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New boiler or forced heat?

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Posted by Lynne on July 28, 2008 at 20:45:07:

I am sorry this is a long story, if any of the experts are interested in reading and responding I would very much appreciate your input.

I have a two story 18” thick walls solid brick house (no wall insulation possible) (also full attic and basement – don’t need radiators), built in 1904 with steam boiler and radiators. It has been converted from coal, then oil, then replaced about 23 years old with a Weil McLain Type EG & PEG series 1 (not sure which), intermitten ignition, natural gas boiler covering the entire house (four bedrooms up, 4 big rooms downstairs). We now have installed forced two-zone air conditioning and ducting in the entire house with both air and heat on the lower level with its own system (8 years old) and only airconditioning upstairs not including heat (this installed about 20 years ago before we thought of including heat with the air conditioning system).

What to do!!! The boiler has started leaking, or appears to be. The cast iron part of the boiler (I think it is the Heater or Cover Plate) holding the water for steam production is rusting away. Last technician told me to keep using the boiler until the water container started to leak and the rust starts dropping off. They are unwilling to try and unscrew the rusted bolts. The rest of the boiler is in great shape, only this rusting area. Makes me wonder why they don’t use stainless steel or aluminium or similar for the water chamber. The water is now drained out of the boiler but I still seems to be getting water on the concrete basement floor. Water glass level is showing three quarters full!!

I am getting all sorts of stories. I don’t have any idea which is right. Because I have forced heat in the downstairs level (as well as the radiators – we have the forced heat on during the not-so-cold weeks/months then turn on the boiler as it gets much colder), some say to replace airconditioner upstairs with a heat/air conditioning system and toss the steam boiler and radiators. Others saying you can’t remove radiators “they are traditional to the house.” Is forced heat air a sensible solution for a house such as this (no insulation possible except in attick – which we have done)? The boiler replacement will be probably $6,000.00 plus, though newer one probably will be more economical because of better upgrades in the past 23 years. If we replaced the upstairs system with a heat/air conditioning unit we would be replacing the older air conditioning only which is also over 20 years old.

What to do!!! Rip out the radiators and go to full house forced heat/air, or replace the steam boiler at around the same cost and replace the forced air to air/heat upstairs instead of a new boiler. Also is there any way of saving the boiler by removing the rusted component and replacing it?

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