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Oil to Gas coversion

Sil Member Posts: 72
First I want to thanks the posters to this website as you have helped out on may occasions.

While I am suffering from a power outage from Sandie and have no heat I got hot with a second issue... my 275 gallon oil tank seems to have sprung a small leak. The tank lays on its side and the leak is on the bottom. I cant see the leak, but I can smell it. And i put some cardboard under the tank over the weekend and the cardboard is pretty well stained today (4 days later).

So I am thinking, why bother with the potential cost tax replacement and instead toss the money at a gas conversion (I am convinced that gas will stay far lower than gas for years to come). Question to my heating help brethren is: Is swapping from oil to gas as simple as running a gas line and changing burners? that is what a plumber friend of a friend did... but i wanted to check w the experts first.

I have gas service already.

According to the manual i have from when the boiler was installed 15 years ago, I have a Dunkirk Empire Oil fired cast iron boiler. The fact that "oil fired" is in the name has me worried that this is not so easy.

fist pic is my boiler... second is the set up at the plumbers house


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,457
    Not quite that simple

    but a good gas burner, like the Carlin EZ-Gas your plumber has, with the proper air tube assembly, should run with good efficiency in that boiler. And, when it's time to replace that boiler, the EZ-Gas could be moved to the new one but the air tube might need changing to match the new boiler.

    A wet-base boiler like yours, equipped with a power gas burner, will show 6-7% better thermal efficiency than the usual atmospheric gas steam boiler.

    You will need to change the barometric draft regulator to a double-swing type and add a blocked-flue switch, both required by Code. Also, I'd replace the refractory liner in the firebox if it shows any wear at all, as well as thoroughly cleaning the fire side of the boiler.

    And have the chimney inspected and cleaned or re-lined if needed.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • conversiontime
    conversiontime Member Posts: 87
    just converted same/similar boiler

    It should be able to run carlin ez gas or riello 40 gas. I went with the riello and recommend you line the chimney with stainless liner even if not required b/c this will save money over long term vs resulting chimney damage without (acidic water vapor). You are way ahead with gas already to the house and should definitely go for it after having the boiler inspected.
  • JeffM
    JeffM Member Posts: 171
    just did this, happy

    I just had my oil boiler converted to gas, using the same burner that your buddy has. I'm a happy customer. I also had gas already in the house for the kitchen, so it was a quick and fairly simple job for my gas heating guy. (Chimney was already lined, too) The gas burner is a little noisier than the old oil one, but not enough to bother anyone upstairs (though if you get the Carlin EZ-Gas I might suggest asking for the version with the acoustic cover anyway - I didn't and may add it next year at tune-up time). My boiler is about 8 years old, so I figure with good maintenance it has plenty of life left and it wasn't worth doing a while boiler replacement.
  • Sil
    Sil Member Posts: 72
    edited November 2012
    Decisions, Decisions

    I have one "boiler guy" who is not a licenced master plumber who is looking to do the job (and has done it in his home -per the pic above) - but he is not a master plumber and as such cant file the paperwork w the local utility.  His price is right (under $2k), but I prefer to keep this job on the up and up. 

    Then I have a very highly recommended guy, and he thinks I should put in a new boiler (15 years old, not efficent, like putting a new engine in an old car are his thoughts).  He also thinks when the paperwork gets filed w the utility we put in that I will install a back up generator as well (even thought I likely wont pay for that install) in the hopes that the utility will either pay for a new service / meter (gas conversions can get a free gas line / meter while those that are gas customers that want a generator musy pay for better gas service)... granted I have a 2" gas line into the house ("low pressure" is what this plumber says) that gets reduced to 1.5".  and then down to half inch by the time it leaves the meter.  I prefer not to have the lawn ripped up if I dont need to... not do I have a great spot to put a gas meter outside my home...

    I plan on getting another opinion on this from a guy in the Bronx (they tend to not be as expensive as the folks in westchester).

    So my question to you guys is... change the boiler or dont change the boiler?

    I agree putting in a new liner sounds like a must do.  Wasnt counting on that cost ($2000+)... but am still strongly leaning towards gas.
  • conversiontime
    conversiontime Member Posts: 87
    any recent efficiency test(s)?

    My 1997 Empire steamer still tests around 84%+- efficiency but it was serviced annually by reputable oil company and seems to have been taken care of well by previous owners. The point being steamers are only so efficient and even a totally new one will not necessarily be any more efficient. So have the boiler inspected carefully and tested for efficiency.  No reason to buy a new boiler unless imminent signs of failure are evident--the new burner can very likely be switched out to new boiler in the future anyway.

    Re pricing, since specific numbers are not discussed here, you are best served by getting three bids from reputable companies that do oil to gas conversions regularly. Pricing definitely will vary by region, time of year, and contractor scheduling. Same for the lining get several bids. It never hurts to ask for better price if you think specific bids are high but like the contractor. IME well recommended/competent professionals in any field can charge more b/c they know their own value/worth is higher.
  • Sil
    Sil Member Posts: 72
    Bronx Plumber

    My Bronx plumber agreed that there is no need to replace a 15 year old bioler if there is no issue with it.  He is doing a similar conversion in his own house (till he lost power w Sandy... and he still doesnt have power).  He will come by on Monday to inspect.

    He seemed more my speed - not trying to sell me the world.

    I swear many contracters charge based on the zip code - i live in a fancy zip code (I have a tiny house in a fancy town), but folks see $$$ when they hear the municipality. OK - off my soapbox.
  • Sil
    Sil Member Posts: 72
    Same Boiler

    Yup we have the same boiler...
  • Sil
    Sil Member Posts: 72
    Do I change the boiler?

    (I think its against board policy to post prices... so let me beat around the bush)

    So far the prices I am getting to put a Carlin Gun on my old boiler is about what I paid to put in the whole boiler and a gas hot water heater in 15 years ago.  WOW.

    So I asked one plumber how much more to install a brand new boiler... and his "off the top of his head" quote was another $2500.. considering the utility will likely give a $1000 rebate on a new boiler - I guess its a no brainer...

    Or do I just keep shopping around?
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