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Too much water =boiler shot

mgmine Member Posts: 58
This is a continuation of my thread "using too much water" You guys were right the boiler is cracked and sending steam up the chimney. I have only one estimate so far but if its any indication of what the others will be I'd be cheaper moving to Florida in the winter. To me $17,300 to replace a boiler seems a wee bit pricey. So my next question is what brand would you recommend? It needs to be oil fired and and if I read things right needs to be based on the sq footage of radiation and not heat loss. My radiation is 590 sq feet from 12 radiators. Second question am I crazy if I think I can do it myself? I have put two water boilers in without any problem but steam seems to be different. I have searched the web for piping instructions and what I now have does not seem to look like what should be however it does or should I say did work. No hammering banging or anything else. I would hope to be able to work with what I have and add some couplings and call it a day. I would have the oil company in to do the adjustments to the burner. I am also considering buying a boiler putting it in place and having a plumber do the piping since my pipe threading equipment only goes up to 1" Here are some pictures of what is now there.


  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    10 year old leaker

    the piping on that has not been done correctly, and has caused the short lifespan. the lack of any real header, and the reducers on the risers cost 100 times what they saved the installer! i would expect to get 30 years out of a properly installed boiler.

    this new installation would lend itself to a drop-header, which would be easier for a firsttimer to install. as you have all summer, why not do what you can do and leave the burner to the pros? replacement sections may be available, which would let you use the burner for a few more years.

    even just removing the old boiler yourself could save quite a bit.--nbc
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    New Boiler

    Hi- As one of the board rules is we don't discuss pricing we can't comment on your estimate.  Whether you would want to do it yourself depends on your own abilities and while it on sounds as though you are on the right track, it wouldn't be just hooking up a few fittings as you would need to correct the present near boiler piping.

    You need to do the layout and engineering first. Once that is decided you can consider whether you do the piping yourself and/ or have done by a professional. Do you have Dan's steam books? ("We Got Steam Heat" and "The Lost Art of Steam Heating?")

    Have you looked at Dan's video on boiler piping?


    Also you said that the boiler needed to be oil fired so I'm assuming that means gas isn't available. If gas is available, I would definitely consider switching over as the price of oil isn't likely to go anywhere but up.

    - Rod

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,714
    MegaSteam 629

    is the boiler to have. Pipe it with a 3-inch drop header and watch how well it works. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,470
    Most important

    Select a knowledgable installer who will pipe the boiler with the correct sized threaded steel header per the install manual diagram AS A MINIMUM. Bigger pipe and more header height than the manual specifies are always desirable. Before installing anything find out if your areas water has high chlorides because they will usually void the boiler warranty.

    Do not just select the low bidder, that may well result in another failed boiler in ten years. The boiler must be installed correctly if you want it to last.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • mgmine
    mgmine Member Posts: 58
    piping a boiler

    Great advice from you all. The video really shows how things should be done and actually makes the job easier I think. My real concern is the cutting and threading of the black pipe. Since I have two raisers going up and each goes off in  a separate direction do I need to connect the two lateral pipes and put a tee in the middle so that I can then tie the single pipe header into them? Could copper be used at this point and for that matter anywhere else besides the header?
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    no copper for risers/headers

    use copper only for the returns below the waterline!

    the layout of the header will be shown in the installation manual for the boiler you choose. they may not show the drop header configuration, but that is a benefit not only for ensuring dry steam, but also for ease of installation. do a search here for threads on the subject, and you will see its benefits. 

    make sure that the capacity is matched to the radiation in square feet-not the building  heat-loss.--nbc
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Boiler Piping

    Hi- If I read your recent post right the two "laterals" you refer to are your two steam mains. If you connected them together this would form what is called a "Bullheaded Tee" which should be avoided if at all possible.  This is covered on Page 54-55 in "the Lost Art of Steam Heating" which I would definitely get if I was doing my own installation. You best bet would be to get "the Steamy Deal" as it includes "We Got Steam Heat!" which I would read first as it gives you a good introduction to steam heating.


    The is a lot of difference between installing pipes for water and those for steam. With steam piping there are two things you have to always consider, the best way of getting steam to the radiators and condensate (water) back to the boiler. Steam is a gas and certain rules apply. Condensate is a liquid and gravity is what returns it to the boiler so therefore the  pipes must be pitched (sloped) to encourage the condensate to  flow and not collect in the system.  Actually steam heating are very easy to understand once you know some of the basic rules, several of which defy common logic. For example: Steam travels faster a low pressure than high pressure.


    As mentioned copper should be used only below the waterline and never for pipes that carry steam. Over time the heat of the steam, with copper's large differences of expansion and contraction, breaks the solder joints. I've attached a picture of an excellent boiler installation done by one of the pros, Ron Jr, to show where copper can be used on the return (non steam) piping. Also note the dropheader with the high riser pipes connecting the boiler to the dropheader. As you can see there are individual pipes leading from the header to each of the steam mains.

    - Rod
This discussion has been closed.