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Is my Steam Boiler done?

coolfx35coolfx35 Posts: 23Member
edited November 8 in Strictly Steam
My gas heating Steam Boiler is only 11 years old. I have to fill water once per day, used to be once a week, I had a guy came in and said my cast iron cracked and probably leaking steam, he said because of all he deposits he sees here (pictures)

This will be a huge expense that I wasn't prepared fo

Need some expert opinion, what do you think? Thanks.










Comments

  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,396Member
    Refilling once a day sounds ominous, but to be sure of a boiler leak, when not hot, overfill the boiler to the point of feeling cold water up in the pipes above the boiler, and let it sit an hour or two.
    Any leaks will be seen on the floor, so report back here and we can tell you what your next steps should be.—NBC
  • pecmsgpecmsg Posts: 328Member
    coolfx35 said:

    My gas heating Steam Boiler is only 11 years old. I have to fill water once per day, used to be once a week, I had a guy came in and said my cast iron cracked and probably leaking steam, he said because of all he deposits he sees here (pictures)

    This will be a huge expense that I wasn't prepared for, $6k-$8k.

    Need some expert opinion, what do you think? Thanks.










    I wouldn't replace because he "Probably" thinks.
    I see rust flakes on my boiler every fall nothhing out of the normal without further inspection.

    Get someone that can confirm its leaking.

    Piping looks good how was that sized?
  • coolfx35coolfx35 Posts: 23Member
    edited November 6
    I didn't install the unit, previous owner did, so I have no idea about the pipe size.

    I had another plumber serviced the unit for 3 years and never told me a thing about it. I guess he didn't service it properly. Warranty covers 10 years, I am just out of warranty.
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 433Member
    edited November 6
    You shouldn't need to fill daily. I find crumbs in my burner box every couple years too. I wouldn't worry unless they were wet.

    Do like NBC suggested overfill and look for puddles later.
    Or, on a cold day, fire it up and see if steam is coming out of chimney. You could also have a leak somewhere along your system away from the boiler. Maybe, you have a main vent not closing.
  • coolfx35coolfx35 Posts: 23Member
    edited November 6
    I am having another plumber taking a look, hopefully he can open the system and check for cracks. I will ask him to try NBC's method as well.

    If he suggests "Automatic Water Feeder", should I go for it, $500 bucks.
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 433Member
    Not yet. An auto water feeder can mask a true leak.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 3,670Member
    You want to add the least amount possible to the boiler. Once a week is excessive IMHO. I add about 3 gallons per year, do it 1 gallon at a time, so roughly every 2 months water is added.

    If the boiler isn't leaking, you have a leak somewhere in the system, either scenario needs addressed. If it's in the system you want to fix that ASAP. If it's in the boiler, you might be able to run it through the winter, but that depends on the leak location. I had mine fail in January and managed to run it the rest of the winter and replace in the summer. That allowed me a little financial planning time.

    I am just a homeowner and you may not get the same advice from a professional due to liability.

    Any contractor can take the top off that boiler and find the problem, it's not hard. Honestly I would have a hard time trusting a contractor that just did a quick visual and said it's done. Unless you can physically see the water coming down you don't know for sure.
    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
  • coolfx35coolfx35 Posts: 23Member
    KC_Jones, Your boiler installation looks amazing. A job well done.

    How much did that thing run you? Did you place it on a new location in the basement?
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Posts: 1,524Member
    Well, it is a Burnham.
    IF the block is cracked, you might get a prorated warranty.

    Is residential 15 years on the block for steam?
  • coolfx35coolfx35 Posts: 23Member
    10 years warranty. Mine is 11 years old, so it's out of warranty, I was told by a plumber that even if the unit is under warranty, they will just give you a new block, you have to hire someone to take it apart and install it. so the bottom line won't be huge because labor is very costly.

    Also, I am wondering if cast irons can be patched?
  • FredFred Posts: 6,776Member
    Do you see a lot of steam coming out of the chimney when the boiler is running? That would indicate a hole in the block above the boiler water line. Do as @nicholas bonham-carter suggested, turn the boiler power off, fill the boiler with water until you feel the risers on top feel cold and, if you don't see water running onto the floor immediately, let the boiler sit for a couple hours and see if there is water on the floor or in the burner box. If so, the boiler is done. If not, there is a leak elsewhere in the system. Do you have any buried return pipes? They could be leaking.
  • coolfx35coolfx35 Posts: 23Member
    edited November 16


    Couple of questions:

    1) Is it possible to repair the crack? Welding? Since the water never reach there, just try to seal the Steam from escaping? I still don't see white smoke in the chimney while the unit was running today.

    2) Can I get through this winter, I live in NJ. I have to fill water once per day.

    3) I feel my boiler 170,000 is too big for my house. Maybe considering a smaller unit. Will smaller unit be more efficient?



  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 433Member
    edited November 7
    Sorry to hear this. I dont know if you can weld it. A pro can answer that. you may get by with jb weld but i doubt it.

    to size boiler correctly, you have to measure EDR of all radiators add the numbers and find a boiler as close to that number as possible.

    You have search this website to learn what to do. It is easy.

    My old boiler was 60% larger than the EDR available. My new one is only 15% larger because I thought I would add on but didnt.



  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,381Member
    Sorry about your boiler but it is toast. You cannot weld it. Unlikely that you can make it through the winter.

    Yes, the right size boiler PROPERLY installed is what you need.

    measure all your radiators and size the new boiler based on that. That is the only way to do it.

    Make absolutely sure your installer follows the piping diagram furnished with the new boiler and that he includes boiling out and skimming the new boiler. New radiator vents and new main vents properly sized is a good idea.

    Lastly, don't panic and rush into anything, do your homework, look for the right contractor and get 3 quotes.
  • New England SteamWorksNew England SteamWorks Posts: 1,127Member
    It's toast. Won't make it until spring. But will make it until @EzzyT can do the job right. Call him.


    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • Dave0176Dave0176 Posts: 869Member
    edited November 9
    Yes @EzzyT will do a great job, one of NJ best....
    DL Mechanical LLC Heating & Cooling 732-266-5386
    Specializing in Steam Heating, Serving most of NJ
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/dl-mechanical-llc

    https://m.facebook.com/DL-Mechanical-LLC-315309995326627/?ref=content_filter




    I cannot force people to spend money, I can only suggest how to spend it wisely.......
  • coolfx35coolfx35 Posts: 23Member
    edited November 13
    She is a leaker.
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 433Member
    Ugh! Sorry! Any idea of cause? I hope never to see that in mine!
  • FredFred Posts: 6,776Member
    Not many options except to replace the boiler. It looks like the sections may have pulled apart also? Were there a tie rods (top and bottom) through all the sections to hold it together?
  • coolfx35coolfx35 Posts: 23Member
    edited November 13
    I didn't drain the water for the first 2 years that i moved in to the house 7 years ago, and didn't do any maintenance on it, until recently, I guess it was little too late.
  • GrallertGrallert Posts: 231Member
    I've had some success with boiler weld. I think it's a Hercules product. I think it's basically water glass. I used to get it from F.W.Webb. When it works it's not a long term solution but it has got lots of folks through the season. I've used it to get folks with no money out of a jam but of course I would recommend replacement if at all possible.
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 433Member
    edited November 13
    Looks like a lot more going on there than corrosion.
  • Dave0176Dave0176 Posts: 869Member
    edited November 13
    SlamDunk said:

    Ugh! Sorry! Any idea of cause? I hope never to see that in mine!

    It’s a Burnham ;) lol Truthfully we on the East coast here have seen our share Burnham heat exchanger failures. Possibly because where close to the ocean idk :|
    DL Mechanical LLC Heating & Cooling 732-266-5386
    Specializing in Steam Heating, Serving most of NJ
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/dl-mechanical-llc

    https://m.facebook.com/DL-Mechanical-LLC-315309995326627/?ref=content_filter




    I cannot force people to spend money, I can only suggest how to spend it wisely.......
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 433Member
    Dave0176 said:

    SlamDunk said:

    Ugh! Sorry! Any idea of cause? I hope never to see that in mine!

    It’s a Burnham ;) lol Truthfully we on the East coast here have seen our share Burnham heat exchanger failures. Possibly because where close to the ocean idk :|
    Man, I hope you’re wrong! my IN-5 is 8 yrs old....Which explains my keen interest in this.
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,839Member
    If your water has any significant chloride content it will eat through cast iron, especially thin cast iron. Check with your water dept to see what the chloride levels are.

    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
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 433Member
    edited November 14
    what is considered significant?

    ours is 13.8mg/L at the water plant.

    Avg 12.4 throughout city
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,839Member
    edited November 16
    that doesn't sound bad, as I understand it 1mg/L = 1ppm. This is what one boiler manufactuter thinks about chloride levels.

    Weil- McClain

    This Technical Services Bulletin replaces SB0011 dated December 7,

    This bulletin is written to help steam boiler service professionals and end users identify an emerging issue of internal corrosion in cast iron steam boilers.

    Elevated levels of chlorides (over 200 ppm) in the water of steam boilers will accelerate water side corrosion and shorten the operating life of the boiler.

    These chlorides are present in boiler make-up water and are not removed from the boiler when the boiler is producing steam. They are only removed by blowing down the boiler.

    Because chlorides are not removed during the normal operation of the boiler, the level of chlorides in the boiler water increase when make-up water is added to the boiler because of normal maintenance to low water cut-offs and system leaks.

    Over the last several decades, the level of chlorides in
    some ground water and city water supplies have increased due to use of salt during the removal of snow and ice from roads and highways, and the increased use of water softeners. If there are
    high chloride levels in boiler make-up water, boiler water treatment should be considered.

    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
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 433Member
    very informative! Thanks
  • Dan_NJDan_NJ Posts: 67Member
    I just had a look at the water report for my local water system and I see chloride levels ranging from 50 to about 320 so now I'm a little concerned. Would a treatment like steam master tablets help reduce chloride? Also thinking it could be worth testing or getting more specific info from the utility.
  • CanuckerCanucker Posts: 460Member
    No, the treatment won't reduce the chlorides. You need to add water without the salt in it, that will reduce them. The chlorides are in your water and the high readings are most likely during the spring when the melt washes the road salt away
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Posts: 69Member
    But just adding water won’t help because the salt remains behind, right? It would have to be drained I think
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,750Member

    But just adding water won’t help because the salt remains behind, right? It would have to be drained I think

    Yes. What you need to do (those chloride readings are way too high) is drain the system right down and refill with distilled or reverse osmosis treated water. You should also add a pH stabilizer and corrosion inhibitor to that.
    Jamie



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



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Dan C.Dan C. Posts: 247Member
    Burnham’s warranty is forvthe original owner only and you need to prove with utility bills so warranty is irrelevant.
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