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Oil to gas burner conversion for 1920s boiler


With the cost of oil going up thru the roof I am once again thinking about conversion.

I have a 16 unit apt. in Portland, OR that uses heating oil to fire the steam boiler. The boiler is a tube type and has a gravity return to the hartford loop and the steam feeds cast iron radiators with non electric thermostat valves in each unit. The boiler works fantastic even after all these years and I have maintained it since 2001. We use about 1800 gals of oil per year to heat our building and figure going to gas will at least hold the line on costs but not really reduce them. The boiler will be cleaner for sure. I assume also that I will need to install a liner in the unlined brick chimney (internal).

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Does anyone know of a good engineering contractor to help with the process?




  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    Have you done the math?

    on the true cost per BTU? sometimes the service fees and taxes raise the cost of gas beyond what is advertised. You also tend to be 2-4% lower on efficiency with natural gas as compared to oil in the same boiler for the same fire rating. If the existing boilers are over sized you can downfire the new gas burners and be a bit more efficient than if you match the current output rating on the boilers. I am not sure the money would not be better spent on new boilers all together. I do not know what condition your current boilers are in, I would have to guess that the reduced sludge and improved passage ways would be points for a new boiler no matter the fuel used. I like gas boilers but oil can fire clean also.

    I do not know of a North west steam pro and airline tickets may blow the budget to get an east coast consultant out there.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    1920's steam oil to gas

    at least with a new boiler, you would have a more predictable changeover, than merely changing the burner. is the system 1-pipe or 2-pipe?

    one place to start would be to add up the capacity of the radiation [not the bldg heat-loss], so that you would know what capacity burner/boiler you need.

    can you post some pictures of your current boiler, and piping? your present boiler may actually be quite inefficient even though appearing to work well, and its replacement would use less therms of energy. what is the capacity of the present boiler/burner?--nbc
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