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Blast from boiler

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Evan0307
Evan0307 Member Posts: 9
I have a 1922 boiler that we used every year to heat the house. It is a hot water gravity system. Worked flawlessly for the 6 years I have been in the house and never had a problem. I know its not the most efficient but I figured since it was so well built I was not in a rush to replace. It originally burnt coal and was converted to natural gas with a gas insert. The insert looks like its from the 60's. The other night at 1AM we were jolted awake by something that shook the entire house. I go down in the basement and the cast iron doors to the boiler are all open and soot is everywhere. My best guess is there was a small gas leak somewhere in the burner and it built up in the chamber. Not sure how that could happen with a lit pilot in there? Is there any chance of replacing these inserts? I am being told they dont even make them anymore so I can't get parts?


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  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes Member Posts: 4,076
    edited October 2022
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    Was the heat left on during the night?  It could have been a delayed ignition and often happens at the beginning of the heating season. 
    Check and clean the burners. 
    What a great boiler! Museum piece and it’s still working after all these years. 
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
    Evan0307
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 994
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    You could also have a bad gas valve that is leaking in the when its off.

    You obviously had too much gas in the chamber and it ignited. Whether you have a leak or some delayed ignition either one is not good. You need to call a pro. Houses blow up from this. I would consider yourself fortunate. Time for an upgrade.
    random12345
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,840
    edited October 2022
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    That conversion burner is probably from the 50s. Has anyone that understands this serviced it?
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,387
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    Evan0307 said:

    The other night at 1AM we were jolted awake by something that shook the entire house. I go down in the basement and the cast iron doors to the boiler are all open and soot is everywhere.

    That was the innovative and rarely seen today Winchester self-cleaning feature. This was a collaboration between Capitol Boiler Company and Winchester Repeating Arms Company to make the world's first self cleaning boiler. It combined a standard Capitol boiler with a Winchester model 97 shotgun. It worked so well, the Boiler Cleaners Union feared it would put them out of business. So the Union paid off Capitol and Winchester to suppress the technology and save their jobs.
    I DIY.
    Larry WeingartenBobZmudaCLamb