Boiler just died


  #81  
Old 01-15-07, 05:40 AM
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don't go there

Steam to hot water conversions can be fraught with big problems and are typically very expensive to start with. The pipe sizing, routing, and flow rate issues can be a pain. Filling a system with water pressurized to ~15 psi that used to only have steam (and condensate) at ~ 1psi can lead to a lot of leaks, liberation of large amounts of sediment, etc. etc. This is not a project to be undertaken lightly.

If you really aren't planning to stay in the house very long, get a good steam boiler installed properly and call it a day. In another thread here on radiant heat conversion from forced air, furd and Who make some excellent points about how heating/mechanical systems are pretty much ignored by buyers in favor of other factors.
 
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Old 01-15-07, 06:53 AM
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i did a little online research overnight.....and realized that upgrading heating system has no effect on home value. so will stay with steam heat.


still confused which size to pick....strange that people dont know how to calculate the EDR..atleast here in RI.

was hoping EMT would help out but looks like he didnt see my latest measurements yet!

Originally Posted by xiphias View Post
Steam to hot water conversions can be fraught with big problems and are typically very expensive to start with. The pipe sizing, routing, and flow rate issues can be a pain. Filling a system with water pressurized to ~15 psi that used to only have steam (and condensate) at ~ 1psi can lead to a lot of leaks, liberation of large amounts of sediment, etc. etc. This is not a project to be undertaken lightly.

If you really aren't planning to stay in the house very long, get a good steam boiler installed properly and call it a day. In another thread here on radiant heat conversion from forced air, furd and Who make some excellent points about how heating/mechanical systems are pretty much ignored by buyers in favor of other factors.
 
  #83  
Old 01-15-07, 10:12 AM
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finally ...called the Burnham distributor.....asked them if they could size the boiler ...was transferred to this guy...he asked me how many radiators I had ...when i said 11...he said i needed 600 sq ft of radiation...suggested IN7 which is seven section..he told me that he multiplied 11 by 55( avarage, in his opinion)....told him he was wrong and hung up on him...

called another supplier....they asked me to fax the radiator details... called back and told me that I needed 70K BTU and suggested IN5...same as my calculations....

ordered one with automatic feeder..

now I need to ask you guys if you know of a good programmable thermostat...


Also, for HVAC....do i need get straight or angled varivalves...

?

thanks everyone for your help and patience. I know a lot more about heating now including some so-called heating techs
 
  #84  
Old 01-18-07, 07:59 PM
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Boiler is finally installed

As I mentioned previously, I ended up installing Burnham Independence IN5. Heat is back on but i noticed there is a significant water leak around one radiator at the junction of the radiator and the pipe ( water is spilled all over and i noticed it in the basement as well) and one of the radiators isnt heating up ...didnt get a chance to talk to heating guy yet

is it the steam thats leaking through ?
 
  #85  
Old 01-19-07, 01:45 PM
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You Should Not Have That Guy For $800 Do It When You Do Your Steam Boiler Make Sure Whoever Does It Is Going To Come Back Several Times To Skim The New Boiler, Have Them Make Sure That The Hardford Loop Is Cleaned Out Good
 
  #86  
Old 01-19-07, 01:48 PM
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Check Your Water Level On The Gage Glass, You Should See The Water To Diff.
 
  #87  
Old 01-19-07, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by MICKS69RAGTOP View Post
Check Your Water Level On The Gage Glass, You Should See The Water To Diff.


"what to diff" ...please explain. not sure what you mean.

Guy came in the morning and fixed the steam leak....it is working fine now.

I flushed the water several times since yesterday ...the water is totally dark in the begining but clears up quickly.

I installed automatic water feeder...so one less thing to worry about..
 
  #88  
Old 01-19-07, 07:54 PM
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Red face Sorry I haven't been here lately

I'm glad you have heat again. I threw out my back a couple weeks ago, and after being bed ridden for several days, I've been trying to get caught up with all the work I missed, plus taking care of an influx of no heat calls. This is the first time in over a week that I got home before midnight. I'll re-check those calculations when I get a chance. Tom the Technician
 
  #89  
Old 01-19-07, 08:25 PM
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Thumbs up Calculations Completed

Originally Posted by HVAC-EMT View Post
Height x sections x tubes(ALSO NEED WIDTH OF SECTION!)
(1)-22"x7x7x12 1/2" WIDE (MEDIUM TUBE TYPE), 31.5 SQ'=7560 btu
(2)-22x15x3x6" WIDE (MEDIUM TUBE TYPE), 30 SQ'=7200 btu
(3)-22x7x7x12" {SAME AS (1)}, 7560 btu
(4)-23x14x5x6" WIDE (THIN TUBE TYPE), 29.4 SQ'=7056 btu
(5)-18x8x4x5" WIDE (THIN TUBE TYPE), 12.8 SQ'=3072 btu
(6)-23x10x3x5" WIDE (MEDIUM TUBE TYPE), 20 SQ'=4800 btu
(7)-20x18x5x6" WIDE (THIN TUBE TYPE), 37.8 SQ'=9072 BTU
(8)-22x12x3x5" WIDE (MEDIUM TUBE TYPE), 20 SQ'=4800 btu
(9)-22x10x3x6" WIDE (MEDIUM TUBE TYPE), 20 SQ'=4800 btu

Covector style radiators: I'm not really sure about these, but I would guess around 8000 btu for the pair.
-35"x6"
-40"x8"
With all these calculations, I came up with 63,920 btu, and with a 10% margin of error, I too would reccomend 70kbtu output! The Varivalves, if they are on the side of the radiator, (99% of them are) you need the angle ones. If they come off the top (I've only seen 1 or 2 of these) then you need the straight ones.
 
  #90  
Old 01-19-07, 09:32 PM
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Tom...sorry to hear that.

looks like i got the right size boiler then....

heat is on and the system seems to be working well except that I hear lot of steam released from most of the radiator vent valves...not sure if it is a good sign...

got an angled varivalve...would be changing the valves on all the radiators..

thank you very much for your help. hope u are feeling better !!
 
  #91  
Old 01-20-07, 03:38 AM
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Thumbs up 90% Better

A little stiffness and soreness if I don't take anything for it, but expect to be all better by monday or tuesday. At least I don't have to take the skelaxin or vicodin anymore. Advil is sufficient to take care of it. I highly reccomend replacing the air vents. The old ones may have been a major contributor to the origional problem. Does the new boiler have a electronic probe or float type LWCO? If you are able, some pictures of the installation would be nice.
 
  #92  
Old 01-20-07, 02:32 PM
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dont know what probe the boiler has...the manual is generic for all the models...would i be able to tell from the system...

would take pics of installation tomorrow and post them....
 
  #93  
Old 01-20-07, 03:55 PM
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installation pics

here are the pics of the boiler installl

http://new.photos.yahoo.com/christina_macarthy/album/576460762386170498
 
  #94  
Old 01-23-07, 03:00 AM
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Smile Your system

You have an electronic probe-type LWCO (it is the black box to the right of the gauge glass with the little green power light). You have an automatic water feeder (the blue box with the red numbers in it) that tells you how much water has been fed. The thing at the bottom of the smoke pipe is an automatic vent damper. I think the "top pipe" is a relief valve, but it is a little fuzzy and dark in the picture. Kind of hard to figure out how it is piped. How has it been working? Any noises you didn't hear before?
 
  #95  
Old 01-27-07, 07:24 PM
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update

wanted to update about the heating system:

first of all i dont live in the house yet so really cant be fully sure about how the system is working.

i heard two loud rumbling noises coming out of basement on two different occassions...last time i hard one was about 10 days ago. the heating guy thinks it is coming of the electronic gadget that is connected to automatic LWCO.. this thing is hanging from 1/2" copper pipe to which it is attached. he secured this with a piece of wood to the cieling yesterday..so will have to wait and watch

we had two severe cold days .....yesterday temp was 7f (felt like -3F). so i thought this would be a good time to test the system. i set the thermostat to 74F but the maximum room temp I noticed was 68F(after two hours wait)... not sure if I need more radiators...probably not because 68 is good enough.

the house is without any curtains...a couple of windows dont close well...and the room where the thermostat is located ..has one wall basically made of sliding doors(uninsulated glass) that open to a 3 season room.

i think i may need to move thermostat to a different location.

So did the boiler pass the test?
 
  #96  
Old 01-28-07, 05:10 AM
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Talking Insulation

Insulation and weatherization will give you your greatest return. The better the house is insulated, the lower your fuel (gas) bill will be. As to the noise, there are so many possibilities, and it is impossible to determine without being there. Also, you turned the thermostat to 74 from what temp? If you had it at 55, then it will take a long time to get the temp up to 74 because all the furniture, floors, walls, ceilings, and air need to be warmed up too. Also, with those single pane windows, you will get a lot of radiant cooling (kind of like when you walk through the cooler section of the grocery store).
 
  #97  
Old 01-28-07, 06:43 AM
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i raised the temp from ?68 to 74F. and room temp increased from 67F to 68F in 2 hrs.
 
  #98  
Old 01-28-07, 11:23 PM
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Remember that the thermostat indicates and responds to AIR temperature and the radiators do little to heat the air. Radiators heat primarily by means of RADIANT energy, that is, by warming OBJECTS, including people, and the objects will (slowly) heat the air by conduction and convection. You may find that you are perfectly comfortable at much lower AIR temperatures with radiant heat than you would be by forced air heat.

As much as I dislike steam in residential heating systems the use of radiant distribution is far more economical in a drafty building than is forced air heating.
 
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Old 02-02-07, 04:33 PM
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Gas boiler replacement

I am also in the process of replacing a boiler although mine hasn't quit; it's just 40 years old. I have had two plumbers come so far. The first one looked at the boiler, asked me how many radiators I had and told me it would be 4200. That's without the chimney liner and asbestos abatement of course. Today's plumber not only asked about the number of radiators, he measured each one, meaning that he counted the "fins" and looked to see if they were just one fin or double. Don't know how to explain what I mean any other way. Much more impressed with this guy. Also, he said that he will put it up on blocks which the other guy didn't say although he might have done. He says that he likes the Utica boiler which is made in Utica, NY and says he's had good service from them whenever he's needed it.
 
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Old 02-02-07, 04:56 PM
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BTUs

I just read all of the posts to the original post. Interesting about the size of the unit as I have the same size house and I also live in New England. The unit I have now is 150,000 BTUs. sounds like I won't need as large a new burner as what I have now. I'll have to wait and see what the plumbers say.
 
  #101  
Old 02-04-07, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by BRN View Post
I just read all of the posts to the original post. Interesting about the size of the unit as I have the same size house and I also live in New England. The unit I have now is 150,000 BTUs. sounds like I won't need as large a new burner as what I have now. I'll have to wait and see what the plumbers say.
yes...a lower boiler will do...

The lowest quote I got was $5000..so $4200 isnt bad.. although the cost of equipment is around $2400...thats if you went for automatic water feeder and needed some piping...

go with Bunham ...most of the people i talked to recommended that..
 
  #102  
Old 02-20-07, 09:56 AM
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Question Calculating the BTUs/square footage of a radiator

I am going through the same thing that Christy is and need to size the new (Burnham?) boiler by calculating the square footage of the radiators. I seem to be missing something crucial, however. Take the example above, where the radiator is 22" high, has seven sections, seven columns, a 12.5" section width and medium (1") tube size.

According to HVAC-EMT, this yields 31.5 square feet = 240*31.5 = 7360 BTU. I get the 240*31.5 part. But I am utterly unable to make 22 x 7 x 7 x 12.5 = 31.5 square feet. If you multiply the four numbers and divide by 144 (# square inches in a square foot), you get 93 square feet. If you figure the circumference of the pipe (this is the radiating area), for a 1.5" pipe, you get 13 square feet.

I'd like to be able to do this. What is the secret sauce you have to pour over 12x7x7x12.5 to get 31.5? The answer, of course, is divide 91/5 by 3? But why? Do the pipes take up (guesstimate) 1/3 of the available space?

HELP
 

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  #103  
Old 02-20-07, 05:28 PM
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Check out www.heatinghelp.com in the literature library. The calculation mystery should be solved there.
 
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Old 02-20-07, 06:08 PM
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Unhappy Library Section of HeatingHelp

While I think the library section of heatinghelp.com is fascinating, what I am looking for is a matter of simple logic. I'm sure that 31.5 is the correct EDR, because that's very close to what the various published tables (at, say, antiqueplumbingandradiators.com) say that a radiator in a reasonable sized room should put out.

But when you actually multiply the figures, you get a number that is 3 times larger than what he says. Why?
 
  #105  
Old 02-20-07, 06:23 PM
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Question Accounting for the pipes

Let us assume that one can figure out the EDR of all the radiators in the house I'm worried about. (80% of them appear to be Triton, two-column radiators, which the Triton manual says has 3 square feet per section--easy enough.) You get a number, call it 350 square feet for a 2500 square foot house.

Assume, too, that I'm thinking about a Burnham Independence boiler (just to keep the thread consistent). Do I get an IN5, whose rating is 358 Steam Square Feet? Or do I add an indeterminate amount to cover the heat loss from the pipes to the radiators and get a bigger one? If so, how do I calculate the amount from the pipes? Or do I just call it 1/3 of the total and assume I need 467 square feet.

This 467 square feet happens to be 17 square feet greater than the Steam Square Feet of the next higher Burnham Boiler, the IN6. Does that mean I need an IN7?

So many mysteries, so little time.
 
  #106  
Old 02-21-07, 08:55 AM
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I hear ya. My ignorance of things steam will show, but here's my take.

I'm guessing that in the steam boiler ratings, they have already allotted for pipe losses, etc. per IBR or other accepted rating technique.

In which case, my suggestion would be the IN5 (or if you've got oil, a Megasteam of comparable size). That doesn't leave you much room for future expansion, resizing of radiators if needed, etc. but it would be the closest match.
 
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Old 02-21-07, 09:32 AM
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Question Including the pipes, better larger than sorry?

Who knows. I will call Burnham and ask them. Certainly the INS 7, which is in there now, will not be right. So progress is being made.

My plumber, naturally, thinks it's safer to go with the 6, partly because he thinks there's an unusually large amount of heat being generated by pipes. So really, the question is, should you buy the one that's closest to the radiator area or the one that is the next size up?
 
  #108  
Old 02-21-07, 09:54 AM
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Cool Burnham's Reply

Burnham says that the steam square footage that it lists in its ratings includes the pipes, but is the maximum square footage that the boiler can support. So, if you have 360 square feet of radiator in a house, you should buy the IN6, but if you have 358 square feet, you should buy the IN5. "It's a shame," they said, "because the IN6 has greatly reduced fuel efficiency, but that's what you have to do."

Well, it's better than the IN7 that I have now.
 
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Old 02-21-07, 10:00 AM
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I would not presume to second-guess the manufacturer (I'm a homeowner, theoretically-oriented hobbyist at best), but it seems odd to me that there is not a couple of square feet of slop in all this. What is your calculated EDR? I can't see it in the posts above.

You might also ask your contractor to contact the Burnham regional rep for a site visit and opinion.
 
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Old 02-21-07, 11:35 AM
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Question Calculation

I'm not 100% positive of this. In the three-story house, there are 64 sections of the traditional two-column 38" radiator, which are 4 square feet a section according to every source I have. That's 256. There are 9 sections of three-column 38" radiator, which are 5 square feet, 45, subtotal 301. There are 14 sections of a newer 26" 4-tube (narrow) radiator, at 2.75 a section, I think, for 38.5, subtotal 339.5. And there are four sections of a really weird 27" wall-hung radiator, with six tubes in each section; at 4 a section, that's 16, though that could be low by a bit. Grand total so far, 355.5.

There is also 20' of pipe in a basement kitchen which acts as a radiator and another 12' of pipe that's running along the top of the finished basement on the other side, which is acting as a radiator. Who knows what these are--maybe 10-15 square feet total?

The total is somewhere between 356 and 380, call it. Burnham says its IN5 goes up only to 358.

You tell me. Good idea about the Burnham rep.
 
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Old 02-22-07, 06:42 AM
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Beats me. I would guess 356 and assume that the two sections of pipe "acting as a radiator" would be included in the pick-up allowance or whatever you call it with steam. In which case, IN5. Could also be, however, that those pipes should be insulated? I have no idea. If so, then adding radiators to those areas might be required if you insulate the pipes? I have no idea. If so, then you'd definitely be over the 358 and into IN6 territory. If no insulation required, then I fall back to the EDR calc and say IN5 is what you need.

Bottom line is I don't know enough about steam to know how much wiggle room there is with sizing and radiation. With hydronic, there's tons.

Have you seen the Holohan books "We Got Steam Heat" and "Lost Art of Steam Heating"? Might be worth it to pick them up, or check your local library.
 
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Old 02-22-07, 09:56 AM
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Talking Thanks, more comments welcome

I think I will go with the IN6. The pipes shouldn't be insulated, because they do provide heat. If I were ever to turn that basement apartment into a condominium, I would want to cover them up and add a radiator.

I also feel some uncertainty about those two peculiar boilers. They're not quite like anything I saw in the literature, so I'm not sure whether I got it right, but am sure that I erred on the low side. If so, the number will be above 355.5.

The previous boiler was a POS (expletive abbreviated) Burnham IN7, which had every control replaced at one time or another in the past three years, only then to give up the ghost and crack. I work in computers, and if any company in my business, even Microsoft, had ever put together a product as badly documented, hard to understand, harder to diagnose, and hard to repair as that POS, it would have been hooted out of the business.

Just one example. We tried to install an automatic water feed for the LWCO so that when the water hits a low point, the feed adds more water. Take the faceplate off and look in if you have one of these POS's. To add the feed, you have to connect a wire in 2 places, and the wire has to be fairly thick in order to meet code. Well, maybe an imp with tiny fingers of steel could do it, but for this do-it-yourselfer, it was one of those sit down and cry experiences that I at least have all too frequently.

And so unnecessary. Had Burnham never heard of automatic water feeds? Never felt any need to allow for the fact that they might be added? Never talked to anybody who installs things, except the imps? Apparently so.

How do they get away with this?

I guess they do it because they know that people like me will take everybody else's word that the competition is no better and buy another one. Wish me luck.
 
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Old 02-22-07, 01:30 PM
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Good luck. I would not take such a dim view of Burnham, however. I personally have had 2 of their boilers, both very good at what they do, and easy to maintain/service. I know at least 4-5 others ranging in age from 4-30 yr that run fine.

I can't think of a manufacturer of just about anything who hasn't produced an early model of something that didn't have some aggravating failings, and was either dropped or improved (sometimes substantially) in later revisions. Then, of course, there's MS Word, which seems to go backward...

Good luck.
 
  #114  
Old 01-02-08, 12:09 PM
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replacing gas valve and sizing boiler based on radiator size

This was a great post and I appreciate all the responses.

I am thinking about replacing my 40 year old Peerless gas boiler - if not entirely at least the pilot gas valve with an electonic one.

I am also thinking about replacing the whole boiler if I could acheive better efficiency with a new one.In cold winter months I am using about 330 cu feet of natural gas for an 1800 sf house fairly well insulated.

From what I have read, sizing a boiler is done by first sizing the room for the right radiator size, then sizing the boiler based on the radiator size.

Since I am keeping my radiators - I have listed their sizes at
http://vfwTech.com/Liquid/BoilerInfo.htm, and I was hoping that if someone (HVAC-EMT or someone else) could tell me the right size boiler to consider.

I was also hoping that I could get a suggestion as to a good replacement electronic gas valve for my current Peerless - from the face plate I got the following info on it
boiler no - G-360-W-S
sn - 60-37279
rated 500 SF
160,000 BTU / hr max 200,000
120,000 BTU Steam
160,000 BTU Water

Thanks
 
  #115  
Old 01-02-08, 02:30 PM
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Whoa!!! This post is all over the place. Did anyone look at the pictures posted by Christy? What a mess.
Steam pipes need to be insulated in the basement. The vertical risers you may get away without insulation, but the horizontal pipe is a must. I would like to see all piping in basement insulated. The sq ft of steam on the color brochures is what the boiler can produce less 33% for piping. In other words radiation, connected load.
The idea of not insulating steam pipes is ludicrous. Do you realize the problem you are creating by not insulating steam pipes? When firing a steam boiler and raising the water temperature to 212f you still need to convert it to 212f steam. To change states from water to same temperature steam is 970 btu’s. That would be 5 times the energy it would take if you would heat water from 32f to 212f. You still have to convert to steam, 970 btu’s. Now sent the steam to the system into your 2” radiator you would normally call the system main. Un-insulated piping become radiators. A 2” pipe gives off 212 btu’s per ft of pipe. This means the steam is condensing back to water and need to be converted back to steam when it gets back to the boiler. The extra water in the piping can cause water hammer, less water in boiler which may lead to over filling system if you have an auto-feeder, wet steam which moves slower and condenses back to water faster. Running a steam boiler without pipe insulation is very expensive and causes system problems.
 
  #116  
Old 01-02-08, 03:33 PM
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Is that copper piping above the water line in a steam boiler??? Is that kosher?

(Early failures in Burnham castings usually involve a hacked installation with inproper piping or lack of boiler protection.)
 
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Old 01-02-08, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by rbeck View Post
Whoa!!! This post is all over the place. Did anyone look at the pictures posted by Christy? What a mess.
Maybe I should have posted mine as a new post - it just seemed like it was a continuace of part of this one. Never know whether to start new and get flamed for not searching - or search and post to most related.

Originally Posted by rbeck View Post
Steam pipes need to be insulated in the basement.
What is the best way to insulate - how thick should the insulation be - and is it best just to wrap it - or does the wrapping have to be sealed ?
 
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Old 01-02-08, 04:04 PM
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Yeah, mighta been better... but no problem really... we just have to remember to look at the dates on the posts is all!

Nobody gets flamed here, it's all good...

I don't think you'll find it at HD or Lowes, but the fiberglass type insulation is probably the best for steam pipes. Check with your local supply houses. Some will only sell to the trades, while others will sell to homeowners as well... keep looking until you find a good one.
 
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Old 01-02-08, 04:59 PM
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Never use copper above the water level. When installing a steam boiler you should never deviate away from the manufacturers piping. This piping has not changed in a century. The purpose of proper near boiler piping is to compensate for not have the steam chest in the boilers as we used to have and to verify dry steam.
Never use copper above the water line as the steam will leach copper from the boiler and cause galvanic reaction in the boiler causing failure. There is also a big difference in expansion rates.
Insuloate the pipes with a fiberglass wrap. It can be purchased from HD but it is only 1/4-3/8". The insulation should be at least 1/2"
 
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Old 01-02-08, 08:18 PM
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Pipe insulation

For steam, I prefer the semi-rigid & preformed fiberglass with a reinforced paper cover. It can be hard to find but a good plumbing supply store will either have or can get it.
 
 

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