Help : Need Guidence on Choosing Replacement Oil Furnace...

Old 10-10-07, 02:06 PM
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Help : Need Guidence on Choosing Replacement Oil Furnace...

Hi... And thanks in advance for informed and experienced insight into my situation!

I need to replace an 18 year old Utica Oil Furnace before Winter sets in.
Currently, it's a Utica Boiler Model:SFH3100WT...
Input BTU/HR : 140,000
Heating Cap:117,000
Gross Output : 117,000 Water : 101,700 Max.GPH : 1.0

The Home is 1950's Brick and Plaster Ranch w/full basement(currently un-heated), about 1360sf upstairs(heated) with Hot Water Radiators. Location : Hudson Valley, New York

So, last Winter we had serious issues and repair costs throughout the season, which was VERY stressful, especially with having my elderly father living with me, who can not handle the cold well at all. I inherited the house a couple of years ago and I have been repairing/rehabbing it ever since. I made the decision to replace the Furnace during the previous winter. Unfortunately, summer came and went before I could focus on crossing this item off my To Do List.

The Utica was purchased by my father in '88-'89 and I think it was a semi-ER when he did it, so I'm not certain he actually shopped-around for one that was really good for the house or fuel efficiency at the time. Would like to make sure I have the information I need to make certain I get the right system for the House with as much Fuel Efficiency as reasonable for a modest budget.

1. Is there a difference between Furnace and Boiler? I've always been told I have a 'furnace'...but the the Utica says Boiler on it.. Also, is there a place I can go to find out what my current Utica's Efficiency Rating is/was?? That would helpful for comparison's sake. Plus, I'm just curious what it is.

2. Where are some really good sources for finding out how to calculate my heating needs in terms I can use when talking with contractors/customer reps?

3. Are there any really major things to look for in a furnace/contractor that would be a show-stopper for a purchase/installation?

4. Are there any stand-out 'must-haves' in a good/reliable/long-lasting furnace I should have on my spec list?

5. Does anyone have some base-line for the number of hours it should reasonably take to remove the old system, install the new system, without counting the draining and re-filling of the system/radiators, by a skilled plumber?

6. The current system has a coil inside it to heat the Water for the taps/shower. Of course, in the Winter, when the system is set to heat up the Radiators, the taps gets REALLY hot... I turn it down in the spring/summer/autumn....
Certainly, there must be a system/method for heating tap water separately from the in on a different thermostat setting?? If so, is it easy to afford/install/maintain??

7. How easy would it be to figure in a future heating configuration/need(or less of it in this case), i.e. I get new windows in about 1.5 years and need heating in the basement when it is made into living space? I don't want to buy something akin to overkill for BTU output.

8. Are there many reliable sources for reviews and comparisons between Oil Furnace Manufacturers???

OK, that's all I can think of right now. If you need more details, please ask! I need to get this done fairly soon, but will make every effort to take the time needed to choose the best furnace I can get. Hopefully, with your help, I'll be able to do it before the end of the month!

Again, thank you for helping me out!

Old 10-10-07, 04:06 PM
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Lots of questions! where to begin ? how about #1 ?

1. Generally when heating people say 'furnace', they are referring to a forced hot air system, and when they say 'boiler', they mean a unit that heats and circulates hot water or steam.

2. Someone (could be you) needs to do a complete heat loss calculation on the home to properly size the new system. There is a free program that you can download and use to do this calculation.

Slant-fin Heat Loss program

3. Purple hair and leather pants would do that for me. (apologies to any punks in the audience) Use your best judgement, and get references!

4. You'll get as many opinions here as there are 'experts' ! Buderus is good, Burnham MPO series (my choice), Grady likes Crown, the list goes on.

5. No, I'd be interested to hear what others say on this one myself.

6. All these folks will absolutely recommend an Indirect Water Heater. Base your choice on 'payback period' and how long you intend to stay in the house. Indirects can be pricey, but are very worthwhile investments.

7. Links to #2 above. Run the program twice, once with current numbers, again with future numbers and base your choice on the difference.

8. Not that I know of.

Do you have options to switch to Gas ? A modulating/condensing boiler will save you bunches of money in the long run.
Old 10-10-07, 04:16 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
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My background is in the design, installation and operation of commercial and industrial sized heating systems but I will try to help you.

1. You have a boiler. Industry standard is to call a unit that burns fuel and heats air that is distributed by ductwork a furnace whereas a unit that distributes heat by pipes containing water or steam is a boiler. Your particular system is most likely a forced hot-water heating system.

2. A conscientious contractor will do what is called a "Manual (book) J" heat loss calculation on the house. This entails measuring the size of each room, the type and number of windows and doors, the type of construction, how much and what type of insulation, the surrounding topography of the area where the house is located and the normal and extreme temperatures of the area.

You can do a heat loss calculation yourself. It can be done entirely manually (it is an involved calculation) or you can use a computer program. You can do a Google to find a program; most are fee-based but there are some free ones available.

3. Look for someone that has been in business for several years. Look for a clean shop, trucks and employees. Most of all get several references from the dealer and CALL these people.

4. Yes, but I am not able to list them as my experience in residential heating is limited and quite outdated.

5. It will take two people a long day or possibly two days to make the new installation unless something out-of-the-ordinary takes place.

6. You currently have what is called a "tankless coil" and it is in my opinion the cheapest and least desirable method of heating domestic water you could have with the exception of a kettle on a coal-fired kitchen range.

You could install a separate gas-fired water heater is gas is available or an electric water heater if you have sufficient power available. With a new boiler the method preferred is a highly insulated tank that is heated by the boiler water. This is called an indirect water heater and is preferred because it uses the inherent efficiency of the boiler. The additional cost is significantly higher than the stand-alone heater or the tankless coil but it will pay back this additional cost over its lifetime many times.

7. This can be figured when the heat loss calculation is made.

8. Yes, and the other members of this forum will point you in the correct direction.

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