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  1. #1
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    Default Oil boiler vent to chimney

    I don't see many oil burners this old, and I'm wondering: was is (was?) the function of this rather massive portion of the vent system (black arrow in second picture) attached to the rear of the boiler?

    Also, what's up with this vent system in general (other than it's decrepitude)? It appears that a power or barometric damper was installed between the boiler and the chimney and later removed, and also that there is a second barometric damper below the attachment of the boiler t the chimney? Which was likely original? Why were things likely changed?

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    Michael Thomas
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  2. #2
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    Cool Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    Appears to be a coal fired boiler converted to oil. The gizmo at the rear of the boiler was probably an integral draft control, which seized up from years of sulfuric acid attack so they removed the cleanout cap and installed a barometric damper there. It should be in the stack and not the cleanout. You can see the old stack control on the left side of the chimney connector, which must have been replaced with a modern electronic primary such as Honeywell R8184. This old iron monster is probably somewhere in the 50-60% efficency range, even with a modern flame retention head burner. What is it firing at? I'll bet if proper heat load and loss calculations are done, a new unit would fire at 1/3rd to 1/2 a gallon per hour less with less peaks and valleys. I'll also bet this beast is burning sooty and is unlined. Tell them to invest $6-8K in a decent system and cut their oil consumption. With smart controls such as Buderus's Logamatic control, you can level the peaks and valleys for a much more comfortable home at far less fuel. I just replaced my 80+ y/o iron monster with a Buderus G115 with an indirect tank, Logamatic with outdoor and indoor sensors and love it! Tons of hot potable water but the house has never been this comfortable. Expensive but worth every penny. I got mine at cost and installed it with my brother in law, who's an HVAC tech. With all the incidentals, it ran about $4,500 at cost so double that for retail. Great tech support, too.

    What brand burner is that? Any more pics? What does the chimney look like above the roof?

    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    "What brand burner is that? Any more pics?"

    Bob, you knowledge continues - as always - to amaze.

    To me, this boiler is like something out of Jules Verne - I can't even remember the last time I've seem an oil delivery truck on the streets of my area. Certainly, not in the last 10 years - everything has been converted to gas. They must be there, 'cause theire is oil in the tanks and the boiler is heating the house - I just don't see them.

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  4. #4
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    Cool Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    The burner is crooked as a dog's hind leg as it enters the combustion chamber. The seal looks sloppy, too. Note theoil line enters from the right then hooks into what is hopefully a secondary filter then into the pump. A lot of oil spillage there. Aside from someone being sloppy and not using a catch pan when changing filters and nozzles, there is a problem. With that door swinging to the right, a tech would swing that door open to clean, inspect, and repair the combustion chamber. Most likely, someone was too lazy to disconnect the oil line first based on where the cement covering stops to leave enough free to swing. Flared copper does not flex well, which may account for the oil slick. Also, the tubing from the filter to the pump is kinked as it as probably hand bent. A better layout would be to install the secondary filter on the right side then run stainless flex hoses to the pump. I used the plural hoses because I would also recommend they install a Firomatic valve into a Gar-Ber spin on filter then into a Tiger Loop air separator, which uses two hoses to the pump. The new Tiger Loop Ultra has the spin on filter incorporated. It should also have the vacuum gauge which helps detect air leaks in the line or a clogged filter. FYI, when you have oil nozzles below about 1.0 GPH, you should have two stage filtration--one at the tank such as the 10 micron replaceable element General shown here then a spin-on 10 micron such as Gar-Ber at the appliance. The Tiger Loop cuts callbacks while the Firomatic shuts off oil flow in the event of a major fire and doubles as a shutoff to change filters.

    The burner appears to be a Wayne Blue Angel flame retention head power burner, which uses positive draft over fire much like the Carlin EZ-1 and the Riello F-3.

    When a burner extends out from the boiler very far, the blast tube must be supported. When this puppy fires, it will cause flame impingement on the firebox refractory. This reduces efficiency, shortens the life, produces soot and CO and should be corrected. The disconnect should have a red cover plate. Where's the pressure relief? Does that gauge work? What a dinosaur!

    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    Bob,

    Do you look any of this stuff up before you post? I don't like to think that you're spewing this information out from memory. Makes me look pathetic!


    Michael, I would have liked to have seen that unit, don't remember when I last saw an oil fired system.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  6. #6
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    Smile Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    I reline a lot of oil fired boilers around here including today. I also installed my own Buderus system and just fired it up last week. I have made a study of the appliances I reline, unlike most in my industry. Also, in researching my new boiler, I really learned a lot. When I complete a liner, I'm the only guy in town who not only sets the draft using a manometer but tests the function using a combustion analyzer and smoke tester. I test for CO spillage and use my chemical smoke puffer to show the client it isn't blowing back into the home.

    So, yes Eric, that tid bit was off the top of my head, which is a scary place, indeed. I stay up to 2am every night reading and researching technical info. of every kind. Have been doing it since I read the encyclopedia end to end before the second grade. Read it 4 more times before I left grade school. Now, if I could just earn a living off of all this useless knowledge!

    Eric, you guys know a lot more about the overall house than me. I'm much more focused on what I speak about.

    Merry Christmas to all,
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    Man Bob, To each his own. All I have to say is I'm glad your on our side. Always feel good knowing you have our back. WAyne


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    Eric,

    When it comes to oil fired appliances, I feel like Homer Simpson inspecting a nuclear reactor. For example I did note the misaligned burner and mentioned possible refractory problems as a result, and the poor seal, and of course the condition of the vent/chimney, but was not aware for instance of the support issuers when the burner is that far from the firebox - this is an example of the sort of situation where I'm completely comfortable telling a client "This is so unusual in this area that I'm not properly trained to inspect it", and deferring to a HVAC tech.

    Problem is, I have no idea who that would be in this area.

    --------------

    One of the things I tell people is that that reason it's so expensive to inspect these old houses is that they have been through so many rounds of fundamental modifications: you can see a house that started life heated with coal, then converted to oil, then to gas (that's were this system is likely headed), and meanwhile it's also been converted from steam to hot water heat but retained the original piping and someone has added SpacePak.

    Some days, I'm just staggered by what we ought to know.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 12-16-2007 at 07:00 AM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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  9. #9
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    Smile steam heat

    Converting from steam to hot water per se usually does not work. I did not see the gauge glass, blow down, header or Hartford Loop that you see with steam so I guess this is already running just hot water. Also, many old steam heat systems had asbestos insulation on the pipes so be on the lookout.

    Go to Home Heating Systems - HeatingHelp.com and get Dan Holohan's book. You can also post questions there on The Wall.

    What I would recommend is to get a "wet head" (boiler tech) in there to assess the entire layout and piping. Then, he can make recommendations for what type of modern heating plant is best.

    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    meanwhile it's also been converted from steam to hot water heat
    It doesn't look like the piping has been altered. Could it have been a gravity system to begin with?

    And where is the circulator pump?


  11. #11
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    Question Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    The more I look, the less I see.

    I guess much of the controls and goodies are above eye level in these photos, which dosen't make a lot of sense.

    Sometimes the expansion tank is located in the attic, which of course can freeze.
    If it was a gravity steam system, they may have placed a circ. pump elsewhere but those flanges are usually where you see them down low.
    Where is the fill valve? Is it manual or auto with a backflow preventer and pressure reducer?
    TPR valve w/ drain and what rating?
    Flow chek valve on hot water piping or distribution valve?
    Air scoop/ Spirovent?
    Low Water Cut Off switch?
    Drain cocks?

    In the second set of pics, there appears to be some pipe insulation, which may contain the evil dust.

    A lateral view and higher up would help. Not being familiar with such systems, its easy to see how an inspector might not recognize what shots to take. That's the kind of thing Dale Feb teaches in his course that applies to other systems and not just fireplaces. What to document, from what angles, lighting, flash or not, etc.

    As you all have seen time and time again on this forum, there will always be more questions than photos to answer them so blast away with those cameras. Digital film is cheap! For ex., I take about 150-250 pics on consultation inspections.

    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    This is the best wide view I've got, if someone wants to pull it down and take a closer look the raw 4M version is here.

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    Michael,

    DEEM WRAPPED PIPES over that Honey Looks Like The A WORD to me.

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    My money is on a gravity hot water boiler. I can't even spot the fill valve or piping.

    Were there any air vents on the radiators or piping?

    Michael, what kind of camera are you using that you're shooting in RAW?


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Oil boiler vent to chimney

    Sorry, not RAW format, "raw" in the sense of full resolution and enhancement.

    Didn't mean to suggest above that that this was a steam to WH conversion (no SpacePak there either), I was just pointing out that on these older buildings there are often multiple layers of significant conversions and upgrades, and laying out the worst case.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

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