OLD heating system - advice on upgrades?

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Old 12-11-13, 07:21 AM
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OLD heating system - advice on upgrades?

Hi all
im new on this forum, which i found with a google search, as im trying to locate good info on heating systems.

5 years ago i bought an old house (1925). heating system was installed around 40 years ago and the oil boiler is still the original one, though the burner has been replaced more recently.

no documentation is available for the boiler and the local technicians are very tight lipped, you can guess why!
it is an ugly green bulky swiss made cube with several pipes coming out and some controls some of which seem disabled or have an obscure function.

the boiler has an internal water tank containing 110lt (30 usg) of water that is distributed to the hot water taps in the house

there is then an electromechanical device that will open a valve which will distribute heating water to the radiators. the valve is controlled by a thermostat installed in a room on the ground floor. when the thermostat switches the heating on, a clock-like mechanism will very slowly open the main distribution valve. the device has also an electric clock which let me set the time when heating is working. it has also a selector that allows me to set how much the valve will open.

there is a thermostat mounted on the boiler itself. it will start the burner when the (i suppose) heating water temp inside the boiler will goes below a set value, which can be dialed in.

there is a recirculation pump, which look quite modern, which is always running.

the system has a massive hysteresis, as a complete main valve opening can take 15 minutes. not sure how efficient the boiler or this system is. is this system operated by a mechanical valve commonly used to turn on and off the heating? i though the recirculation pump would be activated by the thermostat installed in the house.


any comments from the knowledgeables about this system and possible upgrades?

i have installed a RPI on the boiler which logs various temps (water in, water out, ext temp) , activation time, fuel usage.

i have replaced the old mechanical thermostat in the house with a more modern chronothermostat, hoping that setting for instance a lower temp during the day, when we are not home, would bring down fuel consumption. but fuel burn went up! so i now operate on a fixed temp.
im really trying to understand how this system is performing. i have undesired temp swings in the bedrooms upstairs which ill try to cure installing thermostatic valves on the radiators.

im trying to do some work myself because prices of local companies are HIGH. i was quoted USD 7000 for replacing the boiler with a more modern one. price excluding boiler, chimney replacement and electrical work!!

thanks to anyone who would like to comment

gm
 
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Old 12-11-13, 04:33 PM
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there is then an electromechanical device that will open a valve which will distribute heating water to the radiators. the valve is controlled by a thermostat installed in a room on the ground floor. when the thermostat switches the heating on, a clock-like mechanism will very slowly open the main distribution valve. the device has also an electric clock which let me set the time when heating is working. it has also a selector that allows me to set how much the valve will open.
That description is very strange to my American eyes. I can't begin to fathom your system. US$7,000 for a replacement boiler, not including the price of the boiler itself, seems like highway robbery - but I don't live in Switzerland. Surely, there must be some old-timers that can figure out your system?
 
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Old 12-11-13, 05:11 PM
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This does sound very interesting in its operation. I'm going to say that your price quote sounds somewhat in line if the replacement boiler is a mod/con.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 05:26 PM
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Price EXCLUDING boiler does seem high to me also... Here in NJ a price of $7000 for a COMPLETE installation would not be too far out of line. This price would include EVERYTHING.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 05:41 PM
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Sounds like there is constant circulation and possibly boiler protection...got to reread the post to wrap my head around this and picture in my mind.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 06:43 PM
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NOTE: The O.P. is located in Switzerland, which may help explain his installation.
 
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Old 12-12-13, 03:14 AM
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i will post a few pictures of the brute or even better, a video.

7000 dollars (is almost the same amount in swiss francs) is a lot of money for a couple yards of piping, a few connectors, and a few bits and pieces

i was also quoted 2000 francs for a chimney replacement and another 2000 for electrical work. add another at least 4000 for a decent german made condensation boiler and hot water tanks.


is quite common that installers here quote astronomic prices to install equipment that they didnt supply. they always want to supply the hardware. some will flatly refuse to install anything they did not supply.

but the same boiler, from these guys, cost more than double the price i can pay on ebay for exactly the same equipment.

needless to say, at these prices im not going to change anything.

i burn around 4000 liters of oil per year. thats more or less 4000 usd.

assuming i can save 25% of the fuel per year ( and i think thats very optimistic) i will need 10 to 15 years to just recover the costs of replacing the boiler. and thats not counting maintenance and interests.

the only reason i might change the boiler is that at almost 40 years of service, im afraid it might fail in the middle of the winter, and in such cases i will have to replace it in a hurry. the local installers will then feast on my wallet...

local government is pushing for people to replace oil boilers with heat pumps. but i have done a few calculations and even considering the government subsidy, the replacement is economically unviable, also considering that the government, which has embarked in a demential campaign of replacing nuclear with renewables, has clearly stated that energy prices will go up A LOT. and electricity is already quite expensive.

modern houses all use air-water heat pumps but they use floor heating and 16cm (over half foot) styrofoam insulation is mandatory for new buildings.
 
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Old 12-12-13, 08:33 AM
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40 years really isn't super old for a hot-water boiler. I sympathize regarding boiler costs in Switzerland - but, don't forget, you've got the nice views of the Alps and Lake Zurich
 
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Old 12-12-13, 01:32 PM
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i can actually see the alps from my house in a clear day. at the mo, i can hardly see my own fence, freezing fog....
as for zurich, is some 80 miles from here. but i have nice lakes close by. no lack of nice views over here.

here a video of the boiler and the stuff around it.


enjoy

Boiler - YouTube
 
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Old 12-12-13, 02:01 PM
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Very interesting... Is oil your only fuel source??

How many BTU is that boiler? And all cast iron rads in the home?

How many sq ft is the home?

How are the radiators piped, or connected to the main heat loop?

What are the specific issues you have with that boiler, or what are you trying to accomplish?



IMO the best thing you can do is to ditch the domestic hot water part of the boiler and install a seperate vessel/tank for the purpose...

Then certainly we would want to make the boiler cold start and install some type of bypass for boiler protection and increase the temp faster..

That set up may benefit for primary secondary piping but IMO a buffer tank would be ideal...

Let the others chime in...

But if you did want to change the boiler what were you considering?
 
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Old 12-12-13, 03:28 PM
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yes oil is my only fuel sorce. no methane here, and installing a gas talk is expensive and complicated

boiler is 80,000 to 127,000 btu/h
burner is 19 to 48 kw depending on settings. i dont know how it is set now but it burns around 4lt/hour, or 1 gallon per hour

the house is around 1800sqf on 2 floors

radiators are cast iron and connected in parallel. going to install thermostatic regulators

the boiler works fine, not sure about its efficiency, as it is quite old. exhaust fumes however are quite cold so cant be too bad.

the issues i have is mostly a way to control the boiler better. temperature in the house is far from constant. some day is cold, some days is hot.

id like to set up the boiler so i can control better the temperature. the main and only thermostat now is in the living room, which gets a lot of sun. so sunny days the living room is watm and the rest of the house is cold. i guess i have to relocate the thermostat, and install thermostatic valves on the radiator. not sure though if with the current arrangement (constantly on recirc pump and mechanically controller valve) i can achieve that. i also think im sometimes burning oil unnecessarily as the burner runs even with the main valve closed.

just to give you an idea, with the current temperatures (average -3 celsius during the day and no sun) im burning 5 gallons per day at 5 usd a gallon of oil.

i also dont know what water temperature should i use in the radiators. what i saw is that the water returning from the radiators is only a few degrees C colder than the water going out. i expected a larger differtence.

so bottom line what ii would like to achieve is better temperature control and of course fuel economy.


as replacement boiler i was looking at something like this

Paket Viessmann Vitoladens 300-C 19,3kW-HKS25E+-Speicher E160 Íl-Brennwertkessel | eBay

is a condensation boiler with a quite sophisticated burner control
 
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Old 12-12-13, 04:28 PM
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OK oil only....

Well if you did a heat loss of the home for 1800 sq ft you may be in the range of 45k to 63k btu heat loss of the home.. So the boiler there is oversized..

One thing you can do is put a smaller nozzle on the burner... Dont know whats there now..What is there now?

If you do go with a new boiler you would want probably the smallest oil offers, which is in the 80K btu range.. I think that is with a .50 nozzle... 1/2 gallon an hr..

That boiler you linked to is about 6k USD.. I know it comes with indirect and all the stuff but seems like a lot..

What brands can you get there other then the viessman?



As far as temp control we would be at the mercy to show you american controls... So we are not sure again what you can get there..

Now if that boiler is good, and it looks OK, when was the last time it was cleaned?

Can you read the #'s on that ratings plate and tell us what everything does? Those knobs and such? I saw in the video that it shows that but in a different language...

What type of chimney? masonry?

Boiler should heat to 108F... But if your over radiated and with cast radiators maybe the boiler is never getting hot enough... Usually a type of bypass is piped to prevent this...

Like I said primary/secondary piping....

There is a lot to talk about here and others will chime in with suggestions...
 
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Old 12-12-13, 04:43 PM
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Lets just throw this out there,,, A mod on this site has this boiler... This is a 63k btu. Like I said you should do a heat loss of the home...

MPO-IQ84 - Burnham MPO-IQ84 - MPO-IQ Series 64,000 BTU Output Oil Fired High Efficiency 3-Pass Boiler

U.S. Boiler Company is a leading manufacturer of home heating equipment, water boilers, steam boilers, hot water heaters, radiators and boiler control systems.

Couple it with a superstor indirect... Better heat transfer for the boiler btu rating...

These are throw aways and run about $700 usd.. May last 10 yrs or more...

SuperStor Contender Indirect Water Heater - Literature - HTP

Superstor Contender, SSC-35, Glass Lined Indirect Water Heater


And suggest primary secondary piping... This will his you good temp control...

Read here...

Bypass_Piping_Explaination

http://www.comfort-calc.net/primary-..._tutorial.html


And again dont know whats available to you...
 
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Old 12-13-13, 03:47 AM
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close up of the boiler label

with translation

http://gianmarco.dyndns.org/boiler/label1.jpg

leistung = performance. one kcal/hour is around 4 btu/hour

einspritzmenge = oil injection quantity il liters hr
boilerinhalt = boiler content

1 - smoke pipe connectionm
2 - expansion
3 - hot water
4 - cold water
5 - circulation
6 - heating inlet
7 - heating outlet
8 - mixing valve (this is where the clock device is connected)
9 - boiler thermometer
11 - double thermostat
13 - looking hole
14 - oil burner port
15 - drain
16 - return high temperature
17 - ashes removal door
18 - loading door
19 - tension controller
20 - flue gas flap
22 - boiler cleaning door
23 - cleaning door

more pics of the boiler

http://gianmarco.dyndns.org/boiler/DSC_6611.JPG
http://gianmarco.dyndns.org/boiler/DSC_6612.JPG

the clock device was obviously added later as it doesnt appear in the diagram, and it operates the mixing valve automatically.

later will post the diagram of how radiators are connected
 
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Old 12-13-13, 07:14 AM
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I guess we can assume this unit will burn with wood or coal too that it has an ashes removal door?
 
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Old 12-13-13, 08:50 AM
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it is very possible but i never tried it.

btw, if you have an interest in ancient heating system, i can show you some stuff. nearby there is a hold house which is a museum and is still organized in the way it was 300 years ago. heating system is remarkable...
my house still has some of the components used originally to heat it and that are very similar to the ones in the museum.

under the roof there is a room which communicates with the chimney that was once used to smoke meat and cheese

this is the diagram of how radiators are piped together. i omitted recirculator and expansion tank

http://gianmarco.dyndns.org/boiler/diagram.jpg
 

Last edited by gianmarko; 12-13-13 at 09:10 AM.
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