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Is this Steam contractor telling me the truth?

Maestro232 Member Posts: 69
Good Afternoon.  I'm planning on upgrading an old 70's oil fired steam boiler which is currently connected into my chimney.  I have concerns that a newer boiler might require chimney upgrading, so I asked my steam contractor about getting a direct vent system.  First he said this...

<span>"The Supply house/ Manufacturers say there isn't a dirrect vent steam option."</span>

Upon further inquiry he then said this...

<span>"just checked again.   you can add a Power vent onto a steam oil fire boiler and then direct vent. this requires about a 12- 20  openning in the wall. then bringing outside air in for the make up air.   couple thousand $ more plus labor.    At that point you could line your chimney?"</span>

Is he speaking the truth?  Is it best to just line the chimney?


  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Thoughts from a non-pro

    First I want to make it clear that I'm a homeowner, not a professional.

    I don't think anyone would want to second guess the opinion of someone who has actually seen your house. There's also a rule against discussing price on this site.

    I've been reading the Wall for a few years now, and I've heard more than a few people complain about the noise of their power vents. I've never seen anyone complain about a noisy chimney. Personally, I like knowing that combustion gases from my boiler have left my house above all the windows and too high for me to smell anything. I also think that a chimney is far more reliable than a power vent. Just my 2 cents while you wait for a pro to chime in.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • JK_3
    JK_3 Member Posts: 240
    edited July 2010
    power vented steam

    You did not specify if you were staying with oil or converting to gas. I know a few manufacturers that make power vented gas fired steam boilers including the burnham independence. I do not know of any power vented oil boilers but I do not know everything either. If the chimney is not in terrible condition it might be better to have it lined. This is usually not to expensive but make sure you use a qualified and reputable contractor. You should also make sure that the contractor doing the boiler replacement knows the finer points of steam systems. you may want to purchase Dan's book "We got  steam heat !" and read it through. When speaking with the contractor you will be able to tell if he knows steam or just replaces boilers.
    Life is Good !! Enjoy it !!
  • Maestro232
    Maestro232 Member Posts: 69

    Thank you for your thoughts.  I look forward to more folks weighing, though it sounds like I should not be too quick to dismiss the chimney route. 

    To answer your question, I am sticking with the oil.  Also, I did get the sense that this particular contractor understood the finer points of steam.  I did purchase and read "so we got steam" and "greening steam" and I'd say the contractor passed my litmus test. 

    His response just cut me off guard because initially he seemed to think that a direct vent system would not be a problem and not cost much more.  So when he came back later with that news I just wasn't sure how acurate that information might be.  Whether, for example, it is just the particular manufacturer he is using that doesn't carry such systems, or whether they really are a significantly bigger expense to install.
  • JK_3
    JK_3 Member Posts: 240
    Oil fired

    I don't believe that an oil fired boiler can be direct vented although I could be wrong. I would tend to believe that adding a power venter to an oil fired boiler would make it difficult if not impossible to get the correct settings. since you are staying with oil you may not even have to have the chimney lined but just cleaned. again I recommend that you have it inspected by a qualified and reputable chimney company.
    Life is Good !! Enjoy it !!
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,324
    edited July 2010
    JK's right on...

    step one here is to get a reliable -- really reliable -- chimney person in to check that chimney.  It is very unlikely that it is too small, as newer boilers use less air (and fuel) than older ones.  It might, however, need lining -- but only a reliable chimney guy can tell you that.

    In the building I superintend, the boiler vents into the same chimney flue as the original one (installed in 1930 -- new one installed this year)(no, this is not the first replacement boiler -- it's the third) and the chimney was fine.  I do have it swept yearly, though.  Whether it needs it or not!

    Then go back to your steam contractor and see where you go from there.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Maestro232
    Maestro232 Member Posts: 69
    Thanks guys

    Thanks guys.  I'll take the advice to have a qualified chimney pro evaluate and line if needed and forgo any direct venting plan.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,700
    edited July 2010
    If you're staying with oil

    your best option would be the Burnham MegaSteam boiler. It is the most efficient, the easiest to service by far, has the best warranty and could be sidewall vented using a power venter.

    But before going with the power venter,  you must realize that it adds moving parts to your system. Moving parts will need servicing and may fail at the worst possible time.

    A chimney has no moving parts. Therefore, all other things being equal, I'd re-line the chimney.

    Here are a few pics of MegaSteam boilers we've installed:
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471
    I'm with Steamhead>>>.....the megasteam is

    a fine boiler.  Mad dog
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
This discussion has been closed.