Well, the problem isn't 75 years old but the boiler is. I have a
Weil-McLain oil boiler converted to gas....size 5-w-19 series D...
Efficiency expert said the boiler was handling the house fine so didn't
consider replacing it. One of the pipes started leaking and the Gas company
replaced the pipe and put in an over flow valve (none was there). The valve
drips all the time.....(a bucket a day). People talk about an expansion
tank (there is NONE). Others suggest that the overflow valve should not
have been installed. The boiler is running fine but sure is a pain to empty
the bucket everyday... Any thoughts, comments or possible solutions
75 years is way overdue for replacement whether you like it or not.
Many, Many improvements since then. Your expansion tank may be in an
attic, closet or buried in a wall hidden upstairs. You may also have
an "open system" where a pipe runs from the boiler up and out to the
gutters or somewhere on a top floor. Again, just a very old old system
It needs updating.
Can you give me an idea of a good Manufacturer, type, price etc. I should be
looking to purchase? Are there hidden costs? I presently have gas, forced
hot water (older radiators....do these have to be replaced). John
What goes bad or breaks down is the combustion chamber, burner, motors,
circulating pumps, etc. Older burners are generally not nearly as efficient
as new ones. Since it is hot water heat there may be corrosion issues. The
radiators may still be in good condition and if they are, they can be left
Since your system is still working, you have the luxury of being able to
shop around and get some ideas on how best to handle your needs. As for
hidden cost, when you open an old systems you can find problems that you
cannot see from outside. Like corroded or clogged pipes. There are a dozen
good brands of heater. I'd be more concerned to find a good contractor for
a good installation.
A good manufacturer? It depends who is in your area. Ive installed a
lot of Weil-Mclain. Its good. There is also Burnham and a lot of
others use the Buderus boiler which I have never even seen in this
area. A brand is a brand. Some a bit better than others. What you need
to do is look for a good installer. I have no idea about hidden costs.
Thats why you get estimates/bids/proposals. If your old radiators are
not leaking then they dont need to be replaced unless you want
something more modern looking.
Couple thoughts come to mind.
1) Install expansion tank
2) Install a "condensate pump" instead of a bucket.
3) Pipe the overflow down hill to a sump pump or other drain
4) Call a heating guy and ask for advice, then take it.
a) you probably just need to install an expansion tank
b) expansion tanks cost around $25-- you can install it yourself if you can
screw together pipes
c) if adding an expansion tank doesn't work -- and it probably will -- then
try replacing the overflow valve
d) you probably DO NOT need a new boiler -- to figure out how many years it
would take the new boiler to pay for itself based on increased efficiency
perform the following calculation
(cost of new boiler)/(((efficiency of the new boiler)-(efficiency of the
current boiler))*(yearly heating bill)-((cost of new boiler)*(discount
$3500 cost of new boiler
0.85 efficiency of the new boiler
0.60 efficiency of the current boiler
$1000 yearly heating bill
0.10 discount rate <== what return would you get on the money invested
3500/0 <== the boiler would never pay for itself --EVER
Hope this helps,
I'm glad you did the above calculations.
Too many of the "pros" on here always advocate replacing a furnace or boiler
saying that the fuel savings will
pay for the new unit.
In many cases, as you pointed out - that simply isn't true.
The payback time can be so long that you are better off with the money left
in the bank.
In other cases, by the time the new unit is paid off with fuel savings, it's
time to replace that unit.
It's been my experience that the only time to replace an old unit is when it
can't be made reliable or reasonably safe.
I've only had that occur under two situations: a cracked heat exchanger with
a furnace, or a cracked casting in a boiler.
I've got a neighbor, an elderly women who takes pride in the fact that her
1948 vintage, non electric gravity gas furnace (an "octopus") still works
fine. With the replacement ductwork required, I'd expect a new installation
to run her at least $5000.
Even at her present efficiency of around 50%, she'd only save around
$300/year. That's a payback of over 16 years.
She wouldn't see it in her lifetime and it wouldn't be worth it in any case
unless gas rates go up over 150% in that period.
Such a hike in gas rates has never happened in history within that period of
time. In the meantime, she is the only one in the neighborhood who has a
furnace working during a power failure due to its millivolt thermostat/main
gas valve system.
I replaced my 1988 oil fired hot water system this year because the boiler
casting was leaking.
My Mom replaced her gas fired 1964 vintage hot water boiler because it was no
longer reliable. Repair parts were difficult to find, The "Flair" zone valves
always seized up, the expansion tank was water logged, the house was too cold
on the coldest days, and she was starting to have problems with the pilot
light. The furnace was replaced for around $2500 and she ended up saving $900
on her first years gas bill. The house is warm in the winter.
Yes.. the cost of natural gas is high in my area.
If your old furnace works well I would not replace it with a new one.
On Fri, 28 Jan 2005 08:37:13 -0500, Steven Fleckenstein
Well the expansion tank and the zone valves are not even part of the
boiler. They are easy and relatively cheap to replace - no reason to
replace the entire boiler.
Pilot light assemblies and gas control valves are easy to replace. The
control system can be changed entirely and even an "antique" boiler
can be modernized.
Her old gas bills must have been around $2400/year to achieve that
kind of savings - YIKES.
I'm assuming that the system went from 50% efficiency to 90%.
If she got the boiler replaced, the expansion tank changed and the
zone valves changed all for $2500, she got a real bargain.
Around here they "pros" would get about $4000 for that.
One of the pipes started leaking and the Gas company
If you can't fix the drip, you can at least automate the dumping
process by diverting the leak into a typical condensate pump/reservoir
and routing the outflow to the nearest drain. These run about
$40...mine holds a couple of quarts and IIRC will pump 10' strait up
if need be, with no practical limit on the horizontal run for the
hose. Mine runs up from the furnace, across the basement, and through
a fitting I installed into the wash tub at the laundry center. This
replaced a pooly installed floor drain and works like a charm.
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