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Tom ElamTom Elam Member Posts: 52

I am looking at a 1068ft2 row house on Chesterfield Ave in Baltimore to purchase for a rental property. I plan on holding the property long term. There is a very old oil fired steam heating system boiler and a newer gas fired water heater. I want to get rid of the oil and use natural gas for the fuel source. I work in a power plant with boilers but know nothing about steam heating for residential use. There is a head tank in a second floor closet and the sight glass is half full. I assume this means the boiler doesn't leak. I realize that I will have to get a tech to look at it to see if a gas burner can be retrofitted to it.


 I am looking for reasons to keep it or replace the boiler:


 1,The first is safety, after testing/replacing all the safety devices would you be comfortable with it in your basement?

 2.Fuel efficiency of an old boiler against a new boiler. I want the tenant to have money left to pay me after they pay the gas and electric bill.

 3.Maintenance nightmares for my property manager when the tenant calls at 2 am with no heat.

 4.Maintenance costs associated with upgrading the burner and controls and keeping old equipment running verses installing a new boiler.

Thank you for your input,



  • JStarJStar Member Posts: 2,668

    If there is an expansion tank with a sight glass, then you have an old gravity hot water system, not steam.

    The best thing you can do is call Steamhead. He works out of the Blatimore are.
    - Joe Starosielec
    [email protected]
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    edited June 2013
    Contact Steamhead

    Hi- I agree with JStar, in the Baltimore area for a expert on these old systems, Frank "Steamhead" Wilsey, Phone: 410-321-8116, is the person you want to contact. He's listed in the "Find a Contractor" section of this website. He does a lot of oil to gas conversions and boiler installations

    - Rod

    Edit: Sorry about that- Phone number corrected.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 10,957
    Thanks, all

    Tom, that number is 410-321-8116. We'll be in the office later this afternoon, leave a message if we're not there and we'll get right back to you.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.

    No question about it. Go with steamhead. You are one lucky man!

    I would tend to agree with Jstar that you probably an old gravity hot water system. One of the most intriguing systems out there. I have a customer who told me that when they first moved into their house, two plumbers spent a full 90 minutes arguing about whether the system was steam or hot water. Turns out it was a gravity system. Not many people understand gravity systems very well so do yourself a very big favor and hire steamhead.
  • Tom ElamTom Elam Member Posts: 52
    thanks for your help


     I will give you a call for an estimate if the oner and I can make a deal.

This discussion has been closed.


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