Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Buying a house with a American Standard Arcoliner?

HeatingN00b
HeatingN00b Member Posts: 13
edited November 2022 in Oil Heating
Hello all.

I came across this forum after doing a home inspection on a house that my wife and I are interested in.

This is my first time ever coming across this type of boiler. Would anyone know what to look for or what to ask to be inspected to know the how much time it will have before it needs replacement?

On the inspection, the boiler was turned on and it took some time to give hot water but no steam was produce. The inspector stated that the boiler probably has too much water but he was unable to find the place to lower the water.

I would like to have a boiler company take a look at it before we decide to hand over the checks and sign contracts. 

Any suggestions would be appreciated. 

Thank you 
SuperTech

Comments

  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 670
    edited November 2022
    You can find a Steam Professional here:
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
    The boiler is from the 1940s. It may have decades of life left in it. I have a similar vintage boiler. These are just big iron boxes, using fire to heat water. No electronics. They last until they rust out and start leaking water.
    If I were you, I would hire an Oil and Steam professional to do two things:
    1. Overfill the boiler and determine if it is leaking
    2. Perform a combustion analysis and give you the results
    If its leaking, skip step 2 and figure the cost of a new boiler into your offer. The combustion analysis will tell you how sooted up it is. This requires an expensive tool (combustion analyzer). You can't do it by looking at the flame.
    Then if you buy the house, have the same guy back out to clean the boiler, tune the oil burner, check the (LWCO) low water cut off, and show you how to maintain it. It will require annual professional maintenance.
    HeatingN00bSuperTechIn_New_EnglandMikeAmann
  • HeatingN00b
    HeatingN00b Member Posts: 13
    Thank you I will schedule a professional to take aook at these two things.

    They should be able to tell me is the oil tank is the right size for the house?

    Also is it normal that these boiler do not have an expansion tank?

    Thank you once again. 
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 670
    edited November 2022
    Size of oil tank just determines how often it needs to be filled. Not a big deal. More important that the oil tank is not leaking and meets your towns building codes.
    Your prospective home is steam heat, not hot water heat, so no expansion tank.
    HeatingN00b
  • HeatingN00b
    HeatingN00b Member Posts: 13
    edited November 2022
    WMno57 said:
    Size of oil tank just determines how often it needs to be filled. Not a big deal. More important that the oil tank is not leaking and meets your towns building codes. Your prospective home is steam heat, not hot water heat, so no expansion tank.

    Thank you. Is it true that these models has material that contains asbestos?
    If so, what should I do? And where would it be?
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 670

    Is it true that these models has material that contains asbestos?
    If so, what should I do? And where would it be?

    Good chance there is asbestos under the sheet metal jacket. And sometimes that has to come off for a through cleaning of the soot. @steamhead would know a lot more about this model. I've never had my Weil-McLain's jacket off. I have gas, so less cleaning required than oil. Asbestos undisturbed is not a problem.
    You are asking some great questions. Usually people don't research this until after they own it. Bottom Line, that boiler is adding nothing to the value of the house. You should get a quote for a new boiler so you know what it will cost. Think of your hiring of steam professionals for cleaning and maintenance as offering a paid internship. They analyze your boiler, and you analyze them. Then, in the middle of January when it starts leaking, you know who to call.
    It's impossible to know how many years are left in that one. But I like to handicap all sorts of things, so I'll take a guess with your money. I bet there is a 50/50 chance you can get another 10 years out of it.
    mattmia2SuperTechMikeAmannHeatingN00b
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 7,217
    Those doors likely also have asbestos gaskets as well as asbestos gaskets between parts that have to be removed for cleaning and maintenance. There may be a corrugated asbestos paper insulation under the sheet metal jacket. There may be various asbestos containing refractory materials in the combustion chamber. How much of a danger those relatively small amounts of asbestos are is debatable. If any of it is torn apart it will have to be removed. Just removing and replacing a cover with an asbestos gasket or asbestos refractory or insulation in it is a lot more of a gray area.

    Firing from stone cold to steaming may take a while with the mass of that boiler but you should get a good tech to inspect it and run it before figure it in as working in your purchase price. If it isn't leaking it can be fixed so it works but that could also be costly.
    HeatingN00b
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,772
    WMno57 said:

    Is it true that these models has material that contains asbestos?
    If so, what should I do? And where would it be?

    Good chance there is asbestos under the sheet metal jacket. And sometimes that has to come off for a through cleaning of the soot. @steamhead would know a lot more about this model. I've never had my Weil-McLain's jacket off. I have gas, so less cleaning required than oil. Asbestos undisturbed is not a problem.
    You are asking some great questions. Usually people don't research this until after they own it. Bottom Line, that boiler is adding nothing to the value of the house. You should get a quote for a new boiler so you know what it will cost. Think of your hiring of steam professionals for cleaning and maintenance as offering a paid internship. They analyze your boiler, and you analyze them. Then, in the middle of January when it starts leaking, you know who to call.
    It's impossible to know how many years are left in that one. But I like to handicap all sorts of things, so I'll take a guess with your money. I bet there is a 50/50 chance you can get another 10 years out of it.
    Those boilers were built like tanks. As long as it doesn't dry-fire, it should last a while.

    I've had good results with adding baffles to the flue passages, to increase the heat transfer from the exhaust gases to the boiler water. This should only be attempted by an experienced tech.

    The insulation is likely asbestos. I don't remember seeing asbestos door gaskets on them, but they may have just worn away.

    Where is this located? Is natural gas available?

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • HeatingN00b
    HeatingN00b Member Posts: 13
    WMno57 said:
    Is it true that these models has material that contains asbestos?
    If so, what should I do? And where would it be?
    Good chance there is asbestos under the sheet metal jacket. And sometimes that has to come off for a through cleaning of the soot. @steamhead would know a lot more about this model. I've never had my Weil-McLain's jacket off. I have gas, so less cleaning required than oil. Asbestos undisturbed is not a problem. You are asking some great questions. Usually people don't research this until after they own it. Bottom Line, that boiler is adding nothing to the value of the house. You should get a quote for a new boiler so you know what it will cost. Think of your hiring of steam professionals for cleaning and maintenance as offering a paid internship. They analyze your boiler, and you analyze them. Then, in the middle of January when it starts leaking, you know who to call. It's impossible to know how many years are left in that one. But I like to handicap all sorts of things, so I'll take a guess with your money. I bet there is a 50/50 chance you can get another 10 years out of it.
    Thank you.
    Not only does the boiler have asbestos, but the outside insulation also has asbestos..... 

    At the moment we have an Ao. I will get the Arcoliner check and hopefully I can get something in the contract about it dependong how the test comes back (but agent is telling me it's sold as is).

    I am currently trying to get a specialist to take a look at it. The home owner has not been in the house for over two years and is unable recal anything about the boiler maintenance or upgrades if any (she's currently in the hospital as per the agent).The service tags are there but the company does not want to release any information on that boiler. 

    If 10 years are achieved with thus one that would be great but like you said it's a 50/50 chance. 
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 7,217
    If no one has been in the house you have to be careful that nothing has frozen and cracked. The water should drain back to the boiler but there are a number of reasons there could be water trapped in some places where it could have frozen if no one was keeping the house heated.
    HeatingN00b
  • HeatingN00b
    HeatingN00b Member Posts: 13
    mattmia2 said:
    Those doors likely also have asbestos gaskets as well as asbestos gaskets between parts that have to be removed for cleaning and maintenance. There may be a corrugated asbestos paper insulation under the sheet metal jacket. There may be various asbestos containing refractory materials in the combustion chamber. How much of a danger those relatively small amounts of asbestos are is debatable. If any of it is torn apart it will have to be removed. Just removing and replacing a cover with an asbestos gasket or asbestos refractory or insulation in it is a lot more of a gray area. Firing from stone cold to steaming may take a while with the mass of that boiler but you should get a good tech to inspect it and run it before figure it in as working in your purchase price. If it isn't leaking it can be fixed so it works but that could also be costly.
    While we were checking the house we were able to turn on the boiler. It's big it's noisy and it's slow as a turtle. While we were checking the house the boiler was running and only hot water came on. No steam was produced.  We took a look at the water glass and it was more than halfway up. The broker stated that it might need to be lower to produce steam (not too familiar this system).

    I understand that asbestos undisturbed can cause no problems but it was something that I only have seen in large old buildings not houses (prob naive). Something to consider, I guess I would like to know what exactly to expect with Arcoliner but that's something I wouldn't be able to have until a specialist takes a look.
  • HeatingN00b
    HeatingN00b Member Posts: 13
    edited November 2022
    Steamhead said:
    Is it true that these models has material that contains asbestos?
    If so, what should I do? And where would it be?
    Good chance there is asbestos under the sheet metal jacket. And sometimes that has to come off for a through cleaning of the soot. @steamhead would know a lot more about this model. I've never had my Weil-McLain's jacket off. I have gas, so less cleaning required than oil. Asbestos undisturbed is not a problem. You are asking some great questions. Usually people don't research this until after they own it. Bottom Line, that boiler is adding nothing to the value of the house. You should get a quote for a new boiler so you know what it will cost. Think of your hiring of steam professionals for cleaning and maintenance as offering a paid internship. They analyze your boiler, and you analyze them. Then, in the middle of January when it starts leaking, you know who to call. It's impossible to know how many years are left in that one. But I like to handicap all sorts of things, so I'll take a guess with your money. I bet there is a 50/50 chance you can get another 10 years out of it.
    Those boilers were built like tanks. As long as it doesn't dry-fire, it should last a while. I've had good results with adding baffles to the flue passages, to increase the heat transfer from the exhaust gases to the boiler water. This should only be attempted by an experienced tech. The insulation is likely asbestos. I don't remember seeing asbestos door gaskets on them, but they may have just worn away. Where is this located? Is natural gas available?
    What is dry-fire? Turning on the boiler without water?
    In regards "adding baffles to the flue passages" this will be down the line not something needed to run right?
    Are the gaskets replaceable, if so would a non asbestos gaskets be used?

    She's in westchester, NY. This part does not have natural gas. There is a propane tank for the stove.
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 594
    That type of boiler has a high thermal mass and will take longer to produce steam from a cold start than a modern boiler. The fact that you did not get steam when you turned it on was simply a matter of not waiting long enough. The normal level of water in the gauge glass is roughly halfway up. This has almost nothing to do with steaming time.

    Bburd
    mattmia2HeatingN00b
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 7,217
    edited November 2022
    I would like someone that is more familiar to give what is reasonable for that time. I know say 3 hours is too long, but I don't know if half an hour is within reason(especially if someone removed the baffles when they cleaned it). If it hasn't been cleaned or adjusted in a long time it could both be dirty and underfired so it isn't getting as much heat in to the water as it should be.


    What did you mean by making hot water? Is there a tankless coil in it for domestic hot water? I can't tell from the pictures but it sort of looks like there are pipes to a tankless coil on the right side. If it does, you probably will want to add or replace it with an electric, hybrid, or oil water heater at least for use in the summer. Keeping that boiler hot all summer long for domestic hot water will be expensive.
    HeatingN00b
  • HeatingN00b
    HeatingN00b Member Posts: 13
    mattmia2 said:
    If no one has been in the house you have to be careful that nothing has frozen and cracked. The water should drain back to the boiler but there are a number of reasons there could be water trapped in some places where it could have frozen if no one was keeping the house heated.
    Might have had frozen pipes..... but the weather was in the 65f when we was there, house is in westchester, NY  (don't think that the weather has hit low enough to freeze pipe but i can be wrong).As a precaution I told the broker/ agent and he is on his way to take a look.

    Thank you for the suggestion.


  • HeatingN00b
    HeatingN00b Member Posts: 13
    mattmia2 said:
    I would like someone that is more familiar to give what is reasonable for that time. I know say 3 hours is too long, but I don't know if half an hour is within reason(especially if someone removed the baffles when they cleaned it). If it hasn't been cleaned or adjusted in a long time it could both be dirty and underfired so it isn't getting as much heat in to the water as it should be. What did you mean by making hot water? Is there a tankless coil in it for domestic hot water? I can't tell from the pictures but it sort of looks like there are pipes to a tankless coil on the right side. If it does, you probably will want to add or replace it with an electric, hybrid, or oil water heater at least for use in the summer. Keeping that boiler hot all summer long for domestic hot water will be expensive.
    I am not too familiar with the boiler. I know there is no hot water tank like the rest of the other houses we saw. The boiler from my understanding makes steam for the radiator and hot water for the sink / shower.

    Making hot water. The boiler was turned on, it was loud, and hot water line was getting warm after a few minutes. At the end of the walkthrough of the house there was hot water in the sink (not hot enough to burn but hot enough to hold your hands for a few second and then have to remove them due to the heat).

    If everything is working as it should once the specialist come to inspect it. I can hopefully add a heatpump water heater if possible, but the main goal is to make sure this is good enough to for at least 5 years + (would love 10 but might be pushing it lol).

    Thank you 
  • HeatingN00b
    HeatingN00b Member Posts: 13
    Hello all, just wanted to post and update and ask questions 😊 

    We finally closed yesterday and are currently working on moving in. The boiler was inspected and it work well as per the person who inspected / wrote the report (unfortunately I was sick with covid and was unable to be part of the boiler inspection) and the small details provided on the report was basic for normal operating the boiler.

    "Turn up the thermistor if it's cold, turn down thermistor if it's hot". If it stops working check list.... if all fails call us.

    One of the recommendations was to install a hot water heater. 

    Questions
    1. Is there a simple switch or valve that can be closed to only use the boiler for heat / steam only?
    2. Is there a tutorial or manual that I can read to fully understand the boiler?
    3. Is it normal that the exust pipe is full of soot?

    Thank you


















  • ww
    ww Member Posts: 282
    I have a similar steam boiler to that one and worked on it myself quite a bit as well. I've done everything from a new combustion chamber to taking everything apart and cleaning. I've installed new main vents as well. The glass gauge looks rusty..maybe you have to flush and change the water too.