Boiler quote

Reply

  #1  
Old 12-18-08, 07:05 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 64
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Boiler quote

OK, after considering a DIY and doing a little homework, I sent out for quotation on replacing my 38yr old boiler system.

Oil is only available.

I tried to find people in my area that did this type of work. To get a range, I thought I would try a number of sources (recommendations from this forum, neighbors that had theirs done-three on my street this year, the local yellow pages (problematic in my area), and even craigslist).

2600 sq ft house, DHW indirect, and a slantfin estimate of ~70k (you can see lots of data from my other posts).

My regular oil company sent someone over, I got a quote for a basic install of a weil mclain WGO5. $8000. No zoning, no OTR - just a drop in replacement utilizing as much current plumbing as possible. They did not measure radiators, they did not do heatload calcs.

One callback from a very reputable, longstanding plumber in my area. His philosophy was do it once, do it right, it should be good for 30 years. Only premium materials, valves, etc. He will only work with Utica boilers and described himself as 'old school'. It was a good conversation. He only uses pumps for zones, he does not do P/S ("not needed"). DHW priority 'ok', but 'understand, you will have to choose between heat and showers if coming home from a vacation' - would normally recommend sizing to accomodate both simultaneously. He suggested I look on the Utica site and for ME to choose a model as starting point and he would quote over the phone. (maybe he felt given the conversation I knew enough to have an idea of what to choose). I sent an email with the info. Then sent a reminder email 3 days later. 1 week later no callback no quote.

A couple calls that are too far outside my area.

Some craigslist guy that called back. Just happened to be running a special on a certain boiler. Asked square footage - it turns out the boiler special he has is 'perfect' for my house. Not a great feeling on this one.....

A week goes by.

Two more call backs - one is interested and schedules an appointment to see the system. I stay home to meet him. No show.

One other calls back. Reasonable conversation. Starts with house sq ft...... He only does burnham brand (ok by me.. I am not married to the brand and am more interested in better system design). He suggests 150k or more size... I suggest my heatload is only ~70k.... he says, likely too small so he will want to do his own - great I say, may be I did something wrong. Lets quote. Unfortunately not available to even come by until after first of the year.... jeesh.... so I schedule.

One that comes recommended as good value plumber. I call... leave message.. 1 week later no callback.

I get names of neighbor installs.... both done by oil suppliers, standard drop in replacement, status quo system (no heatload calcs or radiator changes). quotes all ranging between 6k and 8k.

So after a WEEK of chasing this, I have at best one appointment scheduled for next month that has potential to yield a good result. Otherwise I have gotten nowhere.

Why is this so hard?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 12-18-08, 07:36 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: usa
Posts: 902
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Is the old system in trouble? This might be a very busy time of the year for heat specialists? I'm not trying to make excuses for them, but maybe their attention spans would be longer when they are bit more hungry. I wouldn't rush into a deal with a guy just because he's available. I think you're on the right track with heatload, etc. Look for a good quality boiler if you're going to be in the home for several more years.

Pete
 
  #3  
Old 12-18-08, 07:38 AM
Member
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 36
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Busy Season

Winter is always busy for HVAC. Try getting a new A/C unit in July. You'll have better offers in the spring or fall...
 
  #4  
Old 12-18-08, 08:18 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 64
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Yes, current system problematic

Could be a busy time of the year no doubt. And holiday season as well, and some winter weather (I was down without power, heat, water for 4 days recently). Having said that I guess I expected at least a callback if they said so.

The current system has a number of problems (some serious, some not so much):

1) a direct structural failure of one of the BI radiator feed pipes. This was a pinhole leak that created a small 'fountain like' stream that put some water in my crawl space. I was able to clean this up and replace about a 15ft section of pipe myself, but it could be an indication that other parts of the system are old (I have to say I was surprised by a wall failure of BI pipe.... its not obvious to me that I am setup of galvanic corrosion or other causes)

2) My pressure relief, that is connected with a T to my expansion tank, constantly leaks. I have had two different companies (three techs) do a service call and nobody was able to resolve this. The best I have done is when through the help on this forum I reset the expansion tank pressure (one of the techs replaced the PRV already). I dont think its my water supply makeup regulator since if I close off the makeup water completely the PRV still drips. Depending on the amount of boiler run time, this amounts to a pint of water to as much as 5 gals of water in 24 hours.......

This overflow problem bugs me.... it started after being down for the summer and has gradually gotten worse.

3) All the guages stick, and are not accurate

4) some electrical funkiness with part of the system on one line, with other parts of the system on completely different electrical feed (discovered when trying to run heat off a portable gen... which it turned out I was not able to do due to the electrical wiring)

5) just basic gross oversizing (245k btu boiler for a 70k heatload) and inefficiencies

6) some parts of the house are over radiated, some I use a space heater to heat so as not to heat the entire wing (ie wanting to save $$) So more inefficiencies

I am hoping to stay in this house for some time.

So I am thinking rather than chase this in circles... time for a replacement. I know its the peak season - not ideal. Course, now I am just chasing contractors in circles.....
 
  #5  
Old 12-18-08, 09:18 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 64
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
design data

Some of my data here:

frastick - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
 
  #6  
Old 12-18-08, 02:23 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,493
Received 33 Votes on 25 Posts
I'll go along with the others and state that this is about the worst time of the year to be doing major work on a heating system unless you have absolutely no choice.

Your statements on how this system is failing lead me to suggesting band-aids until spring/summer. Replacing the combination thermometer/ pressure gauge with just a pressure gauge and maybe a strap-on thermometer would get you through the winter. Get a 0-30 psi pressure gauge, a female to 1/2 inch pipe garden hose adapter and a 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch bushing. Connect this to the boiler drain and crack the drain valve open for the pressure reading. For the temperature the cheapest and easiest would be to get a digital oven thermometer with a remote probe. Use a suitably sized worm gear hose clamp to clamp the thermometer probe to the main pipe leaving the boiler and then use some fiberglass pipe wrap (or scrap fiberglass building insulation) to wrap around the probe.

The leaking safety valve is either an expansion tank problem, a safety valve problem or too high an initial pressure problem. With a new pressure gauge it can be determined which of the three is in need of work.

If you are comfortable doing electrical work you can run a new 20 ampere circuit from your breaker panel or fuse box to the boiler location. You can then re-connect all the various parts to this new circuit.

Since you have obviously been living with the problems of the oversized boiler and poorly laid out heat emitters you can probably make it one more winter. If you have any more leaking pipes I suggest using "band-aids", either commercially made ones or a piece of rubber and a worm gear hose clamp, to tide you over until more permanent repairs can be made. It is not uncommon to have black steel pipe rot out due to oxygen corrosion caused by too much make up water in a heating system.

It appears that you also have a tankless coil in your boiler for supplying domestic hot water. A leaking coil could be the reason for your leaking safety valve.
 
  #7  
Old 12-18-08, 02:49 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 64
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks furd on the suggestions, and tricks to getting a pressure reading. Now that you mention the oven probe - I may have a digital meat thermometer that will go this high....

I do have a tankless coil. If this is possibly the problem - how would it show up?
 
  #8  
Old 12-18-08, 02:59 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,493
Received 33 Votes on 25 Posts
Do you have a well or are you on city water? What is your domestic water pressure?

The tankless coil may have a pinhole leak and if so the domestic water would be leaking into the boiler water. If you have fairly low domestic water pressure it might only be above the setting of the boiler safety valve under limited circumstances. Even if it isn't enough to lift the safety valve by itself the additional water it adds would raise the pressure to the point that expansion would cause the safety valve to lift.
 
  #9  
Old 12-18-08, 03:28 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 64
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I am on well water, and if I have power the pressure holds at ~55psi. I do experience power outs from time to time.

I noticed some brown water out of my faucet a while back, after a short time with the well pump down. It could be completely unrelated, but I never liked the fact I have no backflow prevention on my water makeup line (to my knowledge anyway... I have a watts pressure regulator and thats it). I thought maybe it was boiler water pushing BACK through the system and contaminating the house water (since the furnance was cycling at that time and higher pressure than the house line....)

But if the PRV blows even if I have my water makeup shut off completely, it likely isnt the regulator creeping up nor high side pressure coming through another part of the system (since its not connected at that point).

I need to get that pressure and temp sensor hooked up so we can learn whats happening.
 
  #10  
Old 12-18-08, 03:36 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,493
Received 33 Votes on 25 Posts
If you have a leak in the domestic water heating coil AND your domestic water pressure dropped below boiler pressure then you could have a backflow that way.

Yes, please get an accurate pressure gauge and thermometer jury-rigged so we can explore the other problems.
 
  #11  
Old 12-19-08, 08:14 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 64
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
another contractor scheduled for this morning... fingers crossed he shows.

turns out I just happened to have an accurate guage with garden hose fitting. Used your trick furd to put it on the boiler drain.

The main boiler pressure guage sticks - if I tap it the needle moves and reads about 5psi lower than my new guage. (I do believe the new guage as it is a high quality lab guage). So it looks like if I tap the glass on the boiler guage and adjust for 5psi, at least it is consistent.

OK - whats the next step to troubleshooting this PRV leakage?

(note that with the water makeup line closed completely, I still get the overpressure and dripping. The PRV was replaced recently, and I have adjusted the expansion tank pressure per instructions from this forum).
 
  #12  
Old 12-19-08, 08:57 AM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 1,901
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
tiny suggestion: tell everyone they need to call before they come over. (assuming you are close enough from work). That way no wasted days off work
 
  #13  
Old 12-19-08, 10:58 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 64
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
thanks lucky, I have started doing just this.

Here is the latest: I watched a few cycles and monitored temps/pressure using the new data.

When the system heats up (set ~175), the pressure rises with it. Normal.

The boiler gauge reads 28, my new pressure gauge reads 25psi. At this pressure the pressure relief valve has a steady drip. Not quite a continuous stream, but almost.

Pics below. Note this PRV has been replaced. Also note it is attached in the back of the boiler, in a T with the expansion tank. Being directly attached to the back of the boiler with a short section means it gets really HOT. ie: boiler water temp.

When I look at the old one, it looks to have a rubber seat/spring design. I wonder if its getting just too hot for operating properly (essentially the rubber fails??)

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]

 
  #14  
Old 12-19-08, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: usa
Posts: 902
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
If the pressure is rising to 28 PSI with temperature, then the pressure relief had better start relieving the pressure! It is doing its job.

I suspect your bladder tank is water logged. It should have about 15 PSI of air pressure in the bladder to accomodate water expansion with temperature rise. If the air pressure is gone, due to a ruptured bladder or gradual loss of air, then there is no mechanism to allow for water expansion.

One small nitpick. The pressure relief valve discharge should be discharged to within a few inches of the floor to prevent deadly scald hazzards.

Pete
 
  #15  
Old 12-19-08, 03:25 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,493
Received 33 Votes on 25 Posts
You wrote that the boiler mounted gauge read about five psi below the "accurate" gauge you connected to the drain. Then you wrote that the boiler gauge read 28 while the accurate gauge read 25.

Which is it? Does the boiler gauge read high or low?

Actually, forget the boiler-mounted gauge and just read the gauge you attached to the boiler drain. (You do have the drain valve slightly open so that the gauge is reading the variations, don't you?)

The safety valve is supposed to be mounted as close to the boiler as possible so the idea of it being "too hot" is incorrect. It should, however, be mounted so that the stem is vertical, not horizontal as it is.

Try this: Lift the lever on the safety valve and let it blow good and hard for a second. (Install a pipe nipple on the discharge port and use a bucket to catch the water. Also wear a glove on the hand lifting the lever,) It is possible it has a bit of rust under the seat and that is preventing it from closing properly. This will, of course, lower the pressure in the system and you will need to monitor it to be sure it doesn't drop below the 12-15 psi minimum.
 
  #16  
Old 12-19-08, 03:45 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 64
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
fair point furd, and the difference between the two is not consistent (I incorrectly stated it was.... but after watching more it seems they are not). So I am using the new gauge - on the drain connection and yes cracked to let it pressurize.

I cracked the relief valve to let it run a bit, and then did the same to the makeup regulator (I connected a purge line and then while purging a loop cracked the regulator a bit.... thinking along the same lines as with the prv).

THEN - I replaced the expansion tank. With the old tank off the system I was able to determine it would pressurize with a tire pump, but then relatively quickly lose pressure again.

REPLACING THE EXPANSION TANK SEEMS TO HAVE FIXED THE PROBLEM.

No prv releases, and now the system is maxing at 18psi when it cycles. I dont know what is 'normal', but this is down a LOT from prior and below the prv set point so makes sense.

Fingers crossed - let me know if there are additional checks I should do to be sure.

MANY Many thanks to all your posts and responses and putting up with my 'uneducatedness'.

I will also followup with a proper service call to correct the safety oversights noted here - thank you for these.

As another item, I noticed a couple small holes in the exhaust stack, noted in the pic. They are 180 degrees apart, right where the stack meets the top of the boiler, and I believe were screwholes once holding the stack on (and it appears to once have been covered with cement, but no longer). I dont know if this is a double walled pipe, but if not does this mean I am pumping exhaust into my basement? (I do have recent, and redundant CO sensors in my home)

What do you think?

[IMG][/IMG]
 
  #17  
Old 12-19-08, 04:32 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,493
Received 33 Votes on 25 Posts
The expansion tank is usually the cause of excessive pressure excursions but there are other things that could cause excessive pressure so it is necessary to look at all the possibilities. Glad the expansion tank did the trick for you.

That is single-wall smoke pipe on your boiler. Since there is a negative pressure in the chimney it probably isn't necessary to change the pipe. You can use a smoke source (cigarette or blown-out match) at the holes to see if the smoke is drawn in.

The 18 psi is just fine.
 
  #18  
Old 12-19-08, 04:59 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 64
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks again furd (xiphias, trooper, who, gods, et al.......). I have, and am still, learning a lot.

special hello to the great Northwest. I spent 13 yrs there on both dry and wet sides of WA.

In case anyone was wondering... my latest contractor appointment no showed today (jeesh). I called him and whined a bit - he admitted to just 'forgeting about the appt', but we are going to schedule another. In fairness, we have had some pretty bad weather here and all is not normal.

With luck, I am ok for short term band aids - will post an update once I have a plan forward....
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: