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New Boiler Questions

JFBJFB Member Posts: 5
edited October 15 in THE MAIN WALL
New to the forum, hoping you can help clear my confusion. Quick background, I just moved to a new old house with steam heat, I grew up with forced hotwater. I had an older Burnham oil-fired boiler that seemed to take on more water every few hours during heating cycle which I thought odd. It had auto feed, obviously. We decided to switch to gas since old boiler was on it's last legs. Plumber first told us we needed chimney liner because we were switching to gas & flue opening needed to be moved to same height as gas water heater flue pipe. Two chimney sweeps also said I needed liner (One felt he couldn't fit a 5' liner, he wanted to install smaller one, plumber said forget it). Anonymous call to city inspector also said we need a liner if switching to gas, he recommend direct vented boiler. So now I have new gas-fired steam boiler with old flue opening & no liner (No C02 alarms triggered on any floor). Also plumber did not re-install auto feed. I am concerned with how often I'll have to check water level & how to add water as well as how to flush water weekly/monthly? Should I have auto feed installed? Should flue pipes be level? Do I need chimney liner with gas? Any help, advice guidance will be most appreciated!
Thanks,
John

P.S. Forgot to mention, plumber used some copper on steam supply between iron-I thought that was a no-no?

Comments

  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,307
    edited October 15
    Post a few pictures so we can judge the plumbers work.

    A chimney liner is usually required, and it's never wrong to install one.

    Weather it is required or not depends on several things. Where the job is located (cold climate, warm climate), height of chimney, btu input and type of appliances, chimney inside the house or exterior to the house and condition of the clay liner in the chimney.

    As far as copper piping goes it is a no no on any steam piping but can be used on some return piping.

    need pictures to decide.

    Why did they not install a liner as it seems everyone recommended it?

    AS far as the water feeder if you have no leaks you shouldn't need it but I would have reinstalled it if it was functional and in good condition and was already on the job.

    Did the contractor take out permits? And how was it passed inspection without the chimney liner
    ethicalpaulmikeapolis MaxMercyJFB
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,403
    As far as checking/adding water goes, a steam system in good shape should need very little water -- perhaps a gallon a month; a little more in cold weather when the system is running hard. If it needs more than a gallon a week,. something is leaking somewhere -- and you need to find it, as adding that much fresh water also adds a lot of oxygen, and that will rust out the boiler remarkably quickly.

    As far as blowdowns or flushing. If, and only if, you have a float type low level cutoff, it should be blown down every one or two weeks. Only the low level cutoff. The entire boiler only need to be blown down once a year, if that.

    On the chimney liner. It should be lined; for that matter, it should have been lined for the oil burner as well, but that's now in the past. Perhaps more to the point, if the city inspector says it need to be lined, it needs to be lined. If it isn't, and he -- or your insurance company -- catches on that it isn't, you may find yourself with the gas service turned off and no insurance, whether it works or not.

    And I would agree: the chimney needs to be lined.

    Further, there is an implication in your commentary that there may be another gas fired appliance attached to the same flue? Not a good idea. Not a good idea at all.

    And, as a side note, it's not CO2 you should be testing for. That's carbon dioxide. Not great, but quite normal. It should be CO, which is carbon monoxide -- and is lethal, even in rather small quantities, given time.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    mikeapolis MaxMercyJFB
  • JFBJFB Member Posts: 5
    Gents, Thank you both for the rapid responses 1st CO2 was a typo, sorry I did mean CO. It's a complex situation since I don't have final say just yet (a family thing) I think this plumber was wheeling & dealing. The chimney doesn't have a clay liner, it's just brick, the house was built in 1860, and it's a central chimney with a second flue for a fireplace-unused about 35' tall. Right now there's a gas hot-water heater & the gas boiler on the other flue, previously the oil-fired boiler & hot-water heater where on that flue. The plumber originally said we needed the liner if we switched to gas, but then said we didn't since there was already a gas appliance on that flue-he & the 1st chimney sweep were at odds over the size of the liner. The plumber said he need at least a 5" liner & the sweep said he could only fit a 4" down the flue because of corbelling (sp?). The plumber is saying he knows the plumbing inspector & the implication is he'll pass whatever this plumber says.

    I am very concerned & have been by the same things you mention Jamie-the insurance being voided & the city or gas co ordering me to cut the gas until the violations are rectified.

    I'll try to post some photos tonight or tomorrow-not home right now.

    Thanks again!!!

    Pax,
    John
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,413
    You can't fire any fuel burning appliance into a bare brick chimney...PERIOD.
    Congratulations on your hack/corrupt plumber and corrupt inspector. I hope you saved a lot of money.
    And btw, should you or someone in your family get sick or die from CO poisoning, or you chimney fails and falls, and hurts/kills someone, that plumber and inspector will be no where to be found.
    Your chimney guy is a hack too. Liners are sized based on the btu's of the connected appliances. So what is needed is what is needed. If it doesn't fit you can't do it. If there's enough capacity to just put the boiler on there, do that and switch the hot water to electric, which is probably more efficient than adding domestic hot water to the steamer.
    Sorry for sounding harsh but this is a life safety issue. The plumber and chimney people should lose their license and the inspector needs to fired and possible criminal charges. It's their job to know the law, and the codes.
    steve
    Robert O'Brienmikeapolis JFB
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,183
    Besides the chimney issues, you need to find where all the water is going requiring auto feeding.
    Was the old boiler leaking, either seen or possibly boiling off water into steam up the chimney?

    When you do pictures show any pipes coming up out of the floor for return water.
    JFB
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,403
    No liner at all, just brick? That chimney must be lined to use it for a fuel burning appliance. No ifs, ands, or buts. Just because it was before doesn't make it either safe or smart.

    There are a number of ways to line chimneys, although if the flue isn't straight it become much more complicated.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    mikeapolis JFB
  • JFBJFB Member Posts: 5
    edited October 16
    Here are a few pics, hope they aren't too much, I tried to reduce the size.






    Steve, unfortunately for me, I wasn't the one who had a say in this (it's a complicated ownership situation at the moment, I certainly don't want to get screwed or killed by this situation!) Both chimney sweeps refused to certify the chimney. The first 'sweep felt he couldn't safely fit a 5" liner down there w/o damaging it. He wanted to use a smaller one if the plumber was fine with that.

    Jughne, I think a fair amount was going up the chimney. More than once last year I saw lots of whitish "smoke" out the chimney when the boiler was running & a neighbor told me he saw blackish smoke very often. The serviceman I had in last year, my first year here, said the chamber in the old boiler was partially collapsed. He told me I'd be lucky to get through the winter with it. ( I did just barely). When this plumber's crew broke up the old boiler the whole center top of the iron innards was so rusted-out the wedge he was using sunk right in. That boiler was beyond dead. Nothing coming out of the floor. This plumber said there's a vent on a line in the cellar over the boiler that's defective-he said steam was coming out of that. He's supposed to replace it this week-end when they come to take out the oil tank or next week when the city inspector comes.

    Jamie, I think the flue is straight, the second chimney sweep cleaned it & said it was clear, the fireplace flue was blocked, he said. He also didn't certify either flue. He thought a 5' liner would fit w/o any problems, but the plumber convinced the other person involved that since the gas hot water heater has been on the flue for years & the CO detectors aren't going off, the flue is fine and we don't need a liner. For the record-I'm not buying it! I want what's safe & up to code.

    I'm hate to say I'm hoping the city inspector refuses to approve it. I also want to know if I should get the copper replaced with iron to save the boiler. And should I be drawing off any water weekly or monthly to keep silt from building up inside?

    I'm hoping you guys can educate me & give me ammunition to bolster my argument for what's the safest route! Thank you all so much for all the info. so far!

    Pax,
    John





  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,193
    If you check the installation manual for the boiler, you may find that the piping is not the right size and configuration, besides being made of copper, whose expansion and contraction will be likely to leak in a couple of years if not sooner.
    Unfortunately. The inspector will Probably not know The difference, unless you can ask him specifically about the pipe sizes, specified by the manufacturer, and can show him the manual.—NBC
    JFB
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,307
    The inspector won't care about the use of copper pipe or the correct piping configuration......that's not his thing. Propress fittings are approved for steam (we all know they should not be used) so your stuck with that.

    As others have mentioned you can't vent into an unlined chimney. Period.

    No inspector worth anything will approve the chimney. If he does I will be very surprised.
    mikeapolis JFB
  • heatheadheathead Member Posts: 114
    Look at the drip leg on the gas hook up. Look in the manual but there should be one not just plug in bottom of tee. Minor issue but should corrected, it should fail for that alone if the inspector knows anything.
    JFB
  • JFBJFB Member Posts: 5
    heathead said:

    Look at the drip leg on the gas hook up. Look in the manual but there should be one not just plug in bottom of tee. Minor issue but should corrected, it should fail for that alone if the inspector knows anything.

    Thanks, that's another issue I was unaware of, but will now add to the list.

    Pax,
    John
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,183
    Usually the gas supply stop is ahead of the tee/drip leg.
    This lets you check the drip leg for dirt/water without shutting down the entire house.
    Don't know if this is code requirement or not.
    But most install diagrams show it as such.
    JFB
  • JFBJFB Member Posts: 5
    JUGHNE said:

    Usually the gas supply stop is ahead of the tee/drip leg.
    This lets you check the drip leg for dirt/water without shutting down the entire house.
    Don't know if this is code requirement or not.
    But most install diagrams show it as such.

    Thank makes a lot of sense. Thinking back, I'm pretty sure that's the way it was in my old place.
    Pax,
    John
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