Dismayed and scared after oil boiler installation today--NEED ADVICE!

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Old 01-17-18, 04:15 PM
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Dismayed and scared after oil boiler installation today--NEED ADVICE!

​It's about 6 PM, I literally haven't had a morsel of food since early this morning, so I'm only going to write a few words now and come back after eating. But I felt I had to sound the most urgent alarm, and my most desperate need for assistance ever in this forum, before I could even eat.

The installers of my oil boiler came this morning and spent the entire day here-- but though the boiler is allegedly 'installed', for very good reasons I'm afraid to use it. No aspect of the system seems to be functioning properly-- not the gauges, not the high-temp cut-off, not the vent damper! And besides that there's a drip coming from God knows where!​

So the only question I'll ask right now is a global question: should I use this same company to solve all the problems I'm overwhelmed and alarmed by, hoping that a different pair of employees will come tomorrow who know what they're doing? Or should I seek assistance from some other company? I should mention that although I signed the contract with Sears, they of course subcontract out the work to local companies. And I have, as part of the contract with Sears, a service agreement for free, unlimited visits during the first few years after installation.

Fortunately, I've had my set of experiences with my gas boiler (which I remember well) to compare today's events to, so I am able to recognize all the anomalies that have cropped up today as the colossal departures from proper functioning that they are.
 

Last edited by LatestCraze; 01-17-18 at 04:17 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 01-17-18, 04:39 PM
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Plain and simple.... you have two choices....
1) call the same installer back.
2) call Sears and tell them they sent hacks.

Hopefully..... payment in full has not been rendered.
 
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Old 01-17-18, 04:45 PM
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Sears; are you kidding me? With all your ranting I thought you would know better. Wow, 2 strikes, 1 more left.
 
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Old 01-17-18, 05:50 PM
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I have read all your posts and I think you should put up a tent in the back yard and then start a campfire. Heat rocks in the fire and then bring them inside the tent for warmth. Be careful not to burn yourself.
 
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Old 01-17-18, 10:17 PM
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I want to tell you first about an incident that occurred at about 2 PM today that has nothing directly to do with all my very serious concerns about the boiler but illustrates the kind of company Sears has subcontracted the job to.

There were a pair of employees from that company, the Installer and the Plumber, who had been working since about 10 AM, when I got a call (from the basement-- I was upstairs in the one slightly warm room) from the Electrician, who was there to do the thermostat portion of the operation, more specifically to see if the new boiler was properly communicating with the existing thermostat. So I led him to the thermostat and he performed some tests and ultimately said it was satisfactory, but with a hesitation in his delivery and an uncertainty in his tone that made me uneasy, although there had been nothing wrong with the thermostat up till that moment, i.e. the thermostat had nothing to do with the malfunctioning of my gas boiler on Dec. 5th. So I asked him why he sounded so tentative in his pronouncement about the thermostat. Until then, he and I had exchanged a total of perhaps 30 words, so he had no reason to think I was anything but the most ordinary of homeowners, i.e. a typical, not-very-well-informed layman, which in truth is actually what I am (I'm not like some of the people on this website, capable of building...say, a snowmobile from scratch if they really wanted to).

Here's what the Electrician said to me in response to my question about why he was so lukewarm about whether the thermostat was okay: "Well, because although it's okay AT THE MOMENT, there's a good chance that once it goes off, it won't go back on. This model of the Honeywell is what we call 'topsy-turvy'." Naturally, I was dumbfounded to hear that, and couldn't muster anything more than, "Whaaaaaat?", half a question, and half an agonized cry of disbelief!

And then the Electrician uttered a few sentences that together constitute what I think is the single most amazing/disturbing/absurd thing any skilled professional like an Electrician has ever said to a civilian like me, particularly one he's only exchanged thirty words with.

He began with "I have to leave now, but come over here to the thermostat."

When I hung back, he actually beckoned me over, saying, " C'mere, I want to show you exactly what to do if the next time the thermostat clicks on, the boiler doesn't start." He then proceeded to tell me to remove the cover and then described EXACTLY HOW I SHOULD REWIRE THE THERMOSTAT!!!

Without establishing I had even the ability of a 3-year-old to follow instructions, he entrusted to me--an untrained, untested (and unwilling!) stranger--the task of reconfiguring the wiring of the thermostat! Granted it was pretty simple, but what kind of company has its Electrician assign such a task to the person they're supposed to be working for so the Electrician can go to his next assignment???!!

That's the kind of thing that went on today. I see now I only have time to give a summary of the issues, not a blow by blow account, and to ask you guys specifically how I should proceed on each of these issues.

1) The most potentially dangerous and definitely the most unsettling issue is this: A completely bizarre situation currently exists with the aquastat, a vital component of a hot-water system. I know that especially the high-temperature cut-off of the aquastat is a critical safety device of hot-water boilers, whether gas or oil, since it keeps the boiler operating within a safe temperature range-- without it, the boiler wouldn't click off until it reached the thermostat setting, regardless of the temperature of the water in the tank: a real hazard. I know that great stress was placed upon it when the installer of my prior boiler was telling me about the safety features it had. This gauge has direct control over the boiler's operation--making it go off at whatever temp it is set for, quite properly entirely disregarding the thermostat no matter how loudly it urges, "Stay on! Stay on!". So with this gauge, you not only see what the temperature of the water in the tank of the boiler is at each given moment and how fast it's changing, but you control that temperature by setting the aquastat's HI temp cut-off at the temperature recommended by the manufacturer (with my prior, gas-fired boiler, it was 185 degrees) and you can also see how well the device is working: does the boiler click off when it reaches the Aquastat high temperature setting even though the room temperature is still well below the thermostat setting for the house? If so, be glad-- your safety is BEING WELL-PROTECTED.

Well, with this new Sears boiler as installed by the crew at my house today, my safety is BEING SERIOUSLY IMPERILED. First and foremost-- and this is unbelievable, I know, but it is happening as I write these words!-- the Installer left the Aquastat/Water Level Gauge (which are the two halves of a single dial) of my old gas-boiler in place (it's just above the new installation) when he put in the new oil-boiler, AND he installed another Aquastat/Water Level Gauge: the one that came with the new oil boiler. When I finally saw there were two gauges performing the identical functions, I literally cried out in bewilderment and rapidly-growing horror and said to the Installer, "Wait a minute! TWO Aquastats???? Which one is actually controlling the boiler and will turn it off when it gets to the highest temperature permitted? And what is the new boiler's Aquastat set for? And what is the manufactuer's recommended HI temp setting?"

And as bewildered and horrified as I already was when POSING those questions to the Installer, I was far more horrified when I heard his answer: "I don't know." He didn't know the answer to a single one of those vital questions!!

Meanwhile, the temperature gauge that came with the oil boiler (from now on, I'll call it the New Temp Gauge) showed a very different temp than the one from my old natural gas boiler (from now on, the Old Temp Gauge), compounding the ''Which Gauge is in charge here?" problem with a "Why the big temp discrepancy between the gauges?" problem.

And that's not all-- the water level indicated on the natural gas boiler's gauge (the Old WaterLevel Gauge), although very slow to respond (we were filling the system for about half an hour before it moved off 0 feet and I still wonder about its accuracy in this new setting), finally started to show a substantial water level, but the New WaterLevel Gauge never left 0.

And then we have the very scary "Vent Damper" issue. With my natural gas boiler, a few seconds after the thermostat clicked on, you could hear the vent damper opening, and then a few seconds after that, you could hear the burners being ignited by the pilot light and bursting into flame. And it had safety mechanisms that prevented the latter if the former failed to occur. Well, when the oil boiler clicked on, not a few seconds but more than 30-- perhaps even 40 --seconds elapsed before we could hear the whooosh of the flue damper opening, and then, a while after that, the igniting of the oil. Am I wrong to have generalized from my experience with my natural gas boiler and concluded that this suggested a defective flue damper system?

And lastly, we come to not the most frightening and dangerous part of the installation, but certainly the most frustrating, and the one where the departure of the Installer and Plumber for home before it achieved completion proved most outraging! And I also very much need an explanation and/or a remedy that I can implement on Thursday for the situation they left me with. So we spent a half hour filling the boiler's water tank and the house's radiators while both water level gauges read 0, then we spent another half hour filling the system with water, during which time the Old WaterLevel Gauge showed an increase to about 25 feet while the New WaterLevel Gauge remained at 0. But when I went upstairs intending to bleed the air out of the radiators on the first floor until I hit water, I was soon to find the following. One of the radiators showed no response of any kind, while the other two bled air, and bled air, and bled a......... but never displayed even a single drop of water. So, somehow we'd spent an hour putting water into the radiator system, the Old WaterLevel Gauge, which had proved highly accurate and reliable on my gas boiler, indicated 25 feet of water as the level (which is somewhere between the second floor and the attic), and yet no water has thus far emerged when turning the key in the valve of the radiators on the FIRST FLOOR, only air. So what's going on? And what do I do? Continue to bleed the radiators releasing air? And can I do this profitably when the radiators are cold?-- Of course, I'm afraid to turn on the boiler until the high temp cut-off issue is fully resolved to my satisfaction! !

There are other, smaller issues, but I think you guys-- and certainly THIS guy-- has had enough for the moment! I thank everyone for the assistance you've given me with many aspects of this crisis since it struck on Dec. 5, and hope you can help me bring it to a successful conclusion, as I nervously navigate these new and dangerous issues. Incidentally, I'm recalling the meme made popular by JFK in a speech of his as President: he said that the word for 'crisis' in Chinese is a combination of two characters, one meaning 'danger' and the other 'opportunity'. Well, I keep searching for the 'opportunity' lurking in this crisis of mine, and I only keep seeing 'danger'!!
 
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Old 01-18-18, 04:46 AM
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Why did you choose Sears? And since you're so anal about safety and quality, why would you not contract with a qualified HVAC company with references? You let a retail store randomly pick an installer that you know nothing about. You repeatedly ignore our experts advise. I have to agree with LUANA.
Had you originally replaced your system with a gas fired unit as advised you would not have put yourself in this situation. OR this whole story is made up.
 
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Old 01-18-18, 05:09 AM
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What can I say? You asked for recommendations from this site and when you got good and solid responses from all over the USA, you contracted to have a new boiler installed that everyone said was a mistake. Switching to #2 fuel oil when natural gas was available was a huge blunder. All boilers firing every fuel should be serviced yearly. Natural gas units usually need a minimal amount of cleaning of the heating surfaces as compared to fuel oil fired boilers. Fuel oil is a dirty fuel that requires frequent cleaning of the heating surfaces, has wear items that must be replaced yearly, utilizes a power burner that may need to be adjusted yearly when the nozzle and oil filter is replaced, and reading what you have written you will find it impossible to find a good contractor to service your unit and depend on his people to do a good job. Oil burners fail to light the fuel more often than natural gas units. As for filling your system, open the manual fill valve, which you should have, and wait until the water flows from the vented expansion tank before trying to vent the radiators. Half filling your system is fools play. Just fill the system completely, then vent all radiators numerous times both when cold and when hot to get all the air out. If your system is a gravity system the piping is very large and require a long fill time. And as for your worry of having too many aquastats to shut off the boiler, you can never have too many. You know you have problems when the electrician has a problem wiring up a thermostat. My 16 year old grandson could do it for you. PS, I think that you over think things and make dumb decisions. I hope that when this boiler is working correctly you are satisfied with the choices you have made. Try to shorten your writings. Like Norm201 I am starting to think that this story is a 'made up" story from someone just looking for responses
 

Last edited by Steamboy; 01-18-18 at 05:17 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-18-18, 05:10 AM
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You let a retail store randomly pick an installer
Sears Home Improvements is separate from retail stores. I subcontracted for them for many years and I know how the system works.

Call 1-800-4MYHOME and file a service request form. You should have also received a folder with your project coordinators phone number. Call the PC and express your unhappiness.

The service request form will go to corporate in Florida and the local branch only has so many days to fix this. If need be call corporate and get the National Installer Manager involved.
From my experience, heads will roll until this is fixed. Do not make any payments until it's fixed and if need be, tell them to come and remove everything they did. That will get their attention.
100% satisfaction is what they promise and you need to hold them to it. I have seen problems but they were always fixed to the customers satisfaction once they get the right people in there.

Don't let them tell you certain parts of the job were not included in the contract, of course all aspects of the job need to work.
 
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Old 01-18-18, 05:53 PM
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Brian,
Sears Home Improvements is separate from retail stores. I subcontracted for them for many years and I know how the system works.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but picking out a furnace from Sears be it the retail Store vs Sears Home Improvement store the same? What say does a purchaser have concerning the installer of a unit bought from the Home Improvement Store? My chastising the OP is that contracting an qualified HVAC contractor and getting perhaps three different quotes and letting them size and choose the system would give him better control over the purchase. Maybe I'm splitting hairs but the OP seems to have very little knowledge (but lots of information) about how to buy product. I would very much want to hear what an installer would recommend and what his installation process consists of and why he may want to install one product vs a another.

I in fact went through this actual process when I bought a new HVAC system for my home. I could've bought a system from Sears or any big box store and let them install it. But I choose to call at least three different contractors who educated me on what and why to purchase a particular brand. I originally thought I wanted a certain brand but was convinced by one of the contractors why another brand for my particular set up was a better choice. He did not bad mouth any brand but explained why one was better for me vs another that he might recommend for another customer. I was very pleased with my choice of contractor and furnace brand.

I also did the same for an all natural gas generator system (although I put the purchase on hold). I made sure the contractor/installer not only rep'd the product but was also a certified parts and service rep for same. Not all others were.
 
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Old 01-18-18, 06:13 PM
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Norm,
My only point is that from my experience, Sears has always made things right with the customer.
Sometimes making things right is you don't pay a dime if things go horribly wrong, but you need to stand up for your rights.
You are correct, anyone looking for service should get at least three bids.
I'm saying if push comes to shove, you will win over Sears whereas a small company might want their money no matter what.

I have seen unhappy customers and the contract goes out the window, they will usually do whatever it takes to make the customer happy regardless of expense but you have to push them and demand satisfaction.
 
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Old 01-18-18, 10:19 PM
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Steamboy-- barely concealing his exasperation!-- says to me, "What can I say? You asked for recommendations from this site and when you got good and solid responses from all over the USA, you contracted to have a new boiler installed that everyone said was a mistake."

Steamboy, let me pose this question to you: Would you ever surrender decision-making power as to what you should have for dinner tonight to a group of nutritionists? Why not-- they are In General better qualified to make that determination than you or any ordinary group of people. "But wait!" you would quite sensibly say to me, "They have no idea of my particular needs and desires, like the fact that I have an incredible craving for pizza tonight. All they can do is make a generic recommendation, which may be excellent but simply doesn't take into account the specifics of my situation TONIGHT!"

Exactly, Steamboy, and although the virtually unanimous generic advice by the experts on this site to stick with gas and not convert to oil happens to be an excellent recommendation that I fully agree with, it simply doesn't take into account the specifics of my situation RIGHT NOW!! Steamboy, I have had gas boilers may entire life until yesterday! In almost every way a gas system is conspicuously superior to oil-- cost of equipment, cost of the fuel, cost of yearly maintenance inspections and cleaning, cost of replacement parts....not to mention the aesthetic aspects: an invisible, environmentally friendly gas vs a slightly stinky, visually repellent, and somewhat environmentally hostile liquid (even Number 2 home heating oil, which, while not that much dirtier than natural gas, is nonetheless a little more polluting). Except for the possibility of a dreadful explosion if a gas leak goes undetected or is ignored, oil is superior in every way. I conceded that at the outset of this, Dec. 5th. So why did I just get an oil boiler? For only one reason: because of NYC regulations instituted a couple of years ago after a disastrous explosion and fire in East Harlem (the result of a gas leak not taken as seriously as it should have been!) killed and injured many people and caused the collapse of two buildings in March, 2014. Those regulations converted what would have been a repair of my natural gas boiler following the Dec. 5th incident that could have been completed by the next day in say, 2013 (and would have cost a nominal sum of money), into a marathon event that--the best estimates from three different heating repair companies said-- would likely see three or four months pass before my gas was restored. That meant going through the entire winter in NYC with no heat! Not to mention the fortune it would have cost to do all the now-required repairs because it would have entailed the replacement of all the gas pipes in the basement (because the local utility found leaks in them).

I've explained this all in prior posts, Steamboy: I don't think you were listening. For someone to stick with gas and not convert to oil is normally ideal advice-- but right now in NYC it's the wrong advice, if the local utility finds gas leaks in your basement.
 

Last edited by LatestCraze; 01-18-18 at 10:22 PM. Reason: punctuation
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Old 01-19-18, 03:34 AM
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WOW, you are the scary guy. I am done, no more suggestions, no more common sense. I hope you project goes well and I wish you the best, I will let the others give help if the will. GOODBYE!!!!!
 
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Old 01-19-18, 04:52 AM
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(the result of a gas leak not taken as seriously as it should have been!
This says it all. Just substitute "oil" for "gas".

LatestCraze, you're just nuts! If you want pizza for dinner then why ask nutritionist their opinion? Your gonna eat what you want!

I don't intentionally "burn or flame" a poster, but personally, I hope your oil burner works out, but I don't feel bad that your spending an enormous amount of money and I don't feel sorry that you're freezing because of your warped sense of logic, safety and common sense. I do feel sorry for your family.
I think I'm done also!
 
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Old 01-19-18, 08:06 AM
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Did you ever consider a gas-fired boiler that could initially be fired on propane and then converted to natural gas once the piping issues were satisfied?
 
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Old 01-19-18, 09:08 AM
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Norm201, Steamboy: F. Scott Fitzgerald, the fine novelist, once insightfully said something like, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

Anyone trying to understand my viewpoint has to hold two opposed ideas in their mind at the same time, so I guess what I'm trying to convey is hard for many people to grasp, but let me make the effort one final time.

The first idea to hold in mind is that oil heat is worse than gas heat in almost every single way, plus it's very expensive to convert from gas to oil, and in addition, the whole notion of oil heat might be completely alien to you, as it is to me because I've spent my whole life with gas heat. You, Norm201 and Steamboy, and I all agree on that.

The second idea is that, given MY PARTICULAR SITUATION, converting to oil heat (as inferior as it is to gas) was the ONLY WAY for me to get heat before the spring and if I had not done that I would have been forced to spend the entire winter in New York City without heat (and if you guys don't already know, NYC can get very, very cold during the winter). Why would I have been forced to do that? Because when the local utility came to my house in December following the fire in my gas boiler (due to a leak in the supply line to the pilot light), they did what they are required to do under those circumstances (ever since that awful headline-making, gas-leak-caused explosion and fire in East Harlem in March 2014 which killed and injured many people and resulted in the collapse of two buildings, and for which the local utility was held partially responsible in a later investigation and heavily fined): whenever a customer reports a gas leak ANYWHERE in their house, the local utility must check the entire premises for other leaks. When I called them in December, I had no idea that that was their new practice since the East Harlem tragedy, but it is. Their inspection found multiple small leaks all over my basement, which has many gas pipes running across it-- for the gas boiler, water heater, dryer and then for the stove and oven on the first floor. And one of the leaks they found was between the wall and the gas meter, which is a crucial fact for reasons I'll explain in a moment. So they turned off my supply of natural gas, not only at the meter but also--bringing in heavy, earth-moving equipment that very night-- outside, where they shut the valve several feet beneath the surface.

So here's what I discovered during the month of December, making for a very unhappy holiday season: an Integrity Test on the pipes in my basement performed by the first plumber I called confirmed the utility's finding of multiple gas leaks, and he determined that the ENTIRE GAS PIPING in my basement, and leading up to the first floor stove would have to be completely replaced. Two other plumbing companies reached the same conclusion. But that was only the very beginning of the process! At that point, NYC would have to get involved: they would have to schedule and perform rigorous pressure tests on the newly-installed gas pipes. From my understanding, to complete that part of the repair would take-- during the holiday season especially-- probably a month.

But a huge complicating factor-- and the thing that completely ruled out my following this route-- was that one of the gas leaks was between the outer wall of the house and the gas meter. Because that was the responsibility of the local utility--they would have to make that repair-- they would dictate HOW they did it. From several conversations I (and one of the plumbing companies) had with the local utility, they would almost certainly have to install a new service line to my house. And that, given their backlogged schedule, would take months to execute, and would only take place sometime in the spring.

THAT, Norm201 and Steamboy, is why I started exploring alternatives, and eventually the very foreign idea of converting to oil came to me, and as I tried to get used to that strange prospect and was mulling over all that it would entail, I came to DIY to solicit opinions on its feasibility. Far from rejecting without consideration the unanimous opposition on this site to the general notion of converting from gas to oil, I spent about two weeks delaying any decision to convert and instead renewed my efforts to shorten the process of restoring the gas supply to my house, but those efforts failed completely. In fact, one of the new plumbers I brought in told me that one of his customers, the owner of a Chinese restaurant in lower Manhattan, had been without gas since June as the local utility dawdled in installing a new service line to the restaurant!

So, Norm201 and Steamboy, if, after that explanation, you guys still wish to believe I cavalierly disregarded the advice on this site and almost whimsically decided to convert to oil, go ahead and believe it. But a more intelligent--though more difficult-- approach would be to try to hold these two opposed ideas in your mind at the same time and retain the ability to function, as life sometimes compels us to do: 1) oil heat is infinitely worse than gas heat, and converting from gas to oil is unthinkably awful (and expensive!), and 2) converting to oil heat from gas is infinitely better than spending the entire winter in NYC without any central heating at all (and incidentally, do you guys know how expensive running all those electrical space heaters simultaneously for four months would be!?). You might want to carefully consider this post before you reach any conclusions about my decision. If so, gentlemen, I leave you to your deliberations. On the other hand, you may wish to instead move on to other things. If so, gentlemen, godspeed on your journey!
 

Last edited by LatestCraze; 01-19-18 at 09:14 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 01-19-18, 12:39 PM
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All you had to do with your original 1st, post was to explain in detail just what you explained here, without all the nervous energy and B.S. and everyone would have realized what you were going through and what you were up against. We do not live in NYC and I never would but the explanations and opinions went on and on and on with no real explanation. I actually thought that this was a made up story. You talked about leaking gas lines with no real explanation of the actual problem and about having and wanting a vented (open) system when I believe you had no idea of the difference between a vented and a sealed system. Open or vented systems are a thing of the past. I have only seen a couple and they were in very old houses in very old neighbor hoods. Go back and read my posts, they are full of facts not opinions. Filling the system up 1/2 way so you don't heat above a certain point makes absolutely no sense. Gravity circulation makes no sense and is very expensive to operate and slow to respond to temperature changes. You complained about having 2 aquastats and that that was too many. In my area that is code . You can never have too many. Sorry about the cold shoulder but you have to try and be concise and explain your problem without all the theater
 
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Old 01-19-18, 02:01 PM
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Steamboy says in his most recent post, "All you had to do with your original 1st, post was to explain in detail just what you explained here, without all the nervous energy and B.S. and everyone would have realized what you were going through and what you were up against.

You say,in essence, Steamboy, that if I'd only explained all this originally, I would have escaped your wrath! Well, Steamboy, I refer you to my thread begun on the subject of converting from gas to oil, appearing on Dec. 18, 2017, at 12:40 PM: "Converting FROM gas TO oil? Am I willfully ignorant? Crazed? Simply stupid?"

Steamboy, the first post in that thread laid out all the facts that I knew back then! I didn't yet know about the REASON for all these new requirements that have been imposed on gas customers in NYC-- i.e. the horrific explosion and fire in East Harlem that killed so many people and I especially didn't yet know of the local utility's intention to install a new service line to my house, which proved to be the most delay-inducing aspect of all the many time-consuming elements of this sorry episode and the one that triggered my definite decision to make the gas to oil boiler conversion.

So although I did everything possible to chronicle events at DIY as soon as they occurred, I couldn't very well describe what happened when it hadn't yet happened!

Luana! A couple of days ago, you wrote: "I have read all your posts and I think you should put up a tent in the back yard and then start a campfire. Heat rocks in the fire and then bring them inside the tent for warmth. Be careful not to burn yourself."

And then today you decided to abandon the mockery and actually make a 'helpful' suggestion, "Did you ever consider a gas-fired boiler that could initially be fired on propane and then converted to natural gas once the piping issues were satisfied?"

Although at this moment I know nothing about the use of propane as fuel for a boiler, or converting a gas boiler to accept propane, I do have to say that, on its face, your suggestion appears to be the best one anyone on this site has made in the entire time I've been seeking advice in this episode. I don't believe anyone else has even mentioned a temporary switch to propane until I could get the gas pipes in the basement replaced, and the new service line installed by the local utility. But I put 'helpful' in quotes a moment ago because your suggestion came a couple of days after I had the oil boiler installed, and a couple of weeks after I'd had the oil storage tank installed. A little too late to actually be helpful!

I'm really curious to know if your idea would have been feasible. If it turns out that it would have been in fact entirely doable (and quickly too-- say within a few days) and I could have thus been spared all the angst I experienced since Dec. 5th, not to mention all the expense, then I guess that, upon realizing that that is actually the case, I will experience the most intense cognitive dissonance anyone has ever suffered since Leon Festinger first outlined the concept in 1957!
 

Last edited by LatestCraze; 01-19-18 at 02:28 PM. Reason: mistaken chronology
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Old 01-19-18, 04:51 PM
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Sheesh, give it a rest already.
 
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Old 01-19-18, 05:01 PM
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Ron53, unbeknownst to me is someone forcing you to read this thread??????
 
  #20  
Old 01-19-18, 05:25 PM
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I do not know anything about the rules and regulations enforced in your area. I do not know if there are provisions for a "fast track" installation in cases such as yours where the primary source of heat is out during cold weather. I would be surprised if there were not work-arounds in cases such as yours.

If you could have posted some pictures of the original boiler after the fire incident it is possible someone could have seen how extensive the damage was and if it was not much more than the originally cited pilot burner tubing and maybe a little cosmetic damage it MIGHT have been possible to change the burner orifices and pressure regulator (may have also needed to change the combination gas valve) to allow propane firing of that boiler.


One more thought. Modern boilers have a relatively small amount of water contained within the boiler proper. With you having a gravity system the vast majority of the water is in the radiators and piping. There is a strong possibility that the new boiler will overheat while at the same time giving up only a small amount of heat to the system. Generally when a new boiler is installed in an old system with large pipes and cast-iron radiators a bypass loop is installed on the boiler proper to allow for a forced circulation through the boiler and gradually warming up the rest of the system. Even if your new boiler does not overheat the transfer of heat to the system will be slow and could cause what is called "flue gas condensation" in the boiler. This will tend to greatly decrease the lifespan of the boiler.

You may want to seriously reconsider leaving this as a gravity system.

Or considering the possibility that the original boiler was severely damaged or was not convertible to propane firing (not all boilers can be converted between the two fuels), a new convertible fuel boiler could have been installed. Either way, a 300 to 500 gallon propane tank would need to be temporarily installed in the yard, and yes, there are regulations concerning this installation, and a relatively small diameter soft copper tubing would have been run into the basement directly to the burner assembly on the boiler.
This would have allowed heat in the house and given you time to have the original piping issues dealt with over the next few months.

Where I live it is not uncommon for the natural gas utility to install propane-fired systems in new home subdivisions until the natural gas mains can be extended to the area. Once the natural gas piping is installed, tested and certified for use the various appliances have the propane orifices and regulators exchanged for models suitable for natural gas.

Maybe this was simply not an option for you, I don't know. I do think that the gas utility people should have made the suggestion if it was an option or maybe the several sales people that you had giving estimates on repairs.
 

Last edited by Luana; 01-19-18 at 05:31 PM. Reason: Added information
  #21  
Old 01-19-18, 07:52 PM
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I'm not seeing any forward progress here. I've seen a lot of helpul suggestions and long winded replies.

Let's move forward. If there are any SPECIFIC questions that need to be answered..... post them. If the thread continues to drift off.... it will be closed.
 
  #22  
Old 01-19-18, 09:09 PM
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Luana, thank you for expending the time and mental energy on such a comprehensive response!! Given your two prior posts in this thread, I didn't know what to expect, and I was surprised and gratified to receive the many highly relevant pointers your most recent post contained. Obviously you speak as an expert, so I seized and clung to every one of your words with the passion and seriousness that most people reserve for.... hmmm, St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, perhaps!??

In any event I read what you had to say with care, and I'll respond in the same way.

First, you say, "I do not know if there are provisions for a "fast track" installation in cases such as yours where the primary source of heat is out during cold weather. I would be surprised if there were not work-arounds in cases such as yours."

Well, Luana, then surprised you will be! Evidently NYC was so traumatized by the March 2014 gas explosion and fire in East Harlem that they are making the preservation of life their exclusive concern-- and so they pay no attention to the mere 'discomfort' of protracted time spent without heat, no matter how profound that discomfort may be, or how loud the 'whining' of the homeowner. As far as I could ascertain, once the local utility shuts off the gas there is no 'fast track' that can even shorten, let alone bypass, the lengthy sequence of events that must take place before the restoration of gas.

You say, "If you could have posted some pictures of the original boiler after the fire incident it is possible someone could have seen how extensive the damage was and if it was not much more than the originally cited pilot burner tubing and maybe a little cosmetic damage it MIGHT have been possible to change the burner orifices and pressure regulator (may have also needed to change the combination gas valve) to allow propane firing of that boiler."

Actually, Luana, I do have to acknowledge I've had a FEW molecules of good fortune amidst the Avogadro's number of catastrophically bad luck 'molecules' I've had as my fate since Dec. 5th. One of those few molecules was the fact that the fire, though large and hard for me to extinguish, was confined to an area between the front panel and the panel that conceals the burners and pilot light, and the flames were close to but nonetheless fell short of the electronics housed between those two panels. So, yes, the damage was confined to the pilot light feeder tube, and I actually don't think there was even the most superficial cosmetic marring of the sleek aesthetic beauty of the Weil-McLain EG series boiler that I had!

Another plus? I even got to swagger about for the next day or so (not too obnoxiously I hope) in the guise of 'heroic fire fighter'!!

As for making adjustments to accommodate propane-- I suspect no adjustments would have been necessary because I checked the boiler manual and among the first ten words of it were "For natural or propane gas"!
​ ​
​You say, "One more thought. Modern boilers have a relatively small amount of water contained within the boiler proper. With you having a gravity system the vast majority of the water is in the radiators and piping. There is a strong possibility that the new boiler will overheat while at the same time giving up only a small amount of heat to the system. Generally when a new boiler is installed in an old system with large pipes and cast-iron radiators a bypass loop is installed on the boiler proper to allow for a forced circulation through the boiler and gradually warming up the rest of the system. Even if your new boiler does not overheat the transfer of heat to the system will be slow and could cause what is called "flue gas condensation" in the boiler. This will tend to greatly decrease the lifespan of the boiler."

I assume that the Weil McLain gas boiler, being of the modern era (and also coming supplied with a circulating pump that I refused) would have had a tank size (i.e. the water contained within the boiler proper) comparable to my new oil boiler (which says Kenmore on the outside but is actually a Dunkirk-- model 3EW1.00 I believe) and that Weil McLain never suffered any of the problems you describe as possibilities. It heated the house quickly and more than adequately. In fact, I think it was vastly over-sized for the heating burden I actually imposed upon it and certainly the radiators even on the second floor got very hot, and very quickly too! Thus far, with the new oil boiler, I'm still in the process of filling it because I've had to carefully bleed the air from the radiators on the first floor, a very time-consuming process. But so far they seem to be swiftly getting quite hot, and this is with the high-temp cut off set below the appropriate setting-- it seems to be clicking off somewhere between 170 and 175 degrees. Luana, I haven't yet read the instruction manual to see what the manufacturer recommends as the high temp cut-off, but I see that there's some revisionist thinking online about what that number should be. Traditionally, I believe it's 180 degrees F, but some responsible websites suggest 190 or even up to 200 degrees F! Luana, I may be behaving childishly, but upon reading this last post of yours, I instantly assigned you all the attributes of an HVAC guru at whose feet I should sit in worshipful silence! (I'm only half-kidding!) So what is your view of the proper temp to use as a high temp cut-off? And what about the low temp turn-on; how much lower than the high temp cut-off should it be? I suppose you don't want the boiler cycling on and off too frequently. Currently it seems to be a pretty small range, on the order of ten or fifteen degrees F. (I'm aware of it because the house was obviously starting out very cold, so that well before reaching the thermostat setting temperature, the unit many times reached the high temp cut-off and then fell to the low temp turn-on, so I got to witness it on multiple occasions.) Incidentally, Luana, when you say, "Generally when a new boiler is installed in an old system with large pipes and cast-iron radiators a bypass loop is installed on the boiler proper to allow for a forced circulation through the boiler and gradually warming up the rest of the system" do you mean a bypass loop in addition to the circulating pump or instead of a circulating pump?

You say, "Maybe this was simply not an option for you, I don't know. I do think that the gas utility people should have made the suggestion if it was an option...."

Luana, I see you're from Washington state, which may not quite have the 'Minnesota nice' ethos animating its culture, but I'm sure the gas utility people in Washington have the inherent decency to spontaneously tell a customer in my desperate situation what their options are. But in New York City things are just a little different! I only have to mention that Rodney Dangerfield was born on Long Island but grew up in New York City, and it's the absence here in New York City of that deeply-felt sense of fellowship with strangers who do nothing more than share your home town-- a sense of community and connectedness that people who live elsewhere in the country experience all the time but almost no New Yorkers do-- that led to his "I don't get no respect" comedy routines. People who don't automatically feel a certain connectedness to others in their community feel free to treat those others with a lack of respect and I strongly suspect the gas utility people here in New York City gave Rodney a few real-life inspirations for his punch lines!




 
  #23  
Old 01-19-18, 10:51 PM
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Jeez what a thread. You should never have made the switch from NG to oil. You should've re-piped ALL the gas. If you sold me your house today, I'd repipe the gas and replace the oil boiler with a gas boiler REGARDLESS of all the stuff written above. I'd keep warm with a bunch of space heaters while it's happening. If I needed a new electric panel to run them, I'd do that too.

If I looked up 'over-thinking' in the dictionary it would point to this thread (no disrespect intentionally intended).
 

Last edited by steve_gro; 01-19-18 at 10:52 PM. Reason: more words
  #24  
Old 01-20-18, 07:10 AM
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You're doing a lot of arguing with members that have tried to help, in order to try and justify a bad decision YOU made! Accept it, live with it and move on. Enough of this already. THREAD CLOSED!!
 
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