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Bad News About my Burnham V8 Boiler

dlipterdlipter Posts: 59Member
I was pretty upset when I found out that my 12 year old Burnham V8 5-section boiler needed replacement due to corrosion in the flue passage above the water line. While in the process of making arrangements for replacement I thought I'd have some fun. All my life I'd been "Mr. Fixit" and this seemed like a good time to play. The Burnham V8 boiler has a vertical pinned flue passage. The perferation was in the rear flue towards the top so I had easy access.

The material selected to patch the holes must have good adhesion strength and have high heat tolerance. I found that JB Weld, a two part steel reinforced epoxy with a bond strength of 1800 psi and a heat tolerance of 550 deg F was worth a try. I applied the JB Weld to the hole near the top row of pins resulting in reduced water consumption, I went hunting for more holes which I found and patched. Water consumption went down some more. Still loosing water, I flooded the boiler and to my great dismay water was flowing out of the boiler into the flew-way about 2.5 inches down. The pins in the flue made these holes inaccessable. I thought this might be the end of the road for my "fun".

Thinking this over for a few days I stopped by Harbor Freight and picked up an angle grinder and proceded to cut those pins away to get access to those dam holes causing me so much grief. The grinder sliced through those pins like butter. The only problem was that I was only able to remove the first row of pins and I needed to remove 3 rows. I went out and got a 6" wheel which got me through the second row of pins. With one more row of pins to remove I needed a tool with a deeper reach. I found the the blades for oscillating multi tools have a 2.5" reach so I bought one with a metal cutting blade. I removed the third row of pins, flooded the boiler and could clearly see the leaking holes and had full access to them. I patched the entire leaking area with JB Weld with an embedded layer of fiberglass mesh for added strength. I let the patch cure for about 8 hours, flooded the boiler and Holy S. NO LEAKS!!!! I let it cure for 24 hours and fired up the boiler closely monitering the water level. The boiler has been running for a week with no perceptable water useage. And a visual inspection of the patch showed no deterioration.

I noticed that all the corrosive perforation occured in the top 2.5" of the flue-way which corresponds the the area of the boiler that is above the water line which is exposed to much higher temperatures than the area below the water line. It appears that elevated temperature is part of the cause of the corrosive perforation. Another cause might be chemical in nature either from the flue side or most likely the steam side. Removing the top 3 row of pins will lower the temperature of the boiler flue section which might be a good thing in this case.

It has been pointed out by members of this forum that this DIY fix is very dangerous however I wanted to document my little adventure for others to read. Should this patch fail wile the boiler is making steam, my whole basement could fill up with steam. Caveat Emptor!

Some Pics:

First Attempt Before Pin Removal

Second Attempt After Pin Removal


  • FredFred Posts: 7,849Member
    edited January 11
    The V8 has been problematic since its introduction. I believe Burnham even made special exchange concessions for a while. Many failed prior to their 10th anniversary . be careful about filling a space with steam, especially if you have no way to get to it to shut it down. Enough Steam will rob a space of all oxygen! The JBWeld is at best a temporary fix and other holes will likely show up. I'm not sure the fix is worth the risk.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,652Member
    He certainly needs a new boiler.
    However, I have read several posts concerning the "risk" of temp patches of the heat exchangers. Completely understand the danger of steam displacing oxygen in the room.
    However these leaks were there before....any steam escaping would go out the chimney as they did previously.
    If running some high pressure then I could see a sudden burst of steam that the chimney might not handle...but for normal operation is there really a risk??
    Just asking about what I may not realize.
  • FredFred Posts: 7,849Member
    I don't know how many steam leaks it might take to pose a risk or if a new leak at a different location, coupled with leaks at those patched locations, compounded with the fact he removed three rows of pins, would make it more likely to fill the basement rather than the chimney. I get the satisfaction that comes with making something work but I would err on the side of safety. It's any bodies guess, I guess.
  • SailahSailah Posts: 791Member
    Remember when that radiator "explosion" happen in NY a few years ago?

    As an "experiment" I blew live steam into a room at 10 PSIG for 30 minutes with no ill effects. Not recommending it but wasn't exactly an event.
    Peter Owens
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Posts: 2,125Member
    I dont see the reason to do a "McGyver" when boiler seal should've held until the spring when it's new boiler time.

    Steam guys, give him a reason(s) for the Mega Steam.
  • dlipterdlipter Posts: 59Member
    Why didn't I have a catastrophe when the holes first appered?

    I think removing the pins will reduce the likelihood of more holes forming in the area as temperature should be reduced. When I cut the pins, some of them were imbeded into the JB Weld and the two were fused together like they were one. When I dripped some JB Weld on the dirty boiler it still fused so well the only way I could remove it was to grind it off! The weak area for the patch might be temperature which I measured in the vent tube at 500 deg F which is close to the 550 degree rating of JB Weld.
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Posts: 694Member
    There was no catastrophe because your boiler had a hole in it, so the pressure never went up and there was no violent flash of steam.

    The concern is: if your boiler is mid fire at let’s say 1.5 psi (or more if the pressuretrol allows it, and a big patch breaks off, then you have a whole boiler full of water that is hotter than 212f that is now exposed to atmospheric pressure and can flash to steam with great speed.

    But I agree it’s more likely that your patch or maybe a fresh area near it will fail in a smaller way and just create a small harmless leak. But it’s the not being sure that freaks people out. Steam people like to be sure!
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, 1913 coal > oil > NG
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Posts: 2,125Member
    As much as it pains you, you should accept the fact the boiler is done.
    The JB weld is holding for now and that's good. But the Burnham V7 and V8 boilers are notorious leakers. If it makes it to the spring then great. But in the spring, it would be wise to replace.
    Click on find a contractor in your area at the top of the page and see if theres a steam pro near you.
  • dlipterdlipter Posts: 59Member
    Ok...I understand your point.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,727Member
    keep the pressure low and baby it. if your lucky you can make it another 2 months and winter will be pretty much shot
  • JeffGuyJeffGuy Posts: 77Member
    I had an old oil fired hot water system (not steam) that developed leaks after 70 years, and I used JBWeld to get through a winter season (like you it took a couple tries to find all the leaks). When the season was over I replaced it as soon as I could - not good to push your luck.
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