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What Is This?

ninehairs's picture

What Is This? (post #205300)

Can anyone tell me what this is? I found it in an 1880's vintage home in Lambertville NJ. It was on a shelf in a second-floor closet. It is an all-metal container(approx. three gallon capacity). It has a glass sight gauge and spigot. A 1" diameter iron pipe comes out of the top and vents to the outside of the house. The same diameter pipe came out of the bottom and ran straight down to the basement. Whatever it was once connected to is no longer in the basement. I was going to remove it but was worried about doing damage to the brick exterior of the house. So now it just sits there in that closet mystifying everyone who looks at it. I'd sure like to know what its original purpose was.

My first thought was that it (post #205300, reply #1 of 9)

My first thought was that it was an old hot water retaining tank for a wood stove water heater, but it doesn't quite make sense for that.

My guess is that it's an expansion tank for an old convecton style hot water heating system, or possibly a steam system.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

expansion tank (post #205300, reply #2 of 9)

definately an expansion tank for pressure less hydronic heating system.  when the water ran low you just go to the attic to top it off.

Tait Chappell

Chappell Universal Square & Rule Company

chappellsquare.com

Actually, I'd imagine that (post #205300, reply #3 of 9)

Actually, I'd imagine that there was a valve to let water into the system from the basement.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

yes that would make sense (post #205300, reply #4 of 9)

yes that would make sense assuming they were filling with a pipe connected to water supply in basement,  which is in most cases what would be the case.  you are absolutely correct. 

  We were just contemplating doing something like this in an outbuilding that we have.  In our case we were thinking of doing an open system not hooked up to residential water (filled with antifreeze)with expansion tank on higher floor that would need to be checked and filled from the top.

Tait Chappell

Chappell Universal Square & Rule Company

chappellsquare.com

Thanks (post #205300, reply #5 of 9)

Thanks very much for your comments. It does look like some kind of expansion tank. Sorry about the dual posting. After I posted in the photo gallery I thought that more people would read it in the general discussion area. It was actually the other way around.

What is this? (post #205300, reply #6 of 9)

I just came across your picutres tonight.  This reminded me of the first home I rented.  It was built around 1895 and had a large old gravity hot water heating boiler and a vent tank in the attic that looked almost identical to your picture.  Outside of the fact that the house had no insulation and the windows all leaked even with storm windows in place, the heating system worked well for its age.  Had to occasionally bleed air out of individual radiators but never had to worry about the vent tank.  As I recall, its vent went to the roof.  Thanks for the memories.

What is this? (post #205300, reply #7 of 9)

I just came across your picutres tonight.  This reminded me of the first home I rented.  It was built around 1895 and had a large old gravity hot water heating boiler and a vent tank in the attic that looked almost identical to your picture.  Outside of the fact that the house had no insulation and the windows all leaked even with storm windows in place, the heating system worked well for its age.  Had to occasionally bleed air out of individual radiators but never had to worry about the vent tank.  As I recall, its vent went to the roof.  Thanks for the memories.