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Installer recommendation in my area

Hey guys,

I am new to this site and also new to boilers in general. I recently purchased a home built in 1950 which has a Weil-McLain E-9 Series 2 gas boiler that is around 40 years old. The gas valve and thermocoupler are bad and need replaced but I have a home warranty that is going to cover a chunk of replacing the entire unit. I was wondering if you guys new of a good steam installer in the North West Indiana area that I could have come and take a look at what I have. I have received a couple of quotes but am not confident that they are experts in boilers. The one quote just recommended replacing the boiler with a similar BTU model but I am not convinced that is the best route to go after reading some posts on here about boilers being sized incorrectly. I have yet to do an EDR analysis of the home and am planning to do that very soon, but the home is around 2,250 sq. ft. plus a basement.

Any help in this would be much appreciated!


  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
    I'm in Colorado, sorry I will not drive that far! Have you tried checking the 'find a contractor' link on this site?

    Some thoughts,

    The square footage of your house has little to do with the boiler you pick, it should be sized based on the EDR of the connected load. Make sure that whoever you pick is willing to stipulate in their contract that the boiler will be sized according to this (verify the number yourself, we can help you with this if you want) and that the boiler is to be installed ACCORDING TO THE MANUFACTURER'S INSTALLATION MANUAL!!!! The layout and minimum sizing of the riser(s), header, equalizer, and hartford loop stipulated in the manual ARE NOT UP FOR DEBATE!
    Make sure that your contract also includes installation of a skim port (this will be in the manual) and that they properly skim the boiler BEFORE putting it into operation. Skimming is long and boring and involves someone sitting by the boiler babysitting a very slow trickle of water into a bucket. This can take HOURS. Unless a newly installed steam boiler is properly skimmed, you will get banging, surging and all manner of different problems.

    Some extras (not technically required) that you may want to include as well, would be a vaporstat (as opposed to a pressuretrol) and a low pressure gauge (0-3 psi is pretty standard for this, code stipulates that you must have a 0-30 psi gauge as well). These will aid you in getting the efficiency as high as possible. Talk to your installer about checking the system for proper operation as well. Proper pitch of the mains, adequate venting in the proper place, proper operation of any condensate traps, etc...(depends on exactly what type of system you have).

    My best advice would be to get some books, educate yourself, and ask questions. We are all on here because we we love to talk about heating, so ask away. Some of the best steam experts in the country frequent this site! 'We Got Steam Heat' is a great book for a homeowner to have, and 'The Lost Art of Steam Heating' will explain anything you want to know in detail (though easy to read). 'Greening Steam' may be of interest to you as well. All available from the store on this site.

    Welcome to steam heat! It is likely that your system can be tuned to be very efficient and comfortable. With a new boiler and some maintenance, it will likely out last you!
  • bageise
    bageise Member Posts: 4
    edited December 2016
    Thanks Delta! All of your advice is greatly appreciated. I actually purchased the lost art of steam heating only a few hours ago. I will try the find a contractor link, I didn't realize there was one!
    delta T
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
    If you click 'Main Site' at the top of the page will be 'find a contractor'
  • bageise
    bageise Member Posts: 4
    Thank you Delta, I guess this will show how little I know...I have just realized that it is a hot water system as I have 2 pumps right next to the boiler. I apologize for my ignorance... Do you have suggestions for stipulations on a contract with a Hot water system?
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    However, there are some steam boilers that have a pump or 2 attached to them. Bageise, you have come this far, so you may as well post some pictures of your boiler....various angles.....and also the radiators or baseboard heaters.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,339
    Stephen Minich is in the Chicago area. You won't get any better.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    bageisedelta TTinman
  • bageise
    bageise Member Posts: 4
    edited December 2016

    I have included a bunch of pictures below of my boiler and radiators. The brown and white free standing radiators are the kind I have in the basement and the in wall are throughout the rest of the house. The one baseboard radiator is in the remodeled kitchen.

  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884

    Pretty much the same stuff applies. EDR survey is still necessary, however a heat loss calculation will also be crucial, make sure they do one (this will take several hours and they may not do one unless they get the job, contract should reflect this) and make sure the boiler is not oversized, at a guess your current boiler is about 4 or 5 times the size you actually need. The manual should always be followed. Obviously the steam specific advice can be ignored (no skimming a hot water boiler for instance, nor does the piping need pitch), however the system should still be checked over.

    If I were to bid on this I would include replacing the pumps (I would suggest one pump and zone valves not sure why you have multiple pumps and zone valves), removing the compression tank hanging from your ceiling and replace with a bladder type expansion tank replace the boiler feeder, re do most of the near boiler piping with proper piping support, adding a good air separator, check the flue for proper installation and rectify any problems with it (you may need a flue liner installed), replace the gas shutoff, likely add an outdoor reset control of some kind as a recommended upgrade (if it was not included with the selected boiler), and clean up the wiring as a minimum. If you get multiple bids make sure they are all apples to apples (especially in regards to what system components they are replacing)

    The kind of boiler is something to consider as well. If you want efficiency you can go with a modulating condensing boiler (also called a modcon, these are the Cadillacs), however the lifespan will be less, and there will be more maintenence, cast iron will have a longer life with less maintenance, at the cost of lower efficiency. A low mass fin tube boiler is a kind of middle ground, on all counts. The thing with modcons is that they like low temperature systems, which yours is not. They also require a special flue system which will add to the cost of installation. A modcon operating at high temperatures will only be marginally more efficient than a fin tube boiler. If there is an excess of radiation as compared to the heat loss of the structure, you may be able to run a modcon efficiently as you can run it at lower temperatures. Only the numbers will tell.

    Hot water heat is good too, and for what its worth the lost art of steam heating is still a great read! :)
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Hot water heat near Chicago? contact @Stephen Minnich

    Not sure how far into Indiana he'll go
    delta TTinman