A steam heating system takes advantage of the high latent heat which is given off when steam condenses to liquid water. In a steam heating system, each room is equipped with a radiator which is connected to a source of low-pressure steam (a boiler). Steam entering the radiator condenses and gives up its latent heat, returning to liquid water. The radiator in turn heats the air of the room and provides some direct radiant heat. The condensate water returns to the boiler either by gravity or with the assistance of a pump. Some systems use only a single pipe and others use two pipes for combined steam and condensate return. Since trapped air prevents proper circulation, such systems have steam vent to allow air to be purged. In domestic and small commercial buildings, the steam is generated at relatively low pressure, less than 1 psi.
Steam heating systems are rarely installed in new single-family residential construction owing to the high cost of the piping installation and high cost of cast-iron radiators. Pipes must be carefully sloped to prevent trapped condensate blockage. Compared to other methods of heating, it is more difficult to control the output of a steam system.
What moves the steam?
It moves itself! No pumps needed. Steam is lighter than air. It rises straight up and enters a radiator thru the system main supply piping.
Your steam boiler has at least two devices designed to be looked at. The first and most important is the gauge glass. This gauge glass will be on the side of the boiler. It is a glass tube about ⅝” in diameter and about 8-10” high. A good rule of thumb is to see the water level about halfway up the gauge glass. A completely full gauge glass or an empty gauge glass indicates a problem, and you should speak with service department.
Most low-pressure steam boilers operate in the range of 0.5 PSI to 1. PSI (a half a pound to a pound. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see the needle on the gauge move much. If they needle is up in the 2-5 pump area, you should call our service company service.
Proper steam boiler maintenance is very important. The low water cut-offs monitor water level in steam boilers as well as hot water boilers. For safety, they are wired into the burner. If the water content inside the boiler drops below a pre-determined safe level the low water cut-off will not allow the oil burner to fire. If a burner were to fire into a boiler with insufficient water the extreme heat would crack the cast iron sections. At that point, the boiler would leak and require replacement. If your boiler is equipped with a #67 low water cut-off be sure to drain and flush it every 7-10 days during the heating season or damage may occur to the boiler.
New steam boiler installations introduce chemicals, such as cutting oils, into the steam system. Mud and dirt build up in the system piping for years and often breaks loose during removal of the old boiler and installation of the new boiler. This often leads to foaming (priming) and surging of the boiler water. Surging and priming lead to low water cut-off shutting off the boiler and can also lead to boiler failure. Clean water is required to prevent this. Therefore new steam boiler installations require cleaning, this cleaning may require multiple return visits to the job.
A clean system and clean water are the goals. Even when you clean the boiler water in a new replacement boiler after operation scale, dirt and oils present in the system piping will be flushed back to the boiler.
At JC Heating & Cooling, we offer service repairs and a complete line of steam boilers replacements in variable sizes and heating capacities.
Common Steam Problems
Steam Boilers Installation Replacement Quotes are Always Free.
We service all Major Brands, Makes & Models of Gas & Oil Steam Boilers
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