Jump to content

Old Boiler


randynavarro
 Share

Recommended Posts

First check all over for exaust gases leaking from anywhere. 99.9% of the time, you'll find it, then say:

"The boiler is over thirty years old, and is well beyond its expected service life. It is leaking exaust gases, which is hazardous. The boiler and nearby plumbing is likely insulated with asbestos. Have the boiler serviced by a qualified contractor experienced with older boilers, to ensure safe operation. The boiler may have to be replaced."

Then warn the client that it may continue to work forever, and it may crap-out tomorrow. It is terribly inefficient, and should probably be replaced. Replacing it will be expensive, moreso due to the asbestos issue.

That's me. Be gentle with your critiques. Ah, screw it, let it rip!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by randynavarro

Well, I probably see one of these about once every 5 years or so.

Any words of wisdom on some intelligent reporting language?

Does it just need to be replaced cuz its way old? Its still working and heating the place.

It looks *exactly* like the Master Cylinder from Felix the Cat, my favorite TV show when I was a kid.

BTW, if that thing were in my house, I'd want to keep it working as long as I possibly could just because it's so cool looking. I might even invest in a more efficient burner for it.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by randynavarro

Madrona. 1630 38th Ave.

Two story + basement. No parking.

Nah, that's not the place. I'd bet that it's the same brand/age boiler, with the same conversion, though.

Did one a few years ago for the owner of Genesssee Fuel Oils in Seattle. That house had one of those old gas-converted boilers that was about as old as dirt. The customer knows furnaces pretty well, because they put them in and maintain them. Other than its age, I didn't find any reason to condemn the boiler. He listened to my summation of the age/condition of the boiler and said, "I concur."

He kept the boiler. Said, since it had gone nearly 100 years without failing, he might as well.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I stil see these on occasion, although they're getting kinda rare. Probably been through 2 conversion; one to oil, the next to gas.

It's about 100 years old. All the wrap is asbestos.

The section leaks occur horizontally. If it ain't leaking, and you can tell if it's leaking, they last forever.

Efficiency is probably 50%.

Busting them out of wherever they are at is tough; there's more iron in that thing than most new cars.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lets see if I can add anything useful here, It is really difficult, they are so cool you just don't want to put them down...

First I agree with Jesse... exhaust leaks are likely to be significant, those old coal doors don't exactly seal well. I really like your boiler plate (pun intended) also Bill, and Kurt is right also, efficiency is likely around 50% at best, and with todays fuel prices... (how often can you offer a client a near 45% increase in efficiency with a new boiler install these days...)

Now to add a few things, maybe. The flu, having been originally sized for coal is likely not drafting very well and probably unlined unless it has been since modified. Was there any kind of draft diverter/damper installed? Any condensation damage near the top of the chimney?

Those old gas guns I typically find in a pretty dangerous state, if your standing there when it ignites you may be able to show the client some nice flame blowout. This one is interesting, doesn't look too bad... is that actually a thermocoupler I see? I still find the really old ones with the independent feed to the pilot and no thermocoupler, which usually turns out to be the best reason you can offer to put er to bed.

Lastly, depending on the client being one of the new breed of men who probably doesn't know which end of a hammer to hold on to, it's getting more and more difficult to get service people to work on these things, No company wants to put their neck on the block and say "ok, it's good for another year, nice and safe"... Personnally it makes my skin crawl a little seeing the Hydrostat & PRV mounted up there on piping branches.

That said, I don't see a pump anywhere... is it just not in the pic or is this still gravity.

Was the rest of the house as interesting & free from modern intervention?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm about 4 hrs south of that boiler, so things may be different up there, but around here, it would never have run on coal. It would have run on sawdust.

Why import coal from back east when we had more sawdust than we knew what to do with?

Randy? Mike? Was it the same in Kenmore?

I'll bet that a flue sized for sawdust would still work just fine with that nasty old gas burner. Now, if they were to install a modern, more efficient burner, they'd also need a new, smaller flue.

The only reason someone would want to keep this thing in service is if they really got off on the notion of heating their house with an antique. Other than that, there's no sane reason to keep it going.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The roof was way too steep for me to walk. I could see the chimney from the ground but couldn't see anything on top of it. BTW, the chimney was demo'd down to about 3' above the roof - they'd extended a metal flue up about 10' or so to get the top of it above the ridge. I could see some sort of attempt at a half-baked mortar crown. Yes, this was the genereal theme of the whole inspection - things were pretty much hacked to death.

Jim, interesting comments about sawdust. I've never really dug into the really old historical stuff around here. Any of the old turn of the century homes I see have been so remodeled (remuddled) or completely updated, I really don't get a chance to spend a lot of time in the past - just trying to inspect the newer stuff that's there.

My understanding is free-standing, wood burning stoves were the method of choice for heating and cooking. I guess they could have been using sawdust.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Jim,

I think there's a lot to be said for what Jim said. I think sawdust and charcoal clinkers were common here because I've seen at least a dozen old furnaces in basements with clinker auger doors or modifications and about half a dozen clinker augers off to the side no longer in use. However, King County and Roslynn, just over Snoqualmie pass, had huge coal mines and King county was the principal supplier of coal to the entire west coast for decades, so getting coal here wouldn't have been difficult. Today, there are over 230 mines in the state and there's a coal miners museum up over the pass in either Roslynn or Ellensburg.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by hausdok

. . . However, King County and Roslynn, just over Snoqualmie pass, had huge coal mines and King county was the principal supplier of coal to the entire west coast for decades, so getting coal here wouldn't have been difficult. Today, there are over 230 mines in the state and there's a coal miners museum up over the pass in either Roslynn or Ellensburg.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Wow. I had no idea. If that coal made it to Portland, there's almost no sign of it around anymore. Almost all of the old basements I've seen still show evidence of old sawdust cribs. New inspectors frequently mistake the impacted sawdust on the basement walls for termite tubes. Do you see that up there?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nope, can't say that I have. I have seen a lot of old coal bins though or dark back corners of basements that obviously used to be coal bins with the foundation walls all dark gray to black and the floor joists above where the bin was torn out all covered with dark dust. I've run into a fair amount of old coal chutes too, but most of the existing octopi I run into look like they were rigged for wood or clinkers.

There's a town in southern King County - Black Diamond - which is named after the Black Diamond coal mine. That mine was the big money earner in King County in the late 1800's early 1900's.

OT - OF!!!

M.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by hausdok

There's a town in southern King County - Black Diamond - which is named after the Black Diamond coal mine. That mine was the big money earner in King County in the late 1800's early 1900's.

OT - OF!!!

M.

The above quote just one more reason this site is so great! Snippets of history from all over the U.S.

Absolutely fantastic!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Jim Katen

I'm about 4 hrs south of that boiler, so things may be different up there, but around here, it would never have run on coal. It would have run on sawdust.

Why import coal from back east when we had more sawdust than we knew what to do with?

Randy? Mike? Was it the same in Kenmore?

I'll bet that a flue sized for sawdust would still work just fine with that nasty old gas burner. Now, if they were to install a modern, more efficient burner, they'd also need a new, smaller flue.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Now that is one of the neatest regional differences I have ever heard of! Never would have thought of that but it makes sense with all the logging/milling going on. How exactly was the sawdust burned? Pressed into bricks or something, or just loose? The boilers were actually engineered to burn sawdust, not just a coal boiler using a different fuel? Must have been all kinds of ancillary issues with the sawdust and dampness in the basements, wood destroying insects & such??? Out here with Pennsylvania so close coal & slate were as common as dirt. Hell, I have a developing collection of chunks of coal from the shipwrecks I dive... It was either cargo or fuel or both. I still find chunks of leftover coal up in the joists & beams of even finished basements and once in a while find the remnants of the old bins & chutes still in place. Once found a complete coal chute with an intact bin still mostly full of coal... The buyers were talking about tearing it all out to put in a bathroom! I had to talk them out of it, told them that they had a living museum like few others that still exist right there in the home. I hope it is still there. Now you have me wondering what other historical differences there are across different regions...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a few for mid-mich: 18" cubes of white asbestos for attic insulation, steam pipes really common for posts and beams in basements, refractory brick foundations, coke furnaces (auto feeders), sawdust stokers, wood block streets, wood block foundations, lots of brick veneer in the city(s) because factory smog stained wood siding, and my favorite - milkman doors!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Kyle Kubs

. . . How exactly was the sawdust burned? Pressed into bricks or something, or just loose? The boilers were actually engineered to burn sawdust, not just a coal boiler using a different fuel? Must have been all kinds of ancillary issues with the sawdust and dampness in the basements, wood destroying insects & such???

The sawdust was delivered into a corner of the basement via a chute like a coal chute and kept in place with cribbing. I think it was fairly damp when delivered because it would cling to the concrete and, like coal, would be piled up right to the joist bays and cling in there as well. Each morning, the housewife would fill a large hopper with sawdust and light the fire. She's set some weights on a chain, similar to the weights on a grandfather clock, that would drive an auger to feed sawdust at a regular rate. It was similar to the way that modern pellet stoves feed their flame.

As far as I know, the equipment was designed for sawdust. Every one that I've ever seen was made in Portland. With the word "Portland" cast into the cast iron panels.

Out here with Pennsylvania so close coal & slate were as common as dirt. Hell, I have a developing collection of chunks of coal from the shipwrecks I dive... It was either cargo or fuel or both. I still find chunks of leftover coal up in the joists & beams of even finished basements and once in a while find the remnants of the old bins & chutes still in place. Once found a complete coal chute with an intact bin still mostly full of coal... The buyers were talking about tearing it all out to put in a bathroom! I had to talk them out of it, told them that they had a living museum like few others that still exist right there in the home. I hope it is still there. Now you have me wondering what other historical differences there are across different regions...

Well, we don't frame our floors with joists. . .

- Jim Katen, Oregon

BTW, my company's name is Benchmark Inspection Services.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...