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Oil to Gas conversion options
I REALLY want to change from Oil to gas this summer. I presently have a 16 yr old Peerless - 214 btu/hr. I've met with a few contractors and I am wrestling with all of the information I have received to make a decision.
We've been in this 80 year old home in the Northeast for 8 years - hot water radiators on the first two floors; fin tube on the third. We have an issue with the third floor, but I will mention that later. Since the boiler was put in by the previous owner, all of the windows were replaced before we bought. There isn't much insulation in the stone home (16" walls). The existing boiler heats the house well, but we burn ALOT of oil.
Contractor #1 is suggesting a Chimney vented 84% AFUE Burnham 308. He also quoted a Weil McLain ultra 230 direct vent boiler. However, he also is promoting the chimney boiler stating "The chimney boiler, although less efficient is dramatically more dependable, less technically complicated and dramatically longer lived when compared to any condensing boiler - To the point that two or three condensing boilers will be bought over the same period as a conventional gas boiler"
He also stated that there is additional maintenance expense for a condensing boiler to ensure the acidic condensate does not cause problems - what kind of problems? Contractor #1 did not do a heat load calculation.
Contractor #2 suggested a Lochinvar KBN-211. He did a full heating load calculation. I'm very comfortable with this contractor, but there is the added cost for a condensing boiler.
1. IS there merit to what Contractor #1 says about reduced life cycle for a condensing boiler?
2. If I go with a condensing boiler, will I have any issues with my existing chimney by venting my water heater in the chimney (DHW is gas fired also - 75 gallon tank and installed when we renovated house) without the draft created by the exisitng boiler?
3 Re: 3rd floor. When the third floor calls for heat, the piping on the third floor cracks, pops and makes alot of noise as the hot water comes up. I have asked around and there are a few theories:
A. Contractor #1 believes I need a flexible tubing connection - I'm not a fan of this in case it ever leaks.
B. Contractor #2 believes that the modu-con will not send 180 degree water there, so the sudden burst of hot water will not occur.
C. My own theory is that the circulator pump may be too big for the third floor zone. It is the same size as the pump for the other zone for the first two floors, which have large radiators. The high flow rate at high temp may be causing the noise in the winter.
I'm throwing alot out here. Looking forward to your input.