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    Utica gas boiler - how to research its quality? (27 Posts)

  • BobAngelica BobAngelica @ 10:25 PM
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    Utica gas boiler - how to research its quality?

    After talking to several plumbers, I selected one who seemed the most knowledgeable and straightforward.  I accepted his recommendation for a Utica UB90150 gas-fired boiler for my old house with its 16 hot water radiators.  

    Why would I choose a Utica?  Because he said so.

    But he has been too busy for several weeks to proceed with installation, giving my wife the opportunity to do some research on the Internet.  She found a number of anecdotes about how bad Utica boilers are. 

    My problem is that I don't know whom to trust!  Are there any objective standards or sources of reviews of various boilers that a consumer could understand?

    Thanks!
  • N/A @ 1:58 AM

    Utica

    Most boilers are fairly comparable. Utica's parent company ECR also make Dunkirk.
    There is a section at the top of this page called  "Find a Professional".  There a lot of good pros listed there. You might see if one is located near`you and consult with them.
    This post was edited by an admin on November 13, 2009 2:13 AM.
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 9:39 AM
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    There's nothing like Consumer Reports for boilers.

    I wouldn't hesitate using Utica boiler in my own home. Utica is a fine old American company with a great history, and they're now a part of ECR International, another fine old American company. I know the family that runs ECR. They stand behind their products and they're very responsive to their customers. They offer a range of products for all budgets and they've been a supporter of this site for many years. My two cents.
    Site Administrator
    dan@heatinghelp.com













    Hug your kids.
  • dynamic dynamic @ 6:57 PM
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    No disrespect intended

    I would not use Utica boilers. I have had numerous issues over the years and they were not handled that well. When I was a wholesaler we carried the line for about 2 years and eventually we as well as other wholesalers in our area dropped the line. It is how issues are handled that make a boiler company. It is always possible that the rep agency had a lot to do with it as well.  No disrespect intended but they are a major sponsor to this site.

    I can say that we carried Crown boilers as well and I will say that they represent their company as one of the best. Lee Ensminger is one fine reresentative of Crown boiler. They had always gone above and beyond as a company. I install Crown boilers because I know that if I ever need them in my corner that they will be there.

    As many on this site would say a boiler is a boiler, it is the contractor that you should be researching. Ask him for some references, and possibly to show you a job that he has installed.
  • NotoUtica NotoUtica @ 10:41 AM
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    Don'y but a Utica boiler

    Don’t buy a Utica boiler!  I bought a high end, 90% efficiency cast aluminum Utica UB90-150 boiler.  Installed in September 2010.  Soon we discovered an internal gas leak, promptly fixed by installer, but very dangerous and should never happen.   2 years later, the main cast aluminum heat exchange unit developed a water leak right in the middle of the main casting. (not at a fitting).  Again, should never happen.  Parent company, ECR International, has a strict policy to do only the bare minimum required by the warranty, (some parts, no labor).  ECR supplied a new casting and some gaskets, which will require two technicians from my local service company 8 hours each to completely disassemble & reassemble my boiler ($800, my expense).  Amazingly, I had two different representatives of ECR customer service each tell me “this happens all the time”.
  • Ironman Ironman @ 3:56 PM
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    Would you care to share some specifics?

    How about posting some pics of the boiler, the near boiler piping and controls?

    Was a water analysis done after this failure? At original installation? Any other leaks on the system?

    Can you provide the results of a combustion analysis that the installer was required to do?

    You state that ECR did honor the terms of their warranty (which is standard, no labor). An extended warranty which covers labor was available when you purchased the boiler. Did your installer offer it to you? Did you choose to purchase it? If the answer is "no" to either question, then how can you expect ECR to be responsible for more than what the basic warranty covers? That would be like buying a new car, then refusing to get full coverage insurance, having a wreck, and then expecting the manufacturer or insurance company to pay for it.

    I agree that the heat exchanger should not have failed in two years. But the cause
    may have not been a manufacturing defect.

    No, I don't work for ECR, nor am I a rep for them. I am a dealer of their products as well as several other manufacturers. And I have never had a block failure on any of their boilers that we've installed. I have fixed one that someone else installed and it was a total cob-job - not ECR's fault. The installer is 98% of the job. A good installer can take just about anybody's boiler and give you a good, reliable system. A poor installer can mess up the best boiler built. We see it regularly.

    8 hours for two men to replace the block is bloated. I could do it alone in four if the boiler is on ground level.

    One other specific: What's your name? An anonymous, drive-by hit piece packs no credibility.
    Bob Boan



    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    This post was edited by an admin on December 12, 2012 4:01 PM.
  • todd_ecr todd_ecr @ 4:50 PM
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    Aluminum heat echanger

    Here is our Antifreeze and Dielectric addendum which provides some good information on our aluminum heat exchanger boilers. 
    http://www.ecrinternational.com/secure/upload/document/2443.pdf
  • NotoUtica NotoUtica @ 10:37 AM
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    Utica a bad investment

    Thank you for your detailed reply.  I was not offered the extended warranty, and therefore don’t know the price.  Hence, I can’t say whether I would have purchased the extended warranty or not.  I can say that had I known ECR/Utica was having defective casting issues, I would have purchased another manufacturer.
    The water is municipal water, and I expect the relevant measurements are well known in the business. I am a 30 year resident and not aware of any water issues.
    I’ve taken the pictures you requested.  The leak is right in the middle of the RH side of casting, about 2/3 way up the casting. There's no room inside the cabinet to get much perspective in the leak picture. The rust on the interior frame as a result of this leak will not be remedied by just changing out the casting.  But, certainly the useful life of the boiler will be shortened by this rust.
     All in all, whatever I thought I was going to save on energy cost with this new boiler has been more than offset by the maintenance cost due to poor quality.  This Utica boiler was a bad investment, period.
     
  • Charlie from wmass Charlie from wmass @ 1:26 PM
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    Noto can you please

    take a photo from a wider angle? From what I can see in the photo I do not think it is the boiler but the installation that is the problem that has lead to such a short life.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • NotoUtica NotoUtica @ 4:51 PM
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    More photos defective Utica boiler UB90-150

    Here are 3 more photos  (Front & 2 sides),  There are 2 zone circulating pumps (red & black on RH side).  The water feed is 1/2" pipe upper RH in front of water heater heater (has right angle turn in photo). The one way valve is higher up and doesn't show in the photo. The red pipe on left is a floor support jack. The piping ia exactly the same pipes as for previous boiler that worked fine for 25 years.  The water is municipal drinking water.  The leak is in the middle of the casting RH side, not near any fittings.  I can't fathom how external pipes would have anything to do with a casting leak.  Thank you for your concern & assistance.  Sorry this website always turns my photos 90.
  • NotoUtica NotoUtica @ 5:43 PM
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    Utica boiler casting leak

    I found an illustration of the heat exchange casting in the manual.  I've indicated where the leak is (except on RH side.)  There is much plumbing and electrical mounted on RH cabinet side, so I can't remove the cabinet RH panel to get a good photo of leak.  The only thing you tell from my previous leak photo is the leak is no where near any fittings. (taken from ~ 4- 6" away)  The original gas leak was just sloppy factory assembly followed by inadequate QC, but it was easily fixed.  The casting is defective and leaks water.
  • NotoUtica NotoUtica @ 3:38 PM
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    Defective Utica boiler casting

    Here are some photos of the defective Utica boiler casting.  One can see that the leak was in the middle of the casting far from any fittings.  New casting is installed.  We'll see how long it lasts.
    This post was edited by an admin on January 24, 2013 3:42 PM.
  • Ironman Ironman @ 9:36 PM
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    Converted gravity flow system?

    From the size of the old piping, it certainly looks like a converted gravity flow system. Is the age of your house 70+ years?

    Can you post a pic of the expansion tank and one of the fill valve?
    Bob Boan



    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • NotoUtica NotoUtica @ 1:35 PM
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    More photos Utica boiler UB90-150 tank & valve

    Yes, the system is a converted gravity feed system.  We divided the flow into 2 zones and added the circulation pumps when we installed the new boiler 25 years ago.  Our home is 90 years old, and we have been here 32 years.  Included are the photos you requested of the expansion tank and fill valve.
  • Wethead7 Wethead7 @ 10:26 PM
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    ECR boiler

    While you may think this is a casting issue. Has the water been tested each and every year during the annual service. While any fossil fuel burning equipment should be serviced. These higher end units require additional care each and every year. Some service persons may omit several required services. This is true with any high end piece of heating equipment.

    We have installed several of these and have not had any casting issues. We have had burner motor failures. Due to the several models require different parts . The replacement parts may take a day or two procure.

    As all high end equipment require special installation and service requirements. These being preformed correctly. I think your issues maybe be from lack of or poor service. The ECR unit tend to require no special piping and tend preform better when serviced properly. Other brands tend to require correct piping, pumping, flue piping.

    I am sorry you are having these issues.
  • NotoUtica NotoUtica @ 1:08 PM
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    Utica boiler too fragile?

    While try to defend the manufacturer and blame the installer, your comments actually imply the Utica high efficiency boilers are too fragile for residential use. What is your estimate on what I should expect to spend on annual service and testing for this Utica boiler UB90-150?
  • Charlie from wmass Charlie from wmass @ 11:16 PM
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    I realize you paid for a top of the line boiler

    and now it leaks. Aluminum boilers do not work well with iron systems. It has been suggested that the boiler needs a heat exchanger to separate it from the system water. The boiler is not too delicate for residential applications as the engineers who design these things only see gravity systems in their history classes in college. With all the iron oxide your system has in it a stainless steel or a cast iron boiler would have been the only choice's for a long lasting boiler. This still falls to installation error not manufacturer defect.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 11:02 PM
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    Leaking boiler

    Have you compared the piping you have with the piping specified in the installation manual?
    Badly piped boilers will have shortened lives. Bad water inside will also eat them away.
    Have you spoken to the Manufacturers local rep?--NBC
  • Brian Chilton Brian Chilton @ 9:59 PM
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    Utica boilers

    I can tell you there is a Utica in my basement that's been there for 30 years or so and it never gives me any problems.  Granted it is an old standing pilot version, but it may have even been there 40 years.  
  • NotoUtica NotoUtica @ 1:18 PM
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    Do your homework

    I agree that for many decades Utica boilers had a fine reputation.  However, I wish I had done more homework before making this recent Utica purchase.  I must admit I only did barely enough to find some weak confirmation of what I thought I already knew.  If I had looked further I would have learned that Utica was having reliability issues with their new high efficiency boilers, and I would have made a different selection.  With the age of your current boiler, you will likely be in the market soon.  Please do your homework, and I wish you good success and long term satisfaction with your selection.
  • NotoUtica NotoUtica @ 1:19 PM
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    Do your homework

    I agree that for many decades Utica boilers had a fine reputation.  However, I wish I had done more homework before making this recent Utica purchase.  I must admit I only did barely enough to find some weak confirmation of what I thought I already knew.  If I had looked further I would have learned that Utica was having reliability issues with their new high efficiency boilers, and I would have made a different selection.  With the age of your current boiler, you will likely be in the market soon.  Please do your homework, and I wish you good success and long term satisfaction with your selection.
  • NotoUtica NotoUtica @ 1:19 PM
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    Do your homework

    I agree that for many decades Utica boilers had a fine reputation.  However, I wish I had done more homework before making this recent Utica purchase.  I must admit I only did barely enough to find some weak confirmation of what I thought I already knew.  If I had looked further I would have learned that Utica was having reliability issues with their new high efficiency boilers, and I would have made a different selection.  With the age of your current boiler, you will likely be in the market soon.  Please do your homework, and I wish you good success and long term satisfaction with your selection.
  • Wethead7 Wethead7 @ 1:01 AM
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    Boilers

    I was not implying these high end boilers are fragile . They very specific requirement. Failure to follow the instructions will result in failures. This is true with any piece of equipment.

    ECR has very specific water testing requirement. This also involves flushing the piping before installing. Installing dirt legs and/or a strainer in the return piping ahead of the boiler. Our firm has installed several of these nearly a decade ago. We have not had any failure to date. We test the water at each service. We have installed some in old iron systems with out any issues.

    I personally think your issue is somebody did not follow the installation instructions or service requirements to the letter. Please get out and read the manuals. Check to see if every step was preformed. These tend to be highly reliable units.

    We do not discuss pricing here. As my area my may not be the same as your own.
  • NotoUtica NotoUtica @ 3:31 PM
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    Defective Utica Boiler casting

    As you suggested, I thoroughly reviewd the Utica manuals.  There is no specification for a dirt leg or strainer, nor are they shown in the illustrations.  I do have a dirt leg where the water supply enters my home, but not one specifically in the radiater return pipe.  I took this photo of the inside of the defective Utica boiler casting, which shows our water is clean.  It was a defective casting, plain and simple.
  • todd_ecr todd_ecr @ 4:45 PM
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    Heat exchanger

    That is a picture of the combustion side of the heat exchanger, not the water side.  The water side connections would be on the top and bottom in the front.
  • Pughie Pughie @ 5:02 PM
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    Never met a "Utica Guy" I didn't like

    In my 52 years in this business I've installed 100's of Utica Boilers. I know the Reid's and all the tech support guys. I've never had any issue's that they could not solve and have found them all very capable.
  • Jamie Hall Jamie Hall @ 6:48 PM
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    Would you please be so kind

    as to take your problem somewhere else?  You may or may not have a problem with the casting, but a fundamental "it's lousy" attitude is, frankly, not welcome.

    To add to what some of the other gentlemen have said, though, aluminium heat exchangers do require special care.  It was -- and remains -- your responsibility and nobody else's to determine if the proper care was taken and continues to be taken.  This includes ensuring that the water quality is correct and that any special precautions required for compatility of your system with aluminium are also present.

    If not, you have no case and stop whining.
    Jamie

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
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