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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    connecticut
    Posts
    8

    Confused old one pipe steam boiler thoughts

    My primary mechanical abilities are with heatpumps so I have little experience with boilers. I live in a 1930 home with around 1200 sq. ft. 1 1/2 stories (craftsman cape). Bought the house 2 years ago and I'm concerned with the heating system: It's cast iron, installed in the early 1950's, oil fired, one pipe steam. Seems to heat fine, but when cleaning the inside out there was a ton and I mean a ton of black soot everywhere. I've since got the burner to burn clean. BUT, the boiler sits up off the floor on bricks that were coated with (asbestos?) and the coating AND the bricks have deteriorated BADLY especially the back wall opposite the burner. To get me thru the winter I bought 4 firebricks and just placed them against the crumbling rear wall AND THEY have already began to show stress cracks. We go thru 200 gallons of oil every 4 weeks and I'm starting to wonder if we should start saving to replace this thing. However I would have to really tear the *&^# out of the plastered walls if I went with a 2 pipe system or water. How hard is it to replace the bricks under this monster....or any other advice

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    67,922
    Wet Pack.

    If your in the trade, the supply house will know what you need, and can tell you what to do.
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    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    The Gray Northwest
    Posts
    661
    Let me get this straight, did you put the bricks in the fire box? You mentioned you got the burner to run clean. No smoke, CO under 100ppm?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Lancaster PA
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    Thats where I usually put fire bricks.

    Although he didn't actually put them where they belong per say.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    6,837
    I hope you're kidding us. I haven't even seen a boiler with a brick chamber in years. Yes, I used to build those chambers and yes, in those days we used Insulag with asbestos in it to coat the top after stuffing all the insulation in behind the bricks. But man, that's a mighty inefficient way to make steam at the price of oil. I'd highly recommend you hire a company that knows steam to properly size (based on connected load) and install a new boiler. Youl'll save a ton of money and probably pay for the thing in a couple of season at todays prices. You don't need to rip out the whole system. Steam can be very comfortable heat if it's set up properly but that big old boiler isn't doing you any favors.
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    67,922
    WHAT, you don't rebrick anymore.

    Those things are expensive these days.

    Last rebrick job was about 5 years ago.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    connecticut
    Posts
    8
    Hi Guys: NO I'm NOT KIDDING. The brick fire box is about 18" tall and the cast iron boiler sits atop it. The front wall (where the oil burner is) seems tight. The sides walls are starting to crumble. and the back wall is REALLY BAD. That's where I laid (stacked the new bricks to slow down the deterioration. I'm truely afraid the weight of the boiler is not helping matters. NOW, the new bricks are already showing signs of snapping. And yes the boiler is running clean, no smoke and Co <90. Yes, the fuel oil bill is KILLING me along with worrying about the boiler, BUT I wanted some input from here as I have trouble trusting sales people and wanted some dialoug here BEFORE I talk to sales people. WHO in your opinions makes a goood to great CAST boiler. Also, I now have a coil in the boiler for domestic hot water, sould I consider another route?
    THANKS FOR THE ADVICE SO FAR

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    2,677

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    67,922
    Burnham
    Peerless
    Weil McLain

    Personally, I have never liked tankless coils in steam boilers.

    I'd use another method for the DHW. Weather an electric water heater, oil fired, or indirect, would depend on your electric rate.

    The bricks themselves shouldn't be supporting the boiler. It may look that way, but there should be a base stand/pedestol supporting the boiler.

    Replacement steam boilers must be sized to the radiatiion they are connected to, not the house load.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    6,837
    No been, I haven't built a brick chamber in I don't know how many years. More than I care to remember methinks. Had this old head in a lot of old boilers in years gone by. Probably sniffed too much soot to be of any use anymore. Just a lot of memories!!
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Ct
    Posts
    499
    How about a pic? Sounds like an old american stand. or smith. I've bricked a few before and it always worked out for the better. Much better in the old monster oil suckers than kaoboard chambers, and wayyyy better than those ridiculous metal quick chamber things. With a real brick chamber, you run the fire a little sooty and as the burner runs, those bricks will turn red and take care of the rest. We have tons of one piper's here in Waterbury, and I've had great results replacing them with the new Burnham Megasteams. It's a nice triple pass that does one hell of a job, but it HAS to be piped right.(Not to mention they're easy to keep clean.)

    200g every 4 weeks man, ouch, I feel for ya.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    The Gray Northwest
    Posts
    661
    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    Thats where I usually put fire bricks.

    Although he didn't actually put them where they belong per say.
    Since the box was full of soot, I'm thinkin' that adding brick has caused flame impingement.

  13. #13
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    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    Always possible.
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