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Help in Maine

dbd
dbd Member Posts: 3
Can anyone recommend someone in central Maine that is knowledgeable in steam heat/hot water boiler systems?

Mine is old, not sure how old. Can’t find any info on my boiler online. It’s running but I’m worried it’s unsafe based on our last service tech reaction to it- told us he essentially rebuilt the inside and it won’t last. I’m wondering if it’s even worth it and should go another route for heat and hot water entirely. Any advice?

Comments

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,999
    If they rebuilt the chamber it should be good for another couple decades. still should be cleaned and tested annually. The cast iron could last another 30 years or it could leak tomorrow.
    dbd
  • dbd
    dbd Member Posts: 3
    We moved in 10 years ago. The inspector at the time said he’d never seen a working steam boiler this old. Said it might run for years or quit tomorrow. 

    I knew nothing about maintenance on steam boilers and assumed the local oil delivery company servicing it once a year was enough. There have been episodes where it would stop running or the whole basement would reek of oil smell. They’d come out and get it running quick without much explanation of why or what to look for. 

    Most recent service tech spent hours and said he rebuilt the inside to limp it along but it was not a long term fix. He was quite serious and a bit freaked out the whole time working on it. Said anyone doing a full clean/inspection should have addressed this years ago. Led me to believe previous techs weren’t as experienced. 

    Now that I’m researching steam I’m worried about the safety of running this thing. Can it explode? Reading here about leaks, adding water to it, draining sludge is all new… my fault for not understanding my system sooner but I’m kind of panicked now. I don’t even know who to call to rip it all out. 

    I was considering heat pumps because we only use this thing for hot water 80% of the year. Our pellet stove heats my 2 story 1200 sq foot home most of the winter. We only kick the boiler on as back up on the coldest days. The upstairs radiators are turned off in both bedrooms because it gets unbearably hot. Many folks I call say my basement pipes will freeze if I do away with the boiler, but they don’t service steam. It’s so frustrating. This is the beast.
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 276
    edited August 26
    Hello @dbd, If you want to learn more before making a decision consider these resources. A book sold on this web site.
    "We Got Steam Heat!: A Homeowner's Guide to Peaceful Coexistence"
    https://heatinghelp.com/store/detail/we-got-steam-heat-a-homeowners-guide-to-peaceful-coexistence
    If you like books there are others relating to steam heat also in the store.

    Also this Plumber/ HVAC guy services a lot of oil fired boilers.
    https://www.youtube.com/c/stevenlavimoniere/videos

    If you are handy you probably could learn to do some things for yourself. Oil burners seem to need more care, maintenance, cleaning, fuel filter and nozzle changes, etc. than natural gas. My natural gas boiler (National - U.S. Gas Boiler) is probably over 50 years old and I hope it never fails, super easy and inexpensive for me to maintain. No high tech failure bills with it, ever. You have other heating sources available so that may bias your choices.

    As far as an explosion, if it is properly maintained then no, the system pressure should be less than 2 Lbs. I've never seen my boiler go over a few ounces of pressure. I don't see a pressure gauge on it, that is odd.

    It looks like it may add its own water if that part of the system has been maintained correctly.

    If it was me, I'd run it until the cast iron heat exchanger failed.

    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
    dbd
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,317
    Some oil dealers do not budget the time it takes to properly clean and adjust an oil fired boiler because the price they would have to charge for that time could put them out of the market. Customers have to be educated to understand what is involved and why that takes X hours to do. Only then will a customer understand the $89 special is really a bad deal. It also helps if you get this done in the summer because A tech has a bit more time to do what is needed.
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • dbd
    dbd Member Posts: 3


    So I found these old service logs from before we moved in. Been thinking about trying to save the system but again not having much luck finding anyone steam experienced to come take a look. Would be willing explore a new boiler. Are there brands to avoid? Anyone here able to interpret some of this for me? Or does it look too far gone to try?