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Gas Side Wall Power Venters

Hi. I have an 1880s Vicotrian house converted to a rental property in cold Minnesota (not right now, in fact, it's quite lovely today--too bad I am inside). My steam boiler of unknown age (probably 20 years) boiled up all its water and melted down late Spring. It was terribly scary, but luckily no one and nothing other than the boiler was hurt, and conveniently it was at the end of the heating season. I got several bids, and hired a competent contractor who is working hard as we speak putting in a new Crown steam boiler.

Here's my problem. The chimney. The brick chimney is unlined and current code requires a liner. My contractor's bid included the liner, a flexible aluminum tube to be fed down the brick stack. Well, to cut to the chase the liner got hung up. They tried a smaller liner and it got hung up too. He's telling me that we need to install a side wall power venter which I do not want for several reasons. 1. noise noise noise! The boiler pump is already too loud, the last thing I want is another machien you can hear through the wood floors 2. there's no side wall to vent it through since it needs to be 4' from any operable window 3. if this flue gas is so dangerous and terrible, why is ok to vent it out right next to the house where people are walkiing by?

It also just irks me because I don't think the liner is necessary. The chimney has worked for 120+ years. Code says boiler over 400,000 BTU don't need a liner. The former boiler was under 400K, and the new one is only a little smaller than the current one. (Contractor did a full heat calculation.)

So, what advice can you give me? Should I beg the inspectr for a variance? Are there any tricks to getting a liner down? And finally, if I am stuck with a power vent, are some power vents better than others?

Thanks for your help.


  • Slimpickins
    Slimpickins Member Posts: 339
    My take is....

    I would think a competent contractor would have checked out the chimney first to make sure a liner would work. You had several bids and surely someone would caught the possibility of a problem with and chimney and included a contingency. Do you have a fixed bid?

    Is the boiler already installed and piped? If so, I would think it's the contractors responsibility to get a liner down the chimney somehow. It may take some work like cutting a hole in a wall to access and knock away some bricks. And yes a liner is required in an unlined chimney. Good luck.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    liners save lives

    also the new boilers vent at a lower temp so the  combustion gasses condense and start to weaken the chimney from the inside out. If your boiler pump is that loud you need it looked at.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,835
    If that chimney ever had

    an oil-fired boiler connected to it, the aluminum liner may not last. Oil has traditionally had enough sulfur in it to leave significant deposits in a chimney, which eats up aluminum. Stainless steel liners are the way to go. This info comes from the chimney contractor we use.

    If they've been able to map out where the liner hangs up, they should be able to open the chimney at that point to see what the problem is. Possibly the chimney is damaged at that point.

    Sounds like that's a rather large house. Even so, the boiler should not need a pump. Steam circulates and water returns very well by gravity if piped properly.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    noisy pump

    i concur with steamhead, that no pump should be needed on a steam boiler, except in situations where there are separated buildings fed from one main boiler. in those cases, in spite of einstein's, and newton's best efforts; there can be a lag in getting the condensate back from a distance, without mechanical help.

    also make sure that you are not lured into some sort of additive for the boiler--only pure fresh, unsoftened water should pass its lips.

    i suggest you get a copy from the shop here of "the lost art of steam heating" [maybe one for your installer-too]. gravity return is explained better than i could do with my hunt and peck typing.--nbc
This discussion has been closed.