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Discussion Starter #1
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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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:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
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:eek:
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #7
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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Discussion Starter #8
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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Discussion Starter #9
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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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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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
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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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 !!!:eek:
 

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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.

He's posted picrues in other threads, there's more than one building involved.
 

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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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I noticed that, in the building pics, posted on the construction forum, there was a toilet that hadn't cracked or broken so, maybe someone did drain the system and boiler to prevent freezing. Here's hoping.

Also, please note, some buildings require higher pressure hot water heating systems and there are boilers available that run at 60 lbs. as well.
 

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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..
This boiler may have supplied the heat for TWO 3 and 4 floor high uninsulated brick buildings, one of which is on the corner and exposed on 3 sides.

Initial cost is not always a factor in the merits of saving historic or architecturally significant buildings, it depends on what the end use will be and the community it's in.
I wouldn't spend a dime on a building in Detroit, but the same run down building in San Francisco is well worth the investment.
My neighbor next to my building in town owns half the buildings on the block, he renovated a 2 story former bank building on the corner into 3 very nice luxurious hotel suites @ $85/night, and a store.

His wife runs/owns a fitness center, and he makes custom furniture/woodwork. Their home is the 3 story 1880s building next to my building which has the workshop on the ground floor and their residence upstairs in the back (they got a variance to allow a residence there)
They also a few years back bought another building on the block and renovated and restored it's exterior, into 3 condos and sold it.
They do well for themselves in a town of 1,800 and took at least 5 old buildings and restored/renovated them into usefull attractive businesses.

It can be done!

Here's a story about renovating an old decrepid former power plant in St Louis, they renovated it into of all things- a climbing facility/gym.

Alongside Climb So iLL’s bright and active gym, the Power Plant will soon offer more casual options for recreation. Two restaurants are planned for the top floor of the three-story building. From inside, diners will have what may be the best view of the Gateway Arch and downtown skyline in the city. Terraces on the west will offer views of the Lafayette Square neighborhood.

http://blog.preservationnation.org/...-imagination-becomes-adaptation/#.UQ1JEeiR2S4



Obviously, I know nothing about boiler systems.
Now is the time to start learning if you are truly serious about owning these 2 buildings, if there's no local 4-8 week public classes at a University or equiv in your area to learn basic carpentry/construction, plumbing/electric/roofing/flooring etc then you'd be wise to take a trip to the library or to Amazon.com and start picking up some how-to books so you have at least that much behind you to refer to. Yes, I know, before anyone says something about learning to do complex systems from a book- at least it's something to refer to, would usually include basic information on acceptable/normal/standard practices and methods etc. The electrical book will give you ideas on what kind/size wiring you would need, how high up from the floor wall switches have to be, outlets etc. It's all good reference material and basics, but the grunt work, dealing with things not in the book to guide you, and all the rest you'll have to learn by doing!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I noticed that, in the building pics, posted on the construction forum, there was a toilet that hadn't cracked or broken so, maybe someone did drain the system and boiler to prevent freezing. Here's hoping.

Also, please note, some buildings require higher pressure hot water heating systems and there are boilers available that run at 60 lbs. as well.
If you've seen all 8 pages, you'll see it's a really cool building. I'm hoping this ancient boiler is in the Lowe building next door, as opposed to the corner building, because the Lowe building obviously needs completely gutted from water damage, note the picture I posted in construction with water damage clean down to the storefront level. It is possible it was installed when the buildings were connected, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
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 !!!:eek:
I do have some experience in all of those, and I think I could handle this project. Would take me years to finish, though.

http://www.eastliverpoolhistoricalsociety.org/Thompson Building.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #20
"Now is the time to start learning if you are truly serious about owning these 2 buildings, if there's no local 4-8 week public classes at a University or equiv in your area to learn basic carpentry/construction, plumbing/electric/roofing/flooring etc then you'd be wise to take a trip to the library or to Amazon.com and start picking up some how-to books so you have at least that much behind you to refer to. Yes, I know, before anyone says something about learning to do complex systems from a book- at least it's something to refer to, would usually include basic information on acceptable/normal/standard practices and methods etc. The electrical book will give you ideas on what kind/size wiring you would need, how high up from the floor wall switches have to be, outlets etc. It's all good reference material and basics, but the grunt work, dealing with things not in the book to guide you, and all the rest you'll have to learn by doing!"
I'll respond to this one in a little bit in the construction forum thread.
 
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