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Boiler replacement Urgency

excalibur Member Posts: 5
My 20+ year old New York oil-fired boiler has had a crack in the heat exchanger.
I get it serviced very year and for last 3 years, the serviceman mentioned it but said nothing serious.
Yesterday's service, he told me the combustion chamber lining (not sure what, I guess something that prevents gases from getting outside) had worn out and I should replace boiler soon.
I'm curious why this never an issue with any previous service - how could that become a serious problem so quickly.
Looking for opinions on whether this is an exaggeration, what issues could arise from this etc.


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,327
    In general, you don't replace a boiler because of a cracked firebox/combustion chamber liner. You replace the liner. But if the cast iron boiler sections are leaking, then it's time for a new boiler.

    What model New Yorker?

    Is this a steam or hot-water system?

    Where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,985
    I am guessing this is a steel AP-U series NYer boiler and it needs a new firebox. If it was damaged it may have burned through the back.
  • excalibur
    excalibur Member Posts: 5
    Its a York S-154-AP - oil fired boiler, hot water system.
    Yes its steel.
    Im in CT.
    Its not leaking for sure.
    But he showed me a thin gap all around the firebox - he says the lining is gone or else I wouldnt be able to see through that gap.

    Is it expensive or worth it to replace the firebox?

    Also, curious, if it was really serious, wouldnt the previous years servicemen noticed it before it got to this point?
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 953
    Excalibur, The average life of refractory is about 10 years. If you got 20 years out of it, I would imagine the boiler has been well maintained. You could have an intact firebox one year and next year it could be cracked. That is why you want to check the boiler annually or semi annually. Good luck
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,173
    As long at the boiler is not leaking it is usually cost effective to repair a combustion chamber. (top red arrow item 21)

    I have attached the exploded view of what is inside the metal jacket (covers). if you look at the bottom box of the heater this is made of thick sheet metal but not so thick that the flame from your oil burner wont destroy it. To protect this box from her heat of the flame from the burner there is a ceramic fiber "Combustion Chamber" (item 21 in the illustration) if the crack in the combustion chamber is getting bigger each year, eventually it will become urgent to replace the Combustion Chamber.

    as long as the crack is minor the flame will not distroy the Fire Box (item 20)

    Depending on the condition of the screws/bolts/studs/or nuts that hold the cover on the combustion chamber, this may be a 1 hour job. If the fasteners are rusted over, then heating them with acetylene torch to free up the corrosion and rust, or worst broken off and need to weld new studs on the firebox, this can be several hours.

    Finally if the combustion chamber crack is very bad and the flame has already destroyed the fire box (if the crack is at the lower red arrow in the diagram) then additional steel plate will be needed and additional fire-proof insulation should be added. any signs of overheating on the exterior jacket should be panted over so that new heat damage can be easily identified in the future.

    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,450
    Is a 20 year old steel single pass firetube boiler worth that type of investment?
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • excalibur
    excalibur Member Posts: 5
    edited September 2016
    Thanks - I see it now.
    From what he showed me, the crack is at the lower red arrow.
    As you may guess, I am not handy to do this myself.
    But from what you tell me, no specialized parts are needed correct?
    Would any heating tech be able to do it?
    Over here I have a tough time getting anyone to do this kind of repair - they all seem keen only on new installs.
  • Aaron_in_Maine
    Aaron_in_Maine Member Posts: 315
    I'm with Mr. O'Brien. Your going through a lot of hassle and expense to fix a cheap boiler. I would just replace it.
    Aaron Hamilton Heating
    [email protected] yahoo.com
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    I'll 3rd that..20 years old...in my opinion is nearing the end of it's life. If it's going to fail odds are it will be very cold outside...and possibly inside while you wait for a new one...
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 832
    kaowool anybody?