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Burnham gas conversion

Pat HPat H Member Posts: 5
I'm in the process of purchasing a 1920s colonial with one pipe steam running off a recently installed Burham Megasteam (MST-396). The home has gas for cooking, but the previous owners stuck with oil when they replaced it last year. I am interested in converting to gas and am hoping I can replace just the burner.

I've read previous threads here and understand it is a reasonably good contender for conversion in terms of efficiency using a Carlin EZ-GAS, but that Burnham does not approve of it and it would invalidate the warranty. I'm not worried about the warranty (which I believe wouldn't transfer to me as the new homeowner anyways).

What I'm having trouble sorting out is, given that it is technically possible, is there actually anyone out there doing it? If so, can you comment on any challenges around code, homeowners insurance, etc? I've tried calling around to a few local pros (Lowell, Mass), including some from the contractor list here, but haven't found anyone willing to consider the job (although to be fair, that wasn't because of the Burnham concern, more that they didn't do burner conversion work for any manufacturers).


  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,337
    Here we go again

    There is a certain person who will almost certainly come on here and try to discourage you from converting that boiler.

    There is apparently some sort of political situation within Burnham where one or two people in the company are opposed to this. It certainly is not a good business decision, since a gas-fired MegaSteam would sell extremely well. Like it or not, oil heat is circling the drain except in areas with no natural gas, and it makes no sense to tie your best equipment to a declining fuel source.

    I can find no technical or safety reason that a modern gas burner like the Carlin EZ-Gas or the Riello would not work in a MegaSteam. If it were mine, I'd convert it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • Pat HPat H Member Posts: 5

    Thanks Steamhead. Are you aware of anyone that's done it without getting and grief from inspectors, insurance, etc?

    Most folks seem to be in agreement that it is worth doing, but I haven't been able to find anyone who has bit the bullet and actually done it, let alone a local pro willing to take on the job.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,337
    Around here

    inspectors don't care as long as the installation meets Code. We have never had an inspector ask whether the conversion burner would have been an OEM option. UL has listed these burners for conversion/upgrade installations as well as OEM use, and Code requires equipment to be UL listed. So do insurance companies.

    The installation itself must meet the ANSI Z21.8 standard, with the gas portion meeting NFPA 54 or whichever Code is used for gas in your area. So there are the standards: UL approval, ANSI Z21.8 and the gas code.

    For generations, coal-fired boilers and furnasties were converted to burn oil or gas instead of being completely replaced (OK, some of these things should have been replaced instead of converted, but that's another story). So there is more than enough precedent for converting oil-fired boilers to gas. Some of these boilers were made by companies that did not survive the Depression (1929, not 2008) so it would have been impossible to coordinate with their manufacturers. The solution was to establish Codes and standards for the equipment and workmanship, which we still have.

    ISTR the auto manufacturers once tried to void their warranties if any non-OEM parts were used on their vehicles. The outcome was that they would have had to prove the non-OEM part caused the failure to deny warranty. I don't have the details on this though, maybe someone out there would know who was involved.

    Burnham is basically shooting itself in the foot over this. Most people would react that if they have to buy a new boiler, it won't be a Burnham. That's a shame, since the MegaSteam could have been a real game-changer for them.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act

    I've asked before for a reason this should not apply to boilers

    The way it was explained to me (when I worked in a different industry) was that in the event of a claim, the burden of proof fell on the manufacturer (they had to either prove that the aftermarket part actually caused the failure or honor the warranty.)
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,409
    It's not uncommon

    I live just south of Boston and when i had my Smith G8 steam boiler installed with a Carlin EZ-Gas all the inspector wanted to see was a gas leak test, so some in this state just care it's done properly. You might try contacting Charles Garrity In Lennoxdale to see if he will come that far or if he know someone in the area that can help you.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • RobGRobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Oh Harper

    Where has harper been? He must be on vacation.

    Definition or harper: Talk or write persistently and tediously on a particular topic: guys who are constantly harping on about conversion burners

    (I took the liberty of changing the last two words of the dictionary example sentence

  • JasonJason Member Posts: 293
    Gas conversion

    A contractor friend checked with a local lawyer a few years ago and he stated that since the manual specifically says For #2 fuel oil only, do not burn gaseous fuels (not exact wording) it did make it a legal issue since it was in print.
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,409
    Listen to the Bard

    Maybe we should include the MBA's as well


    God save your majesty!


    I thank you, good people: there shall be no money;

    all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will

    apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree

    like brothers and worship me their lord.


    The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.


    Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable

    thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should

    be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled

    o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:

    but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal

    once to a thing, and I was never mine own man

    since. How now! who's th
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Member Posts: 3,922
    That's not even far enough to warm up my truck

    I only go as far east as Provincetown. If you are east of there I can not help you.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
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