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Frozen, broken boiler/radiators. Help!

We bought a Victorian house with all water pipes frozen and the radiators on the first floor shattered.  I bought replacement cast iron radiators from a homeowner that was "upgrading" to forced air.  I bought a Weil McLain boiler to replace the destroyed Crane.  Here's the rub:

Some T's in the basement burst and popped off, though I can't find any split heating pipes.  The pipes are from 1905 and waaaay back when it was a thermosiphon boiler so the pipes are huge at the boiler and get progressively smaller as they trail off.

Should I assume that the pipes are a total loss, tear them out and switch over to copper?  If so, what diameters and where?  Is there a chart somewhere?  It's a two storey house with 2500 square feet and 13 radiators.  We have insulated the walls and attic (there had been little to no insulation in the place).  It's a 100,000 BTU NG boiler.

We are totally fine doing the work ourselves, but I want to do it right.  Anyone have ideas?  Thanks in advance!!!

Brad in Omaha, NE


  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 7,104
    Gravity Flow

     Is the term used to describe the system you have/had.  I would re pipe if that much damage has been done.  You could have the piping pressure tested first to see if anything is still salvageable. Shame though large piping of the gravity systems of yesteryear required very little pumping when a circulator is added to modernize that type of system.
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    gravity frozen in time

    you may get lucky with this as the fittings sometimes break first, and then the water drains out of the radiators before freezing and breaking them.

    any broken radiators you can replace from the collection of jay rybin, who is the only expert i know of in omaha 402-341-5143.--nbc[ 68131]
  • SalvatorparadiseSalvatorparadise Member Posts: 16
    start at one end, and work your way through

    we had this same issue, freeze up. Total freeze up of the system less the boiler, which survived. The breaks occured at the elbows only, and the water must have drained, as the upstairs radiators were fine. ALl downstairs were shot. We had the system pressured up methodically while checking for leaks and fixing as we went. That way we fixed only what we needed to as we went along. it turned out to be a hell of a job, and it took a lot of draining and refilling the system. two guys working 8 hours per day for 2 weeks pretty much to get it done. our plumber in central ohio had radiators handy, thank god, that he sold to us for a pretty reasonable price and then installed.
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