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    Can this boiler leak be fixed? (homeowner w/ pictures) (9 Posts)

  • KurtOP KurtOP @ 4:01 PM
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    Can this boiler leak be fixed? (homeowner w/ pictures)


    My Weil McLain (model E-5, probably 50 years old) boiler has a slow leak of water coming from the area around the black panel.

    Is this something that can be fixed?

    What would your advice be to the homeowner?

  • kcopp kcopp @ 4:48 PM
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    IS this a ....

    Steam or hot water system? If its a steam you MAY be able to buy some time w/ some boiler seal. If it hot water forget it. To be really frank though is July, it warm out and it really needs to be swapped out for another boiler. There are a lot of good options out there.
    Where is your location?
  • icesailor icesailor @ 5:47 PM
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    If YOU are really handy with tools, and you are a motor head from youth and don't mind attempting impossible projects, if you believe that it can't be repaired, you can probably fix it. It can be a really easy fix for someone experienced and was willing to futz around. And that is the only place it is leaking.
    That didn't start last week. That's like someone with symptoms of Prostate Cancer and hoping it will go away on its own. 5 years ago, it might have just required a new gasket and some care. Today, someone could spend a lot of useless hours on a futile project. If it were mine and MY back was against a wall, I would try to fix it with the intent of replacing it. If you need to hire someone to try to fix it, replace the boiler.
    Unless you know someone who can fix ANYTHING and sometimes, a broken heart, it can be futile.
  • bc3510 bc3510 @ 10:16 PM
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    I'd fix it

    None of the professionals are going anywhere near it due to the possibility of extensive rust beneath the plate. Once they open it up, they own it.

    But, there is always the possibility of repair if you're patient and careful.

    I would heat all the screws until they're red hot and then allow them to cool completely. Then do it again.

    Then I'd carefully work the screws back and forth to try to get some slight movement of the screw and try not to break it. If I can get movement, I can get Kroil in there and some additional heat. It's a process...........

    If you break a screw, you'll have to drill it out and chase the threaded hole. Not the end of the world, but not pleasurable.

    Once the plate is completely removed, you get to wire wheel the face of the flange and remove all traces of rust.

    Then, you decide if the face can support a new gasket. If it can, you're all set. Buy one and reinstall the plate with new screws.

    If it cannot, you must repair the face with JB Weld and then grind it smooth to accept the gasket. Might need to do it a couple of times to get it sufficiently flat.

    I've pulled four of them and I have not had to use JB Weld on any. The flanges were acceptable after cleaning it up.

    Presumably, you're not using it until October. Plenty of time to make the attempt. If it all goes to hell, you're no worse off than you are now.
  • billtwocase billtwocase @ 8:03 AM
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    best to first

    just have a pro look at it. Looks like a leaking section from the pic. Most of the damage is above it, and looks to be a small hole there. Might be more than just a coil plate gasket leaking there. Good luck
  • Chris Chris @ 8:20 AM
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    Would you want to fix it? ITS 50YRS OLD!!!! It's done, lived a good life and served its purpose. Time for a new boiler.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • KurtOP KurtOP @ 12:55 AM
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    More Info

    I appreciate your helpful comments.  I am handy, but more likely to tackle the low-hanging fruit.  I think this is beyond my skill-set.

    Assuming the boiler needs to be replaced...

    Question #1:  This is a "gravity feed" hot water system.  Will a new boiler work with "gravity feed", or would it have to be converted to a system with a water pump?

    Question #2:  My heating system seems to have two "loops".  There are two hot water lines leaving the top of the boiler and two return lines.  Will a new boiler support that system?

    Question #3:  What is this going to cost?

    Question #4:  How do I find a good contractor?  What should I look for?  What are red flags?  I'm in the Chicago area (Oak Park, Illinois).
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 5:44 AM
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    Repair or replace

    Replacement is the lowest hanging fruit you will find in this. The new boiler, whether it be cast iron, or mod con must be chosen for its ability to keep up with the heat loss of the building, so use the SlantFin software to calculate that.
    Use the find a contractor button here to find an expert in your state, and compare his heat loss calculation with your own. Check his references for such installations.
    Do a search here for gravity systems, and read the various post on the adaption of new boilers to old systems. Many manufacturers will provide recommended piping diagrams for gravity system installation.
    We do not discuss pricing here as the costs vary state by state.--NBC
  • bill nye bill nye @ 7:19 AM
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    Not too long ago I replaced a coil in a boiler just like yours. I advised the customer to replace boiler but they had no money so after a long delay we replaced the coil.

     Well, it lasted for about 3 months and the boiler began leaking because it had been neglected for too long (like yours) and the cast iron had rusted through. I got a phone call at 8 pm one night and there was a foot of water in the basement. It cost them about $10-12K for Service Master , damaged property,(furniture from another home was being stored) and a new boiler. Well, at least the basement got cleaned!

    My advise, replace the 50 yr old boiler.
    This post was edited by an admin on July 5, 2014 7:29 AM.
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