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Cracked Boiler - Warranty Claim?

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Hi Heating Help!

I just bought my first home this past June. It has an oil fired Smith Series 8 steam boiler that is used for heat and DHW. Yesterday I noticed a sudden drop in the water level. I slowly added water and it all leaked out on the floor so I shut it down and pulled off the jacket and it looks like the flange between the boiler and tankless coil has cracked.

http://imgur.com/HEp6h98
http://imgur.com/CwRymJT

The boiler is still under warranty for the next 3 months. I contacted Smith and they told me this is not covered due to the corrosion.

Is this worth appealing?

Thanks!
Danny Scully
«1

Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,899
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    IIRC that warranty is pro-rated, so you wouldn't get much anyway.

    But that's the first time I've seen one of the older 8 series boilers fail. In general they're built like tanks.

    Do you have natural gas available?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • CrackedSmith
    CrackedSmith Member Posts: 12
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    No natural gas. Any chance of repair?
  • CrackedSmith
    CrackedSmith Member Posts: 12
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    Oh - and the warranty is 100% up to 10 years and then it is prorated, but if I understand correctly it is only for parts not labor.
  • MikeSpeed6030
    MikeSpeed6030 Member Posts: 69
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    Not sure who you would appeal to?
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
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    That was probably leaking for a good while before it failed, did you have it inspected before buying the house?

    When replacing a boiler the labor is the lions share of the cost, you could just replace that section but it's still going to cost a lot of money.

    Nobody likes to hear this but unless you can do the work yourself start looking for a new boiler.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • CrackedSmith
    CrackedSmith Member Posts: 12
    edited September 2016
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    BobC said:

    That was probably leaking for a good while before it failed, did you have it inspected before buying the house?

    When replacing a boiler the labor is the lions share of the cost, you could just replace that section but it's still going to cost a lot of money.

    Nobody likes to hear this but unless you can do the work yourself start looking for a new boiler.

    Bob

    The inspector did point out the corrosion around the inlet to the coil. Prior owner showed that it had been serviced every year so at worst I expected that the coil may need to be replaced. I wasn't worried about the integrity of the boiler itself given that it was <10 years old.

    Edit: I'm not sure what is involved with replacing the coil, but I would entertain DIY if it is possible. I've done engine rebuilds, basic mig welding so I am mechanically inclined. A quick search shows that the coil is about half the cost of a new boiler....
  • CrackedSmith
    CrackedSmith Member Posts: 12
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    Not sure who you would appeal to?

    I sent Smith the pictures and they called saying that due to the corrosion they didn't consider it a warranty issue. I didn't make a counter argument, but I am surprised that a boiler that is maintained every year fails after <10 years. I'm sure I could press the issue if there is a legitimate argument that this is a manufacturing defect.
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,443
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    Very odd to see it crack there.... Just because it was "maintained" does not mean it was maintained right. Having the burner checked and vacuumed out is only part of the process. Was it flushed out? How about the water quality?
  • CrackedSmith
    CrackedSmith Member Posts: 12
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    kcopp said:

    Very odd to see it crack there.... Just because it was "maintained" does not mean it was maintained right. Having the burner checked and vacuumed out is only part of the process. Was it flushed out? How about the water quality?

    True. All I've got to go on is the paperwork saying it was "serviced." I'm on town water in Massachusetts.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,742
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    Not sure who you would appeal to?

    I sent Smith the pictures and they called saying that due to the corrosion they didn't consider it a warranty issue. I didn't make a counter argument, but I am surprised that a boiler that is maintained every year fails after <10 years. I'm sure I could press the issue if there is a legitimate argument that this is a manufacturing defect.</p>
    That corrosion is long term not in the past year or 2. It was maintained to whose standards? My guess someone with low standards. That corrosion should have been addressed, but the previous homeowner or the service company decided to ignore it and leave you holding the bag. This is why Smith is telling you it's not warranty, lack of care isn't their fault.

    Not sure of a DIY solution to this, the cast iron block looks to be cracked. By the time you buy a new coil and a new cast iron section and replace it you will be in for almost if not as much as a new replacement.

    Where are you located? We may be able to recommend a good steam contractor in your area to come have a look and advise you.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    It really looks to me like someone kept cranking on the bolts, hoping to draw it up enough to stop the leaking. They cranked until they cracked.
    Bob Bona_4Charlie from wmass
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,624
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    I think Fred has it right
    Bob Bona_4
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    edited September 2016
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    @Steamhead
    When did the move the coil to the side of the boiler on the Series 8? That bolt, open to the side of the casting is a bad design. They'd have been better off to go to the back of the casting with a heavy duty washer.

    Or, has that always been the configuration for steam?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,899
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    On steam it's always been there. The front plate location is above the waterline on a steamer, so it wouldn't work there.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Charlie from wmass
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
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    OK.....I have a water Series 8. I really don't like that design. It's like putting a carriage bolt in a toilet tank.
    Bob Bona_4
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 998
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    Replacing a section on a Smith is not a DYI! We even assemble Smith boilers for other plumbing contractors that learned the hard way. That is definetly a stress crack by over thightening the bolts.
    Bob Bona_4Charlie from wmass
  • CrackedSmith
    CrackedSmith Member Posts: 12
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    Fred said:

    It really looks to me like someone kept cranking on the bolts, hoping to draw it up enough to stop the leaking. They cranked until they cracked.

    That crossed my mind as well. I wonder if the previous owner noticed the leak and got out their socket set and cranked on it. Strange thing is it was holding steam for a month or two after I bought the house and seemed to crack suddenly.

    Right now it is shutdown and we are without hot water. Is there any way to jury rig it until I can get it replaced? JB Weld?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,899
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    At this point, it sounds like Smith isn't going to do anything. With three months left on the warranty they'll probably just try to run out the clock. Given the experience one of our clients has had with a 28A leaking at the gaskets, this doesn't surprise me.

    And there is a fair question whether a replacement section is even available, since they changed the 8 series over to a re-branded Peerless WBV several years ago.

    You might be better off just replacing it with a Burnham MegaSteam, which is available with a tankless coil. The MegaSteam is the most efficient residential steamer out there, and the easiest to maintain.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    SWEIHenryNew England SteamWorks
  • CrackedSmith
    CrackedSmith Member Posts: 12
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    Steamhead said:

    At this point, it sounds like Smith isn't going to do anything. With three months left on the warranty they'll probably just try to run out the clock. Given the experience one of our clients has had with a 28A leaking at the gaskets, this doesn't surprise me.

    And there is a fair question whether a replacement section is even available, since they changed the 8 series over to a re-branded Peerless WBV several years ago.

    You might be better off just replacing it with a Burnham MegaSteam, which is available with a tankless coil. The MegaSteam is the most efficient residential steamer out there, and the easiest to maintain.

    Sounds like I should give up on the repair / warranty. The soonest I can get a HVAC contractors in for an estimate is beginning of next week. I've got the wiring in place for an electric HW heater so I'm considering putting one in which takes some of the pressure off the boiler replacement time line. Electric HW should be more efficient than tankless coil right? I think I could also run the supply line through the new boiler so that there is less electric use in the winter?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Fred said:

    It really looks to me like someone kept cranking on the bolts, hoping to draw it up enough to stop the leaking. They cranked until they cracked.

    That crossed my mind as well. I wonder if the previous owner noticed the leak and got out their socket set and cranked on it. Strange thing is it was holding steam for a month or two after I bought the house and seemed to crack suddenly.

    Right now it is shutdown and we are without hot water. Is there any way to jury rig it until I can get it replaced? JB Weld?
    It may well be that it was cranked down so much that after a couple months of expansion/contraction from heating cycles to heat water, the cast iron finally gave out. If I were any boiler manufacturer, I too would have a hard time feeling like that was a boiler flaw/defect. I might make some concession for the sake of "Good Will" but that would be just that, "Good will" for the sake of customer relations.
    If it were me, I'd put that standalone water heater in. I think they are a much better solution than having the boiler run year round, 6 to 9 months of which is just for hot water. JMHO
  • CrackedSmith
    CrackedSmith Member Posts: 12
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    Fred said:

    Fred said:

    It really looks to me like someone kept cranking on the bolts, hoping to draw it up enough to stop the leaking. They cranked until they cracked.

    That crossed my mind as well. I wonder if the previous owner noticed the leak and got out their socket set and cranked on it. Strange thing is it was holding steam for a month or two after I bought the house and seemed to crack suddenly.

    Right now it is shutdown and we are without hot water. Is there any way to jury rig it until I can get it replaced? JB Weld?
    It may well be that it was cranked down so much that after a couple months of expansion/contraction from heating cycles to heat water, the cast iron finally gave out. If I were any boiler manufacturer, I too would have a hard time feeling like that was a boiler flaw/defect. I might make some concession for the sake of "Good Will" but that would be just that, "Good will" for the sake of customer relations.
    If it were me, I'd put that standalone water heater in. I think they are a much better solution than having the boiler run year round, 6 to 9 months of which is just for hot water. JMHO
    Are the new Smith boilers any good? Wondering if they would offer a discount on a replacement unit.

    Would be nice if they made the same model so that all of the connections could be reused :-(
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,742
    edited September 2016
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    Sounds like I should give up on the repair / warranty. The soonest I can get a HVAC contractors in for an estimate is beginning of next week. I've got the wiring in place for an electric HW heater so I'm considering putting one in which takes some of the pressure off the boiler replacement time line. Electric HW should be more efficient than tankless coil right? I think I could also run the supply line through the new boiler so that there is less electric use in the winter?

    Make sure you are getting a competent steam contractor and not just any HVAC company. Steam has a lot of details that need to be correct in order to perform correctly. You are in Massachusetts @Charlie from wmass is in MA, but not sure if he serves your area? Where in MA? Charlie will travel.

    Also if you post pictures of your current boiler and piping we may be able to give you an evaluation of if what you have is even close to correct.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
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    Yes I go there. It is Massachusetts. Just not sure how far it is from home. It would be great if it were in the 413 area code. Been in 978 and 508 a lot this year.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    As @Steamhead said, the new Smith boilers are a re-branded Peerless. Peerless makes a good quality series of steam boilers, but the Burnham Megasteam is considered probably a top of the line oil boiler. Having said that, i understand your interest in maybe getting some kind of discount from Smith, on a replacement. Hopefully Steamhead or one of the other Pros will give you some feedback on the quality/longevity of the current Smith product(s).
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,899
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    We haven't used one of the later Smiths. Since the OP doesn't have gas available, the MegaSteam is the way to go.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
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    I still like my Weil Mclain sgo boilers incase gas does become available.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • CrackedSmith
    CrackedSmith Member Posts: 12
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    Thanks for all the help. I'll post pictures of the plumbing when I get home tonight.

    Is there a "value" boiler recommendation versus "the best." Due to some changing personal situation I'm not sure that we will be in the house long term so I won't necessarily reap the long term benefits of the highest efficiency device / longest lasting.
  • CrackedSmith
    CrackedSmith Member Posts: 12
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    Yes I go there. It is Massachusetts. Just not sure how far it is from home. It would be great if it were in the 413 area code. Been in 978 and 508 a lot this year.

    Sent you an email.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    I still like my Weil Mclain sgo boilers incase gas does become available.

    My argument with this is how easy the Megasteam is to clean vs taking all of the sheet metal screws out and pulling the top off of the SGO. What a nightmare.

    Honestly, if I ever need a new steamer I might go with a Megasteam and gas gun just because, 3 pass.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    New England SteamWorks
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
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    Screw gun and magnetic parts holder. Honestly I install both. If they are properly set up both are easy to clean.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    Screw gun and magnetic parts holder. Honestly I install both. If they are properly set up both are easy to clean.

    The Burnham you open the doors to clean.
    No screw gun or parts holder. No?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
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    4 bolts on the back, open door, remove baffles, and take off breeching. SGO has a swing out door too btw
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    4 bolts on the back, open door, remove baffles, and take off breeching. SGO has a swing out door too btw

    You don't pull the 4 screws off the top and pull the top off to brush down the sections?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
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    Installing a new rear section today.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    Installing a new rear section today.

    On the OP's boiler?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    kcopp
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
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    Yes
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    ChrisJ
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,899
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    How'd you manage that? I thought replacement sections for older 8 series boilers weren't available....................
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
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    I guess I'll find out in a minute if it doesn't fit. Westfield is going to get one hell of an angry call from this Scotsman
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    njtommykcopp
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    Charle's attitude just went from "What an awesome Friday, let's get this done" to "oh, great, I hope this works......"

    I hope it works out.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
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    No attitude still good
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    ChrisJkcopp