First boiler system for me, need advice


I am in Colorado and came across my first boiler system, along with an electric heat pump in attic. I have a couple questions for both systems. House is 1976, 2 level with a full finished basement and partial attic. The water main has been shut OFF for some time, a couple months atleast, but will be turned ON for my 2nd visit in a couple days.

The boiler is an old wiel mclain boiler system and is electric (unless I’m wrong?) and is along side an electric hot water heater. The boiler breaker, located right above the boiler, is OFF right now as seen in picture. The digital thermostat located on top level of house was OFF at time of inspection. When operated, the electric heat pump came on, but I got interrupted and did not run down to the basement to see if the boiler did anything. I will do that when I visit this week, pending what I hear on this forum.

  1. Since the thermostat was OFF and boiler breaker is OFF, I’m assuming that the boiler is not functioning? Am I required (or need?) to flip the breaker to ON for the boiler and then operate thermostat? Things like air in system, dry fire, etc make me nervous.

The boiler’s expansion tank, circulating pump and low pressure cutoff are present.

  1. I understand the electric heat pump system in the attic well enough, but my concern for this is the burn marks around the top line in the picture. Should this be considered defect? I did not see any water or signs of moisture around the lines/pump.

I appreciate any and all response as I’m just getting into this business and still have plenty of learning to do.



New here also but never flip a breaker, and any time there are burn marks recommend further evaluation by a qualified professional for the inspected item. (HVAC)

The “burn marks” on the heat pump where silfos was used? nothing to see there.

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Probably best to have the owner start up the boiler if you don’t know your way around such equipment.

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If you’re referring to the refrigerant line, it’s from brazing the copper tubing.


Are you implying that you would flip the breaker at the panel to operate the boiler?

Thanks to everyone for the replies. I appreciate it.

Sounds like having the owner turn on the boiler is the right answer.

I know that operating the boiler system under “normal controls” is an SOP thing so I wanted to be sure to do my diligence. I guess I’m really not sure what actions constitute “normal controls” for this old boiler.

Go to the thermostat and turn it up and see if all the zones are heating.

flipping breakers is not to be done. They are off for a reason and you don’t know what that reason is e.g. leakage, overheating pump bearing, etc. :smile:

Like a WH, a boiler does not produce instant heat.
IMO, the boiler system should be started 24 hrs prior to your visit otherwise you are just wasting your time.

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Got it, thanks again folks! So much to learn still about the older stuff. I suppose this is a neverending education.

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I did not see a traditional boiler, only a circulating pump an electric heater elements probably for floor slab heating. Was the house on a concrete slab?

I would just add that you Make Someone (other than you) get all the systems going so they are Ready for Inspection. Where I am, I have a real problem with “Others” doing the things that put liability on us. Such as when you request for them to get the water, gas or electric turned on…it is almost a sure bet they will only see that the utility company makes it available for the house but fail to actually turn on water valves and get water heaters/ boilers actually (pilots) lit or power tuned on at breakers. (I find you have to be very specific about those things or you will be put in a position to flip breakers, light pilots…or flood a house in Cold Colorado when you chance turning on a main water valve.)

Thanks again for more input.

It was an electric boiler system with baseboards.