Converting Steam Heat To Hot Water??? - HVAC - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum


Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > HVAC

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-12-2008, 11:39 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 412
Rewards Points: 254
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


We have single pipe steam radiators, all recessed into the wall. The previous owner abandoned this system for forced hot air. The pipes are large and take up a lot of room in the basement, including a lot of headroom for someone 6'2".

I have thought about re-instating the steam system but can't really figure out if it makes sense. I haven't gotten any quotes yet but I would think the cost to re-instate the steam system would be as expensive than replacing all of the steam radiators with hot water radiators, running new pex to the radiators, take up a lot less room, and can be direct vented. Can you also combined a hot water heater for heat system with your regular hot water heater for showering?

Is there any sense in thinking about keeping the steam setup?

Can anyone give me a very ballpark figure about hooking a new steam boiler up to a single pipe system assuming everything else is OK?

Advertisement


Last edited by pcampbell; 10-12-2008 at 11:43 PM.
pcampbell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 11:44 PM   #2
An old Tradesmen
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: PA
Posts: 26,570
Rewards Points: 4,778
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


I don't think your going to like the cost of new cast iron rads.
They are very expensive.
It is how ever possible to convert steam rads to hot water in many cases.

Hot water heat from cast iron rads is a very comfortable heat.
And yes, you can get your domestic hot water from the same boiler.

Why are you considering converting back to how hot water heat.

Advertisement

beenthere is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 11:49 PM   #3
Member
 
hvaclover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Suburbs of Detroit Mi
Posts: 3,704
Rewards Points: 2,000
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


Something that complicated needs an on site survey. Besides, the prices vary around the country. We have pros from all over. Post your location and see what happens.
__________________
Just slow, not stupid.
hvaclover is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 11:53 PM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 1,186
Rewards Points: 500
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


I did a steam to hot water convert last year. We also put in some radiant floor heating. The boiler wasn't very efficient and we replaced it with 2 gas tankless hot water heaters. They got a lot of room when we removed the boiler and they love the system.
__________________
My idea of a perfect day: No where to go and all day to get there.
Marvin Gardens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 11:57 PM   #5
Member
 
hvaclover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Suburbs of Detroit Mi
Posts: 3,704
Rewards Points: 2,000
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin Gardens View Post
I did a steam to hot water convert last year. We also put in some radiant floor heating. The boiler wasn't very efficient and we replaced it with 2 gas tankless hot water heaters. They got a lot of room when we removed the boiler and they love the system.


Yeah, but did they love the price

Just being a smart arse. I only do warm air so I really have no clue on hydronics.
__________________
Just slow, not stupid.
hvaclover is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2008, 12:22 AM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 1,186
Rewards Points: 500
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


Quote:
Originally Posted by hvaclover View Post
Yeah, but did they love the price

Just being a smart arse. I only do warm air so I really have no clue on hydronics.
The house was 1.4 mill.....don't think they cared. They never asked how much it was going to cost.

I felt like I was working for the government.
__________________
My idea of a perfect day: No where to go and all day to get there.
Marvin Gardens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2008, 08:22 AM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 412
Rewards Points: 254
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


Thanks, I am in NJ not sure why that isn't showing up on my profile thing!

As for reason, I do not like the way the hot air feels that much.

I feel like the radiators should either be removed or be put to use

How could you convert a single pipe system to hot water without changing the radiators anyway?

Maybe there's nothing wrong with the existing radiators, and nothing wrong with the steam heat. I've also just read that the hot air needs a lot more radiator surface area over steam for whatever reason.

Also I would like to get a Direct vented boiler (and was not sure if there's such thing as a DV steam boiler vs hot water?) if possible, eliminating the need for the chimney which, if we remove it, will let us use more space in our tiny house.

My understanding is that there was nothing wrong with the setup, they just switched from oil to gas and put the heat along with the A/C at the same time while they took out the oil steam boiler.

Sounds like I need to get some pros in to check it out...
pcampbell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2008, 08:45 AM   #8
An old Tradesmen
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: PA
Posts: 26,570
Rewards Points: 4,778
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


A heat loss calc should be done. And then th2 rads measured to see if they are large enough to output that much heat using hot water instead of steam.
There is about a 35% loss in BTU output per sq ft of rad surface area when converting from steam to hot water.

If you convert to hot water, you can take advantage of an outdoor reset control, and reduce your heating cost.

A pound of 212F steam contains a lot more heat then a pound of 212F water.



New pipes have to be ran on single pipe systems.
The rad steam vents have to be plugged. And new vents have to be drilled and tapped.

A lot of people don't like hot air blowing on them, or the sudden hot then cold feeling an improperly installed forced hot air system can cause.
beenthere is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2008, 10:17 AM   #9
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 1,186
Rewards Points: 500
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


Quote:
Originally Posted by pcampbell View Post
Thanks, I am in NJ not sure why that isn't showing up on my profile thing!

As for reason, I do not like the way the hot air feels that much.

I feel like the radiators should either be removed or be put to use

How could you convert a single pipe system to hot water without changing the radiators anyway?

Maybe there's nothing wrong with the existing radiators, and nothing wrong with the steam heat. I've also just read that the hot air needs a lot more radiator surface area over steam for whatever reason.

Also I would like to get a Direct vented boiler (and was not sure if there's such thing as a DV steam boiler vs hot water?) if possible, eliminating the need for the chimney which, if we remove it, will let us use more space in our tiny house.

My understanding is that there was nothing wrong with the setup, they just switched from oil to gas and put the heat along with the A/C at the same time while they took out the oil steam boiler.

Sounds like I need to get some pros in to check it out...
The reason that water radiators need more fins than steam radiators is simple. Steam is over 220 degrees and water is only 140 or so. Hotter radiators put out more BTU's.

If you have gas go with a tankless for the radiators. It can be wall mounted and vented outside or even mounted outside.

I agree there is nothing like radiant heat. I just seems to warm up everything and if you get cold go and stand by the radiator.
__________________
My idea of a perfect day: No where to go and all day to get there.
Marvin Gardens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-15-2008, 05:36 PM   #10
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 412
Rewards Points: 254
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


I am just so curious why contractors come in and think everyone is totally clueless. Maybe I act a little clueless because I want to see how they treat people.

I had a guy come in today to give me a quote on putting a boiler back in... and wanted to tell me I need a new gas line to the boiler, from the meter to the tune of $700. There is a 3/4" pipe and I'm curious what diameter he thinks you need to run for a 75,000 BTU boiler, but I didn't bother asking. At that point I was done with him.

Last edited by pcampbell; 10-15-2008 at 05:42 PM.
pcampbell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-15-2008, 05:51 PM   #11
An old Tradesmen
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: PA
Posts: 26,570
Rewards Points: 4,778
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin Gardens View Post
The reason that water radiators need more fins than steam radiators is simple. Steam is over 220 degrees
On resi systems:
Steam is only over 220F on systems with undersized pipes, or bad vents/traps.
beenthere is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2008, 09:15 AM   #12
Newbie
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2
Rewards Points: 10
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


Hi, I'm a single mom in NJ with 4 kids to keep warm, and no HVAC expertise - any help would be greatly appreciated!

I currently have an oil-fired steam furnace and radiator system that is rapidly declining. I've gotten estimates to replace my oil furnace with a similar oil-fired furnace steam system (a Burnham high efficiency unit) for $6,600 - is that a decent price?

I also have gas coming into my house for my water heater. I've thought of converting to gas, but have been told that gas systems can't heat steam as effectively as oil. Is that true?

I've also considered converting from oil-fired steam heat, to gas-fired hot water system - but don't know if that would require me to replace all my 90 year old radiators. Can you run hot water through radiators? Would I have to replace piping to do so? Would this cost me more than the $6,600 for the new oil-furnace?

Thanks everyone!
j4galmom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2008, 09:35 AM   #13
An old Tradesmen
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: PA
Posts: 26,570
Rewards Points: 4,778
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


Converting to hot water can cost more to do.

Depends on the condition of the pipes, you may need a lot of pipe alterations to convert.

Plus, not all steam rads can be converted to hot water.
So yes, it could cost more.

Gas can make steam just as efficiently as oil. Who ever told you it can't, is either feeding you a line of BS, or doesnt know much about gas.

Gas could prove much more economical for you to use.
Plus, with gas, you pay for what you did use, not for what you will use.

As far as price.

It can vary greatly from one area to the next.
Proper steam boiler piping takes time.
The new boiler will most likely have more controls/safeties then your old one has, code requires additional ones that were not required when your old boiler was installed.
beenthere is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2008, 12:28 PM   #14
Newbie
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2
Rewards Points: 10
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


Thanks "Been There" - I had a feeling that the oil company trying to sell me the new oil furnace might be snowing me with their "gas doesn't heat a furnace as well as oil" pitch.

I'm going to stick with the steam heat. I simply can't afford a conversion right now, and given that my radiators are 90 yrs. old I doubt they'll handle hot water.

I am going to check out the gas option, since it is already running into my house, and I hate having an oil tank in my basement!

Again - thanks for the help!
j4galmom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2008, 01:29 PM   #15
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 412
Rewards Points: 254
Default

Converting steam heat to hot water???


from NJ - if you are using PSE&G or anyone, price per therm is somewhere around $1.50 - the cost of Oil is about 50% per BTU last time I checked.

Advertisement


Last edited by pcampbell; 10-16-2008 at 01:36 PM.
pcampbell is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Hot water boiler furnace-insufficient heat Nashman HVAC 2 11-06-2011 07:15 PM
Hot Water in Cold Water Lines ??? Superbuuck Plumbing 14 08-29-2011 01:21 PM
Filling a Cast Iron radiator system insulatorpro HVAC 7 10-07-2008 12:31 AM
Steam Heat Pipe Size? helpless handyman HVAC 5 11-25-2007 09:10 PM
Hot Water Baseboard Heat danthemandan HVAC 1 03-19-2007 10:27 AM




Top of Page | View New Posts