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house heating upgrade advise

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Maestro232
Maestro232 Member Posts: 69
Hello All,



I am brand new to home ownership and my wife and I baught a lovely, if dated house that we are very pleased with.  Taking advantage of various incentives through my electricity provider, financial institution, and federal rebates, I'm about to embark on some upgrades to the current system, but I would covet advice from professionals on this forum.  Allow me to describe what I know about my current system and then I'll mention a few thoughts I've had...but then I'd love to just hear from you.  Thanks for the time...



Current System and relevant info:



Oil Boiler from the 70's with single-pipe steam heat and tankless coil for hot water (poorly working hot water in house).  Old chimney.  Working fireplace. Propane tank and line for cooking stove. 2 floor cape with basement and attic. 1400 sq/ft.



A few thoughts I'm tossing around:



From what I think I've learned, a very good start would be to get the hot water onto an indirect or freestanding tank so that the boiler is not running unnecessarily in warm months (especially considering the hot water performance is so poor).



I might like to put a wood stove in front of the fireplace to add some heat to the house (should get some good heat upstairs based on location), take the edge off in the autumn, and have a non-electricity-required heating source in case of emergency.



Internet research has suggested to me that a forced hot water upgrade might not be worth the investment.



---------



Well, that's about it.  I'm open to suggestions.  I can live with steam supplemented by wood quite happily I think, but I'm just kind of wondering the best sort of updating I should go for.  Maybe a new boiler that doesn't need the chimney and a propane fired free-standing water tank?  Maybe a way to capture some of the warm water returning to the boiler as radient heat? Should I stick with the oil?  City gas is not available...

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,458
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    Well now...

    You'll probably get some good advice from pros...



    You will probably be best off sticking with oil; propane tends to be rather more expensive per BTU than almost anything else.



    It is very likely that your steam system could use a good tune up -- and quite possibly a new, more efficient boiler.  A boiler from the 70s is not likely to be quite up to snuff.  But the first thing to do is to get what you have running at its best.  Steam is very efficient and quiet -- if it's running right.  May I suggest for starters that, at the very least, you buy a copy of "We Got Steam Heat" from this site?  It's an excellent guide for the beginner.



    I am not, myself, particularly a fan of tankless coils for domestic hot water.  It has always seemed to me that they are limited in capacity -- and more trouble than they are worth.  Depending on how much hot water you need, you might find that a small oil burning hot water heater would be more satisfactory, or, if your electric rates aren't outrageous, even an electric hot water heater.  You will doubtless get other views on that, however.



    And good luck!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,904
    edited June 2010
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    Two questions-

    1- what make and model are your present boiler and burner, and



    2- where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Unknown
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    Get the Book!

    Hi- I agree with Jamie. I would look into tuning up the steam system you already have in place. I get plenty of hot water from mine during the winter and use an electric hot water heater during the summer when the steam boiler is shut off. I struggled with my steam system for several years and was about to scrap it when I luckily ran across this website and between the generous help from the pros on this site and Dan Holohan's steam books, I was able to get my steam system tuned up and running properly so that it now heats very satisfactorily and is much more economical.

    Jamie mentioned the book "We Got Steam Heat" which is available in the "Shop" section on this website along with a lot of other good books on steam heating. http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Books/5/61/We-Got-Steam-Heat-A-Homeowners-Guide-to-Peaceful-Coexistence

    It's written so the homeowner can understand it and is easy, humorous reading. It is packed full of facts and illustrations which explain exactly how a residential steam heating  system works.

    - Rod
  • Maestro232
    Maestro232 Member Posts: 69
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    Thanks for the advise

    Thank you everyone for the advise.  I have purchased the book and look foward to it.  In answer to the question about my boiler/burner...



    Boiler: Everhot 0B14

    Burner: Beckett SA55GYKPA-5733
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,047
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    Don't change....add!

    Do tune up your steam system and see how it does, unless required repairs get really pricey. Then you have to do a full evaluation.

    I'd suggest that you buy a mini-split heat pump. It will heat efficiently and provide AC and Duhu. You did not list your location. If you are far north the hp will not be your sole heat source, but will contribute a high percentage. The way to make your steam system really efficient is to run it less. The hp will likely qualify for tax credits and local incentives

    I'd suggest tankless for your hot water. Again, tax credits and local incentives are likely available.

    As always, I must note my bias. I represent a hp manuf as well as a tankless. Having said that, I know they work. Good luck!
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,904
    edited June 2010
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    Well............

    I can't find anything on that Everhot boiler. They may have re-branded someone else's unit- post a pic and let's take a look at it.



    The Beckett number you gave is the part # of the motor. The burner itself, assuming it is also a Beckett (these motors are nearly universal-fit) is probably an AF or AFG- there should be a label on the burner chassis with this info, near where the small oil line from the pump connects to the chassis. Or it might be on the front of the chassis. If the boiler is that old, the Beckett was probably installed as an upgrade.



    The cost per BTU of propane is significantly higher than oil- so stay with oil. For oil, the Burnham MegaSteam is far and away the best replacement boiler. Look below for a pic of one we installed.



    Heat pumps don't provide the comfort and efficiency levels that a well-operating steam system will. The typical duct system loses about 20% of what goes into it, and since these are air rather than water or steam leaks we don't see them (but the mini-split type does not have this problem). And the moving air makes you feel cooler which is fine in the summer but not good in the winter.



    Wall-hung tankless water heaters have their place, but in many cases don't provide enough hot water especially if you have kids.



    Where are you located? I'm sure we have someone near you that can help.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
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