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Peerless replacement?

I have two apartment buildings in Chicago, each with a gas-fired Peerless 211A (one -10 and the other a -12, so about 1500-1800 MBH) steam boiler. They're less than 15 years old and seem to run fine.

While I subscribe to the "if it ain't broke..." school of thought, I'm wondering what the word on the street might be as to a replacement, if need be. That is, if something happened tomorrow that made these boilers unrepairable, with what would you consider replacing them? Is there something more efficient/smaller footprint/more reliable out there?



  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    edited October 2012
    More efficient replacement

    The most efficient steam boiler is one which has been correctly sized to the total radiation (EDR), piped to the manufacturers instructions, running at a pressure of less than 12 ounces, and massively vented on the mains. Yearly maintenance will keep these boilers alive for dozens of years. Steam and water leaks must be repaired, so that makeup water is at a minimum. You are fortunate to have one of the contributors here in Chicago (Boilerpro/Steam whisperer Dave Bunnell).

    On my 211a (1mill), we just completed the 5 year cleanout of the boiler bottom, raking out only a small amount of rusty sludge from the inside.

    Put on a good low-pressure gauge (0-3 psi-gauge store.com) , and see where your pressure is. Post some pictures of the boiler supply piping, and the collected wisdom here can spot any potential trouble spots.--NBC
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    More thoughts

    In addition to the above list for efficiency, make sure the system is gravity-fed with no added condensate/feed tanks, pumps etc, unless they are needed such as in handling condensate from an outbuilding. If you have power interruptions, you can run such a boiler for a couple of hours on a large computer ups.

    A good control system contributes greatley to economy by maintaining an even temperature, with little over-swing of temperatures. If the buildings are more than 3 storeys tall main venting on the top of the risers will prevent the consumption of extra fuel to force the air out so the steam can rise quickly to the top floor.--NBC
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Future Planning

    Hi-  Steam boilers themselves haven’t changed that much though there are some interesting things being done in the area of controls and modulated /staged burners which can increase the overall fuel efficiency of the systems.  You’re lucky in that you have some really good steam pros in the Chicago area. You might want to contact Dave Bunnell as there aren’t many people who can crank more efficiency out of a steam system than he can. Here’s a link to his contact information:


    He can tell you what can be done to increase the efficiency of your present system and give you an idea of what direction you might want to go in the future.

     - Rod
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,736

    call Dave.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Thanks, guys..

    Planning ahead is a good idea and will also let you get the most out of the existing system/ boiler.    If your boilers follow the typical pattern they are nearly 80% oversized and probably not piped correctly, both of which run up fuel usage and can damage the boiler.  Peerless 211's do seem to hold up quite well, however.  That 1.5 mill boiler is typicaly the right size for those huge 3 story courtyard buildings here in Chicago.  
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert

    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
This discussion has been closed.