Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Boiler Retirement

Paul C._2
Paul C._2 Member Posts: 18
Have a 1950s era American-Standard ArcoLiner oil-fired steamer that has been reliable as a locomotive and with Dan's books and this site, system is mostly quiet.  Unfortunately, the tankless can't keep up domestic hot water, price of oil is going in the wrong direction and this boiler is probably as efficient as a big old 60s V-8.  Oil man wants to replace with a brand I never heard and pipe it in copper because he can do it cheaper.  Ouch.  What are my domestic hot water options and should I abandon oil?  


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,432
    Shame about your oil man...

    Wouldn't it be nice if they knew what they were doing?  Oh well... time to find a man or woman who does.

    Would you be better off with gas?  If you have gas in the street or in the house, probably (not an option for a lot or rural folks).  At the moment.  Will the cost advantage last?  Who knows...

    Either way, there are several ways to work with the domestic hot water.  The approach we use here is that domestic hot water is provided by a relatively small, but fast recovery, oil fired hot water heater.  Works for us, but the heating boiler isn't used for about six months of the year.  Other folks like relatively large, insulated storage tank systems, heated with hot water from the boiler.  If your plumbing is relatively compact and you have gas, you might also investigate tankless hot water systems.  They seem a bit pricey to me, but properly sized they work very well (and are very common in Europe).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469

    He's out of consideration for replacing your boiler.Just suggesting it be piped with copper means he doesn't know what he's doing.You'll have to find someone that knows steam, or get actively involved yourself, supervising.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,380
    One mans opinion

    If you want a lot of hot water you might want to look at a indirect water heater. They are expensive but they last a long time. Just make sure you get one that is meant to work with steam, you only want to do this once.

    I'm going to replace my oil fired Burnham boiler in the next month and after looking around I've decided on a Smith G8 with a Carlin gas gun in it, that Smith is rated to work with oil or gas. You want a boiler that the locals know and carry parts for, the best boiler in the world does you no good if parts are not available locally. My oil tank is at least 40 years old and needs to be replaced, I decided to go with gas because I can't see oil being competitive in price in the foreseeable future. I'm tired of worrying about oil prices spiking every time a camel farts in the far east.

    The mst important selection criteria is the installer. He has to know steam and be willing to follow the manufacturers piping requirements. That means using threaded swing joints and threaded steel pipe on all steam carrying pipes, copper is fine for return lines (preferable below the water line).

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    I'll Repeat That

    "He has to know steam and be willing to follow the manufacturers piping requirements".

    And that's where your knowledge comes into play. You'll know if something is not right, because you have read the I&O manual a dozen times, before whichever boiler is installed. If the manufacturer offers several piping options, you have come here, and found out which would be best, by talking with the steam pros.
  • Paul C._2
    Paul C._2 Member Posts: 18
    Any Preference?

    Thanks, any advantages to tankless, tank, or indirect for hot water.  Actually due to space, would like to stay away from a separate tank.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,432
    They all work...

    tankless, tank, indirect...

    If we assume for the moment that you have gas available, they all three can be used. 

    Please note that by tankless I do NOT mean a domestic hot water coil immersed in the boiler with no storage.  I mean the independent, instant units.  They have the advantage of being very small -- typically wall hung -- take no appreciable space, and, if they are sized correctly to the load they are feeding, the hot water supply is literally endless (at least until you run out of gas!).  They take a lot of gas when they are running, which means a good size connection, but they take no gas at all when they aren't, and there are no standby losses -- efficiency is very high.  They work best when the pipe runs to the point of use are relatively short; if you have hot water uses scattered around a large establishment, I wouldn't recommend them.  They are not inexpensive.

    Tank type water heaters -- whether indirect or direct fired -- do take up space, with the indirects typically somewhat larger because of the insulation.  On the other hand, they are less expensive than tankless, and somewhat better suited to scattered plumbing.    Indirects do use the main boiler, which may or may not be advantageous.  Tank type, directly fired, don't, of course.

    It all depends a lot on the nature of your use and how scattered about the place your plumbing is.  The place I superintend has hot water usages over a hundred feet from each other.  In the winter time, however, only a couple of them are in use.  In the summer time, they all are -- but the boiler isn't.  And we don't have gas and don't hope to anytime in the near future.  So... tank type direct fire was the only thing that made sense.  For myself, if I were dealing as it might be with a normal residence, with the plumbing arranged in a compact stack, and I had gas, I'd go with an instant tankless type.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
This discussion has been closed.