Considering upgrading my oil burner

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Old 08-24-09, 12:30 PM
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Considering upgrading my oil burner

Hello, first post on doityourself. My wife and I just purchased our first home, a beautiful 100 yr old farm house. I am in the process of trying to make the home more energy efficient without going broke in the process. One of the things on my list is the oil boiler; a Weil-McLain P-666 with a model 45CU-1 oil burner. I just had the boiler completely serviced, the heat exchanger had a lot of soot buildup. The technician said he adjusted the burner to give a good clean burn with no smoke, but the efficiency wasn't very good. His entry on the burner sticker said 8% CO2, 475 stack temp, 75% eff.

I would like to upgrade the burner for improved reliability and efficiency. Is anyone familar with the Weil McLain 45CU-1 burner? Would it pay to replace it with a Beckett or Riello?
 
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Old 08-24-09, 05:21 PM
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Congratulations on your new home.

Unfortunately, I'm not an oil guy, so can't comment on the burner.

But... I've got a fair amount of experience with homes like yours. The best energy efficiency investments you can make to that structure are to the building envelope. Insulation, air sealing, etc. have the biggest gains in fuel savings with the shortest payback. There are a lot of resources out there nowadays that deal with deep retrofits of old classics like yours. Taunton Press publishes a couple books and mags that deal at least in part with it.

Depending on the current condition of the building, you might be able to cut the rate of heat loss in half or more (been there, done that...).

Stretch out the lifetime of the boiler while you plan for systematic upgrades of the building envelope. If a new burner will get you good reliability and maybe some improved performance for the next several years, it's probably worth it. Someday you'll need a new boiler, and chances are it will be 3-4 times smaller than what you have currently.

And all that insulating, air sealing and other weatherization comes with good federal tax credits. Check out DSIRE: DSIRE Home for federal, state, utility and other incentives in your area.

Edit: I think I found your boiler's manual
http://www.weil-mclain.com/downloads...6/66manual.pdf

Looks like a honking big boiler (207,000 BTU/hr DOE output), and it has a tankless coil for domestic hot water. Tankless coil is about the least efficient means to make domestic hot water. Rummage around this forums for options to deal with that.

What kind of heat emitters (radiators, cast iron or copper/aluminum fin baseboard, etc.) are in the house. How big is the house?
 
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Old 08-24-09, 06:35 PM
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You identified the boiler correctly, I have the same manual. It is certainly a heavy-hitter compared to the boilers I see in modern homes. It is currently fired with a 1.25 gph nozzle.

As for the amount of heat loss, the house has had a lot of improvements since it was built. Anderson windows at some point, walls were insulated, ceilings insulated, thick fiberglass insulation in the attic floorjoists, etc.

As for the size, it has about 2400 sq. ft of living space, and another 600 sq. ft or so in the basement that is heated by a single cast iron radiator. The house has a mix of radiator styles, mostly copper fin baseboard with a few cast iron radiators and some really big convectors (copper/aluminum?). The first and second floor are on separate monoflow-tee zones with large main pipes running around the perimeter of the basement. There is a 30 gallon indirect hot water heater setup as a separate zone, the original tankless coil is not in use.
 
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Old 08-24-09, 07:51 PM
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I would recommend that you first do, or have done, a complete energy audit including a blower door test. This will give you the places that are deficient in insulation and where you are leaking air. It should also give you a complete room-by-room heat loss analysis. With this information you can decide where to spend limited dollars to maximize savings.

It may be that you are already at a point where the most sensible economic move would be to replace the boiler. Merely changing the burner would give minimal improvement in my opinion because the burner and boiler are usually matched to each other. You might get a slight improvement in combustion efficiency but also get a decrease in system efficiency.
 
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Old 08-28-09, 07:30 PM
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Something's fishy

That boiler/burner should do way better than 8% CO2 & 75% combustion efficiency. I would normally expect CO2 to be 10.5 to 12% & combustion efficiency to be in the low to mid 80% range.

Furd has offered some VERY sound advice. I suggest you do as he suggested. You'll be way ahead of the game in the long run.
 
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Old 09-14-09, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Grady View Post
That boiler/burner should do way better than 8% CO2 & 75% combustion efficiency. I would normally expect CO2 to be 10.5 to 12% & combustion efficiency to be in the low to mid 80% range.
I had a different person take a look at the boiler, he said some things were improperly adjusted on the burner and that it wasn't cleaned properly. After scrubbing a ton of soot out of the fins and making some adjustments it tested at 11% CO2 and 84.5% combustion efficiency.
 
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Old 09-14-09, 06:54 AM
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Hi Rob, all good advice above and glad to see that boiler up to speed. Since you just purchased the home, you are guessing as to how good or bad the improvements are. As Furd stated, this would be an excellent application for an energy audit. A typical audit in a home like yours will identify enough easy fixes to pay for the audit this winter. An infrared camera and blower door work uniquely together to identify hidden air leaks and missing insulation. An audit will specifically show you where to put your energy efforts this fall.

Here's your goal, one tank of oil per season. I have talked to people here in northern NE getting two seasons on one tank (225 gal).

Enjoy the new home,
Bud
 
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Old 09-14-09, 07:59 PM
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Improvement

Those numbers fall in line with what I would expect out of that boiler.

I too agree with Furd in his suggestion of having an energy audit done. Insulation you buy once. Energy you buy & buy & buy.
 
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