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Old 01-31-2013, 01:26 PM   #1
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Ancient Boiler


So, I saw a picture of this boiler in an old building for sale in my local community. To the best of my knowledge, it heats the entire upper two floors (on a potentially 10,000 sq. foot building). I know the upper residential area has not been occupied since the mid 1950's. What do you guys think of this? Ever seen anything like it in use? Lord knows if it even works, when the install date was, or the last time it was used. I assume it was never coal fired, appears to have only run on natural gas. Can you guys tell me anything about it just from looking at it? Wonder what the efficiency is, LOL. Just looking for a conversation starter

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Old 01-31-2013, 01:26 PM   #2
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Forgot to post the picture!
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:34 PM   #3
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That is a natural draft, single pass boiler which might have performed at 55% eff when new...considering the age and probable poor condition on waterside and fireside the efficiency would be substantially lower...Also, likely requires all new wiring and controls $$$

I doubt it is worth the labor to take it to the scrap yard
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:23 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by techpappy View Post
That is a natural draft, single pass boiler which might have performed at 55% eff when new...considering the age and probable poor condition on waterside and fireside the efficiency would be substantially lower...Also, likely requires all new wiring and controls $$$

I doubt it is worth the labor to take it to the scrap yard
So, if one were to buy said building, I take it you would suggest installing a new one? Would this be dangerous to use if a new one could not be afforded for the first winter?
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:35 PM   #5
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You'll need to see what shape the chimney is in before you connect it back up to the chimney.

Look like its in the 750,000 plus BTU range.

can't tell how safe it is from the pic. needs to be checked by someone that knows boilers and gas burners.
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Old 01-31-2013, 07:25 PM   #6
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The lower front of the boiler looks like there has been some over heating possibly due to roll out from faulty/dirty burners/ from lack of circulation due to sludge build up on the waterside..The boiler may have frozen with water in it as well, resulting in voiding any economical repair..try pressurizing with water first to see if any leaks...Inspection by knowledgeable boiler tech would be money wisely spent as attempted repairs could easily equal cost of new boiler. Look for boiler manufacturer's rep in your area if at all possible. They should have the most expertise to evaluate. Also as Been there said...the chimney and flues also require inspection.

Oh yeah..any freeze ups may have resulted in many system leaks as well.

Buyer Beware! Get experts to evaluate.
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Old 01-31-2013, 09:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
You'll need to see what shape the chimney is in before you connect it back up to the chimney.

Look like its in the 750,000 plus BTU range.

can't tell how safe it is from the pic. needs to be checked by someone that knows boilers and gas burners.
Don't mean to sound like a noob here, but should it connect to the chimney from that round "port" on top of the unit? Are the two huge pipes on the right for two seperate floors that it is supposed to heat? How many Sq. Feet would 750,000 BTU cover normally? Thanks!
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Old 01-31-2013, 09:40 PM   #8
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The lower front of the boiler looks like there has been some over heating possibly due to roll out from faulty/dirty burners/ from lack of circulation due to sludge build up on the waterside..The boiler may have frozen with water in it as well, resulting in voiding any economical repair..try pressurizing with water first to see if any leaks...Inspection by knowledgeable boiler tech would be money wisely spent as attempted repairs could easily equal cost of new boiler. Look for boiler manufacturer's rep in your area if at all possible. They should have the most expertise to evaluate. Also as Been there said...the chimney and flues also require inspection.

Oh yeah..any freeze ups may have resulted in many system leaks as well.

Buyer Beware! Get experts to evaluate.

Yeah, I didn't think the rusted-out lower portion where the burners appear to be was very good sign. Obviously, I know nothing about boiler systems. Is that pipe coming from the lower right portion to nowhere supposed to be where the water hooks into the system? Thanks for the advice, I would definately get an "old" boiler repair man in there to check it out. A younger guy would probably just turn into a salesman, for lack of knowledge on the older systems.
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Old 01-31-2013, 09:58 PM   #9
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Are those burn-marks above the rusted burners area? That doesn't look good... Wonder what it would cost to heat a building like this with this furnace...
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:47 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by mt999999 View Post
Don't mean to sound like a noob here, but should it connect to the chimney from that round "port" on top of the unit? Are the two huge pipes on the right for two seperate floors that it is supposed to heat? How many Sq. Feet would 750,000 BTU cover normally? Thanks!
Yeah, that top port is what would get flue pipe ran to the chimney.

The one pipe should be the return, the other the supply.

Depends on the building, 8,000 sq on one building, the next building 25,000 sq ft.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:29 PM   #11
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That looks pretty shot, abused, neglected, possibly frozen at least once and that's all it takes!
I am amazed the gas meter is directly next to this, that seems like a dangerous spot to put a meter!

If it's about 750,000 BTU, you can figure that's about what they originally figured it would take to heat the building, but you don't know know to what comfort level they allowed for 75 degrees or 60 degrees.
Assuming it's about 55% efficient as someone suggested, maybe a modern more efficient unit maybe 500,000 BTU getting at least 90% would be close.
Rememebr too, the all brick uninsulated building has an R value of single digits, if the attic space is insulated and the exterior walls are, and if the windows had double glass it would substantially reduce what's need to heat. If you have to remove/repair the insides of the exterior walls ANYWAY, thats when you can fit insulation in there for little more than the materials cost, and that would be well worth it!

Just Googling for an example to get an idea of cost, I found:
Dunkirk D248A600A20 D248 Commercial Series Electronic Ignition, Gas Fired, Steam Boiler, Taco Pump, 80% - 600,000 BTU

  • Steam System
  • Natural Gas
  • Cast Iron Heat Exchanger
  • Vertical Vented
Price: $6,789.99


That's just for the boiler unit, no installation, chimney, piping or radiator/repair/replacement if needed.


So You are looking at at least $10,000 for a unit like that to get it to the basement, set in place, and a start on the distribution systems.
That's not a whole lot but that one system alone is half the cost of what the owner is trying to sell the building for.
Other options might be looking at zone heat/cool rather than central, by this I mean each "apartment" or whatever has their own unit which they control, and which runs on THEIR electric and gas bill, while you can do with a much smaller unit that would cover any public space such as the hallways etc.
Still, you would have to buy those units and install them, and buying say 4 of those or however many are needed, likely would cost about the same outlay as the one boiler in the basement, though maybe you can buy and put those in when an apartment is rented.

Last edited by RWolff; 02-01-2013 at 12:32 PM.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:00 PM   #12
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That looks pretty shot, abused, neglected, possibly frozen at least once and that's all it takes!
I am amazed the gas meter is directly next to this, that seems like a dangerous spot to put a meter!

If it's about 750,000 BTU, you can figure that's about what they originally figured it would take to heat the building, but you don't know know to what comfort level they allowed for 75 degrees or 60 degrees.
Assuming it's about 55% efficient as someone suggested, maybe a modern more efficient unit maybe 500,000 BTU getting at least 90% would be close.
Rememebr too, the all brick uninsulated building has an R value of single digits, if the attic space is insulated and the exterior walls are, and if the windows had double glass it would substantially reduce what's need to heat. If you have to remove/repair the insides of the exterior walls ANYWAY, thats when you can fit insulation in there for little more than the materials cost, and that would be well worth it!

Just Googling for an example to get an idea of cost, I found:
Dunkirk D248A600A20 D248 Commercial Series Electronic Ignition, Gas Fired, Steam Boiler, Taco Pump, 80% - 600,000 BTU

  • Steam System
  • Natural Gas
  • Cast Iron Heat Exchanger
  • Vertical Vented
Price: $6,789.99


That's just for the boiler unit, no installation, chimney, piping or radiator/repair/replacement if needed.


So You are looking at at least $10,000 for a unit like that to get it to the basement, set in place, and a start on the distribution systems.
That's not a whole lot but that one system alone is half the cost of what the owner is trying to sell the building for.
Other options might be looking at zone heat/cool rather than central, by this I mean each "apartment" or whatever has their own unit which they control, and which runs on THEIR electric and gas bill, while you can do with a much smaller unit that would cover any public space such as the hallways etc.
Still, you would have to buy those units and install them, and buying say 4 of those or however many are needed, likely would cost about the same outlay as the one boiler in the basement, though maybe you can buy and put those in when an apartment is rented.
Can you or anyone else tell weather it this will pump hot water or steam through the radiators? Based on age, I'd assume it's steam, but I'm not sure. The idea of individual smaller boilers seems like a better idea than to have one unit heat the whole building, but it would be more expensive to start out with. Based on the size of the building, if it has been frozen, the thought of many leaking joints in pipes between all those floors kind of scares me. I saw a picture of the owner in that ghosting video, and he looked like a looser, not likely to have a clue about the condition of ANYTHING in the building.
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:23 PM   #13
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It is a Hot Water boiler as indicated by the two large pipes...one is the supply and the other is the return.

Sounds like the building is the proverbial money pit. At least 500 K to make it into anything worthwhile. Pictures would be interesting to see.

Unless you can do carpentry, electrical, plumbing and drywall, just to name a few...fagetaboutit !!!
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:33 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by techpappy View Post
It is a Hot Water boiler as indicated by the two large pipes...one is the supply and the other is the return.

Sounds like the building is the proverbial money pit. At least 500 K to make it into anything worthwhile. Pictures would be interesting to see.

He's posted picrues in other threads, there's more than one building involved.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:58 AM   #15
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OK,if this is a hot water boiler then the relief valve on the upper right will be a 30 pound relief.If it is a steam boiler then the relief will be a 15 lb relief.
The pipe that is disconnected on the bottom right in picture is a GAS pipe not a water pipe.If it is a steam system then there is some hope that the piping and radiators were not damaged in any freeze because there would be no water.There might be some damage to the lower return pipe however.
If the inside of the boiler isn't coated with a half in of calsium and if the chimney has a liner (I'm saying it dosen't) then you would still have to replace all the gas and water controls.Think thousands here.
If you would invest thousands to fix this boiler you would then end up with a beast that will cost you big time to operate because it will be too big,way too big.If you insulate the building it will be even bigger than that.
This might be a nice building but it will cost a kings ransume to update and make safe for any tennat..

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