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Cast Iron Boiler Life Expectancy

Chuck_17 Member Posts: 133
What is the life expectancy of a 32 year old HB Smith Series 28 cast iron boiler used for steam?

A. Another ______ years.

B. Right around 30 years (plus/minus 5ish).

C. Less than 30 years.

If the burner fails is it worth just replacing the burner?

I know there are a lot of factors. It is in a church which may not have the best maintenance program. There are no issue now.

I am trying to help the church determine future spending budgets. I.E. they should have the replacement budgeted in the next 5 years, 10 years, 15 years.


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,832
    A while back

    Smith had some issues with the 28 series where sections would fail. This resulted in the current 28A series which I haven't heard anything about. But given that this is an older 28, I'd say 5 years to be on the safe side.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,710

    Seriously. You see CI boilers older than the universe doing fine while other ones literally rot in a dozen years. My theory is that it depend on duty cycle and how much water is consumed. If boiler stays hot all season and no fresh water brings introduces undesireables why should the boiler wear out?
  • Chuck_17
    Chuck_17 Member Posts: 133
    Misc. Componants

    Generalizing a bit - a lot of churches with steam heat are quite old and the boiler room is a dank room in the basement that does not get a lot of TLC.

    Aside from the cast iron sections, the burner, shell and all the other components and controls will deteriorate. They must reach a point where it is not worth replacing components?
  • Dean_7
    Dean_7 Member Posts: 192
    edited December 2013
    Boiler Life

    My Burnham Independence 4PV (properly installed and maintained in a dry basement) rotted out and failed in 8 years (see picture) and it did not use much make up water. The boiler it replaced a Royal Red Glow originally coal fired, converted to oil and finally converted to gas was 75+ years old. I guess it depends
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    Almost All

    Almost all boiler manufactures have had issues with there products at one time or another…I feel comfortable telling people 30 years on cast iron boilers…There are variables, such as how they are installed ,and have they been maintained per manf. instructions…A lot of boiler manufactures take a beating over improperly installed appliances…..The environment the boiler exists in as well has much to do with it…..Hope I helped….
  • Church boiler

    Why not post some pictures of the boiler, and piping along with the specs, and if we can see any issues, then the future prospects may not be so rosy.

    The important factor is the amount of fresh water which is needing to be added regularly.

    Is there an auto-fill? Try turning it off and monitor any waterline drop for the first few days.

    A thirsty boiler is introducing a supply of oxygenated water into the cast iron sections, which will shorten its life. Look for any chlorine containing chemicals stored close to the boiler, as these vapors can contribute to the corrosion of the boiler.

    If it will need replacement, then it may be replaced with a pair of boilers (sized properly) which could be more economical to run.--NBC
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,090
    Rotted out boiler

    O would get my water tested for chlorides if your boiler rotted out like that in 8 years and you claim it didn't use much water.
  • Dean_7
    Dean_7 Member Posts: 192

    Most likely reason it failed. Our water comes from city wells rather than Lake Michigan as do most other cities on the west shoreline. After some research I found out that the city actually had a well on the street I live on and it was shut down decades ago because of extremely high chloride levels.
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