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Time for an upgrade/retrofit

Drewser
Drewser Member Posts: 34
Hello, all...I started a thread before but had some computational issues, so here we go again (with pictures!)



Bear with me, I'll try to keep it specific. Thanks in advance for reading!



I live in NW Wisconsin, and its been a cold winter (they usually are). I have a 1600 sq ft 'american foursquare', built in 1914. I have no idea what the original boiler was, I can only assume it was a gravity system, though the pipes seem small for that. I grew up across town in a house built in 1890 that had a converted coal gravity hot water boiler until 1997 when it was finally converted to a gas-fired Weil-McLain. My mom still lives there...my main pipes are midgets compared to hers. Anyway...



We've been in this house for 3 winters now, and heating costs aren't bad. However, my boiler has seen better days...it is approximately 20 years old (I think). It is a Weil McLain VHE-5 (I believe it has a secondary heat exchanger on it), direct vent natural gas fired boiler. The house is heated with 8 cast iron radiators, and heats pretty well. All radiators get hot all the way across, top to bottom, no issues there. The main issue I've noticed is that the boiler seems to run short cycles. I've educated myself quite a bit using this site, and I've always had an interest in hot water and steam systems anyway.



So, the details are:

Boiler:

WM VHE-5 Nat Gas

133,000btu/hr input

117,000btu'hr DOE

101.7 mbu IBR



Circulator:

B&G Series 100 F38 'Booster'



Heat loss (done using Slant/fin app, should be marginally close) at a design temp of -17f: 71,000 btu/hr.



We have updated windows, exterior doors, the third floor is finished (it has electric baseboards but we don't use them or heat the space) and newly insulated, the walls all had blown in cellulose before the house was re-sided 20 years ago, etc. Don't get me wrong, its an old house and probably far from tight, but we have no ice dam or snow melt issues on the roof.



So I'm concluding that my boiler is pretty oversized (shocker!). Also, I am aware that it lacks a boiler bypass of any kind, or any isolation valves, or anything else that someone with common sense may have installed. Its what I have, and the boiler itself seems to work well (this winter I replaced the mercury flame sensor, the pilot assembly, and the ignition module simply because I had the parts.



What I'm wondering is this: Is there anything I can do to stop the short cycles? This boiler has NEVER cycled off the burner on the aquastat (which looks to be set at 160) and the circulator only runs with the burner. The radiators in the house never top 140 degrees according to my temp gun, and even turning the thermostat up 6 degrees will only result in a 20-25 minute cycle...otherwise its 5-10 minutes a few times an hour.



In the grand scheme of things, we're not all that bad off. The house is warm, the boiler works, and so on and so forth. I am gradually saving money for a mod/con and all the associated components needed, but it'll be another year or two minimum. Also, I am a tinkerer. I'm an automotive/heavy equipment mechanic by trade, and love all things mechanical...and all the new technology out there. I've been drooling over the Bumblebee pump and have been wondering if it couldn't be integrated somehow.



So, I will include a few pictures to help you visualize the setup. I realize it isn't pretty, and I'll be draining the system this summer anyway. Every shutoff valve in my basement (including the boiler feed) is a cheap gate valve that is seized, so the basement is getting replumbed and the boiler has to be drained to do it. Plus I found a nice small cast iron radiator that I plan to put in the bathroom (someone removed the original years ago).



Any thoughts will be appreciated, and if I'm better off leaving it all alone until I can rip it all out and replace it, so be it. Though I don't know if I'll be able to help myself...



Thanks for reading, and thank you all for such a great place. I come check the Wall every day...I love all the great stuff posted on here. Especially the steam systems, since I have yet to see a residential steam system in town.



Thanks all,



Andy

Comments

  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,610
    edited April 2014
    This

    is what will do your job real nice and WILL NOT shortcycle . Will connect easily has built in dirt and air separation , I still recommend a separate air eliminator on the supply piping . Has lots of mass (55 gal), outdoor reset , just a nice fit for your needs .  I would have a heat loss performed and figure out how much radiator you have per room . Possible that the boiler you have is too big and that you can really take advantage of the ODR feature . Maybe you could get away with PHR100-55 , if hat loss is near your present boiler size PHR130-55 is the one .  If you ever thought about tankless water heater this unit is available with a DHW module that is pretty damn good , you just pipe your domestic to the hot and cold like an everyday water heater and you're off .  That unit would have a c suffix after the numbers I mentioned , going that route though you may want to increase boiler size , still can be less input than tankless units available .  



    http://www.htproducts.com/pioneerboiler.html
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,985
    Cycles

    Andy,

    The short cycles you describe are not the typical kind. Usually the boiler is cycling on and off as the aquastat is cycling. Yours is never coming up to temp.

    It sounds like you have so much mass in the system that the boiler cannot  heat it before the call goes away.

    The only real issue is that the boiler is likely condensing most of the time. This can damage the flue and the boiler creating unsafe conditions.

    I don't see a real easy fix with your existing setup.

    Any modcon would love your piping system (yes, gravity convert). I would not spend extra on a tank system.

    Carl
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    Zman...

    That's what I was afraid of. I do believe it's condensing most of the time, and despite the secondary heat exchanger (it has a drain pipe as does the bottom of the flue), this model boiler probably doesn't like it too much.



    I was able to get all the EDR ratings on all my radiators, thanks to the resources on this site, for a grand total of 412 square feet of radiation. The hottest I've ever felt the radiators get was when we were at about -25f for 10-11 days straight this winter, and even then the boiler never hit the aquastat cut off.



    So other than replacing the boiler with a mod con there isn't much hope... Dang.



    Any other ideas? Like I said I like to tinker, and am open to any crazy ideas out there.



    Thanks again!



    Andy
  • Tim Potter
    Tim Potter Member Posts: 272
    edited April 2014
    ESBE thermic

    I have taken my 2 cast iron boilers through sawzall surgery, & used the ESBE on both, It works like a charm, I'm sure my boilers thank me every day.......



    Here is what they look like:



    BODY: http://www.supplyhouse.com/Danfoss-193B1701-ESBE-Series-1-1-4-3-Way-Thermic-Valve-Body-Only



    THERMOSTAT: http://www.supplyhouse.com/Danfoss-193B1704-ESBE-Series-Thermostatic-Element-140-F-Opening-Temperature?gclid=CNyJg6LHiL4CFaNj7Aod8W8A1Q



    Tim
    Winter Park, CO & Lenexa, KS
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    Tim...

    The thermic valve looks very interesting. One of the piping methods shown looks like it would pretty much be constant circulation...if I can ask, how did you pipe yours?



    Andy
  • Tim Potter
    Tim Potter Member Posts: 272
    ESBE install

    Mine & yours will hookup different because of where the pumps are on our respective systems, but the concept will be the same.



    Look at the diagram labeled "Piping Orientation", "Return Mounted" on page 3 of the datasheet. My circulator is mounted on the supply piping (top placement), where yours is on the return bottom placement labeled: other location for circulator.



    The key is to get the thermic installed in the return line that way the boiler can just recirculate its own water until the temp gets over 140* ant then it will start to supply some hot to the system as it keeps the boiler above 140
    Winter Park, CO & Lenexa, KS
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    looks promising...

    ...and I will definitely consider it. I appreciate the advice. I do wish that there were more radiant experts in my area (near Duluth, MN). Mostly just plumbers and general HVAC folks. Calling any of them for an estimate or advice concerns me since out of the 15-20 boiler installations I've seen in town (and they're all converted gravity systems) not one of them has a boiler bypass, p/s piping, etc. Even the mod/cons I've seen aren't piped according to the manuals. There is some pretty creative stuff in town...however there are a surprising number of good steam guys! Downtown Duluth has a district steam heating system, and across the bay in Superior (where I live) the University of Wisconsin Superior has a good sized steam plant heating the entire campus. They actually just dug up and replaced about 5000' of high pressure mains last summer (had some flooding in the steam tunnels).



    Once again, thanks for reading my post and offering advice. I appreciate it. I've posted a few other places and I get the online equivalent of a blank stare, or so I imagine. I've read Classic Hydronics, Pumping Away, and The Lost Art of Steam Heating, and enjoyed every one of them, not to mention the stuff on this site.



    I'll update the thread as I slowly make some decisions and start making changes. I'm sure I will need some help down the road...if this heating season would ever end! 36 degrees F right now, we've had 2 days above 55 so far this year.



    Done rambling...



    Andy
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,985
    In your case...

    You should only need the bipass unless you would also like to mix the temp down. You sure don't need a buffer tank.

    You also don't need a bipass with the tekmar or most other electronic mixing controllers. They have a return water sensor that will make sure the boiler temp is high enough.

    In your case,either do the bipass or some sort of smart mixing assembly. Either the tekmar or something like a Taco "I" valve.

    Carl
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    Thoughts on Triangle Tube

    Back again...



    It appears that towards the end of summer I may be able to afford a new boiler (a year earlier than I thought). We currently have a 7 year old 50 gallon Richmond power vent water heater for DHW.



    I've been reading a lot about the TT models with built in DHW (and a small 16 gallon internal tank). Any thoughts on these?



    I've always been partial to Weil McLain but I hear lots of great things about the Triangle Tubes....I guess I'd like to have DHW built in if possible, without having to also purchase a storage/buffer tank and circulator. Which leads me to ask: if my heat loss calc came in at 71,000 btu/hr (at -17f), what size TT boiler (with DHW) would best serve me?



    I know the mod/cons love systems like mine with outdoor reset, constant circulation, and low return water temps. If I can swing it, now's the time to do the boiler since I'm also gutting most of the basement and redoing all the domestic water supply plumbing.



    So....Thoughts, ideas, favorites, units to stay away from, any information would be great!



    Thanks again,



    Andy
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,610
    edited May 2014
    DHW

    use pattern would dictate what size unit .  How many people , what type of showerheads , fixtures (aerators)?  Lots of controllers , mixing valves ,wiring going on here .   

    Re read Z mans comment , right in the beginning of the discussion .  This is exactly why you ned mass . It is already heated to temp and will replace the mass in the system .  It can condense also , no primary / secondary piping , no mixing valves , and it comes with a DHW module . Unit is way more affordable than all these gadgets , low maintenance because of generously sized , well constructed materials .  Hey , if it gains any traction , Siggy has shown and depicted them many times in the last couple of years . He also stated in this months P&M that he has personally not designed a system with P/S piping in about 8 years .  You need mass to replace mass , need lotsa water to replace lotsa water fast .  Probably should be running at a 40 degree Delta T also .

      I will link to it again in case you missed something .   http://www.htproducts.com/literature/HTP-Versa-Flame.pdf     Look at all the documentation and decide to use the type of equipment that solves lots of problems .  You should also be quite able to use a Bumble Bee with this also since it does not have a tightly constructed HX . Get a load of this heat exchanger  
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    Rich

    My understanding was that I already have a lot of mass in my system (all cast iron radiators and iron or steel pipe with lots of water volume) and that the boiler is shutting off before reaching temp because the radiation I have can sufficiently heat the house at lower water temps, and before the boiler can bring the water temp up to the aquastat cutoff anyway.



    The unit you linked to is interesting indeed, but if I already have (a lot of) mass in the system, do I really need all that mass that the tank provides? Does it provide me with any real benefit besides DHW? Because then I'd be keeping the 55 gal tank hot all summer for DHW, vs 16 gal in the Triangle Tube unit.



    Don't think I'm trying to 'trash talk' the unit...I totally see the appeal of it. It looks pretty awesome and does pretty much everything. The installation manual and descriptions I've found leave a few unanswered questions...I'll try to make a list to post tomorrow. I'm not totally sold on combined DHW units anyway, and our water quality around here is pretty darn good...most standalone gas water heaters last 15 years easily. Just thought I'd get some opinions and ideas.



    I do know of a local plumbing/heating supply house (the local 'boiler graveyard' where I get parts for mine) that has a few TT boilers for sale...1 used and 2 that were display models at local trade shows and are marked down quite a bit. Just need to get the specs on them.



    Thanks again ,



    Andy
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,985
    Mass

    Rich,

    I am not sure I am following your thoughts.

    I would have no reservations using a triangle tube prestige or a WM 97 firetube model.

    Either could be piped without primary secondary as you suggest with no issue.

    The existing piping likely holds hundreds of gallons, not to mention the piping and rads.

    A good dirt separator is essential with an old gravity system.

    As for the DHW, if there is space for an indirect tank, that would be my personal preference.

    Carl
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,610
    Andy

    What specific TT unit are you thinking of using .  Is warranty not an issue with looking at used and field models .

      Carl ,  My thoughts as always are in making installs as economical , simple as possible without sacrificing quality .  The Pioneer / Versa Flame have stellar air and dirt separation built into the unit , they have mass which we all know the lack of creates problems in many installs and Andy stated he would rather not buy another piece of equipment like an indirect .

    Andy , I will comment further when I know what model you are thinking of specifically . Most combis like I believe you are referring have a valve that switches the unit from heating to domestic production , in my eyes and after replacing a couple dozen of them on various manufacturers stuff it's just one more mechanical thing that can go wrong and is not always a snap to replace .  Be careful and contact the manufacturers with serial numbers on these used units you are entertaining , they may not be covered and if you speak to someone that says they are get it in writing to CYA .
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    a concern

    I know we don't discuss pricing here, so I'll keep it ambiguous... I can't find any solid pricing for the Versaflame online, whereas every other boiler I've been researching has that information readily available. It seems like a good idea and sure intrigues me, but I don't know if I'm ready to be the early adopter (in my area). I also don't really want to be keeping 55 gallons of water hot all summer just to feed the pass-thru HX for DHW.



    I'm not yet totally sold on combi units, was just asking for others' thoughts. I'm not opposed to a separate indirect tank, and it would allow me to add a solar pre heater of sorts later on if I wanted to (I like to tinker), just putting the feelers out.



    So far, I like the WM boilers (such as the Eco or the 97+), the Triangle Tube PTE110 (which also has DHW built in with the 14 gal tank), and the TT Solo 110 (no DHW).



    In terms of usage, we are a family of 4 (myself, my wife, and my young twin daughters). Our water usage is low in general. We have one full bath (with tub), a dishwasher (only run after bedtime), and a grand total of 3 sinks (bathroom, kitchen, basement). There is a shower stall in the basement but I am removing it as we have never used it and it is very short and gross. We use only cold water for laundry. On demand DHW is not a huge deal to us and the standby loss from our current tank seems pretty low. I just figured with a new boiler, might as well see what the options are for the other major mechanical as well. These are the only gas appliances in the house.



    So the research continues....



    Andy
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,610
    Versa Flame

    would cost about the same as the other units being discussed . The lack of internet availability most would consider a good thing , HTP does frown upon other than qualified persons installing , but you can find it online . Pioneer is about 1/2 the cost of the units discussed .  Standby losses are < 1/2* per hour due to 2-3" blown foam insulation . How well is the tank on the others insulated ? A small Gas usage keeping this unit heated based on the math would require 1 therm of NG every 15 days if default 7* diff is used . Hardly a concern .  Boiler , water heater , air and dirt separator outdoor reset , low maintenance or less maintenance , killer support as others here can attest , ease of installation .  Just sayin , it hangs right in there with the others and very soon mass and storage will be the big story .  WM 97 and ECO are relatively new units and I suspect will have similar problems to the ULTRA , 12 years young and on it's third series (not by coincidence but out of necessity) , TT which in my opinion is light years better than anything WM is just keeping up with the Jones's with the combi unit that a minimum of 2 other manufacturers recently marketed , gotta compete ya know .

      Just thought you and others might like the ease , quality and cost . 
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    ...and then there were three.

    After a long delay, tomorrow brings the first of three companies to look at my boiler situation. Talked to the owner on the phone, small family run operation a town down the highway, extremely nice guy. He told me it would be a few days until his boiler tech would be free, and he would call me within a week. The owner called me 2 days later on Saturday morning to make sure I didn't feel forgotten and set up a firm appointment time. Not bad at all in my opinion.



    I explained the situation as best I could and told him I'm open to all options and suggestions, so I'm interested to hear what he has to say about it all.



    I'll keep you posted...



    Andy
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    First Company

    The first estimator has come and gone. It actually ended up being the owner of the company himself, which was cool. Very knowledgeable and has read several of Dan's books...gotta be a good sign.



    He was here for about 2 hours, very friendly, extremely nice guy, took a lot of measurements, pictures, asked a lot of questions about usage, did a heat loss calculation (and came up with close to the same numbers I did). He then measured the radiators and calculated the square footage, and plugged all the data into a program on his iPad. Pointed out a few other things he would recommend and answered a lot of questions for me.



    He is writing me a few different estimates...we talked at length about pros and cons of a mod/con versus a mid-efficiency, and about adding an indirect tank. We'll see what he recommends and go from there. Still have 2 more to go. He did say he personally prefers Burnham so I'll have to do some more research into their line.



    Andy
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    Burnham...

    Does anyone here have any experience with the Burnham ES Series boiler? That is one of the options I've been quoted for a replacement boiler.
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    Quote #1

    Received my paperwork in the mail from company number 1. Have yet to receive anything from the other 2.



    He gave me 2 options, and then the option to add a boiler-mate to either. The first option is a Triangle Tube Prestige Solo 110, piped primary/secondary, with outdoor reset.



    Second option is an 85% Burnham ESC (direct vent, necessary as I lack a chimney) with a rated output of 78,000 btu/hr with outdoor reset option.



    Prices seem reasonable, however I have nothing to compare them to since it would seem other companies aren't terribly concerned with sending an actual estimate. The first of the other 2 'ballparked' a number, and the other didn't give any numbers.



    Both boiler options include all necessary repiping, a new compression tank, new backflow preventer, circulator, pressure reducing valve, isolation valves for the boiler, a Honeywell air separator, new air vents for radiator bleeding, and the addition of two 3/4" valves in the basement for the installation of a radiator in the future. Also includes replacement of about 8 feet of black iron gas pipe from the foundation wall over to the boiler with a new shutoff. All work permitted and inspected.



    He also included a printed out and cleaned up copy of his heat loss calculations and radiator sizing calculations, and some kind of chart that correlates water temp to outside temp and so on. The estimate has color pictures of my boiler and piping, with arrows and colored lines showing what will go where. Very thorough for a free estimate, especially since he drove 40 miles to come do it. The price is guaranteed for 30 days.



    I have to say, I'm so impressed with this guy's professionalism and how thorough he is that I think my mind is made up. Apparently all the reviews I read online are true.



    I think I'm going to go with the 85% Burnham. Limited lifetime on the HX, simple and straightforward design, 30% cheaper overall (sadly, price, including annual maintenance costs, are a big consideration for us at this point), seems like it'd be the best bet for us. I drool over the 95% rating and modulating ability of the TT, but by my calcs it would take 10-12 years to break even on the price difference.



    So. I'll try a few more companies, I guess, but boy does my patience wear thin getting the runaround from some of these places.
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Sounds Good

    It sounds like you found a good contractor. He did a heat loss and gave you options. If you feel comfortable with him you should probably stick with him. I know winters up there are harsh and for that reason a modcon will take quite some time to pay for itself without adding additional radiation. If he is going to pipe it P/S and utilize outdoor air reset you should be fine. Just make sure that the boiler does not get over-sized (heat losses are notorious for being on the high side) If you could post the heat loss he provided we can see if there is anything glaringly wrong.



    Rob
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    Heat Loss...

    RobG -



    When I get a little more free time (maybe tonight) I'll see if I can get it scanned and posted here.



    I had done my own using the SlantFin app a few months ago and then redid it twice with a few different variables. I have a lot of unknowns involving wall cavity insulation...I did kind of a middle of the road approach and a worst case approach and averaged them. His heat loss calculation ended up being very close to my 'middle of the road' calculation.



    We have 2 finished rooms on the 3rd floor that are only heated by electric baseboards. I did not figure them into the heat loss for the heating system since the space is sealed off and unheated in the winter (storage space). I don't ever see installing any sort of rads up there either so system expansion isn't a factor. Then in my calc's I treat the second floor space as having 'unheated' attic space above. The ceilings are some sort of fiber board tiles on furring strips, then plaster and lath, then 2x8 joists, then 1x4 tongue and groove planking, then 3/4 plywood, then carpet pad and carpet. I doubt there is any insulation in the joist bays. We have zero issues with ice dams or snow melt on the roof....in fact, never even had an icicle hanging. The third floor seems to act as a good 'temperature buffer' zone between the 2nd floor and the roof.



    Overall, my (rounded) calc's were 77,000 for the whole house including the 3rd floor, and then 64,500 without the 3rd floor. Which is pretty amazing (to me) with a design temp of -21f. Last winter, we hit or passed the -21 mark for 18 days in a row at one point, and had 66 consecutive days below 0. It was a long and dark and expensive winter, but even with an oversized and poorly running boiler my gas bills never topped $325/month. The 2 previous winters we never exceeded $240/month (the only other gas appliance we run is a Richmond 50 gal powervent DHW heater).



    So I'm not trying to reduce my gas bills exponentially, a little would be nice, mainly I just don't want to wake up for work at 5am and find the house is at 56 degrees and the boiler is continually cycling through its ignition sequence with no fire. Or go to the basement to find the HX finally popped a leak due to 25-30 years of condensing flue gasses. I want to get it done, done right, and be good to go (with normal maintenance of course) for the next 20-30 years. THAT is something I am willing to pay good money for.



    Whew. Got a little more long-winded than I intended. Well, my daughters and I are off to visit my sister and do some repairs to her car...she met a deer unexpectedly last night on the way home from work.



    Andy
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    Question for installers

    A friend of mine is going through the same process I am, getting estimates on replacing his boiler (a 50 or so year old Hydrotherm) in his home in St Paul, MN. I'd like to advise him on the ins and outs of this, as he doesn't know much about it and doesn't care to learn (which boggles my mind since he is VERY technically-minded and interested in anything else engineering-wise). But, I live 150 miles North of there...



    So, He was relating to me the 2 quotes he's gotten so far. He has a system very similar to mine, 100 year old house, hot water heat, except his is currently still gravity circulation using the Hydrotherm natural gas boiler. Cast iron radiators, big pipes, etc.



    One quote was for a high efficiency modcon, all well and good, but all the guy did was measure the radiators. The estimate basically just says "replace boiler".



    The next quote was little better...this one recommended an 84% cast iron boiler, once again only measured radiators, and concerning the pressure regulator, the backflow preventer, and the old compression tank between the joists, he advised that he would 'replace them only if necessary'. WHAT???



    I'm trying to explain to my friend why this is ridiculous, why WOULDN'T you replace all those things (they're all 25-50 years old and crusty looking), especially when a boiler trim kit is relatively inexpensive? Wouldn't the boiler manufacturer want to see that should you ever attempt a warranty claim?



    I don't know. Maybe I'm missing something. He's waiting on a 3rd company to come look at it. All of these are very 'reputable' heating companies in St. Paul, but boy, it sure doesn't seem like they're up on the modern aspects of hydronics.



    Lastly, if anyone can recommend a company in or around St. Paul, MN that he should call, please let me know and I'll forward the info to him.



    Andy
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    An update

    It's been awhile, time for an update.



    I picked the company that seemed to be the most knowledgeable and has a very good reputation. Hopefully all goes well. He had told me that the install would be cleaner and quicker if I prepared some things for him, which I have.



    We had an old, nasty shower stall right next to the old boiler and water heater, which I had intended to remove anyway. He had asked me to remove that as there wasn't enough room for him to do proper near boiler piping. Done. I also changed that shower drain into a short standpipe drain with a removable cap, as it will be right next to the boiler and can be used to drain the old system and so on.



    After re-parging all the concrete block foundation joints and applying drylock, I will hang a piece of 1" plywood, about 4'x4', on standoffs from the block wall, and on there will be conduit down from the ceiling and a termination box for the power feed, and also a termination strip for t-stat wiring. I figure he can use that to secure any piping as he sees necessary.



    His quote wasn't the cheapest, but it was by far the most complete, with heatloss, etc.



    I've decided to go with a natural gas Burnham ESC-4, with the outdoor reset module. It is the power (direct) vent model. I was also quoted for a Weil Mclain ECO, and a Triangle Tube Prestige 110. There were several factors leading to my decision, and I have nothing against the condensing boilers (I would've loved one), but initial cost, among other things, was a factor. The quotes all just about doubled for the TT.



    Install is slated to begin August 27th...this weekend the kids and I are cleaning out the basement and all the demo material and hauling it to the dumpster sitting out front. Next I will be running a new feed (3/4" PEX) from the water meter to the main distribution on the other side of the basement, and roughing-in a new cold supply valve to be mounted on that plywood square.



    Some pictures to follow this evening...



    Andy
  • Drewser
    Drewser Member Posts: 34
    Well, my install got pushed back due to some apparently unforeseen issues on the installer's part. I understand things happen, which is why I started the process so early on (early July). But I won't lie, I'm pretty disappointed.

    Supposed to happen this week, thank god, as it's been dipping into the 40's for the last 2 weeks and the old boiler has decided to start dripping once it hits about 120 degrees.

    I hate to say it, especially after multiple quotes, hair pulling, and financial wrangling, and also because this was the only guy that I actually liked, but if it's not done by Friday I'm going to have to break the contract and find another installer. We are now 27 days past the original install date, with the fourth actual appointment coming up Wednesday.

    The more I deal with contractors in this area, the more this seems somehow 'normal'. Not a happy camper. Updates will be coming.

  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    What a shame, it could have been the start of a beautiful relationship. There is really no excuse (barring natural disaster) for a four week delay on installation of a locally stocked product (hopefully it is locally stocked for when you need repair parts). Have you expressed your disappointment with this delay to him?

    Rob