replacing oil-fired hot water boiler


  #1  
Old 09-30-06, 03:44 AM
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Unhappy replacing oil-fired hot water boiler

Hello,

Came across this community in my online boiler research. Much respect for your professionalism. Would greatly appreciate your opinions, in layman’s terms please. Happy to provide more info. if needed.

Bought my first house three years ago, in New York State. It is 1400sf and has nine old radiators; 1 zone. It also has a 73 year old oil-fired hot water boiler. The previous owners had it “checked” and “patched” before the closing. I have had someone come in for annual maintenance. It has gotten me through three winters, but it is certainly not efficient. No idea how many BTUs. I can barely make out that it says “American ___?___ Company” on the front. Possibly a small amount of friable asbestos also on the front?

Well, needless to say, I’m considering replacing this unit! Had a Sears estimate. Here are some of the details/recommendations from that:

-Kenmore EW
-140k btu
-30 lb. tank
-Cast iron construction
-Titanium burners
-Fusible valve (auto shut-off)
-Non-digital 4x programmable thermostat
-Headers (the piping above, right?) to be replaced
-Includes renewable/transferable protection plan for 7 years at $60/yr (will repair/replace anything, including the whole unit)

Total (includes everything, soup to nuts): $9,264

I should note that this will be a difficult removal job, as there is not a lot of space to maneuver in my basement. My washer/dryer will have to be moved for them to really get access to the boiler; and there is a wall that’s oh so inconveniently in the way a bit.

Also, my hot water heater appears to be leaking. The Sears guy recommended I get a new boiler and buy a separate water heater (rather than a boiler mate). That way I don’t have the wear and tear of running the boiler year round. Propane heats my hot water now.

Since I know I won’t be doing this job myself, would you…
recommend Sears?
Is this a fair price?
Is the size of the unit recommended appropriate?
Do you agree that I should get a separate hot water heater?
Keep my old radiators?
asbestos removal; just encapsulate during removal?
Consider Home Depot??

Would love to support a small local company here, but honestly, that makes me a little anxious about reliable long-term maintenance. What do you think?

Thanks sooooooo much for your time.
~Margarita
 
  #2  
Old 09-30-06, 06:18 AM
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Boiler Replacement

The boiler they have quoted you sounds like it is gas fired.
I would stay far, far away from Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, or any other large chain. The local company has a far bigger intrest in your satisfaction.

The first thing you need is a "Manual J" heat loss calculation. This will tell you how much heat you need. There are some free ones available online. One of the better ones is from Slant Fin. Another, not free but well worth the $50, is from http://hvaccomputer.com.

Some contractors will (all should) do a manual j as part of their bid but it is always a good idea to do one yourself or have it done independently. Talk to friends, neighbors, relatives, etc. about whom they have had do similar work & how well satisfied they were. Word of mouth is the best or worst, as the case may be, advertising a contractor can get. I strongly suggest getting at least 3 bids for the job.
 
  #3  
Old 09-30-06, 09:34 AM
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Agree with Grady, especially the part about staying away from Sears, HD, Lowe's, etc. Somewhere in your area, there is probably a small to medium sized company that has been in the heating business for a long time and does good work. Find them and make sure they are one of your three bids.

Do or get a heat loss done to make sure you get the right size boiler. There is an age-old tendency for installers to size according to what was there, or go bigger "just in case." That's wrong and can lead to significant inefficiencies (and more operating costs). We can help with heat loss if you do it yourself. There are some recent threads here on it. How old is the house, how much insulation, what is the condition of the windows? These are the first questions to ask.

Old cast iron radiators are a great way to heat.

If you need a new water heater, an "indirect" water heater run off your boiler is about the most efficient way to heat your domestic hot water. They cost a bit more up front, but are cheaper to maintain, are more efficient, and likely will last longer. The Sears guy is wrong about "wear and tear" on the boiler. There's a reason why good boilers last 20-50 years and water heaters last 10. They're bigger, better constructed, and do their job very well. Off the top of my head, Triangle Tube Phase 3 and Burnham Alliance are solid brands if you need a place to start googling.
 
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Old 09-30-06, 09:49 AM
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Im with both here Get 3 bids for the job and from any small company that has been around there for a longtime. They are still there cause they do it right and back their work .

ED
 
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Old 09-30-06, 03:12 PM
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140k BTU?

I'm just a dumb homeowner, but my ranch is almost 2,000 square feet, and I am heating it and my domestic water with a 110k BTU oil boiler. A gas unit should be even more efficient?? As the pro's asked, did the contractor do a Manual J heatloss? If they did, do you need insulation or work to reduce heatloss? If it was my home, I'd get more estimates, and also get in writing EXACTLY what they are replacing for the quotes given. I'm wondering if you really need a 140k BTU unit if you should do some insulation work first!

Pete
 
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Old 09-30-06, 04:55 PM
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Good points.

Somewhere in another thread there's a list of ideal priorities for home tune up and boiler selection. Something like:

1) improve envelope (windows, insulation, sealing, etc.)
2) do heat loss
3) size radiation and boiler to heat loss

FWIW, I have a 2100 sf house and indirect, run by a 96k input boiler. My outdoor design temp is 5F. Boiler sizing depends on heat loss, outdoor design temp, etc. so boiler sizing can be pretty variable. Friend of mine down the road uses the same boiler for a house half the size (it's also 135 years older than my house and not nearly as well insulated...) because his heat loss is almost the same as mine.
 
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Old 10-01-06, 07:48 AM
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Smile replacing oil-fired hot water boiler

thank you so very much for all the replies. my house is 73 years old, as is the boiler. the sears guy estimated btus by my sf (1400) and the # of radiators (9). my local guy (who delivers my oil and does annual maintenance on my old boiler) is the one who suggested sears to me?! go figure. i would love a walk-through of how to do a manual j / heat loss...
margarita
 
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Old 10-01-06, 08:21 AM
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Manual J

The Manual J takes into account heat loss thru walls, doors, windows, ceiling, etc.

At the web site I posted earlier, you can download a free trial. From that you can get a better idea of what is involved.

Here is a link to Slant Fin's web site where you can either download their program or order it on CD (free I think).
http://www.slantfin.com/he2/
 
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Old 10-01-06, 01:01 PM
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Yes, slantfin is free. Much better to download. I got the CD about 3 months after ordering....

Here's a slantfin screen grab for an older house.

http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j50/xiphias1758/heatloss.jpg
 

Last edited by xiphias; 10-01-06 at 01:44 PM.
  #10  
Old 10-01-06, 02:02 PM
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replacing oil-fired hot water boiler

i ordered the slantfin cd earlier today. thanks for the recommendation. wasn't sure downloading from their site was completley safe?
~m
 
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Old 10-01-06, 03:32 PM
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slantfin is ok. download away.
 
 

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