Steam Heat question


My home, built in 1931, was originally a coal fired two pipe steam system. In the 70's the owner replaced coal with a weil mclain 76 series boiler. i believe my home has too many radiators (1500 sq ft of steam edr) which is logical since energy was cheap and people slept with windows open etc. On top of that, I believe my boiler is oversized for the number of radiators I have. Originally my boiler was fitted with a 4.25 gallon/hr nozzle. Now it is fitted with a 2.8 gph nozzle. right now i'm burning roughly 3000 galllons of oil per year for a 4000 square foot house. Seems excessive to me. Even if I reduce the size or amount my radiators wouldn't the existing piping still require me to use a large boiler?
I'm thinking of switching to hot water but i understand that there are pitfalls that need to be avoided. My radiators are connected at the top and could be used for hot water. I would like to insulate my house a little better and have a heat loss study performed before switching to hot water so I can be sure that I have the proper size boiler and correct number of radiators.
Does switching make sense? If so, does the large size of my steam pipes eliminate the efficiency savings provided by a hot water system. Could some sort of flexible plastic pipes be snaked through my large steam pipes to neck them down ? That would also prevent leakage problems.
Or an alternative would be to keep steam or a combinatio of steam on my 2nd floor and hot water on the first since piping the first floor would be easy from the basement.
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My home, built in 1931, was originally a coal fired two pipe steam system. In the 70's the owner replaced coal with a weil mclain 76 series boiler. i believe my home has too many radiators (1500 sq ft of steam edr) which is logical since energy was cheap and people slept with windows open etc. On top of that, I believe my boiler is oversized for the number of radiators I have. Originally my boiler was fitted with a 4.25 gallon/hr nozzle. Now it is fitted with a 2.8 gph nozzle. right now i'm burning roughly 3000 galllons of oil per year for a 4000 square foot house. Seems excessive to me. Even if I reduce the size or amount my radiators wouldn't the existing piping still require me to use a large boiler?
I'm thinking of switching to hot water but i understand that there are pitfalls that need to be avoided. My radiators are connected at the top and could be used for hot water. I would like to insulate my house a little better and have a heat loss study performed before switching to hot water so I can be sure that I have the proper size boiler and correct number of radiators.
Does switching make sense? If so, does the large size of my steam pipes eliminate the efficiency savings provided by a hot water system. Could some sort of flexible plastic pipes be snaked through my large steam pipes to neck them down ? That would also prevent leakage problems.
Or an alternative would be to keep steam or a combinatio of steam on my 2nd floor and hot water on the first since piping the first floor would be easy from the basement.
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mike wrote:

My take: Put your money into as much insulation as you can reasonably afford.
Trying to make tiny incremental increases in heating plant efficiency is attacking the wrong end of the problem.
After insulating, get the heating costs for another season before deciding what mechanical changes to make. I don't personally think going thru the massive effort to switch steam to hydronic will save a thing.
Jim
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You are going about this the wrong way. No matter what type of heat you have, no matter how large the heater, that is not the main culprit. I don't know where you live but that amount of oil is not uncommon on a house that size in a cold climate.
First, think about how the heating system works. You have a thermostat. When the temperature drops, the thermostat sends a signal to the heater to start up. When the temperature goes up, it tells the heater to stop. If you have a heater that is small, it may take a long time for that to happen. If you have a heater that is too large, the heater will go off in a short time. In either case, the amount of energy needed to satisfy the thermostat is about the same.
Once you burn fuel to make heat, you want to keep it. How is the insulation, windows, doors, etc? Before spending a lot of money to change the boiler, find out where the heat is going and stop it from going. A 1931 house had no insulation. If some has been added, then yes, you can get away with a smaller boiler but first, put that money into saving the heat and then you can change out the mechanicals if needed and pay for it with the savings.
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