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Burnham boiler failure

I have to replace my Burnham pin 7 steam boiler after 7 years. I contacted the manufacturer and they claim it is due to the water in the Northeast. They offered that Goodwill $500 towards a new unit but said it may happen again due to water. Then they try to say get a Steam Master which they manufacture. My question is if the failure is due to the water how come other brands do not fail? This has sonething to do with the boiler not the water. After I installed it I had to have it repaired 3 times and then it failed. I am not buying the water story at all. It is the unit not the water as other brands would fail!

Comments

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,506
    How can they tell you it was the water quality unless they checked the water quality? And it wouldn't be the water quality, per se, it would be from a return line leak that is introducing fresh make up water.
    Being you'll need a replacement, I would recommend your contractor contacting them, especially if they have a relationship to see what, if anything can be done.
    steve
    Susanburke500Heating
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,897
    Well water quality can be a factor, and use of boiler treatment can help. That said, however, it is rare (though not unheard of) for a boiler to fail early unless it is using a fair amount of makeup water -- more than a gallon per week (even a gallon per month is a bit much). Do you have records of the amount of makeup water being used?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Susanburke500Heating
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 1,339
    I live in the Northeast. My boiler is probably over 50 yeas old. The neighbor's was probably way older than that when it failed.

    With all the failure complaints, I'm starting to think Burnham has an alloy problem or the casting is way too thin. I think the automotive industry (engine blocks) proved that not all Cast Iron alloys are created equal ( as far as rusting is concerned).

    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
    Susanburke500HeatingSuperTech
  • I really don't understand all this boiler talk. I just think US Boiler should do more than give $500 and blame it on the water when I think more tha me have experienced this issue. Then they tell you it may happen again. Very frustrating.

    109A_5
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,897
    If you had usable records on the boiler water usage, you might be able to get somewhere. Otherwise...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,302
    When the late Glen (sorry forgot his last name) worked for Burnham they proved chlorides in the water Rhode Island and the eastern part of ma was the worst hit caused boiler to rot at the water line do to the flue gas travel in the boiler versus the height of the water line in the boiler.

    This is what the mega steam & steam max etc is supposed to fix

    I am in western Ma and we had many many failures of Burnham hot water boilers that would not last and were failing in 10-15-20 years. Most of these installed in the 80s. 90s and 2000s. Just didn't work out


    I never was a fan
    Susanburke500HeatingSuperTech
  • Thank you. I really don't understand most comments. I just think if there are that many failures the company should take some responsibility and compensate.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,928
    If there is legitimately a water quality problem, installation of Steam Max (or any other boiler) will probably not make much of a difference. For what it's worth, I work in the Queens, Brooklyn and surrounding areas. I see many premature failures with Burnham boilers. Not so much so with other manufacturers
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,442
    When we bought our house it had a rotted Burnham V8.
    I found out it had rotted once before that, so twice in 8 years.

    After reading all of the complaints on here etc I highly doubt I'd ever consider another product from them $500 credit or not. That money isn't going to cover the labor costs.
    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
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,302
    @Susanburke500Heating

    Any brand can fail due to poor water quality. Burnham's track record of failures seems worse than other brands. The Northeast seems to be an issue with chlorides (which affects the steam boilers more) in the water especially in Rhode Island and Eastern MA. Burnham has researched this and documented this. This is why they have come out with the newer 'Mega Steam" and "Steam Max' boilers redesigned to help solve the issue. The "Mega Steam" has been out for quite a few years now and I have not heard of any failures. The "steam max" is a relatively new product.

    Most of my experience with Burnham has been with their commercial hot water boilers. All the schools around here installed them in the 80s & 90s & early 2000s. These are all public bid jobs that go at the lowest price and Burnham must have had a good price at that time.

    Most all the hot water boilers I have seen installed in those schools have failed before their time and been replaced
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    Susan, as mentioned by Jamie, above, any excessive amount of fresh water added to a cast iron boiler will shorten the life of any brand or make.
    The oxygen in fresh water contributes to cast iron failure.

    Do you have any leaks in the piping or have any piping that is under the floor?

    On your next boiler you want a water meter to see how much fresh water might be added.
    A VXT device gives you a digital read out of water added.
  • Thank you for all the information. I have a little hard time navigating around this site and understanding about the boiler. I just feel US Boiler should compensate the customers who had their boiler fail.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,684

    Thank you for all the information. I have a little hard time navigating around this site and understanding about the boiler. I just feel US Boiler should compensate the customers who had their boiler fail.

    For something beyond their control? Bad piping, bad water, poor maintenance.

    Not happy with U S Boiler don't buy it!
  • Water may be beyond their control but why don't other brands fail? They would be using same water supply.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,302
    None of the new boilers last like they should. But Burnham has a long and bad track record where I am. Many will not install them.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,442
    pecmsg said:
    Thank you for all the information. I have a little hard time navigating around this site and understanding about the boiler. I just feel US Boiler should compensate the customers who had their boiler fail.
    For something beyond their control? Bad piping, bad water, poor maintenance. Not happy with U S Boiler don't buy it!
    I didn't.
    I bought WM instead.


    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
    pecmsgSuperTech
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,718
    @Susanburke500Heating , it's time to go with a different brand of boiler. Burnham's "Independence" series has not lasted well in a lot of places. We replace a lot of them too. Water quality seems to have a lot to do with this, but there can be other causes such as leaks from air vents or valve packings.

    Two comparably-sized models to consider are the Peerless 63-05L and the Weil-McLain EG-55. This is assuming your present boiler was sized properly- we find a lot of oversized ones.

    The most important factor is the installing contractor. The contractor has to know steam, and be able to follow manufacturers' piping instructions. Fortunately you've come to the right place- go to our "Find a Contractor" page and follow the instructions to locate someone:

    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    bburd
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,897

    Thank you for all the information. I have a little hard time navigating around this site and understanding about the boiler. I just feel US Boiler should compensate the customers who had their boiler fail.

    Um.... really? If the failure is not a manufacturing defect, no. And a design characteristic is NOT a manufacturing defect. Yes, with certain water qualities, Burnhams may fail sooner than others -- but with other water qualities, not. Would you ask a car manufacturer to replace your car if the body turned to french lace in 3 years because of the salt on the roads in your area? The same car in Arizona might still look nearly new after 25 years. Is the rust from the road salt the manufacturer's problem?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,442
    edited September 2022
    @Jamie Hall when other brands of cars are handling the same salt without issue?

    Absolutely I would.

    The car is sold to be used on pubic roads in my area by Dealer in my area.

    It should be designed to handle the road salt.  Just as steam boilers need to be designed to handle oxygen and a certain amount of makeup water in the real world.



    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
    MikeAmann
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,897
    ChrisJ said:

    @Jamie Hall when other brands of cars are handling the same salt without issue?

    Absolutely I would.

    The car is sold to be used on pubic roads in my area by Dealer in my area.

    It should be designed to handle the road salt.  Just as steam boilers need to be designed to handle oxygen and a certain amount of makeup water in the real world.



    Then don't buy a Toyota -- the engines last forever, but the bodies? Um... not so much.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,442
    edited September 2022
    @Jamie Hall when other brands of cars are handling the same salt without issue?

    Absolutely I would.

    The car is sold to be used on pubic roads in my area by Dealer in my area.

    It should be designed to handle the road salt.  Just as steam boilers need to be designed to handle oxygen and a certain amount of makeup water in the real world.



    Then don't buy a Toyota -- the engines last forever, but the bodies? Um... not so much.

    Compared to your 1970s C10 I'm betting a fairly modern Toyota does pretty good with salt.
    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
  • DJD775
    DJD775 Member Posts: 241
    Unless you have a Toyota truck. Their frames don't have a good track record in recent history.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,897
    Playing with various makes -- they all have some weaknesses with regard to salt. Actually on our Toyota truck it's the frame that is a bit lacy! The body has held up pretty well. Some older Subarus are kind of see-through, as are some older VWs. My '94 Chevy truck the frame is good, but the cab is horrible (the bed is fine -- go figure). The '70 is never run in salt! So it varies all over the place. Almost everything has problems with subframes and suspension components (but, of course, most folks never pay any attention to that until something falls off...)(and then there is the paradox that everything may be rusted like mad -- except the bolts you need to get out to replacee something...)
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,442
    edited September 2022

    Playing with various makes -- they all have some weaknesses with regard to salt. Actually on our Toyota truck it's the frame that is a bit lacy! The body has held up pretty well. Some older Subarus are kind of see-through, as are some older VWs. My '94 Chevy truck the frame is good, but the cab is horrible (the bed is fine -- go figure). The '70 is never run in salt! So it varies all over the place. Almost everything has problems with subframes and suspension components (but, of course, most folks never pay any attention to that until something falls off...)(and then there is the paradox that everything may be rusted like mad -- except the bolts you need to get out to replacee something...)

    My dad's 1970 C20 saw a lot of salt.
    It didn't fair too well. The floor was rotted out completely by the time I was born.
    I believe what's called the rocker panels under the doors were gone by the late 80s and around the fender wells started rotting out around the same time. He patched it up the best he could and kept it going until he sold it in 1997.

    Road salt is a part of life anywhere it gets below freezing often unless you're dealing with dirt roads, then it's just cinders etc.

    Vehicles must be designed to cope with the weather they're sold to be operated in just as a steam boiler should tolerate a reasonable amount of makeup water in the area it's sold in.

    If I was to recommend a steamer to someone it would be either a WM or a Peerless at this point.

    Imagine selling cars in Minnesota from a dealer(s) in Minnesota but not mentioning they couldn't start below 20F and then just blaming the local weather and claiming they work fine in Florida?
    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
    DJD775SuperTech
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,897
    The thing about a lot of older cars is that -- sort of like your guy in Minnesota) -- there was nowhere near as much salt used in, say 1970 (never mind earlier) and so it was much less of a problem. It took quite a while for the automakers -- all of them (some took longer than others!) -- to figure out how to design things to minimize corrosion damage. It's not just the materials -- galvanized steel sheet metal took a while to catch on (there are real problems with forming it for body panels) never mind newer synthetics (the early Saturns -- not the later ones -- and Corvettes, of course were the pioneers)(I'm going to be very interested to see how aluminium pans out...). The other problem is redesigning things so that salt laden slush and gunk didn't get trapped, or didn't trap as badly. That's taken a LONG time, but it's getting much rarer to find a suspension member, for example, which doesn't drain freely, or a fender well which traps goop, but mounts and other fastening locations are still problematic.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,442
    edited September 2022

    The thing about a lot of older cars is that -- sort of like your guy in Minnesota) -- there was nowhere near as much salt used in, say 1970 (never mind earlier) and so it was much less of a problem. It took quite a while for the automakers -- all of them (some took longer than others!) -- to figure out how to design things to minimize corrosion damage. It's not just the materials -- galvanized steel sheet metal took a while to catch on (there are real problems with forming it for body panels) never mind newer synthetics (the early Saturns -- not the later ones -- and Corvettes, of course were the pioneers)(I'm going to be very interested to see how aluminium pans out...). The other problem is redesigning things so that salt laden slush and gunk didn't get trapped, or didn't trap as badly. That's taken a LONG time, but it's getting much rarer to find a suspension member, for example, which doesn't drain freely, or a fender well which traps goop, but mounts and other fastening locations are still problematic.


    That's fair enough......... Early 70s Chevys didn't rott much different than the competition, though i think the late 70s was a whole other story.


    The problem is we know how to make steam boilers. There's no learning curve in this situation.

    The 90+ year old Redflash my neighbor had using the same exact water the two V8's in my house used, and tons of it, as well as all of the Redflash boilers we see pop up on this forum are proof of that. We know how to make boilers last. It's not a mystery. Why would a 90 year old Redflash have no problems using tons of the same water that rotted out two V83's in my house next door in only 8 years? In this case I do not feel the water is ultimately to blame. The water isn't great, but the equipment should be able to cope with it. Apparently they thought so in the 1920s-30s. My neighbor's system ran 2 PSI or so often, and every valve steam leaked and half the steam vents leaked. He was adding water two, three times a week and on that boiler that was a lot of water. An inch on that gauge glass wasn't like an inch on a modern boiler. Just a guess, he was probably adding a good 15 gallons per week?

    Lasting 90 years all while being able to achieve efficiency numbers that were pretty respectable. Sure is nothing like a 3 pass boiler eh?


    WM, Peerless etc make steamers currently that last reasonably long, not great in my opinion, but not bad either. Those are pin type and still last 30 years.


    It probably doesn't matter.
    Between rotting boilers, the lack of knowledgeable contractors, and people claiming electric is better there won't be any boilers to complain about soon enough.

    Wow. Sorry for the rant.


    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
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,302
    @Jamie Hall probably remembers all the 55 & 56 Chevys with the funny little hood over the headlights. Salt and stuff would trap up there and rot until the headlights fell out. We had a 55 and had to get my uncle to weld a bracket in there to hold the headlight so we could get the beast inspected.

    I had a 73 C10 and I traded it when I was 4 years old it was already starting to rot. I then got a 77 C10 which I kept 13 years and the front fenders rotted out. I replaced those with fenders from JC Whitney I think.


  • bucksnort
    bucksnort Member Posts: 167

    @Jamie Hall probably remembers all the 55 & 56 Chevys with the funny little hood over the headlights. Salt and stuff would trap up there and rot until the headlights fell out. We had a 55 and had to get my uncle to weld a bracket in there to hold the headlight so we could get the beast inspected.

    I had a 73 C10 and I traded it when I was 4 years old it was already starting to rot. I then got a 77 C10 which I kept 13 years and the front fenders rotted out. I replaced those with fenders from JC Whitney I think.


    JC Whitney RIP
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 1,339
    bucksnort said:


    JC Whitney RIP

    JC Whitney is Back. They claim, not quite the same as I remember it.

    https://www.carparts.com/jc-whitney

    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System