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Boiler life expectancy?

I have a series WBV cast iron Peerless Boiler since May 1994, with a Riello 40 series burner. What is the realistic, safe life expectancy of this unit?

Comments

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,510
    all depends on water quality, leaks in the system (how much fresh water is regularly added) and how it has been cared for. Minimum is 20 years but they can fail in 5 years if badly abused or last 30-40 years or more. That's not much help but every job is different
    chuck172
  • bucksnort
    bucksnort Member Posts: 167
    edited December 2022
    My Burnham XG boiler is going on 35 years. Drawn down once to add a radiator. I need to replace it with a Burnham Revoluation boiler I bought NOS a couple of years ago that's sitting next to it right now. Rust flakes are hitting the burners at an increasing rate. I think I got my moneys worth out of it. The electronics on it are the weak points. The Taco is still humming along as it did the same day it was first turned on. It'll be interesting to see how much of the vanes are left after pumping for 35 years.
    Moonman
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,103
    If the Revolution has a Honeywell smart gas valve system, you might get some spare parts while the are still available
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    bucksnort
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,882
    edited December 2022
    Boilers made up until I'd say the 1990s were much more durable and long lasting...thicker castings, cast Iron Burners..built like a Patton Tank.  I've seen plenty of 60 and 70 yr old boilers still chugging along.  They generally don't develop leaks they just don't burn the most efficiently.    These days, were changing out 20 year old boilers on a regular basis and these HAVE BEEN maintained well.  These are top notch, well known companies we all know.  Its just the way it is now.  The steam boiler I installed 20 years ago in my Victorian Farmhouse with all the bells and whistles AND well maintained AND Manually-fed water. Not  an auto feeder, so it never saw excessive feed water.  STILL got a hole in it!!!!!!! I've got two low water cutoffs on it that I test all the time and my plan is to run it aground until total failure.   My brother's house on the other hand was built in like 1960.  He's got HW heat and a tiny Hart and Crouse Gas boiler with PowerPile.   62 yrs old...just need to change Thermocouples every 10 years!!!!!  Thats it!
    Mad Dog
    Long Beach EdMikeAmann
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    Thanks for your post and story, @Mad Dog_2, do you mind sharing where your boiler water PH was at during those 20 years? And the model? Thanks!
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 627
    5-100 years typically. I kid but it really does have to do with water quality, pH, fresh water added due to leaks, etc.

    My Peerless is 42 years old. Very little to no maintenence for its first 27 years aside from adding gallons of water per week due to steam leaks!. For the 15 years I've had it I've kept it well maintained and kept the pH to ideal conditions.

    I credit my towns water supply. The pH is a little high, closer to 8 I think. Maybe some luck too.
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    I wonder how the castings compare for your old Peerless and the modern ones. Mine seemed pretty beefy, but I have no benchmark
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 1,040
    The dead men from the 1930's say about 25 years (well at least one said this)

    "Next, I asked him what the average life of each system was. He said that hot air would last from 10 to 12 years, with approximately 25% of the original cost spent on repairs. Steam- and hot-water systems would last about 25 years, with an average of 10% of the original cost spent on repairs. Again, it cost more up front; but the long-term savings were significant."

    https://heatinghelp.com/dead-men-tales/learning-from-the-1930s/
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,265
    In 1992 I bought a 1926 house with an already 35 year old Bryant steam boiler in it. A fellow engineer from college who took over his father's boiler supply business told me to keep it saying "it will outrun anything you can buy today". That was 30 years ago. I did keep it, and he was right. I've never changed the water and don't add anything to it. Any water add is manual and I might crack the valve 2 times a season to replace what is lost clearing the LWCO. Single digit gallons/season. System is closed to the atmosphere all but 4 minutes or so at the end of each burn. I don't let air rush back in when the burner goes off. I don't like air. I think air is the enemy and only causes problems. The original system didn't pump air in and out. Fresh water is bad too but that is because it has air in it. I think the same plain water boiled and condensed thousands of times is the best stuff to use. As far as I know the wet returns have never been cleaned and at 95 years they still run fine. I crack the drain valves on both sides of the boiler each season and they always run so if it is filling up with sludge it sure isn't doing so very fast. Sight glass always perfectly clear.

    I find it hard to envision any heating system with lower total all in annual maintenance/equipment/fuel costs than this one.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,510
    Fresh water will kill wet return lines and boilers faster than anything
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,658
    GGross said:
    The dead men from the 1930's say about 25 years (well at least one said this) "Next, I asked him what the average life of each system was. He said that hot air would last from 10 to 12 years, with approximately 25% of the original cost spent on repairs. Steam- and hot-water systems would last about 25 years, with an average of 10% of the original cost spent on repairs. Again, it cost more up front; but the long-term savings were significant." https://heatinghelp.com/dead-men-tales/learning-from-the-1930s/
    The house I grew up in had a forced air furnace from 1958 still going in 2006 and the only repair was a thermal couple in the 80s and a new gas valve in 2004.


    Hmmm.

    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
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 587
    Were all cast iron boilers of about the same capacity and same era , the same weight more or less ?
    I wonder if materials cost and shipping costs drove all manuf's to hit the cutting boards on design longevity.
    I donr remember the weight of my 2000 Olsen, but I remember us saying it was heavy enough that while you lift it you can cut washers out of your ahole. If the old rigs are significantly heavier than that.. yikes.
    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • bucksnort
    bucksnort Member Posts: 167
    hot_rod said:

    If the Revolution has a Honeywell smart gas valve system, you might get some spare parts while the are still available

    No smart valve. Separate ignition box. I think mine was the last ones built in 2012 before they ended production. My XG went through Johnson Control ignitions until I swapped in a Honeywell 20 years ago. The secondary pump electronic board is on my list for a spare.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 901
    I have seen commercial steam boilers that have lasted a little as few months, and a few that lasted over 100 years. It all depends on the system and it's maintenance.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,882
    edited December 2022
    PH always hovered around 8- 8.5.  I'd rather not name names because I've seen every American boiler manufacturer fail prematurely..especially Steamers.  Long Island water is questionable some times and could be the main cause.  Mad Dog
    ethicalpaul