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Need advice with large boiler replacement in an apartment building

Hi! Happy to have found this forum. I have been working on a 18 unit building apartment building in Detroit, doing %90 of the work myself, unit by unit, over the last 5 years. I am not a boiler technician, just a handy guy, so please excuse my lack of boiler knowledge.

It's now time to replace the steam boiler, I believe. It is still working properly, no problems, but I am worried about its age, and I know if it is going to fail iti s going to be in the middle of febuary, not in the middle of summer. I now have a dozen great tenants, and I just want to be able to sleep better in the winter without worrying about the boiler.

What I have now is an 850,000 input btu National-U.S. steam boiler. I have no idea of the age, but based on what I have found on the internet so far, likely from the 60s. What concerns me most, is heavy rust and a small drip from around the nipple/faucet that must be the tap to completely drain the boiler. (on the back of the unit, at the bottom of the back section. ) I can picture this breaking, the boiler dumping all its water, and shutting off. Or the water feed just perpetually feeding water into the boiler as it runs out the back. I have no idea what other kind of rust is present inside the boiler.

Anyway, it may work another 5 years, it may fail this winter. I just think its time to bite the bullet and replace it. I am going to own this building for the rest of my life, so might as well do this now.

I have a reputable local boiler company on hand to do the work (Aladdin heating and cooling), they have replaced the boiler on a few other apt buildings in my neighborhood, and seem professional and trustworthy.

My question is, whether the boiler they are suggesting I install is the best one. They want to install a Weil McLain steam boiler, model #LGB-8. Is this a "good" boiler"? Is there a better one? I am impressed the old National US one has kept that building toasty for 50-60 years, (I plan to give it a proper send-off) and am anxious that I am spending a small fortune to install one that may just be the cheapest one for the HVAC company to install. I really want to make sure I am doing this right.

Thanks in advance!



  • norfolkpine
    norfolkpine Member Posts: 2
    (the existing boiler model number is 6-309)
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,822
    Everyone here loves pictures showing all the piping. ;)
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    Weil Mclain is a good boiler with a long history. With that said, the boiler is only as good as the install. How did they size the unit? Did they measure the radiation or just size it off the existing boiler? Do they intend to clean the system prior to replacement (let as much junk as possible go with the old boiler)? Lots of things to consider...
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,892
    Proper near boiler piping is critical on newer steam boilers. Things that may have worked on your present boiler won't on a new one - no matter what the brand. Posting pics of your present setup would be very helpful.

    W/M and Peerless are the two manufactures for steam that most, if not all, the pros on here prefer.

    Ask your contractor for pics of their recent steam installs and post them here and we'll be able to tell you if they know steam. Very, very few plumbers or HVAC contractors do, so be thorough in choosing one.

    Also, don't expect the new one to last as long as your old one.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • acwagner
    acwagner Member Posts: 505

    There are not many companies that do steam in southeast Michigan, and the ones that do are losing their knowledge base and are not as good as they used to be. Private message me and I can give you a few options that I know of, but they all have caveats.
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,866
    I'd look into two boilers to replace one. You can start with one and only pay for the second if you find you need it. Presuming you are in the boiler room daily.