Yet another Oil to Gas thread... looking for some insight


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Old 07-19-12, 11:38 AM
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Yet another Oil to Gas thread... looking for some insight

We are in the process of swapping from oil to gas and its early in the process but I'm already confused and a bit worried.

The house is about 1600 sq/ft steam heat with radiators, currently the boiler is a Peerless (150k BTU model) that was installed almost exactly 10 years ago and had been maintained rigorously by the installer.

Fast forward to today and we were having a very hard time buying the home due to the backyard burried oil tank which has since been removed. Now we need to start the process on the conversion to gas. The home has gas which is only being used for the stove currently. The boiler also produces the hotwater in the home, there is no storage tank or seperate hot water heater.

I've talked to three people total and two of them have ZERO chance at my business from being so matter of fact and giving me a quote of $9-12k over the phone without ever seeing the home or existing heating system.

Some questions, is there any reason why the burner for this oil boiler cant be swapped to a natural gas burner isntaed of the existing oil burner? A few of these guys said that conversion alone will cost me easily $5k since the "gun" could cost close to $2k and the chimney liner could be about the same and about a $1k in labor. It seems pricey for the type of swap but I admittedly dont know.

The second question is if replacing the boiler is the right thing to do vs a conversion of the burner how do I actually find someone I dont think is going to fleece me?
 
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Old 07-19-12, 01:43 PM
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Gas conversion burners used to cost less than $200, now the lowest cost unit is more than $600. I can guarantee that the conversion burner in your old steam boiler will be less efficient in BTU output vs. BTU input than the present oil burner but with the current price of gas vs. oil you might see a lower total fuel price per year until gas prices rise as they surely will. On the other hand, your total return on investment may take a decade (or likely more) to realize.

Replacing the boiler will net you a boiler/burner combination that is engineered for maximum combined efficiency. The higher cost will take longer to longer to amortize but if your goal is lowered fuel costs and you are not interested in total ROI then the new boiler is probably the way to go. If you are looking at resale value of your house in the next few years then converting to gas may make economical by making the home more appealing to a prospective buyer but the rewards (quicker sale) would have to be balanced against the initial capital costs.

Changes in the building envelope (insulation and air sealing primarily) and then a general revamping of the existing heating system would probably have the highest return if you plan on dying in the house.
 
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Old 07-19-12, 04:20 PM
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Furd, I think the problem is that there is no longer an oil tank and they don't want the liability of using oil. Quite possibility the insurance company has a problem with it as well.

Keep looking for a contractor. Finding a good steam guy can be challenging. You can bring your questions here about what you are getting and if it is right or wrong. Swapping out a boiler can be quite expensive. Though I don't know how much work needs to be done for a steam swap. I wouldn't think too much of the piping needs to be changed. You will probably spend at least $5-$6k. Good call on not hiring someone that quotes over the phone. For steam, they need to measure your radiators to size the system properly.
 
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Old 07-19-12, 04:23 PM
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Another consideration going to gas is that the gas line from the street to the home would need to be examined to determine if it is large enough to accommodate the flow required for a gas fired boiler.
 
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Old 07-20-12, 06:12 AM
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here's my first hand experience going thru this now. it may or may not help you since i dont know how different steam is from my hot water system.

in 2008 i had a new low mass with indirect hot water installed and it cost 8800. before i did this i had called the gas company to see if gas was outside my house but they never returned my call, i said screw it. i should not have.

fast forward to today and while they did install the line to the house for free, i'm out a lot of money for the retrofit and my installed admitted from the start if i had gas he would have had another boiler put it

so now i pay 1100 for a midco universal fit burner plus a new damper...800 for a day of labor...450 for the pipe from the meter to the boiler and 550 parts plus whatever 3-4 hours of labor is for the chimney to be lined (25 ft )

in PA we have a glut of gas and i forget the exact figures but it's gone from somethign like 14 down to 2 or 3 bucks..something really crazy. i'm still learning all the terminology. but even the worst estimate from everyone i talked to said id save 1000 bucks a year minimum. the gas website actually said i'd go from 3200 a year to 900 but seriously doubt that

one thing i didnt know and just read in this thread is that oil has more btu than gas..intersting. but at 3.50 a gallon i'm sure gas is cheaper and with me being local here in PA, there's no way we are running out of cheap gas anytime soon


the estimates in your post sound crazy from perspective of my conversion..for 9 to 12K i could get an entirely new fantastic system lol. the guy that comes out and does a heat loss would get my business if i were you. and i got lucky that my boiler CAN accept a gas burner. i checked out the official spec sheet from the mfg website. maybe your boiler simply cannot be converted? he did make me aware that this will not be as efficient as a brand new system but i already have 8800 in this system, now over 3000 more, no way would i want the expense of another boiler, never would break even
 
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Old 07-20-12, 07:46 AM
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Lucky, I suspect that the 9-12K figure was for a new gas boiler installation... so it's not terribly out of line for the prices here in NJ, but still ridiculous in my opinion. For some reason NJ is EXTREMELY pricey ... I think it's a conspiracy.

Even so, the 5K estimates for a gas conversion are totally out of line too...
 
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Old 07-20-12, 08:07 AM
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makes my 3K conversion look cheap

oh and regarding people looking for gas houses, i can personally attest that one of my friends wont even look at a house with oil. he's aware of all my expense etc and just doesnt want to deal with oil

id imagine thats the mindset on a lot of the country
 
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Old 07-21-12, 04:17 PM
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The oil to gas con/version

I had a oil burner in a house in Queens about 65 years ago. The indoor tank started leaking, and Con Edison had a program to convert to gas for around 150 bucks, including removing the tank and installing a gas gun, how could you refuse that. I kept that system for 10 to 15 years then I installed a modern
[then] pin style gas boiler. Well, that boilers' burner was a glorified oven setup. I thinh thegas gun was more effecient then the oven burner. I might get gas in thehome I have now, and I will use a gas gun, so I can switch back and forth with oil, as prices fluctuate, and I know they will in years to come.
Sid
 
 

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