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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Maybe the wetheads can make sense of this one. A friend asked me to move a radiator in Denver and when I saw the situation I refused. I'm not a plumber but I own and maintain a low pressure steam system and a closed loop hot water system. I've also been the grunt man on some installs of hot water heat. So I know a little bit.<P>
Here is what I found in Denver. 4 condo units in a converted old house in upscale neighborhood. 1 thermostat in one unit controlling all 4 units. Well that wouldn't be to hard to move to at least the hallway so everyone would have access to it but it has been like this for 30 years. Next I find a converted coal steam to gas hot water boiler, huge. I heard the gas burning and looked at the pilot. The pilot unit was the size of a weed burning torch with about an 8 inch flame. Everything was nice and warm around the boiler in the middle of July. I see one booster pump on a half in. line going to the bottom of the boiler. I don't see any zone valves or zone piping. Looks like the original steam outlets going up and the original condensate returns. All covered in asbestos.<P>
Looking at the radiators. They are in and out with 1 in. black. They all have bleaders that run water so I think that would rule out a steam system. Some outfit came in a few years ago and installed stop valves at each radiator which by my understanding would be usless on a closed loop system. They say the radiators get warm, eventually, and the units stay reasonably confortable. I didn't want to start turning things on even though my curiosity was killing me. Maybe I'll go back up in the fall and see what I might find out.<P>
My best guess is that the hot water does not really move around the system but just transfers the heat upward to the radiators? The boiler room gets really hot and transfers heat up through the hallways and floors?<P>
The utility bills don't seem too outragous so maybe I'm not understanding something here. Any help? Thanks RT
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I may have found my own answer after writing the question. I remembered the lady on the 3rd floor said she runs the bleeder for hours into a bucket. One time she left for a few days and forgot to shut it off. No one at home in my friends condo below either. Another thing to be fixed. The guy that lives over the boiler says he shuts his radiators off. If he is at the end of the loop, (if it is a loop), and as long as everyone else has the radiators open, and as long as the lady on the top is bleeding the cold water, the system would appear to be working. What do you want for $300k? As long as you have money left for lattes. If I'm anywhere close to right I'd like to ask the Heating Co. who put the stops on the radiators what they were thinking. RT <P>
So I smashed my finger with a pipe wrench last week and everone said put a hole through the fingernail with a hot needle or a drill bit or something. I finely did it with a hot needle. Didn't hurt at all and the blood keeps comming. Looks and feels allot better. I swung a hammer all my life but the pipe wrench gave me the best one ever.RT
 

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Sounds like you may have an old gravity system, if not it may have beem a steam vapor system that someone has played with in an attempt to convert it into hot water.
Just the idea of the 3rd floor person bleeding the system to get heat is a problem with the ammount of water supplied by the circulator.
The idea of someone installing a circulator on a 1/2 retun line says quite abit about their lack of information on these old designs.

Vapor systems are designed with small diameter lines which carry the steam by vapor, the steam is kinda of siphoned thru the system so the lines have to be of a small diameter.

Years ago someone came out with a way to incorperate a system pump into the design to convert them into hot water, howver it was not just add pump and fill system.

BJD
 

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The biggest problem with those converted systems is very rarely no one knows how to do it or wants to pay for the proper conversion.

The last one I came upon was a three family house with one thermostat on second floor. By the time the thermo was satisfied first floor had their windows open and was dying with heat and third floor was freezing.

As BJD stated throwing a pump and water in it doesn't really make it a conversion or at least a proper one.
 

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The best thing you could do is to take some detailed pictures of the boiler and the overall system, we could then assist you in coming up with some ideas.


BJD
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Bjd said:
The best thing you could do is to take some detailed pictures of the boiler and the overall system, we could then assist you in coming up with some ideas.


BJD
Thank you. I probably won't be going up to Denver for a week or two but I'll bring my camera and try to post some pics. I've been looking at some books on heating and did not realize how many heating systems can be out there. I think because Colorado Springs is a relatively new town,(incorperated 1877), I have not seen most of these older systems. Thanks for looking at my post. Rob53<P>
I got my parts for my 1921 myers 4x5 piston pump today. I could have bought a nice new submersible for the price I paid for the leather cup piston but the old pump is too cool not to have running. Another dry dry summer here and the ground water for the sprinklers is down 5 ft. below normal. Anyone with some extra rain can send it our way. RT
 

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Wow the Old Myers Bull Dogs? I have a real old one like that, I pulled it out of an old barn 20 some odd years ago forze up and busted the nose.
Just something to look at now, good luck with yours.

BJD
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Actually called Bulldozer pumps. T&T pumps in Fairmont W. VA bought the patents and spare parts from Myers years ago. Mine has been running great for 8 years and I found after pulling the piston out that my problem is probably with my draw pipe and the fact that the water is lower. I'm hoping to get mine out of the basement, (someday), and up into a pump house where people can see it. RT.
 

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Back to this furnace issue...

I think that it is possible that this is nothing more than an overfilled steam system. It may have been overfilled for many, many years, and will semi-function in that state.

Look for tell tale signs of a steam system like the existance of a sight glass, low water cutoff, and a pressure switch. These old systems were manual fill for the most part. If someone inadvertantly opened the manual fill and left it open, that would explain this current situation. The pump you saw on the 1/2" line would be nothing more than the condensate refill line for the boiler. The stop valves at each radiator would make sense, as this is normal for a steam system.

I say that if this is indeed a flooded steam system, getting the system water level back down to 1/2 full will solve your ills.

The best book on this matter is "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" by Dan Holohan.
 

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mdshunk said:
Back to this furnace issue...

I think that it is possible that this is nothing more than an overfilled steam system. It may have been overfilled for many, many years, and will semi-function in that state.

Look for tell tale signs of a steam system like the existance of a sight glass, low water cutoff, and a pressure switch. These old systems were manual fill for the most part. If someone inadvertantly opened the manual fill and left it open, that would explain this current situation. The pump you saw on the 1/2" line would be nothing more than the condensate refill line for the boiler. The stop valves at each radiator would make sense, as this is normal for a steam system.

I say that if this is indeed a flooded steam system, getting the system water level back down to 1/2 full will solve your ills.

The best book on this matter is "The Lost Art of Steam Heating" by Dan Holohan.


That crossed my mind until his second post. If it was an overfilled steam system there is no way the lady on the third floor could be bleeding the rads, steam vents are auto not manual. And first floor would be flooding 24/7 out the vents. I would like to think when the heating co. was there a couple of years ago and installed valves they would'nt have drained a steam system and then refilled it :rolleyes: My guess is the steam to HW conversion was done hoping that it would work with gravity which would explain why he didn't see any circs and the valves were added to throttle the system.

Which raises my question why even convert?? Like BJD said you need pics for this one. But, I like the way you think. :Thumbs:
 

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plumguy said:
Which raises my question why even convert?? Like BJD said you need pics for this one. But, I like the way you think. :Thumbs:
Then the only reasonable conclusion is that this was a poor, poor steam to hydronic conversion. There is, therefore, nothing that needs "fixed". It needs "finished" or put back the way it was.
 

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mdshunk said:
Then the only reasonable conclusion is that this was a poor, poor steam to hydronic conversion. There is, therefore, nothing that needs "fixed". It needs "finished" or put back the way it was.
With the amount of info given, I think you hit the nail on the head!! :Thumbs:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
mdshunk said:
Then the only reasonable conclusion is that this was a poor, poor steam to hydronic conversion. There is, therefore, nothing that needs "fixed". It needs "finished" or put back the way it was.
I thought you were an electrician! I'm in agreement with everyone that it was probably a poorly done conversion and just a few things to add until I get some pics. The feed has a pressure reducer, (12 lbs), not an auto feed like my steam system has. It does have a low water cut off but my thinking is any boiler should probably have that. No eyeglass. Just as a side note my own steam system got flooded years ago and everything leaked. 50 lbs of water pressure vs. 3 lbs steam pressure. The condo looks like it was a 2 pipe system which on my 2 pipe I have 2 in. traps on each radiator which senses when the steam turns to water. They are similar to the t-stat on a car.<P>
The buldozer is still not working. New piston, footvalve, larger draw pipe, changed the pitch on the draw pipe. Pressures up after being primed but just can't keep it. Next is new packing leathers around the piston rod. The design allows for some water to leak to cool and lube the rod but maybe I'm sucking in air there. The thing worked great for 8 years?<P>
By the way md. The the change of pitch on the draw pipe worked great on my jet pump. I actually had that pump in the trash when I read your post. At least can water my lawn with that pump for now. Water is expensive in Colorado.
 

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Lets try not to compare apples to oranges, I think we can say for sure that either at one point or another the system was either some type of steam/and or vapor system.

It sounds like someone attempted to up grade it to a hot water system, so why pull all the excess stuff off, NO ONE DID its what you call wearing a belt with suspenders why not be safe, double.

So ya you are going to have all the aspects of an old steam system, with some added materails.

On the pump is the front shiver valve capped? if not you can get a lot of air from that and never egt a prime.

BJD
 

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wow last time my plumber was over to clean my hot water furnance who i have known for years i said hey you know those old victorian homes in town do any of them have the old steam furnances in them. He said absolutely and there are some other homes that have them to. He says he works on them all the time. I said isn't the way they work is they make steam and it naturally rises up to the registers he said exactly. Here is what i would tell that person. Its time to nuke that system. I mean its not going to be cheap but the amount of money they would save on gas or oil hey you didn't tell us is it gas or oil fired anyway would be tremendous. I would guess what 20,000 dollars to replace with copper baseboard and a hotwater furnance.

Ps MDSHUNK gets two two thumbs up :Thumbs: :Thumbs:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
mdshunk said:
I am, but I like to learn about other stuff too.
I know, I'm 52 years old and trying to get my electrical license. I did five years nights on commercial lighting and had a blast. The best bunch of guys I ever worked with. I need to get my rentals squared away and then I hope to get some different electrical experience and some classes. Today I'm in the middle of trying to evict a convicted armed robber crackhead. That can get your stress levels up.<P>
I know I've been jumping around on this thread and promise not to do it in the future. I'm probably out of the picture on the boiler in Denver because I told my friend she had to pull permits and hire the proper contractors. To me attached dwellings are no place for bootlegging. I also agree with the post who suggested to install a proper system. I always found it interesting that people would pay 20k for appliances but don't want to pull a permit or get a proper contractor.<P>
OK, sorry,back to the bulldozer. Changed the $350 piston. No improvement. Changed the packing around the piston rod, $20, and she's pumping like crazy. I'm running my 4 zones at one time. My problem is now the pressure is all over the place which is clicking the pressure switch on and off. Running 4 zones helps keep the pressue about 40 psi which helps with the on-off. The other changes I made to the system are 1) Changed from 2- 1 inch draw pipes, (2 wells), to 1- 1.5 inch draw. 2) 2 in. foot valve where as before it was 2, 1 in. foot valves. (3 Abondened the draw pipe from the second well which was pitched down tward the pump. The intake on the pump is 1.5 in. and the discharge is 1.25 in. The discharge is reduce to 1 in., (I'm thinking that is where my problem might be). I did some math on the 4 in. piston with the 5 in. stroke at 50 fowards and 50 back strokes per minute and came up with 20 gal per minute. Seems like the 1 in. pipe should carry 20 gal per minute but that I don't know how to calculate that. Anyway I thought I'd throw that out to the world. At least I'm pumping what is in the well but we need some rain bad. Thanks RT.<P>
"So much to learn and so little time"
 

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Is the pump connected to any type of storage tank, if so it may be water logged. If not your pressure switch is going through what I call static shock from the pressure of the piston force, try moving the switch away from the pump area away from the force of the water.

BJD
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yes water logged. I checked the pressure in the tanks empty and they were fine. I kicked the pump on and pulled the pressure relief on the air chamber above the piston. Full of water. Drained everything down and rebooted. It's working really good now. I'm thinking it is probably twice as efficient as it ever was since I've owned it. Thanks for the help. RT. I'm going to move the p-switch also. It is right at the discharge port. :Thumbs:
 
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