The condensate returns connect to the boiler via the Hartford Loop. This is an important piping safety arrangement to make sure that if a leak develops in any of the system’s wet returns, 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.

Hartford Loop Wye

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 every installation with a combination carbon monoxide and smoke detector at no charge. Because your family’s safety is always on our minds.


Combination CO & Smoke Detector

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. Unfortunately, at some point in history a 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 as an option, 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.

Low Pressure Gauge

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 lets 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 can be a big help in achieving that goal.



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? It 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, In fact, 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 Pipe Insulation

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 afterthought 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. This lets us 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 Ot Gorton No. 2 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.

Massive Main Venting

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 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. This 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

Over-Sized Dropped Headers

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.


There are some additional, smaller, details that improve system efficiency such as proper pressure regulation, make-up water characteristics, and so forth. When all of these items are addressed together in a holistic approach there is never a reason to contemplate replacement of a steam system. Efficiency will easily rival a standard hot-water/baseboard system, and at a fraction of the cost of total replacement.

Remember: It’s not steam’s fault if yours is acting up, no matter how many folks tell you that it is. In fact, your system should probably earn a medal for continuing to carry on, decade after decade, with nothing to sustain it but neglect!

So now you know: Count yourself one of the lucky ones if you have a steam system.

If yours is acting up, rather than tolerating a poorly performing system or paying an arm and leg for a replacement system, contact us and we’ll make things right for you. Then you, too, can enjoy the efficient, comfortable, and quiet heat that is steam.

Should you happen not to have a steam heating system, now you understand that there’s never been a heating system that is as robust, long-lasting, and free of maintenance as steam.