Help analyzing a boiler

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Old 07-27-12, 02:53 PM
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Help analyzing a boiler

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We just bought a 1927 house with this boiler in the basement. We plan to heat mostly with a wood stove insert in the fireplace, but want to have the boiler working as a backup on cold nights and when we are gone on the weekends. Can anybody tell me much about this natural gas boiler? What size it is, how old and dangerous or inefficient is is? Things we need to know to replace it? I'd like to find a used boiler that's 80-90% efficient instead of dropping thousands into a new one that won't get used much. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks. - Doug
 
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Old 07-27-12, 03:01 PM
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Looks like asbestos.

It would probably be best to leave that where it is and just build walls and a top around it, and leave it where it is. Retire it and install a new boiler next to it.

Others will chime in shortly.
 
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Old 07-27-12, 03:47 PM
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Is this a hot-water boiler? If you are going to heat mainly with wood, then you might leave the existing boiler in place - if it's got asbestos, you can have it encapsolated. But, you also need to have a good boiler man inspect it before fall - the strap-on aquastat better not be the only control. And, where is the safety relief valve?

This boiler was not original to your 1927 house. The boiler may have been originally set up for coal firing. Is there an abandoned coal chute and coal bin somewhere?

Installing a wood-fired boiler in tandem with a gas-fired boiler is complicated - you will need professional help, for sure. Personally, I suspect you will soon tire of wood heating since you have natural gas available.

What did your home inspector report before you bought the house?
 
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Old 07-27-12, 06:59 PM
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I've seen wood boilers with natural gas backup rolled into one package. Maybe that would be a way to go.
 
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Old 07-28-12, 06:16 AM
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Size:  43.8 KBWe are planning on installing a wood burning insert into the fireplace upstairs. We love to watch fire through the glass doors. We've been heating with wood for a decade now, I don't think we'll get sick of it real soon. The question I have is should I hire somebody to come in and check this one out and get it running or should I look for an inexpensive used one to replace it with? I think this one was originally an oil burner. I'll repost a picture of the tag on it. Can anybody interpret the tag for me?
 
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Old 07-28-12, 09:08 AM
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2 gal oil/hr x 138,690 btu/gal = 277,000 btu/hr gross fuel input

Assume 70% efficient = 194,000 btu/hr net heat output. That's a large boiler. How many square feet to you have?

There isn't a major availability of good, used gas-fired boilers. People usually replace them when they are shot. I assume this Crane unit has been operating satisfactorily?

I would get this one professionally checked out and upgrade or service the controls, relief valve, expansion tank, automatic fill valve, and circulator, and then use it as a backup to your wood fireplace. But, do you think you can heat your house with one fireplace upstairs?

Or you can replace the gas boiler with a new one. That could set you back as much as $10,000 or so with labor.
 
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Old 07-28-12, 12:19 PM
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Whoa...that's HUGE. The house is only 1700sqft. I've read that most boilers are oversized, but that seems crazy big. Thanks for the interpretation. My first draft of a heat loss calculation on the house (i haven't found a good heat loss calculator or spreadsheet yet...any suggestions?) is that I should be able to heat the house with about 60,000 btu. That's a far cry from 194,000. As far as used ones go, there are six of them on craigslist right now in my home town. So I thought if i was patient I'd find the right one at the right price.
 
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