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LWCO necessary for residential oil-fired steam boiler in MA?

EmmyC
EmmyC Member Posts: 4
Wondering if someone could help...I rent my apt. and the heating system is at least 60 years old (oil-fired steam boiler).  I just tried to have the system cleaned and tuned-up, but the technician from my oil company took one look at the setup, refused to touch the thing, turned the boiler off for liability reasons, and left.   He said there's no LWCO, the fuel line isn't insulated, and both things need to be fixed ASAP before any reputable technician would touch the boiler.



My landlord said the technician's mistaken; an LWCO isn't needed since she visually inspects the water level in the boiler on a weekly basis and tops it off as necessary.  Landlord said she would call another oil company to have a look.  She ended up calling a chimney cleaner, who didn't know much about LWCOs at all.



So, my questions are this:

1. Is it a code violation (in Mass.) not to have an LWCO for a residential steam boiler?

2. Is this dangerous...could the boiler conceivably run dry between landlord inspections...is explosion or fire even a remote possibility?

3. Is 60 years the end of the lifespan for a boiler?

4. The water in the water level indicator is beer-colored.  Is this normal, or does it indicate mineral buildup?



Thanks for your help!!!

Comments

  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    LWCO

    I haven't run into a steamer that didn't have one as of yet. I would have the landlord make and keep it safe for you, or simply move out.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,200
    what Bill said

    it may have not been required 60 years ago but her insurance company would require it now, even on an old boiler. Boilers in my basement are 1937 for the new one and 1910 for the original and they both have LWCO. But not automatic water feeders. This is a link to what they look like. http://www.mcdonnellmiller.com/catalog/11.pdf
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • EmmyC
    EmmyC Member Posts: 4
    Thanks!

    Thanks for the info, guys!  It's definitely a steam boiler (I have steam radiators, not forced HW), and it's definitely missing an LWCO (looked for something like the McDonnell/Miller devices in the pictures and found nothing) .  Also found some tags hanging on the boiler from two previous oil company inspections (in '06 and '08) where the technician noted "No LWCO".  The boiler was operating at 68% efficiency back then so it's probably even worse now.



    Landlord seems to think I'm making this all up just to get her to replace the boiler.  She got a quote for installing the LWCO, and it wasn't much (less than 1/4 of my monthly rent), but she doesn't want to put any money into the boiler at all, "since it's really old."  I'm hoping the thing breaks down without blowing up or starting a fire, so the landlord will have to do something.  In the meantime I'm checking the water level daily, just in case.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,200
    They can get hot enough

    on dry fire to catch the floor joists above them on fire. If you find the boiler low on water and it is very hot turn it off and let it cool before adding water. Adding cold water to a hot boiler is one way they can crack or explode. Does the boiler have a working pressure relief valve? Can you post a photo here?
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    LWCO & MA code:

    There's also the item about the oil line.

    It MUST be protected. New requirement. And oil companies are not supposed to deliver to any account that doesn't have protected oil lines. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,260
    LWCO could save someones life

    thirty some odd years ago I was renting the first floor of a two family house that had a 1947 green Delco oil fired steam boiler for each floor. One day i caught a whiff of burning metal as I walked out my back hall. I went down the cellar and could hear a boiler firing (DHW was off the boiler) and the smell of overheated metal was very strong.



    I went over to the landlords side of the cellar and saw an 18" diameter section on the back of the boiler glowing cherry red. I killed the power and cut the fuel safety link above the boiler to be safe.



    I remember the landlord telling me I should have just added some water to the boiler and me asking him if he had ever seen a steam explosion. He was some pissed about having to replace that boiler, but at least he still had a house to put a new boiler in.



    Also neither boiler had a LWCO installed.



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    oil line

    yes Ice, but that has been moved up to Sept 2011.
  • EmmyC
    EmmyC Member Posts: 4
    pics of the ancient boiler

    Wow...that's scary because the boiler is right below my apartment - just a wood floor between it and me.  Here are some pics of the boiler setup.  It's really old, the water in the watch level tube is the color of rust and you can't see light through it at all.  The water level bobs up and down by about 1-2 inches rapidly when the boiler's working...is that normal?  Oh yeah, and you can see in the 2nd picture that there's a piece of metal on the top of the whole thing that's ajar.



    Also, thanks to everyone who has posted!  My landlord still thinks she has a forced hot water heating system, and I was starting to believe her (even though 3 inspections by various oil delivery companies noted it was a steam boiler).
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,200
    A crack would be welcome for that one

    Can you post a photo of the side where the sight glass is?
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • EmmyC
    EmmyC Member Posts: 4
    can't believe it's still running

    Here's the side with the sight glass.  There's a rust stain on the side, and a broken glass tube on top of the boiler, so I'm thinking something broke the glass before.  There's so much rust in the water, but I don't know if that's normal.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    LWCO/ Oil Lines:

    Bill, That may be true in MA about the delay but some oil companies are requiring it noe or sooner than later because of THEIR insurance requesting it.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,200
    I was hoping it had a built in LWCO

    Lots of these had one stuck into the boiler. No such luck. It is amazing it is still holding on. I am guessing the tenant (you) pays for fuel?
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • canmar
    canmar Member Posts: 16
    LWCO necessary

    I know this is old and may not need extra posting but in MA, you definitely need to have a LWCO installed on every steam boiler.  The landlord may be confused in thinking that an Automatic Water Feeder is not necessary.  This is a very usefull item to ensure the boiler doesn't shut off on low water, but LWCO's are extremely important.  On a cold day your boiler can burn through all the water it has in it depending on the overall condition of your system.  This is a safety issue and must be addressed.  Good luck to you and be persistent.
  • canmar
    canmar Member Posts: 16
    LWCO necessary

    I know this is old and may not need extra posting but in MA, you definitely need to have a LWCO installed on every steam boiler.  The landlord may be confused in thinking that an Automatic Water Feeder is not necessary.  This is a very usefull item to ensure the boiler doesn't shut off on low water, but LWCO's are extremely important.  On a cold day your boiler can burn through all the water it has in it depending on the overall condition of your system.  This is a safety issue and must be addressed.  Good luck to you and be persistent.
  • canmar
    canmar Member Posts: 16
    LWCO necessary

    I know this is old and may not need extra posting but in MA, you definitely need to have a LWCO installed on every steam boiler.  The landlord may be confused in thinking that an Automatic Water Feeder is not necessary.  This is a very usefull item to ensure the boiler doesn't shut off on low water, but LWCO's are extremely important.  On a cold day your boiler can burn through all the water it has in it depending on the overall condition of your system.  This is a safety issue and must be addressed.  Good luck to you and be persistent.
This discussion has been closed.