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Hydronic heat quiz

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Eric Johnson, Feb 12, 2006.

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  1. zogboy

    zogboy New Member

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    Eric, I have looked at the trams they are nice and very spendy for me.
    I do weld so I would be interested in the marathon. Where is it located?
    I am in Weedsport home of the Warriors class D football Champs!
    When I moved in this house the old coal fired Peninsular beast was still in the basement. Someone had installed an oil gun in place of the ash doors; they used refractory cement to make a plate to attach it to.

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  2. zogboy

    zogboy New Member

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    Eric; could I put the Marathon boiler in a bump out on the back of my house with a metalbestos chimney?
    I can build a masonary stack if that is what it takes.
    It would be nice to keep the wood and coal out of my living space and cut my heating bill to a level that lets the wife and I support our habits.
    You know the ones I talking about , eating and staying dry and warm. ;)

    John
  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Yes, the Marathon is an indoor boiler, but you could put it into an insulated outbuilding or addition and hook it up to any Class A chimney. The exhaust is 7." The leaky one I'm talking about is up in Old Forge. Sitting in the guy's basement. I doubt it's going anywhere. If you happen to get up to that neck of the woods let me know and I'll arrange to have you take a look. It's basically just the pressure vessel--needs doors, draft control, gauge & PR valve & grates, but they are all available from the mfgr. It's set up for wood grates, but I think you can retrofit coal grates, also available from Marathon.
  4. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    I always found it interesting the first generation of steam radiators had just 1 pipe. The steam would flow up that pipe to the radiator, cool, condense into water, and then return down the same pipe to be reheated. Pretty neat, no pumps or fans required, but each radiator had to be hooked up independantly. Those single pipe steam radiators are NOT forced hot water compatible without some major work. The other is the two-pipe steam systems, which obviously has steam come into the radiator at one end, and condensate on the other. The two-pipe radiators ARE easy to make forced hot water compatible. Because the retro look is in and people can easily use the two-pipe radiators in their current FHW setup, they're hard to find in radiator shops and getting top dollar.

    If you're out and about, keep an eye out for the rarest of them all. The very rare "low profile" two-pipe radiators that were made to slip under a window. If they're ornate in particular, now you're talking. The gem, being a pair of them. The low-profiles were rare then, the ornate low profiles even rarer, the low-profile ornate two-pipe rarer than that, and a matching pair of them to fit in some rich persons house who likes vogue you've got yourself the prize. Most houses trying to retrofit, with pipes running around outside walls, the only place one can put a radaitor if they want one, is under a window and the fact they were rare then, and almost impossible to find now will get you top dollar.
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Look at the pic at the beginning of this thread, Rhonemas. That's a one-pipe steam radiator that is kicking out the btus on my hot water system as we speak.

    There's a place over near Boston (Somerset MA) that sells restored old rads of all kinds. Some really weird looking units on their website. It's A-1 Plumbing Supply or some such. You ought to be able to google it. Bet they get top dollar for those radiators. Bet they wouldn't give me more than $10 for mine.
  6. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    I'm assuming by the picture you tapped into the left side and installed plumbing to create a return so it now has a feed & return?

    Nice job.
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Yes, thanks. It's a USA Corp. radiator, I believe, built before 1880. When I got it it had a steam vent and one side piped. The other side had a 2" plug. I soaked it with Liquid Wrench, rapped on it pretty good with a hammer, let it sit for a couple of hours and came back with my big wrench prepared to do battle. I bent down and unscrewed it by hand. Must not have been screwed in very well. I was prepared to resort to a drill, a Sawzall, hacksaw blade and a cold chisel. That's the way to go on those old plugs if you're careful.

    It kicks out some heat.
  8. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    Eric, rock and roll. Nice looking radiator, well done. Zogboy, thanks for the advice. I'll have to re think the refit.

    I have to get a boiler. This is an eventually thing. Trying to decide between a wood/coal fired, or a corn/biomass. Not sure.

    No hurry, years to go before I have the money for it.
  9. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Wood is the only fuel on your list that you have a prayer of getting for free.
  10. lime4x4

    lime4x4 Member

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    Hey eric how many cast iron hot water radiators u want??? I have 4 of them left yet...lol

    Attached Files:

  11. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Eric old mechanic trick PB Blast the best at loostening frozen bolts
  12. Jay Shank

    Jay Shank New Member

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    I just 2 questions..
    how and how my poeple did it take to the that.. And did you do the paint? Looks nice:)
  13. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Just me, as usual, hawkeye. The guy I bought it from was supposed to help me get it out of his garage and into the bed of my truck, but he was conveniently not around when I showed up. His wife and three kids didn't look like they would be much help. Just a matter of prying it up a couple of planks onto the tailgate with a 2x4. Once I got it home I just reversed the process, ground off the old paint and rust, put a coat of primer and a couple coats of Rustoleum and that was about it. If you set the feet on an old throw rug or terry cloth towel, you can slide radiators across just about any tile or wood floor. The biggest problem I had was the painting, because my garage was below 50 degrees, so I painted it and then quick pulled it into the house to dry.

    Thanks for the penetrating oil tip, elk. I'll make a note of that. I'm always worried about cracking the casting when trying to extract old plugs and piping from old radiators, so I'm more inclined to drill, cut and chisel if there's any doubt.
  14. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    hey eric got a question

    i know you filled the rad before install and you said you didn't have any monoflow tee's in the install, but what happens if you have to drain the system i know you can shut off the valves and keep the water in the rad but what about the pipe that leads to the rad? what happens to the air that is in that pipe? as soon as the air bubble hits that rad it should go up into the first if not the next tube. is that right or do i have my facts wrong? would it be a good idea to install a bleeder valve on the 90 of the supply side before the valve that shuts off the rad?

    if we are talking about the same place i think A1 plumbing is in somerville mass.
    the guy has everything.
  15. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The shut-offs are gate valves with bleeders (they're called waste drains) built into the valve. You have to be sure you solder them in the right way, so that you can bleed the piping from the system up to the closed valve. I also put unions into the line ahead of the valves in case I have to take it out and vent it again. So yeah, once the rad is full of water and isolated, just fill the system up to the bleeders, close them up and open the valves. I could isolate the rad, drain the entire system and refill it without having to mess around with the radiator. That's the theory, anyway.
  16. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    you thought of everything eric. nice paint job. i've always seen white or silver but black looks way better. i always wondered why radiators were not black to begin with the color makes them give off their heat better.(like a car radiator) now you have to find a old timer that use to plumb in the gravity water systems and you won't need pumps :)
  17. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Thanks, fbelec. I think the black looks pretty sharp, too.

    Ohhhhhh---I could do that, too. My old house had a totally gravity fed wood/oil boiler and heating system. It's the one I was telling zogboy about. Up in Old Forge, NY, the power goes out on a regular basis. No problemo--just throw a few more chunks on the fire and go to bed. That's the way the system was designed back in 1910--to work with coal. You need large diameter pipe and cast iron radiators for it to work well.

    I could do it in my current house if the wood-fired boiler was in the basement instead of out in the barn. But when the power goes out, I can't pump water to the heat exchanger in the basement. Maybe when I save up enough nickles to buy that Tarm gassifier.....
  18. zogboy

    zogboy New Member

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    Eric,
    I emailed Marathon; they will have displays set up ay the NYS Fairgrounds Ag building in a few weeks at a home show. The sales guy said he would have 4 or 5 models there. He told me the coal could be loaded to burn for a day at a time and the wood nned to be attended to 2 and 3 times a day.cc
    It will be a great chance to see just what they got and the get their specs.
    I don't know how many other vendors will be there, if I find out I will let you know.
  19. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Have fun at the show, zog. Tell the Marathon guys I said hi. The leaky pressure vessel I was telling you about is the 70,000 btu/hr (wood) unit with the oil backup option. A good boiler, IMO.

    If you haven't checked out their website, I think most of the basic specs are listed. They should probably update the site, lol, it's still pimping the Y2K fiasco.
  20. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    eric what does one of those tarms go for?
  21. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    They sent me a pdf pricelist, but I think it's on my other computer, if I saved it at all. If I can find it I'll send it to you. If not, you can email tarmusa.com and they'll send you one.

    Basically as I recall, they range from about $4,000 to $10,000, delivered. The cheaper ones are old tech, I think, but perfectly good boilers. The thing that put me off was not the pricing, necessarily, but the recommendation that you add water storage, to the tune of about $3,500. There are some real advantages to water storage (flexibility and efficiency), but the things should work just fine without it, too.

    I'm looking forward to hearing what zogboy thinks about the Mararthon. When I bought mine I thought it was a Tarm knock-off, but that's not really fair, considering that there's nothing fancy about the technology, and Marathon has some interesting innovations. The Marathon is designed to run hot to achieve secondary combustion and cut creosote and emissions. I tried to keep mine between 190 and 220.
  22. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    The tarm guys want you to buy a big water tank that is super insulated with several copper coils in it. There are several groups of people, including design students, who have built these for a LOT less money. Essentially, a 500 gallon tank has a copper coil from wood/pellet/corn furnace coming in one side at bottom. Hot water in, coils around 50 times or so, heats water in tank, goes out cooler, goes back to furnace to heat up.

    2nd coil on top, is before intake on pump for radiators/backup oil furnace, whatever. in comes cool water from well or return line, coils 50 times or so in tank, heats up, goes out hot enough that oil furnace (picking fuel at random) doesn't turn on, sensing that water is already hot enough.

    Third coil is for smart people. It is in case water in tank gets a little Too hot. goes out to ground and coils a few times there to heat up dirt that normally stays at 55 degrees or so. Its a just in case. a few thermocouples and small circulator pumps, and its done.

    Alex, I'll take weird tanks in the basement for $500.
  23. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I've been thinking about what it would take to build one of these, but you get into issues relating to closed loop, pressurized systems vs. a heat exchanger arrangement as josh described so well in the previous post. Heat exchange coils suggest to me that it's an open system, which means more expensive circulators, piping, water treatment, etc.

    I think it would be easier in the end to use a pressurized, insulated tank from which you drew water to the various zones as needed. I'm thinking maybe two or three big-ass (say 250-gallon) water heaters, all piped together. I thought about fuel oil tanks, but I'm not sure they're rated for pressure and would require some serious insulation. Water heaters, on the other hand, are built to withstand much higher pressure, are tapped for conventional hvac piping, PRVs, etc.

    I don't even know if anyone makes a 250-gallon water heater, but that would be the ticket.

    In one thread Craig suggested adding a mixing valve to a wood-boiler system, essentially using the water in your radiant heat system as storage. That would probably work pretty well for someone like me who has an old house with lots (like 15) big, cast iron radiators. A reverse circulation scheme like that with continual circulation would probably work really well. If you've got baseboards, on the other hand, then mabe some sort of storage tank makes sense. But not $3,500 worth of sense, IMO. The boiler should work just fine all by itself. At least the ones I've owned always have.
  24. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    Eric, questions. Sorry, this is a topic that fascinates me at present. Hope you don't mind.

    Ok, first. The rationale behind the heat storage tanks, as I understand it, is similar to the idea of a masonary heater. Basically, during the winter, you're running your wood stove/furnace anyway, and the tanks give you leeway for when you need to clean out the ash, or if the furnace overnight burn runs a little short. During the spring/summer/fall, the furnace can be run hot and hard for a few hours, and the tank can store enough heat to run domestic hot water (DHW) for a few days, lowering the need to run an oil/gas/propane/fossil fuel furnace just for DHW, and to reduce the need to have your wood/pellet/renewable fuel furnace burn for more than a few hours every few days.

    Sorry, just want to make sure we're all on the same page.

    Eric,

    So the system you are thinking about in the above post would be some big water heater tanks, piped together to effectively make one BIG tank, with PRV's, correct piping, etc. This tank (for convenience sake, I'll call this a single tank), would have a pipe coil in the wood furnace to heat the water, then be piped directly to the radiators/baseboards, whatever you use for heat. Right? How does DHW get heated? Is that a heat exchanger in the tank, or a second pipe coil in the furnace?

    Joshua
  25. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Yes, I understand the rationale behind the storage tank. I just think it's a lot of money to pay for convenience.

    What I envision has nothing to do with coils or heat exchangers. You just pipe the boiler directly into the storage tank(s). A circulator sends water between the tank and the boiler. It would be like having a boiler with a 500-gallon water jacket. You might need a coil for your DHW. Currently, I have a sidearm heat exchanger connecting my hot water heater and boiler. Return water is routed through the heat exchanger on its way back to the boiler, and gravity circulates DHW between it and the hot water heater. I can explain that better if you don't understand what I'm suggesting.
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