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Replace Steam Boiler vs Convert to Hot Water
I have a two pipe vapor steam system in a 1936 home (VECO system, house about 4000 sq ft). Original boiler was swapped for a Weil McLean gas boiler in 1990's, but failed due to a hole in the boiler at the end of the last heating season. I have struggled over the years getting the system maintained. The plumber who installed the Weil McLean boiler has been good, but runs a small shop, is near retirement, and is very busy and often only able to help me for emergencies (often never makes it out for routine maintenance - too busy with other crises). Anyone else who has looked at the system has generally screwed it up. Boiler now has a hole in it, presumably from a leaking wet condensate return line buried in my concrete basement floor (there are two of those). I have some rooms that are a bit colder, so the system is not in perfect balance. Doubt any of the convector valves or traps have ever been maintained or replaced in 80 years. I have quotes for steam boiler replacement or conversion to high efficiency HW system (using existing risers, dry returns and radiators). The HW conversion is more expensive, but when you take into consideration repiping the wet returns (not necessary with the HW), doing deferred maintenance on the convector valves and traps, and relining the chimney (included in the HW quote), the price difference is not huge (20-30% difference depending on the quote). Assuming a successful conversion, I'd expect much easier maintenance on the HW system. Given the struggle I have had finding competent maintenance help for my current system, that is a significant factor. On the other hand, I know the VECO system was supposed to be pretty good, and I certainly don't want sprinkler systems my walls (all my convectors are recessed in my walls and all the risers are hidden in the walls). The company quoting the conversion has done a few dozen using existing pipes and convectors and claims to have only had one leaking riser so far. They pressure test everything first. Been struggling with this decision for a few weeks now. Read Dan's books, but still stuck. Any thoughts very welcome.