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Weil Mclain Boiler Leaking

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I have a Weil Mclain CGA 4 boiler that I think is about 15yrs old. My system is hot water running through finned copper base boards. 2 story house with 1 single zone. ( and boy does the upstairs bedrooms stay hot..whew!)

It is leaking water from what appears to be 2 cracks (1 each in the bottom of the center sections). It started out as a small drip and I had hoped to limp along until spring so I could save the funds to put in a new boiler, but over the past month the small drip has now turned into a steady stream to the point it knocks out the pilot light and even more scary it fills the center 3 burner tubes with water and when it fired like that I saw a 3 foot plume of flames shoot out the front of the boiler. Luckily I was standing by it at the time and was able to flip the switch and turn it off.

I know the boiler must be replaced, but is there anything that can be done as a temporary fix? Would a coating of jbweld (supposedly can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees) be an option? or any way to divert the leaking water away from the burners?

As a backup I installed a 30,000 btu vent less radiant wall heater, a good co detector, and have a couple electric heaters, so I can keep warm, but with the boiler out of commission I worry about my pipes for the heating system freezing and busting, which brings me to my next question.
If i cant get the boiler back up and running how can I drain the lines to keep them from freezing?
Would it be as simple as just closing the valve to the automatic feeder and then opening the drain valve on the lower side of the boiler? there are 3 other drain valves in the copper piping should those be opened too?

1 last question. I found a similar sized used (10yr old) Burnham boiler on craigslist Model: 204NIL-GEI2. I went and looked it over and it looked clean and the guy assured me it didn't leak, but come to find out it was set up for LP.
How difficult and costly would it be to convert to natural gas?

thanks

Comments

  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,084
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    There are a couple of things you might be able to do.
    But for safety reasons you should call a pro to take care of that leak. Its a dangerous situation you are describing and should be handled by a reputable boiler company in your area. They might be able to get that leak fixed so you can limp along as you put it.
    It sounds like you might have a cracked cast iron section or separated push nipple.

    Also.

    The old saying . "buyer beware" comes to mind.

    The used boiler didn't leak? Well, that might be true when it was taken out for whatever reason, but it might leak when you try to use it due to a lot of different reasons. One reason is that used boilers after they have sat dry for a long un-determined amount of time can leak for numerous reasons. So , that may not be your best choice.
    Call a professional and see if they can help.
    Can you send pictures?

  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,890
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    If it was still just a drip maybe a temp boiler seal repair could've been done. Now the dam burst so IMO theres no alternative than a new heating system.
    Do not take a used boiler. You probably wont fint a reliable contractor to install it. If you do find one your only gonna get a "tail light warranty". And it's a gamble. The used boiler doesn't leak, but is the circuit board fried?
    Do you know if the existing boiler was sized correctly?
    You need a contractor that will do a proper heat loss calculation, and upgrade the heating system, not just a boiler swap out.
    Many companies offer 0 or low interest financing so that can help I hope.
    When you think about it. What the most important appliance in your home that you absolutely cant live without?
    If your barbeque is inside, there might be two answers.
    Intplm.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,084
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    A temporary boiler seal type of repair could still work. Depends on how large the leak is. I have had mixed results but is worth a try and could get you by till more appropriate repair or replacement can be done.

    Cant always tell from the description.

    @Gorrillasnot ? Can you provide some pictures?? Might be able to give a better opinion with pictures.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,084
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    Another thought..........Tell the boiler company that you call that you would like to have boiler seal liquid used on your boiler. I don't know your location but its worth a try . I have had success with commercial boilers but mixed success with residential boilers due to there smaller size, controls affected etc.

    let use know.
  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
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    First off you need to call a pro, second it's still has some warranty on it., they have limited lifetime, it's covered 100% for 10 years then prorated, see chart, and then link to WM

    https://www.weil-mclain.com/sites/default/files/field-file/warranty-cast-iron-residential-water_0.pdf

    https://www.weil-mclain.com/warranties
  • Gorrillasnot
    Gorrillasnot Member Posts: 5
    edited January 2019
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    Thanks for all the replies guys.
    I'm no sure if the boiler was properly sized based on a heatloo calculation or not.. I know when the boiler was working well and the temperature would get super cold like 0 or below it would not get the house temp above 65.

    I have called 2 pros in my area and as soon as I say leak they immediately say its junk you need a new boiler..which is most likely true. 1 of them said they would be glad to come take a look but it would cost $ for the service call and then $ per hour for them to even take a look at it.
    The second one said it would be a waist of time and money for him to come look and that a new boiler would be the only option.
    I wouldnt mind spending the $ if I was pretty sure they could do something, but both shops were pretty adamant that I would need a new boiler and I would hate to throw that kind of money away..I am on a fixed income and $ is a big chunk for me.

    I took a few pics..Using a mirror look up into the cast sections to me the water seems like it may be coming from above and leaking down..what I thought were cracks in the bottom I think was deposits.
    Also there is allot of gritty stuff that feels like sand all over the cast sections...is this wet furnace cement?

    As far as the warranty I dont think it would apply..I'm not the original owner of the boiler..

    thanks

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,840
    edited January 2019
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    Unfortunately it looks like it's been leaking for quite a while. Where are you located? You bet bett is a qualified contractor. Did you check find a contractor on this site??
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,084
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    Might not be as bad as you think. Leak might be on the top. Keep trying to get that service call.
  • Gorrillasnot
    Gorrillasnot Member Posts: 5
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    Update on my situation, I found and qualified for an assistance program to get a new boiler installed in the next 2-3 weeks.
    In the mean time I was able to use a piece of angle iron to divert the water from dripping on the burner tubes.

    After the new boiler gets installed I thought I would tinker with the old one and see if I could find out for sure where it was leaking.
    If it turns out that the leak was at the seals where the sections are joined together would they be difficult to replace?
    supplyhouse has them for $2.65 each and I'm guessing I'd also need some type of high temp sealant..maybe like high temp rtv like is used on automotive exhaust headers?
    Wish I could've found a youtube video showing how it's done, but the only ones I've seen about leaking boilers they either replaced the whole boiler or tried putting stop leak in.

    what do you all think?

    thanks
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,657
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    Have fun! Tinkering with a boiler you don't need is always educational, if nothing else. And yes, it could be a bad seal. If it's like the larger WMs, the seal is a square section O-ring, and it is not unknown for them to get twisted -- at which point they leak eventually, if not right away. You should not need any sealant, though, on reassembly.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England