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Dreaded Steaming Chimney--Opinions

Thanks--unfortunately, that's not much that I didn't know already. As for my chimney--it's already not in good shape, and there was already work to be done when we have the fireplace rebuilt next summer, including pointing. And I noticed some of the steam escaptong from where some pointing is already needed near the top.
We have two heating contractors coming for estimates today and will be speaking to my "dead-man" plumber Monday. I've added to my checklist (culled from We Got Steam Heat) for chimney lining to be included.
FWIW, I've been suspicious of a problem for a while based on the addiitonal water that keeps adding. Which initially I thought was due to the numerous bad vents, which have now been replaced. At least the LWCO does work properly!


  • This morning I left the house shortly after starting the heater, and noticed the steam coming from my chimney. It was not as bad an hour later.
    Yes, I know what this means. I have my own theories about prior misuse/abuse of my boiler that helped accelerate this, I've been here two years working hard to clean this up, the prior owner (also for two years) was clueless, and the owners before them, who knows. The leak is defintely NOT below the water line.
    What's the consensus as to how long I can get away with this? I really need to be able to put off a replacement until between Christmas and New Year's both for mechanical logistics (we are off then) and also cash flow.
    We are not getting hammered with any cold temperatures here (Philly area) and we are also very frugal in our heat usage.
    All opinions welcome, including if anyone has any recommended companies in the area. I've two plumbers who know steam well enough to be honorary dead-men, but I don't know that they would be able to handle a full scale replacement.
  • kevin coppinger_4
    kevin coppinger_4 Member Posts: 2,124
    I suppose...

    you COULD let it go for a couple of months...I would make for darn sure your LWCO is in very good working order...the thing I would be most concerned w/ is damaging your chimney..especially if it is not lined. The steam can really do a number on the old mortar...If you can I would look into some reliable space heaters...you may need them. in addition your heating bills will not be any cheaper since a good portion of your fuel bill is heading up the chimney,best of luck...kpc

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  • Boilerpro_5
    Boilerpro_5 Member Posts: 407
    If it's a gas boiler....

    you may want to check out Burnhams Indendence PV boiler. It vents out the sidewall, so the chimeny is no longer needed. You should also pick up some efficiency since you are no longer using your home's air to run the draft hood.


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  • Thanks, it is indeed gas, but not possible in this installation, semi-detached house, would have to vent out the front from where it is.

    So far estimates from 1 company to do Bryant, Utica, Crown or Weil ranging from $5800 to $6300, doing it all by the book (Holohan), except that he claims no skimmimg cleaning is needed, I just need to blow it off a lot over the first two weeks, so I am suspicious. I am waiitng for my plumber, who is the guy who finally got our current boiler running properly, to call me on Monday, I don't know if he can do a full install.
  • Boilerpro_5
    Boilerpro_5 Member Posts: 407
    In that case check out.....

    the Smith G-8 boiler. Steamhead installs these and I plan on strating to install them. Flame is completely surrounded by water so there are no back losses and it is rated at 86% AFUE. It is basically a miniture version of teh the big commercial cast iron boilers which are much more efficient than typical residential boilers. I suspect overall it would probably use about 15 to 20% less fuel than the boilers you're probably looking at.


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  • Thanks, BP

    and here's a photo of a 6-section G8 we installed. It is basically a wet-base boiler that is equipped with a power gas burner rather than an oil burner. This makes it about 6% more efficient (on a basis of fuel in to steam out) than a comparably sized atmospheric gas boiler (the usual type).

    This boiler can also be converted to burn oil by changing the burner and a few trim items, and setting it up with a digital analyzer. Of course a pro would have to do this, and you'd need a tank, but you would NOT need to replace the boiler. This capability would put YOU in control of what you burn and how much you pay.

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