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Slant Fin Galaxy steam boiler with crack

I am a newbie, trying to get up to speed on this beautifully simple yet endlessly complex system. Please forgive my ignorance. We had a Slant Fin Galaxy boiler installed 21 years ago. I don’t know if it was well installed. We live in Lansing, MI, and haven’t found anyone who sounds like you all on this site. About 10 years ago, the boiler developed a crack and we had the cast iron guts replaced. A month ago, we realized we again had a crack. I don’t know yet if it’s in the same spot, but it’s high up, just like before.
I’ll include some pics. Sorry, it’s hard to get a good shot in the tight space.
My questions:
1. Could there be a flaw in the casting that causes it to go bad after about 10 years?
2. What boiler should I replace it with? I calculated an EDR of 338. Our house is about 2000 sq ft. Our boiler guy also did a heat loss calculation, but I don’t have those numbers. Our current boiler is 155k BTU





Comments

  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,755
    Do you know if there was a crack in one of the sections, or did a leak develop between the sections?

    There is a contractor in Flint who might be able to help you. Interestingly, the case study on his page (https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/c-t-janni-and-associates) talks about replacing the innards of a seven-year-old boiler with a bad section. He doesn't say what brand it was, but wouldn't it be crazy if it turned out to be another Slant Fin?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,907
    Slant/Fin boilers are generally pretty reliable. It would be useful to know whether it was a casting failure or, as @Hap_Hazzard says, possibly between sections.

    Hopefully when it is replaced it will be sized properly to the EDR, not the building heat loss -- and maybe piped a little closer to the manufacturer's recommendations...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,329
    Whoever installed that boiler must have used the install manual as a knee pad. The steam piping is completely wrong.

    But- if the leak is at the top of a section, it probably rotted out from excessive water consumption. A leaking pipe, vent or packing nut can lead to this.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    Do you have any wet return piping buried under the floor?
    Can you see all the piping above the floor and see any leaks?
    How often did you have to add water?
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,987
    338 EDR = about 81,00 btus. Your boiler input shold be about 135,000 btus allowing for efficiency and piping and pic up factors
  • SeanBeans
    SeanBeans Member Posts: 487
    Installer was definitely using the manual as a knee pad.. how is it that all of these installers choose the same horribly wrong piping arrangement? Will it ever end!?
    ethicalpaul
  • RebeccaT
    RebeccaT Member Posts: 9
    Thank you all for your help. I don’t think we have any buried pipes. We do have two radiators that leaks steam. The boiler has been adding water like crazy for the last month or so, but after reading somewhere on this site that it shouldn’t be adding more than once a month, I realize that there has been a problem since day one.
    So, we have a great plumber (who did not install this boiler) If he follows the installation guide to a T, can we end up with a system we don’t have to replace every 10 years?
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    If you fix those steam leaks :sweat_smile:
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • RebeccaT
    RebeccaT Member Posts: 9
    Just found out we did have a buried return pipe that was replaced 21 years ago (It was December and I was pregnant and freezing, so I’m not surprised I don’t remember this.)
    The pipe is now a head banger and I’m guessing that might be a bad thing? Here are pics that follow the return pipe to the boiler. I hope you can tell what it looks like - it’s hard to get a pic of the whole thing.





  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    I don't think that's a bad thing. Buried pipes are bad because if they start leaking it's extremely difficult to know. That kind of undetected leak increases the fresh water going into the boiler which makes it rot out much much faster. It should be insulated like all the main pipes but it's not bad to have a dry return like this IMO
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    The main thing to look for now is water leaks, the new dry return makes it easy to eliminate it for leaks.
    You say you have had to add water since the boiler was rebuilt 10 years ago, could be the rebuild had a section leak in the top header that allowed steam to be boiled away out the chimney.
    ethicalpaul
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,483
    FWIW, i find that SlantFin, gas, steam boilers tend to have a relatively short life span
  • RebeccaT
    RebeccaT Member Posts: 9
    W are looking at Peerless, Weil-McLain or Burnam. Any strong feelings?
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,483
    Thumbs up to Peerless and WM. Not a fan of Burnham. Overpriced, 2" tappings, short life span. Just my opinion
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    edited December 2019
    My Homeowner opinion:
    1. Peerless
    2. WM

    Don’t consider Burnham or any Dunkirk style atmospheric gas boiler

    If it’s gonna have an oil burner consider Burnham MegaSteam

    But far more important is correct sizing and near boiler piping
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • RebeccaT
    RebeccaT Member Posts: 9
    Thank you all!
    One more piece of info I forgot about. There were two small radiators removed from the second floor. Do I need to consider anything about those in my sizing calculations?
    Also, we prefer to keep our bedrooms cold. Is it a problem to turn off an upstairs radiator or two, and does that change how we want to size our boiler?
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,081
    RebeccaT said:

    Thank you all!
    One more piece of info I forgot about. There were two small radiators removed from the second floor. Do I need to consider anything about those in my sizing calculations?
    Also, we prefer to keep our bedrooms cold. Is it a problem to turn off an upstairs radiator or two, and does that change how we want to size our boiler?

    Sounds like classic balance problems to me. You can, with venting, keep some rooms cooler with venting. If you are perfectly balanced and still can't get them right you can add TRV vents on the rads you want to be cooler.

    I keep my bedroom about 4-5 degrees cooler than the rest of the house and it is massively over radiated. I have a Hoffman 1A vent set slightly below the lowest setting and it's perfect.

    For sizing only count the rads that are installed, or you plan on installing. Why did you remove those radiators?

    Turning off radiators is fine if done correctly, do not, ever, turn the valve off. That has the potential to cause havoc on steam. Instead turn the vent upside down and it won't allow air to vent effectively shutting the radiator off.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,483
    > @RebeccaT said:
    > Thank you all!
    > One more piece of info I forgot about. There were two small radiators removed from the second floor. Do I need to consider anything about those in my sizing calculations?
    > Also, we prefer to keep our bedrooms cold. Is it a problem to turn off an upstairs radiator or two, and does that change how we want to size our boiler?

    Hard to answer. Are you planning an reinstalling radiators? Size boiler to match radiators that will be in use. You can add a 1/8" ball valve to the air vent tapping. Allows for easy on/off operation
  • RebeccaT
    RebeccaT Member Posts: 9
    The two radiators had been removed before we bought the house. One was in a tiny (crib sized) bedroom and one was a tiny bathroom knee knocker directly in front of the toilet.
    We have shut radiators off at the valve, so no wonder we’ve had problems.
    So our current boiler is way oversized at DOE Capacity of 155,000, is that correct? I get confused by which numbers to go by. Our EDR is 338. Is that the same number as Net I=B=R steam Sq ft? Our current boiler has that number as 483.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,081
    There is a sq ft rating on the boiler, compare that directly to the calculated system EDR. In your case 338 compared to 483 means you are ~43% over sized.

    If you go with a Weil Mclain I would suggest an EG-40.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • RebeccaT
    RebeccaT Member Posts: 9
    Making a decision this morning. We would prefer to not include our bedroom radiator in our calculation since we have always had it off, which takes our EDR from 338 down to 288. The decision is between the Peerless 63-03 and the WM EG-40. Will either of these be too big if we don’t include the bedroom radiator? I hate to undersize in case some future homeowner wants heat in the master bedroom.
    Also, is there an argument for one over the other?
    Thank you all for your input! I am learning so much and am looking forward to reading Dan’s books and getting our system properly setup after 24 years of guessing and hoping it was all good.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    edited December 2019
    Here is a thread where I was choosing mostly between a WM (Williamson is their identical but less expensive down-label brand so check that out) and a Peerless: https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/167838/best-small-gas-steam-boiler/p2

    The thread wanders a bit but there is lots of good opinion/info there. My EDR is just under 200 so I was looking at their very smallest offerings where I think you are looking at the next step up, but there is little difference within models...just the number of burners and/or sections. The Peerless 63-03 and the WM EG-40 look the right size to me. Let's see what the pros say.

    I went with a Peerless because I think it has a thicker casting and it had better port options for me. I also appreciate their documentation and the fact that they sponsor this site.

    But really really important, don't forget to tell each bidding contractor that they must pipe it with black pipe to the specifications listed in the boiler's manual. This cannot be overemphasized.

    As a born and raised Michigander, I wish you the best!
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Hap_Hazzard
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,081
    Make sure they install and use the skim port for cleaning the boiler after the install. Don't let them substitute with a cleaner. Get this in the contract.

    The piping is critical, manufacturers spec at minimum, make sure it's written in the contract.

    I am reiterating everything @ethicalpaul typed as it cannot be emphasized enough.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ethicalpaulHap_Hazzard
  • Keith M
    Keith M Member Posts: 78
    I work for Slant/Fin and our Galaxy steam boilers should last for a long time. Recently we replaced a modular steam boiler (Galaxy modules) over 20 years old and the reason was testing some high efficiency boilers (steam to water system). The steam modular boiler was still running well with very stable water level.
    I recommend when you replace the boiler, break the cast iron where the leak is and see if there are deposits in the boiler. Michigan tends to have "hard" water and too much make up water will destroy a boiler. Also, what is the pH of the boiler water? Is the pH below 7? The near boiler piping is important on steam boilers. We manufacturers spend a lot of time and money developing installation instructions...use them.
    Bottom line is I recommend you determine what is causing the short life spans and fix that. Otherwise your next boiler is likely to have a short life span...unless you fix the problem.
    Put in the proper size boiler. Over-sizing the boiler can also shorten life span of the boiler.
    Keith Muhlmeister
    Slant/Fin Corporation
    Hap_HazzardethicalpaulJUGHNENeild5
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,755
    I don't think anybody here will disagree with you. We're always telling people how important near-boiler piping is, stressing water quality, and trying to find qualified contractors to help people. The trouble is, most people don't come here until they have a problem.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,306
    @Keith M It's always good to hear from the manufacturer, thanks for caring.

    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
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    Rebecca, you said "a problem since day one", is that day the first install (21 years ago) or the day after the rebuild (10 years ago).

    If from 21 years ago, you could have had a small internal leak in some upper nipple that was not noticed or repaired with the rebuild 10 years ago.

    Others here: please shoot this theory down if impossible.

    When new 21 years ago the boiler should have been pressure tested in your basement before piping began. If the above was true then it would have been noticed then.
    It is easy to imagine that not having been done.
  • RebeccaT
    RebeccaT Member Posts: 9
    You’re right, it is easy to imagine that not having been done. I may not be remembering correctly, but after reading about how little water should need to be added, I do think we’ve been losing water since the original boiler was installed 21 years ago.
    Thank you Keith M for weighing in about Michigan’s water. That will be very helpful as we move forward. I think you’re very likely correct that it was an install failure and a leak issue rather than a problem with the casting.
    We are waiting on delivery for a Peerless 63-03. While we usually hope for a white Christmas, this year we are grateful for temps in the 50’s! I’ll post pictures of our install and hopefully you all will give it the thumbs up. Thanks so much for taking the time to advise.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    Sounds good. Did the installer agree to make the near-boiler piping look exactly like in the manual and out of steel pipes?
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,755
    > @ethicalpaul said:
    > Sounds good. Did the installer agree to make the near-boiler piping look exactly like in the manual and out of steel pipes?

    Personally I wouldn’t insist on that. The minimal piping shown in the OEM can easily be improved upon, and it pays for itself in the long run.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    I’m not sure about that. Regardless, I’m more worried about the header being totally wrong or nonexistent which today Seems to be a greater possibility than an installer following the directions.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,755
    The OEM for my boiler shows a single 2” riser and a 2” header. I prefer my 3” drop header and two 3’ tall risers.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    I’m trying to ensure that Rebecca gets a system that works and I would take the simplicity of following the manufacture’s instructions, both for the homeowner and the installer.

    But if Rebecca wants to ask for more than that she is of course free to if she thinks the extra expense is worth it.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • RebeccaT
    RebeccaT Member Posts: 9
    Thanks guys. Our plumber has agreed to follow the install guide. I’m more comfortable sticking with the OEM, but Hap-Hazzard, are you suggesting a 3” header is a better way to go? I’m a little concerned that any deviation from the manufacturer’s guidelines could lead to others...
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,755
    I always like to go bigger on headers and taller on boiler risers. I also like drop headers.

    My biggest worry if someone who lacks experience tries to improve on the approved piping is when they use both supply tappings but don't employ swing-arms between the risers and the header, because this can damage the boiler, but there's not much advantage to be gained from using both supply tappings on a three-section boiler.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • motoguy128
    motoguy128 Member Posts: 394
    I think the existing header could have stressed the block and caused the crack. There no swing joint and it probably surged like crazy.

    I agree. Like PH and hard water is death. It probably needs a boiler treatment added annually or more often if wet returns have leaks.