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Ideal Gas Boiler, from the American Radiator Company...Gravity Heat, Hot Water Circa 1908

GravityHeat
GravityHeat Member Posts: 1
I love my Ideal Gas Boiler, but the internal asbestos walls are beginning to crumble. Does anyone know of a kit to rebuild these walls, with say, concrete poured between stainless steel sheets? Because this is a hot water closed system, there is no rust and no leaks. I prefer this boiler which has no dynamic parts which are more prone to failure, such as a pump. If no kits exist, has anyone rebuilt the walls of a boiler? It is about 300KBTUs and heats a 5,000square ft house. It has a standing gas pilot, but on the Coldest Detroit winter days, I go down and light it, crack the boiler room window, open the flue, and run it until the house is about 62 degrees. At that point the 185 degrees water in all the pipes and radiators keep the house warm enough until the next morning.


Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,421
    You're going to mess with asbestos? Seriously?

    That boiler owes you nothing. Time to replace it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,314
    edited June 24
    If you are talking about the insulation between the cast iron boiler and the sheet metal outside covering, then you can use fiberglass insulation. It comes in a roll 4' x 50' that we use for insulating ductwork on the exterior. You may be able to get some from a local HVAC installer that uses it to insulate ductwork. There is another product called Duct Board that is rigid fiberglass insulation used to make duct work. This product can be easily cut to size with a utility knife to fit behind those sheet metal panels.

    What ever you decide, the Asbestos Insulation needs to be professionally removed before you start your DIY project.

    As far as replacing the entire boiler as @Steamhead suggested, You will never get a boiler that can operate without electricity from today's manufacturers. If you have a power outage, that boiler can still heat your home! So if your utility cost is affordable, leave it there!

    New Boiler or not, you will still need to address the asbestos if you want to move forward in either path.
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,036
    Steamhead said:

    You're going to mess with asbestos? Seriously?

    That boiler owes you nothing. Time to replace it.

    Wouldn't the asbestos have to be disturbed either way?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,515
    This boiler needs replacement. You won't prolong its life much longer. Easier to replace in warmer months, not when it gets cold. Find a competent steam expert....
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,036

    This boiler needs replacement. You won't prolong its life much longer. Easier to replace in warmer months, not when it gets cold. Find a competent steam expert....

    For a gravity hot water system?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    EdTheHeaterManSolid_Fuel_Man
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,705

    If you are talking about the insulation between the cast iron boiler and the sheet metal outside covering, then you can use fiberglass insulation. It comes in a roll 4' x 50' that we use for insulating ductwork on the exterior. You may be able to get some from a local HVAC installer that uses it to insulate ductwork. There is another product called Duct Board that is rigid fiberglass insulation used to make duct work. This product can be easily cut to size with a utility knife to fit behind those sheet metal panels.

    Don't they need the fiberglass without binder that is high temp rated?

    What do you mean by "I go down and light it, crack the boiler room window, open the flue, and run it until the house is about 62 degrees."

    This looks like it is a gas boiler from the 40's or 50's that is set up as gravity with control from a thermostat and some safeties. If the gas valve isn't running off the thermostat and safety chain that needs to be fixed. All of the safeties need to be tested and repaired of any of them are defective, that low water cutout, the relief valve unless it is an open tank system, possibly an aquastat.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,314
    edited June 26
    mattmia2 said:


    What do you mean by "I go down and light it, crack the boiler room window, open the flue, and run it until the house is about 62 degrees."

    Just a guess here: I think he means that he operates the boiler... with the flue open and an allowance for combustion air.

    As far as insulation needing any additional temperature rating... I have uses duct wrap on the top of Columbia FT boiler (that is a vertical fire tube boiler with a collector box at the top) and the Weil McLain 66, 68 and GO boilers that also have sheet metal covering in direct contact with the fiberglass. In over 45 years, I have not experienced any ill effects with this practice. I'm sure I have used this on many other brands of boiler, even the infamous REPCO steel boilers that have holes burned thru the back of the boiler. The fiberglass around the boiler section was never the problem. It was the defective seal between the fire box and the boiler that allowed dangerously high temperature to melt the metal and caused so many fires.

    So to answer your query "Don't they need the fiberglass without binder that is high temp rated?" Duct Wrap is just fine.
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 512
    edited June 26
    If this is a true gravity hot water heating system where is the open to air expansion tank and what does it look like??

    A new boiler will work just as well for you and will have a new manual water fill valve, back flow preventer, a new pressure relief valve, twin Low Water Cut Offs and a smaller firebox and will be up to current plumbing code.

    Based soley on my past experience with hydrolevel 3250 plus digital aquastat controls, I do not trust them; nor would I use them as the honeywell mechanical boiler controls are safer and more reliable and not subject to poor high voltage transmission issues from the pole to your home.

    If the boiler system is a true simple to operate gravity hot water system you could use 2 single mechanical honeywell aquastats to control the high limit and low limit temperatures or dual mechanical aquastat like the Honeywell L8124L and a which is much safer in my opinion - I sleep very well at night by the way.

    Mechanical boiler controls are still available; so do not let anyone tell you they are not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!; as they can be purchased from larger plumbing supply houses-it just takes a bit longer to get them.

    It is better to have a competent asbestos removal company come in and remove the asbestos as a dual room barrier system has to be installed with an airlock entry and exit system in the basement and a HEPA filter system used by them to safely contain the air that is disturbed by the removal of the asbestos from the boiler.

    If you have an exterior entry to the basement they will install a dual barrier entrance there as well and have the HEPA filtration system outside of the home if my memory of the method of asbestos control is done.

    If you do replace the old boiler will still be there and the asbestos will still be there, and it will be a continuous liability as the asbestos will still continue to degrade and become airborne, and you will pay even more to have the boiler replaced and the asbestos removed if you ever sell your home in the future and the home will be worth much less.


    If you find a plumber that does asbestos work correctly or can recommend a company that does using the EPA guidelines implementing the dual air lock system with twin entry and exit barriers with zipper doors; double bags the asbestos waste and rinses off the bags used to contain the asbestos; tapes the secondary waste bags with good tape used to better contain the first bag, is fully insured; and the employees use SCBA breathing systems and disposable tyvek clothing you know you are on the right track with this and you will have a correctly installed boiler.

    Buying them lunch or dinner while they are working there will show them your good faith in them as well.

    My thoughts as a homeowner on a hot Sunday morning.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,314
    edited June 26
    leonz said:

    If this is a true gravity hot water heating system where is the open to air expansion tank and what does it look like??...

    ...If the boiler system is a true simple to operate gravity hot water system you could use 2 single mechanical honeywell aquastats to control the high limit and low limit temperatures or dual mechanical aquastat like the Honeywell L8124L and a which is much safer in my opinion - I sleep very well at night by the way.

    The expansion tank may be in your attic. I would like to see what it looks like after so many years!
    I learned about these tanks the hard way. https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/comment/1701242#Comment_1701242

    On a true gravity system, there is no need for a Low Limit to maintain temperature. As a matter of fact, the low limit would cause overheating the home in the fringe seasons early fall and late spring. By maintaining a temperature, any temperature above the ambient room temperature of the boiler room, that heat would thermo-siphon out of the boiler to the room radiators. I believe that the existing safety limit controls as installed over 70 years ago are still the best controls to use. If there is a failure of a limit control, then replace it with something that operates the same as the old one. But I don't remember anyone addressing the fact that there is a defective limit control, so I would bet that it is still operational.

    Gust a Guess

    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 512
    edited July 7
    I am not a licensed plumber, but as you have a gravity hot water system
    you are blessed with a very simple to manage heating system that has worked well.

    Perhaps using a single Honeywell L4006A and a pair of Mcdonnel & Miller RB-122-E low water cut offs to protect the boiler and burner would work very well as you simply need to control the high limit temperature.

    You would be able to simply control the high limit temperature during the milder parts
    of the heating system by lowering or raising the cutout temperature on the L4006A aquastat.

    EDIT to add the following;

    I do not know if the differential temperature on the L4006 should also be lowered during the warmer parts of the heating season.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,499
    I wonder what the expansion tank looks like too!
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!