Oil Fired Hot Water Boiler..Crown, Biasi, Dunkirk..Help !


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Old 06-14-07, 09:13 PM
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Oil Fired Hot Water Boiler..Crown, Biasi, Dunkirk..Help !

Hello,
Oil Co. Service Technician was here today to clean boiler. It's a day I have been dreading. Since I moved to this house 4 years ago my Service Tech has been saying that my boiler is getting a bit long in the tooth and will need to be replaced.

It's a Trianco with a Beckett Burner. My technician tells me it's a steel boiler and it was not well regarded (he felt the builder skimped). It's orignal to the house as far as I know. House was built in 1986. System has 4 zones total, 1 for each of 3 floors and the forth is for my indirect Amtrol 40 gallon hot water tank.

There has been some welding repairs made in previous years to a plate on the top of the boiler. The plate looks like it contains the combustion gases so they can be directed to the vent rather than escape into my basement.

Also there has always been some jacket paint discoloration due to heat from the fire box. This past winter the discoloration became pretty severe in one spot turning the paint from blue to dark brown and in the center of the brown is a very burnt area..the paint is white and chalky in this spot. The jacket of this boiler has always been incredibly hot when it's running. It could easily burn you badly if you touched it.

Today as soon as my Service Tech saw the spot he told me that what most likely had happened was that the seam where the fire box and boiler meet has opened up in this area allowing some serious heat to escape and is burning the jacket, he says if I do nothing I'll soon see flames. He suggested to old off on the cleaning so that I could decide weather we should attempt to repair this issue or replace the boiler. I'm a bit skeptical if a repair of this type to a 21 year old boiler will be effective or a good idea.

He said that the rest of my system was ideal for several specific boilers because of the seperate zone water tank and 3 seperate zones for the floors.

He is suggesting...Biasi B-10 or Crown Freeport CT. He also said if I prefered more traditional type boilers I might consider a Crown Tobago or Dunkirk Empire II.

Also each seems to offer choices in burners..Riello, Carlin, and Beckett.

I really have no idea of any of the boiler or burner brands (I've heard of Beckett) and to be honest I'm really confused.

I'm a bit concerned about parts availability in the future for both boiler and burner.

The tech gave me rough prices of $4500 for the Biasi and $5000 for the Crown (installed systems). We did not get into specifics about what size I needed or the pricing on the Tobago or Dunkirk. For soem reason I'm thinking the Crown Freeport is the way to go.
I'm open to advise from anybody that has any...What boiler, what burner any other choices I should look at?


Thanks in advance
KenRo
 
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Old 06-15-07, 12:14 AM
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Out of curiosity, is natural gas an option? If so how much per therm and how much is oil there?
 
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Old 06-15-07, 04:54 AM
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Sounds like a new boiler is the way to go. I'm not up on oil boilers, but Biasi and Crown in general are decent boilers.

THE most important thing is to make sure the boiler is sized properly for your heat loss. You might also consider an indirect water heater while you're at it.

Search around here for related threads.
 
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Old 06-15-07, 05:20 AM
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Follow-ups

WHO...Natural Gas is not a utility on my street, everyone on my street heats with oil. Oil is currently running @ $2.35 per gallon in my area (New England).

XIPHIAS...I do have a seperate hot water tank that is a zone off the boiler..this is considered indirect correct?
 
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Old 06-15-07, 07:29 AM
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That is correct.
 
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Old 06-15-07, 07:47 AM
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From what I've heard Crown makes an excellent boiler. The 3 pass design is far better all the way around with one possible drawback. I'm under the impression that they can be a bit louser although how it gets installed will affect that.

Every service guy tends to have a different opinion on burners, but if they are familiar and comfortable working with Reillo burners that would be my clear choice.

Other good choices would be the Burnham MPO and the Buderys G115, but if you have good pricing, excellent service and great installation skills then its kind of a no brainer except for perhaps two things.

Check out their recent installs. Get references and phone them. You should also have a good idea of what a good install should look like. The piping shouldn't look haphazard. Vertical rises should be absolutely vertical. Horizontal piping should be level or properly sloped to drain down. Copper to steel piping should be transitioned through brass fittings. There should be lots of shut off valves to make future servicing faster (and therefore cheaper for you). This is true especially around things like pumps. Do you ever want to have the whole system drained because a pump fails? No... Anyway, the devil's in the details.

The other final things is to get the right sized boiler. Unless your current boiler runs non-stop on the coldest day of the year, it was oversized. It takes time and effort for a professional to calculate your heatloss. They typically don't get paid 1 red cent for doing this. So if the have 2 sizes close to your existing boiler, many will bump you up to the next size to be safe - although it is just safe GUESSING. That boiler will cost more, they'll get a bit more markup and you'll be wasting fuel because as a boiler gets progressively more and more oversized (and just remember that you too can make the boiler more and more oversized every time you tighten up the insulation and envelope of your house), the seasonal efficiency gets worse and worse. There are true pros out there that do a great job sizing, but my own personal opinion is that they are the minority and then there just isn't enough incentive to trust them to do it right. Therefore I highly recommend the you get some software - maybe download or send for the free CD from SlantFin - it's called heatloss explorer - and then calculate your heatloss so that nobody BSs you about what size they think you need. You should know that going in... your the one paying for the install and the oil.
 
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Old 06-15-07, 07:53 AM
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Lightbulb Xiphais, the Amtrol is an indirect water heater.

Methinks you didn't have your coffee yet? 6:54 AM. I'm just getting up at that time.


KenRo, please put up some pictures on ibucket.com or any free picture hosting site. You might have other options like relining the boiler and having it repaired if it's a modular welded steel unit. New plate parts etc. Of course, I would get a couple more opinions and estimates for other HVAC contractors. Just because you have a contract to do maintenance with your service company, doesn't mean you are obligated to have them do the work.
 
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Old 06-15-07, 05:57 PM
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New Boiler

I installed my Crown Freeport (CT-3) a number of years ago & liked it so well I installed it's big brother (CT-5) in my dad's place when his 50 year old National Radiator had to go. Since then I've installed a dozen or so with ZERO complaints. Either the Beckett or Riello work quite well in that boiler. Carlin's are a rare bird around here but in New England they are probably more common than is Beckett & I'm sure would work as well. The Riello gives you a little more efficiency & burns cleaner.

I have Crown's Megastor indirect but the Amtrol or any other would work just fine.
 
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Old 06-20-07, 06:13 PM
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Thanks for the great info..a few more follow-ups..

I am seeing several manufacturers specify the material used for the cast iron boiler section nipples. Some use cast iron some use steel. Any advice on this, is one better than the other? Are they replaceable down the road?

Also on the Crown Freeport they make a CT-35 and a CT-45 which are "up-fired" versions of the CT-3 and CT-4 versions respectively. The up-fired version makes many more BTUs but I also see the burner GPH on the "up-fired" versions are about 30% higher. What does "up-fired" mean?

In general when replacing a boiler what other system components should be replaced as well?

Thanks
KenRo
 
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Old 06-20-07, 07:28 PM
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Push Nipples, etc.

In theory, I guess having the same material for the sections & push nipples would be preferable but in the real world I have not seen a lot of difference.

Upfired refers to increasing the firing rate beyond the original specs of the boiler. Obviously, after doing so the manufacturer tested the boiler & had it certified to handle the higher firing rate. If you notice, the CT-35 fires at the same rate as the CT-4 but with lower efficiency. The same is true for the CT-45 & CT-5. This was done for physical size considerations. You could buy a CT-35 & fire it at the CT-3 rate but not the other way around because you are exceeding the max firing rate on the label.

When replacing the boiler you should replace the reducing valve, low water cut-off, circulators (or zone valves), flow control valves, expansion tank, and air removal device(s). In a nutshell, everything other than the pipes.
 
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Old 06-20-07, 07:48 PM
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parts to replace

Grady wrote:
"When replacing the boiler you should replace the reducing valve, low water cut-off, circulators (or zone valves), flow control valves, expansion tank, and air removal device(s). In a nutshell, everything other than the pipes."

KenRo:
Can you explain why these other components should be replaced as well?
I can see some parts but I don't see why the expansion tank and circulators need replacing.

Thanks
 
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Old 06-20-07, 08:15 PM
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Should

You notice I said "should" not "must". It is just good practice to help insure everything is going to work as it should. I have reused circulators, expansion tanks, flow control valves, etc. at the customer's insistance but the customer was made aware that if one of those components failed, there was NO warranty. Some choose to leave the old. Some choose to have all new. All depends on how much risk they are willing to accept.
 
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Old 06-22-07, 10:44 AM
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Red face Other parts with new boiler

Grady-

Interesting concept. Of course there is not warranty on those components but there still would be a warranty on the boiler if I am not mistaken. I guess it all depends on the look and feel of the other parts connected to the boiler system. You know the old saying the weakest link.
 
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Old 06-25-07, 05:12 PM
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More follow-up questions...

Another Oil Co. came today to look @ my situation (oil-water). They install Peerless Boilers and left me a brochure for the WBV series. They are also recomending a Field Controls air intake kit for the burner.
Quote will come in the mail.

My current boiler (Trainco) runs even in the summer to maintain boiler water temp as well as to heat the indirect Amtrol 40 gallon hot water tank.

What are the correct terms to describe Boiler systems that run to maintain Boiler Water temp even if no zone is calling for heat versus those that only run when a zone calls for heat?

Are the Peerless WBV and Dunkirk Empire II boilers similair design as say compared to the Crown Freeport CT? Is the Crown such a different design that it's hard to compare against the other 2? If I understand correctly the Peerless and Dunkirk will run when needed to maintain boiler temp even if no zone is calling for heat. I'm not certain how the Crown Freeport is supposed to be set-up. Does it run to maintain boiler temp or only when a zone calls for heat?

On the Peerless three burners are available..Beckett, Carlin, or Riello..
My impression of Carlin is that they are a small regional (Northeast) player in the burner market. In the future I'm wondering if Carlin parts will be available as easily as the other 2 brands?

Between the Peerless and Dunkirk..pros and cons would be appreciated.

Thanks
KenRo
 
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Old 06-25-07, 06:46 PM
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Terminology, etc.

The correct terminology for a boiler which maintains temperature in order to supply domestic hot water would be a boiler with a tankless coil & summer/winter hook up.

The Peerless & the Dunkirk are single pass pin style boilers. The Crown Freeport is a three pass of the scotch marine design. I will try to explain the difference:
On a single pass pin style boiler the heat from the flame rises thru the heat exchanger & is slowed down by hundreds (if not thousands) of projections slightly smaller than a pencil eraser. The slowing down of the hot gases as well as the increased surface area of the "pins" aids in heat transfer to the water. Then the gases are vented out the flue.
With a three pass scotch marine design, the heat first goes toward the back of the boiler, then it is forced by the design of the boiler, not mechanically, toward the front of the boiler thru another set of passages, & finally again toward the back thru a third set of passages. If the boiler were, for example, 30 inches deep, the hot gases would have to travel about 90 inches before being allowed out the flue.

The Crown, when set up with an indirect water heater, only fires on demand from a zone & does not maintain boiler temperature. The indirect would be connected as a zone.

Carlin has been around a long time & I see no reason why they will be going anywhere. I can still get parts for Carlin burners 40+ years old.
 
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Old 06-25-07, 08:08 PM
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KenRo, did the Peerless guy mention the Pinnacle Oil? If I was on oil, I probably would have strongly considered one. I've never actually heard any feedback from someone that has one installed but it is certainly at the forefront of oil-fired boiler efficiency. It's a condensing boiler with output as low as 64K.

Did you ever do a heatloss calc?
 
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Old 06-25-07, 08:32 PM
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Condensing

Call me skeptical if you want but I want to see one in a real world appliction after about 5 years. I'm not a latest is the greatest type & have seen way too many problems out of "the latest & greatest". Show me a proven track record & then I'll THINK ABOUT considering one. And no, proven in Europe ain't good enough, sorry.
 
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Old 06-26-07, 03:53 PM
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For Who..

Peerless dealer did not mention the Pinnacle Oil..
To be honest I'm not sure I want to try to get the most efficient boiler. I've learned thru the years that the latest technology is not always the most reliable.
As far as the heat loss calc...both installers seem pretty sure of what I size I need without crunching all the numbers. They are basing the sizing on my current boiler and my experience with it and their experience with other homes similarly sized in the area. To be honest this is causing me a little anxiety however I would think my home is not unusual... 2 story Colonial with finished basement. Total about 3000 sq feet including basement. 1st installer was able to tell me who on my street already replaced thier original Trainco and who did not. 2nd installer walked around the house and he said he would do a calculation but was sure on the size I would be OK with. Both installers have long track records in the area..of 70 years for one and the other over 20 years so in the end I may just have to run with their sizing.

I may run the numbers myself with the Slant-Fin program but it may just cause more anxiety if my calc is different from the installers.
 
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Old 06-26-07, 04:09 PM
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For Grady..

Hi Grady,
I have a concern with the Crown..since it would not run as often especially in the summer it would seem that it would be exposed to a lot of expansion and contraction cycles which over time may cause leaks. I'm thinking the other boilers would run more often thus keeping the expansion/contraction cycles down and therefore possibly less chance of leaks. Is this a valid concern for the Crown? How often do you figure the Crown would run during the day in the summer..assume that there is no use of domestic hot water from say 9am to 4pm and also assume I have my 40 gallon Amtrol as a zone?

Also is this type 3 pass boiler design "proven" for residential use..does it have a good track record? Any other companies making a 3 pass design for residential?

Your explanation of the pins makes sense to me. So the Crown would not have these pins on the surface of its boiler casting, correct? Is it harder to clean the pin style?
Since the hot gases need to pass more surface area in the Crown will my flue temp be lower with a Crown? The reason I ask is that my "boiler" room gets pretty darn warm !

Lot's of questions here. I do appreciate your time and the time of all those that have been responding.

Thanks
KenRo
 
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Old 06-26-07, 04:54 PM
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The smallest boilers that I have any amount of experience with were rated at 1.2 million BTU/hr. so take what I have to say with a few grains of pepper.

The three-pass design will definitely save you fuel and as I looked at the Crown page if you were to get the Crown Freeport ODV it would be fairly easy to clean.

The Freeport IS a three-pass boiler but it is a far cry from a "Scotch Marine" boiler. The Crown is a cast-iron boiler and while I prefer steel or CI the Freeport does have a full lifetime warranty on the heat exchanger.

Your "boiler room" is probably heated as much, or more, from the boiler jacket and the piping as it is from the stack. Since the Freeport ODV uses direct venting it obvioously has a much lower stack temperature than would a boiler that requires a conventional chimney.

I have to say, if I were in the market for a heating boiler I would definitely consider the Freeport boiler, either the ODV or the CT

http://www.crownboiler.com/products/res_oil/free_c.asp
 
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Old 06-26-07, 08:53 PM
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KenRo, just throwing out options. Until now low sulfur fuel wasn't available. Since it is now available, the ultra low emission, high efficiency condensing boilers that are becoming law in some European countries are becoming available now. The thing is, I'm not even sure I know who's design the Peerless Pinnacle Oil actually is - it may even be a purely American design? Who > knows?

I just think it's cool and a good direction to go with boilers, and Grady, I'd be honoured to serve as your 5 year test pilot with the hopes of a significantly reduced environment and probably even more selfishly, a lot less money spent making the boiler a good investment, even if replacement frequency goes form 25 years down to 12 years. How long would you expect any modern big screen TV to last? Well, the TVs can't save energy like a condensing boiler can.

My big question of Pinnacle Oil boiler owner and also factory literature would really just relate to stack temps. If I heard of a few having no problems in a year and the flue was releasing far fewer BTUs as forecasted by stack temps, I'd jump in.

I just haven't even heard of a single report yet, but it's a pretty nice looking boiler. Looks so industrial I'd probably end up naming it furd (that's a compliment sir). Mine's Bob BTW. Bob the Belgian boiler. My boiler is so much higher performance relative to others compared to my '97 minivan and other vehicles. Pimp my boiler room! LOL
 
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Old 06-27-07, 12:29 AM
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I'd sure like to see more pictures and/or drawings of the Pinnacle. Top burners firing downward boilers were just being introduced to the marine shipping industry about 35 years ago. I don't have any information on how they did in that service.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 04:48 PM
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Furd/KenRo

Furd:
I stand corrected on the Freeport being a Scotch Marine design. Crown's larger version of their 3 pass boilers are, or were, advertised as being of that design. Too many models running around in my head, sorry.
It's strange about the downshot boilers being that new to the marine shipping industry. General Electric made a downshot until 1957(?) & I know of a few still in service with updated burners. BTW, they are steel.

KenRo:
Your concerns about expansion/contraction on the Crown would seem, in my experience of about 10-12 years with my own & customers' boilers, to be unfounded. This boiler's track record is so far excellent. There are several other manufacturers of three pass boilers for residential use including Biasi, Buderus, Burnham (model MPO), & Viessman (sp?).
Cycling rate: With no domestic use or other call, I would not expect the boiler to fire at all over the 7-8 hours the house is vacant.
Cleaning: Not only is the CT easier to clean, it is FAR less likely to plug up should the burner start burning poorly for some reason (such as a fouled nozzle).
 
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Old 07-03-07, 06:00 PM
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quotes are in..but more questions abound

2 installers, quotes on 3 boilers..

Crown Freeport, four section.. CT-4 with Beckett Burner..$5700 Net IBR 105,000 BTU/hour assuming 1 GPH
Peerless, 3 section.. WBV-03 with Carlin Burner...$4000 Net IBR 90 MBH with .85 GPH...114 with 1.10 GPH
Dunkirk, 4 section... 4EW 1.25T with Beckett Burner...$4800 Net IBR 130 MBH @ 1.25 GPH (looks like it will do 111 MBH with 0.9 GPH)

Is MBH thousands of BTUs per hour?

Crown and Dunkirk priced with Taco Priority Zone Control...what is this?
Dunkirk priced with Solenoid oil valve..what is this?

Please correct me on wrong assumptions..

When looking at the range of sub-models within a model line-up I see that there is often several Net IBR MBH ratings are available. From what I understand this is due to the fact that burner GPH nozzle size determines BTUs created and you can change the nozzle GPH on the burner. Is there a rule of thumb when it comes to nozzle GPH selections on a particular burner/boiler set-up?
So what's the rule of thumb once you decide how many MBH you need do you buy a boiler that can handle that MBH in the boilers upper range or lower range?

From the above specs it looks like a general rule of thumb is 1 GPH equals approx 105 Net IBR MBH. Is that about right?
So the question for me is why the wide price range? If it assume that the Crown Freeport is a different type than the Dunkirk and Peerless I can understand that price difference. But are the Dunkirk and Peerless similiar enough that I should wonder why there is a 20% price difference? Keep in mind the Dunkirk was priced with a tankless coil, which I don't need, the Peerless was priced without the tankless coil.

Thanks so much !!
 
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Old 07-03-07, 08:04 PM
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A lot of pricing differences is in experience. Knowing how long it takes to do a good job. The last thing you want is to save money on an install and then pay someone to repipe it properly later. Check their jobs.

You know... a CT-3 costs less than a CT-4, and costs less to operate as well because you'd have much better seasonal efficiency.

BTW, your installers couldn't give a hoot if they sell you something too big. They get paid and there is no risk that the boiler fails to heat the house at below design temp conditions just in case they ever did do close matching. Nope, they have nothing to gain by selling you the proper sized boiler. It's your money so your the one that will be paying. That said, if your least boiler was roughly the same size, less efficient and a bit neglected and on the coldest day of the year ran half the entire day - then you know your last boiler was 2x too large.

The GPH is roughly 140,000BTU per gallon... but nozzle flows also depend on the oil pressure...
 
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Old 07-03-07, 09:17 PM
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KenRo: re: GPH & BTU/hr

Who is correct in his statement of one gph equaling 140M btu/hr. BUT, that is INPUT. The numbers you are looking at (ie: Net IBR rating 105,000 btu/hr @ 1.00 gph) are OUTPUT.

One thing which makes comparing boilers difficult is all of the different ratings. There are: IBR gross output, IBR net rating - water, net rating - water - sq. ft., DOE net rating, & AFUE rating.
 
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Old 07-04-07, 07:41 AM
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Both installers said my piping set-up was very good. One commented that he felt it was interesting that the the piping was very good, with valves for isolation in all the right places but the builder skimped on the boiler.
The installer that uses the Peerless felt the Peerless would almost fall into place and require very little manipulation of the existing piping.

I can't really say of my existing boiler is properly sized, I don't even know it's size. I do not recall being cold but we rarely use one zone (finished basement) and there are only 2 adults and 1 child living here.
I've got to wonder if the house had a few more people and we started using the basement zone and using more domestic hot water if we would notice an issue.

I do want the proper size boiler but I would also like to make sure it was a bit more than I needed....2 times more is not good.

KenRo
 
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Old 07-04-07, 08:09 AM
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Zone Control and Solenoid oil valve...

I think I have to eliminate the Crown Freeport @ this point..higher cost plus it will take up more space in my "boiler room/workshop" because of the way the boiler would be placed.
But I think I have figured out that the Taco Priority Zone Control in the quotes is a Switching Relay set-up for my 4 zones. I guess that installer does not wish to re-use my existing Honeywell relays. Searching the net for a Taco SR504 I figure that equipment is worth a few hundred bucks in the Dunkirk Quote. Seems like it's a good idea but I'm not sure if I "need" it.

I have not been able to figure out what the Solenoid Oil Valve is in the quote for the Dunkirk...why would it be needed? What controls it? Is it part of the Burner set-up?

Thanks
KenRo
 
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Old 07-04-07, 10:20 AM
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"I do want the proper size boiler but I would also like to make sure it was a bit more than I needed....2 times more is not good."

Next time... ;-)
 
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Old 07-06-07, 08:52 AM
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Here's my 2 cents worth. The first and most important part of this process is proper sizing as stated below. This is something you will pay for the rest of the boiler life by paying higher fuel bills and more maintenance.
Triple pass boilers are normally more efficient (less fuel) than pin boilers. The crown freeport is a good boiler and also as stated below check the Burnham MPO (multi-pass oil) which is also a three pass boiler.
I would replace all the other parts listed below. It would be very disheartening to have the boiler replaced and this winter spend a cold night due to a part failure due to skimping now. After a boiler install years ago, I spent alot of time on the phone with a customer for this reason. Why wasn't it replaced when the boiler was installed. It all gets changed now without exception. If they do not want to pay I don't do the job.
Keep the Amtrol tank if you want but do not maintain boiler water temp. The boilers today are designed to be cold started.
 
 

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