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Tips for Ideal Make/Model Boiler to Replace my old Weil McLain

Hi everyone,

My 30 year old Weil McLain boiler (gas fired, single pipe system) sprung a tiny leak last month. I managed to fix it with hercules boiler liquid and all seems to be just fine, but I'm guessing I'm now running on borrowed time. (or not? Maybe that is a question in itself!)

If it goes I'd like to be prepared, and was wondering what brand is it worth going with for the replacement unit? I'm gunning for lack of headaches and long life (like everyone else I guess...) and it should be about 135,000btu to give an idea of size.

Thanks in advance!

Comments

  • bmma
    bmma Member Posts: 32
    When my 35+ year old Weil McLain failed I replaced it with another Weil McLain. My original was oversized by a bit so I dropped in size, but because the piping configuration was the same it made the replacement a pretty simple process. Fortunately my piping was in good shape and actually done per the manual.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    This is single pipe steam, I think you said?

    First, yes you are on borrowed time. Congratulations, seriously, on starting to think about replacing it now!

    Second, don't assume that that the old one is the right size -- unless you are happy with the way it performs and cycles (particularly that it runs at a reasonable pressure and doesn't cycle often). If you're happy, great -- but otherwise it will be worth your time to add up all the radiation in the house and make sure of the size. Steam boilers are sized by EDR -- the sum of the radiation being powered -- and not by heat loss.

    OK. Got that far. Weil-McClain is still a good make. So is Burnham. So is... the list is long. What is much more important is the quality of the installation, and that always works best if the boiler you are installing is a make with which your installer is familiar and likes to install.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,516
    @5horizonsrr

    You should do a heat loss of your house if you have hot water heat and if steam make a survey and calculate the EDR of your total radiation. That's the only way to get the right size boiler and your old one is likely oversized.

    Weil McLain and Peerless are popular and there are others. Depends on weather you have steam or water and what your radiation is
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    Burnham is a good make?? I wouldn't take one of their gas atmospherics for free given how many we've seen rot out in under 10 years here.

    I'd vote Peerless or WM. If you go WM look at their off-brand equivalents to save some $$
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • 5horizonsrr
    5horizonsrr Member Posts: 58
    Thanks all! I forgot to mention two things:

    1- Indeed a steam system, not water.
    2- The EDR calculation (done by someone smarter than me) came to the 135,000. Current boiler is indeed oversized at 175,000, or might be 185 its not in front of me.

    Thanks for the inputs and keep them coming!

    I'm hoping mine will last until spring/summer so I can have it done then without unnecessary rush costs or stress. (we have a two family and tenants downstairs)
    ethicalpaul
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
    I'm dissapointed that so far none of you have made the obvious joke about how Ideal only makes hydronic boilers. :D

    As others have said, there are a lot of options. One thing you might want to consider, instead of replacing this boiler with another atmospheric boiler, is a more efficient wet-base boiler with a power burner. You'll have to put up with a little extra noise, but, depending on where your boiler is located and so on, it might be worth it to lower your heating bills.

    If you're just considering atmospheric boilers, go to the manufacturers' websites (I'll give you a list if you need one.) and look at the spec sheets and see what looks like the best fit. One thing I noticed is that Weil McLain and US Boiler (aka Burnham) put their controls on the opposite side of the boiler from where Peerless puts them. My Peerless sits in the corner of the boiler room, so if I replaced it with a Weil or US, even though the near boiler piping would still line up, with some minor adjustments, the controls would be hard to get to. If your boiler sits in a wide open basement, you won't have this problem, but your near boiler piping might impose some constraints on what will fit—but then, your near boiler piping might need changing for other reasons anyway.

    A few pictures of your boiler and its piping would help us give you better advice, but the best thing to do, because there are so many possible issues and constraints involved, is to get a good, experienced steam heating professional in to survey your existing system, discuss your needs and preferences—like maybe you'd like to remodel the basement and have more room for a workshop or playroom by moving the boiler to a different location—and show you the possibilities. If you could tell us where you're located we can probably recommend a few people near you, or use the "find a contractor" link at the top of the page.

    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,516
    I would stay away from Burnham. It apparently depends on the water you have but I have seen too any failures on there steam and water boilers.
    ethicalpaul
  • 5horizonsrr
    5horizonsrr Member Posts: 58
    edited January 2022
    Hi all,

    As I continue to nurse this boiler until spring/summer I was keeping an eye on it while in the basement yesterday. The fix has held up and no leaking for two months thank goodness, however I feel like gas usage is through the roof. (about 475 therms in January. "Normal" bad month is still comfortably under 400) Then again the weather has been terrible.

    Anyhow, my pressuretroll is set all the way down- reading 0.5psi for the cut-in- and has been that way for ages, no fiddling. Looking at the gauge yesterday, its kicking in at 1.5 and cutting out at about 2.5-2.75. I can't drop the pressuretroll any more (to actually cut in 0.5 PSI on the gauge) as its on its lowest setting. I guess my gauge could be off as the swing isn't that bad?

    Think I have a problem here? If gas usage wasn't high I wouldn't even be worrying about it, or have noticed in the first place...

    You all are the best!

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Always be sure on fuel usage that you are looking at actual energy purchased -- for gas, therms; for LP and oil, gallons. You may not have noticed, but gas prices (both LP and natural) are soaring... (so is oil, but not as fast).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 742

    Hi all,

    As I continue to nurse this boiler until spring/summer I was keeping an eye on it while in the basement yesterday. The fix has held up and no leaking for two months thank goodness, however I feel like gas usage is through the roof. (about 475 therms in January. "Normal" bad month is still comfortably under 400) Then again the weather has been terrible.

    Anyhow, my pressuretroll is set all the way down- reading 0.5psi for the cut-in- and has been that way for ages, no fiddling. Looking at the gauge yesterday, its kicking in at 1.5 and cutting out at about 2.5-2.75. I can't drop the pressuretroll any more (to actually cut in 0.5 PSI on the gauge) as its on its lowest setting. I guess my gauge could be off as the swing isn't that bad?

    Think I have a problem here? If gas usage wasn't high I wouldn't even be worrying about it, or have noticed in the first place...

    You all are the best!

    Pressuretrol markings are not very accurate. What were your gauge readings before?
    If they're very different from previous, check your pigtail to the pressuretrol. The leak fix liquid may have clogged it.
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
  • 5horizonsrr
    5horizonsrr Member Posts: 58
    I am not exactly sure what they were, as I haven't needed to look for years. I am checking therms. I've never used more than 400, and actually has rarely exceeded 350 in years, so maybe we do have a clog.

    An obvious question- how do you unclog a pigtail? Based on what I've read in other threads that would make sense as the culprit... Image is below if helpful


  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    edited January 2022
    In the case above, you unhook the signal wires from the pressuretrol, spin off the pressuretrol, then remove the gauge and its fittings, then remove your Tee, then remove the pigtail and shove some wire or large zip tie or whatever through it under running water to make sure it is clear.

    When you reinstall everything, put a 1/4" union above the pigtail like your installer should have done so it's 1/10th the effort next time

    You can use a hacksaw and a new nipple or two to make that first removal easier
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 742
    edited January 2022

    Was the system running at 2+ psi before you added the treatment?
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,060
    Or just get the control off and put a piece of 1/2" ID hose on the pipe and blow.
    Should be easy to pass air once you blow out the water in the ptrap.
    Add water to prime the loop before assembly.
    delcrossv
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    If you're lucky, but mine was packed with mud when I acquired it and there's no way my lungs could have cleared it :sweat_smile:
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,629
    You could be putting a lot of energy up the vent as steam, it may be leaking above the water line as well(although building pressure in that situation is unlikely).

    If it isn't the Weil with gaskets between the sections that fail, I'd look over the system very carefully for leaks to make sure that fresh water isn't what killed this boiler so it doesn't do the same to the new one. 30 years isn't terrible but it isn't great either.
  • 5horizonsrr
    5horizonsrr Member Posts: 58
    Thanks Paul! Job done, and sure enough there was a huge clog. its not perfect now, running from a bit under 1.5 to about 2psi. Its an improvement? Hopefully that does it, but it didn't seem to gain anything on the low end?

    I honestly have no idea what it was running before. I should, but its been a year or two.
    delcrossv
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    Well you don't know until you check it. Nice job getting it cleaned out. It will help your patch last longer to keep the pressure down. How is your main venting? Maybe your boiler can be downfired a little...

    At any rate, make damn sure the installer of your new one measures all your radiators to get the total EDR so that the new boiler is sized appropriately. Don't accept anything less than that. No guessing on boiler sizes allowed
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    5horizonsrr
  • cross_skier
    cross_skier Member Posts: 201
    Engineers for boiler manufacturers work to get the best efficiencies out of the least amount of metal.  For atmospheric boilers to be really durable it is best to buy boiler slightly oversized and downfire a small amount, say 10%.  This may be more important than boiler treatment.

    5horizonsrr