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Boiler leaking from bottom- ideas for temporary solution?

Hi
So my peerless boiler that is around 20 years old has been leaking water from the bottom, and while I understand it would need to be replaced, since we're planning to switch HVAC systems in the spring, I was looking for a temporary solution to get us through this winter.
Any ideas?? I've heard of a product called Hercules boiler liquid stomp leak, others have suggested oatmeal.
Really just need something that can get us through the winter.
Thanks everyone!

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,463
    Steam of hot water? Not that it makes much difference...

    First, I've never yet known a leak to get less with time. They always get bigger.

    Second, I've never had any success with stop leak products. Or things like oatmeal.

    Do you have a working low water cutoff? I hope?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Danielherrmann
    Danielherrmann Member Posts: 3
    Thanks - steam boiler, i agree it won't fix anything, hoping to buy some time, have you seen these products help for even one season?. I do have a low water cutoff and try to make sure the boiler is filled despite the slowish leak
    thanks again
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 664
    If I were in your shoes I would:
    • remove boiler jacket to get a better view of leak
    • braze or weld it up (this is a pressure vessel, so you need to THINK IT THROUGH) steam or HW?
    • get some electric resistance heaters (baseboard is easy and cheap)
    • Drain all the pipes, antifreeze the traps, and wait it out
    There is risk with the braze or weld option. If you don't completely understand that, don't do it.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,888
    edited October 2022
    So,
    Next spring you're paying someone to tear the steam system out and are going to have forced air heat.

    That sounds like a pretty bad plan in my opinion.

    Regarding welding cast iron. From what I've personally seen welding brand new cast iron in a shop is less than fun and often goes in unexpected directions. The cast iron needs to be clean and pre-heated to a decent temperature (500-1000F) before being welded. I'd never even consider it on an old rotted boiler.

    I have not tried brazing.


    My recommendation would be to have someone that knows steam come out and replace the boiler and give the entire system a tuneup. Then proceed to add air conditioning in one form or another in the spring. Leaving the steam in place as the primary heat.



    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
    WMno57
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,567

    Hi

    So my peerless boiler that is around 20 years old has been leaking water from the bottom, and while I understand it would need to be replaced, since we're planning to switch HVAC systems in the spring, I was looking for a temporary solution to get us through this winter.
    Any ideas?? I've heard of a product called Hercules boiler liquid stomp leak, others have suggested oatmeal.
    Really just need something that can get us through the winter.
    Thanks everyone!
    Pay someone NOW to replace that steamer and keep it as a back up for when that Heat Pump cant do the job!
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 664
    You really should get a quote from a competent Steam Pro for a new boiler. You may come to find in January 2024 that you or your wife is not happy with the heat pump. Happy wife, happy life.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
  • Danielherrmann
    Danielherrmann Member Posts: 3
    My thinking was since we want central air, why pay around 7-8k to replace the boiler and 20-25k in the spring for central. If we could survive this winter, we can just do the central rather than also paying for a boiler we no longer need, does that make sense?
    rconkling
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 664
    Are you within 300 miles of Chicago? If you decide to throw away your cast iron radiators, I'll be happy to take them off your hands. I may be able to pay you something too, depending on the labor and transportation costs I would expend. Please PM me if this is something you are interested in. Thank you.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,888

    My thinking was since we want central air, why pay around 7-8k to replace the boiler and 20-25k in the spring for central. If we could survive this winter, we can just do the central rather than also paying for a boiler we no longer need, does that make sense?

    I completely understand the way you're thinking.

    But.
    Radiant heat is always, well, almost always more comfortable than forced air. I say this because some, very well engineered forced air systems are tough to compete with but they are extremely rare and expensive.

    Even if you ended up with the best forced air system in the world, having a backup secondary heating system is something many wish they had.

    Invest in the current system and add one for cooling.
    That's what I did in my own home. I have a 2 stage central air system I installed in 2017 and single pipe steam with cast iron radiators for heat. This also allowed me to place all of my returns and supplies in the best places specifically for cooling. No compromises were made to make it work "good enough" for heating and cooling.
    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
    WMno57SuperTechmattmia2
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 664
    Daniel, Kind of a complex decision you are facing. If you could tell us more about your home, we may be able to offer some suggestions.
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 664
    I have a 1916 home with no original ductwork. It currently has central AC on the first floor with a rooftop type AC unit parked outside next to a basement window. Works great. Well, great on the first floor. Second floor is 1916 style, (open the windows). I bought a window shaker AC, but never got around to installing it.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,463
    Where are you located? This makes a HUGE difference. If your design temp is above 10 of so, you may be able to get away with a heat pump all season -- though you won't like it. Otherwise, when it's cold out, you'll be cold inside, too.

    Keep the steamer -- or rather, replace it. You'll be much happier.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,136
    I have herd of oatmeal watched a guy at a gas station stop a leak in a car radiator once with it....many years ago
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,136
    It is doubtful. Putting ductwork in an existing house will not result in an optimal system
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,888

    It is doubtful. Putting ductwork in an existing house will not result in an optimal system

    Mine came out pretty good.
    I spent over a year designing it, changing it over and over though and it's certainly not the best but I'd say it's better than most. Second floor runs about 2 degrees cooler than the first which is what I aimed for. The last thing I wanted was hot bedrooms all summer like most 2 story 1 zone houses I've been in.

    However, since all of my returns are in the second floor ceiling and I'm using the stairwell as a return for the first floor I bet it would be terrible for heating. Works really good for cooling though.


    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
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,463

    I have herd of oatmeal watched a guy at a gas station stop a leak in a car radiator once with it....many years ago

    Back in the day when cooling systems ran at 0 pounds pressure and heaters weren't a thing in cars, it worked. The stuff won't hold 15 psi (typical of today's cars) and it will plug a heater core faster than ... well, pretty fast. A lot faster than it takes to replace the core...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,888

    I have herd of oatmeal watched a guy at a gas station stop a leak in a car radiator once with it....many years ago

    Back in the day when cooling systems ran at 0 pounds pressure and heaters weren't a thing in cars, it worked. The stuff won't hold 15 psi (typical of today's cars) and it will plug a heater core faster than ... well, pretty fast. A lot faster than it takes to replace the core...
    I tend to think if it'll plug a heater core, it'll plug a radiator too.
    There's plenty of model A's out there with plugged radiators that can't keep up with the water pump so dumps down the overflow at higher rpm's.
    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
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 664
    There are few if any magic elixirs that fix worn out junk. Snake oil.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,380
    I had a minisplit heat pump installed in 2015 to cool the first floor of my 6 room house so it is sized to cool the 600sq ft of that first floor. I also use it when it's above freezing in the fall and spring and it does that well. I'm just south of Boston about a block away from the coast, when it gets cold and the wind comes off the water my system can't keep up on the first floor and the second floor gats pretty cool because I keep doors closed so the heat doesn't just go upstairs.

    Now this is a 100 year old house that is insulated but that really didn't make a big difference in the heating bill. The ninisplit is rated at 21 so it's capable of heating on below zero days but it's efficiency drops drastically when it gets really cold out. If your in an area where it gets cold and windy in the winter you have to be VERY SURE it's designed right. It's a lot harder to bring a ouse up to 70 when it's 10 outside than it is to cool it to 70 when it's 90 outside.

    I would not depend on a heat pump in this area as the only source of heat in an older house. I find having both systems keeps me comfortable at a somewhat reasonable cost.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • MikeAmann
    MikeAmann Member Posts: 682
    edited October 2022
    @Danielherrmann


    At this point, you have nothing to lose by trying this product. I have used it myself (HW boiler).
    It is supposed to stay a liquid in your system. When it gets exposed to air (a leak) is when it does the sealing. I didn't find any sludge or any other negative signs from using it in my system.
    This one is for steam boilers. I have never tried it, though.
    https://www.supplyhouse.com/Hercules-30310-1-lb-Boiler-Solder-Powdered-Stop-Leak
    PC7060
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,136
    edited October 2022
    @ChrisJ

    Not saying a house couldn't be retrofitted to an air system with ductwork. Of course, it can. But most contractors are not going to take the time like you did, and most homeowners probably wouldn't want to put up with the cutting, patching and painting it would really take to make the duct system fit right and be the right size
  • rconkling
    rconkling Member Posts: 49
    I didnt see the OP mention a heat pump. But it makes complete sense to install one if you are going to install A/C. Size it properly and you should be happy. Dual fuel is also an option for peace of mind.

    I love the heat pump on my old house. Variable capacity, dc blower, you have no idea its even running, i was constantly putting my hand up to the registers to feel the air movement.

    Though in heating mode the compressor makes quite a bit more vibrating noise. Compressor placement is important to isolate the vibrations from the living space. The only draw back IMO.