How long does boiler last?

We live in a six-unit apartment building which is heated by radiators.
The boiler is a commercial, as opposed to residential unit. I understand these don't last as long as residential systems.
Could anyone share any experience with such boilers?
Ours is nine years old, and already the large copper conduits are showing signs of corrosion in the joints, suggesting leaks.
Can this be repaired rather than replaced?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wednesday, May 7, 2014 5:55:40 PM UTC-4, Ray DELETETHIS wrote:

First time I've heard that.

I assume by "large copper conduits", you mean copper pipes. Pipes aren't part of the boiler. It's very likely that what you think is serious corrosion is just superficial, possibly left over from the flux when they were soldered, etc.

Without knowing more about what exactly the real problem is, can't say. Some pics would sure help. It's quite possible that nothing is wrong at all. But if it's an apartment and you're renting, why do you care? If the heat works, and there are no actual leaks, what's the real issue?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"trader_4" wrote in message
On Wednesday, May 7, 2014 5:55:40 PM UTC-4, Ray DELETETHIS wrote:

First time I've heard that.

I assume by "large copper conduits", you mean copper pipes. Pipes aren't part of the boiler. It's very likely that what you think is serious corrosion is just superficial, possibly left over from the flux when they were soldered, etc.

Without knowing more about what exactly the real problem is, can't say. Some pics would sure help. It's quite possible that nothing is wrong at all. But if it's an apartment and you're renting, why do you care? If the heat works, and there are no actual leaks, what's the real issue?
============ Sorry, I should have said coop building, not apartment. We own it. Thanks for the information.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
'Ray[_15_ Wrote:

Ray:
I've been dealing with boilers both in my own apartment block (21 units) and in my father's building (two offices, two apartments) for well over 25 years now. And, someone is telling you BS.
A cast iron sectional boiler will last longer than grandma.
Here in Winnipeg, it's common to see hot water heating systems with boilers that are 100+ years old, although back then steam heat was more popular, and that's the only reason there aren't more 100 year old hot water heating boilers.
What you need to do is strive not to add new water to the heating system. That's because any new water you add with have dissolved oxygen and hardness ions in it. The hardness ions form scale in the hottest part of the heating system, which is the boiler. And, dissolved oxygen forms rust in the hottest part of the heating system, and that's in the boiler too. So, by minimizing the amount of new water you add to the heating system as the result of repairs, you maximize the lifespan of your boiler.
So, while it's common to have to drain a heating system down in order to do repairs, if you wuz a plumber, you would collect that heating water in 5 gallon pails, and then siphon that same oxygen depleted and ionically dead water back into your heating system after the repairs have been completed. No plumber is ever going to do that because you're paying him $90 per hour. So, he just opens the water bypass valve on the pressure reducing valve and fills up the system with new oxygen rich water.
The way you would salvage the old water would be to drain the heating system down as much as you need to by collecting water in a 5 gallon pails. Then, after the repair is completed, you siphon the water right back into the heating system. That would typically be done by setting a chair beside the highest elevation air vent in the heating system. Remove the air vent and screw in a small 1/8 inch ball valve, and then screw your air vent into the ball valve. That way, whenever you want to put the old water back in, you can remove the air vent and screw in a 1/8 inch NPT to 1/4 inch diameter hose barb fitting and siphon the old water back into the heating system with 1/4 inch vinyl hose. And, you can stop the syphon at any time by just closing the 1/8 inch NPT threaded ball valve. It'd also be good to have a second 1/8" ball valve on another air vent to allow the air trapped in the heating system to escape as the system fills with water.
If anyone tells you that you need to start treating your water with chemicals and stuff, ignore them. All you need is water that doesn't have any dissolved oxygen or hardness ions in it, and you therefore cannot possibly have scale or rust forming in your heating system because those things form from oxygen and hardness ions. If you don't have oxygen or hardness ions in the water you put in your boiler, you cannot possibly have any more rust or scale in your boiler than you have already.
Also, there really isn't such a thing as a "commercial" boiler as opposed to a "residential" boiler. There are boilers of various sizes, and you install the size of boiler you need. If you've got a very big house, you install a big boiler that would normally be considered "commercial". If you've got a very small apartment block, you install a small boiler that would normally be considered "residential". Typically, larger boilers are called "commercial" only because it's seldom that a boiler of that size is needed for residential purposes. Similarily, residential boilers are typically small boilers that would be used for houses. They're all made to the same quality standards, so if someone tells you that "commercial" boilers don't last as long, they're wanting you to sell your building.
I believe you misunderstood what you were told about commercial boilers. Commercial WATER HEATERS don't last as long as residential water heaters because commercial water heaters have a relatively small tank and a large heat exchanger whereas residential water heaters have a comparitively large tank and a small heat exchanger in them. In my apartment block I used to use A. O. Smith BT251 hot water heaters, and I'd be lucky if they lasted me 7 years. But, that BT251 water heater only had a 60 gallon tank, but a 251,000 BTU/hr heat exchanger. So, it would produce hot water on the fly in the mornings when 21 tenants were all getting up and having baths and showers. 7 years is nothing for a residential water heater, especially an electric residential water heater. Note that water heaters are NOT boilers. A water heater heats the water you drink, bathe in and use for washing dishes and other cleaning tasks. A boiler heats the water that heats the building in winter.
Nine years is an older forced air furnace but a very young hot water boiler.
The large copper conduits showing signs of corrosion in the joints is almost certainly old soldering flux that was never cleaned off the joints properly. This stuff is nearly harmless to your heating system. Take some mineral spirits or paint thinner and a rag and clean that corrosion off the copper piping and you're good for another 75 years.
The ONLY problem with hot water heating systems is that it don't lend themselves as well to climate controllability as well as forced air systems do. With a forced air heating system, you can install a humidifier and/or a dehumidifier in the air stream to raise and lower the humidity in the building, you can install an electronic air cleaner to remove all the allergens from the air in the building, you can install an air conditioning coil in the air stream to cool the building in summer. You can't do any of those things with a hot water heating system, and so you can't control the climate in the building nearly as well as you could with a forced air heating system. But, hot water heating systems lend themselves especially well to "zoning", which allows each apartment to have it's own thermostat so that every tenant can control their own heat. Zone valves for forced air heating systems just don't work worth a crap because even when the valve is wide open, it still imparts excessive resistance to air flow. Also, the main reason why apartment buildings normally have hot water heating systems is because of the zoning (so that each tenant can control their own heat) and the fact that a cast iron boiler will last 10 times as long as a furnace.
--
nestork

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks so much for your detailed reply. It's helpful and reassuring.
You mention not introducing new water. We're told we should "draw down" the boiler once a week, which we've done for about 10 years. This involves flushing water out for about 20 seconds.
Is that "introducing new water"?
By the way, I should have said we're in a coop building, not apartment. We own it.
Thanks again, Ray
====================== "nestork" wrote in message
'Ray[_15_ Wrote:

Ray:
I've been dealing with boilers both in my own apartment block (21 units) and in my father's building (two offices, two apartments) for well over 25 years now. And, someone is telling you BS.
A cast iron sectional boiler will last longer than grandma.
Here in Winnipeg, it's common to see hot water heating systems with boilers that are 100+ years old, although back then steam heat was more popular, and that's the only reason there aren't more 100 year old hot water heating boilers.
What you need to do is strive not to add new water to the heating system. That's because any new water you add with have dissolved oxygen and hardness ions in it. The hardness ions form scale in the hottest part of the heating system, which is the boiler. And, dissolved oxygen forms rust in the hottest part of the heating system, and that's in the boiler too. So, by minimizing the amount of new water you add to the heating system as the result of repairs, you maximize the lifespan of your boiler.
So, while it's common to have to drain a heating system down in order to do repairs, if you wuz a plumber, you would collect that heating water in 5 gallon pails, and then siphon that same oxygen depleted and ionically dead water back into your heating system after the repairs have been completed. No plumber is ever going to do that because you're paying him $90 per hour. So, he just opens the water bypass valve on the pressure reducing valve and fills up the system with new oxygen rich water.
The way you would salvage the old water would be to drain the heating system down as much as you need to by collecting water in a 5 gallon pails. Then, after the repair is completed, you siphon the water right back into the heating system. That would typically be done by setting a chair beside the highest elevation air vent in the heating system. Remove the air vent and screw in a small 1/8 inch ball valve, and then screw your air vent into the ball valve. That way, whenever you want to put the old water back in, you can remove the air vent and screw in a 1/8 inch NPT to 1/4 inch diameter hose barb fitting and siphon the old water back into the heating system with 1/4 inch vinyl hose. And, you can stop the syphon at any time by just closing the 1/8 inch NPT threaded ball valve. It'd also be good to have a second 1/8" ball valve on another air vent to allow the air trapped in the heating system to escape as the system fills with water.
If anyone tells you that you need to start treating your water with chemicals and stuff, ignore them. All you need is water that doesn't have any dissolved oxygen or hardness ions in it, and you therefore cannot possibly have scale or rust forming in your heating system because those things form from oxygen and hardness ions. If you don't have oxygen or hardness ions in the water you put in your boiler, you cannot possibly have any more rust or scale in your boiler than you have already.
Also, there really isn't such a thing as a "commercial" boiler as opposed to a "residential" boiler. There are boilers of various sizes, and you install the size of boiler you need. If you've got a very big house, you install a big boiler that would normally be considered "commercial". If you've got a very small apartment block, you install a small boiler that would normally be considered "residential". Typically, larger boilers are called "commercial" only because it's seldom that a boiler of that size is needed for residential purposes. Similarily, residential boilers are typically small boilers that would be used for houses. They're all made to the same quality standards, so if someone tells you that "commercial" boilers don't last as long, they're wanting you to sell your building.
I believe you misunderstood what you were told about commercial boilers. Commercial WATER HEATERS don't last as long as residential water heaters because commercial water heaters have a relatively small tank and a large heat exchanger whereas residential water heaters have a comparitively large tank and a small heat exchanger in them. In my apartment block I used to use A. O. Smith BT251 hot water heaters, and I'd be lucky if they lasted me 7 years. But, that BT251 water heater only had a 60 gallon tank, but a 251,000 BTU/hr heat exchanger. So, it would produce hot water on the fly in the mornings when 21 tenants were all getting up and having baths and showers. 7 years is nothing for a residential water heater, especially an electric residential water heater. Note that water heaters are NOT boilers. A water heater heats the water you drink, bathe in and use for washing dishes and other cleaning tasks. A boiler heats the water that heats the building in winter.
Nine years is an older forced air furnace but a very young hot water boiler.
The large copper conduits showing signs of corrosion in the joints is almost certainly old soldering flux that was never cleaned off the joints properly. This stuff is nearly harmless to your heating system. Take some mineral spirits or paint thinner and a rag and clean that corrosion off the copper piping and you're good for another 75 years.
The ONLY problem with hot water heating systems is that it don't lend themselves as well to climate controllability as well as forced air systems do. With a forced air heating system, you can install a humidifier and/or a dehumidifier in the air stream to raise and lower the humidity in the building, you can install an electronic air cleaner to remove all the allergens from the air in the building, you can install an air conditioning coil in the air stream to cool the building in summer. You can't do any of those things with a hot water heating system, and so you can't control the climate in the building nearly as well as you could with a forced air heating system. But, hot water heating systems lend themselves especially well to "zoning", which allows each apartment to have it's own thermostat so that every tenant can control their own heat. Zone valves for forced air heating systems just don't work worth a crap because even when the valve is wide open, it still imparts excessive resistance to air flow. Also, the main reason why apartment buildings normally have hot water heating systems is because of the zoning (so that each tenant can control their own heat) and the fact that a cast iron boiler will last 10 times as long as a furnace.
--
nestork


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thursday, May 8, 2014 8:06:58 AM UTC-4, Ray DELETETHIS wrote:

he

You do have to "blow down" a steam boiler. But a hot water one? Not, in m y opinion, unless I'm missing something.
I agree with being careful not to add more water than necessary. That mean s fixing leaks promptly and having a meter on your makeup valve. I don't s ee the value in recovering water after a repair, but don't drain more than necessary. You should probably get a water test occasionally to see how co rrosive your water is becoming. Some areas may require a water softener an d/or a sand filter in the system. Or do like the navy does and fill with d istilled.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 5/7/2014 5:55 PM, Ray wrote:

It should last much longer than 9 years. Maybe 50 or so with care. The copper pipes are not part of the boiler but are just the feed or outlet. They often show some corrosion at fluxed joints. Try cleaning the joints.
You don't say what type of boiler so I can't give specifics. Most can be repaired by re-tubing or replacing sections.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ray,
Does the co-op pay someone to inspect the heating plant, clean, and adjust it every few years? What does he think of this corrosion? Is there a building super?
Dave M.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.