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Thinking about buying house that has oversized boiler

danFromNJ
danFromNJ Member Posts: 21
edited July 2017 in Strictly Steam
I know this question has probably been answered on here but I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for so I thought I would ask anyway.

I am looking at buying a 1929 house in North Jersey. It's got a new steam boiler and new 400 gallon Roth oil tank that were both installed last year. The house is a small 2 bed 1 bath with 5 radiators totaling 186 sq. ft EDR. The boiler that was installed is a Weil Mclain SGO-4 with a Beckett burner. This boiler is rated at 450 sq ft EDR which is VERY oversized. I don't know if it's been downfired, but even if it has I don't believe you can downfire it to a point that makes it even close to properly sized. The boiler is also used to heat the hot water in the house, but I don't believe that this affects the radiation load that the boiler can handle. Is that right?

What is the best advice on how to proceed if I buy this house? Would I need to scrap this boiler? I am thinking of adding onto the house after I move in, but even if I add several rooms, I am not getting the radiation load anywhere near 450 sq ft. I thought maybe I could also add large radiators to the front porch to make it more of a 4 season porch.

What boiler is more appropriate for this sized house. It is well off the beaten path so I don't think gas will ever be an option? I know Weil Mclain makes the SGO-3 but I think that too is way oversized.

Sorry if this question has already been answered. Thanks in advance,
Dan

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Well, it has been answered -- sort of, and in various ways. That being said, the problem with an oversized boiler (though they aren't usually quite that impressively oversized!) has to do mostly with running cost. That is, the boiler will surely heat the house -- but in order to keep the pressure at something reasonable, it will be necessary for the pressuretrol or vapourstat to shut it off once it has reached pressure -- which it will do fairly quickly. This reduces the overall efficiency (in minor cases, not much -- in this case, appreciably) but is otherwise more of a nuisance.

    Should you scrap it? In my opinion, no. Even with the lower efficiency, you would not recover the additional cost in any sort of reasonable time frame. That said, though, you should find a really good steam technician (check "find a contractor" -- there are several good folks who service your area) and get it downfired as far as it will go, and make sure that all the controls and what have you are set properly and are operating properly.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,513
    Since it is new I wouldn't be afraid of taking a section out. Not sure if it would be worth it, jacket, burner and piping would have to be reworked
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
    Dan. The boiler is way oversized but you already know that, and I totally agree, scrap it....Peerless makes a great steam boiler,but your installer will guide you...I can only imagine the piping job, cause anyone stupid enough to install a boiler that much oversized, has not a clue.....FYI great find on your part, not every homeowner is that knowledgeable.....
  • danFromNJ
    danFromNJ Member Posts: 21
    edited July 2017
    Actually, the piping didn't seem too be bad. 3" header. Funny thing is the installer marked with sharpie on the jacket to keep the pressure below 1 psi and then wrote that the boiler is oversized. So the installer knew. I wonder if the installers hands were tied and he was told to use this boiler.

    You can kind of see it in the picture. It says "1.00 Do not increase. Oversized boiler"
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
    My first thought is the workmanship, looks ugly...maybe step back and then take a better pic of the header and related piping...
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    I wonder if the previous owner supplied the boiler. The piping looks proper, the water looks clean. So someone knew what to do with what was given... I'm with Jamie on this one. Unless you have a major issue heating I'd go with it for now. Have someone check your settings and see what total load you add to the building first before any major changes on the heating system
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,828
    > @Jamie Hall said:
    >
    > Should you scrap it? In my opinion, no. Even with the lower efficiency, you would not recover the additional cost in any sort of reasonable time frame. That said, though, you should find a really good steam technician (check "find a contractor" -- there are several good folks who service your area) and get it downfired as far as it will go, and make sure that all the controls and what have you are set properly and are operating properly.

    Agreed, find a good steam/oil tech and have him/her check it out. It's firing at 1.00 GPH which is a lot for a small home. He might recommend down firing to a .75, or .65. Might have to change the retention head. Can't tell from the pics, is there a draft regulator in the smoke pipe? I don't see a test hole for a combustion analysis. The smoke pipe going into the chimney breach should be replaced as well.
    The steam piping looks ok, but the solder joints look like Stevie Wonder did it.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,477
    When reducing the firing rate keep an eye on the flue temperatures, you don't want that to get to cool.

    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
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
    You may end up making it a simmerer not a steamer by lowering it to much...then ur oil bill goes way up...Probably the plan to begin with....I still say replace it, it's oversized and ugly
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,826
    edited July 2017
    @danFromNJ , get hold of @Dave0176 or @EzzyT , both in North Jersey. One of them will be able to help you out.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • danFromNJ
    danFromNJ Member Posts: 21
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I have used @Dave0176 before and would use him if I buy this house. However, I wanted advices before bringing someone in so I could know what costs to expect to incur should my offer on this house get accepted.
    MilanD
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Since you haven't purchased the house yet, and the boiler installation is relatively new, it might be a good idea to ask the owner for the name of the installer and maybe you can ask him why this over-sized boiler was installed. Looking at the piping, I would say the installer probably knows steam. It may be that the current owner planned a very large addition to the house and then the numbers caused him to decide selling and moving to be a better option.In any case, once you know the story, there is no reason why your offer on this house doesn't factor in a replacement boiler, weather you do it immediately or later down the road.
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
    Let us know how this all turned out....