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.