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What's a reasonable price for a new boiler / indirect configuration?


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04-19-17, 07:29 PM   #1 (permalink)  
What's a reasonable price for a new boiler / indirect configuration?

Hi - we just purchased a 1961, 2500 sq. ft home near Syracuse NY (2 stories + finished basement) on 3 heating zones. The boiler is an original Bryant, rated at 160,000 BTU's, and the hot water heater is 15 years old. Insulation has been added to the attic and there is some pink fiberglass in the walls. New, double-pane windows were installed in the early 2000's.

I intend to replace both units with a mounted unit that is either:
1) a combination boiler/on-demand hot water or
2) a boiler / indirect tank.

However I'd like to move them from the center of the utility room to the outer wall (about 6' away), and splice in one heating zone (accessible from the other end of the room, about 20' away). This will allow us to demolish our chimney and vent the new high efficiency unit out the back of the house.

I'm blown away by the quotes I am getting.
Quote 1) $18,000 for a Navien NHB-55 and a Crown Indirect 50 gallon.
Quote 2) $11,400 for a Navien NHB-110 and a PurePro 41 gallon tank.

Quote #1 did a blower test on our front door to evaluate how well the house is sealed.

Doing some research I am finding:
1) A wall mounted boiler of this type could range $1,800-$2,500.
2) An indirect tank can range range from $1,000-$1,500

So if I take the high end of both of those ($4,000) and add $1500 for misc pumps, parts, copper, control boards, etc - that's $5500 in hardware. Both contractors are estimating 2 people, 3 days (48 hrs).

At $100 / hour, that's $4800. Contractor 2 ($11,400) is $45 / hour, or $2160 for the job. Honestly that seems low. Contractor 1 ($18k) didn't list it but I'm figuring they are closer to $300 / hour.

Is this whacked or is this normal? I shared my math with contractor 2 today and he didn't have a good answer, which suggests that they are concealing the product costs and using that to capture their margin as opposed to labor. But I'm shocked here - in my mind this should be around $8k.

Can someone talk some sense into me please?

Oh and why such a huge range on the BTU selection?

 
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04-20-17, 08:11 AM   #2 (permalink)  
Oh and why such a huge range on the BTU selection?
You need to perform a heat-loss calculation for your house - or pay somebody that is qualified to run the calc. Contractors will not normally run a heat-loss "on the come," gambling that they will get the job.

You also need to find out exactly what each bidder is providing. If you haven't already, you need to check references.

 
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04-21-17, 05:09 AM   #3 (permalink)  
Update - heat loss calculations

Ok - I calculated the dimensions of the home, total square footage, window and door square footage. Since we basically live in a rectangle, I did not do a room-by-room calculation, rather I decided to treat an entire floor as a room.

Output = 2284 finished (heated) square feet with a little under 300 sq. ft. of windows and doors. Assumptions are that we are looking for a delta T of 68 degrees.

I plugged that data into the following calculators:
Boiler BTU Calculator - SupplyHouse.com = 101,000 (not detailed)
Heat Loss Calculator | U.S. Boiler Company = 45,223 (moderately detailed)
Slant/Fin Heat Loss Calculator - Slantfin = 60,254 (highly detailed)
https://www.alternateheatingsystems....alculator.html 64,000 (moderately detailed)

The first quote, who did a blower door test, spec'd a 55,000 BTU unit.

I'm also making some basic assumptions, like the insulation I have is 2" thick. Our windows are all double pane. On the 4th calculator I choose "good" (not excellent) doors, windows, etc and got a result of 64,000. If I change it to "poor" it goes to 100,000 (ish).

Based on all of the above data, and that I would like to drive an indirect tank off the boiler, I am starting to wonder if an 80,000 BTU unit may be my best choice?

 
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04-21-17, 03:18 PM   #4 (permalink)  
Measuring boiler heat load

Unless Skiboy10 has radiant heating that can use 80F+ water he will not get full valve of a condensing boiler. Baseboard and other types of existing hydronic heating units require water 140F to 180F to provide adequate heat. A good explanation is in Contractor Magazine article.
To condense or not condense, that is the question

A fast, easy and accurate way to find boiler load is to collect data from existing boiler for a period of time while logging degree days and gallon of oil used.

Wire $8 clock hour meter into burner solenoid to get actual run time.
https://www.amazon.com/AC100-250V-El...productDetails

Then crunch data to find degree days per gallon and actual nozzle gph from clock hours and gallons used.

To find existing boiler efficiency measure stack temp with meter and probe in links below. Then use efficiency vs net temp chart to find actual efficiency.

Digital Thermometer 2 Way Temperature Thermocouple Sensor probe C / F / K Type | eBay

3M cable K Type Thermocouple 100MM Probe Sensor For PID Temperature Controller | eBay

Calculate current boiler BTU/hour. Multiply actual/measured nozzle gph x 140,000 btu/gal x ?? efficiency

Figure BTU load at design temperature. Subtract design temp from 65F for number of max degree days. Divide that by DD per gallon for number of gallons need at design temp. Multiple number gallons by BTU/hour and divide by 24 hours for BTU/hour.

This method provides actual measured data, not calculated estimates. Old houses have all kinds of variables that make heat load calculations results more like guestimates.

Years back I started using clock to monitor burner operation so nozzle size could be reduced yet provide BTU's needed at design temp. Have found the data is very consistent. My 60 year old Weil-McLain boiler label reads 1.80 GPH is firing at 0.80 GPH (measured). On design temp days it runs 8 hours/day leaving plenty of reserve.

Domestic hot water is another issue. In the summer I run a oil fired water heater using 1 gallon per week. In the winter it is more efficient to use water from boiler (350F stack) tankless coil and circulator to heat water heater (550F stack temp).

 
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04-21-17, 03:30 PM   #5 (permalink)  
Thanks! I will dig into some of those links a little later. Another person came over today. He measured the baseboards and said the most they can emit is 600 BTU's / foot. We added it all up and came up with 100,000 BTU's of possible concurrent emission. His suggestion was NOT to use a condensing boiler, rather a high efficiency standard boiler. He said it will likely last longer and cost less over the long run - there's lime in our water and that it has been known to clog up some of the small ports on the heat exchangers of the high efficiency units in this area. His price, $10,500 all-in, including the indirect water tank application. 3 year labor warranty.

 
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04-21-17, 04:37 PM   #6 (permalink)  
I like the way that last guy thinks. I would steer clear of a wall-hanging, condensing boiler.

doughess also makes a lot of sense about measuringthe heat loss instead of trying the calculate it. Since you were considering a condensing boiler, you must have natural gas? That would make measuring heat loss easier, since you can clock the gas meter.

But, to measureheat loss, you will need a heating season under your belt. Personally, I would avoid replacing your boiler, assuming it still works, until you have run it for a whole season and gotten that experience.

Actually, if your boiler works, why replace it at all? You can hardly ever economically justify replacing a boiler that works on the basis of fuel savings - despite what boiler salesmen would tell you. The payback period is too long. You can run the numbers based on a mythical boiler that uses zero fuel, and calculate what you can pay for such a boiler. I have a house twice your size, and use about $1,000 per year for gas fuel. So, that mythical boiler, to achieve a 10-year pay-back period, could cost only $10,000.

 
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04-21-17, 08:22 PM   #7 (permalink)  
You do not need a season's data to figure heat loss on given day. If the mean temp for the day is 35F that is 30 degree days and the burner runs for X hours, then at +5F (60 degree days) it will run 2X hours. If that system heating only the building, not DHW and uses 4 gallons at 35F then it will use 8 gallons at +5F.

If that system is also heating domestic hot water then DD/Gal will increase slightly as outside temp drops. In warmer weather when DHW is more of the load factor DD/Gal will be lower.

There really is not a good rule of thumb for DHW load.

Using a week or two of data is better than 24 hours.

Using baseboard BTU's to estimate building heat load is ? Dumb??

You do not want a perfectly sized boiler running 24hour/day on design temp days. Boilers get dirty BTU's drop, **** happens so an oversized boiler is selected.

In the US 85% of boilers are twice the size needed and run less than 25% of the time on design days. Skiboy10 would have a very efficiency system by using his system data to increase efficiency by cutting nozzle size.

Changing $5 nozzles is easy, A $100 smoke gauge makes adjustment simple.


Last edited by doughess; 04-21-17 at 08:50 PM.
 
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04-22-17, 04:40 AM   #8 (permalink)  
The article on condensing vs non-condensing boilers was fascinating. So I ran a little experiment. I turned a zone way up, and then measured the output temperature vs return temperature using a hand scanner (one of those point and shoot things). The output was 158 degrees, the return was about 130 (measuring the outside of the copper pipe just a few feet from the boiler).

There is a longer zone in the house but the baby is sleeping... I can only assume the return on that zone would be slightly less.

If I read the article right, this is right on the line of condensing. The unit is rusting out, albeit the unit is 56 years old.

Based on some other reading I'm starting to lean towards a 100k BTU 90% AFUE free-standing boiler, for some minor cost savings plus longevity / lower maintenance. The condensing boilers seem like they might be pushing the envelope a little too much (kinda like a BMW). I am going to talk to the people quoting this about having a loop and thermostatic valve put in to pre-heat the return water so that it is above the condensing point.

One thing bugging me about all these quotes - nobody is providing me with a materials estimate. Just a lump number. And they seem to get squirrel-ly about providing me a breakout.

 
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04-22-17, 04:55 AM   #9 (permalink)  
Cost calculations

A few minutes ago I was lamenting not getting a good breakout of parts and time. Here's my rough math - just picking parts from the Home Depot.
  • Slant/Fin Boiler 100k BTU $2732 (I can't find a good price on the Lennox
  • Expansion Tank $75
  • Circ Pump $100
  • Blowback/Sweat Valve $100
  • Zone Valves - $120-$150 * 4 = $600
  • 100' 3/4" Copper Pipe in 10 ft lengths $200
  • Misc Copper / PVC plumbing $200
  • Permit - $200 (guess)
  • 20' of Natural Gas pipe - $50 (guess)

So that's about $4000 in product at retail price. Mark it up another 10% for purchasing through the dealer and that's $4400.

2 people / 2 days = 32 hours of labor. At $125 / hour (is this a fair rate) that's another $4k.

So I'm at $8,000-$8,500, which is where my head's been at all along. Which is still $2k below my best offer. Am I just being too stingy?

 
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04-22-17, 04:59 AM   #10 (permalink)  
Correction - I forgot to add the indirect hot water tank - which is like $1200 or so - perhaps the last quote is about right, assuming my labor cost assumptions are good.

 
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04-22-17, 05:10 AM   #11 (permalink)  
Besides for wanting to move the current heating plant to a slightly different location . . . . is there something about its components which is currently mal-functioning ?

Or is it just that you want to convert from oil to gas ?

At any level of expenditure, I don't quite see where your return on investment is going to be achieved.

 
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04-22-17, 08:38 AM   #12 (permalink)  
“If I read the article right, this is right on the line of condensing. The unit is rusting out, albeit the unit is 56 years old.
Without going into a long explanation That sentence is connecting the wrong dots.

Have never heard of wide spread cast iron boiler failures resulting from condensation. Yes, it can happen, but it has not done Skikid10's in yet. My 60 year old Weil-McLain is just as efficient and easier to clean than the new ones.

Non-condensing boilers use 140F as the low water temp setting to avoid condensation. Boiler return water, especially on early morning room thermostat step up to daytime temperatures can lower boiler temp well below 133F condensing point. .

A simple solution is to use a $10 PID to control circulator. When return water drops to 135F it stops circulator until burner brings boiler to 138F. That is a short delay that occupants do not notice, often before they wake up!
Dual Digital F / C PID Temperature Controller with K Thermocouple M2D2

Back to Skikid10 starting post:
Can someone talk some sense into me please?
You have a working system that due to various building improvements is probably grossly oversized. You can easily save $8,000, avoid the problems of condensing systems (read some reviews) and make it more efficient with a smaller $5 nozzle. On another post I explain how to adjust the burner.

In my other life I have seen people make a decision to do something significant, then on their self-set deadline pick whatever is available, however bad. When eventually they realize it was bad wonder how they came to do it.


Last edited by doughess; 04-22-17 at 10:16 AM.
 
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04-23-17, 07:46 PM   #13 (permalink)  
What about auto water feed,high pressure shut off ,air separator, low water cut off? Many variables to the cost. Problaly not too far off. Went to a new customers house on a service call. She said she paid 18k for a combi/indirect install.

 
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04-24-17, 06:26 AM   #14 (permalink)  
Thanks for the update and the help everyone. I am currently at $10.5 for a free-standing boiler / hot water combo in a new location. There's some questions about why I would make this investment at all -- there are two primary drivers:

1) the current boiler is rusting away - I can practically poke my hole through the top and there's signs of flame rollout through the front (though I haven't seen it myself, the flame looks pretty good)
2) we are planning extensive remodeling to the house, which involves demolition of the chimney the boiler and hot water heater are venting out of - we need to move this to a side wall and vent out the side.
3) the hot water heater is 15 years old

Given the physical state of the existing boiler, I don't think it makes sense to try and relocate it, and I'm not even sure if it can be vented through a wall. These are the primary drivers.

 
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04-25-17, 04:39 PM   #15 (permalink)  
the current boiler is rusting away - I can practically poke my hole through the top
I strongly suspect that what you are describing is metal lagging or enclosure around the insulation - not any pressure parts. If so, not an immediate matter of concern and not a reason to replace a boiler that is working.

 
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04-26-17, 08:21 AM   #16 (permalink)  
Relabel Thread

Maybe “Cost/Benefits of Eliminating Chimney When Remodeling”. That is big question here.

There are no signs that either boiler or water heater need to be replaced. Age of either is not a good indicator of life expectancy.

My 60 year old Weil-McLain cast iron boiler (85%+ efficiency) shows no signs of aging. The life of my 21 year old steel water heater (12 year warranty) was just extended with a new $25 anode.


Last edited by doughess; 04-26-17 at 10:32 AM.
 
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04-26-17, 11:50 AM   #17 (permalink)  
Here are some info I can give and questions for ya.

2500 sq ft house runs about 62k btu heat loss.

You seem over radiated from what you state that there is 100k btu of basboard.

1. What kind of baseboard is it? Copper, cast etc..

That 600 btu per foot is not true. On older baseboard new its about 550 per ft. Take bent fins, dust collection etc and that is reduced. And that is at 180F degree water temps from boiler.

Can you take a pic of the boiler and piping? If its large piping then you need to size boiler IBR and not DOE.

2. If your moving the boiler where is the chimney? Of do you need an induced draft model?

As far as indirect I would only go with a superstore contender. These can be had cheap and have the best recovery IMO..

35 gallon can be had for $900 but if you shop around a 45 gal is around $1100.. Fast recovery IMO you will not need more then the 35 gallon.

HTP - SuperStor Contender Indirect Water Heater

SuperStor 45-Gal. Indirect Water Heater-SSU-45 - The Home Depot

I have more but ill wait for your reply...


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04-26-17, 06:46 PM   #18 (permalink)  
What's a reasonable price for a new car?

 
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04-26-17, 07:53 PM   #19 (permalink)  
@lawrosa

Piping is copper.
Chimney is directly behind the boiler (see photo). Water heater is to the left, just outside of the photo. Proposal is to move the boiler and water tank to the back of the room, about where I am standing to take the photo. Venting would be out the side of the house.

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Thank you (everyone) for your thoughts on this.

 
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04-26-17, 11:05 PM   #20 (permalink)  
Ok so you need power vent type boiler if you move the boiler..

Thats a very very simple install and IMO I would leave the boiler where it is and use the chimney.

CO is a bit pricey but im not sure what area you are.

Boiler and indirect may be $3000 tops. $2000 to install would be a lot but 2 guys 2 days would seem fair with 1000 profit for them.

It would be like paying 2 guys 60 bucks an hour.. Should be done in one day its so simple.

Yes I would stay with a regular cast iron boiler.

Is the expansion tank in the ceiling? I dont see one at or near the boiler..
Where are your zone valves?

I would reuse what works there. Fill valve, pump wtc. There aint much there.


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04-27-17, 04:58 AM   #21 (permalink)  
@lawrosa

Thanks. What I'm getting out of this and a number of other the responses is that the boiler could have years of life left to it, and that the driving reason to get rid of it vs nozzle it down is really the venting in relationship to the chimney.

Unfortunately the chimney is is a terrible place in the house - it cuts up a lot of floor space and closet space, which we would use very differently if it wasn't there (it goes through the middle of the house, not along a side wall). So this is really coming into a dependency on the total cost of removing the chimney - assuming that is in our budget, then we would be committing to a new boiler. If it isn't, then we should leave the boiler where it is until the budget is available.

This has been super-helpful. Thank you!

 
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04-27-17, 05:20 AM   #22 (permalink)  
In defense of your chimney being in the middle of the house, you have a "Warm Chimney" which was more expensive to build originally, requiring more co-ordination with the Carpenters, and these chimneys provide certain benefits to your house. Cold Chimneys on the outside of a house are much cheaper to install . . . . and may even be an afterthought.

Masonry and stainless steel chimneys perform best when protected from outside temperatures, and chimneys located inside the home will perform much better than a cold chimney located on the exterior of the building.

Cold chimneys convect cold air back into the building when there is a significant difference in temperature inside the flue pipe . . . . this causes the heavier cold air inside the chimney to spill into the inside of the building replacing the warmer more buoyant air.

And before deciding to remove your inside "warm chimney", make sure that it is not used to structurally support any of the building's timbers or floor joists. When you mentioned that it is located in the middle of the house, it reminded me of a Center Entry Colonial I once owned where the massive Central Chimney was a major support structure for the entire building, It wasn't just part of the heating plant.


Last edited by Vermont; 04-27-17 at 05:43 AM. Reason: spelling errors !
 
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04-27-17, 07:55 AM   #23 (permalink)  
The problem with a vented model boiler in the standard cast iron design is the steel vent piping is very expensive. You cant pipe with PVC until you get to the condensing type boilers.

Its not a problem either way really but raises the cost..

What boilers are sold in your area? Brands?

Also your boiler being rusted like it is denotes possible low return temps and flue condensation.

This would mean often that cast iron heat emitters are in the home, like old radiators, or cast iron baseboard. You said you have copper baseboards?

If there is a low return temp issue a boiler bypass piping scheme needs to be thought out or primary secondary piping scheme.. Otherwise the new boiler will be destroyed in no time just like the old boiler..

Lots to consider here..


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04-27-17, 08:18 AM   #24 (permalink)  
Only cast iron unit ( and its 90% eff) that pipes with PVC is the GV 90 from weil [email protected] bucks

They use O ring seals and Im not a fan...

382-200-610 - Weil Mclain 382-200-610 - GV90+3 56,000 BTU Output High Efficiency Gas Boiler (Nat Gas & LP)

Keeping your chimney you cut that cost in half.

Using chimney a new yorker with push nipple design seals is about 1400 bucks.

CG30EN-GH - New Yorker CG30EN-GH - CG30E 51,000 BTU Output Spark Ignition Cast Iron Gas-Fired Water Boiler w/ LWCO (Nat Gas)


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Last edited by lawrosa; 04-27-17 at 09:56 PM.
 
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04-27-17, 06:42 PM   #25 (permalink)  
@lawrosa

It looks like I can get Weil-McLaine in the area. I've been quoted on this unit: http://www.lennox.com/products/heati...oilers/gwb9-ih and it looks like Home Depot carries Slant/Fin.

Everything is copper baseboard.

I did heat measurements last week and the return water was around 130 degrees - so I agree that a heating loop before the return is probably in order, especially since we will be carrying the water through another 10-15' of pipe.

 
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04-27-17, 10:11 PM   #26 (permalink)  
I did heat measurements last week and the return water was around 130 degrees - so I agree that a heating loop before the return is probably in order, especially since we will be carrying the water through another 10-15' of pipe.
How many zones?

How long are each loops?

With 130F coming back to the boiler is an issue, but is the boiler reaching 180F out? Does the boiler ever reach 180F? ( You may have other issues with boiler too so just asking)

I ask because you need to figure this out before you spend money on a new system or youll just have the same issue of cold returns and destroy the new boiler.

That lennox is aluminum heat exchanger... That lennox is why the price quoted is so high.


If your loops are long and why you have cool returns a boiler bypass will help..

Ill go more into that latter. But if none of these installers are addressing this to you then you need to find competent people where you live.

Page 16 is P/S piping example. Normal piping for mod cons.

http://resources.lennox.com/FileUplo...WB9-IH_IOM.pdf

Cast iron boilers can be piped P/S too but a cheaper alternative is a boiler bypass.


[ATTACH=CONFIG]80156[/ATTACH]


But you must determine why the cool return temps..

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04-28-17, 06:15 AM   #27 (permalink)  
@lawrosa,

The best output temperature I read was 158 degrees. This was using a handheld scanner on the copper a few feet from the boiler. I don't know the length of the run - it was our middle zone - so the upstairs zone is longer.

I'm aware of the return loop solution and was going to insist that any new boiler be measured for whether or not that will be necessary. If it is that the current boiler is just firing 20 degrees cool, then maybe moving it up to 180 will address it.

 
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04-28-17, 10:34 AM   #28 (permalink)  
Yes the aquastat may be off....with a loops system and a boiler that big it should reach 180F no problem..


Mike NJ




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