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  1. #1
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    Default Age, history of this old boiler?

    So, I'm at your mercy, knowing squat about HVAC. I'm supposed to supply the age of this rusty old thing, and haven't a clue...don't even know if it was converted from oil-burning, although I assume that's the case. House built in 1905 - could it be original? Or does it just look awful? Must have been flooded some time, with that rust line about a foot about ground. What do the white drips on the near corner mean? There are newer parts, the red round thing on the right, and the gray box, upper left - are they part of the conversion?

    I want to know the ages and dates for this stuff, but really more important to me is understanding what to look for.

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  2. #2
    Ken Rowe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Not original, probably from the 50's. Red thing is the pump, that's newer. Grey thing is the limit control box, that's newer too.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Hey! I guessed it was 60 y.o. for my report...that would make is 1951! I accidentally just submitted the thing, can't do anything to it now, anyway, but it's nice to know my gut instinct is working.

    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
    - James Burgh, 1754.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    No data plate?


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    No data plate?
    Afraid I didn't poke around enough to even look. Couldn't get behind it, and we aren't supposed to open things.

    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
    - James Burgh, 1754.

  6. #6
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Is that asbestos insulation on that piping?

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    In a word, yes.

    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
    - James Burgh, 1754.

  8. #8
    John Kogel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    BTW, it is a Bryant gas powered boiler. The rusty exterior makes it look like junk, but it may be in ok working order, and it might only be 40 years old. [] Hot water is pumped thru the radiators or convectors by the red pump.
    It doesn't actually boil water to make steam, so we should probably have stopped calling them boilers a long time ago, when we stopped heating with steam.
    Pic 2 shows the expansion tank hanging from the ceiling. A lot of that plumbing could date back to day 1. That's a lot of 100 year old galvanized iron water pipe.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 12-01-2011 at 09:11 PM.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Wow, a lot going on down there. Asbestos, galv. pipes, sagging pvc drain line, rusted jacket. How was the electric system in this home? Just curious.
    Hans Cramer


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    By the looks of the discoloration/rust on the outermost edge of the draft hood I'd say you may have venting problems as well. That discoloration may be due due to exhaust gases spilling into the room on start up rather than exiting the structure.

    Last edited by Franz Bailey; 12-02-2011 at 05:09 AM. Reason: added info.
    The full loathe honey, but to the hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    The basement has flooded at sometime, look at the line of the rust on the cabinet and the front access panel.

    I'd be concerned about the burner ribbons being clogged with rust given the state of cabinet and the heat exchanger.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Kristi,
    I sure hope you recommended further evaluation by a qualified licensed HVAC technican since as you put it 'don't know squat'. Furthermore, you should get some training on hydronic heating systems so in the future you do 'know squat'.

    RJDalga
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    Kalamazoo, MI

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    BTW, it is a Bryant gas powered boiler. The rusty exterior makes it look like junk, but it may be in ok working order, and it might only be 40 years old. [] Hot water is pumped thru the radiators or convectors by the red pump.
    It doesn't actually boil water to make steam, so we should probably have stopped calling them boilers a long time ago, when we stopped heating with steam.
    Pic 2 shows the expansion tank hanging from the ceiling. A lot of that plumbing could date back to day 1. That's a lot of 100 year old galvanized iron water pipe.

    It is a boiler by design. It is used heat the water, just not to steam.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Your #5 post: I would think you would look for nameplate and should open access panels up to see and inspect.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Next time recommend having the chimney inspected. I had a Realtor boasting about three of the chimneys in an older home one time until I pulled the thimble cover where we both found out the inner portion of the chimney was so deteriorated it was completely blocked which might have been due to the gas appliance.

    The full loathe honey, but to the hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Dalga View Post
    Kristi,
    I sure hope you recommended further evaluation by a qualified licensed HVAC technican since as you put it 'don't know squat'. Furthermore, you should get some training on hydronic heating systems so in the future you do 'know squat'.

    I don't think the OP is a Home Inspector. These seem to be insurance surveys or risk assessments.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Robert,
    At least Kristi is trying to become informed. Maybe not the best way, but a start.

    A few months ago I had the pleasure to be at a home when someone was doing an insurance survey (inspection). He looked at a boiler (60+yrs old) and when I asked if knew what type it was he was clueless. I gave him a short class on Vacuum Vapor Steam Boilers. He seemed appreciative on learning something new. Has been doing surveys for insurance for a couple of years. Prior experience was owner of sub/deli shop that failed. Really do not think has any desire to learn on own. Just want to run jobs and get paid. Which is what I usually see in people doing these surveys for insurance companies.

    So help Kristi out when you can. Many HI do not understand HVAC, especialy boilers for steam and hydronic systems. Not to mention oil burners. But that is a discussion for another day.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    I'm sorry I didn't get back to this thread earlier! Thank you all for your great replies! Yes, it's true - I'm not an HI, I do insurance surveys . And it's also true, I suspect, that many who do my job really aren't concerned about accuracy or learning more to do their job better - that kind of thing doesn't go rewarded in the company I work for, anyway. And our training for this stuff is pretty abyssmal, which is why I'm so appreciative of the help I get around here.

    Thank you very much, Garry, for asking others to help me. That was a really very nice thing to do.

    Robert is also right that I need to inform myself better about these things. It's hard to know where to look for info about old systems, those are the hardest. Sometimes the best part of the forum is that it gives me ideas on what to explore on my own.

    Anyway...yes, I was thinking the same thing about flooding damage as Raymond, and possible rust in the interior. I wish now I had taken the panel off (it was an atypical situation, though, where only the tenant was present, which means I was even more restricted in my survey).

    And I also noticed the rust around the vent, and had hoped someone would comment. I didn't know that could be caused by exhaust! Thank you, Franz! It did smell funky down there, almost but not quite like gas.

    Hans, the electric was in much better shape - well, as far as I could discern, which in reality isn't much! Again, I'm not allowed to take the cover off the panel, and don't have time to explore things like proper grounding.

    (An interior/exterior survey like this earns me a fee of $26, including mileage, and most of that time is spent measuring/diagramming the house and taking data about construction materials, then entering the data online. It's frustrating doing such superficial "inspections"...one day I'd like to be an HI so I can explore more. )

    Thanks, too, to John for providing the brand - that's one thing I wanted to investigate more.

    It doesn't actually boil water to make steam, so we should probably have stopped calling them boilers a long time ago, when we stopped heating with steam.
    Found this interesting. I'm pretty sure that in MN, anyway, there are still steam heating systems around. Not common, but out there.



    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
    - James Burgh, 1754.

  19. #19
    David Bell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    That boiler was in all likelyhood a replacement for a steam boiler. The oversized asbestos covered piping has been reused to carry water now instead of steam and condensate. Given the age of the boiler and the state of the basement, a complete inspection of the system and chimney is in order.

    Common sense seems to be less common.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    Kristi,
    That "funky smell" could be from soot build up in the vent pipes of the water heater or boiler. Possible caused by poor or blocked ventilation. Have the vent pathway's checked A.S.A.P. I hope there is a working CO detector down there.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Age, history of this old boiler?

    There are two possibilities for the gray box on the upper left corner. They both look pretty similar:

    1. A water temperature control, e.g. thermostat. It controls how hot the water is allowed to get. It's best not to set them higher than 180 degrees, maybe less depending on the age and integrity of your system. Every 20 degree rise in the water temperature doubles the corrosiveness to the pipes.

    2. A high limit temperature control. You can tell if it's a high limit control because it will have a small red manual reset push button. The idea behind having to manually reset it is that if it activates, you want to determine the cause before resetting. An automatic reset would defeat this purpose. It's best not to set them above 200 degrees. The goal here is to prevent the water from turning to steam. I found one once set at 212 - very dangerous. Water (hot or cold) under any degree of high pressure can only rupture a seam or tank and spill out with minimal adverse effects - no explosion. If steam ruptures a seam or vessel, you have an explosion.


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