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High Efficiancy Boiler Installations

JoeFJoeF Member Posts: 2
Homeowners have been converting from oil to gas like crazy. With all the rebates and discount programs from the goverment and utility companies its a no brainer.

But what we need is someone to inspect and test these installs to make sure they are running at the efficiency's these people paid for. I work at a supply house and maybe 1% of the customers know what a manometer or a combustion analyzer is, never mind own one.


  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,584
    Commissioner Gordon here....

    I seriously thought about starting a new company called COmmissioner Gordon to offer this service to contractors installing these new appliances, but a quick survey indicated that they would NOT be interested in paying someone to document the initial condition of their systems. Too much of a "Plug-n-Play" world we live in. They assume that the factory test fired the appliance and that if its hot, don't mess with it.

    If you don't test, you don't know. If you DO test, and you don't know what you're looking at (other than the false efficiency numbers) you STILL don't know...

    I'm for it.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,384
    Maybe you should consider

    not selling to people who don't have the proper equipment. Or at the least, making them sign a release so you won't be liable.

    Back in 2006, a screwed-up mod-con installation led to a CO-death event at the Days Inn in Ocean City, MD. There was plenty of blame to go around on that one. But even though they had nothing to do with the actual installation, the supply house and the manufacturer were dragged into the resulting lawsuit and had to go to a lot of trouble and expense to defend themselves. I'm not sure how it all ended, but do remember the contractor was forced out of business.

    As this kind of thing becomes more frequent, someone will start asking how these incompetent fools were able to buy the equipment in the first place. If suppliers don't already have something in place, they might get it shoved down their throat by court order.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • EddieGEddieG Member Posts: 150

    It is scary when I think about all the stuff going in without proper testing! How to correct it? Well if someone figures it out, let me know. I wish a had a dollar for every unit I've seen without a hole in the flue pipe! I wouldn't have to work anymore! I really love it when I see a sticker on the equipment with eff. readings and no hole in the flue.

    Some manufacturers require certification on equipment, before you can purchase it. Which is a good thing. But that usually means one tech from the company goes to training and that tech doesn't even do the installs. But it is better than nothing.

    I was thinking, what if the manufacturer required you to fill out a start up sheet to be sent in. That would offer an extended warranty. Doesn't mean that they would do it properly, but better than nothing. Our local utility offers a rebate to homeowners, if they have the installing contractor submit a start up worksheet with all readings. The sheet is quite detailed and they review it, to make sure you didn't fill out B.S. numbers. The only problem is the rebate isn't enough to cover the labor to do it correctly. So it isn't being done that often.

    I know it won't happen, I'm just thinking out loud!
  • zacmobilezacmobile Member Posts: 211

    I think a lot of contractors don't know how to use the equipment and are intimidated by it, I know because I am one. I have been struggling for a while now with my combustion analyzer, I live in a relatively small town and there are not any wholesalers or technical colleges close by that instruct their use. I have been back & forth with the manufacturer so many times with questions and am not familiar enough with my unit to even know if it's working right. On top of that, I only have a need for it 3 times a year at the most so every time is like the first time and by then the sensors are toast and I have to get new ones for $500. I WANT to use it and do everything right but where I am I just don't have the resources.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,584
    edited April 2011
    Sad but true Zac..

    Your sentiments echo many of those of your fellow competitors.

    There are some really good trainers out there, but if you are in a remote area, you'll have to expend some travel time/money to get to an area that they frequent. I suggest Jim Davis with National Comfort Institute.

    Tim McElwain is also a good and knowledgeable trainer, but you'd have to go see him, because he trains out of his facilities in RI..

    Bacharac also puts on some seminars, although I have never taken their courses, knowing who originally set them up (Rudy Leatherman) I feel safe that they are probably well written and presented.

    And of course, there is always The Wall. If you, or anyone else for that matter EVER has a question about combustion analysis, lay it on us. If we don't have the exact answer, we have enough resources to find the answer...

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • ChrisChris Member Posts: 3,056

    I can only speak for what I know. Here the local utility offers consumers rebates for the installation of high efficiency equipment. They also inspect each job that an application for rebate was submitted. Here's the problem, they are only inspecting to make sure the equipment installed meets the requirement. That's the problem and here is why.

    The utility companies have to have their programs approved by the state agency that is responsible for consumer relations. They dictate what qualifies and what does not. The utility companies just propose the program. The utilities also do not administer the program. In the case here, Central Hudson and Orange & Rocklands programs are administered by Honeywell. Honeywell is the one cutting the checks and they are also the ones doing the inspections.

    I know one of the inspectors. He is a heating and hvac contractor with years of experience in condensing, radiant, geo and solar. We sat down and had a great conversation just on this subject.  This is how an inspection works.

    He has a form that he fills out. It has nothing to do with the installation. All he is there to do is verify the installed equipment. He is not allowed to say one thing about the installation nor is he allowed to report back of shotty installations. He says in all his years he has never seen more consumers ripped off. Boilers with no outdoor sensers hooked up, improper venting, improper piping and the list goes on and on. He was on one job where the entire boiler was piped with pex including the exp tank laying on the floor piped pex. Doesn't matter the consumer still recevied that rebate check.

    The responsibility is not the supply houses. It's the agency that promotes, offers and inspects so those checks are cut. I always find that local newspaper reporters flock to wirte articles about how the local utlity is helping consumers but you can't get a darn one of them to write about the shotty installs or consumer rip offs that the program actual contributes too.  The pereception of saving energy in most cases just the opposite. Added service calls, cost to fix etc far exceeds the savings.

    Now I don't just blame the utilities or the administrators. I also blame the consumers themselves. I know of mountains of jobs lost by quality pros based on price so in some cases the consumer gets what they paid for but the programs should still be monitored better. That same state agency that is worried about what the utlitites offer should be worrying where the real fraud and safety issues are and thats in the consumers home..
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • TimTim Member Posts: 16

    Mark, I like the COmissioner, very catchy. Most manufacturers, if not all, want a combustion test to verify CO2, O2 and CO readings are within specs. sadly not enough installers have either the equipment or knowledge to complete this. In the past two years we have had 40+ new mod-cons installed. Less than 10% were out of manufacturers specs which suprised me. Now during yearly maintenance I find over 50% out of specs before cleaning. What scares me is how much of this new equipment is going to be pulled apart and maintained per manufacturers instructions yearly. Maybe a C/O sensor in the flue that will cause a hard lockout or the power switch for the equipment has a C/O sensor in it that will fail at XXX ppm.
  • SlimpickinsSlimpickins Member Posts: 314

    In my local jurisdiction, inspectors  don't care or know how a boiler is supposed to be piped, pumped or controlled. They don't care about stuff like a low mass boiler with high mass radiation and no means of boiler protection.  199K boiler in a 1000 square foot house.  Cast iron boilers with non barrier tubing? ,They're only looking at the venting, combustion air, backflow preventer, gas drip legs, electrical shut offs, etc.

    I don't know haw many service calls I've been on and told a customer the whole mechanical room needs to be re piped and hear,"Well we got it inspected". With the big anti government fervor happening these days, I don't think consumers are going to get protection there. Not all customers can be like JDB and educated themselves on the workings of their new high efficiency boiler. I also think some manufactures need to do a better job of factory training. I attended a Triangle Tube Prestige training class in Arvada, CO.,    put on by Rick Mayo that was excellent.  Also, just because there is training available, not all will come. So, I'm not sure of an ironclad solution.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,532
    educating myself.

    Well, much of my education came from here. Since I imagine the winter rush is about over, and the A/C rush has not yet started, I have an appointment next week to do three things:

    1.) Increase diameter of domestic hot water to the house from 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch, and put a 3/4 inch mixer blender valve in there to reduce water temperature to 120F so I can run the tank at 145F to reduce legionella hazard. Probably a Taco 5120, but at discression of contractor. I hope they can put the mixer close to where the domestic water enters the slab, but it may be too much of a P.I.T.A. to do that there.

    2.) Bond, and maybe ground the CSST part of my gas line. I do not see the point of bonding it if none of the gas line is grounded. And it did pass inspection with no bonding even though it was in plain sight of the inspector.

    3.) Replace Taco 007-IFC circulator that goes to my indirect hot water heater. It has gotten noisy in the last month or two. I imagine I could do that one myself,  (flanges, and I have open end wrenches, crescent wrenches, and socket wrenches, and gaskets come with the circulators), but I do not choose to.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,532
    without a hole in the flue pipe!

    It sort-of depends, though. On a W-M Ultra 3, you are supposed to just pop the flue temperature sensor out of the pipe inside the boiler to make the measurements.They have a double temperature sensor measuring flue temperature, and if it gets too hot, or increases temperature too fast, it causes a fault condition that turns off the fire. Two sensors in one unit. If their readings are too far apart, it assumes the sensor is bad and shuts off the fire for that too.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,532
    I also blame the consumers themselves.

    I am lucky, in a way. I am interested in how the stuff in my house works. It used to be than whenever I got a new piece of equipment, I would take it apart before I even used it to see how it worked, and how it was built. I do not do that anymore, though. But most of the homewoners I know could not care less, and actively champion their contractors without really knowing if they are any good or not. They assume they are all about equally good, so they might as well go with the lowest bidder.

    I learned long ago to buy things, especially expensive ones, that had the lowest total cost of ownership. This is seldom the thing with the lowest initial cost. Now it is difficult to find a contractor that will tell me how much gas a new boiler will use, how much annual maintenance will cost including parts, how long an aluminum heat exchanger will last in a system with iron circulators, copper tubing, brass valves. If they all did that, then it might make sense to go with the bidder who guaranteed the lowest total cost of ownership. They never said it might be smart to put a whole house surge protector in the lines before the boiler. I do not know what a new U-control would cost me, but I have an idea that it would be over triple the cost of the surge protector. So I had one put into my power panel.
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