gph fired boiler is 147K and matches to an EDR of 396sqft. The 1.35gph is 189K and matches with 513sqft.

Sounds good...
 
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Old 01-09-07, 11:46 AM
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thanks...working on it
 
  #47  
Old 01-09-07, 12:26 PM
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Megasteam is oil-fired only. Independence is gas. Gas needed here.
 
  #48  
Old 01-09-07, 12:55 PM
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burnham independence IN6 was suggested by other firm as well
 
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Old 01-09-07, 05:09 PM
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Scoop!

Ok..here is the scoop. I had Sears tech take a look at the job.....he said the net output of the radiators was around 55KBTU. he suggested Kenmore 60 with a net rating of 68K BTU and 90 K BTU output capacity.

This is siginificantly different from what others have told me so far. He told me that total radiator surface area was 220 sq ft as compared to another guy who said it was 450. Sears tech measured all the radiators. he did notice that they were different . He had a chart with pics of different radiators and he meticulously calculated the sizes of the radiators.

I am wondering if it would be too risky to go with size that Sears guy recommended.
 
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Old 01-09-07, 05:18 PM
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Just because the name "Sears" frightens me (don't ask me about our old stove...) doesn't mean he's not right. However, you are now well beyond me.

The fact that you have at least 2 estimates for around 450 sq ft of steam (or a boiler sized to handle that), and one that is nearly half of that, suggests to me that you need another look. Someone is right, and someone is wrong. I've not sized to EDR before, but I understand it's not difficult. There are resources at www.burnham.com you could check out. I might take a look, too.
 
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Old 01-09-07, 05:34 PM
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Sears tech seemed knowledgeable....unless he made mistake in calculations with the calculator , i would go with his recommendations.
I found this useful site which shows how to calculate EDRs http://www.antiqueplumbingandradiators.com/askpage.html

According to this site, one can calculate needed BTUs is by multiplying total house area with 45. My house has total living area of 1700. So I would need 75600 BTUs to heat the house. Even if i go with a factor of 50 since the house is old and may not be well insulated, I would need approximately 85K BTUs to heat the house.
 

Last edited by christy123; 01-09-07 at 06:02 PM.
  #52  
Old 01-09-07, 06:32 PM
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sizing

Did you measure the radiators and determine the BTU as shown on that website? What was the result?
 
  #53  
Old 01-09-07, 06:35 PM
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Just found the site a little while ago. Will measure tomorrow.
 

Last edited by DIYaddict; 01-09-07 at 08:55 PM. Reason: quote removed
  #54  
Old 01-09-07, 06:38 PM
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I'm going to go ahead and add my nickel's worth.

All of the advice that you have been offered is good. I really like steam but in my opinion it is a lousy medium to use in heating a residence. Maybe it is because residential steam is difficult (and costly) to control and I am a controls (not control) nut.

Anyway, you have a steam system and you are not in a position to retrofit to some other system. You have no real choice but to replace the boiler.

Steam heating systems are designed a bit differently than other heating systems. As in all systems the first thing that must be determined is what is the heat loss of the home. Then the radiators are sized to each room based upon that room's heat loss. Then (and only then) the boiler is sized based upon the total calculated heat output from the radiators. Since you already have the radiators the heat loss calculation is irrelevant unless you are willing to make the changes not only in the heat loss of the house (windows, weatherstripping, insulation) but also in the number and sizes of the individual radiators. From what I read you do not have the financial wherewithal to make these major changes.

Any "rules of thumb" used in calculating heat loss, required radiation or boiler size are nothing more than a method to be used in getting a quick estimate concerning approximate sizes needed for the entire system. They cannot give you detailed information.

From what I read it sounds like the Sears representative may have done a good job in estimating the required boiler size. Remember that Sears does NOT install equipment but contracts with local companies to do the work for Sears. Sears WILL stand behind the work done by the companies with which they contract and of course you have the option of paying on your Sears account. One caveat is that often the same company will do the exact same job for a lower price if you do not go through Sears. If you were to choose that route you most likely would have to pay the bill in one lump sum and you absolutely need to do your homework on the company to see if they are competent and stand behind their work.

As stated before, residential steam systems are different animals from all other residential heating systems. Not too many people / companies are well-versed in residential steam systems. Choose your installer / service company carefully.
 
  #55  
Old 01-09-07, 07:28 PM
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The guy didnt mention at all that he was sort of sub-contracted by Sears. He was basically selling Sears brand to justify high quote. I was not going to go with him anyway. I just thought his calculation were correct. I wouldnt want Kenmore boiler installed that he offered.

Also, i asked him if the price included automatic dampner. he seems to have no clue about it . After I explained what it does, he said he wouldnt install it as there was risk of Carbon monoxide poisoning. Not sure if that is correct! By the way his quote was 9K.
 

Last edited by DIYaddict; 01-09-07 at 08:56 PM. Reason: quote removed
  #56  
Old 01-09-07, 07:53 PM
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Talking Edr

Originally Posted by christy123
Sears tech seemed knowledgeable....unless he made mistake in calculations with the calculator , i would go with his recommendations.
I found this useful site which shows how to calculate EDRs http://www.antiqueplumbingandradiators.com/askpage.html

According to this site, one can calculate needed BTUs is by multiplying total house area with 45. My house has total living area of 1700. So I would need 75600 BTUs to heat the house. Even if i go with a factor of 50 since the house is old and may not be well insulated, I would need approximately 85K BTUs to heat the house.
I'm not too impressed with the chart on that web site. It doesn't give a breakdown of thin tube, medeum tube, and large tube (column) radiators. If there are any Weil-McLain distributors around your parts, ask them if they have a chart you can get from them. Weil-McLain has a great little booklet that is very easy to understand and use. I tried finding another one on-line that was good, but to no avail. I did find what I want for my birthday though. Check out:
http://www.heatinghelp.com/shopcart/product.cfm?category=2-59
I've heard that it covers pretty much every radiator out there.

As for the Sears tech, I was once a Sears tech, and I found that in every big company, there are bad techs, fair techs, good techs, and great techs. I think that typically if they were going to send someone out to bid a job, they would send someone who knows what they are doing so as to not lose $$.
I also think that if a tech is unsure, they will tend to err on the safe side. I would not at all be surprised if his calculations were accurate. I will try to find one of those charts tomorrow. Write down the height, width of each section, number of tubes per section, and number of sections per radiator. In many cases they will all be different. I will figure it out for you if you like (assuming I can find the chart).
 
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Old 01-09-07, 08:03 PM
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Post Sears

Oh yeah, Sears is usually pretty pricey and the products are sometimes poor. I love their washers and dryers (just the ones that have a model # 110.XXXXX... ((Whirlpool))). Automatic dampers are perfectly safe if properly installed. Kenmore doesn't actually make anything, they just buy lots of stuff from other manufacturers and have them put "Kenmore" on them. Multiplying house area is a very rough way of doing it. If I were to give a "rough estimate", I might do it that way, but then if I got the job, I would do the math out.
 
  #58  
Old 01-09-07, 08:15 PM
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Thumbs up I Found My Edr Chart!!!

It is called "Radiation Reference Tables" by Weil-McLain Form No. C-480 R7(0901) and if you just tell me what you have, I will let you know what you need.
 
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Old 01-09-07, 08:38 PM
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Great!!.. I dont live in the house yet..so will get the measurements tomorrow..WIll post in the afternoon . thank you so much for your help.

Sears tech did realize the differences in the different radiators in the house and used appropriate calculations.
 

Last edited by DIYaddict; 01-09-07 at 08:57 PM. Reason: quote removed
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Old 01-10-07, 07:27 AM
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I did a little reading last night and offer the following while you and HVAC-EMT work up the actual EDR numbers.

Here's some thoughts and estimates that _might_ help check against other measurements/data. This is total seat of the pants stuff and could be way way off. But a thought exercise nonetheless.

Let's say you have a 1700 sf home in Rhode Island that is 50+ years old. I will very VERY crudely guess the heat loss is around 60,000 BTU/hr at design conditions (outdoor temps say 0-5F). That would be a heat loss of about 35 BTU/hr per sq ft of _floor space_, which seems reasonable for a house of that vintage, and assuming some modest insulation improvements were done over time (somebody put in an attic blanket 20 years ago), but maybe still has the old windows, etc.

An accepted "standard" value for radiator output (and I'm leery of standards...) is 240 BTU/hr per sq ft at around 1 psi steam pressure. Let's call it ballpark.

If the 450 sq ft estimate is right, then 450*240 = 108,000 BTU/hr of possible heat output. If the 60,000 BTU estimate is reasonable, then you _may_ have a lot more radiator than you need. It's also possible in an old house that they just put in that amount of radiation to cover any really cold spells -- good old-fashioned oversizing of the radiation. Or maybe the different radiators throughout the house reflect renovations, additions, replacements, etc. and whatever sizing was done originally really doesn't apply.

If the 220 sq ft estimate is right, then 220*240 = 52,800 BTU/hr of possible heat output. This appears to be much closer to the crude assumption of 60,000 BTU/hr. But given the vagaries above, who knows?

The point of comparing these two estimates is to illustrate that they yield very different numbers that could impact significantly the sizing of the boiler. As I understand steam (which is little), you do not want to be significantly over- or under-sized relative to the radiator square footage. All the more reason to check three times and check again, with everything preferably done by an experienced pro.

So that's my thought for the day, fraught with tenuous assumptions though it may be.

I would reiterate furd's advice: steam systems require a good bit of specialized knowledge. Find someone good, even if it takes a while.
 
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Old 01-10-07, 06:37 PM
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house is 70+ old....the walls are not insulated but the attic is. Also new windows have been put in relatively recently.

having said that, i called the guy who had told me that my requirements were relatively same and had recommedned same sized boiler. When I told him that Sears tech had suggested almost half the size of current boiler, he said he could be wrong and told me that he would call his boss. later, his boss came to the house..looked at the old boiler ..walked through the house..made no meausrements...and then declared that Sear tech calculations were wrong and that size boiler wouldnt heat the house optimally...he based his observation ..to put in his own words " 35 years in the business" . he is the lead technician for his company.

I went to do the meausurements myself this morning .... left the house for 1/2 hr and the tape measure disappeared( there were some people in the house working on the bathroom !)...so will have to buy a tape measure first...

what a learning experience this has been so far!
 
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Old 01-10-07, 06:38 PM
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Post X did his homework

RADIATOR RATING STANDARDS: A square foot of steam radiation is based on a heat emission of 240 BTU per hour per square foot, with standard 70 F air temperature and 215 F steam temperature in the radiator.
 
  #63  
Old 01-10-07, 07:15 PM
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Please don't de-mystify steam heat for me... hydronics has put a big enough dent on my memory ;-)
 
  #64  
Old 01-10-07, 07:15 PM
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Post "Experience" doesn't neccesarily mean a lot

I know plumbers/heating guys that have been installing heating systems wrong for 30+ years. They learned from someone who had been doing it wrong for 30+ years. They are also teaching new guys how to do it wrong, and will probbably be doing so for 30+ years. Unfortunately too many people learn the trade from someone who has been in the trade for a long time, and the problem is, they think they already know everything there is to know about everything. I've been in the field for almost 10 years, and I know that If I learned something new every day for the rest of my life, I still might not know everything there is to know about heating, especially since heating technology changes all the time. If you have anyone else come to give you an estimate, you could take the rating tag off the boiler so they can't just copy the tag and say you need the same size. I used to be an EMT, and to keep my EMT license, I had to go to continuing education classes so that I could stay fresh on all the procedures and learn new techniques. I think it should be manditory to go to classes on a regular basis in order to keep your plumbing/heating license. Fortunately some states are starting to require this. I'm not saying every week, but at least every few months or so. I go to every training event I have the opportunity to go to, even if I could probbably teach the class. I have never left a class and been able to say "I didn't learn anything today". I always walk away learning at least a little snippet of good information or an alternative way to apply what I already know. Now I am not saying that experience is irrelevant, I am just saying that some people learn one way and never change. I have broken away from the norm and tried stuff that honestly makes me a little nervous. Sometimes it doesn't work, and I can chalk it up as a learning experience and I don't feel that bad about losing money re-doing what I had done because I learned something. On the other hand, I usually find out that what I tried acctually works and I can save time and money doing it differently.
 
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Old 01-10-07, 07:34 PM
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I totally agree with you . This happens with almost any profession. Experience isnt always enough. One of my teachers once said " what mind doesnt know, eyes cant see"... . I was totally unimpressed by him. He should have done the measurements atleast to confirm his own employees calculations...


By the way, I got rid of the old unit today....I was being charged $700 for this by the heating companies...I paid $75 to the guy who came to remove old cast iron bath tub for the contractor.

I will have a couple of techs look at the job tomorrow...wont tell them what the size of the previous boiler was..
 
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Old 01-10-07, 08:02 PM
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Thank you

HVAC-EMT, thank you very much for that post. I've touted my 30+ years of experience but like you I have taken many, training and refresher courses. I've also learned at least one new thing from every course taken.

You are absolutely correct about the attitude of some people. I once had a boss that had the attitude, "This is the way my great, great grandfather did it and this is the way that my great, great grandchildren will do it." I, my co-workers and the company were all much better off when this man retired.

Many things are done today because, "That's the way I was taught" although the "teacher" was completely wrong in the way that they did it. One must understand the reasoning behind a method before simply accepting it as the best or only way to accomplish the task.

I've always found that the more I learn really means that there is much more for me to know.

Christy, you are getting quite an education. The best advice I can offer is to run from anybody that makes simplistic statements or bases their proposals on "experience" or "rules of thumb". Heating systems are a science and they do require many measurements and calculations. Any "short cut" is going to cost you.
 
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Old 01-10-07, 08:43 PM
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is Burnheim really the best out there? How about the Weil-McLain boilers?
 
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Old 01-11-07, 06:43 AM
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IMHO, Burnham is an excellent company with an excellent product. They've been in the business for a long time, and are highly regarded. I have a Burnham boiler in my basement, as do a number of my friends. Some are newer, some are quite old. They all work great.

I have found Burnham's tech support, both email and in person, to be truly excellent.

Everything I've read or heard about Burnham suggests they are a stand-up company that backs their products.

They've been making steam boilers for a long time, and their latest product (albeit for oil so it wouldn't work for you), the Megasteam, is very highly regarded (from what I've read) by some very discriminating professionals.

That said, you could probably make many of the same assertions about Weil-McLain. Compared to most other manufacturers, there are some differences in how W-M assembles the interior of their boilers that some people don't like and say are prone to failure or leak. I don't have any direct experience, though.

I don't think you can go wrong with a properly sized and installed Burnham steamer.
 
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Old 01-11-07, 10:47 AM
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Finally got the measurements today.

here is what I got:

Cotco type radiators
Height x sections x tubes
22"x7x7
22x15x3
22x7x7
23x14x5
18x8x4
23x10x3
20x18x5
22x12x3
22x10x3

Covector style radiators:
-35"x14"
-40"x15

My calculations came to 248 sq feet ( i didnt count in covector style radiators since i didnt know what the ratings were)
..
So EMT rescue me...
 
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Old 01-11-07, 11:03 AM
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Wow, very cool.

Can you describe a bit more about the convector style radiators?
 
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Old 01-11-07, 12:14 PM
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may be I meant convection not convector...!! any way these are the ones that are put in the wall... Sears tech told me that those were convectorconvection type..radiators
 
  #72  
Old 01-12-07, 04:18 AM
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Wink

Originally Posted by christy123
Finally got the measurements today.

here is what I got:

Cotco type radiators
Height x sections x tubes(ALSO NEED WIDTH OF SECTION!)
(1)-22"x7x7 ~ IF 12 1/2" WIDE (MEDIUM TUBE TYPE), 31.5 SQ'=7560 btu
(2)-22x15x3 ~ IF 9" WIDE (OLD STYLE COLUMN TYPE), 45 SQ'=10800 btu...OR...IF 4" WIDE (THIN TUBE TYPE), 21 SQ'=5040 btu
(3)-22x7x7 ~ IF SAME AS (1), 7560 btu
(4)-23x14x5 ~ IF 8 3/4" WIDE (MEDIUM TUBE TYPE), 42 SQ'=10080 btu...OR...IF 6" WIDE (THIN TUBE TYPE), 29.4 SQ'=7056 btu
(5)-18x8x4 ~ IF 11 1/2" WIDE (OLD STYLE COLUMN TYPE), 24 SQ'=5760 btu
(6)-23x10x3 ~
(7)-20x18x5 ~
(8)-22x12x3 ~
(9)-22x10x3 ~

Covector style radiators:
-35"x14"
-40"x15

My calculations came to 248 sq feet ( i didnt count in covector style radiators since i didnt know what the ratings were)
..
So EMT rescue me...
I'VE GOTTA RUN, IF YOU CAN GET ME THE REST OF THE INFO (WIDTH OF THE SECTION AND TUBE TYPE) I WILL WORK ON THIS MORE LATER.
RE: BOILER BRANDS: BURNHAM HAD TROUBLE WITH ONE OF THE MODELS THAT THEY DISCONTINUED MANY YEARS AGO, SO I WAS APREHENSIVE ABOUT USING THEM FOR A WHILE, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE THEY HAVE CORRECTED THE PROBLEM AND ARE A MUCH BETTER COMPANY TODAY. YOU WILL HEAR A LOT OF TRASH TALKING ABOUT MANY COMPANIES, BUT FOR THE MOST PART, ALL THE BRANDS INCLUDING WEIL-MCLAIN, BURNHAM, PEERLESS, HB SMITH/SMITH, ETC... IN MY OPINION, MAKE GOOD BOILERS. THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IS HOW IT IS INSTALLED AND SIZED, EFFICIENCY (STANDING PILOT OR SPARK IGNITION, AUTOMATIC DAMPER) ETC... CU LATER
 
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Old 01-12-07, 06:32 PM
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Question EDR cont...

Height x sections x tubes(ALSO NEED WIDTH OF SECTION!)
(1)-22"x7x7 ~ IF 12 1/2" WIDE (MEDIUM TUBE TYPE), 31.5 SQ'=7560 btu
(2)-22x15x3 ~ IF 9" WIDE (OLD STYLE COLUMN TYPE), 45 SQ'=10800 btu...OR...IF 4" WIDE (THIN TUBE TYPE), 21 SQ'=5040 btu
(3)-22x7x7 ~ IF SAME AS (1), 7560 btu
(4)-23x14x5 ~ IF 8 3/4" WIDE (MEDIUM TUBE TYPE), 42 SQ'=10080 btu...OR...IF 6" WIDE (THIN TUBE TYPE), 29.4 SQ'=7056 btu
(5)-18x8x4 ~ IF 11 1/2" WIDE (OLD STYLE COLUMN TYPE), 24 SQ'=5760 btu
(6)-23x10x3 ~ IF 9" WIDE (OLD STYLE COLUMN TYPE), 32.5 SQ'=7800 btu...OR...IF 5" WIDE (MEDIUM TUBE TYPE), 20 SQ'=4800 btu
(7)-20x18x5 ~ IF 12 1/2" WIDE (OLD STYLE COLUMN TYPE), 90 SQ'=21600 btu...OR...IF 8 3/4" WIDE (MEDIUM TUBE TYPE), 48 SQ'=11520 BTU
(8)-22x12x3 ~ IF 9" WIDE (OLD STYLE COLUMN TYPE), 36 SQ'=8640 btu...OR...IF 4" WIDE (THIN TUBE TYPE), 16.8 SQ'=4032 btu
(9)-22x10x3 ~IF 9" WIDE (OLD STYLE COLUMN TYPE), 30 SQ'=7200 btu...OR...IF 4" WIDE (THIN TUBE TYPE), 14 SQ'=3360 btu

Covector style radiators:
-35"x14" ?? CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THESE? IS THIS THE GRILL SIZE?
-40"x15" ?? IS THERE A CAST IRON RADIATOR INSIDE? DOES THE COVER COME OFF?
 
  #74  
Old 01-12-07, 06:45 PM
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Talking Rough Idea

Basically, without knowing any other info than what you have given me so far, I would guess that you will need at least 65,000 btu, but probbably not more than 110,000 btu. more details would help.
 
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Old 01-12-07, 09:51 PM
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Hi!

I will do the measurements that you asked tomorrow( i guess that would be later today)...i am not sure what the difference between tube type and column type radiators is....fron a pic that i saw online ..it looked like column type radiatos have just 2 columns......


It think...my calculations are close to what i thought...Burnham independence IN4 may be the one that I should use but it is so close to our rough calcultions that i think it would be kinda risky. At this stage unless i can get someone come and do proper calculation at my house, i think I would get IN5.

What do you think
 

Last edited by christy123; 01-14-07 at 11:49 AM.
  #76  
Old 01-13-07, 06:13 AM
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Smile Radiator Types

Column type rad's have a thick tube 1 1/4" in diameter or more
Medium tube rad's have a tube dia. of 1"+/-
Thin tube rad's have a tube dia. of 1/2"-3/4"
 
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Old 01-13-07, 08:23 PM
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Almost all of the radiators are column type...

the convector type radiators( i was able to remove the grill) are about:
-35"x8"
-40"x9"
cant tell if those were cast iron.


Originally Posted by HVAC-EMT
Column type rad's have a thick tube 1 1/4" in diameter or more
Medium tube rad's have a tube dia. of 1"+/-
Thin tube rad's have a tube dia. of 1/2"-3/4"
 
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Old 01-14-07, 08:49 AM
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Question convectors

Originally Posted by christy123
Almost all of the radiators are column type...

the convector type radiators( i was able to remove the grill) are about:
-35"x8"x???
-40"x9"x???
cant tell if those were cast iron.
Does it look like a black iron pipe with steel plates/fins, or a solid material? A picture would be nice.
 
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Old 01-14-07, 01:59 PM
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EMT...i will have all the meausurement by tonight....was wondering why one would need width of sections if we are calculating for# of columns...

Also, at this time I am seriously considering changing to water heating system. One thing that would make this decision faster would be whether doing so would increase the home value. I dont plan to live in this house for a long time ..so if it doesnt increase the resale value of the home ..i may be content with steam heat... I know this is not the proper forum to ask this question but there is no harm in asking.
 
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Old 01-14-07, 05:14 PM
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Comprehensive measurements

Finally, I have all the measurements for you to calculate the EDR

Cotco type radiators
Height x sections x tubes/columns x tube width x section width
22"x7x7x 1 1/2" x12"
22x15x3x 1 1/2" x6"
22"x7x7x11'x 1 1/2" x12"
23x14x5 x 1"x6"
18x8x4 x1"x5"
23x10x3x1 1/2" x 5"
20x18x5 x1" x6"
22x12x3x 1 1/2" x5"
22x10x3 x1 1/2" x6

Covector style radiators:
-35"x6"
-40"x8"

and finally the convector type radiators do look like black iron pipes with steel plates/fins
 

Last edited by christy123; 01-15-07 at 08:17 AM.
 

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