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#4616899 - 12/28/17 04:15 PM Radiator Heat
Finz Offline


Registered: 06/06/13
Posts: 692
Loc: Northern NJ
Quick question: My son and a buddy are moving into a rental house this weekend and he did a walk-thru this evening

Landlady is a recent widow and not 100% familiar with everything... she was explaining to my son about the heat and a glass water tube that indicates whether or not water needs to added ...?

I may be way off base on this and I wasnít there, but doesnít anyone have any familiarity with radiator heat and what this glass tube is all about?

Thank you
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#4616911 - 12/28/17 04:24 PM Re: Radiator Heat [Re: Finz]
mk378 Offline


Registered: 09/27/15
Posts: 1421
Loc: USA
That would be a steam boiler. It is probably very old since they are seldom installed any more. The tube is a sight glass that shows the level of water in the boiler. Usually there is an automatic control to add water, and another control that will shut down the burner if the water level is too low. It should need water only very occasionally unless there is a leak.


Edited by mk378 (12/28/17 04:25 PM)

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#4616915 - 12/28/17 04:29 PM Re: Radiator Heat [Re: Finz]
Wolf359 Online   content


Registered: 04/27/12
Posts: 4774
Loc: MA
That sounds like a steam boiler which has a sight glass for water. I still have several of those. The newer ones have automatic water feeders like the Hydrolevel VXT. You can retrofit them to older boilers but it typically requires an electronic low water cutoff and some of those older boilers just have an older Mcdonnell Miller 67 which won't work with the newer water feeders. Probably costs a minimum of $500-$1000 to retrofit an old boiler.

Anyway, yes, you fill the water up close to the top of the sight glass. Don't go over because the pipes will bang if there's too much water and you're paying to heat that water. The low water cut off shuts off the water once it gets too low so then you'll have no heat. Normally you want to add water slowly so you don't crack the boiler by adding cold water to a hot boiler. Steam shouldn't be coming out of the steam vents, if they do, you need to get them replaced as that will cause you to have to add water more frequently. Normally you have to add water every 2-3 weeks.

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#4616940 - 12/28/17 04:59 PM Re: Radiator Heat [Re: Finz]
mk378 Offline


Registered: 09/27/15
Posts: 1421
Loc: USA
Also with any gas or oil heating system make sure to keep a working CO detector in the house.

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#4617134 - 12/28/17 08:22 PM Re: Radiator Heat [Re: Finz]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 41805
Loc: New Jersey
Yes that's a steam boiler. The best kind of heat there is, imo!

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#4617198 - 12/28/17 09:12 PM Re: Radiator Heat [Re: Finz]
Finz Offline


Registered: 06/06/13
Posts: 692
Loc: Northern NJ
Thanks all,,, Iíve always heard thatís the best heat there is but never saw the guts of one before.

Ran over there and itís a nice place... site glas is right there in plain view but dirty. Flushed out some water and refilled but still dirty and I didn t want to mess with it. Heats the place up well. I imagine once we get a cold snap where the boiler will be running for a stretch, that will be one very toasty basement

Again, thanks for the input
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God Bless America... We really need it about now

06 Odyssey
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11 Civic 1.8 sedan
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#4617230 - 12/28/17 09:33 PM Re: Radiator Heat [Re: Finz]
Wolf359 Online   content


Registered: 04/27/12
Posts: 4774
Loc: MA
Steam is an old system. AFUE isn't really that high, maybe about 82%. A hot water direct vent boiler can go up to 96% efficient. Basically steam boilers have to heat water up to 240 degrees to get steam, hot water is more in the 160-180 range so you spend less energy heating up water. They can also bang if the radiators aren't pitched right. Single pipe systems mean that you can't easily convert it to hot water. Some like them because you get some humidity with it from the steam, but the steam vents are supposed to close when the steam hits and just let out air.

Anyway, for the boiler, there's a blow down valve on the Mcdonnell millers low water cutoff, you let out the dirty water every time you add water. You want to do that on a regular basis otherwise if the low water cut off gets filled up with silt, the float will stop working and your boiler will basically overheat and crack the boiler. One of the dangers of a steam boiler, they don't last as long as hot water boilers. You can actually disassemble the hardware around the sight glass and clean the glass inside. Blowing it down won't clean it once it's dirty like that.

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#4617944 - 12/29/17 04:39 PM Re: Radiator Heat [Re: Wolf359]
Finz Offline


Registered: 06/06/13
Posts: 692
Loc: Northern NJ
Very informative Wolf...! Thank you. Iíll take a look at some point this weekend

Thanks again
_________________________
God Bless America... We really need it about now

06 Odyssey
06 Civic coupe
05 Accord 2.4 sedan
11 Civic 1.8 sedan
18 Civic 1.5l Turbo sedan

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