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Automatic water feeder vs. manual water feed

I'm about to swap out my old gas fired steam boiler. Currently I check on the water level myself and manually add more water in to the boiler when needed. One of the plumbers I have asked for a proposal has included an automatic water feeder in his proposal. Would it be a good idea for me to add this component to my new boiler (for an added cost) or could I stick with a manual water feed?


  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,478
    Auto water feeds can cause problems and simpler is osually better. I'm 73 and have lived with steam heat my whole life without auto feeders. If you can get down to the boiler a couple of times a week I'd stick with manual feed.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
    I'd say "it depends". A manual feed is fine, provided two things: first, that you can and do get down to the boiler room at least twice a week. Second, that you never ever leave the house for a vacation when the weather is cooler -- even for a couple of days. If that's true, fine.

    Otherwise, I'd always go for an automatic.

    There is one thing which you didn't mention: I would also make sure that whichever you have has a water meter on it. With automatics, that's included. With manuals you have to add that in yourself. The reason for this is that actually metering your water usage is an important part of maintaining a steam boiler, as a slight increase, or increasing trend, in the amount of water used is often the first indication of a leak somewhere in the system -- and it's much easier to fix if it's a little leak than a big one.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England