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Recommendations for replacement gas-fired domestic steam boiler?

We have lived in our current house for about 6 years. The house has a H. B. Smith steam boiler dating, I'd guess, from the late 50's or early 60's. It was originally oil fired but was converted to gas in the 70's.

The house has single pipe steam radiators throughout.

In any case, I think it is time to replace the old beast. While all its failures to date have been minor (e.g. pilot flame detector, etc.), it is getting really old and I am afraid it may be rusting out. (And its probably full of sludge).

I contacted H. B. Smith and was told that the old boiler was about 76% efficient when it was new... I suspect it is a lot less than that now and with the price of gas these days...

So... recommendations of makes and models of gas-fired domestic steam boilers would be appreciated. And if anyone can recommend any local (Northeast Massachusetts) heating/plumbing contractors who install domestic steam boilers, it would be appreciated.

I would like to get something that is as efficient as possible although I gather that the maximum feasible efficiency for a domestic steam boiler is in the mid 80% range. Apart from efficiency, what features are "good to have" in a steam boiler.

Finally, will installing a new steam boiler require any changes to the chimney?




  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Go with the Smith G-8 series

    This is a wet-base boiler which is factory-certified with either an oil or a Carlin power gas burner. Not only is it a bit more efficient than the usual atmospheric gas boiler, but if your gas utility gets greedier you can switch to oil without buying a completely new boiler.

    If Burnham offered their excellent Mega-Steam boiler with a power gas burner, that's what I'd recommend.

    You will at least want to have the chimney inspected. If there is no fire-clay lining or if the lining is deteriorated, a re-lining is justified. Same goes for local Codes that may mandate relining. Don't get the cheap aluminum liner as it is only suitable for gas- get the stainless-steel one that can handle almost anything.

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