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Help with a 60 plus year old Burnham Holiday ( that I have fallen in love with )

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Without the long backstory on how it happened just know that as a homeowner I have fallen in love with my heater. Bought the house a year ago and thought for sure the heater would have to go quickly but made it through last winter and I only had to replace the B&G circulator bearing assembly because who knew about OIL ?? ( Thank God for YouTube). NOTHING lasts this long anymore and its still kicking butt and heating well but I think it needs to be tweaked and a few things replaced or added. I have a few questions if anyone could answer them would be greatly appreciated. Mostly so I have the information and can speak to a professional if I can ever find one who has knowledge of these older systems.

1) How can I tell if I have what I heard called a "suicide" gas valve? Pictures show the system.

2) The pressure gauge rises to about 10 after the boiler fires up and circulator is on and the pressure rises as the water temp rises to its max of 180 degrees HOWEVER when the heater starts to cool the pressure drops slowly to zero when the boiler sits at about 140 degrees. Question is should I bring the heater temp down and fill the system with 10-12 pounds of pressure when cold and then the steel expansion tank does its job?

3) Which leads me to the steel tank. How can I tell if its "flooded" or is doing its job? Should I use the shut off valve at the front of the tank to close it off and then drain it ?

Currently I get great heat at all the baseboard cast iron and about 10 feet of copper fin baseboard. The original but still accurate and working thermostat upstairs calls for heat the, taco circulator comes on and the baseboards get nice and toasty, the thermostat is satisfied which cuts off the circulator and the boiler and pipes cool and the pressure drops. Something is telling me that while this works but might not be correct??

4) And Most Important - - -- How do I find a heating professional that knows these older systems? I really don't want to replace it until it dies. I see something that despite being greatly inefficient is a testament to how things were built and installed 60 years ago and I am loving this heater.

Any advice, suggestions, comments or referrals to professionals in the Wilmington, Delaware area is more than welcome!
Thanks!








Comments

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,110
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    Search here for "compression tank".
    You have a small air vent just before your tank.
    This type of system should retain the air in the tank.
    Your air vent lets air out of the system and then the tank will lose all of its air and become water logged.

    Does the tank have a drain valve on the other end of it?
  • anton1109
    anton1109 Member Posts: 4
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    I don't think the air vent is functional at this point as I think its corroded. I do know the cap is screwed down. Yes there is a drain at the other ens of the tank. I will search compression tank - thanks
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,110
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    You could isolate the tank with the valve in the copper line.
    Then drain the tank out the other end.
    I would also remove that vent as it might pass a little air in either direction.
    When you open the valve, the pressure fill valve should be set at 12-15 psi. (this is all cold).
    Then when firing, the pressure should not rise much as it compresses the air in the top 1/3 of the tank.

    Have you flushed/tested the pressure relief valve attached to the pressure fill valve?
  • anton1109
    anton1109 Member Posts: 4
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    Thanks that answers my question as to how the pressure should be working. I do not leave the fill valve on as i was told it might be broken but I will test it and see. I will let the heater get cold before introducing the new water and see if it stops at 12 psi.
    I am not sure about the pressure relief valve status but will have it checked. If the fill valve does not stop at 13 psi I will stop it myself and if I am thinking correctly when the boiler fires up if the compression tank was purged almost empty that will take the extra pressure of the system when it heats up?
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,844
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    Yeas as @jughne pointed ou no automatic air vent are to be used with a plain steel compression tank.

    They will allow the expansion tank to waterlog
  • ww
    ww Member Posts: 282
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    if the auto valve goes over 12 then according to directions on my similar one you have to loosen the nut and turn the screw counterclockwise to decrease pressure and counterclockwise to increase it. As stated above..all done cold..not to crack boiler and also water volume is less when cold
  • anton1109
    anton1109 Member Posts: 4
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    Thanks for the information. I have to wait until the weekend to put this info to work! It’s great to have this resource of knowledge available and I appreciate everyone’s help.
    I am still interested in finding a pro in northern Delaware. Any
    Ad
    To use to make some probable needed changes and or upgrades. I do many things but know my
    Limitations and I leave making changes to the experts.
  • unclejohn
    unclejohn Member Posts: 1,833
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    Looks like you have a Baso pilot safety control for the gas valve. Also what looks like some soot around the pilot tube. I would replace the old gas valve and regulator with a new valve and clean the pilot burner at the least before I buy her a ring.
    SuperTech