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Replace boiler?

Hello all,

I recently purchased a home with a cleveland boiler that is original to the house which is 45 years old. There are no leaking problems with it but with the tax credit going on now and the fact that it's so old I am considering replacing it.

However I do not want to just throw money away if it will last. I had a couple estimates of anywhere from $4500-8000 to replace it with various different boilers (lowest estimate is with a thermo-dynamics ht/90, and highest with a system 2000. Middle of the road with a new yorker FR-HGS). One of the contractors mentioned that I could update the burner (it has been replaced before but it's still plenty old), and circulator pump with some other new parts and wiring for around $1000. This sounds good for me but he also mentioned that while the boiler looks to be in good shape if could start leaking and I just threw that $1000 away. I'm not sure if he's trying to scare me into just buying the whole thing or whatever.

Any ideas of what to do? I can take pictures of my boiler if anyone would like to see. Also, would an upgraded burner count towards the tax credit for improving the efficiency?


  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385

    please. They will be of help
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
    New or repair whats there

    An old boiler is always an unknown and there efficiency is usually pretty poor. With the cost of fuel, it adds up over the years. You have to figure how much fuel you will save with a new PROPERLY SIZED AND INSTALLED boiler and how many years it will take to get your money back. Some of the new FHW boilers can be extremely efficient, they could increase your overall efficiency from 60 to 90% Also there is the peace of mind that comes with new properly installed equipment.

    The contractor was being honest about the possibility of equipment failure and there is no way he could know how long what you have will last. The rebates are only applicable to systems that have efficiencies of 90% or more and no upgrading is going to accomplish that.

    If you go with a new boiler be sure the installer does everything by the book so it works as it should. Also be sure he calculates the heat loss so you get a properly sized boiler. Improperly installed equipment will sour any initial savings pretty quickly so select an installer carefully.

    Do you intend on staying in this house long term? Are you using oil or gas?
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Replace boiler?

    Are you driving a 45 year old car with the original motor?

    Replace the boiler/burner with a modern, efficient one. It will pay for itself.

    As I remember, 1965 Cleveland boilers are now considered Edsels. If you know what they are.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    I would still

    like to see what he has for a boiler/burner. Not all old is inefficient. By today's standards it's outdated, but if that is the only reason to replace, I'm still curious on what he has. Some old boilers fitted with upgraded burners, controls, will come close enough to doing what a new one will without throwing thousands at it. 
  • boogsawaste
    boogsawaste Member Posts: 5
    edited November 2010

    Here are some pictures. I can take more if you need to see anything specific.

    One of the companies said they would recommend a coil less boiler. Would this be recommended? It's a lot more expensive than their one with the coil.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Replace boiler? Absolutely!

    I was wrong. This is a Husdon Hornet.

    That thng is older than dirt.

    Do a heat loss calculation on the building and put a properly sized boiler with a modern flame retention burner like a Carlin EZ-1 or others that some like. Myself, I would use something like a W/M WTGO (tankless) and use that water heater as a storage tank.

    How many automobiles have you bought or owned since that was installed? A new boiler costs a lot less than  new car. And the money you save will pay for it quickly.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    oh yea

    That's a National US Radiator. Tough ole bird there. As ice said, a Weil Gold would one of many good choices for replacement, but if you don't have the cash to spend, burner upgrade, do some firebrick baffling of the passage ways, circ is optional. Parts are still available, but running cost is more for that pump. These are tough boilers, and probably has many more years of service if a few things are done. Definitely upgrade the controls, mainly the stack control to cad cell type. The brick chamber is probably ok, but lining it would be wise, of course this is only if you are keeping it. The current burner on it is poor. Always was and always will be. They had square electrodes in them, just some trivia for you
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,542
    You would see huge savings

    replacing that monster. None of the boilers mentioned by you or others are eligible for the tax credit..The Buderus GB125 series,Peerless Pinnacle and Thermodynamics TDX 90 are the only oil boilers available that are,if that is important to you.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • boogsawaste
    boogsawaste Member Posts: 5

    I have decided that since we wouldn't be getting the tax break for any of the systems we were looking at we're going to wait until spring to change it out. We have a home warranty that covers the boiler so if it breaks this winter we will use some kerosene heaters and electric heat until it's repaired ($100 deductable so I can't beat that). Once the spring rolls around we will have some more money saved up and we are just going to convert to natural gas. We have a gas stove and the line runs right above the boiler anyway.

    This way we can remove the tank and have some more room also. Thanks for the input guys, glad to know I wasn't being lied to by the sales men.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,904
    You say

    "We have a gas stove and the line runs right above the boiler anyway."

    Don't count on being able to save some money by using that pipe. In many cases existing piping is too small to handle an additional gas boiler. Most of the ones we do require a new line all the way back to the meter.

    Have a pro size the replacement boiler by doing a heat-loss calculation on the house, then see how much gas it would need and if the existing lines and meter would handle it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    I feel confident that when you are done, you will have spent more money on the conversion than if you replaced the boiler.

    Do a heat loss calculation on the house. The boiler is heavily oversized. When running at (hopefully) 70% efficiency for that old hunk of iron, you needed more to get enough. By just replacing it with a new modern efficient oil boiler, you will downsize it. Then, it is oversized for the house. I'll bet that if your house is of average size, you can get away with 1.00 GPH. And that includes hot water. 

    Then, there is the cost of fuel. Whatever the gas company tells you, make them put their guarantees of fuel costs and savings in writing. They won't do it. Or, there will be some disclaimer about unknown circumstances. I have NEVER, never ever never seen one thing that those pirates say about fuel savings and cost come even close to being true. If you buy a tank of oil and it takes you two months to use it, the first gallon cost the same as the last. When you buy gas from a utility, the price you pay on the first day of the billing period is really high. Throughout the month, as you use more, you pay less. Until the last day of the billing period. When you pay the least. The next day, you get the big fire hose. With oil or LPG, what you pay for the product is what it costs until you need more.

    You must convert your cost to a constant you can use for comparing the fuels. Gas is in Therms. 100,000 BTU's is a Therm. Oil is 139,000 BTU's per gallon or 1.39 therms per gallon. Don't listen to them if they tell you that their gas is so much per therm. You must take the whole gas bill cost, what you pay them per month, with all the add on fees. Take that dollar amount and divide that by how many Therms you used. That is your true cost per therm. Then, compare that to your oil cost. And don't get into a tizzy about the cost going up. It will all go up.

    And if you go into some "deal" on equipment with them, it won't be top of the line efficient. They only want to sell you gas and more of it. Not less through efficiency.

    You will need a new gas service. You have a 3/4" service. It will need to be upgraded to at least 1 1/4". You need to dispose of your tank. All costs.

    I've seen a lot of folks switch from oil to LPG. Not one will tell me how much they saved from the switch. I'm still waiting.

    Yesterday, I was driving through Georgia. I stopped for gas. The pump had "regular", "Premium" and "E-85". They didn't even list the price on the pump and the hose wasn't very worn. I promise you that you will pay more for E-85 and get less gas milage so it will cost you more to drive than it would straight gas.  

    Hey, you're a big guy. Don't let me try to tell you what to do. I have gas in front of MY house when I built it. I have oil and LP for my dryer, I pay almost $5.00 per gallon for it. Look in to it. 
  • MichaelK
    MichaelK Member Posts: 34
    Clean that thing!

    You may want to have it serviced before the winter as well.  That thing is dirty as it could be.  Your getting very little heat transfer and all your money is going right up the stack.  Have the burner looked over once too.  New nozzle and some clean filters and a clean combustion chamber and flue passage and you should see something at least. 

    If you decide to keep it, definetly think about changing out the circulating pump and the burner with something more modern and energy friendly.  For the love of your poor old war horse there, get it properly brushed down and cleaned out. 

    Good luck!
    Michael Knight
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