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Help Evaluating a Quote

I got a quote back from the contractor. I won't give pricing information, but I will say that it is about what I expected. I liked this contractor a lot and was happy he came in at a reasonable price. However, when I asked him few followup questions, I got a little nervous. Can you guys help me evaluate it? Note that this guy is NOT listed on this site, but he has attended Dan's classes. I found him through the yellow pages.

Before he came out, I measured my radiators at 343 square feet. I used the guides here, counted the sections and tubes, and measured the heights and widths. After I figured it out, I found the old brochures from the manufacturers and verified I got the right numbers. After I got the quote, I asked him what he calculated and he says he came up with 307. This was a bit of red flag for me at first because I was worried he'd pick the wrong boiler. Thinking about it some more though, 36 square feet probably isn't a big deal overall. Right?

He recommended the Weil-McLain PEG-45 which does 392 square feet. My pipes aren't insulated, but I intended to wrap them myself. Also, I'd like to add two radiators that were removed by previous owners. I estimate it will add another 80 square feet of radiation. I probably won't add the radiators this season and may not get the pipes wrapped up right away either. With that in mind, the PEG-45 seems about right. It covers me this season without insulation and should accomodate more radiators in the future. If he's right about the square footage, the PEG-45 is a perfect fit for the short term and the long term. If I'm right, it's a little undersized in the long term. It seems like slightly undersized is better than slightly oversized though, especially I insulate well. So maybe this isn't an issue at all.

His quote said that he would use black pipe according to the manufacturer recommendations. I asked him about the size of the risers, header, and equalizer that he'll install. I also asked about one riser vs. two risers and whether he'll put in a king valve, return valve, and a valve on the mud leg. I told him that I was interested in the valves so that I could blow down the boiler under pressure. He said Weil-McLain only requires one 2 inch riser and that all the other "stuff" is not required and a waste of money. Dan's video about near-boiler piping seemed pretty clear that this "stuff" was important and something a good steam guy will do without the homeowner asking for it. Is this a bad sign? Should I insist and get an updated quote from him?

He quoted the PEG-45 with a tankless insert. After reading a lot of threads here, I decided to ask for an estimate for a tank or indirect. The tank is about twice as much as the tankless insert and the indirect is about twice as much as the tank. The tankless insert or the indirect may the only options I can afford due to my chimney. The house is 180 years old. The chimney supposedly has a 6 inch liner installed sometime in the last seven years. Ripping it out and going bigger to accomodate a boiler and tank may not be financially possible right now.

This may be a Massachusetts thing, but he says I'm actually not required to have a liner with an interior chimney as long as the new boiler is within 5% BTU/hour input of the existing boiler. I thought the big issues were chimney capacity and also that the gas exhaust reacts with the old oil soot to eat away at the mortar. Anyone know the specifics? I have a chimney guy coming next week, so I can double check with him.

Finally, he gives one year parts and labor warranty. I asked whether that covered "comfort." I have some weird stuff in my system, so I said I don't expect perfection. However, if I end up with a bad water hammer or some of my radiators aren't heating up, I do want to be able to get him out to fix it. He said he can't gaurantee anything that he doesn't have control over, like the existing radiators and piping. He did say that he wouldn't leave me high and dry though, but that's not exactly a guarantee. Dan stressed asking for comfort when looking for a contractor. What do you pros typically guarantee when putting in a new boiler?

This is really my first dealing with any contractor, so I'd appreciate any help, thoughts, or widsom.


  • weil MclaIn

    EG Weil McLain is a good boiler and even better when installed with drop header.. I would keep looking for a true steam heating guy.. sorry I'm not in your area..
  • Joe VJoe V Member Posts: 233
    edited November 2013
    evaluating quote

    The important thing is piping in accordance with manufacturers guidelines.  If he does that, the installation would be warranteed by the manufacturer.  He probably doesnt want to price himself out of a job by using two risers, a drop header and larger pipe.  He may be right.  It may be a waste of money.

    I done my installation myself and it is expensive and a lot of work.  You'd have to pay for that.  If you have money to burn, go for it.  Ask for a requote.

    If you did not have water hammer issues with your current boiler and he does a good install, you should not have water hammer with new boiler.  He is right, he cant warrantee old pipe, traps , vents and radiators.  It cant be his responsibility.  That would be a separate service call. 

    As for guaranteeing comfort, forget about it for the reasons in the third paragraph.  Trying to replace my mothers furnace in nyc, I scared off a half dozen contrators with that comfort clause.  I told them I dont care how big or how small, it just has to maintain 72 on a 30 degree day without short cycling.  Cue the crickets. 

    You have done your homework.  Sounds like his recommended boiler is a good size for what you plan to do in the future, so go for it.  Just set aside extra money for traps, vents and sagging pipes in case that causes problems.
  • saikosissaikosis Member Posts: 57
    edited November 2013
    More Quotes

    I got two more quotes back.

    One guy recommended either the EG-45 with a tankless insert or the New Yorker CGS50A with a tank water heater. The price of either of those options was the same. He came in a few thousand below the first guy. He also included switching my stove from propane to gas and removing my oil tank, so he's actually multiple thousands cheaper. The CGS50A is not efficient enough for Massachusetts incentives, so that's out. He says the EG-45 with tankless has a six-week lead time, so I probably can't do that either. The EG-45 with a tank is a bit more, but not by much. He uses black pipe, but I haven't asked about number or risers, size of pipes, valves, etc. yet.

    The third guy suggested the EG-55. That's bigger than my current boiler! I told him I thought the boiler I have now is a bit oversized, so I'm not sure what he's thinking. He didn't measure my radiators (red flag), but did ask me how many I had. He says the average radiator is 40 square feet. With nine radiators, that's 360 square feet. I have 343 square feet, so he's not actually far off. I have no idea why he suggested the EG-55. He's the highest price of all of them and a full 50% higher than the second guy. His quote also doesn't include removing the oil tank or changing my stove. I think he's out of the running just for being a knucklehead.

    I'm still waiting for one more quote. I also got ahold of "Charlie from wmass" today. He's coming out on Friday to take a look.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,530
    I also got ahold of "Charlie from wmass" today.

    "I also got ahold of "Charlie from wmass" today. He's coming out on Friday to take a look."

    Smart move.
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Get a Steam Pro

    Hi- Charlie is a very experienced steam pro who will pipe it properly.  People need to realize that the manufacturer's specs are the "minimums", rather than "optimums". (I think this may have something to do with being able to compete with other boiler manufacturers to win the lowest bid).  The guy is right, with the "Minimums", the "stuff" is not required However, the "Optimums" will give you more comfort and efficiency and properly maintained, will extend the boiler's working life.

    - Rod
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