Discover What Premium Quality Workmanship Means
Every Boiler We Install Is Crafted With The Same High Standards. No Short Cuts Are Ever Taken.
Our goals are simple. Install every boiler so that:
The system is as safe as we can make it
The system runs at maximum efficiency
The system is simple to service & maintain
The system remains in service for many decades
Over-Sized Dropped Headers
One of the most important aspects of a steam system's efficiency is the quality of its steam. By quality we mean moisture content. Wet steam is very inefficient. The process of ringing that moisture out of the steam takes place with modern boilers in the near-boiler header piping. Four aspects are critical: First we must have sufficient height in the risers to allow some of the moisture to drop out. We strive for 30" on every install. Second, dual risers out of the boiler are always used. This slows the velocity of the exiting steam, making it that much less likely that it will pull moisture along with it. Thirdly we install oversized header piping which additionally slows down the velocity of the steam. Standard threading equipment at most companies stops at 2" diameter pipe, which is inadequate for all but the smallest boilers, -but is the reason why it is so often utilized. At NES we have the proper equipment to make the header whatever size your system requires. Lastly we always utilize dropped headers, which serve to wring the last of the moisture out of the steam before it travels into the system. NES = Highest Quality Steam.
Massive Main Venting
Second on the list of important efficiency improvements is your system's main venting. We never install a boiler without addressing this critical issue, but it is normally an after thought by others. Stated simply, the steam can't get to your radiators and begin to heat your home until the air is first vented out of the steam mains. So without proper venting your boiler is running and consuming energy, but not yet heating your home because the air is blocking the steam. That's very wasteful. At NES we calculate the volume of your steam mains, as well as time the progress of your steam, to select the proper amount of venting in order to be certain your mains are vented as quickly as physics will allow. We only use Barnes & Jones Big Mouth vents, which are the best and biggest in the industry. We mount them as high up as practical to keep them out of harms way, and we include a strainer when possible to further protect your investment.
Steam Pipe Insulation
The old steam men would never have dreamed of leaving their steam piping uninsulated. Why, that would have been just plain foolish. Why spend good money to make steam, only to have it condense and die in the basement piping? Didn't make sense then, and it certainly doesn't make sense today. It is a most definite fact that steam pipes need to be insulated to achieve their highest efficiency potential, and it is also a fact that many steam systems won't even run effectively without it. It's that important. Rest assured, we include an estimate for insulation work with every steam boiler we quote. We don't just install boilers, we take a holistic approach to your entire system.
Steam pressure in a properly installed and balanced system, while very important, shouldn't be much of a big deal. But now-a-days, with all the alterations most steam systems have suffered through, it can be a very big deal. Which is why we offer a Vaporstat with every boiler. Your boiler comes standard with a Pressuretrol, a safety device used to limit the system pressure, and the Vaporstat is just a more finely tuned version of that. It let's us keep the pressure where we want it, as well as adding redundancy to a very important safety device. I know it doesn't sound intuitive, but the lower the steam pressure the faster the steam moves and the more efficient it operates (within limits, of course). Thus our normal goal is for very low pressure. The Vaporstat is often times a big help in achieving that goal.
Low Pressure Gauge
Knowledge, as they say, is power. And very low steam pressure is the goal. So it stands to reason that we need a way to see how we are doing. Your steam boiler is designed to function at up to 15 lbs of pressure. Above that very bad things happen. But in reality, we never want to get anywhere near 15 lbs. None-the-less, at some point in history some nameless bureaucrat decreed that steam boilers shall come standard with a pressure gauge that reads from 0-30lbs. And so they do. And considering that we want to be running on ounces of pressure, -they are utterly useless. So with every installation an additional 0-3 lb steam gauge is offered, complete with a snubber to dampen the dial movement. You see, we even focus on the tiny things to make sure every job is perfect.
Hartford Loop Wye
The condensate returns connect to the boiler via the Hartford Loop. This is an important piping safety arrangement to make sure that should a leak develop in any of the system's wet returns that it could not drain the boiler and cause it to fire dry (which makes for a very big boom). How this connection is made is critical. It must be kept very short to avoid banging and water hammer. Most manuals call for a close nipple to be used to make the connection. At NES we always go one better and use a wye connection. It's a bit more money and a bit harder to source, but it's the right way to do it.
Wet Return Drains
If you've ever had to blow down your steam boiler (and I am sure you have), you know how nasty that boiler water can get. That's what happens to water in an iron system that is open to the atmosphere. So just imagine all the gunk that accumulates over the years in all of your returns that are below the waterline. Eventually they will fill up with sediment and prevent the condensate from returning to the boiler and now we have a big problem. The simple solution is to flush out those wet returns annually and all will be well. Accept that in most cases you can't. Because boiler drains were never installed on the elbows to allow the flushing to take place. Rest assured, we install drains at every 90 degree elbow we install below the waterline. That's premium workmanship.
Not only do we have to flush out those wet returns, but we also need to flush out the boiler annually as well. It'll have just as much gunk in it, and it's no good leaving it there. But this isn't done either because once again there's no way to do it. Just filling and draining the boiler with the normal water fill hasn't got enough pressure to entice that gunk to leave. And that's why we install King Valves on all of the steam supplies and returns. Now come maintenance time we can close all the valves, fire the boiler, and build up some real pressure. Then we just hook up a hose to a drain, open the drain, and viola! -that gunk is moving like you-know-what through a goose. Of course, if you wait 10 years to have us out to do the maintenance this might not work so well, but if you call us every year it works like a charm. So call already. That's why we put the valves there.
Are you sensing a theme here? Gunk. Steam systems don't have many maintenance problems, which is what is so nice about them. But we must be ever vigilant about gunk. The other place gunk shows up and causes problems is in the little 1/4" pipe connecting the Pressuretrol. Remember that pressuretrol is a safety device and if it senses that the pressure is too high it dutifully shuts down the boiler. If gunk gets in that little pipe, as it is want to do, it will fool the Pressuretrol into thinking the pressure is too high and (sigh), in the middle of February when it's -20 your boiler will take a nap. Now in theory it would be pretty simple to just unscrew the pressuretrol and stick a pipe cleaner in there and get back to heating again. Except that you can't, because before you can unscrew the Pressuretrol you have to unwire eveything first. Things just went from simple to complicated. To avoid this we offer on all our Pressuretrols and Vaporstats custom "trees". No unwiring required to clean out the piping. We also increase the pipe diameter so a clog is less likely in the first place. See? We are always thinking about you.
Our only other major worry is boiler corrosion. A topic a little bit too complicated for our purposes here, but let's just say that for corrosion to occur, oxygen must be present. And because a steam system is open to the atmosphere, a little corrosion is always going to be going on, and that's normal and okay. But a lot of corrosion isn't. For a lot of corrosion to occur we need a lot of oxygen. And that oxygen, if present in excessive quantities, is in the fresh water that is being regularly added to the boiler to replace the water lost to escaping steam or piping leaks. Got that? Fresh water is bad for your steam boiler. The old water that has already steamed is fine, as the boiling removed the oxygen. But the fresh stuff is bad news. So we need to keep track of it. And for that reason we offer a Hydrolevel VXT automatic water feeder with every job. I bet you thought we offered it so you wouldn't have to manually add water to the boiler, didn't you? Sorry, no, -an ancillary benefit perhaps. The reason is that the VXT has a nifty digital read-out that counts the gallons of water it has fed to your boiler. And by reading the control we will always know if we have a problem or not. Better safe than sorry, right?
When your boiler is cast, and again when it is installed using threaded pipe, oils are introduced inside the boiler. Being lighter than water these oils will eventually rise to the surface and float on top of the boiler water. Once the water begins to boil, these oils become big trouble. As the water begins to boil it forms bubbles, but the oils prevent the bubbles from bursting and the result is what is referred to as foaming. Foaming is death to a steam heating system. It causes water to be thrown up with the steam into the system. A real efficiency killer. It also doesn't smell very nice when it exits your radiator vents! So we need to get those oils out of the boiler after installation. For this purpose the boiler manufacturer installs a skim tapping on which the installer is supposed to install a skim port to allow the oils to be skimmed away. You'd be amazed how many guys never complete this critical step. Naturally we do, and because you'll be helping in the skimming process (in all likelihood), we install a very user-friendly skim port, complete with an extra port should you be so inclined to use a boiler additive in the future. That's just the way we roll.
Combination CO & Smoke Detector
When it comes to your family's safety we are, predictably, second to none. Every installation comes with fusible link switches and valves to shut off the boiler should high temperatures occur (fire), high pressure limit switches, safety relief valves, and probe-type low water cut-offs that no longer require weekly blow-downs (but they do require an annual maintenance check-up from yours truly). In addition we supply with every installation a combination carbon monoxide and smoke detector at no charge. Because your family's safety is always on our minds.
Trap Test Station
If you have a 2-pipe steam system you know how important it is to be certain that all of the system traps are functioning. When traps fail closed one or more radiators will fail to heat, and when they fail open, -steam will get into the returns and cause all sorts of problems, even damaging other traps downstream. The problem has always been to find an easy and economical way to test the system traps. At New England SteamWorks we install a trap test station with every 2-pipe boiler we install, which then makes trap testing a breeze. Something homeowners can now undertake themselves. If a bad trap is suspected, or as part of an annual maintenance regime, simply remove the trap(s) element(s) and place in the test station and determine conclusively if the trap element is still good, or if it needs to be replaced. Viola! Making things simple, -that's NES.
Removal Of Original Header
This is a biggie, and expensive, so pay attention. More than likely your original header is still hanging there. And just as likely, it is no longer the right design, size and/or position for today's boilers. So for the system to perform at it's most efficient, -that old header has to go. Actually, it had to go a long time ago. But taking those old headers out and replacing them is no simple task. To begin with, they are all over 2" in diameter and if you may recall, your average contractor only has the equipment to work up to 2". Also, redesigning that header in black pipe requires a bit of math, a skill that was lost about the time Steve Jobs finished tinkering in his garage. So that header has stayed, hanging around because no one knew how to deal with it. To make it work, what is derogatorily referred to in the industry as a "Cut & Past Job" was performed. That is to say, your last steam boiler or two was probably piped like a water boiler in that they cut out whatever was underneath that header and pasted in a copper pipe 2" or less in diameter. Not good. We're positively thrilled when we find a job where we can keep the original header. But the truth is, -it is less than 5% of the time. At NES, if that old header needs to come out for efficiency's sake, -it comes out.
And finally, -there's Ilka. She is endlessly watchful and ever vigilant. Nothing ever escapes her attention. No short cuts, no shoddy work, no missing parts or memory lapses ever elude her keen senses. And she's a New England SteamWorks exclusive. Yet another reason why we stand head and shoulders above the competition.
And there you have it. That's how we make our magic, and that's our definition of Premium Quality Workmanship. From our over-sized headers to the smallest details, everything covered, everything perfect.
Just the way it should be.
In case you haven't figured it out yet, we like building steam boilers, and we're pretty good at it. Give us a call and let us build one for your family.
Don't Let This Guy Install Your Next Boiler