Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
In fairness to all, we don't discuss pricing on the Wall. Thanks for your cooperation.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Steam Boiler Comparison help

katelambkatelamb Member Posts: 10
Hi there,

We have a 1930 home with the original boiler (coal, converted to gas some time between 1939 and 1960), and it died a noble death over the winter. Everyone we've spoken with has said that we'd be better off throwing dollar bills into the pilot to keep it alight, so we are in the process of sourcing a replacement.

We have two quotes: one from someone who measured the radiators, and one from someone who measured the rooms. It's my understanding that measuring the radiators allows for more precision in sizing the appropriate boiler. That being said, the two recommended boilers are a Burnham PIN4SNI-ME2 (65,000 BTU) and a Bryant BSAAM000150 CI.

I was unable to find any information on the Bryant, and in all honesty, I don't fully understand what I'm able to find about the Burnham model.

So, that being said, can anyone offer me some insight as to whether or not these are comparable systems or if one is a better choice than the other?


The Burnham recommendation came from the person who measured the rooms, and the Bryant came from the person who measured the radiators.

Thank you so much for any help you can offer.
«1

Comments

  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    Is your system a one-pipe, or two-pipe steam system?
    For a steam system boiler replacement, the radiators must be measured, and not the heat loss from the room sizes.
    The Bryant is probably a rebadged boiler from another manufacturer. Like any modern boiler, it will have improved efficiency if properly installed, however its lifespan will not be like that of your original boiler.
    The most important piece of the puzzle is the competence of the installer.--NBC
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,598
    edited May 10
    Personally,
    I feel a heatloss of the building, as well as a survey of the current radiation and piping losses should be done. Generally, guys go by radiation, but I feel doing both is better especially when it comes down to whether or not to go with a slightly big boiler, or a slightly smaller one.

    Can you give us pictures of all of your radiators as well as approximate dimensions? Also, what is the size of the home as well as construction i.e. wood framing, lots of windows, age of windows, insulation in walls, attic etc.

    With the information you provided, I'd go with the first guy that recommended the Burnham. Of course, I'd also want to be sure he's going to pipe it correctly, but so far he sounds promising.
    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

    Steam system pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/ZgpNUTyckkmiEdAf9
    Central air project pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/4JjnLStEq42sWsQo8
  • katelambkatelamb Member Posts: 10
    It's a one-pipe system. Brick home, about 1800 square feet, built in 1930 so no insulation in the outer walls that I'm aware of, and mostly original windows (in total, 23 windows on the first two floors, and 6 of those are replacements). Can't get photos of all the rads right now as my toddler is currently engaged with a puzzle game on my phone.

    My husband brought up a point about the header. As it is original to the boiler as well (and wrapped in asbestos that is currently wrapped in duct tape), we don't know if there are issues with it and I don't know the questions to ask to ensure that it is properly installed, especially with a replacement).
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,598
    edited May 10
    katelamb said:

    It's a one-pipe system. Brick home, about 1800 square feet, built in 1930 so no insulation in the outer walls that I'm aware of, and mostly original windows (in total, 23 windows on the first two floors, and 6 of those are replacements). Can't get photos of all the rads right now as my toddler is currently engaged with a puzzle game on my phone.

    My husband brought up a point about the header. As it is original to the boiler as well (and wrapped in asbestos that is currently wrapped in duct tape), we don't know if there are issues with it and I don't know the questions to ask to ensure that it is properly installed, especially with a replacement).


    Your house sounds very similar to mine, except the boiler recommended is much smaller than I needed which is kind of concerning, but as long as he figured out what size all of your radiators are you should be fine. Really, if my radiation was smaller, I could've and would've used a smaller boiler, but that's not usually how radiators were sized back then. They're usually oversized for the house.

    Overall, you just want to be sure he's going to pipe it exactly per Burnham's specifications with a proper header etc. You can't assume the original piping is correct, it often is not and even though it worked fine with a 1920s-30s boiler, it likely won't with a modern one.

    If you have some time, here's a page explaining the piping concerns.

    https://heatinghelp.com/systems-help-center/the-importance-of-near-boiler-piping/


    It's easier to take the time now and ensure the job will be done correctly rather than trying to fight with them and take them to court etc to have it fixed later.


    If you want, or have time later on, take a picture of the current boiler and it's piping and share it here. We'll tell you if it looks acceptable or not for a modern setup. Sometimes it is, often it's not.
    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

    Steam system pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/ZgpNUTyckkmiEdAf9
    Central air project pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/4JjnLStEq42sWsQo8
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 6,655
    I like Burnham boilers, but... if they didn't measure the radiators, they're not going to do the job right.

    There is one way, and one way only, to size a steam boiler, and that is by measuring and adding up the radiators. That is then compared with the EDR rating of the boiler. You can flex a little on either side -- 10 percent larger to 10 percent smaller, but that's it.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,598
    edited May 10

    I like Burnham boilers, but... if they didn't measure the radiators, they're not going to do the job right.

    There is one way, and one way only, to size a steam boiler, and that is by measuring and adding up the radiators. That is then compared with the EDR rating of the boiler. You can flex a little on either side -- 10 percent larger to 10 percent smaller, but that's it.

    But, they did measure the radiators.

    Also, I disagree, once again Dave Bunnell's way is being thrown out and ignored. There is more than one way to size a steam boiler.

    However, I suspect, the one that measured the rooms doesn't know what he's doing when it comes to steam.
    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

    Steam system pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/ZgpNUTyckkmiEdAf9
    Central air project pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/4JjnLStEq42sWsQo8
  • IronmanIronman Member Posts: 3,423
    A steam boiler MUST be sized for the connected radiation, not the actual heat loss of the house. Simply put, the reason is this: the boiler must produce the amount of steam that the radiators can condense back to water. It's a matter of balance between the components.

    Hot water boilers should be sized to the actual heat loss of the house taking the amount of radiation into consideration. But, not so with steam.

    As Chris has pointed out, almost every steam system in the country is over-sized because the houses have been made tighter than when they were built. They only way to reduce the size of the boiler is to selectively reduce the amount of radiation connected to it. It many cases, that's not practical because there's only one radiator in a room.

    The point about choosing a good, competent steam pro cannot be over-emphasized. Most plumbers and HVAC contractors know little about hydronics and NOTHING about steam. But, they think they can tackle it because it comes under the heading of their trade.

    Please take some time and educate yourself about steam BEFORE choosing a contractor. This site, and its online store, has a wealth of info from the most knowledgeable steam pro's in the country. Please avail yourself of it.

    I would also recommend that you try the blue "Find a Contractor" tab at the top of the page. Most everyone listed there is a steam professional.
    Bob Boan







    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 3,134
    Where are you located? We may know of a great steam pro in your area. Even though it's been said already I will reiterate, getting a steam expert is critical here. Get it wrong and you will be paying for it for the next 30 years.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • mynameisphunkmynameisphunk Member Posts: 22
    Husband here - I've posted previously about the original boiler and have had Steamhead out to replace main vents in the past, and have spoken with him on the phone after the boiler stopped firing reliably as well. I had called a company he recommended and left a message, but received no response. That was during heating season, though, so I will try again now that things might be a little slower.

    Located in 17331.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,598

    Husband here - I've posted previously about the original boiler and have had Steamhead out to replace main vents in the past, and have spoken with him on the phone after the boiler stopped firing reliably as well. I had called a company he recommended and left a message, but received no response. That was during heating season, though, so I will try again now that things might be a little slower.

    Located in 17331.

    @Steamhead
    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

    Steam system pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/ZgpNUTyckkmiEdAf9
    Central air project pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/4JjnLStEq42sWsQo8
  • IronmanIronman Member Posts: 3,423
    Can you get Frank back to do the boiler? You won't get any better.
    Bob Boan







    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • mynameisphunkmynameisphunk Member Posts: 22
    Frank had concerns about doing boiler replacements in PA due to licensing, etc...

    Our main budget concern is avoiding asbestos remediation as much as possible. Right now we have a single pipe coming out of the old boiler for steam, directly above the center of the unit. Asbestos insulation starts on that pipe immediately above the top of the boiler (will have measurements shortly - ballpark I'd guess 4.5-5ft off the ground).

    Is it possible to offset the location of the new boiler, pipe a proper drop header, etc... on a new boiler, which will be much smaller obviously, and then from there tie into that existing main pipe without having to deal with the asbestos?
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,598

    Frank had concerns about doing boiler replacements in PA due to licensing, etc...

    Our main budget concern is avoiding asbestos remediation as much as possible. Right now we have a single pipe coming out of the old boiler for steam, directly above the center of the unit. Asbestos insulation starts on that pipe immediately above the top of the boiler (will have measurements shortly - ballpark I'd guess 4.5-5ft off the ground).

    Is it possible to offset the location of the new boiler, pipe a proper drop header, etc... on a new boiler, which will be much smaller obviously, and then from there tie into that existing main pipe without having to deal with the asbestos?

    Maybe.
    We need pictures. :)
    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

    Steam system pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/ZgpNUTyckkmiEdAf9
    Central air project pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/4JjnLStEq42sWsQo8
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 3,134
    lol really? I am in 17331 as well. If @Steamhead recommended someone or you can get steamhead that is the way to go.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 3,134
    ChrisJ said:

    Frank had concerns about doing boiler replacements in PA due to licensing, etc...

    Our main budget concern is avoiding asbestos remediation as much as possible. Right now we have a single pipe coming out of the old boiler for steam, directly above the center of the unit. Asbestos insulation starts on that pipe immediately above the top of the boiler (will have measurements shortly - ballpark I'd guess 4.5-5ft off the ground).

    Is it possible to offset the location of the new boiler, pipe a proper drop header, etc... on a new boiler, which will be much smaller obviously, and then from there tie into that existing main pipe without having to deal with the asbestos?

    Maybe.
    We need pictures. :)
    Absolutely
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • mynameisphunkmynameisphunk Member Posts: 22
    This is all I've got for now. I will get better pictures once home. Any specifics you're looking for?

  • mynameisphunkmynameisphunk Member Posts: 22
    BTW, I'll take down all the paneling and framing before the replacement after testing the ceiling tiles for asbestos first (they look like cellulose, but better safe than sorry). This is an older semi finished basement, and the old "walls" are more of a pain than anything at this point.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 3,134
    To do it properly you will need to get into that asbestos to separate the mains. Those 2 mains should come into the header on the new boiler separately for good performance of the system.

    New boilers do not have those huge steam chests like your current one does. The piping needs to be different. Again this is where choosing the proper installer is critical....absolutely critical.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • mynameisphunkmynameisphunk Member Posts: 22
    Is there a quick source of info that would explain to me what the difference would be between leaving as-is (still with a new drop header, using 2 outputs on the boiler) and separating the mains on the drop header? It still all goes the same place and is controlled by main and radiator venting, isn't it?
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 3,134
    I guess my question would be what do you hope to avoid by not doing it properly? The asbestos comes down to a point that you are getting into it on a replacement no matter what. They can't remove the piping from the existing boiler without getting into asbestos.

    The amount they have to get into or you have to pay to have removed really doesn't matter that much. Once you need abatement it's going to cost.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,334
    I remember that boiler. Also what the weather was like the day I did the main vents :o

    There's no way you'll avoid asbestos abatement on that boiler. ISTR it wasn't just on the pipes but inside the boiler jacket as well.

    When you say it "died a noble death"- what actually happened?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • katelambkatelamb Member Posts: 10
    we discovered a gas leak from the main in mid-February. When Columbia gas was trying to locate the leak, they found a leak in the supply line as well and had to shut everything off. We had the leak repaired but it never fired up properly after that. Lots of short-cycling, never actually getting steam up to the radiators. Ben probably knows what actual parts went wrong. :-)
  • katelambkatelamb Member Posts: 10
    Can anyone recommend an asbestos abatement professional in the area? (17331) Are there any grants available for asbestos abatement in homes with young children? I seem to recall our pediatrician mentioning the possibility of that for lead, should our kids' lead levels be higher than a certain amount (old houses are losing their charm for me ;-) )
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,334
    katelamb said:

    we discovered a gas leak from the main in mid-February. When Columbia gas was trying to locate the leak, they found a leak in the supply line as well and had to shut everything off. We had the leak repaired but it never fired up properly after that. Lots of short-cycling, never actually getting steam up to the radiators. Ben probably knows what actual parts went wrong. :-)

    That's a problem with the burner, not the boiler itself. Might be possible to fix it if you can't swing a completely new boiler.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • John MillsJohn Mills Member Posts: 762
    Bryant boilers are made by ECR/Dunkirk. We've used them for hot water with excellent reliability. No idea about steam, luckily pretty rare for us!
  • katelambkatelamb Member Posts: 10
    >
    > That's a problem with the burner, not the boiler itself. Might be possible to fix it if you can't swing a completely new boiler.


    I really think it's just time. We had someone come out to quote asbestos abatement for the pipes in preparation for a complete replacement. If we have to change the plumbing going into it, we might see if we can push the mains to the periphery of the basement so that we can take down the drop ceiling and make it a little more comfortable for Ben in there. I'd love to make the basement into usable space for the kids (who will be 5 and 3
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,334
    Moving those mains will take a LOT of work and cost a lot. Not sure you want to budget for that. But there's nothing wrong with removing the drop ceiling.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • mynameisphunkmynameisphunk Member Posts: 22
    The asbestos abatement quote came in lower than anticipated, and while it still stings, we should be able to get that all taken care of within the next month. Then we'll revisit the boiler quotes.

    If neither of the two quotes indicated any concern about installing the boiler with the existing piping, and both indicated it could be done without any asbestos removal - and neither mentioned a new header needing to be built - would you trust them to install a new boiler in your home, or continue looking?
  • lchmblchmb Member Posts: 2,495
    ask for a diagram and explanation of what they intend to do. Have it put in the contract that the piping will be done to manufacturer spec's and I'd ask them to oversize piping not just meet minimum standard. Also ask if they intend to return at a later point to skim the system and if that's part of the install cost...
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 3,134
    In a word, no. You could also ask for pictures of previous installs, post them here and we can take a look. With steam it's about the details.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,334
    Kate and Phunk, if you'd like to have me look at those quotes I'd be more than happy to make the trip. It's not that far unless it's snowing.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • mynameisphunkmynameisphunk Member Posts: 22
    @Steamhead - given what Harvey Ramer said on the other thread from a few months ago, would you be willing to take on the job once the asbestos is removed? We'd be looking at mid to late Summer.

    Harvey's talking about PA codes:
    Go for it. Hanover is a bit far and you are a much better steam guy than myself.
    I highly doubt you will have any problems with local codes. PA doesn't get excited about anything until we are talking commercial projects. I recently did a large boiler in a church. I called the borough for permits and they said, just go ahead and do it. The permits and inspections work off of the municipal authority, not state. It's not until you get into larger cities that permits are required for things like boiler changeouts. This is contrary to the Commonwealth code, but municipal authority overrules. If you tried to pull a permit for a residential boiler changeout in a rural area, they will look at you funny and tell you to quit wasting their time.

    That is how it is in my area. Could well be more or less as you traverse the state. Licensing, if it even exists, is also done on a municipal level. And not all municipalities reciprocate.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 3,134
    I called Hanover when I replaced my boiler and they told me no permits required. I also scouted around online and found for example even in Philly no permit is required unless you go over 250k BTU (not sure how current that was though).

    Call the borough and ask. My neighbors and I have called several times on different projects and haven't required a permit yet.

    Keep in mind PA didn't have state wide building codes until 2003, but the inspectors are still locally controlled. It's the wild west up here good or bad, I've seen both.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,334

    @Steamhead - given what Harvey Ramer said on the other thread from a few months ago, would you be willing to take on the job once the asbestos is removed? We'd be looking at mid to late Summer.

    PM your phone number to me and we'll talk.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • jbojbo Member Posts: 12
    Hey this isn't far from me either! Glad to know a few of you guys are close enough that I could reach out if needed. I definitely side with the radiation measurement for sizing a steam boiler. If the home is heated fine the heat loss isn't that important, if you're trying to warm it up or cool it down from the old system then it may be useful in figuring out what to change but I don't see the point if you're not changing anything.
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Member Posts: 556
    Steam does not care about heat loss. It only cares about getting to the last emitter. Measure the rads and connected piping.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,334
    jbo said:

    Hey this isn't far from me either! Glad to know a few of you guys are close enough that I could reach out if needed. I definitely side with the radiation measurement for sizing a steam boiler. If the home is heated fine the heat loss isn't that important, if you're trying to warm it up or cool it down from the old system then it may be useful in figuring out what to change but I don't see the point if you're not changing anything.

    Where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • jbojbo Member Posts: 12
    Not far from Lancaster city.
    Off topic, I'm still blown away by how well steam has stood the test of time for heating.
  • katelambkatelamb Member Posts: 10
    Step by step update - we now have a contract for asbestos removal and should know within the week when that will be done. Once that's out, we can really look at the plumbing and see if there will need to be changes made to it.
  • katelambkatelamb Member Posts: 10
    Getting there...

    By eye, what do you think the chances are of putting a new boiler to the left of the water heater (behind and to the left of the boiler currently)? Impossible to tell? Just curious to know what square footage, if any, we might be able to reclaim...
«1
Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!