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

Need advice

KeydeckerKeydecker Member Posts: 3
My old weil-McClain No. 57 oil burner started having pressure problems, and now they say there is a pinhole in the tankless coil. Because the 16 bolts that hold it on are so corroded and would probably have to be drilled out at high labor expense, they are saying I should: get a new boiler, get an add on system or get an electric water heater (which would require upping my electrical box from 100 amp service to 200.) As all of these options are expensive and what I know about these systems would fit in a thimble, cand anyone give me some advice? Before this happened they always said my boiler was great and they don't make 'em like this anymore. It was here when we bought the house 25 years ago and has been regularly cleaned and maintained.


  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,410
    We used to upgrade a 60 amp service to a 100 Amp service when central AC was added. The 100 would typically handle electric range, water heater, clothes dryer and central AC.
    Considering higher efficiency appliances of today, especially even window AC's and LED lighting it might handle the load.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,852
    I agree with @JUGHNE on that -- unless your house is really big on big energy hogs, an electric water heater should be quite manageable on a 100 amp service. Even the big high performance ones take less than 30 amps at 240 volts. They aren't all that heap -- at least the good ones aren't -- but that's also likely the least expensive option. You might also consder a hybrid unit. Used conservatively, they use less power -- although they do have boost elements which can kick in, so they also need a 30 amp 240 volt circuit.

    Nobody ever seems to mention them, but if you have an extra flue, you could also consider an oil fired hot water heater. They recover as fast or faster than a gas one, so you don't need as big a tank as you would for an electric. But you do need somewhere to exhaust it...
    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
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,544
    As @JUGHNE mentioned it depends on what other electrical load you have as to weather a electric hot water heater can be added.

    As for the boiler you got 25 years out of it and it's older than that.

    If it was me I would get an indirect tank and hook it to your old boiler for now. Cap off the tank less heater pipes so it wont leak and I would for safety sake put a pressure relief valve on one of the capped connections.

    Then budget for a new boiler

    Or do the whole thing now which will be less expensive in the end
  • heatheadheathead Member Posts: 117
    Ed Great thoughts I was thinking the same thing on the indirect.
  • SuperTechSuperTech Member Posts: 1,476
    Indirect tank would be the best option in my opinion, second would be the electric water heater.  Either way you will save fuel compared to the tankless coil. Thats the worst option for hot water in my opinion. 
  • KeydeckerKeydecker Member Posts: 3
    When you suggest a new boiler, are you saying one with a tankless coil? We have a little ranch house, but everything is electris--fridge, range, dryer, 3 window ac's, ejector pump--our oil co. service guy didn't think we could do it on a 100 amp service. The indirect add on was looking like $3400-- we weren't sure if we should invest that and then still need to replace the boiler. The same for the water heater and updated electrical. I would hate to do these things and still have boiler issues. They said it was a pinhole because they replaced the gauge, combo filler/relief valve and the expansion tank (both more than once). They stuck a gauge into a pipe that comes out the back of the coil and shut off the water from the street, and the pressure slowly dropped, so they figured it was a pinhole. But we'd had this pressure problem two years prior. When we relined our chimney, the pressure went down to 12 and stayed there nearly 2 years. It surprised me because I thought a pinhole would only get worse. Is there anything else it could be before I sink all this money?
  • MaxMercyMaxMercy Member Posts: 73
    edited November 9
    Keydecker said:

    But we'd had this pressure problem two years prior. When we relined our chimney, the pressure went down to 12 and stayed there nearly 2 years. It surprised me because I thought a pinhole would only get worse.

    A flue issue would affect the back pressure in the combustion chamber, but not in the water section, so I can't see how the flue issue would correct, however temporarily, your boiler's water pressure issue unless the flue issue was somehow causing high over temperature issues in the boiler, and even then I don't see that as a cause.

    As far as pinholes, I've got a bit of experience with them. My house experienced constant pinholes in the plumbing until I added a ph neutralizing tank. But I did indeed have pinholes that would leak and then stop for a while, in one case for over a year (it was in my kitchen ceiling and I wasn't going to rip out the sheetrock until it was necessary). As to why they might stop, I suspect it was tiny bits of debris from my well.

    Has anyone tried cleaning up the fasteners to the coil? I replaced mine after 20 years and it pretty much came right out. Even if the studs snap, it can be drilled and tapped for a lot less than a new boiler or external tank would cost.

  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,535
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,985
    If it is held on with nuts and there is a concern that they may not come free, the nut can either be removed with a nut splitter or cut with a grinder until it will unscrew with a little bit of force from a wrench. If you are snapping off studs, you don't care what it is going to cost the customer if you don't take a step back and find a better way to do the job.
  • Jon_blaneyJon_blaney Member Posts: 78
    Spend a few dollars and have an electrician look at the electrical.
  • GrallertGrallert Member Posts: 468
    Avoid a boiler with a tankless coil. If you can c
    keep the boiler together for one more season and have an indirect installed you'll realize immediate savings and and your domestic hot water will improve. Then when you're ready have a new boiler connected to the indirect. Win win.
  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 1,046
    Many indirect tanks come with limited lifetime warranties. Shop on the internet for the ones available in your area and look at the reviews. The tank can outlast the current boiler as suggested above. Get someone familiar with Hydronics to install the new water tank. I have an indirect in my home for over 20 years and very happy with it.
  • KeydeckerKeydecker Member Posts: 3
    (There are 16 bolts, and they all look rusted and corroded--the edges of the plate they are holding on don't look great either. I was told they don't reccommend it because of the potential high cost of labor--trust me when I saw we can't do it ourselves. )

    Thank you all so much for your input. I think I understand more about it now, atleast enough to ask th right questions. I really appreciate it!
  • weedhopperweedhopper Member Posts: 56
    Try moving the bolts. You may be surprised. We replaced our boiler a couple days ago and as part of my autopsy I took the coil out. The bolts came right out. What may be. gross looking outside may be fine inside. Good luck.
  • neilcneilc Member Posts: 918
    those bolts came right out ?
    go buy some lottery tickets
  • weedhopperweedhopper Member Posts: 56
    Yup. Isn't that the way it always is? LOL!
    The OP has 16 bolts, I think. That changes the odds a bit.
  • 426hemi426hemi Member Posts: 5
    I have worked boilers on boats and they are all rusted to hell so I have a little experience in this area don’t drill out the bolts unless all else fails if the bolt head breaks off get a nut with the hole about the same size as the bolt diameter or a little bigger and a mig welder (don’t use a stick welder or fluxcore wire as it is to large a diameter to allow you to build up the bolt without welding it to the threads on small bolts) and weld down the inside the center of the nut welding the nut to the bolt and then unscrew if it breaks off again repeat usually the bolt comes out in one go if not a good piece of it. Even if it takes 4 or 5 try’s to get all of the bolt out the threads are undamaged and it only takes a few minutes 
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,535
    edited November 25
    Interesting approach, but I'm not:
    A) putting welding gear on my truck
    B ) dragging it into someones basement.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,544
    I would check the back side of the flange that tankless heater is mounted to. With and old boiler there could be nuts on the back making a coil change easier. Don't know about Weil McLain but HB Smith used to do it that way.

    If the MFG used some never seize and brass bolts this wouldn't be an ongoing issue. And brass bolts are easier to drill out if they break, the drill bit will follow the brass
  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 1,046
    This common problem would be reduced significantly if the installing contractor would just go back after a few months of operation and draw those bolts tight. Or, at least instruct the customer to do that. Some (Not All) manufactured include a statement in the installation manual requiring the bolts be tightened after 200 hours of operation.

    I would always check the bolts on my installations at the first tune-up (first maintenance was free to get in the door to offer a service agreement) after installation. They always were loose... almost hand tight.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,985
    @weedhopper 's bolts kind of look like they are stainless, although bolts on engines that get far more abuse than that come right out with the right tool and operator.
  • PerryHolzmanPerryHolzman Member Posts: 153
    My experience with removing bolts from all kinds of things from home heating to marine enginrooms to power plants is that you never really know until you try.

    The greatest looking ones can be frozen solid and break off; and the worst looking ones can come out fairly easy.

    I'd at least try one or two of your rusty bolts to see what happens. Clean them up first. Soak the heads in penitrating fluid (several times over a day or more), and give it a try.

    IF they come out - then you just saved yourself a lot of $$$$

    I wish you well with this,

  • weedhopperweedhopper Member Posts: 56
    mattmia2 said:

    @weedhopper 's bolts kind of look like they are stainless, although bolts on engines that get far more abuse than that come right out with the right tool and operator.

    Isn't stainless softer? Anyway, this is a bolt, original to the boiler.
    I know bolts have codes designating the steel but I don't know what this is.

    Anyone know a torque setting for the bolts?

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file


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