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Life span of a new boiler vs older boiler

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RTW
RTW Member Posts: 72

I received a reply a while ago - as an aside on another question as follows " there are hundreds of boilers still operating fine in the northeast over 60 years old" I have an American Standard A3 circa 1964 boiler that seems bullet proof. And, I've been told it will last 100 years with proper maintenance

My question: is it true based on comments posted on a new boiler's life span - even one of high quality- that new boilers have the life span of the average refrigerator sold today - eleven to twelve 12 years shortly after its out of warranty?

Regards

RTW

gyrfalcon

Comments

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
    edited July 8
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    I assume you're talking about boilers in the 83% efficiency range, the kind where you light a fire underneath or within them and heat a kettle of water.

    I think it's not true that new boilers only can live to be 12 years old. Some boilers seem to have trouble living very long under normal residential care patterns, but I am confident that my Peerless, manufactured in 2020 or so will live for 20-30 or more years.

    I just keep its PH level around 11 to minimize corrosion and I don't introduce fresh oxygenated water. I can see how little rust it's producing in its water. I think a Weil-McClain could do about the same. My 1992 vintage Utica lasted at least to 2020 despite horrible maintenance. I don't know if their castings are the same today as that year.

    I wouldn't bet a lot of money on a Burnham Independence model but I admittedly only have anecdotal evidence from a few cases brought to this forum that makes me think that.

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

    DanHolohan
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,084
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    @RTW

    Most boilers should last twice as much if not longer than the eleven to twelve year example you mention above.

    Residential cast iron boilers usually last longer than a steal boiler. The key is that they need to be properly installed and maintained. The sixty-year boiler is a long-life boiler and doesn't have to be a rarity.

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,840
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    Not as much iron in the newer boilers. We gave that up to gain some paltry efficiency gains years ago.

    But there is no reason a new boiler should not last 20+ years if maintained properly.

    As far as major appliances go, they are all junk now except for Speed Queen.

    Intplm.LRCCBJdelcrossv
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,890
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    For steam, other than the Mega Steam, there hasn't been big changes in the blocks. Newer drop header and correct near boiler piping design will offer benefits aside from the boiler itself.

    If it's a hydronic boiler, then there are much more efficient design and operating boilers than a 1960's AS. As far as ROI, you need to get a pad and pencil.

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,962
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    There is so much in there I wonder what par @DanHolohan disagrees with. I suspect it is the ph of 11 since that is getting in the realm of where it is likely to prime..

    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
    edited July 9
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    I'm not sure! But I did disprove that high PH causes priming/surging in my video where I got my PH above where the strips could read it with no ill effects (link below).

    But still the myth lives on…

    https://youtu.be/_JFfO_VgvNQ

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

    Intplm.GGross
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,962
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    I suspect there are several factors interacting with the ph that determine if it will prime or not but that is beyond my knowledge of water chemistry.

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,922
    edited July 9
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    According to those I asked on a chemistry forum years ago there's no reason a high pH would cause a steam boiler to prime and it was their opinion something else is the cause.

    As far as my actual knowledge I have no idea but I also run a high pH and the only issue I've had is it erodes my gauge glass over time. But id rather replace that every 5-10 years instead of a boiler.

    Gauge glasses are cheap. Boilers aren't.

    I don't know how high my pH is because I haven't found a good way to read it with the purple color of steamaster but it's above 9. That much I know.

    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
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
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    If you have any ideas, I can throw them in my boiler to test it.

    My old utica did surge after I added 8-way, but there was a ton of sediment mud in that boiler, so perhaps if a boiler additive breaks loose a bunch of that stuff and puts it in the water, that will cause surging.

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,962
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    Detergents and soaps are usually basic and some will foam. A base combined with oil makes soap so basic water with oil that hasn't been completely removed could cause a problem. So either of those are possibilities although I was thinking more mineral content combined with basic water.

    ethicalpaulbburdCLamb
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,701
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    I just came across the attached today.

    CLamb
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,962
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    Apparently every window air conditioner i've ever dealt with didn't get that memo.

    dko
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,840
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    @mattmia2 & @ratio

    I agree. Most of it looks ok but the air conditiong and heat pumps at 10-15 years seems awfully short. Of course, I am in the NE where 20-, 30- & 40-year-old equipment if fairly common.

    I suppose if we lived in Texas, Arzona, New Mexico or California the average age of ac units is much shorter

    mattmia2
  • CLamb
    CLamb Member Posts: 300
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    A pity the chart doesn't show the standard deviation for those numbers.

    JakeCK
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,417
    edited July 10
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    Idk, i've got several that are over 10 years. I generally replace them not when they fail but when they're so fouled up they stink and I can't effectively clean them. My two GE window shakers are surprisingly easy to take a part tho.

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,962
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    i think the newest one I have is about 1990 but it hasn't been used in a while.

    JakeCKGGross
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,417
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    I had an old Panasonic 13500btu unit that came with the house. It was from 1992 or 3 I think. Worked great. The control board did have a failure and I used relay to control it from my wall thermostat for good number of years. It started finally having difficulty 2 or 3 years ago and replaced it. It also weighed a metric ton and while I could pick it up and carrying myself in my early 20's it seemed like it started getting heavier every year after while.

    BobCdabrakeman
  • Don_175
    Don_175 Member Posts: 132
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    My parents had a Sears Coldspot AC from the early 1970’s. The thing was a monster. I can’t remember if it was 10k or12k btu but it required a special outlet. My mother got rid of it when she sold the house. It lasted almost 50 years and was still going strong!

  • RTW
    RTW Member Posts: 72
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    As to original post: Does anyone still make these heavy-duty cast-iron boilers made back in the 60's and earlier ( built like a sherman tank) notwithstanding 80% efficient for purchase today?

    Regards,

    RTW

  • ARobertson13
    ARobertson13 Member Posts: 39
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    Members, As for life span of boilers, since the 1970s there are a lot of changes in boiler metallurgy and construction to attain efficiency level requirements. Using past experience in determining boiler life span is not valid. As for boiler water treatment, PH levels and priming, you should consult with the boiler manufacturer. Even if their product does not have great performance, they know what you can and should not do with their units. Example, I have a large cast iron boiler manufacturer that allows a PH of 7.5 to 8.5 in many of their units. Another that permits 7.5 to 11. A fire tube field erected unit that I service allows PH 8.5 to 11. If you took chemistry in college you will remember that high PH will cause foaming under various conditions. PH levels in the range of 11 also may cause embrittlement to the metal. [ I know I have said this before] In addition, If you do not know what is in a chemical treatment product that you are using and do not under stand how it reacts in a specific boiler, you should not be using it. Leave the chemistry to the chemist.

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,922
    edited July 12
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    I did not take chemistry in college.

    What are some of the various conditions that a high pH causes foaming?

    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
  • ARobertson13
    ARobertson13 Member Posts: 39
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    Chrisj, You do not have to take college level chemistry. Foaming is influenced by heat, pressure and the presence of other substances in the water. Have you ever boiled pasta or rice.

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,922
    edited July 12
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    I've never boiled pasta or rice in my steam boiler, no and that causes foaming without a high pH.

    That's why I'm curious what conditions a high pH will cause foaming?

    Actually.

    I'm sorry @RTW

    I didn't mean to do that. I think @RTW asked a very good question.

    @Steamhead @The Steam Whisperer

    As to original post: Does anyone still make these heavy-duty cast-iron boilers made back in the 60's and earlier ( built like a sherman tank) notwithstanding 80% efficient for purchase today?

    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
    ethicalpaul
  • dko
    dko Member Posts: 644
    edited July 12
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    I know nothing about the chemistry either, just reading some boiler water treatment articles

    But seems like just generalizing pH level wouldn't be too accurate as it matters what you used to raise or lower the pH. The chemical makeup. You could have high pH but still have low alkalinity. And those differences can make a difference in whether it causes foaming at the same pH of say 11.

    https://www.getchemready.com/water-facts/alkalinity-in-boiler-water/

    When you’re maintaining a boiler, treatment specialists must maintain M (or T) alkalinity below a maximum level prescribed by the boiler’s manufacturer to help prevent foaming and carryover.

    I'm sure there are plenty of other factors that are not simply described and condensed by just pH level numbers.

  • ARobertson13
    ARobertson13 Member Posts: 39
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    As for the Pasta and Rice, I think you missed the point

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
    edited July 12
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    I repeat the offer to put almost any substance in my boiler which has sight glasses in the near boiler piping where I can see even the smallest amount of surging/"wet steam"**.

    As @mattmia2 said above, high PH combined with oil definitely causes surging. But so does neutral PH with oil so that doesn't tell us very much about PH regarding surging. It might increase surging when oil is present. This agrees with what @ARobertson13 wrote in the reply just below mine that he wrote while I was typing this 😅

    In my experiments I have found the following causes surging:

    • oil
    • SurgeX (but to be fair, it's possible there were other things going on in that test…but this is known: before I added SurgeX it wasn't surging, and after I added it, it was surging—badly)

    I have never seen pressure increase the chances of surging.

    I do have a difficult time with the notion that one company's cast iron container is going to act that much differently from some other company's cast iron container.

    I don't have any way to know which boilers have changed their castings, but I can tell you that my Peerless 63 is freaking heavy.

    ** I really don't care for the term "wet steam" because the actual definition of wet steam is any steam created by the boiling of water at or near normal atmospheric pressure (ie: all residential boilers). Therefore all residential (and many commercial) boilers create wet steam exclusively. I prefer to refer to the presence of "surging" or "priming" which is (normally bubbly) water getting carried up into the main.

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

  • ARobertson13
    ARobertson13 Member Posts: 39
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    Water in my part of Brooklyn has a PH at 7.5. If I boil it it will not foam. If I add a substance to it causing the formation of foam. Then repeated the same boiling of water with a higher PH, and added the same amount of that substance the foaming will be more prevalent.

  • ARobertson13
    ARobertson13 Member Posts: 39
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    Members,

    I was away. I did not say pressure increases the chance of foaming. I stated it as a factor. It is my understanding that the term "wet steam" refers to any steam with a 2% water droplet content.

  • ARobertson13
    ARobertson13 Member Posts: 39
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    Or I should say more than a 2% water content.

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
    edited July 12
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    So you're saying pressure decreases it? If it's a factor it must increase or decrease it I would think 🙂 But I didn't mean to direct that comment to you… I think I've heard it several times elsewhere. I've just never seen any evidence for it.

    There are tons of definitions out there for wet steam, which is another reason why I don't like it—it's not very specific. But for residential steam purposes I allege that it doesn't matter…it's all pretty wet but it only becomes a problem when there is noticeable flowing water leaving the boiler, causing the level to drop and causing vents to spurt.

    In my boiler when I'm looking at the steam I can see a tiny drop occasionally in the risers just above the boiler, and can never see any droplets above the header, unless I have purposely caused it to surge. See my videos linked below if you're interested to see what I see. My steam certainly has droplets in it I can't see. It certainly forms droplets from condensation as it travels (mostly on the pipe walls). It certainly doesn't matter if it's 1%, 3%, or 5%.

    Here is a typical definition, but there are so many different ones, who can say? https://savree.com/en/encyclopedia/dry-and-wet-steam

    Or I should say more than a 2% water content.

    Sorry to be pedantic, but steam is 100% water content 😅

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

  • ARobertson13
    ARobertson13 Member Posts: 39
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    Steam is H2O in gaseous state or phase. Water is H2O in liquid state. Ice is H2O in solid state. Dry steam contains no water droplets suspended in it. Not condensation which occurs when steam losses it heat when it comes in contact with a colder solid surface. Wet steam contains some water droplets suspended in it. When you use an aerosol spray it creates small droplets not gas. It does matter what percentage of water is in your steam because the amount of energy contained in steam is not the same as with water.

    ethicalpaul
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,922
    edited July 12
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    Water exists on Earth as a solid, a liquid, and a gas.

    Water can also exist as a gas as a vapor below it's boiling point.

    None of this has anything to do with the OP's question though. It would honestly be best to start a totally separate thread to discuss this stuff.

    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
  • ARobertson13
    ARobertson13 Member Posts: 39
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    Understood,

    Sometimes we tend to tray off topic in discussions. As to the question of new vs old boiler lifespan, there is no real way of knowing for the newer units. Too many unknowns.

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,840
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    All you have to do is look at a 1950s-1960s boiler and you will see a lot more CI and weight in the older boilers. The new boilers are lighter with less Iron. So, an older boiler compared to a newer boiler with the same rating and input the older boiler is not pushed (fired) as hard (BTU input/lb of CI) so they lasted longer and expansion and contraction happened slower. The new boiler have slightly better efficiency.

    RTWIntplm.
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,346
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    Let's stay on topic. Thanks.

    President
    HeatingHelp.com

    RTW