Author Topic: Do I need a new boiler?  (Read 2199 times)

randomstring

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Do I need a new boiler?
« on: September 16, 2018, 04:29:25 PM »
We are embarrassingly new at house ownership.
Our house has an oil fired boiler. Used for heat. It is of unknown age, has very patched up and rusty look and is probably from the 70s.

It probably works. The boiler was working when the house was inspected in December. It was also working in May, when we closed. Something was probably not set up correctly with thermostats, since it kept going off when temps were in the 80s. I shut it off and decided to revisit the issue in the fall.

Well the fall is here, and I am having some contractors come out to price a new boiler out. But it occurred to me that perhaps I should keep existing one and have it be fixed/adjusted?

Some photos of the boiler https://krylphoto.smugmug.com/Other/House2/Boiler/n-SMpX8P

( the heating system is baseboard. I can't tell if hot water or stream -- no valves, probably hot water?)

Jon Bon

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2018, 08:01:34 AM »
No idea.....

BUT find a guy and find him quick. Get it looked at in September, not December. You dont want to have to pay the 40% premium for someone when its cold outside. IME with heating systems you can usually limp along for another year if you pay close attention to the system and dont abuse it.

Good luck.




lthenderson

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2018, 08:33:01 AM »
I don't have experience with working with boilers but with any major appliance like that, I look at whether to fix or buy new this way. Find the expected annual efficiency savings you will get by buying a new and presumably new boiler. Divide the new cost of a boiler by the efficiency gains/year to figure out a payback period. Now honestly assess how long you expect to live in that house. I'm guessing the payback for a new boiler is probably in the order of a decade or two. If this is your first house, most likely you won't be living there that long. I would probably be inclined to troubleshoot the old one first and if it is an easy fix, to just do that.

randomstring

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2018, 10:05:09 AM »
Thank you for replies, all this makes sense. Our current sentiment is that the house is probably a keeper for the next 20 years ( this is our house-to-retire to, purchased about a decade earlier ).

But this might also change -- 10 years ago I thought I would move abroad yet here we are.

My main question is -- do boilers normally look this bad? We saw a lot of houses when we were looking to buy, lots with old boilers. Lots looked beat up but most were not rusty. But then again maybe it's ok, given that it is the casing is rusty?

I also suspect that this is indicative of bigger issue of the house being too humid. In that case maybe I should sick with old boiler until we address the humidity.

Jon Bon

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2018, 10:29:29 AM »
Wait you have had this house for a decade?

So the boiler was always this rusty? Or has gotten that way recently?

I feel like you should be a expert on boilers after 10 years with having one!

Basement humidity is a real thing. Outside grading/sidewalks paired with bad gutters is almost always the issue.

randomstring

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2018, 12:44:58 PM »
Sorry, bad explanation. We had the house for 3 months. We intend to retire in 10 years and the house is where we intend to retire. In other words at least right now we are planning to keep the house for 20 years ( 10 years before and 10 years after retirement ). This is to say that we don't mind making long term capital improvements but they need to be something that is actually worth improving and not just cosmetic.

This house has had a lot of delayed maintenance so lots of it looks pretty bad. We will be slowly addressing the most pressing things over time but it is hard to figure out what is most pressing. ( e.g. For example we have crumbling retaining wall which is causing our shed to slide into ravine. But a structural guy saw it and mentioned it will take 10 years to actually become critical, so even tho it looks terrifying we will leave this work for later. )

Lulee

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2018, 04:06:26 PM »
Not a homeowner so take with grain of salt but that looks like a replace job to me.  It looks as if water/steam was escaping around places where gaskets should have been and this is the cause of much of the rust and why it seems concentrated around entry points into the boiler.  You could also have holes in the internal section which is allowing moisture/steam to continue to come out and rust the boiler from the internal structure outwards as well as waste huge amounts of money (saw this on an episode of Ask This Old House).

While lots of the external stuff like pipes and pumps look good, you can see in some pictures where the metal is rotted nearly through and in other pictures the mastic/cement stuff they tried to patch with appears cracked which likely means it isn't sealed properly any more.  There's not a real clear picture of where the exhaust comes out of the boiler but it does kind of look like the mastic/cement stuff they tried to patch where the pipe meets the boiler is cracked as well and there's rust around it.  If you're not getting a good seal there, you're risking exhaust gases in your basement.

Jon Bon is right about taking care of this now instead of when it fails during the cold of winter which is, inevitably, when these things give up the ghost.

randomstring

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2018, 11:58:22 AM »
Here is an update on the boiler saga. We got a quote to replace boiler from Big Plumbing Co. Quite frankly they were the only ones that returned my call out of 5 that I contacted. The quote they have is to replace boiler is 9-18 k, depending on which boiler we choose. This is strictly for heating, not hot water, and they would not be adding new zones. The house is 2 floors, 2k square feet.

I am a bit shocked. I expected 5-8k. This is twice as much.

The visit from big plumbing co did yield something useful. The guy mentioned that rust is probably from external moisture. And that boiler is from early 90s. ( this I figured out myself from googling. )

I am still trying to get someone to give us a second quote but at prices like this I am tempted to just use existing one until we fix moisture problems.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2018, 06:19:19 PM »
2 thoughts on boiler replacement. And then some others.

First you may wish to have the boiler serviced. Here this is a service offered by our fuel oil company (for a price) and they can undertake basic repairs. This should include a test of boiler efficiency after cleaning and tuning. They can also tell you if you need need to seriously be considering replacement or if rust is only superficial. (I lean towards its beyond superficial). Also you may need to rely on this boiler until it is a good time for a contractor to come out and do the replacement.

Second, I would not put the skill set need for a replacing an oil boiler too high (BUT I have not done one). Basic electrical would be needed (simply changing over the wiring low and line voltage). Basic plumbing for the water (heck shark bites are even rated to 200F if you cannot sweat copper) and for the oil line (my line has a compression fitting and a ss clad hose on the end). Some basic duct work might be needed to adapt the flue. The biggest stumbling blocks in my mind are the weight of the boiler and making sure you get a properly sized one (the manual J calculation makes my head spin and you can't trust that the current boiler isn't just rule of thumb and then add 10% or otherwise oversized).

Also if you live in an area where ULSHO (Ultra Low Sulphur Heating Oil, 15PPM) is the law of the land you should do your research on a condensing fuel oil boiler. That is if they are sold and serviced where you live, they might not have made their way to the US.

My boiler is also from the early 90s looks pretty much brand new. But it is in a basement that is dehumidified and until recently also did domestic hot water (running the boiler during the summer can help prevent internal rust issues) also it is service at least once a year (it should be twice if it will be running year round on hot water duty). For your boiler the two things that give me pause are the exterior rust (but only because it leads me to worry that similar damage has occurred in the fire box, if the boiler has had long periods of inactivity) and the goop that is liberally applied around the burner (but that could just be an ill informed DIY'er trying to address an issue beyond their skills.

If the rust is due to an internal leak you probably are looking at a replacement. But the rust could also be from the the boiler being cool from sitting in the basement during the summer and when humidity finds its way into the basement is condenses on the large cool chuck of iron in your basement.

randomstring

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2018, 12:39:45 PM »
Update 2 on boiler. We have sceduled 2 more estimates and a boiler cleaning. We are also now running the boiler. It works! It is very loud and looses heat ( the utility room gets warm ) but it works. We also decided to buy oil from the same co as previous owner and got some idea of their use. Apparently the prior owner used quite a bit more oil than average last season. 4 full tanks vs 3.

I am also wondering now if we can add hydronic floor heating to one of the rooms that seems to be very cold.  The floor in that room needs work ( carpet plus possibly water damaged plywood below. ). That floor is also accessible from crawl space if we ever need access to pipes. However I am reading very conflicting information on this, and in general people seem to be recommending electrical floor heating for its simplicity.

Sigh. The house continues to surprise us with how much needs to be done to it, and local contractors continue to surprise us with how expensive everything is.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2018, 12:52:13 PM »
I have an oil fired boiler. We have lived in our home since 1975 and are on our 3rd boiler. The first one was not that expensive because we built the house on a tight budget and got fairly bottom of the line unit. The second one was closer to top of the line and lasted many years. We just had a new one installed about 5 years ago. It is really top line. You get what you pay for.

First I would suggest you do business with the oil company. Normal oil companies are full service. They will sell you oil, install new heating systems and I would strongly advise getting a service contract which normally includes a cleaning and efficiency test each year. If you get a service contract, that will include them coming in the middle of the night and most parts. One call pays for the contract and you should have the unit cleaned each year.

The oil company will determine if the unit is functionally safe to use. If the unit that you have now is unsafe, they will condemn it and not allow you to use it. These technicians are licensed and know what they are doing.

Good luck on the boiler.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2018, 07:13:31 PM »
Update 2 on boiler. We have sceduled 2 more estimates and a boiler cleaning. We are also now running the boiler. It works! It is very loud and looses heat ( the utility room gets warm ) but it works.

Great to hear there is a service scheduled and for the moment it works.

Have you had an oil boiler before to compare noise? I have a Buderus G105 (a petty good boiler) that is well maintained and I wouldn't say it is quiet. I can tell you when the boiler turns on or off anywhere on the first floor (it is in the basement) even if the fan running (yes the house came with a hydro-fan setup, using a boiler to run forced hot air). All boilers loose heat to the environment, it is just a matter of how quickly; having the boiler inside of the conditioned envelope negates any issue this causes.

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We also decided to buy oil from the same co as previous owner and got some idea of their use. Apparently the prior owner used quite a bit more oil than average last season. 4 full tanks vs 3.

There are a lot of reasons that could cause that. Maybe it was colder last year, they decided to turn the temperature up, or they failed to get the boiler cleaned before the heating season. Of course it could be a more serious cause.

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I am also wondering now if we can add hydronic floor heating to one of the rooms that seems to be very cold.  The floor in that room needs work ( carpet plus possibly water damaged plywood below. ). That floor is also accessible from crawl space if we ever need access to pipes. However I am reading very conflicting information on this, and in general people seem to be recommending electrical floor heating for its simplicity.

My first question would be why is the room very cold? Is it due to a lack of existing heat or is it due to poor insulation and air infiltration?

In our circumstances I would never do electrical heat for anything beyond a space heater run a few minutes while showering (and that is mostly due to the heaters already being installed when we bought the house). Anything that would be constantly used to maintain temperature ... I would choose something other than electric, even if it were a direct vent propane space heater line a Rinnai. But that is due to the cost of oil vs the cost of electricity per unit of heat and your results may differ.

Adding a new zone for radiant floor heat is likely possible. It could be a lot of work, which if hired out could cost a fair bit. But this is a DIY sub-forum; so are electrical work, soldering, and plumbing work in your skill set?

MMM did radiant heat (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/02/16/the-radiant-heat-experiment/ and http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/02/06/the-radiant-heat-experiment-did-it-work/). He didn't use an oil boiler as a heat source, but it will give you an idea. They do make subfloors that integrate channels for radiant heat pex.

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Sigh. The house continues to surprise us with how much needs to be done to it, and local contractors continue to surprise us with how expensive everything is.

Welcome to home ownership. Constantly they either need something or have something you need to keep an eye on.

randomstring

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2018, 08:24:37 PM »
Thank you everyone for great advice!

The radiant floor link has certainly been very interesting. I don't want us to wire the whole house for radiant heat, but it gives me food for thought re one cold room. (The room is likely cold because the heating there is undersized -- large addition to the house, no attic, vaulted ceiling, large old windows, etc. We re-insulated the crawl space this summer, and we probably will need to do same to sides and fix the windows). That same room also contains a fireplace which we currently do not use. Might be possible to get a wood insert and use it for heat -- although the prices for wood inserts that I saw make me believe that radiant floor might be cheaper if we dare to diy.

Our levels of diy are very beginner -- while we are not afraid of doing things around the house, in practice we are very slow and lack some skills (like welding, etc.) So, no matter how much I want to do a badass thing and install our own boiler, my SO insists that we be reasonable and hire it out (with some research, obviously, which is why I am here). My record of completing complicated home projects is very bad (lack of time, lack of skills, possibly despair and lack of motivation), so SO has a point. I have been given a green light to price out a boiler with hot water option and attempt pex radiant floor heat as diy, since it is not essential to everyone's well being (and our crawl space is nice and encapsulated, so crawling around there is not a bad chore).

Speaking of diy -- has anyone done their own annual boiler cleaning? Youtube makes it seem possible, but I don't know if this is a reasonable thing to do. I am definitely not touching our existing rusty boiler -- everything is bolted and epoxied on that one, and I'd be afraid it would not start again. The heating shops around here are all pushing expensive Energy Kinetics boilers -- wonder of those can reasonably maintained by non professionals.

frugal_engineer

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2018, 06:07:16 PM »
DW and I have a very similar oil fired boiler setup, including the rust!  Mine is a bit older, circa 1980, and is very close to death.  I browsed through this thread and have a few items of food for though based on our experiences and research on its eventual replacement:

- On the radiant heat w/ pex idea - check to see whether the pex grades you are imagining can handle the temperatures of the oil fired boiler.  Its probably set to run at something like ~190 degrees or so (but is adjustable). You'll also want to start with some calculations to make sure the length of the run is proper so that the return hot water isn't so cold that it ruins your efficiency on the other zones.

- You mentioned vaulted ceilings in the cold room - is there a ceiling fan?  If so try turning it on a low speed, you might be surprised how much heat is sitting up in the peak of the roof assuming sufficient insulation is up there.

- I consider myself pretty handy but haven't had any oil boiler experience in the past so I hired someone to come and do a service/cleaning.  Having watched that evolution I'm confident it'll be a DIY next year (assuming it survives that long).

- Check your marginal efficiency vs. cost on new boilers carefully.  Based on my research and number running it possible to buy some very expensive condensing boilers that are ~2-4% more efficient than a good quality boiler.  The ROI on that upgrade seems to be really long.  Also there are other ways to obtain improved efficiency like an outdoor reset (which is apparently the industry term for a controller with an outdoor thermometer that adjusts boiler run temperature).  Its far more efficient to have a system that is tuned based on outdoor temperature - you probably only need ~150 degree water on a 40 degree day vs. 190 degrees which might only be needed on 5 degree days.

- If you have access to a natural gas pipeline, consider changing fuel.  Oil has much more energy per unit volume, but can be pricey.  You'd have to check numbers locally, but we found gas would be much cheaper in running costs and similar equipment costs.  We can't get gas, only propane which nullified the gains but you may have a different situation.

- One bonus of the hot mechanical room is that you might recapture some of the energy with the new hybrid water heaters that incorporate a heath pump for more efficient water heating (e.g. https://www.rheem.com/product/performance-platinum-hybrid-electric-water-heater-65-gallon-electric-econet-enabled-hybrid-electric-water-heater-with-10-year-limited-warranty-xe65t10hd50u0/).  Of course that assumes equipment is collocated and I'd imagine the ROI is long unless you have a big family, but there appear to be environmental incentives available in some areas.

Anyway, hopefully that rambling helps in some manner.

Kahooli

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2018, 04:07:09 PM »
THat boiler, at mimimum should have all the panels removed, the rust removed and repainted, and check to make sure the flue gas are venting properly. You have lots of rust around both the front of the boiler (where one would install a secondary heat exchanger for DHW) and around the flue (a place that should never rust). You don't get rust like this from "a moist basement". You get it from leaks.

You need service. Even if you have heat, I think you could be running on luck, and a high chance of carbon monoxide leaking. Boilers like this can last decades when maintained - this does NOT look maintained.

(I'm not a pro heating guy, just an EE with a steam system at home)

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2018, 04:44:07 PM »
Do you have natural gas in your area or in your house?  I wouldn't want a tank of diesel fuel near (or in!) my home (and I live on a farm with diesel tractors and equipment.)  We used to own a house in which the previous owner had replaced the fuel oil with nat gas.  I was grateful for that since I would have paid to have it switched over as soon as we moved in.

Evildunk99

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2019, 01:40:31 PM »
I am in a similar situation.  Currently have oil heat via radiators.  The boiler is likely from the 1970s-80s, but they made things a little better back then, so my efficiency was quoted at 80-85% during the last tune up.  I am saving up for a total system conversion to natural gas (already have a line in the house) in a few years, as the cost of converting the entire system isn't that much more than the oil boiler replacement.  Declining efficiency makes the upgrade increasingly more attractive option.  Oil & heating fuel prices are reasonable right now, but they can be frighteningly expensive if prices revert to pre-2014 levels. 

Regardless, these systems are like cars and require annual or at least bi-annual maintenance tune ups.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2019, 03:39:56 AM »
Thank you everyone for great advice!

The radiant floor link has certainly been very interesting. I don't want us to wire the whole house for radiant heat, but it gives me food for thought re one cold room. (The room is likely cold because the heating there is undersized -- large addition to the house, no attic, vaulted ceiling, large old windows, etc.

Do you think the boiler is undersized or that the room is under served?

If the boiler does not make enough BTU for the whole house (undersized), then no matter what additional distribution method you choose to add the boiler will still not be able to keep up with the house as a whole . . . though the cold spots may change. Within reason this may can be adjusted with the burner/burner nozzle size).

If the room is under served, not enough heat added to a room, then yes adding more heating delivery to the room could help.

Also, if you have a ceiling fan in the vaulted ceiling run it when you are in the room. Heat rises and there is often a good amount of heat trapped up top. If you do have a fan make sure it is in heating season mode (blowing up, not down).

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We re-insulated the crawl space this summer, and we probably will need to do same to sides and fix the windows). That same room also contains a fireplace which we currently do not use. Might be possible to get a wood insert and use it for heat -- although the prices for wood inserts that I saw make me believe that radiant floor might be cheaper if we dare to diy.

Good inserts are costly. That being said good inserts can throw off a lot of heat; pellets seem to cap out around 54,000 BTUs, but wood inserts seem to go significantly higher. But you need to factor in the cost of fuel over time. If you know the costs of fuels and roughly the efficiency of the appliances you are considering you can use a worksheet like this https://www.maine.gov/energy/fuel_prices/heatcalculatorMEv3_1.xls

for example: Based on my location and choices of fuels (quality of pellets, oil delivery company, the condition of wood I would buy) the cost per million btu is ~$24 for oil ~$20.5 for pellet, and ~$16.5 for wood. Knowing your fuel, you can figure out your potential savings if you switch your fuel source.

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Our levels of diy are very beginner -- while we are not afraid of doing things around the house, in practice we are very slow and lack some skills (like welding, etc.) So, no matter how much I want to do a badass thing and install our own boiler, my SO insists that we be reasonable and hire it out (with some research, obviously, which is why I am here). My record of completing complicated home projects is very bad (lack of time, lack of skills, possibly despair and lack of motivation), so SO has a point. I have been given a green light to price out a boiler with hot water option and attempt pex radiant floor heat as diy, since it is not essential to everyone's well being (and our crawl space is nice and encapsulated, so crawling around there is not a bad chore).

Speaking of diy -- has anyone done their own annual boiler cleaning? Youtube makes it seem possible, but I don't know if this is a reasonable thing to do. I am definitely not touching our existing rusty boiler -- everything is bolted and epoxied on that one, and I'd be afraid it would not start again. The heating shops around here are all pushing expensive Energy Kinetics boilers -- wonder of those can reasonably maintained by non professionals.

While I have done work to our heating system that has to work (outdoor reset and new boiler controller as examples). I choose to hire out our boiler cleaning. First, here it is reasonably priced (at least when done through my oil delivery company). Second, they have specialty tools; the big one for me is the combustion efficiency tester (from my brief research these seem to run 600-1500) and is really the best/only way to ensure that the boiler is running at peak efficiency, the boiler can sound/look fine and pump out heat but be running at a lower efficiency and I would never know it. And third, I consider the annual service (we only space heat with our boiler, if we were supply domestic hot water it should ideally be at least cleaned twice a year) similar to my annual physical; over the years the boiler serving has caught caught potential issues that I would have/did miss (like vent piping needing replaced due to internal corrosion from the sulphur in the fuel). I know plenty of people who do their own maintenance, most seem to get through the winter perfectly, some come into work at noon complaining about "f@#(ing with the boiler" all morning.

 

ClusterMC

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2019, 05:05:07 PM »
Check with your gas/electricity company. Some offer a free annual inspection by a technician who will come into your house and look at the boiler, furnace, fireplace and let you know if anything needs to be repaired. Not a bad idea if you are not familiar with how this stuff works.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2019, 09:02:36 PM »
As a homeowner for 42 years I believe it is best to have a professional service your boiler. They have parts on their truck if you need something, have experience in odd ball things that are not commonly seen and know what they are doing. The price they charge is not that outlandish and if you buy the service contract that will include a once a year cleaning, most parts and service calls if needed. Last year we had a very odd ball problem. We had to call the oil company at least 4 times for resolution. They came to our home and tried different things. It was exasperating to say the least. They finally found the problem but had we not taken out the service contract, it would have cost us a fortune. To each his own, but saving money on the boiler by doing it yourself is just not worth it to us. Peace of mind here. I can call the oil company at 2 am if I have a problem and a technician will come out to fix the problem. Some things are just worth it!

randomstring

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2019, 01:17:06 PM »
Fun update on boiler.
It has been cold here, and itís chugging along!

We had a professional come out to clean it a couple of months ago. $275 well spent. I watched him do it, and I am glad we did not attempt to diy it. He confirmed that we will need a new one, indicated it probably rusted because a seal failed and told me all good installers will be too busy to replace it in the winter.

So, we are trying to get quotes for the replacement and keeping our fingers crossed.

One of thermostatic valves has been iffy ó we fixed it up with duck tape and wire ties. The valve replacement looks to be diy job, so we will get a new one and replace it if it fails again.

The boiler tested at 82 percent efficiency, so I am not expecting large savings from the replacement. We will concentrate on insulation and heat retention meanwhile.

randomstring

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2019, 01:20:05 PM »
Ah, and ps on oil co. We get oil from small co that does not service equipment. Gives us flexibility to get cheaper oil, supports small local businesses and works out for us. But does add additional hassle of having to find separate ppl for boiler maintenance.

Natural gas is not an option here.

Poundwise

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #22 on: February 04, 2019, 05:25:08 PM »
A thought here.  Where is your tank, and how old is it?  We recently suffered a horrible event where a tiny hole opened in our above-ground oil tank.  Over the course of a few hours, it leaked over 170 gallons, which our sump pump dutifully pumped into our yard. The costs of remediation were enormous, even after insurance... the total will be well over $60K when all is done, and we were considered "lucky" that it wasn't worse. We did decide to convert to gas, which was more expensive than a new oil tank... but we are simply done with oil.

If your tank is old, and you aren't going to replace it or change heating source, do consider tank insurance. Our inspector did not pick up on issues with the tank, nor did an annual inspection and maintenance visit by our oil company's heating specialist.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Do I need a new boiler?
« Reply #23 on: February 10, 2019, 06:48:38 AM »
Fun update on boiler.
It has been cold here, and itís chugging along!

We had a professional come out to clean it a couple of months ago. $275 well spent. I watched him do it, and I am glad we did not attempt to diy it. He confirmed that we will need a new one, indicated it probably rusted because a seal failed and told me all good installers will be too busy to replace it in the winter.

So, we are trying to get quotes for the replacement and keeping our fingers crossed.

One of thermostatic valves has been iffy ó we fixed it up with duck tape and wire ties. The valve replacement looks to be diy job, so we will get a new one and replace it if it fails again.

The boiler tested at 82 percent efficiency, so I am not expecting large savings from the replacement. We will concentrate on insulation and heat retention meanwhile.

You have been given the gift of advanced knowledge of needing to replace a boiler.

Judging by the condition of your boiler, I would not be surprised to learn that you need to replace to oil tank as well.

If I were in your shoes (already having to spend the cost of a good oil boiler, tank, and install) I would research all my bases and costs. I do not know what your current fuel annual heating cost, but a good basic oil boiler should next you at least a 5% reduction in fuel use; a propane boiler or condensing fuel oil boiler (if available locally and local use of Ultra Low Sulphur Heating Oil is assured) should net you 13-15%.

My first call would be to my insurance company. Not for assistance in replacing the boiler, but to see how potentially removing an oil tank (clean up costs and environmental risk) and potentially changing to a non-combustion primary source of heat (electric, geothermal heat pump, or air to water heat pump) influence my insurance premium.

Second, I would spend a little time looking at other secondary that are not reflected in the cost of fuel, for example cleaning a fuel oil boiler is more work and more expensive than servicing a propane/natural gas boiler. But there may be other considerations (be it condition of the chimney, delivery fees, etc.).

Third, I would take a long hard look at personal preferences and convenience. How do you feel about your personal carbon emissions and how do you feel about clearing a path to your current fuel oil fill location (mine could only be slightly more of a PITA than it is).

My first real step would be to get a estimate/quote for like-to-like replacement to establish a up front cost baseline.

Depending on local availability of fuels and service I would compare the costs of propane, heating oil, natural gas, automatic pellet boiler, geothermal, air-to-water heat pump. Any heat pump (geothermal/air-to-water, or mini-split) can be backed up by any heat source for the coldest days.

Personally, I would also look at coupling solar PV (now or down the road) with one of the electric fueled heating methods.

Full disclosure/reminder: I have a ~1991 fuel oil boiler currently. I would love to move away from it in terms of fuel cost, basement space occupied by the system and the fuel oil tank, maintenance cost, environmental impact, stability of fuel pricing and a list of other small reasons. BUT, the cost of any new system is cost prohibitive when looking only at the $s. If (really when) my boiler needs replacing I am inclined to spend a little more money and get away from oil. The only thing that would drive me to replace with oil again is if the boiler completely fails in the dead of winter, plugging a new boiler into the existing system will require the least amount of down time in sub freezing temperature. At this time I would be inclined to go with low temperature heat pumps paired with out pellet insert and electric resistive heating as backups for the coldest days; likely coupled with ground mount solar down the road.

P.S.: If you choose to remain with a combustion appliance I would recommend one configured to use outside combustion air.

P.P.S. If you do decide to stay with oil please consider upgrading your tank from an oil-style single wall steel to a modern tank (double wall like roth, fiberglass, SS, etc) with a secondary containment (a double wall tank or spill catch bucket underneath.