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Need a new boiler soon...

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Jerry Withers
Jerry Withers Member Posts: 40
So, I had my annual steam boiler inspection done today, and the news is grim. My PENCO 1608HSD has developed a breach and while it still is running, it seems it time of loyal service is now limited. Asked for an estimate, and the initial ballpark estimate came in at $36,000. I think this is a bit excessive. It seems they are looking at putting in a hot water boiler and running all new pipes and radiators.

I would like to replace this with another steam boiler and pipe off a hot water zone for a portion of the house that is currently not being heated with this boiler, but it seems the local contractors are not really up to speed on that sort of thing. I am in NY state in the Fingerlakes and could really use some guidance and I am not sure if it will make it through another winter as it is.

Here a link to the property.

https://jrwebsterhouse.com/wiki/projects/jamesrusselwebsterhouse1/James_Russel_Webster_House.html

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,433
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    We don't talk price in numbers... however, the idea of taking out the steam and putting in hot water in its place is, forgive me, all wet. And far more expensive than replacing the steam boiler and putting in either steam or hot water in the part of the house not heated.

    The finger lakes region is not exactly a hot spot for steam folks, that's true, but any reasonably competent plumber can do the job of replacing a boiler, if he or she is capable of reading the manual for the boiler and sizing it properly.

    And we are always around to help.

    For that matter, it might even be possible to pay one of the folks who advertise on this site (try Find a Contractor for New York or Massachusetts and enquire) to come out for a few days and do the job. Still be cheaper.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jerry Withers
    Jerry Withers Member Posts: 40
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    Thanks, I was thinking of reaching out to someone here and have them come over. I just need some kind of reality check.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    Does that include an actual ballpark? I'd be curious as to what is driving the cost. Is there some sort of access issue, do all the returns need to be replaced?

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    A second opinion is certainly recommended. Changing to water would probably destroy a lot of the historic value of the house.
    Jerry Withers
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,616
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    asbestos removal????
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,891
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    This is basically a Dunkirk- for those not familiar, here's the manual:

    www.penncoboilers.com/sites/default/files/980.pdf

    Can you post some pics of the boiler and its associated piping, and a few radiators?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jerry Withers
    Jerry Withers Member Posts: 40
    edited March 2017
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    I will try to get to posting picture of the boiler piping and radiators this weekend.
  • Jerry Withers
    Jerry Withers Member Posts: 40
    edited March 2017
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    Here some pictures of some of the radiators, the near boiler piping and an EDR worksheet I created to calculate the radiation.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
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    If you do replace it with a new steam boiler, make sure it's piped in black iron, not copper. The manufacturer always includes a mechanical schematic with correct pipe sizes in the manual.
  • Jerry Withers
    Jerry Withers Member Posts: 40
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    Yeah, that was one of the first things I noticed when I started to learn about steam heat that copper is a no-no. I inherited this boiler when we bought the house. I do intend when replacing it have it done right.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    Just curious, in picture 416, does that radiator (near the pet waterer) produce any heat? Or is there an air vent we don't see.
    Is the pipe coming out of the left end connected to your return?
  • Jerry Withers
    Jerry Withers Member Posts: 40
    edited March 2017
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    Yes, that one actually give of A LOT of heat despite the fact that the vent is plugged. Here is what I did. That radiator and the one from image 400, 413 and 414 all share the same return. I had a main air vent installed on the common return, so they all mainly vent through that. The one you are asking about is in the kitchen and it has the shorted distance to the boiler, so I figured venting through the others and the main would be enough. It does heat all the way across and I did notice a dramatic improvement after I put in the common main vent in the basement. The 413 radiator is upstairs in my office, the other two are in the dining room adjacent to the kitchen. All are throwing off heat better than before.
    JUGHNE
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    Are any returns buried or are they all the copper we see part of?
    How is the chimney flue liner.....that could be a surprise.

    IIWM, I would sure stay with the steam for existing but consider a ModCon for the new rads in the unheated part (if it warrants much load) and an indirect off that for domestic HW.
  • Jerry Withers
    Jerry Withers Member Posts: 40
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    I have a Rinnai for Domestic Hot water. :)

    The flue needs a liner, I am sure of that. The unheated section is about 1000 square feet in 1 room (we call it the ballroom). I had planned on a hot water zone off of the steam boiler for that.
  • Bob Gagnon plumbing and heating
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    Is the current boiler using lot of water?
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Jerry Withers
    Jerry Withers Member Posts: 40
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    I think it is using more than it used too, but it is not that obvious.
  • Jerry Withers
    Jerry Withers Member Posts: 40
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    There is very little copper on the returns. All the near boiler piping is in copper, both for the main and the return.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
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    Your current boiler is completely and utterly incorrectly piped. The one side of the boiler does not appear to be connected to a header with a connection to the equalizer.
    Jerry Withers
  • Bob Gagnon plumbing and heating
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    You could overfill your boiler, or look out at the chimney, to see if the boiler is leaking.
    Thanks, Bob Gagnon
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Jerry Withers
    Jerry Withers Member Posts: 40
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    Well, looking at the chimney I see nothing obviously leaking other than what is coming out the top. This was a cold day, so I can not really say it looks like a problem.