What Happens When My Boiler is Flooded

An outside boiler is prone to flooding

What Happens When My Boiler is Flooded  - Richard, What Happens When My Boiler is Flooded? - Hurricane Irene was a disaster for us as we live in a Northern state that was hit by flooding from the rain of Hurricane Irene. As a result of the loss of power and the flooding, the basement was flooded.

Our boiler happens to be in the basement and we will soon need the heat. We have had a few contractors come by and look at the boiler with one contractor telling us we need to replace the boiler and another telling us we can rebuild the boiler. It is a little overwhelming given that winter is just around the corner and we need our heat.

My husband is the do-it-yourself type and he wants to turn the boiler on and see if it will work and then go with it for the winter however I am concerned about the boiler and the safety issues. What do we do? My husband has agreed to follow your recommendation. What Happens When My Boiler is Flooded? My husband used your site to change the thermostat a few months ago. The new thermostat is so much better than the old thermostat and he did a great job replacing it thanks, partly to you!

Thanks for your advice and you have a great site!

Beverly R.

What Happens When My Boiler is Flooded - Answer


I completely understand your dilemma as I have lived through a few hurricanes myself living on the coast of Virginia. I have also been involved in the process of evaluating boilers after one of those hurricanes came through Virginia in 2003. Hurricane Isabel was a major disaster for Virginia and did a lot of damage. I worked for an HVAC and Plumbing contractor that had many customers with boilers in the basement.

Believe it or not Portsmouth and parts of Norfolk have many older homes that have basements even though the water level is so high and most homes in that area only have crawls spaces.

Related link: learn more about HVAC and Boilers - Hot Water Boiler Sequence of Operation Aquastats

The older homes with basements have boilers for heating. Both hot water and steam boilers so we were very busy assessing equipment including boilers, air conditioners, and heat pump systems. The people needed statements from a professional either condemning the equipment or repairing the equipment so they could get fair payment from the insurance company for the damage. Of course, that was for the people who had flood insurance and living that close to the water it is only smart to have flood insurance.

What Happens When My Boiler is Flooded | Replace or Rebuild?

Most of the boilers we looked at were replaced with new boilers and only a few were completely rebuilt. The floodwater was a key factor in why the unit was either repaired or replaced. If the unit was flooded with brackish or saltwater it was recommended to be replaced as the corrosive effects of the salt are not good for a boiler long term so it was recommended those boilers be replaced. If the water was freshwater such as rainwater then the boilers were rebuilt and re-certified for operation.

I would say at a minimum all the gas or oil control components need to be replaced along with any refractory materials inside the boiler (lining the burner box) and any insulation in the boiler jacket as most of this insulation is fiberglass and fiberglass insulation will not have the same R-value after it gets wet as before. Anything electrical that was underwater needs to be replaced such as a pump or zone valves if you have a hot water boiler.

What Happens When My Boiler is Flooded | Conclusion

So Beverly, if you live on the coast and the flood water that got into your basement was salt or brackish water then I recommend you replace the boiler simply because the saltwater can penetrate the smallest seams in the boiler, and even if these seams are cleaned well it will be practically impossible to get all the salt out of the boilers without a complete teardown and that is not so easy with some boilers. I am assuming you have a sectional boiler which many residential boilers are sectional boilers.

If it was freshwater that flooded your basement then you can rebuild the boiler starting with the gas or oil controls and then replace any boiler electrical components that were underwater and then the insulation and refractory.  Make a decision soon because the cold weather is around the corner and most of the contractors will be busy repairing and replacing other people’s boilers that got flooded. This happened after Isabel in Norfolk and Portsmouth with many people using space heaters into December and January. Good Luck and I hope it works out well for you!

What Happens When My Boiler is Flooded

High Performance HVAC

What Happens When My Boiler is Flooded