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Homeowner needs hot water boiler advice

Boyle Member Posts: 1
I live in Plymouth, IN (near South Bend) where the winters can be quite severe. I have a few questions that hopefully you can help me with. I have owned, and lived in, a 4-unit apartment house for 11 years. The house has a boiler in the basement with 2 units on the lower level and 2 on the 2nd floor. Each unit has several floor standings radiators radiating heat. (radiators measure: 36" tall / 9" wide : unit#1 = 3 radiators - 25 total tubes, unit #2: 3 radiators - 25 total tubes, unit #3: 4 radiators - 30 total tubes, unit #4: 1 radiator -10 tubes, hallway: 1 radiator -10 tubes).) There is just one thermostat for the entire home which is located in my unit on an interior wall and set to 72 degrees. The total square footage of the house is appx. 3,000 sq. ft. I had have had a gas fired Weil McLain (HG6) boiler since the house was purchased in 92. (I "think" it's a Hot water boiler since the pressure gauge on the boiler never shows any pressure other than fluttering when the boiler is running. (Do you know if a HG6 is a hot water model?) I think it was probably 10 years old when I purchased the home, so it's probably over 20 years old. While it has been very dependable, it has always had a plumbing problem where the boiler always overfills itself when it runs, so, after paying a local plumber to change the fill mechanism three times early on owning the home, only to have the boiler overfill itself within days of the replacement, I have just turned the water supply off and had to check the boiler every other day or so to refill it when the water level drops below my line on the sight glass. Now, I believe I'm ready to replace this Boiler with a new one to accomplish two goals:
1. I don't want to have to refill the boiler every other day in the winter (I go on trips a lot and do not want the hassle anymore.)
2. I have to believe the units now available are much more efficient than my HG6 model (I don't know the HG6's efficiency rating) and therefore I can reduce my heating bill which in the winter can run over $500 a month to heat the 3,000 foot home. (I would rather pay more for a high efficiency unit to save even $ in the winter months.)
I hope I have provided enough information for you to provide me some feedback. Can you also recommend a brand of boiler as well? Locally, they sell Crown Boilers, but I wasn't to impressed with their efficiency ratings. I have researched other brands like Weil McLain, Crown, Carrier, Peerless, etc. and they all are Greek to me since I don't really know what I'm looking for. That's where I was hoping you guys could come in!
THANKS for your time!!


  • David Sutton_3
    David Sutton_3 Member Posts: 160
    Steam Boiler

    What you have there by your discription is a steam boiler, the trubble you are having could be a few differant things, i'd say that more than likly you are having a problem with the return water, its not making it back to the boiler fast enuff to stop the feeder from over filling the boiler,but like i said there could be more things going on there, you should talk to someone who has a lot of pratice on steam systems , look in the find a contractor section of this site and find one close to you and have him look at it, the people who list here are the best of the best and are honest, good luck...David
  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884

    I will give you the answer that is the best one.

    Its not the boiler, its the installer ! Especially with Steam. The best boiler in the world can be made to be inefficeint by a bad install. You need to find a contractor who is well versed in steam systems and let him install the boiler he is most comfortable with.

    You may need to interview a few contractors and do some homework to find the right company. The best place to look is at this site with the Find a Contractor feature. Many contracters feel they know how to install a steam boiler few actually do. It Truly is a Lost Art.

    If you find a few contracters you feel comfortable, come back here and tell us what they propose to do. There are many here who can help you decide who is the best contracter for you.

    Good Luck.


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  • Steve Ebels
    Steve Ebels Member Posts: 904
    Just the facts

    Fact #1. It's steam not hot water!

    Fact #2. It's overfilling when it fires because the condensate is not getting back to the boiler as quickly as it needs to. The water level control "sees" that the level is low and dumps in more water. Meanwhile the condensate water out in the system finally makes it back to the boiler and between the return water and the newly added fill it floods the boiler.

    Fact# 3. This can be caused by improper piping. Yes, it will run for 20 years even when piped wrong. It can also be caused by non or poorly functioning vents in the system.

    Fact #4. You can save yourself a fistfull of cash by getting in touch with someone who knows steam and getting the problem(s) corrected.

    Fact #5. I wish I was closer to you so I could help you out. A properly functioning steam system is utter simplicity itself. There are few other heating systems that will operate with as little maintanence if properly set up.
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