A very common problem in new constructions is the installation of radiators in series. This means that the return of one radiator is the supply of the next and the next after that one. This means that the first radiator receives all the hot water, the second one a little bit less, and the 3rd/4th/5th receives very little. We see this along single apartments or through several apartments. The problem is that the first room will be over heated while the next rooms won't have enough heat. We also see TRVs installed on the first radiator. In this case the occupant of the first room will turn the TRV down since they are getting all the heat, which will turn the heat off for the following rooms.
The solution is to convert these radiators from series to parallel. Below is an explanation from Danfoss on how this is done as well as some pictures of our conversions from series to parallel.
Installation of a new slant/fin 100,000 BTU steam boiler for a 3 unit + commercial space in Manhattan. We installed master vents and TRVs along with the new boiler to increase comfort, efficiency, and properly size the boiler. The old boiler was 280,000 BTUs and to our surprise the installed EDR was only 55,000 BTUs for the whole building. The commercial space has so many people and equipment that it typically doesn't even require heat. Luckily for them, the installed TRVs will control the first floor so they no longer over heat.
The old boiler was so oversized that it had severely corroded. It's unlikely it would have survived another winter.
During and After Pictures:
Here is a picture of a Y connection in a building that caused a wild goose chase to figure out why one apartment line had continuing hot water issues. Someone had install these Y connections for their own use, not knowing that this is actually cross connection between cold and hot water lines. Cold water enters hot water line and stops the hot water from going to the apartments.
Maintenance of a heating system is extremely important. This is not just blowing off the dust and making sure the boiler sits pretty. It involves intense cleaning of all important components of your heating system as well as introduction of chemical treatments that increase the longevity of your system.
Boiler components are exposed to the elements and harsh conditions while your system is operating year round. Without proper maintenance these parts can break when they don't have to. Many times a replacement will be recommended for a part that just needs to be cleaned.
Below are pictures of a LWCO of a system that's been operating for only one year. We see this on many boilers.
Prior to calling out your tech for any adjustments to the boiler you should check the following:
- What is the temperature in the room vs what temperature you would like? While the temperature in the room is scientific, the comfort level is subjective. It is important to know the actual temperature in the room to see if there is an issue with the system or you just want it to be warmer.
- Are your radiators open? Very often people shut off their radiators due to some over heating that may have happened a few days ago and completely forget. Then a service tech is called out to check on the system, they don't understand what is going on, the boiler is working, the building has heat, but the apartment is cold.
- Is your window open? Very strange to ask this question but oddly enough, we come out to a lot of service calls where the window was opened and then forgotten. New York apartments very often have poor windows that no longer lock which allows the top of the window to creep open without anyone noticing. This 1 inch gap can be the difference between a comfortable New York winter evening and a miserable one.
- What is the temperature outside? Most heating systems are designed to turn off when the temperature outside goes above 55-56F.
Want to learn more? Check out We Got Steam Heat: A Homeowner's Guide to Peaceful Coexistence.
-- Check out www.heatinghelp.com for great heating Q&A, historical steam stories and explanations. It is a wealth of information from heating professionals across the country.
We often see air vents installed incorrectly on a steam radiator. These radiators can be installed for both steam and hydronic systems and therefore have two available ports. The top one is for a hydronic system bleeder and the bottom one is for a steam system. However, many people don't know this and use the top port for the air vent installation.
This blocks half the radiator from warming up because steam is lighter than air, it travels right up to the air vent and closes it leaving half the radiator without steam.
Below is the heat distribution on a steam radiator with the air vent incorrectly installed on top of the radiator (upper left here).
Completed conversion from electric to hydronic heating system with the installation of a new Viessmann boiler, storage tank, and radiators. The radiators were a combination of Baxi, Runtal, and Governale radiators depending on the style of the room. All radiators were installed with TRVS. Supply and return lines were installed in copper with propress fittings. Below are the pictures from the project.
Below are instructions on how to adjust the Tekmar 279 control to address the building's heating characteristics and complaints.
Condition/complaint: If it is always hot inside building when it is cold or warm outside lower room temperature
Condition/complaint: If at warm weather people are comfortable but at cold weather they are not you need to change the BOILER DESIGN PERCENTAGE.
Condition/complaint: When people are uncomfortable at warm weather outside but comfortable when it is cold then change indoor design temperature.
CHANGE TO HEAT REGULATIONS BEGINNING OCTOBER 1, 2017
Beginning October 1, 2017, pursuant to Local Law 86 of 2017 , the regulations regarding the provision of heat during the nighttime hours have changed. During the Heat Season (October 1 – May 31), property owners must maintain an indoor temperature of 62 degrees. THERE IS NO LONGER A NIGHTTIME OUTDOOR TRIGGER TEMPERATURE. This means that heat needs to be provided as needed to maintain an indoor temperature of 62 degrees. If the inside temperature falls below 62 degrees, tenants may file a complaint about inadequate heat with 311. Please take necessary action to ensure that your heating system will be provide heat according to the law beginning October 1st. Daytime heat must still be provided at a minimum of 68 degrees once it is below 55 degrees outside and hot water must be maintained at 120 degrees.
Homeowners and building owners should be aware of the inspection requirements for their boilers. Here is a link to the Annual Boiler Inspection PDF from the Department of Buildings.
Here are some time lapse videos and pictures of our project on Columbia Street in Brooklyn installing a Viessmann boiler and tank. We will add more as the project progresses.
Here is a very useful pdf regarding the requirements for annual boiler inspections in NYC.
We are continuing our conversion from an electric heating system to a gas hydronic heating system in a brownstone on West 88th Street. To see the boiler portion of this project please check out our blog post - http://www.absolutemechanicalcoinc.com/blog/2016/8/3/jobs-in-progress-west-88th-street.
We installed the boiler while we waited for the utility to bring gas into the building. Once we had gas and a meter we began the installation of the heating system throughout the house. We are removing the existing electric baseboards and installing cast iron radiators. We were able to do this in the winter by making the boiler go live before the heating system installation began. As each radiator was installed, it was turned on. Construction was performed while the apartment was occupied. Below are pictures of the protection of the property which was removed every evening and replaced every morning.
Some of the pipes are capped because we are waiting for the next phase to begin. The next phase is bringing the pipes to the top floor.
We will be updating this post with pictures as the installation progresses.
We are very excited to announce that we have completed our oil to gas conversion for a 39 unit steam building in Manhattan. Details about the building and project are in our "Steam Heating Projects" section of the website - http://www.absolutemechanicalcoinc.com/east-51st-street-steam-boiler/
This project had to occur in phases because the utility required an upgrade of the gas line. Upgrade of gas service is a long process that can take about 6 - 12 months. Depending on the space available, this can extend the project completion even longer because the building can not be left without heat or hot water. Absolute Mechanical works within the space and capacity confines to either install a boiler alongside the old one so we can be ready for a switch over as soon as gas is available.
Phase 1 of an installation of this size is to install TRVs and Master Vents throughout the building. This way the building begins saving on their fuel bills as soon as possible. Phase 2 is to install domestic hot water system. Phase 3 is to install the new boiler. Phase 4 is to connect to the new gas line and turn on the new heating system.
Images below: Viessmann with tanks for domestic hot water and HB Smith boiler for domestic steam heating.
Pipecaster is a great source of information for regulation changes and updates. Recently there have been some modifications to the gas regulations which building owners should be aware of.
Original newsletter at http://www.plumbingfoundation.org/archives/1139. Link for signup below.
NEW LAWS ON GAS SAFETY IN NYC
On November 15, 2016, the New York City Council passed the package of 10 gas-related bills the Foundation supported in the hopes of increasing public safety. The two most important and impactful to the licensed plumbing community are Intro. 1088-A and Intro. 738-A. The Mayor signed the bills into law on December 6th.
Intro. 1088-A will now require the periodic safety inspection of gas piping systems inside buildings by licensed master plumbing firms, exempting R-3 classified occupancies (single-family homes) in New York City, at least every five years. According to Con Edison and National Grid, a universe of over 195,000 buildings will be covered by this law. Passage of 1088-A signals an important shift in the regulatory landscape of the Department of Buildings in New York City towards a “proactive” rather than “reactive” one. It will require a building owner to submit a report to the Department of Buildings that includes the inspection results of a licensed master plumber. The inspection process is:
At each inspection. in addition to the requirements prescribed by this article or by the commissioner. all exposed gas lines from point of entry of gas piping into a building, including building service meters, up to individual tenant spaces shall be inspected for evidence of excessive atmospheric corrosion or piping deterioration that has resulted in a dangerous condition, illegal connections, and non-code compliant installations. The inspection entity shall also test public spaces, hallways, corridors, and mechanical and boiler rooms with a portable combustible gas detector to determine if there is any gas leak, provided that such testing need only include public spaces, hallways and corridors on floors that contain gas piping or gas utilization equipment.
Gas piping systems will now be subject to the same type of regulatory guidelines that boilers, sprinkler systems, facades, and water tanks have all been subject to for years. If this law was in effect a few years ago, the illegal gas work that caused the deadly explosion in March of 2015 in the Lower East Side may have never occurred, as the routine periodic inspection could have detected the tampering of gas.
Throughout the past 18 months, the Foundation’s efforts to communicate the importance of 1088-A’s passage always centered on the need for proactive safety inspections of gas piping systems, which–barring some major problem arising–would have never been inspected for damage, illegal hookups, etc. The tragic explosion in the East Village in 2015 was the direct result of illegal activity–illegal activity that possibly could have been detected if the system had been subject to periodic safety inspection And while explosions are rare, issues with gas piping systems are not.
It was the robust dialogue between New York utilities and plumbing firms, City agencies, and elected officials that resulted in 1088-A’s passage.
Because of these open lines of communication, we can all look forward to a healthier, safer New York City, and we look forward to further dialogue with the same parties as these laws are implemented over the coming years. Effective date January 1, 2019. The Foundation is already working with National Gas Association, Utilities and other parties to provide training in inspection procedures.
Another bill that passed was Intro. 738-A, which requires individuals in the employ of licensed master plumbers to be tested and registered to have the ability to perform gas work. With the passage of 738-A, all gas work performed in New York City must be performed by a licensed master plumber or a person working under the direct and continuing supervision of a licensed master plumber. This qualification requirement will further ensure the public’s safety, as only qualified professionals who have undergone the proper training will be permitted to perform gas work. This requirement will go into effect January 2020.
For further details of Intro. 1088-A or 738-A, please visit the Plumbing Foundation’s website to read both bills in their entirety.
NO GAS SELF-CERT IN MANHATTAN
On November 22nd, the Department of Buildings (DOB) ended the ability for gas test and gas finish to be self-certified in Manhattan by licensed master plumbers, meaning that physical inspections are now required and must be witnessed by a DOB inspector. The Plumbing Foundation applauds this change by the Administration and considers it to be a vital step in combatting illegal gas work and the small amount of licensed gas work that is of an inferior quality. The Department has indicated that this change in policy, requiring physical inspections of all gas tests and gas finishes, should be going citywide sometime in 2017, but no specific date has been issued at this time. The Plumbing Foundation will continue to provide updates on this important change to the inspection process as more information becomes available from DOB.
NEWS FROM DOB ON EWN GAS WORK
DOB issued a service notice, in late November, regarding Gas Emergency Work Notifications (EWN) affecting Manhattan only (see the content of the service notice below).
Also, the Plumbing Foundation has yet to fully review or comment on the update, and are not sure how the EWN process works outside of Manhattan. The Foundation will provide further updates and guidance as we learn more. PLEASE NOTE: We have been informed by DOB that this notice will be amended due to errors.
“This will also apply to all emergency work requiring gas finish inspections in Manhattan. All other emergency work will continue to be accepted as a self-certification in DOB NOW: Inspections.
How to report and File a Gas Emergency Work Notification
A Licensed Master Plumber (LMP) must submit a gas Emergency Work Notification (EWN) to the LAA Unit by emailing DOBEWN@buildings.nyc.gov. The appropriate utility should also be notified per the instructions below. The sender will receive an auto-reply email response from the Department and can commence emergency work. The auto-reply email must be posted at the site until the LAA Unit provides an Emergency Work Issuance Notice.
The EWN email must include:
- Subject Line
- Address of the emergency
- Licensee’s name and license number
- A brief description of the emergency
- The body of the email should note:
- What system is affected
- Description of the emergency condition
- National Grid – EWN submission to the LAA Unit should include firstname.lastname@example.org in the ‘To’ section of the email
- Con Edison – The DOB EWN auto-reply must be uploaded to the Con Edison Project Center
The LAA Unit will provide an Emergency Work Issuance Notice, which includes the EWN number within 24 hours of the next normal business day The Emergency Work Issuance Notice must then be posted at the site.
Subsequent Filing Requirements
An LAA application for a permit must be filed with the Department in accordance with Section 28-105.4.1 after receiving the Emergency Work Issuance Notice but before the expiration date of the notice.
Final Inspection Request in DOB NOW: Inspections
When LMP is ready for a Gas Finish inspection, the Department requires the inspection request be submitted through DOB NOW· Inspections using the LAA application number related to the EWN.
The request for the Gas Finish inspection must include the following to avoid rejections or failed inspections:
- In the comments section, include ‘emergency work gas leak EWN#’
- Upload a scanned copy of the EWN approval from the LAA Unit and a sealed Statement of Emergency Work completed on the licensee’s letter head with a statement that there was a gas test performed by the utility and that the utility has re-energized the gas.
- Email the appropriate borough Plumbing Unit.
Sign-Off Request in DOB NOW: Inspections
After the Department has performed the Gas Finish inspection, the Licensed Master Plumber must submit the sign-off request.
The request for sign-off must include the following to avoid rejections:
- Select the Emergency Work checkbox on the sign-off request form
- Enter the EWN number in the EWN# field.
The LAA will be signed off upon approval by the Plumbing Unit
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Preseason maintenance is extremely important for your heating system. It is the first defense against premature failure. Each year we recommend flushing the boiler, checking and cleaning all devices, adding proper chemicals, etc. Below is a picture of a LWCO. Because of dirty water and sediments it was found non operational. The owners of this building were fortunate to have done proper maintenance in time and prevented dry fire.
More pictures to come.
Brownstoner.com is a fantastic forum for homeowners and contractors to get and give information. Gennady is a frequent commentator for heating related questions. Below is a link to his feed so you can follow his answers.
Below is a youtube video of Gennady setting up the curve for a Viessmann 200.