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Old 03-16-2011, 06:12 PM   #1
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Oil fired boiler leaking water!


Hi,

My oil fired boiler started leaking water about 2wks ago. It leaks about .5 to 1.0 liters of water per day, maybe more.

Here are some Q I have:
1. How dangerous is this situation? Is my boiler going to run out of water and cause serious damage or do I have time to shop around for a replacement? I've had two heating/plumbing experts over to look at the system and give estimates to replace and no one's said anything about any danger.

2. Should I just buy a new boiler or can I get mine repaired? The boiler is over 30yrs old, it's a FRECO and has a steel tank. I pealed back the insulation to look at it and it seems pretty good shape, not rusty. I know the boiler is leaking somewhere but haven't pin pointed where exactly yet. It was leaking out the bottom when I last checked but that was with all the insulation still wrapped around the tank.

3. Is $1000 a realistic cost for the installation of a testable back flow prevention valve or am I getting burnt? Back flows are now required where I live and the device costs $285 and installation is $700. Seems a bit pricey to me but I don't know.

Thanks for any help... greatly appreciated.

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Old 03-16-2011, 09:45 PM   #2
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Oil fired boiler leaking water!


Is this a 'new' boiler for you, or have you been doing regular maintenance on it for some time. Oil fired boilers need regular maintenance. If you aren't sure about how it's been cared for; or if you haven't cared for it well I'd say look for a replacement.

What kind of hydrionic are you running off the boiler? And your hot water too?

I've gotten lots of help with my oil fired boiler at: http://www.heatinghelp.com/ -but it's mostly steam - at the very least you can get a recommendation for an experienced pro in your area.

My big concern is that if water is leaking something has worn out - if something in your water system has worn out, something in your oil handling system may have worn out too. [When my hot water heater failed the tank didn't fail. Something else failed allowing it to dump water from the line side and heating OIL into my basement. Thank god I was home and SMELLED IT before it dumped my entire 250 gallons of fuel. Or before the lake of fuel and water reached my boiler and caused a fire]

Do you have a low water cutoff? other safety features?

* If backflow prevention valve is required where you live then you've got to get one.

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Old 03-16-2011, 09:47 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah Frances View Post
Is this a 'new' boiler for you, or have you been doing regular maintenance on it for some time. Oil fired boilers need regular maintenance. If you aren't sure about how it's been cared for; or if you haven't cared for it well I'd say look for a replacement.

What kind of hydrionic are you running off the boiler? And your hot water too?

I've gotten lots of help with my oil fired boiler at: http://www.heatinghelp.com/ -but it's mostly steam - at the very least you can get a recommendation for an experienced pro in your area.

My big concern is that if water is leaking something has worn out - if something in your water system has worn out, something in your oil handling system may have worn out too. [When my hot water heater failed the tank didn't fail. Something else failed allowing it to dump water from the line side and heating OIL into my basement. Thank god I was home and SMELLED IT before it dumped my entire 250 gallons of fuel. Or before the lake of fuel and water reached my boiler and caused a fire]

Do you have a low water cutoff? other safety features?

* If backflow prevention valve is required where you live then you've got to get one.
Give us some more specifics and good luck. In the first two years we owned our old house six of our major appliances failed - it sucks.
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:09 PM   #4
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If your boiler is leaking from somewhere other than a valve, you probably need to replace it.

$1000 for a backflow preventer install seems ridiculous. As long as you have an auto-fill valve feeding fresh water into your boiler, there is no danger.

Newer auto-fill valves look like this:
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Old 03-17-2011, 12:03 AM   #5
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Oil fired boiler leaking water!


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3. Is $1000 a realistic cost for the installation of a testable back flow prevention valve or am I getting burnt? Back flows are now required where I live and the device costs $285 and installation is $700. Seems a bit pricey to me but I don't know.
.
as i tell anybody who gets quotes they don't like... if you think it's too high, get another one (or two). personally, i'm anywhere from 6-800 generally for installing an RPZ backflow assembly, which includes the valve. depends on the size and what i have to do to get it installed. but that means nothing, since you're probably not right next door to me
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:24 AM   #6
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Oil fired boiler leaking water!


Thanks for the info everyone

My boiler is about 30yrs old and it also supplies domestic hot water as well.

The $1000 was a quote for the back flow valve itself and included installation and testing. The valve by its self cost $285.

I'm going back today and see if I can pin point the leak to a fitting somewhere. I guess if it's the tank itself I'm going to have to get a new one.

Also I think there is an auto feed valve on my system now so I guess it that's the case I don't have to worry about the boiler running out of water. I'll check that today as well and post here.

I got a quote for a whole new oil fired heating system yesterday and the cost is $5000 I guess if you amortize that over 20yrs maybe it's not so bad
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:26 AM   #7
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$5000 isn't unreasonable for a new boiler install...what manufacturer? I know a few HVAC guys who like Weil-McLain.
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Old 03-17-2011, 12:02 PM   #8
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Oil fired boiler leaking water!


Quote:
Originally Posted by frankm1960 View Post
I got a quote for a whole new oil fired heating system yesterday and the cost is $5000 I guess if you amortize that over 20yrs maybe it's not so bad
Pros for new system:

- You might get a bit more efficiency.

- You'll get all the up-to-date safety features.

- You'll get a warranty and for at least a few years you won't have to worry about this sort of stuff.

- Fixing it may end up being 20% of the cost of replacing it.

- If the tank is failing other things may continue to fail; how soon 'til it becomes a $-drain?

Cons for new system:

- $5000
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:31 PM   #9
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Oil fired boiler leaking water!


Found the source of the leak. It's the tank, right on a seam. So that's it for the boiler.

Thinking of installing an electric boiler.

Does anyone here know if I can get an electric boiler that handles domestic hot water as well as the heating?

My old residential oil-fired boiler system handles the domestic hot water which is really nice so I'd like to find an electric boiler that does the same.

Last edited by frankm1960; 03-17-2011 at 07:34 PM.
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:40 PM   #10
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Oil fired boiler leaking water!


Quote:
Originally Posted by frankm1960
Found the source of the leak. It's the tank, right on a seam. So that's it for the boiler.

Thinking of installing an electric boiler.

Does anyone here know if I can get an electric boiler that handles domestic hot water as well as the heating?

My old residential oil-fired boiler system handles the domestic hot water which is really nice so I'd like to find an electric boiler that does the same.
Go to the site mentioned above (heatinghelp.com) there is an active forum who can help you make your pick.

Sorry about the bad news. Good luck : thumbsup:.
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:54 PM   #11
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Oil fired boiler leaking water!


This will actually save you money in the long run. Imagine replacing a burner, transformer, primary control and THEN having a leak in the tank. You'd be pretty mad you wasted all that money on parts!

Safe to assume you don't have natural gas in your area?
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:03 AM   #12
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Oil fired boiler leaking water!


Thanks for the website link. I'll check it out.

I've replaced a lot of parts on the system in the last 7yrs. The oil boiler looks like it's going to be the most expensive part though. Enough to make me go electric. I might be able to sell the tank and burner and recoup some costs.

Thanks for the help folks

I'll post when I finally get my new system in. Still waffling between oil and electric

Here's some crazy idea... that hole in my boiler tank is not that big, only leaks when the system runs... so... I'm thinking of putting an epoxy patch on it to stop the leak and buy me some more time

How insane an idea is that anyway? Anyone here ever try that?

In order to do that I would have to release pressure from the tank and possibly drain the tank of all water... is that even possible?

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