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Replace 2004 Burnham Oil Boiler or switch to Natural Gas boiler?

mossbak Member Posts: 6
Moved into a 1907 house in Portland, OR. Came with Burnham Oil Boiler from 2004, model LE2-GBI2S. It works but has lots of issues. Wanted opinions on repairing it (expensive) or replace with natural gas boiler (really expensive). The natural gas direction will be about 4 times more expensive.

Considerations. This is installed in a nice, high-ceiling basement that I'd like to convert to living space. Current mis-tuned boiler is medium loud and a little sooty and takes up a large corner. Air quality goes down after it's been running a while. Will air quality greatly improve when it's running properly? I understand natural gas is smaller footprint, quieter, and cleaner. Can I wall in to reduce noise? What type of venting required?

I'm not familiar with boilers, but am just getting started with lingo and how they work, bare with me. :)

Current known issues:
  • Lots of soot; vent pipe is full and needs cleaning or replacing; not sure what needs calibration
  • TPR valve and incoming PR line are both dripping, quite a lot
  • Pressure release valve not working
  • RP device (reduced pressure divide backflow preventer device for make-up water line) is missing / not installed correctly / or not working (unclear)
  • Temp and pressure gauge not working
  • Pressure reducing valve to regulate system pressure from make up water line is currently not functioning.
  • 2 new auto air vents one on boiler one upstairs on one of the radiators currently not functioning.
  • Piping to the floor drain is missing (concrete is cut out and drips into dirt)
  • No expansion tank, needed?
What would you do? Scrap the boiler because too many problems or repair? Again going with a new natural gas boiler will be about 4 times more expensive.


    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,801
    Sound like a lot of issues. Only you can decide but I would hate to give up on a 12 year old boiler...sounds like it wasn't installed right......Hopefully someone that knows what he's doing will install the new one.

    The soot problem in the flue and the pressure relief valve not working (if it is true) is a big concern from a safety standpoint. I suggest you at least have a professional that knows what he's doing take a least a cursory look to make sure this thing is safe asap
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,539
    edited November 2016
    May I point out that everything about that boiler which needs fixing and replacing, except the tuneup, will also need to be done for a new boiler? Granted there are a fair number of problems, some of which are -- as @EBEBRATT-Ed said -- real safety issues.

    From the description it sounds as though the burner hasn't been properly cleaned and tuned up for quite some time. Like... maybe since new. Just doing that, once the vent pipe and flue issue is fixed (which should be done yesterday, if not sooner, along with the pressure relief valve)(note that the pressure relief valve may be weeping because the system really is overpressured, given the faulty backflow preventer and pressure reducing valves)(I would get the rest of the issues cleared up as soon as possible, as well, like within the next week or two at the longest) you may find that any soot and odour problems disappear.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,259
    Is this the Direct vent model (no chimney) or the model that vents into a chimney? if its the DV model I would dump it for the Gas
  • mossbak
    mossbak Member Posts: 6
    edited November 2016
    Thank you for the feedback. Vent goes into chimney. I have good photos, if that's helpful to share, know how to add them to the thread?

    - Going to get the chimney, vent, and boiler power vaced this week.
    - Is replacing the pressure release valve and tuning something a homeowner can tackle? Moderately mechanically minded and have done a decent amount of DIY work, but more on the carpentry end.

  • Doesn't sound like anything major to me. Just sounds like it hasn't been serviced in quite some time. Wouldn't make sense to me to scrap a 12 year old boiler based on what you have written. You just need a good boiler man to come in and get you squared away. And then you need to make sure you invite him back once a year.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
  • mossbak
    mossbak Member Posts: 6
    After a power vac company accidentally broke the front door insulation during cleaning, a different boiler tech came out and discovered a large expansion tank tucked between the ceiling joists that was full. After we drained it the TPR valve and incoming PR line stopped dripping and the temp and heat gauge were within range (previous tech took their redlining as being broken). The boiler was insanely dirty and nearly all 14 fireholes in the chamber clogged, turbulators broken or rusted to nothing. Tune up, replacing some worn or broken gaskets, etc., next.