Dodging a bullet with my heating system

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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
8,838
Northern NH
My wood boiler has been down this fall as its tied into my overall heating system with the original oil boiler as a backup. The oil boiler was showing signs of leaking and I have been getting ramped up to replace it. Its a cast iron boiler and they really do not like to be left "cold" and usually leak. My Crown oil boiler has done well in this mode for 10 plus years but it looked like it was it this summer. We had a wet season and I can get water coming in through some pipe penetrations in the wall and the water usually ends up wetting the floor near the oil boiler. In anticipation I picked up a used System 2000 which is a steel boiler designed for cold start service that also has minimal water storage in it.

I moved the System 2000 down a month of two ago to the basement and have been figuring out how to install it as its energy efficient functions would not play well with my system, they use zone valves and I use circulator pumps run by Taco controller. I have been running my old Defiant wood stove for a month on and off to heat the house alogn with my minisplit and have decided that the woodstove is a PITA compared to the wood boiler ;) . I had time to kill yesterday so I opened up the System 2000 and found that while stored some critter decided to put a nest in it. I needed to clean it so not a problem. Unfortunately the critter decided that ceramic combustion chamber might be good nesting material and under its nest they had gnawed a hole in the combustion chamber. They can be replaced but I would need to find a System 2000 dealer to sell me the chamber kit so its not going to happen soon. Anyone know a dealer willing to sell me parts ?

So next option is get the wood boiler separated from the old oil boiler. It shares a feedwater makeup system but most of it has valves for isolation. I used to have a tankless coil long ago and that was in the way of redoing the feedwater system so I decided to remove it and all its piping. The oil boiler is under a set of stairs and its not easy to work on but I got set up and started to demo. The floor was dry but I noticed the bucket under the backflow preventer vent was full. That was odd, the bucket was an old aluminum pot and had lots of corrosion on it. When I emptied the bucket, I could hear dripping from the backflow preventer (not good). It turns out that the backflow preventer was leaking and the pot was not leaking but it was seeping, in humid conditions it would seep enough to wet the floor around the oil boiler but once the humidity dropped during stove season it was acting as a humidifier and not wetting the floor under the boiler.

So in a "Thanksgiving Miracle" I grabbed the feedwater regulator and backflow preventer from the used boiler and installed it in place of the leaking backflow preventer. I also removed all the old tankless coil piping and reduced clutter around the oil boiler. I am letting things dry out but so far, things are looking good, no dripping and the regulator seems to be working. I got a lot of air in the system so once I am happy and I see no new leaks, I will bleed out the heating zones and give the wood boiler a go. The backup oil boiler is rarely if ever run. I still plan to locate a combustion chamber for the System 2000 as my existing oil boiler is 30 years old. When I swap it, I will make piping improvements and clean up including a hydraulic separator to solve some ghost flow issues but that can wait awhile. I also have a Roth double containment tank to swap out my oil tanks but again not a rush except for the space they take up.
 
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