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converting oil burner to gas

TrishRI Member Posts: 1
I have just purchased a house with an oil burning steam heat system. The boiler is a 3 year old Burnham (don't have the model # with me) that is marked with 82% efficiency.

I want to convert to gas and am getting a different story from every person who gives me an estimate with regard to replacing the boiler or going with a conversion kit.

I know that I will lose some efficiency if I convert the existing boiler to gas, but how do I estimate how much? I had one guy say 2% and another tell me I would be spending triple on gas.


  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    edited October 2012

    You will either match, or increase the boiler's efficiency. The only way the efficiency goes down is if you do not install the gas burner correctly. So, do not use anybody who makes that claim.
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,588
    Trish are you in Rhode Island?

    If so I have someone here in RI who is very good at installing conversion burners. I am also in RI and have installed over 3,000 Conversion burners in my career. I am too old to do it anymore but this installer I am referring to was one of my students when I was the instructor at Providence Gas.

    With the right installer and a good gas conversion burner you will be equal to the efficiency of oil or maybe slightly higher. Then of course the savings is related to the gas being the cheaper fuel.

    If you need to connect up with some one give me a call at 401-437-0557.
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801

    Hello,  You, or the converter should check with Burnham or read the warnings in the original manual...Unless there has been a recent change, converting a Burnham boiler from oil to gas may not be authorised by the Burnham corp.  I feel it warrant's checking out..Could be wrong but should be checked out before spending money   
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,998
    That's probably a V-8 series boiler

    which will run fine with something like the Carlin EZ-Gas burner. You could use a stock EZ-Gas burner, or Carlin might have an EZ-Gas air tube with a welded flange just for that boiler. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
    Run Fine?

    Maybe it will, I cant answer that...But what about the warning on page 4 of the V8 H manual..Do not convert to gas...Going against manf. warnings is something that needs looking into...Dont you think?
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,588
    As long as the flange

    is okay-ed by Carlin, I would go ahead with the installation. After installing over 3,000 conversion burners the simple answer about warranty is that technically if you take out a Robertshaw valve on a design piece of equipment and install a Honeywell you just changed the design of the equipment. If the manufacturer wanted to at that time they could void the warranty. My solution was to take out insurance and I assumed what ever warranty was left on what I converted. I have never had to make good on one in 46 years. As long as you follow the burner manufacturers instructions and ANSI Z21.8 Installation of Domestic Gas Conversion Burners 2000 edition you are okay.

    The real problem is finding an installer who knows what they are doing so I would be more careful about that than anything else.
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
    thats all fine

    Except the manufacture has the final answer, just check with them and your insurance agent..Get it in writing, depending on where you live it may make a huge difference, in Mass the manual must stay with the boiler and when it gets inspected the book had best be followed..Here you must file a permit and have it inspected...Safety first
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,588
    So if I am reading you correctly

    Mass will not allow a conversion burner to be installed unless the manufacturer gives their approval?

    I was just involved with three installations in Mass and the inspector had actually never seen a conversion burner before. So I had to walk him through the first one. Permits had been pulled and all installation instructions followed and the three jobs were all passed.
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
    My understang

    My intent was and is to post a comment on a subject I am interested in...I at no time speak for anyone nor do I interrupt for anyone..In reviewing the first post, this was about a particular boiler...not meant to be a general discussion about anything else    I am sure it will all work out just fine as that is what professionalism is all about...
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
    My understang

    My intent was and is to post a comment on a subject I am interested in...I at no time speak for anyone nor do I interrupt for anyone..In reviewing the first post, this was about a particular boiler...not meant to be a general discussion about anything else    I am sure it will all work out just fine as that is what professionalism is all about...
  • TomFish
    TomFish Member Posts: 2
    Anyone successful in conversion of Burnham V8 boiler to NG?

    Has anyone had success with convering a Burnham V8 series. Here is our situation. We have a Burnham V8 series boiler providing hot water and baseboard heat in Southern New Jersey. The unit is only roughly 7 years old. We now have natural gas in the house. Carlin makes a gas gun that will fit it and a liner can be installed for the chimney. Burnham states that a gas conversion is not approved and will provide no information as to why. Most of the HVAC folks are unwilling to convert it if Brunham won't approve it officially. The HVAC guys are recommending we completely trash the whole boiler and put a brand new unit it. Seems a bit extreme to me.
  • debrah
    debrah Member Posts: 1
    converting burnham

    Looking at converting my Burnham boiler to gas as well . however was told no can do .

    Burnham states can not convert do not no whether this is true or not. Investigating this

    myself. Good luck
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,588
    How old is your boiler?

    Why do you want to convert? Is the oil system working to your satisfaction as far as providing adequate heat? Has the boiler been serviced every year? Is your chimney lined? There are a lot more questions I would ask as an installer.

    Now to your question, Burnham does not authorize any of their boilers being converted from oil to gas. It will void the warranty if there still is one in effect. As long as the installer is a trained gas power conversion burner installer and follows the instructions from the gas conversion burner manufacturer and ANSI Z21.8 version 2002  there is no danger. I have converted over 3,500 systems from coal, oil to natural gas and propane. To this date I have had no issues with any of them other than routine maintenance.

    The choice is between you and your contractor.
  • Harper111
    Harper111 Member Posts: 26
    Suggest you call Burnham to ask yourself

    It comes down to liability many times.

    If the manufacturer does not certify it in that configuration, and it is converted where something goes wrong, then liability is in question.

    Good luck convincing your home owner insurance company or contractor's insurance for insuring a claim against a configuration that is not approved.

    But, if Carlin can provide documentation that they certify that particular boiler has been tested and is certified, then it may be possible. That would most likely take some research and documentation to prove that to protect yourself.

    It may be wiser just to buy a new higher efficiency Burnham Gas Boiler, if this is the case. The fuel savings would most likely pay for itself over the years.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,117
    May I add one more thing

    to the general question which has come up on this thread?  This is the little matter of warranty.

    If you boiler is installed and set up precisely as the manufacturer suggests, it is likely that the boiler warranty will be valid.  At which point, if something goes wrong, one can hope that a) the manufacturer will make good on the warranty and b) that they have a rep in your area who is reasonably competent.

    Now if you get in someone like Tim -- or one of the folks he mentions -- you have a different matter: your installer is standing behind the installation.  If he is a good honest man -- like Tim! -- and something goes amiss, it will get fixed, and fixed right.  In other words, your warranty becomes the person.

    To me, at least, personal integrity coupled with competence and experience is worth at least as much as a piece of paper with fancy scroll work on the edges!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 977
    chimney inspection

    When converting fuels, NFPA 211 requires a level II (comprehensive) inspection. This will undoubtedly require relining if not already done and properly sized. The chimney will need to be swept as well. 
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,401
    edited March 2014
    Why I didn't but really did

    A couple of years ago my oil tank started to weep and i decided it was time to switch to gas given the difference in fuel costs. My boiler at that time was a Burnham v75 and although it was running fine i knew it was not a long lived boiler.

    I decided to replace the boiler but I wanted a wet based boiler so i went with the Smith G8 and a carlin ez-gas power burner and a chimney liner. I decided against an atmospheric boiler because i believe a wet based boiler is more efficient and more reliable. The one very good thing about an atmospheric boiler is that it takes very little power to run so backup power in the event of a power failure is easier. I have only had a power outage once in the last 30 years that lasted a day or more in frigid temperature so I decided to go wtth the odds.

    The V8 is also not known for being long lived, I would make sure that boiler was gone over with a fine toothed comb to be sure it's in good shape before converting it. If it is in good shape I would convert it as long as I had faith and confidence in the installer. A good installer is worth a lot more that whatever warranty is left in that boiler.

    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

    Like take off the jacket in the right side to expose the cleanout plates. Take them off. Look carefully at the last and next to last sections at the top of the arch that is covered by the cleanout covers. Look carefully at ALL of them. If you see ANY signs of white or discoloration under the plate, and water hasn't been running down from above, they boiler nay be getting ready to leak. Or already is.

    Or, on the floor, directly under the cleanouts on the right side, you see any form of dried rust and water, its leaking.

    Or that's how it was on the few V-*'s I saw that leaked.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,998
    Harper111, you never answered our question

    do you have anything to contribute to this board besides whining about conversion burners?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service