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Need advice from top to bottom

Sunk Member Posts: 5
A pipe burst in my old farm home while I was not in the home for a week. It flooded the basement (and kitchen floor). The house is heated with a steam boiler w/radiators in all rooms (but the utility room where the pipe burst lol). It is an old farm house w/dirt basement and the water apparently poured into the basement and ruined the hot water heater and maybe the boiler. The big long things (like 6 of them) that are on the bottom of the boiler got muddy. The plumber initially thought they could be cleaned and would function because the boiler is apparently quite simple and he said the water hadn't gotten to critical parts. Then he changed his mind. I obviously know little but it is gas run and has an automatic feed but when it works I check amount of water in the boiler to make sure the feed is working and I can push a button that adds water if it looks low in the glass hour glass like level viewer. I think it is probably a 1940s boiler in an 1870s farm house. I read in This old House book that you should keep the old boilers at almost any cost because it is hard to get good steam heat with the new ones. Help!The insurance person is coming on Monday and they are unhappy to be paying out a penny and will try to deny a cent. The secretary at the insurance company (national chain) said "If you think we are replacing your furnace you are mistaken".I don't necessarily want them to do so but need heat. A single women...I am up a creek because I don't know enough to protect myself and ensure they are fair. Wish I could hire a man to just sit in the room as an incentive for the insurance adjuster to not cheat me! Any advice would be appreciated!


  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    Please check your local code

    My understanding is that if a gas appliance is flooded it needs to be replaced not repaired. The secretary is not the one to make that choice as to replace or not. Also you have a boiler not a furnace. If some one calls a boiler a furnace they have even less authority to decide on what to do with it.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • Sunk
    Sunk Member Posts: 5
    What should I come prepared with?

    If they say it needs replacing, are there options I should be aware of. I have been reading about people being dissatisfied with their steamers due to noise or banging. Mine is very simple. A few of the radiators let some steam out, but that has never been a problem as I monitor the feed and almost never need to add water. I can shut off radiators in some rooms but a little knob on each. There is rarely any banging although there can sometimes be a thud--maybe when it turns off-but that is rare. Are new ones the same as old ones?Why do people on some programs suggest keeping them as long as possible? what are problems with new one compared to old ones. I've had no problems with mine in the 15 years I owned the house.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Freeze damage:

    I have dealt with this a lot.

    I doubt that it is as bad as you think. Be thankful that it is a steam system. You didn't loose the radiators. That would be a disaster. If it is a 1940's boiler, it is older than dirt and older than I. Like said, if the burner went underwater, it can't be repaired and must be replaced. It is cost effective to replace the boiler as a whole. The increase in efficiency will pay for itself in time in savings. The water must be replaced. Those aren't all that expensive.

    If the water damage is limited to the kitchen floor and the dirt floor in the cellar, you got off easy. They will pro-rate the 1940's boiler and give you next to nothing.

    As bad as it seems, consider yourself lucky. I have been to houses with most of the ends of radiators blown off and ceilings on the floor with 4' of water in the basement. And the caretaker had checked the house the night before. Sure, And I have a bridge for sale cheap over the Hudson River.

    Make sure that the person that replaces your steam boiler is experienced with steam boilers and follows the manufacturers instructions completely. Ask the Steamers here for advice. They are the best around.

    I hate freeze-ups.
  • Sunk
    Sunk Member Posts: 5

    Thanks that will help a lot. Next I need a man to accompany me to the meeting with the insurance adjuster to avoid being taken because I am a women and then a lawyer when the insurance company denies my claim because they view me as negligent cause there is old milk in the fridge and I was away....then I need an agent to write a new policy when they drop me..then I need someone to help me repair my credit rating that this will screw! Need advice about everything! You have been very helpful. Thanks
  • Sunk
    Sunk Member Posts: 5

    Thanks so much for all your help. If I have replacement value insurance do they still pro-rate everything? I think also my walls got saturated. This utility room was an add on and apparently poorly linked to the rest of the house in terms of heat. It had a small space heater that apparently shorted out. What are people supposed to do if they go away? You allude to the idea that people say that they have folks checking their place but don't. The weather was not very cold, the heat was on in the bulk of the house and I alerted the city police (who will keep eyes on houses) that we were away for about week since there are thieves stripping homes of metal. The city is an economic disaster and the most depressed city in NY state. Don't think a smile has been seen in the city limits in the past 5 years!
  • Sunk
    Sunk Member Posts: 5
    edited February 2012

  • Freeze-up

    Don't waste time thinking you need a man to sit with you as the adjuster investigates, and then states his company's policy. That policy will be the same whether you would be man or woman. What does your policy cover you for? Have you an insurance agent who arranged the policy in the beginning? He is your agent, and should help you through this ordeal, and explain how the policy will cover some things and not others.

    The new boiler must be sized not as the old, but according to the number of radiators, and their size. The installation instructions must be followed, or you will have no end of trouble.

    Have your plumber start planning now, as he must have determined the damage to be greater than he first thought.

    Check back here if you have any questions about the ongoing replacements. Some of the respondents here are women, and just as knowledgeable as the men( no surprise).--nbc
  • MotownSteamer
    MotownSteamer Member Posts: 110
    The insurance claim...

    is a business deal. Handle yourself professionally and without succumbing to emotion, and you should be fine. Become a subject expert on what you need (as has been suggested here) so you can fully understand what you are claiming. That should include replacement value-labor and material-for the proper replacement components including the near boiler piping done to manufacturers specs. Do not let them claim the overhead piping is "pre-existing"; new piping is part of replacing the boiler. Your rates will likely increase, so make sure you make a full/complete claim; it's what you've paid for all these years. The insurer is obligated to accept and respond to your claim promptly. What that means is, you should gather all your estimates/invoices in support of your claim, figure the total replacement value, and submit a "sworn statement in proof of loss". Include any personal property damaged in the water event and your time in doing clean-up. The company can provide you with a blank form. Once you file that with them, they generally have 30 days to accept or reject the proof, and 60 days to pay you if they don't dispute it. If they dispute it, they have to tell you why. Also, most polices will pay you replacement cost but only after you've done all the work. That means your first payout will be actual cash value, a depreciated figure. If things start to go sideways, talk to your agent. If it gets really bad, contact the New York State regulatory department. Take it one step at a time, be patient and professional, and they'll have no choice but to treat you with respect. You can also consider hiring a "public adjuster" to make your claim on your behalf, but they take a cut of your payout.
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