Top Navigation  
 
U.S. Flag waving
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418
 
Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
 
 
Backwoods Home Magazine, self-reliance, homesteading, off-grid

Features
 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues
 Print Display Ads
 Print Classifieds
 Newsletter
 Letters
 Humor
 Free Stuff
 Recipes
 Home Energy

General Store
 Ordering Info
 Subscriptions
 Kindle Subscriptions
 ePublications
 Anthologies
 Books
 Back Issues
 Help Yourself
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

Advertise
 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

BHM Blogs
 Ask Jackie Clay
 Massad Ayoob
 Claire Wolfe
 Where We Live
 Dave on Twitter
Retired Blogs
 Behind The Scenes
 Oliver Del Signore
 David Lee
 Energy Questions
 Bramblestitches

Quick Links
 Home Energy Info
 Jackie Clay
 Ask Jackie Online
 Dave Duffy
 Massad Ayoob
 John Silveira
 Claire Wolfe

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Enter Forum
 Lost Password

More Features
 Meet The Staff
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address
 Write For BHM
 Disclaimer and
 Privacy Policy


Retired Features
 Country Moments
 Links
 Feedback
 Radio Show


Link to BHM

Get Powered Up! Certified Energy Manager Jeff Yago answers your alternative energy questions

Wondering about a great new energy-saving device
you found on the Internet? Then CLICK HERE!

Sorry. Jeff no longer answers questions online.
This will remain as a searchable
resource for all BHM website visitors.



Archive for the ‘Radiators’ Category

 

Home heating strategy – replace steam system?

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Dear Jeff,

We live in Massachusetts in a house built in 1927 that has an aging oil-fired steam boiler and single-pipe radiators. It’s getting more difficult to find replacement radiators and folks who know how to maintain these systems. We hear we’re going to be dinosaurs soon.

What kind of heating system(s) should we investigate as a potential replacement for our steam heating system? We’d like to minimize the cost (we know it will be expensive, whatever we do). By the way, we’re in a rural area that has no natural gas service, although it’s possible to get propane deliveries (as well as oil, of course).

Ours is probably not the ideal property for solar (and we don’t live in the ideal part of the country, either). Some folks in town have tried getting permission for wind turbines, but there are significant restrictions (our property doesn’t meet the requirements). One of our neighbors has installed a geothermal forced hot air system that runs off a standing column well (consumes electricity but no fossil fuels); it seems to be working well for them, but they already had a forced hot air system and even so it was a huge initial capital outlay.

Thanks for your advice!

Melissa Webster

Melissa:

I am sure you already know, the problem is not what kind of heating system you install, its that old construction with limited or no wall insulation and minimum ceiling/roof insulation.

Any money you spend now to add more insulation and re-caulk to reduce air infiltration will make any system you install much more cost effective. If you like the old steam radiators, there are ways to convert these over to hot water heating by adding new supply and return piping, or you could just replace them with new hot water baseboard radiation. You will see a major savings regardless of fuel just by switching out that old steam boiler operating at about 60% efficiency, with a new high efficiency hot water boiler available with efficiencies up to 94%.

Unless you do a major renovation to greatly reduce the heat loss of any old home, I think you will find it almost impossible to heat using a heat pump, even geo-thermal. If this is the case and propane or natural gas is not an option, stay with the oil, but replace all the steam piping with a zoned copper supply and return pumped hot water system.

Finally, you did not say, but I assume you also use a wood stove on really cold days. If not, that would be my first purchase.

Good Luck!

Jeff Yago

 

Cast iron/copper pipe conversion

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Hi Jeff,

I’m remodeling my basement and the over head cast iron heat pipes that supply heat to the radiators are positioned low and a bit from the walls. A plumber suggested replacing them with copper pipe and lifting them closer to the ceiling and walls where they can be enclosed in a soffit. My question is will a smaller copper pipe reduce the efficiency of heat supplied by the radiators throughout the house? The current cast iron pipes are about 3.5 inches wide.

Thank you,

John

John:

Many of these older heating systems used very large size cast iron pipe because they did not have any hot water pumps to circulate the hot water and they operated at very low or no pressure. The large piping provided a kind of thermo-siphon effect which allowed hot water to rise and cold water to return without a pump. In this case, the large pipe size was not due to a high water flow rate. If your new system now has a circulating pump, you will not need large piping since the higher flow rates and system pressure to remove air can transfer much more heat per hour.

A 1-1/2″ copper pipe has a flow rate of over 20 gallons of hot water per minute with a nominal pressure drop, which is probably more than your pump can pump. A 1″ copper pipe can flow 9 gallons per minute. Except for the main headers, I would bet most of your piping run-outs to radiators are only 3/4″, but this size pipe can still flow 5 GPM in each leg which will add up to the main header flow rate. Remember, a smaller pipe costs less to insulate.

Hope this helps,

Jeff Yago

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
Copyright © 1998 - Present by Backwoods Home Magazine. All Rights Reserved.