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Oil fired steam boiler has massive leak

Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
Hello, I purchased a home about a year ago built in 1900 with an ancient Arcoliner 120k BTU oil fired steam boiler. It got us through last winter but the other day it had completely leaked out all of its water through the bottom (see pic). I refilled it slightly and as you can see from the pic, it definitely has a bad leak. I would love to save the boiler but i dont know if thats possible now and I am just looking for advice or recommendations. Of course I would like the financial impact to be as little as possible. Natural gas is available in my area ($800 to run the line to our house). We planned on living in this house for about 5 years or so then moving up. Based on all that information, what would you do?

Thank You

Comments

  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,860Member
    If you are lucky, the leak may come from a nipple which can be changed, but most likely, this leak is terminal.
    Make sure to measure your radiation to make sure of the correct size of the replacement boiler. I would get the gas line run in as well, even though oil has become cheaper. The lower cost, and convenience of having your fuel always there, instead of having to order it is worth the $800.00--NBC
  • Bob Bona_4Bob Bona_4 Posts: 2,083Member
    I would change the boiler and get gas in the house before cold weather comes. No brainer.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,657Member
    Just to repeat my post on your other thread --

    There's no reason at all to switch to baseboard. Stay with the steam, but ditch the heating company that said anything about switching to baseboard. Find someone who can do steam -- as KC said unless you are really out in the boonies somewhere there are folks on this board who will travel.

    Where are you located?
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    Thanks I really appreciate the help. I calculated my EDR as 138 sq ft. 138x240 equals 33120 btu's? If that's the case than woah, we are way oversized with a 120k. I am fine going with gas ( there is a wait list apparently) and keeping the steam. Am I missing something with my calculations? There column style rads varying in height and column count. Getting my first on site estimate tomorrow so I will keep you posted.

    Thanks
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,130Member
    Are those the only 2 rads in the whole house?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    7 rads in all, similar to those two (bathroom is very small). I live in central Rhode island by the way.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,121Member
    Those are tube, not column, radiators. The left one is a large-tube type, likely a "Corto" made by American Radiator Co. The one on the right is a small-tube rad, but I'm not sure what make.

    Ratings are pretty much standard for both these radiator types. Dan covers these, and more, in his book "E.D.R." .
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    Oops I mixed them up. I am pretty sure 6/7 rads are from American radiator, the other one in the picture has no brand shown. They all operated great when our boiler was running last winter. I had to tighten two of them up after I noticed small leaks but they are solid and in great condition. What is your opinion on the "radiator boxes" that surround and direct the heat from the rads directly out into the room?

    Thanks
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,121Member
    Those radiator boxes waste a lot of fuel. If you have them, get rid of 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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • vaporvacvaporvac Posts: 1,516Member
    Can you give a pic of the rad boxes? Do you mean enclosures? In general (and almost always), they can cut efficiency by as much as 30%, but if well designed they can increase it by about the same. The same goes for paint colour.
    Does it look like any rads were removed?
    OK guys and gals...any suggestions for a wet-based boiler with a gas conversion burner in this size?
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    Oh no I don't have them, just wanted to see if anyone uses them. I just got an estimate for changing out the boiler and switching to gas. Was on the high side so I may continue exploring other options. Plus he did not even stay long and did not calculate the EDR like I did last night. Any suggestions? I have about 2-3 months to figure this out. Thank fully we have a walkout basement so removal/install should be easy.

    Thanks
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,130Member
    Tim8954 said:

    Was on the high side so I may continue exploring other options.



    Thanks

    I think Hat pretty much covered how you should approach this, but I will reiterate be very careful shopping by cost. You don't know (yet) what a proper install is, so how do you know what a proper price is? It's going to be expensive you should start embracing that now. Also be careful about thinking you have time. If a contractor is good they are often booked further out than you may think. We see tons of people on this site that come here after it's wrong and then spend as much as the original install to fix it. So if you go cheap, double that cost and that's what it would probably end up costing to get it working properly. Where are you located? We may be able to recommend someone in your area.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • vaporvacvaporvac Posts: 1,516Member
    edited August 2015
    But as we've also seen many times, a high price is no indicator of quality either. It's imperative to measure the EDR, so if they didn't do that they're just going off the size of the old boiler which will cost alot in both comfort and fuel. I'm curious what boiler and size this contractor suggested? Did you say you were in Rhode Island? Also, did you determine it's actually the boiler that's leaking, rather than some pipe leading to it?
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • RobGRobG Posts: 1,850Member
    edited August 2015

    Tim8954 said:

    7 rads in all, similar to those two (bathroom is very small). I live in central Rhode island by the way.

    See if either of these fellows will come out (down) to you:

    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating

    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/j-a-phinney-plumbing-and-heating


    Either one will do the right job (or they won't do it at all).

    No need for photographs.

    No need to interview "prospective contractors" who know nothing about steam.

    No risk of posting photos of your miserable install in January when the noise is driving you nuts.

    PRICELESS.
    Also, you can contact Tim Mcelwain who is in your area and he will be able to recommend a good contractor up there. He runs a gas and heating training facility in R.I. Just tell him that he was referred to on Heating Help.

    401-437-0557 or e-mail [email protected]
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    I really appreciate all the helpful advice. I will be contacting everyone you referred to discuss our situation. Yes I am in Warwick, RI. Having someone reffered is very helpful as I already don't trust most of the people out here to do a proper job (price aside). The guy that came barely looked at anything and was gone in 5 mins. The longest convo we had was about this fantastic financing plan they have, seriously. I will keep you posted, let me know if you think of anyone or anything else.

    Thank You
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    Also, when I fill it with water it just leaks right of the bottom corner internally. There is no way for me to know the extent of it without going on.
  • RobGRobG Posts: 1,850Member
    It is dead! :'(
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    I also would assume you would only reccomend someone to do it that is fully licensed in ri?
  • RobGRobG Posts: 1,850Member
    Tim8954 said:

    I also would assume you would only reccomend someone to do it that is fully licensed in ri?

    That's why I gave you Tim's info, he is from there and knows the contractors.
  • RobGRobG Posts: 1,850Member

    Tim8954 said:

    I also would assume you would only reccomend someone to do it that is fully licensed in ri?

    Their license situation can best be determined after you speak with them. If they cannot install in RI, they will tell you.
    In a perfect world I would agree. In this world nowadays I disagree. As we see almost everyday a handyman is willing to take anyone's money. Just make sure that whoever does the work is licensed and insured, bonded is nice too but is not really necessary for residential work. As I said before call Tim for contractor recommendations and keep us updated.
  • vaporvacvaporvac Posts: 1,516Member
    Please let us know you eventually find and encourage them to list themselves here. There have been quite a few request for steam specialists in RI.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • RobGRobG Posts: 1,850Member
    edited August 2015

    RobG said:

    Tim8954 said:

    I also would assume you would only reccomend someone to do it that is fully licensed in ri?

    Their license situation can best be determined after you speak with them. If they cannot install in RI, they will tell you.
    In a perfect world I would agree. In this world nowadays I disagree. As we see almost everyday a handyman is willing to take anyone's money. Just make sure that whoever does the work is licensed and insured, bonded is nice too but is not really necessary for residential work. As I said before call Tim for contractor recommendations and keep us updated.
    We were speaking about JA or Charlie.............you really cannot disagree about those two gentleman.
    No, I would recommend either one but I don't believe they are licensed in RI (I may be wrong). That's why I gave Tim's info.

    And you can't really disagree with the OP getting advice from Tim who is practically in his backyard.
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    Thanks everyone. I contacted everyone and am just awaiting confirmatiom on next steps. Of course, using someone unlicensed may also prevent a potential $700 rebate through our power company on the boiler. I am making preparations to get a gas line to our house so I am 100% on going with gas and keeping steam, just need the right person to do it now. Would I save a lot of $ disposing of the old boiler for scrap myself?

    Thanks
  • vaporvacvaporvac Posts: 1,516Member
    Well, I wouldn't say you'd get much for the scrap. I got $50 for my large boiler. I was actually pleased they paid that much for rust. :)
    However, not one of my estimates included taking out and disposing of the old boiler so you might save something there if you do that yourself. Just wait until they see the job first. As I'd already abated any asbestos on the near-boiler piping, I did it myself. It was actually easier than I would have thought, but the correct technique was key. I used a wedge between the sections with a quick whack to separate them. I cushioned their fall with an old tire. It went quickly and was MUCH easier than trying to take it out intact.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    Well what I was thinking was to have a scrapper come remove it after it is all disconnected. I actually already have someone lined up. Of course I have no idea how to safely unhook the boiler so that will have to be done by a pro first. I believe the biggest savings would be having a person remove it for me instead of paying, even if they did it for free. We have a walkout basement so it is literally a straight 10 foot walk right into our driveway from where the boiler is, no stairs.
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    I am also really thinking of sticking with oil since going to gas would be roughly 3k more with the lines run, chimney liner, etc. Or would I need a chimney liner no matter what? I do not think I would see that 3k in the 5 or so years we would be living there. When we move I will be renting out the property for passive income so that is a factor in my final decision as well. Of course I am sure most of you would say having gas heat is a bigger selling point than oil.
  • Bob Bona_4Bob Bona_4 Posts: 2,083Member
    If there's still an Arcoliner in the house, I would be amazed if a liner was ever done. And a c.1900 house would be a definite for one. Get an inspection/quote.
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    I was told by one of the contractors that it may just be able to be cleaned?
  • Bob Bona_4Bob Bona_4 Posts: 2,083Member
    Cleaning is always good, but need to determine if it's even lined with clay let alone a modern stainless liner. The Arcoliner exhaust is like a billion degrees, and masks some chimney deficiencies. Switch to a moder lower exhaust temp boiler and you really need to have it lined.
  • Tim8954Tim8954 Posts: 15Member
    I just found out our gas company is running lines for free now (within 81 Ft of the street) so that is pretty much the deciding factor to go with gas.
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