What should I be looking for in a new boiler?


Old 08-31-13, 07:08 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 44
What should I be looking for in a new boiler?

So if you haven't been following along for the last month or so you here is my story. I have a 1600 Sq foot house with a calculated heat loss of 45-55 K. Via several methods. I am reworking the wiring in the attic and will add ~12 inches of additional blow in once I get the knob and tube redone. Currently I am heating with a 20 Kw 68000 BTU electric boiler built in 1962. My radiators are cast Iron (490 sq feet) which a couple of the contractors have used to calculate the size of the boiler they want to sell me. I have attached one such quote below.

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I am going to switch over to natural gas which should help quit a bit My electric is .10 + /KW and gas is .78/therm for first 54 and them goes to .71 after 54.

Now here comes the question. I have pretty much decided not to buy a mod/con unless the need for a flue liner would bring the cost in line with the conventional. When do I not need a flue liner?
I am trying to decide what features i should be looking for in a conventional boiler. I don't know which would be better power vent or direct vent. I suspect spark/electronic ignition is better than standing pilot. boiler Bypass?
I guess I need a sight to teach me what all these mean. I know some like slant fin and others like more exotic brands and still others prefer Weil McLain. I just want a good solid low cost boiler thats not gonna cost a fortune to operate or maintain and that will heat my house properly.
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Old 09-01-13, 01:05 AM
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First Question is, does your current boiler heat the house to your satisfaction during the coldest days of the coldest winter? (You may not be able to answer this question due to not living in the house through several winters.) If it does, then there is absolutely NO REASON to install a boiler with a higher BTU output than what your electric would put out, i.e. 68kBTUs. If you are adding energy saving improvements such as additional insulation and air sealing then these improvements should be included when doing the heat loss calculation.

Whether or not you need a flue liner is dependent upon the condition of the existing flue. More likely as not a flue liner, even if not absolutely necessary, is a good investment. You might want to get an opinion from a certified chimney sweeping company.

Unless I am completely insane (certainly possible at this hour) a direct vent boiler would exhaust through the side wall of the house and not use an existing chimney. I doubt that you will find any modern boiler that still uses an atmospheric (non-power vent) burner and standing pilot.

Others will have to advise you concerning the boiler or system bypass piping. These are boiler and installation specific and if suggested (or required) by the system or boiler manufacturer then they must be installed. The cost of the extra piping and valves is trivial but the protection added to the boiler is immense.

As for a site (not sight) to help you understand it all...you have already found such a site. There are several VERY knowledgeable people that contribute their expertise on this forum. Some are professionals in the trades and some are competent DIYers but there is very little, if any, misinformation on this forum that lasts for more than a few hours without correction.

Added: In my opinion ALL of the posted estimates are insanely oversized boilers.
Old 09-01-13, 06:16 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 44
Thank you Furd, the electric boiler has kept the house warm since 2006when we purchased it, so only problem with it is insane electric bill each month.
There is no lining in the chimney it is all brick.

The example quotes were from the 1st contractor who came and did a radiator calculation. Yes those are all boilers are way over sized I think, for this house. Someone also correct me if wrong but an over sized High efficiency boiler will short cycle and therefor NOT attain the high efficiency number that it was purchased for in the first place.

I have never had gas heating system before so I am trying to learn the terminology and the in's and outs as well.
Old 09-01-13, 06:33 AM
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You will need to line the chimney if its only brick.. Fairly simple..

Run away from all those estimites.. All are grossly oversized and it would seem none of them know about heating.

A good boiler IMO is one that has push nipples holding the sections togther... The only two I would use that have this is burnham and slant fin.

Most important you have cast rads. You must install some type of boiler protection to prevent condensation. If not the boiler you install will rust up inside the heat exchanger.

If anything you probably need around a 40k boiler. Did you use the slant fin heat loss calculator?
Old 09-03-13, 12:00 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 44
I called another contractor today....

he was on the list from the Burnham website. He said he used to like Burnham but here in our area there is a supply problem with parts. He said if there is a problem you could be without heat from 2 days to two weeks. He uses New Yorker's now. He seemed to like the availability. But good news is I was able to talk with him intelligently and he seemed to be on adjacent if not same page as far as heat loss calcs for sizing goes. maybe there is hope..

No one seems to do Slant fin around here either.... So It looks like I may be limited as to which boilers I can even get here.

BTW I was liking the looks of the ES2-3 or PVG3
Maybe the New Yorker PVCG-A ( 52000) would be a viable option.
Looks like the Burnham PVG3INI-S (52000) is same product only different color? Anyone?

Last edited by Frank_S.; 09-03-13 at 12:56 PM.
Old 09-03-13, 02:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
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He said he used to like Burnham but here in our area there is a supply problem with parts. He uses New Yorker's now.
Burnham and New Yorker are owned by the same holding company. It's possible that they are manufactured in the same plant?

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