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Boiler: Old Village Schoolhouse Wells River VT

TMcGroy Member Posts: 15
I'm about to close on the old village schoolhouse in Wells River, VT. All I know about its heating system is that it's an oil fired boiler. I won't know until the inspection if it's water or steam. There are no contractors listed on this site in the 05081 zip code area. I've been told by the sellers that they have a contract with a fuel provider to maintain the system. Is this a good idea?

I'm moving from Denver to VT, and have no experience with commercial oil fired boilers. The original low pressure steam boiler in my house in Denver has been a joy to work with - so simple that I stopped paying someone to stare at it once a year & tell me it's working as well as can be expected for an 80 year old. I've even taken out & cleaned the burner myself. I've been told by numerous sources that the only thing IRreparable about an ancient boiler is a crack in heat exchanger. Is this true?

Am I wrong in assuming that every HVAC professional in VT will know how to maintain an ancient boiler?


  • cgdelzell
    cgdelzell Member Posts: 22
    what makes you think it is a acient boiler? did someone tell you that?
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,088
    Any boiler of some age that has leaks would IMO be considered toast.

    If water boiler with 12-15 PSI showing on the gauge and the floor is dry around the boiler than probably all right. A better test would be staying dry with water hot.

    If steam, you know that it is only about 1/2 to 1/3 full of water.
    It could have leaks just at or above the water line. If the boiler is filled up to the header with water and left to sit leaks may show up.
    This needs to be done by someone familiar with steam. After the test the water level should be dropped to the original point and that water boiled to remove any oxygen that came in with the fresh water.

    White smoke/steam coming out of the chimney is usually a bad sign.
    There is a lot of info here about checking for leaks. Use the search function.

    The selling agent might be able to send you some pictures you could post here. Pictures from away back to encompass the piping with boiler and then maybe close up of nameplates.
    Also pictures of the fuel tank/piping.
    We love pictures.
    Someone here may recognize a reason to run away from this. :o

    Many here think that home inspectors lack a lot of knowledge concerning heating systems. They have enough small print in their contract to not be held liable for much of anything. IMO
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,735
    No gaurantee that anyone knows how to handle steam. Guess you won't know till you see it. Steam is steam basically. Commercial in some ways may be easier than residential. The burner may be a bit more complicated depending on what it is
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,536
    40 years ago that was a steam system. If it is the old village centre school (I inspected it!). However, I really hope that it got upgraded somewhere along the line, and whether it is steam or not now I couldn't say! I don't know of any steam men in that area -- the men I knew who were really good are both dead now -- but either steam or hot water isn't that hard -- if the person you get to work on it is willing to listen and learn. There's a lot of help available right here on the Wall!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,444
    Its a beauty.
    My former passed on neighbors are from that area.

  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
    I hope that building can be preserved, it's a beautiful example of pride in workmanship.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,341
    You might ring up Dan Davis Sales, ask for Paul. They rep hydronic lines through that area and may know a steam guy. Or know of another lead. Many steam gurus are underground, not literally of course :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Tom_133
    Tom_133 Member Posts: 889
    I am 1 hour from there, happy to help. Its a little out of my service area but if you need a day or two I can make it work.
    Montpelier Vt
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 667
    I'm curious, the cover picture for the listing shows a rectangular bump out in corner. It looks to have registers top and bottom? could it be the heating plant?
    I know from living in small town rural New England that often schools, even later built schools only heated with wood. Often later getting a furnace or boiler as plumbing was added. Just a thought.
    Miss Hall's School service mechanic, greenhouse manager,teacher and dog walker