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pricing a new boiler

RW Member Posts: 5
Hi and happy New Year,
I have an 80 + year old Broomell Vapor system which runs a combiniaton 2 pipe / one pipe system (Two pipe system in the main floor and second floor, one pipe in the grade level basement, where the 4 rads are on "shelves" to keep them above the boiler water line) Recently I had to have the wet return below the reciever replaced due to lack of maintence by the previous owner.

Do to the inefficiency of the system, and the obvious lack of maintence, I am looking into replacement of the boiler.

I know that you folks on the board dont talk about prices, and I commend that. But I was completely floored by the price quote & I just hope that someone can tell me if the one estimate is in the ballpark ( I will be getting more bids shortly)
For a Burnham IN8, I was quoted $12,000 for removal of the old boiler and installation
this DID NOT include asbestos abatement, or replacement of the wet return from the one-pipe rads.

Also since the air on this system is vented at the Broomell Reciever (no air vents on the mains), how should this be addressed in the new install?

Any info is appreciated


  • RW
    RW Member Posts: 5
    I'm going to have to get rid of my steam heat.......

    ...and go to forced air.......;-)

    ok, no one will touch the pricing issue, so be it . How about comments on the upstairs- two pipe and downstairs - one pipe issue. or the reciever vent / air vent issue. are any of these (or is anything else) factors that would make this more than a routine install.

    I really value your opinions guys, and I've read a couple of Dan's books (Lost Art & We've Got Steam) in order to learn about my system.
  • kevin coppinger_4
    kevin coppinger_4 Member Posts: 2,124

    as w/ any major expence get a few prices..make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Also I don't know where you live. The cost of doing buisness in NY is not the same as in NH. BIG difference. As to the 2 vs. one pipe thing 2 pipe will always add more to the cost. I have never worked on a two pipe boiler...I am at a loss as to how much more. kpc
  • Mad Dog
    Mad Dog Member Posts: 2,595
    It may be right on target if the guy is a deadman

    - i.e., knows The Steam. What you need to do my friend - as kevin said - is get apples to apples estimates. What will each be giving you, what is not included? and , then the most important, can they give you several referrals of other satisfied customers with similar systems. The Deadman will rear his ugly head and you will know you've got your man. He may seem high, but if you don't get the right man the first time, you will blow that money and much more AND screw that system up real good. Have you used anyone from FIND A PROFESSIONAL at this site? Its a great place to start. Mad Dog

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  • RW
    RW Member Posts: 5

    thanks for the replies fellas. I guess I'm just suffering from sticker shock. I've been reading "The Wall" for a couple of years now, and like I said, I've taken the time to understand how a vapor system works. My system worked fine until the return clogged, and thanks to the hard work of the tech, it's working again, and I suppose it still could work for a few more years.
    The thing is, it's so old it doesn't have an auto feed or a LWCO. I look at the water level almost every day and feed water as needed.....it doesn't use much. It heats well, and is quiet.
    Would it be worth while to have a LWCO installed on a system this old?
  • bob young
    bob young Member Posts: 2,177
    need more information

    the price of any job is somewhat determined on the size of the boiler and that boiler [ in8 ] if correctly sized indicates one big house. how about some dimensions and photo's. and i am from n.y.c..
  • RW
    RW Member Posts: 5

    That's one of the things I was wondering. Although the guy seemed to know his steam systems, and measured and counted rad sections, he kept talking about what a big boiler I was gonna need.
    The fact is the house is not that big, it's a 3 br 1918 bungalow. Not more than 2000 sq ft.

    Tomorrow I'll take a shot at figuring the EDR, and post it.

    At any rate, like I said, I'll get some other estimates too.

    thanks for the interest.
  • Irene_2
    Irene_2 Member Posts: 24
    boiler replacement

    I recently had my boiler replaced with the same brand as you are talking about, only a smaller size. I had a contractor (not a plumbing company) come in and remove the old boiler and take out any piping that the heating guys were going to replace for me. Then when everything was stripped out, my plumbers, came in and installed a new boiler, wet returns and all the others stuff. It saved me alot of money to do it that way and the heating/plumbing guys were happy not to have to deal with the demolition stuff... My plumbers even offered to mark the pipes to remove and disconnect the old boiler.
  • bob young
    bob young Member Posts: 2,177
    home owner playing gen.eral contractor

    the removal of boiler and piping is an extremely small percentage of total job cost---but you better let the installation contractor aware of your plan or you may regret it enough to cotemplate suicide. asbestos removal is another story.
  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909
    Good point Irene

    I can tell you that I do not look forward to carrying out the old stuff!

    As long as everyone is on the same page, this could work out well for all interested parties.

    Glad it all worked out well for you.

    Mark H

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  • Irene_2
    Irene_2 Member Posts: 24
    Boiler removal

    The plumber who put in my boiler (who came from this list) didn't seemed threatened or upset about not having to deal with the grunt work of cutting up the old nasty boilers and hot water heaters. There were two of each and it took the demolition guys two days to cut them apart and drag them out of there. We took down the walls of the old boiler room to do it and that gave John, from Gateway, a nice clean open space to work in. His crew was then able to come in and do the complete install and all the piping in one day. I would rather pay them to do what they do best. I didn't hear any complaints from them about not getting to do the cutting and hauling part. And it actually did save me quite a bit of money.
  • Ahh , Irene

    if the homeowners on my past jobs were as thoughful as you , my back wouldn't feel like gravel right now .

    Although the removal of the old unit is usually a small percentage of the total cost , if it is removed before the start of work it gives the installer the opportunity to concentrate on the install totally . I know firsthand how it feels to work on getting a boiler up and running after a big ripout , with your clothes dirty , face sooty and your back and knees out of whack . Even if the removal cost a bit more from another contractor , it's money worth spending .
  • RW

    I highly recommend Dan's book on sizing the radiators , if you do not have it already -


    It goes into detail more than any other book on the subject .

    Another good resource is from Burnham http://www.burnham.com/tools.cfm
    Go to Burnham Heating Helper and you can calculate the radiation you have . It does not go into detail like Dan's book does , but it is a good guide . I agree with Bob Young - at first thought it sounds like the IN8 might be too big for a 2000 sq ft home . But the only way to be sure is to do the math yourself . And you can compare your numbers to the estimates you get . Good luck RW
  • RW_2
    RW_2 Member Posts: 4
    I have counted the Radiators

    and used the info in Dan's "Lost Art" book

    what I come up with is an EDR of 616

    or 222 MBH, DOE if I used the formula correctly

    (no radiators have been removed, and all of the mains and risers are well insulated)

    I'll take another look at Burnham's website, but when I looked at it before, I didn't see an "IN8"

  • RW_2
    RW_2 Member Posts: 4
    ok, I guess he Spec'd the right size

    Burnham's website shows the in8 to be right for an edr of 616

    Guess I better start a "boiler fund" (and get a few more quotes).

    thanks for the input folks.

    btw I'm in upstate NY
  • Right on the money

    Sounds like this contractor knows his steam . While setting up appointments , see if they have pictures of past work you can look at , maybe even references you can call . From a homeowner standpoint , it is pretty hard to differentiate the steam experts from others who do not work on it often . And for that kind of money , you do want the best .

    Sorry about saying the IN8 might be oversized . Going by sq ft alone you can only get a very general idea of sizing . I have a 2000 sq ft home myself , and the heatloss without much insulation is under 50,000 btus . But its not a correct comparison - my home isn't steam heated . Good luck with the project .
  • steve_6
    steve_6 Member Posts: 243

    your calculation of 616 edr matches up with that Burnham IN-8. what part of the country are you from?
  • DaveGateway
    DaveGateway Member Posts: 568

    How about ripping it all out and going baseboard? The whole system would be new & sized from scratch. Might fit the budget a little better.
  • RW_2
    RW_2 Member Posts: 4
    you're right about not being

    able to size by sq ft and heat loss. I do know you have to size to the radiator load. Listen to me LOL, I'm an amatuer 'steamhead'.
  • RW_2
    RW_2 Member Posts: 4

    Absolute last resort... I love my vapor system ;-)
  • Mad Dog
    Mad Dog Member Posts: 2,595
    I would always welcome a \"clean\" boiler room

    to start with - old boiler gone. Getting it all out , without destroying the house & your men is not easy. Especially if you got a steamer to get up and running that day. The worst are oil to gas conversion with a steam boiler: oil & boiler tank out, new one down, repipe the header, run all the new gas - brutal! but we always get them heat by 10 pm Mad Dog

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