Boiler repairable?

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Old 03-03-12, 09:38 AM
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Boiler repairable?

Hi all,

This past week, my boiler has been periodically disgorging large quantities of water on the floor, such that it had to be refilled daily instead of the typical monthly top-off. This is a gas-fired one-pipe steam boiler. It's younger than the house, but probably older than I am.

This morning I went for a closer look, took the heat-insulated back panel off and snapped the following pic. The boiler appears to be leaking at all three orifices, starting from the far side: water fill pipe, condensate return (I think), drain pipe. Consequently, the bottom portion of the back of the boiler is rusted pretty badly, this must have been leaking for years. The metal is flaking off in large chunks and I was able to easily remove at least 1/8" inch in thickness if not thicker.

What do you think? Is there anyway to repair this? Or is replacement the only option?

Thanks,
JP

 
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Old 03-03-12, 12:21 PM
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un point cest tout


done.
and
gone.



Peter
 
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Old 03-03-12, 12:50 PM
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That appears to be a steel boiler and if so a boiler repair shop that holds an "H" stamp could cut out the rusted area and weld in a new plate. This is why I prefer steel boilers over cast iron, steel can be repaired.

That said, it is entirely possible that the rest of the boiler has deteriorated to a significant degree internally and the cost of the repair may be such as to make full replacement of the boiler look enticing from an economical standpoint.
 
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Old 03-03-12, 12:51 PM
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@Furd - Can you elaborate on what you mean by an 'H' stamp? Is that a kind of certification? And would you happen to know any such shops in the greater Boston area? I'll start my own research.

I'd also assume that those who repair boilers are also happy installing new ones, perhaps I can get someone to provide me with options. Come to think of it, I could cut out a section myself with an angle grinder and one of them blades. Although I suppose I'd have to be careful to not inadvertently cutting through internal partitions and such.

@PeterNH - So you don't think a RustOleum touch-up would help, uh?
 
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Old 03-03-12, 01:08 PM
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An "H" stamp is issued by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to repair shops and manufacturers involved with heating boilers as defined in Section IV of the ASME Boiler Code. Yes, it is a certification that the company and its employees have passed certain tests to ensure safe repairs.

That stated, many home heating boilers are not ASME certified but I am pretty sure that ALL boilers in Massachusetts ARE ASME certified as Massachusetts has some of the most restrictive boiler codes in the country.

No, I do not know of any repair companies in the Boston area. I doubt that any company listed as doing home heating repairs would have the proper credentials and you would need to contact a company that normally does commercial and industrial boiler repairs. It is possible that there are no companies willing to take on a repair to a residential boiler.

My fear is that the bottom of your boiler is also severely rusted and repairing that would entail physically disconnecting the boiler and upending it. At that point replacement would definitely be looking better than repair.
 
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Old 03-03-12, 02:02 PM
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@PeterNH - So you don't think a RustOleum touch-up would help, uh?

LOL
I thiink maybe Sherwin-Williams Zinc Chromate Primer,
might be a better bet.


Peter
 
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Old 03-03-12, 03:27 PM
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If the boiler has an ASME "H" stamp, it will be shown on the boiler's nameplate. That means that the boiler was designed, built, inspected, and tested in accordance with Section IV of the boiler and pressure vessel code. Somebody could build a good boiler without the stamp, but it is a matter of reassurance and also a requirement in some jurisdictions.

But whatever, I would insist that any company hired to repair your boiler have an H stamp.

Used to be that Sears sold two seemingly identical air compressors - one with the tank ASME approved and one not. The ASME compressor sold for a higher price.

The ASME code mainly applies to the pressure parts of the boiler, but it also addresses relief valve sizing, safety features, etc.
 

Last edited by gilmorrie; 03-03-12 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 03-04-12, 10:53 AM
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No 'H' mark anywhere on the boiler. And I agree with the assumption that if the back panel, vertical and all, is that badly rusted, the bottom of the boiler is likely to be just as bad.

I started my search for a plumber through one of the well-known referral sites, and was lucky enough to have one gentleman stop by this morning (pretty nice of him on a Sunday). Unfortunately, the extent of his sizing was to eyeball our radiators and to prescribe a 4 section boiler. Despite my hinting, there was no talk of estimating heat loss nor discussion on potential home improvements that might have cut down energy requirement (I have since done that myself). So, based on the advice found on these forums, my search will continue.
 
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Old 03-04-12, 11:23 AM
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Steam boilers are sized differently than hot water boilers. They ARE sized to the installed radiation. In other words, the radiation and the boiler should be 'balanced'. So, regardless of the heat loss of the home, it should be sized for the radiation.

Make sure that these guys are not 'steam stupid knuckleheads'. The piping et al has to be exactly right for a steam boiler to perform properly.

A 'key' question you could ask... sort of as a veiled qualification request... "How much pressure should my steam system be set for and run at?"

If the answer is something to the effect: " As little as possible " and/or " No more than 2 PSI " then you've probably got a guy who understands steam. If they hem and haw and can't immediately answer the question, or say something like 5 or 10 PSI or anything else nonsensical, dismiss them politely.
 
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