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.

Happening elsewhere?

Leo_G
Leo_G Member Posts: 89
Don't know if this is a trend or not, but in the past 3 weeks, I have been asked if I still install 'traditional" boilers by 2 prospective customers. Seems that some rumours are starting to spread about the expensive upkeep for high effeciency boilers.



Just curious.....
«1

Comments

  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,839
    Hi Leo...

    Long time no see. I suspect that the rumor is being spread by hungry contractors looking to seal the deal and make some money. If I were approached by someone wanting a mid to low efficiency boiler, I'd have to refuse to bid. I don't deal in anything less than 90% appliances. I do this for the environment. Tough line for sure, but it is a commitment I've made and have kept since mod cons first came out. I can't remember the last time I installed something less than a 90%er.



    ME
    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.
  • furnacefigher15
    furnacefigher15 Member Posts: 514
    Mark

    What about applications where 90's are not possible?



    Tell them to pound sand?



    I had one job that the boiler room was on the ground level, and the building was surrounded by parking lot. It was also an old folks home, and would have been a major slip hazard having condensate making ice in the parking lot.



    The building was 100 feet tall, and would have cost 10 times the price of the boiler to run venting to the roof. And the system needed 3.5 million btu.
  • bld999
    bld999 Member Posts: 47
    Condensate

    Furnacefighter,



    Why would condensate be running over the parking pavement?
  • furnacefigher15
    furnacefigher15 Member Posts: 514
    Bld999

    Because it comes out of the exhaust pipe. And this building was the type that had the building sort of on stilts (except for where you walk into the building), with parking beneath the structure. I know this sounds weird, but I see a lot of buildings just like it.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,839
    Hasn't happened yet...

    And I've been installing modcons for a LONG time...



    I'm sure they're out there, but haven't crossed paths with one yet. If and when I do, I will exhaust all possibilities of placing the higher efficiency appliance before I fall back to the old one.



    As for horizontal terminus drip, try using a 45 degree fitting right at the end of the terminus with the 45 pitched UPward. Keeps the condensate from dripping off the end of the vent and causing issues. Have used it numerous times, and granted, it looks a little strange, but never had any stalagtite/stalagmite acid icecicle issues.



    ME
    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.
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 832
    venting

    There is always ways to vent, just for each application there is proper equipment. If there is vent for atmospheric boiler, there is vent for direct vent boiler.
  • furnacefigher15
    furnacefigher15 Member Posts: 514
    In that case

    I quoted a combination of multiple 85% efficient boilers, power burning boilers. Regardless, I lost that job to a company who more or less matched same for same to the existing boiler.



    I was underbid by 30 K. I was asked to rebid, because I was the preferred vendor, with the competitors set up and I refused, but thankfully did not lose the customer as a whole, as they knew I had higher standards. I still maintain the tower and chillers, and soon the boilers once they are no longer under the labor warranty.
  • furnacefigher15
    furnacefigher15 Member Posts: 514
    Leo

    Did not mean to hijack the thread. To answer you initial question, yes I still have many customer who want the lower efficiency models.



    In residential application I give multiple options and let the customer decide. I give the pros and cons of each as part of the bid.



    Most people get sticker shock with the mod cons.
  • furnacefigher15
    furnacefigher15 Member Posts: 514
    In this building

    I could not use the existing chimney as a chase, as the DHW is a separate operation using the chimney.
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 832
    chimney

    i would offer indirect off new boiler.
  • furnacefigher15
    furnacefigher15 Member Posts: 514
    Gennady

    In commercial muli-family applications I like to leave the systems isolated from one another for redundancy. Nothing worse than having no heat or hot water in that kind of application.
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 832
    redundancy

    look into hamilton engineering products. they have multiple boilers with combined vent. they made it as single boiler product, but there are actually more than 1 boiler in the set.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Sticker Shock:

    I find that true also.

    I give customers all the choices they could hope for and let them decide what they will spend.

    I'd be a fool to only offer the expensive quote with the high tech install and have someone come in with a low price on a cheaper job. The other bid may get the job and I may loose them as a customer for good.
  • Jason_13
    Jason_13 Member Posts: 299
    Expensive yes

    I have heard and seen many mod/con parts failure and yes they are expensive as compared to the cost of cast iron boilers parts. Most of the time it is caused by over sized boilers and improper installations.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    mix & match

    Combine a mod/con (or two) with an atmospheric (or two) and the right controls can work well -- especially in some climates.
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    Not to hijack Leo's thread, but...

    I would have to agree with FurnaceFighter here.  I too spend most of my time these days in high btu applications.  I have found that 90% mod/cons are not the be-all-end-all resource for heating.  Just did a school where we pulled out an old CB and went back with a Viessmann Vitorond 200 oil with the Riello RM-70 burner.  Natural is not available and LP in a btu per btu comparison doesn't hold up.  With the amount of high temp radiation in this building, a mod/con wasn't gonna work.  We are modulating and we have outdoor reset, but on it's best day it ain't gonna make 90%.



    You can forget mod/cons actually performing at 90% for very much of their life in applications above 3 million BTU's.  
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Help me understand

    Why "You can forget mod/cons actually performing at 90% for very much of their life in applications above 3 million BTU's."



    I can't see the how a 1MM BTU/hr project and a 3MM BTU/hr project with similar design temps would be so fundamentally different?
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    That is the problem.

    DESIGN TEMPS



    There so very few projects out there today in the high btu range that are designed for low to mid temp operation. Why? I don't know. But if design is for high temp, then the boilers don't condense very often if at all. If it isn't condensing, then it is no different than any other boiler. It gets even worse when we start talking about really big systems.



    I just finished a brand new research lab. Brand Spanking New with 180 deg F design temp for the system. Why? I don't know, I'm not a P.E. 3 of the largest Knight XL's. That might condense for a few weeks every heating system. It will shorten their life by a factor of 2 and it isn't the boilers fault.
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 832
    design temperatures

    Boiler works at design temperatures may be total 1 week in a year. Most of the times boiler works at much higher outdoor temperatures, and it allows to lower water temperatures, and it permits boiler to condense.

    Radiation , installed for design temperatures, becomes over radiation at regular temperatures.
  • Leo_G
    Leo_G Member Posts: 89
    meplumber

    Without condensation there is still one big difference, modulation. less BTU's burned, higher effeciencies.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    edited April 2012
    There's no accounting for bad

    design...



    Even a 160F design temp can pencil out nicely - as long as it's not just convectors.  Running plate radiators with a 25 degree delta-T will put system temps 'in the zone' the vast majority of the time.



    On the optimistic side, we are finally starting to see some high profile radiant cooling jobs out here.
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    So true on Modulation.

    I agree modulation is the key, I made that statement to make the point of how much poor design criteria can effect the system performance.



    As to Gennady's point.  There is some truth to that, however with the call for a TAB report and Commissioning Report, the design specs for high and low operating temps must be maintained.



    You also have to consider that in most high load applications, the DHW is a significant factor in the building load.  Dormatories, Hospital, Nursing Homes, Hotels, etc... are all more driven by DHW demand than by heating demand.  If DHW storage is set for 150 F and a 20-30 deg delta T is designed then you have to run the boilers hot enough to recover in the specified time frame. 



    You are all correct, but until we get some of the "educated ones" on board, those of us on the heavy commercial/institutional side are bound by the design parameters.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,839
    DHW and condescending boilers......

    That was intentionally mis-spellt BTW...:-)



    I've made this statement before, and for some reason everyone either ignores it or avoids it. Use a REVERSE indirect DHW heater, and you can keep your boiler in the condensing mode even during DHW production. You only need 10 degree F hotter boiler water than your final DHW target temperature.



    Not to hijack this thread, but I have a LOT of single source hydronic/DHW heating systems out there, and I have had excellent results over the years with minimal service interruption using state of the art Lochinvar condensing technologies. I've found these appliance to be even more reliable than the old technology, PLUS , if there is a problem, I can hook my lap top up to it and know exactly WHAT caused the issue, and WHEN the issue began. Granted, it is not less expensive than the alternative, but it IS much more efficient (minimum savings I've seen has been 30%, maximum was 60 %). People keep focusing on the published and or combustion numbers, and in reality, that math NEVER works. Going from an 80% appliance to a 90% appliance would only appear to achieve a 10% reduction potential.



    You're missing the boat on substantial savings if you keep focusing on those numbers. I honestly believe that the condensing portion of these beauties is the lesser of the two potentials as it pertains to energy savings. I think the majority of the savings comes from the ability of these appliances to match the load, avoid excess air in the combustion process, and yes significantly oversizing is not a good thing (short cycle inefficiency), but with some of the newer appliances with even greater turn down capacities, the boilers can "right size" themselves to the load.



    And granted, it's not in everyones budget to do the right thing, so consider installing a smaller condensing appliance to "base load" the building for the shoulder seasons, and allow this smaller appliance to do the DHW thru a reverse indirect.



    Replacing "like with like" usually doesn't come with significant energy savings. When doing an economic analysis, attempting to justify the whole expenditure by trying to recover the whole installed cost of the new system is unfair. If the consumer HAS to replace the physical plant in the first place, then the economics SHOULD be based on the cost DIFFERENTIAL between the standard efficiency, and the higher efficiency appliances.



    Another area of light commercial/industrial system componentry that deserves more attention is circulating pumps. With the significant advances made in the field of Variable Frequency Drives, there are NO space heating pumps that shouldn't have them applied. Loads are not a constant, why should pump operation be a constant?



    Sorry for the length/rant, I just don't like seeing misconceptions thrown about so freely (90-80=10). Especially when it is tied to such significant environmental savings (30% minimum).



    The soap box is now free....



    ME
    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.
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 832
    design temperatures

    This is the reason we do design build only. I found complete lack of knowledge and inspiration in regards to high eff heating in engineering community.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    DHW demand

    Challenging indeed, and another area where "we've always done it this way" is difficult to overcome.



    I'm guardedly optimistic that our UV (and soon ozone) experiments might represent a more energy-efficient approach.
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 832
    edited April 2012
    public and spec build jobs

    here is a very interesting article regarding spec build work, and i think this is why high efficiency heating will never work on public and spec build jobs.



    Contractors Do Whatever They Want





    by Ron Roberts

    www.USCTCA.com

    www.ContractorsBusinessCoach.com



    Deviating from plans and specs is common practice. The only instance that I can imagine a contractor not deviating from plans and specs is Corps work.



    There are two primary reasons contractors deviate from the approved work scope.



    1. The plans & specs are stupid, in error, in complete, or internally conflicting.

    2. Nobody is playing cop with the field crews.



    Reason number one should be self-evident to anyone who has looked at plans and specs closely. They were getting bad back in 1994 when I walked away from an engineering firm. When I next laid eyes on them next in 2005 I about fell out of my chair laughing. They were ridiculously shoddy.



    Architects and engineers throw details on drawings and requirements in specs just in case they are needed. Nine times out of ten, the details conflict with each other and / or they are completely inappropriate for the building being delivered.



    I don't blame the designers for this sickening trend. It's driven by the fee reductions and the errors and omissions liability claims forced on them by owners.



    Contractors are forced to use their best judgment or do whatever they want. Option number two is available as NO ONE WATCHES THEM.



    Back in the day owners paid design teams to spend considerable time on site making sure the contractors built the job right. That doesn't happen much anymore. General contractors certainly aren't going to make sure their subs do their work by the letter of the law. GCs are more concerned with getting the job done quickly and getting out of there.





    Wishing you great success in 2012.



    Guy and Ron



    P.S. Want your business to grow fast? Put our

    solutions into action. RISK FREE! Check it out here.



    P.P.S. Questions or comments? You can reach

    Guy at 773-870-6500 or Ron at 913-961-1790.



    The Contractors Best Practices Newsletter is written

    and distributed by Ron Roberts & Guy Gruenberg,

    www.USCTCA.com

    www.ContractorsBusinessCoach.com

    -All Rights Reserved





    I did not post article fully, as the rest is not much relevant to the topic, but I reprinted it in full with author permission on my blog.
  • bld999
    bld999 Member Posts: 47
    Huh?

    "Contractors Do Whatever They Want"



    This guy is a "contractor's business coach"?  I hope he goes broke if he condones the kind of crap he layed out there.



    While he is correct that documents are in a sad state, that does not give a pass to mechanical or other trades simply doing what they want. In lots of commercial contracting, if you change the plans or specifications, you are then assume liability for the design as well. If I find a conflict or see instructions I know will not work, I call or email [electronic record if you need it], text or whatever the design team and point it out. Sure, recommend a better way, but just don't change something without that communication.



    Nobody's looking? sure, lets all do whatever we want then!  That's just plain condescending and offensive. I wonder how far he'd get in the local beer joint with that story.



    Sorry for the rant, this kind of stuff twists my tail.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,839
    Ummm... I don't think he was condoning or promoting these practices...

    I think he was just pointing out the fact that they exist. And trust me, they DO exist. As he noted, with the exception of working for the Army Corp of Engineers, who maintains their own inspection staff, other than being reviewed for compliance to the minimum standards of the code by the local AHJ, none of this work is being verified, nor commissioned in the field to make sure that the end consumer is getting what they paid for.



    Most contractors with scruples will follow the intent of the design to the T, but really, how many contractors that are out there really do know what it is that they are doing? I'd guess that the number is probably a minority. And just because the drawing has an engineers stamp on it, and you see a discrepancy, don't think that your liability stops at the engineers stamp. They have clauses in their contract that will make you partially responsible for necessary corrections IF you don't bring any discrepancy to their attention. If its not in writing, it doesn't exist.



    Engineers are human too, and the last thing they want to get is a phone call from the end user complaining of discomfort on either end of the comfort scale, hence they are wont to oversize the equipment specifications. Add to that factor the contractor who also doesn't want to get a call about discomfort who throws an additional "CYA" factor into the mix, by going one boiler size larger than the engineer called for, and you get a situation whereby the appliance (heat/cool source) is 3 times bigger than it really needs to be. Been there, seen that, made a living correcting those situations.



    The ONLY saving grace in these situations, is the fact that some of the larger commercial modcon boilers can still right size themselves within reason and avoid short cycle inefficiency.



    In all of my years in the field, I can't think of one job where the contractor put a smaller boiler in than was specified, nor less baseboard or heat emitter than was specified. Too bad, because if they did, the system MIGHT be closer to the reality heating requirements then they are. I intentionally undersized my own personal heating system boiler in my own home, but would NEVER consider doing it in a customers setting. BTW, my system works fantastic even below design condition, and I put in 1/2 as much boiler as I was supposed to.



    ME
    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.
  • bld999
    bld999 Member Posts: 47
    ZZZ

    Well, maybe not condoning, but he characterizes deviating from written specifications as the only rational path because everyone else is so bent up. We are talking about plan-spec work here, right? Not a case where a mech. contractor is hired and given carte blanche to deliver the best job they know how, or straight design-build?





    Then he says:



    "General contractors certainly aren't going to make sure their subs do

    their work by the letter of the law. GCs are more concerned with getting

    the job done quickly and getting out of there."




    The general may not police subs at a detailed technical level, because they usu. do not have that specific expertise. But when have you  seen a subcontract that did not insist on faithful execution of the documents? Let's not assume that subs can't read drawings...the general shouldn't have to tell the sub how to do the job, only that they do it correctly.



    As far as making a sub or anybody else responsible for rooting out errors and omissions in designs and documents that others provide, strike it out, it's unenforcible. You can't be called out for not noticing an error, but you do have a human obligation to speak up if you see something wrong. That issue was put to bed in a 1918 federal case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Spearin



    I think the writer is being irresponsible, but I'm going to quit here before you guys all decide i'm nuts...
  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884
    Mark

    So nice to read your responces ... I had forgotten how nice it was to read someone who GETS IT.



    Anyone who states that Mod/Cons cost to much to maintain .. dosn't understand the product.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    right-sizing

    I know there are fudge factors built in to a lot of the calculations already.  I think some of the issue is related to thermal mass, which is simply not a part of most load calculations.  Modern building energy modeling systems can do this, but I rarely see it used.
  • Plumdog_2
    Plumdog_2 Member Posts: 873
    Not Just Rumors

    Before I re-joined the workforce I was happily self-employed and started to concentrate on retrofitting old boilers with 95% mod-cons. The economy went bad because of the housing market, and this became a tough sell. The company I work for now pushes the 85% old-timey technology because they were stung with the new stuff before, namely the pulse and the glow and more recently the different mod-cons. In a tight market the call-backs can ruin your profitability. As a service person, I can attest that these call-backs are almost always caused by something external to the boiler itself....but non-technical business people just blame the boiler because that's the way they keep score, and they do not wish to learn. I can't blame the distribution people, because they do offer the training; but some contractors would just as soon not use up any more brain cells. And so the Old-School Crowd, and their buddies in Real Estate and Home Construction, are critical of the newer technology based on reliability issues caused by installation issues. 
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Let's face it

    There were some bad experiences early in the mod/con evolution and some of those were caused by inferior products.  Toss in a helping of clueless installers, crank up the rumor mill, and voila!  We have pushback.



    At this point, a clueful installer can choose from among several well-proven designs, sell a properly sized and installed mod/con boiler, and have no problems sleeping at night.
  • furnacefigher15
    furnacefigher15 Member Posts: 514
    The real key

    with mod cons is sizing. An oversized boiler will destroy itself, and that is where the majority of problems are born.



    The other issue as far as quoting goes is that the extra cost does not stop at the boiler itself.



    Especially on big btu projects, a boiler having it's own pump is a huge extra. I don't have the exact #'s but if you need to move 150 gpm at 20 to 50 head through a boiler, that does not make for a inexpensive pump. Then multiply that by the # of boilers, then add in the cost of adding electric service to a panel that is maxed out, etc.



    That was what lost me that project, boiler pumps.





    Mark could you please explain reverse DHW?
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,839
    Reverse indirect DHW heaters....

    http://www.thermo2000.com/content/en-US/s2_produits/optimizer.aspx



    North American and some Euro's run the boiler water through a small immersed heat exchanger and the potable water through the tank..



    A reverse indirect DHW heater runs the boiler water through the tank, and the potable water through a VERY LARGE copper coil, thereby becoming a large shell and tube heat exchanger with a VERY good heat transfer ability.



    It looks like an oversized Everhot.



    ME
    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.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    boiler pumps

    The TT firetube HX really changed the game, and of course it's now available from several other sources.  A 399 plus a short primary loop mates well with a Series 100 or a Taco 0010.
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    True SWEI.

    But I think that furnacefighter is referring to Very Large boilers. (CB's, Fulton's,York Shipleys). Multi-million btu's where we are talking about 3 phase pumps with external VFD's.



    If you think an Alpha or a Magna is expensive, look at some of the Wilo Cronoline series.



    Nice pumps, but $$$$.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,839
    Look at the Lochinvar Crest....

    Uses the same heat exchanger (ACV?) as some of their other boilers. Low pressure drop.



    The Gianonni HXer is a watt eater for sure.



    ME
    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.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    large boilers

    Sounds like there's still room in the market for large mod/cons.



    Ganged 399's can easily handle the "smaller end of large" and provide fantastic net turndown ratios plus redundancy.



    Anyone ever seen a Multistack chiller?  If someone built mod/cons that worked like that, it could change the industry.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,839
    Crest information

    http://www.lochinvar.com/products/default.aspx?type=productline&lineid=177



    These new boilers have a HUGE turn down ability.



    Attached is a screen sheet of the heat exchangers pressure drop charts.



    ME
    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.
This discussion has been closed.