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Time to replace boiler

danoer1 Member Posts: 16
Managed to limp through most of the heating season here in NJ, although snow falling on 3/24 makes me wonder if we'll make it! There is an above the water line leak on the 150,000 BTU Utica gas fired boiler. Steam out the chimney, dropping water level (why does it drop so quickly on shut down?), daily addition of water :( Probably a 15-20 year old furnace. It was here when we moved in 12 years ago. The near boiler piping was done in copper, which I'm sure was not the best choice. Does the near boiler piping configuration look ok? Just thinking ahead to what the new configuration should look like.


  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,573
    edited March 2011
    "ole rusty"

    check on-line with utica to see if replacement sections are still available for your boiler.

    if your main venting is inadequate, then when the boiler shuts down, the resulting vacuum formed in the pipes will be unrelieved, and will pull the waterline up into the returns, so when you replace the sections/boiler, then put plenty of venting on! it also helps to keep the pressure low, and to know what that pressure is in ounces.

    the mfg of the new sections, or the new boiler will have strict instructions for piping the boiler using steel threaded pipe for the steam supplies. these are to followed as a minimum, and can be improved by the addition of more risers, and a bigger dropped header. the copper may have contributed to the early demise of the boiler. and finally, you will have a hartford loop which seems to be missing on your present setup..--nbc
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,401
    Do your homework

    Do yourself a favor and measure all of you radiators so you know what the EDR is - EDR is the square footage of radiation attached to the boiler. The number you arrive at will tell you what size boiler you should be installing. The chart I have attached will help you figure out your EDR.

    Once you know what size boiler you need you have to select a good installer, this is probably more important than anything else. make sure the installer states (in writing) that he will pipe the boiler in THREADED STEEL per the boiler manufacturers piping diagram as a minimum. If he goes over and above great, but make sure he follows the manufacturers diagram so the new boiler works quietly and efficiently.

    If the installer balks at this, show him the door and find someone else.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
    RDSTEAM Member Posts: 134

    hey dan, I shot you an email.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,992
    With the header as high as it is

    I can't imagine you're getting any wet steam. So as long as it's the right size for the replacement boiler, you should be OK there.

    That Utica isn't the most efficient steamer out there, as it loses a lot of heat out the base and up the chimney (so gas companies love it). It would be better to upgrade to something that has a better thermal efficiency. The most efficient gas-fired steamers are wet-base models that surround the flame almost completely with cast-iron that has water on the other side.

    Wet-base boilers are mostly sold as oil-fired units, but Smith and Slant/Fin both have approved their units for use with power gas burners. Here are two we've installed. The Smith is an 8 series, called the G-8 when used with a gas burner. The Slant/Fin is an Intrepid. Both are good, well-made units.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • danoer1
    danoer1 Member Posts: 16
    Patch work under the canopy?

    Thanks for all the replies on this issue. Hoping that the weather warms up a little for me to push through the rest of March and April with this system and then do the new install.

    There is a Hartford loop on the current system, the angle of the photo makes it hard to see.

    I thought my main venting was ok, and if what bonham-carter said about the vacuum pulling the water into the returns was happening, then wouldn't the water eventually come back into the boiler? I pulled the 2 valves off of the one side of the main vent today and there was some crud in there although not enough to prevent me from blowing air through it with my mouth.

    Question: I'm thinking of pulling the exhaust canopy off (good idea?) to see if I can pinpoint the leak(s) and maybe but a JB weld bandaid on it. I have flooded the boiler and seen the resulting drips of water from the leak, and with the steam going up the chimney I'm just concerned about keeping the water level at an adequate level in the boiler 24 hours a day. Just trying to limp through here for the moment.

  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484

      I just wanted to give you a heads up.  There were a couple pre-mature boiler failures posted here this winter.  The failures were partly blamed on the water softener.  When you install the new boiler, make sure the boiler feed line is upstream of the softener. 

    Here are a couple links that will help you with your summer project.



  • Paul_11
    Paul_11 Member Posts: 210
    Please dont' replace a section on a 15-20 year old boiler

    especially such a small one.

    If one section is bad the others are not far behind.

    Since 1990, I have made steam systems quiet, comfortable, and efficient. We provide comfort while saving the planet.

    NYC LMP: 1307
  • danoer1
    danoer1 Member Posts: 16
    Not a water softener issue

    Don't have a water softener and the well water is on the hard side so it is something we have thought about, but the back flushing required by the softener would be a big burden on the septic. Thanks for the info though.

  • danoer1
    danoer1 Member Posts: 16
    I agree

    although I'm guessing at that 15 to 20 age. Certainly 12, and it didn't look new when we moved in.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Whats that

    big blue tank on the right?  I thought it was a softener.  Is that a pressure tank?
  • danoer1
    danoer1 Member Posts: 16

    pressure tank for the well... what do people think about pulling up the metal housing for the exhaust gases and patching any crack I can see. Is that just a silicone seal between the exhaust housing and the boiler sections?

  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    edited March 2011
    Look at the manual first

    I have never heard of any success stories though.
  • danoer1
    danoer1 Member Posts: 16

    if cleaning out the main vents with vinegar and CLR didn't slow the dropping of the water level in the boiler. It was pretty amazing to see on shut down the water in the sight glass drop so quickly, and I gave Mr Bonham-Carter's suggestion a try and wow what a difference! It doesn't solve my fundamental problem of a above the water line leak, but makes me wonder if I should try and troubleshot the pressuretrol first. I've never seen the needle budge and have cleaned out the pigtail (no gunk). Guess it's time to buy an ounce gauge!

    Thanks Nicholas!!

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