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One-Pipe Steam Boiler Owner Testimony

“…Now when the (Steam Boiler) heat comes on, we hear – nothing…”

-Gary Walker (home owner)

“First off, if you have steam heat – make Dan Ambrose your first call. Nobody understands steam heat like he does – period.”
My wife and I purchased a 1929 home with steam heat, but a relatively updated boiler installed by a well-known heating contractor. The past owner also took out the radiators on the first floor and the same contractor installed cast iron baseboard steam units – and a lot of feet of them. Within our first year there, one six-foot length started leaking. We called the contractor that installed it. They said it was very expensive and I could live without it. So them removed it and capped the lines.
Subsequently, the boiler banged and knocked and periodically flooded. I called again, they serviced it – but it just kept banging and hissing. They changed a lot of controls, charged a fortune, but it didn’t get better. They told me to drain it periodically after that. So I did but it still banged if I missed a week of draining. Finally the other baseboards began to show some minor leaking of steam and condensate. They came and said it would be thousands to replace the baseboards and to keep draining the boiler. To top it off, the first floor was cold and the second floor was unbearably hot. I had enough. By calling around, another contractor suggested that Ambrose knows steam and to go to him. I did.
Within 15 minutes of me telling this story, he took one look at the boiler and said it was installed wrong, set too low, had the wrong controls and it had no chance of working without some reconfiguration. He said the water-area of the boiler was much smaller than the original boiler. So the water would go to steam and the boiler would call for more water – and it would refill with fresh water. When the steam return water would come back – it would fill up the boiler to the pipes. That cause water hammer and knocking and tons of sludge and rust. Ultimately, it caused the baseboard to rust and leak.
So in 15 minutes he diagnosed what the big name contractor couldn’t in six years. He also said the baseboards were installed incorrectly with unduly long runs that would in inefficient.
Dan Ambrose sourced a holding tank to stabilize the return water. He re-piped the return. He redid the controls. He took out the bad baseboards and put in some surprisingly small attractive radiators that fit the house. We got back our floor space, molding and look of the home. Now when the (steam boiler) heat comes on, we hear – nothing. No more draining the boiler. It’s quiet and doesn’t stay on as long operates at lower pressure. The house heats evenly. Ambrose is the only heating contractor that will ever work in our house again.