Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.

If you've found help here, check back in to let us know how everything worked out.
It's a great way to thank those who helped you.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

35 Year Old Boiler....Is It Time?

AdmiralYodaAdmiralYoda Member Posts: 79
I have a 35 year gas fired old steam boiler. I've rebuilt the LWCO and set the Pressuretrol as low as it will go with a 1psi differential. My heating bill is reasonable and it seems to be working fine.

Some people seem to think that they should be replaced every 20 years as preventive maintenence. Is that so? Do I have a ticking time bomb?

The main piping could be improved, the venting could be improved and its oversized now that the house is insulated and tight......I just can't bring myself to spend $5k + for boiler that will probably work just as well but be "new".

Am I playing with fire?

Comments

  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,438
    Pix? That would tell us a lot...
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 3,979
    edited March 13
    'Ticking time bomb' is a little drastic, especially if it's operating properly and being maintained properly.
    You must be doing the work yourself if you think you're only spending 5k.
    Yes pictures...what's the condition, how much water are you adding per year/month/week/(hopefully not) day?
    steve
    B_Sloane
  • PMJPMJ Member Posts: 916
    I would say that sudden and complete failure is rather unlikely anyway. You will get warning signs like excess water consumption that you could ride to the end of a season.

    I heard the same thing when I bought a house with a 35 year old boiler in it. That was 28 years ago. A good college friend who took over his Dad's boiler supply business told me back then in 1992 that the 1950's Bryant I had would outlast any new one I could put in...even with 35 years already on it. Turns out he was right. She is showing no signs of giving up anytime soon.
    New England SteamWorks
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 763
    Fuel bill might be an indicator too. You may benefit from improvements in design, or proper sizing. Maybe just a burner upgrade.

    Personally, i would be thrilled to get 35 years out of a boiler. I wouldnt change it unless i was convinced i would save fuel and have it pay itself off in five years with the savings.
  • B_SloaneB_Sloane Member Posts: 54
    +$5k ..??
    Bwaaaahahahah .. :)

    anyways, since Smith no longer manufactures the BB14, I would stick with what ya got
    Intplm.Hap_Hazzard
  • PerryHolzmanPerryHolzman Member Posts: 65
    There is no reason to change your boiler based on its age UNLESS 1) It is showing signs of actual failure (high water usage or NoX issues) or possibly 2) It was massively oversized and is extremely energy inefficient as a result.

    Your boiler may well last another 35+ years if there are no current issues. NoX problems indicates relatively immediate replacement (you are literally putting your life on the line with continued operation - I replaced my hot water boiler in less than 2 weeks of confirming NoX leakage - and kept windows open on the basement until then to keep NoX levels low enough). High water usage can usually be lived with for the remainder of the heating system.

    Go to the Slant Fin website and download their heat loss estimator - and calculate you heat loss for your house (my personal guess is that it's accurate to within 20% on older houses, and likely 10% accurate on newer homes where you really have a good idea on the construction).

    Find your boiler size, and get back to us on this site for more advise.
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 763
    B_Sloane said:

    +$5k ..??
    Bwaaaahahahah .. :)

    Agree. I did my own install and material alone exceeded that. If i paid myself $20./ hr it would have been waaaaaaaay more than that.


    B_Sloane
  • AdmiralYodaAdmiralYoda Member Posts: 79
    Below are some pics. I've had a plumber friend clean and inspect it almost annually. I'm due for a proper maintenance and service.

    It was installed in 1985. Fuel bill is good. I've done the heat loss years ago. It's about 30-40% oversized.

    I add water once or twice a month depending on how much I'm draining out of it.

    Considering how much it will cost to replace. Maybe I'll put a fresh coat of high temp paint on it and pretend it's new.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,057
    What does nitro us oxide have to do with condition of the boiler?
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 763
    Hang on to it.
  • PerryHolzmanPerryHolzman Member Posts: 65
    edited March 13
    mattmia2 said:

    What does nitro us oxide have to do with condition of the boiler?

    My apologies... slow thinking day: I should have said Carbon Monoxide. I think we all know how deadly that can be.

    My CO levels were not that high... but clearly the boiler casing was leaking. The heating contractor who responded to my request to check my boiler because I smelled exhaust gases opened the windows and they went down to normal - and told me that bought us some time to figure out which boiler. I dug into this site and ended up with a Viessmann Vitodens 200 relocated to the sidewall of the house.

    I would only recomend that boiler to someone now if they had a long term heating contractor already installing them and servicing them. Most homeowners cannot maintain it properly and adequately (which is I believe true of most modcons).

    Perry
  • PerryHolzmanPerryHolzman Member Posts: 65
    That boiler looks great for its age: Clean it up... perhaps some automotive wax (or silicone) will make it shine...

    No reason to replace it if you don't have problems.

    Perry
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,374
    I'm at 37 years and I'm not planning a replacement. Let the boiler do its job until it starts to use an excessive amount of water or you see water pooled on the floor. The amount of water you drain from that MM#67 doesn't count. It's not a leak.
  • Intplm.Intplm. Member Posts: 1,093
    @AdmiralYoda . You have herd this before but its well repeated here.
    "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    Give yourself sometime to save the money you will need to change it. Save up for a new one to change it when the $ is easier and can be well planned on your terms and not in a state of emergency/desperation.
    A nice change during the summer months is a good thought.
    You may want to budget in a bit more then what you estimate above.
    All to often folks wait till the middle of the coldest month of the year when its a emergency and they cant get anyone to do the work.
    Do your homework now for a well planned change. Its usuallly the best way to go.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,747
    @AdmiralYoda

    I would do as @Ironman suggested. Do a heat loss, save your money and budget for it's replacement.

    A new boiler will be about the same efficiency unless yours is grossly over sized
  • AdmiralYodaAdmiralYoda Member Posts: 79
    Quick question. On a 35 year old boiler....can the burner be changed to make it more appropriate ly sized? I do short cycle a bit when it's super cold.
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,374
    He's got a steam system. He doesn't need a heat loss, he needs to measure his radiator EDR. If he intends to down size the radiators, then a heat loss would work.
    GrallertNew England SteamWorks
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,224
    35 years is nothing for a Peerless of that vintage. Mine's at least 37 and still going strong. Your piping is a little wonky, so you might get an efficiency boost if you put that right, and don't worry about putting money into the near boiler piping—if you replace it with another Peerless, you can hook it up to the same piping.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,057
    Is the boiler connected directly to mains running in different directions off different tappings instead of both tappings to a header and and equalizer then the mains?
  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,438

    Quick question. On a 35 year old boiler....can the burner be changed to make it more appropriate ly sized? I do short cycle a bit when it's super cold.

    NO. Cant do that. The boiler would heat differently and could cause it to fail sooner and produce CO...
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 763

    Quick question. On a 35 year old boiler....can the burner be changed to make it more appropriate ly sized? I do short cycle a bit when it's super cold.

    Leave as is.
  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 411
    edited March 14
    Why is the boiler short-cycling at cold weather? Is it cycling on the limit (pressure) or the room thermostat? If it’s the room thermostat, that could be a heat anticipator setting.

    If it is the pressure control, you could increase the differential slightly and lower the gas pressure from 3.5” wc to 3”wc. But you need to check the stack temperature to make sure you don’t reduce the firing rate too much. Those measures will only increase the pressure cycling a small amount.
    mattmia2
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,224
    edited March 14

    Quick question. On a 35 year old boiler....can the burner be changed to make it more appropriate ly sized? I do short cycle a bit when it's super cold.

    The current line of Peerless atmospheric boilers (63 series) offers two different versions of each size boiler, for example, there's a 63-04 and a 63-04L. The difference between them is that the "L" version has one less burner than the non-L version, and it's possible, under certain circumstances, to order the burner tray for the L version and use it to downfire a non-L boiler. This would only be possible if you have a series 63 boiler, and, while I can't quite make out the model number in those pictures, the 2" risers are an indication that it's a series 61, and series 61 and 63 burner trays aren't interchangeable. So I guess I'm saying, in theory it's possible, in practice it's not, because the number of burners isn't the only difference. If you remove one burner from a burner array, you'll increase the manifold pressure unless the orifices of the remaining spuds are increased, and then other changes need to be made to insure proper combustion, and this is a level of engineering that's best left to the actual engineers.

    That being said, there are other ways to downfire a boiler, but you'd need to replace the gas valve, and I don't think you'd want to do that on a 35 year old boiler.

    But, if I understand your situation, I'm not sure downfiring is actually necessary. If I'm understanding the situation correctly, when it's cold outside, your heating cycles are long enough to cause the boiler to cycle on pressure, but when it's not very cold, the thermostat stops calling for heat before the pressure reaches the limit set by your Pressuretrol. If this is the case, you might need to adjust the thermostat so the cold weather heating cycles are shorter, and the pressure doesn't limit. If your thermostat has a setting for CPH (or cycles per hour) you'll want to set this as high as possible.

    If this seems counter-intuitive, understand that this setting refers to heating cycles, not boiler cycling due to pressure. The thermostat doesn't know anything about pressure. CPH just changes the temperature swing required to initiate a new heating cycle (among other arcane parameters). By setting CPH to the maximum, you're telling it to respond to a smaller drop in temperature, so the heating cycles will occur more frequently when it gets colder, but they will be shorter in duration, and they won't be as likely to cause the boiler to cycle on pressure.

    We probably won't get another chance to try this out until next season, but if you see that the CPH is set to 1, which the installation instructions for some thermostats actually recommend for steam systems, you've probably identified the problem.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,224
    BTW, "Tightening up" your house and adding insulation doesn't make your boiler oversized. Only removing radiators or replacing them with smaller ones will do that. If you have the same amount of radiation, and the boiler was properly sized to begin with, it should still be okay. You might be able to get away with downsizing your radiators and boiler, but it's not necessary. The only reason you might find yourself sweating from time to time would be that your thermostat is allowing the temperature to swing too far from high to low, and that should be adjustable, as I explained above, and if that doesn't do it, I'd try a new thermostat before I went crazy changing radiators out.

    A couple of questions:
    1. Is this a one-pipe or a two-pipe system?
    2. Where are you located?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • AdmiralYodaAdmiralYoda Member Posts: 79
    I did an EDR calculation a while back and the boiler puts out too many BTUs. I have a feeling there were more radiators in the house a while back (it's 120 years old).

    If I have an aggressive setback or it's 0 degrees out it short cycles. Hits the pressure limit at 1.5psi
  • FredFred Member Posts: 8,374

    I did an EDR calculation a while back and the boiler puts out too many BTUs. I have a feeling there were more radiators in the house a while back (it's 120 years old).



    If I have an aggressive setback or it's 0 degrees out it short cycles. Hits the pressure limit at 1.5psi

    That's why we suggest people avoid aggressive setbacks. Noi more than a couple degrees, if at all. If the boiler only short cycles on 0 degree days, that's not too bad. The longer the boiler has to run to bring things up to temp, the more the pressure will build. Set the thermostat and leave it alone. You aren't saving much, if any money with the setbacks, by the time you bring the rooms and all the contents back up to temp.
    Hap_Hazzard
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,224
    What @Fred says is especially true if you have a "tight," well-insulated house. The more heat loss you prevent, the less you save with setbacks.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • PMJPMJ Member Posts: 916
    The total heat input required to replace what is lost is directly related to the average temperature difference to the outside over a given time period. Setbacks reduce that average temperature difference and thereby do reduce the total input required... tight house, loose house, any house. It isn't a huge reduction but it is a reduction. Heat loss is a straight temperature difference calculation.

    Running the system pressurized at all is always a waste of energy no matter when it happens, recovering from a setback or any other time. A better control that paces burns even a little can eliminate pressure altogether no matter how big the boiler. It will also make more even heat.

    Having said all that, I think most do a nightime setback because they like it a little cooler for sleeping, not for the savings.
  • AdmiralYodaAdmiralYoda Member Posts: 79
    Totally agree with you guys. The past 4 years we've relied mostly on wood. This year, no wood....we've kept the thermostat at 68 or so and kept it there.

    Had an aggressive setback years ago. With no setback the fuel bill was roughly the same.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,057

    If you remove one burner from a burner array, you'll increase the manifold pressure unless the orifices of the remaining spuds are increased, and then other changes need to be made to insure proper combustion, and this is a level of engineering that's best left to the actual engineers.

    The manifold pressure is regulated. Removing or plugging an orifice won't change the output of the other orifices (unless it reduces the flow to a point that it isn't within the specifications of the regulator).
    Hap_Hazzard
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,224
    mattmia2 said:

    The manifold pressure is regulated. Removing or plugging an orifice won't change the output of the other orifices (unless it reduces the flow to a point that it isn't within the specifications of the regulator).

    I stand corrected. Thanks.

    Still, it's not something to DIY.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • dopey27177dopey27177 Member Posts: 224
    If it were me and I saw the horror show of the near boiler piping i would not have bought the house unless they gave back money to replace the boiler.

    Since you are stuck with the installation and the boiler is good I would not change anything with the boiler piping. (iF IT A'INT BROKE DON'T FIX IT)

    Here is my personal experience with an old boiler.

    I bought a house in 1976 that was built in 1930 it had a Richardson pancake boiler. The boiler was 40 years old. In 1985 we were away and the boiler dry fired. Because off a broken underground return line the boiler died at 49 years old.

    People ask me why did't I do the needed upgrades to the piping because I am in the business.

    My answer is simple and stupid, why does the shoemakers children have no shoes.


    Jake
    ethicalpaul
  • AdmiralYodaAdmiralYoda Member Posts: 79
    Ha, good thoughts. When I was in my 20's and full of piss and vinegar I had no idea what I was in for.

    No idea how much it would cost to redo the near boiler piping, but there are other oddities near the boiler as well. It looks like some radiators were moved and the lines were stubbed off. So I have about 30 feet of dead ends.

    In the past 130 years they have done some creative stuff.

    One MAJOR reason I don't want replace it is because I will have to get it out of the basement and get a new one back in. My basement stairs are exactly what you would expect in a 130 year old house. Built for 5'2" people that weigh 125lbs.
Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!