Vacuum steam heat system
I own a house built in 1930. It has steam heat. The original boiler was old, big, and in need of replacement.......but it did work to heat the whole house. (Kitchen, living room and dining room downstairs, 3 bedrooms and 1 bath upstairs)
I had a local HVAC company replace the boiler a year ago. Since then the front half of the house gets no heat (living room and the 2 bedrooms on the front half of the house) while the other half works great (Dining room, kitchen and bed/bath on the back half)
The company that installed it spent hour after hour and service call after service call trying to fix it. They haven't been able to get it right yet. I even coughed up an additional 2000.00 over the original contracted price because I felt sorry for the owner.
The owner of the company attributes the problem to the fact that my system is a "vacuum" system and no one knows how to work on those any more, and all the guys who DID know are all dead (that's why they are called 'deadmen')
Any suggestions on how to get heat to the rest of the house?
Re: Vacuum steam heat system
Sorry to hear about the troubles your having with the steam system.
The fact that you've had pros in there over an extended period trying to fix the problem without results doesn't sound good.
Apparently, these systems were originally designed for coal-fired units & problems ensued when the switch-over to fuel oil and gas-fired equipment occured.
However, there are still knowledgeable steam technicians who continue to successfully work on these systems.
The problem is that they are most often located in the larger northern cities in the U.S. and Canada---this is because steam heat is still popular in apt. buildings in such places as NYC, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland,etc.
There are also still numerous vacuum steam experts that work on small industrial/commerical steam systems in various other locations.
An excellent website and forum devoted exclusively to steam heat is located at:
When at the site, click onto "Ask Questions", then onto the "Steam Only" forum.
A number of good articles on vacuum steam can be obtained if you Google "vacuum steam heat".
Many of these articles point out that any pinhole leaks in the components of the piping in the area that is giving you non-heat problems can shut down the heat in that section completely.
These include steam traps in two-pipe systems, defective air vents, leaking pipe connections, etc.
It may take some effort to find the right steam tech in your area; consult the Yellow Pages under "Heating Contractors", but also under "Heating Equipment-Supplies" for local heating parts distributors in your area, and ask to talk to the counterman, or go into the parts distributor & tell the counterman you're looking for a heating tech who specializes in steam heat.
Last edited by NashuaTech; 03-22-2011 at 06:23 AM.