Residential steam heating boilers typically require makeup water approximately 3 to 4 times per month. If the system requires fresh makeup water more frequently a leak is generally the cause. Unfortunately most homeowners are unaware of this. If you are adding water frequently to your cast iron steam boiler (or if you have an automatic water feed valve you may be unaware of how much water the system is taking in) you will slowly create a hole or crack inside the boiler.
Its an internal hole caused by oxygen corrosion. It happens to cast iron boilers when they take on a lot of fresh feed water. The oxygen boils out of the water and eats a hole through the metal right at the boiler’s water line. The water steams off and goes up the flue. You can’t see it unless you’re looking at the chimney. It looks like white smoke, but it’s not smoke it’s water vapor. To check for a hole, flood the boiler up into the header piping. You’ll know you have a problem if you see water pouring out from the bottom of the boiler.
It is not safe to operate a steam boiler that has a confirmed hole or crack. In this project we removed a Burnham Independence Series 105K BTU gas fired steam boiler that was 11 years old. We installed a newer model, The Burnham SIN5 with electronic ignition. Against our advice we also installed an automatic water feeder. Sadly the client declined the installation of a water meter to monitor the amount of water the system consumes. Unless the leak or cause of water loss is resolved this brand new system will also have a decreased life.
The Burnham SIN5 with electronic ignition
The Independence is a residential, gas-fired boiler for steam systems. It is available for either natural or LP gas and has AFUE ratings of up to 82%. Its large water volume and durable cast iron sections make it an ideal replacement for even the most challenging steam heating system. Standard equipment on the Independence® includes cast iron push nipples that provide a permanent, watertight seal between sections, Honeywell operating controls, vent damper and a rugged steel base assembly.
A deluxe, insulated, powder-coated steel jacket completely encloses gas valves and burners and reduces boiler heat loss. The exclusive Independence PV models have been specifically configured to operate as direct vented products for installation in homes with a damaged or irreparable chimney.
- Stainless steel burners
- Rugged cast iron heat exchanger
- 10 sizes to meet your specific needs
- Optimum venting flexibility
- Step-opening gas valve
- Low profile draft hood
- Without trim, low water cut-off and damper
- Independence – chimney vented, equipped with fuel saving vent damper and low profile rear draft hood which accommodates low overhead areas and permits flexibility of installation with existing heating system piping
- For installation from less than 2000 ft elevation