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Condensing Oil Furnaces

RPK
RPK Member Posts: 90
Does anyone have any experience with condensing oil-fired furnaces. I see some old discussion of Adams equipment. And I see thermopride now
offers one. It looks like there were some issues with earlier ones but now Adams has straightened things out, but I really don't see much discussion on condensing oil equipment at all, so looking for some opinions before I recommend a condensing model over a conventional. Efficiency gains plus no worries about lining the chimney for venting are good selling points, but I don't want to install equipment without a good track record and good parts availability. Are there any other manufacturers anyone would recommend?

Comments

  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    Not for me. The only oil condenser I might entertain is the Buderus Blue Flame boiler bc of it's near complete combustion design. Any other I have run across has been a nightmare.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,677
    I have no experience with condensing oil boilers. However, purely on the basis of the chemistry, I would be slightly wary of them. Why? Because while in a condensing gas furnace you do have acid condensate -- from the carbon dioxide dissolving in the condensate to make carbonic acid -- that's a relatively mild acid, as acids go. Unless you plan to use ultra low sulphur diesel or fuel oil in an oil burner, however, you will also have to contend with sulphuric acid in the condensate -- and that's not a relatively mild acid.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,045
    Vast experience with Yukon EX-95 from about '86-89. I found the old training VHS on it the other day. It was the very first oil product I represented when I first went into the Rep business. All I can say is, what a ride, and what an education.

    I am happy to see Thermopride do this. If anyone has creds in the oil furnace business with the oil dealers it is T-pride. I hope that they will not allow anyone to touch this thing without proper & thorough training.

    With the DV configuration follow the vent specs precisely. Personally, I'm not a fan of DV oil appliances. Stay up with the service intervals. Evaluate those costs in the purchasing decision.

    Cleaning the Yukon was beyond a mess. I ruined more than one suit because the tech would not show up. I developed my own method. Removing the dirty, packed, wet turbulators was bad enough, but trying to clean it from there was a...difficult deal. I finally began to run a hose into the secondary, disconnect the drain line and run it up the side of the furnace like a sight glass, fill the unit with clean water up to the secondary and then drop the vinyl tube drain line into a five gallon bucket. Do it a couple times and you would have clear water and a clean condensing section. That is an excellent tip. I would tell the homeowner to let the water evaporate and ditch the residue.

    Time will tell if powder coated aluminized steel will hold up in the secondary. Too bad it isn't at least two stage.

    The Yukon's had a lot of problems. That said, I cannot tell you how many times I got a call from the homeowner saying the unit worked fine, was then serviced and did not function properly thereafter. Techs could not seem to set the retention head in the Wayne Blue Angel burner. By the time Yukon made the unit non-adjustable, it was just to late and the company went out of business. Their mistake (one of) was putting the unit out on the market with out certification of the dealers. Guys would throw them in and leave and it was a nightmare. Pardon me, but it was a NIGHTMARE, for everyone. I had one guy who installed 4 of them in the Acton, MA area OUTSIDE. I kid you not!

    Make sure they have done their due diligence and field testing. You don't want to be a product tester.

    Also, the pH on oil appliances is 2.8-9 where a gas appliance is 3.2. Much hotter!

    I hope they do well with this. I know it can work. You just need good guys all the way down the line.
    RPK
  • Buster
    Buster Member Posts: 30
    We installed a "Firebird" hot water boiler. The job was done last October and we just did the maintenance (ran about 700 gal of oil) The unit had no problems during the season and internal flues of the unit looked great!
    http://www.columbiaheating.com/certificates/Firebird-Literature-050412.pdf
  • RPK
    RPK Member Posts: 90
    Thank you all for the comments so far.

    Jack, it is really interesting to hear a story from the front lines like that. So do you think Yukon would have stuck
    it out if they were more careful about training and certifying dealers?

    I am still hoping to hear from someone who has seen or worked on the Adams or Thermopride units. I haven't spoken to the T-pride rep yet, but Adams told me to contact Sid Harvey's regarding pricing, etc.

    I would love to try one of these out, but without much of a track record and without being sure of the integrity of the tech support/parts chain, it is hard to make the leap.

    Buster,

    Glad to hear the firebird is working well. Had you seen or heard of any others installed before you decided to try it?
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    Oh, I can recall a 3:30 am no heat call around 1994. In a crawl. With a beloved Yukon. 10 degrees outside. Good times!
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,045
    Bob, I feel for you, truly. Like I said, I ruined a lot of suits when the tech stood by. The problem(s) Yukon had were, in no particular order, being the first ones into that market. They tried to use 2" PVC and that didn't work so they went to 3". The company they sourced their inducer wheels (plastic) from recommended the wrong material, so a field change on all those as they failed. Dealers had a really hard time with the Blue Angel burners. Retention heads were rarely set properly once serviced. They would then warp and all hell broke loose. It was a big enough problem that Yukon finally (and to late) developed a plate on the side the tray assembly fed in from which made it non -adjustable. As well they pinned the air adjustment. Once the retention head was not set correctly guys would just open the primary air, set the draft a go.

    Would Yukon have made it with certification requirements? Really to difficult to judge from here. It was a good idea that didn't make a clean break out of the gate. That in itself was hard to deal with. Wayne had their issues too. Back in those days Riello was just getting started, the EZ1 and AF2 didn't exist, so the BA was it. Also Wayne sold the technology to Yukon so there may have been some requirements there.

    I am happy to see Thermopride take a run at this. I do hope they manage the intro carefully. The oil industry needs some technology. I've felt for a long time that the goal has been to be the last left standing. With the modulating condensing technology of gas and the performance of the new mini splits I still see it as a holding action. It should have been done in '88 just after Yukon failed. Yukon was not all wrong. IMHO, there has been to long a period of holding the old line!

  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    Jack, your post triggered some memories for sure :) Same town, another house....2 Yukons side by side. They took .50 70 A from what I recall in the BAs.

    You called it on the drawer setting. The lovely drawer thumbscrew would strip. Ever run across sticky air cutoff dampers?

    What a mucky tarry gooey mess when things went south..and the smell!
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,045
    It's good you can smile about it. They were a real mess to clean when not set up properly. My wash-down worked really well on the furnace. Leaving a bucket of the residue was, shall we say problematic, but it got the secondary and condensing section clean. They used .5 and .65 70A.

    Sticky air? When Yukon made the tray assembly piece, I still have a couple in a tool box somewhere, if you need them, that is also when they fixed the air shutter. They pinned it and drilled a hole in it. Big improvement, but to late.

    This was the very first oil appliance I worked with when I had just gone to work for the rep. It wasn't much of a problem though. I only covered 6 states;)
    I can just see you going into the crawl space! Oooooh, NO!
    Bob Bona_4
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,269
    I have installed about 7 of the Adams furnaces here in the past. I have also serviced the Yukons. As mentioned before, you do NOT want to have to clean one that has sooted up. It will be like an octopus exploded in the area! Nothing worse than wet soot!
    However, if everything has been running good, you will get very high efficiencies. I just tuned up an Adams and got 97% out of it.
    I just removed the last remaining Yukon about 4 months ago when we went to gas, and it was still running good. It was using the 2" exhaust straight up through 2 stories and the beckett with L head. The most common problem I had with it was the inducer motor going out. Again, in the mid 90's for efficiency though.
    One of the biggest issues with the Adams furnace is the fact that it has an 8 minute post purge which keeps the burner fan and blower fan on. Customers don't like the cold air blowing that long, but have become used to it I guess. The ones I have put in have the Interburner installed on them. The units all rumble on startup for a couple of seconds, even with pre-purge. Not sure if the Beckett nx that is the other burner they use does that.
    I had problems with the ones I put in with quality control issues in regards to minor things like panel screw and labels that were just not right. I hope they have addressed that. The basic heating portion of the furnace looks to be good though.
    One of the things I will tell you is if you do put in an Adams that you will want access to the back of the unit to be able to get to the heat exchanger for cleaning and or gasket work. There paperwork does not say anything about this and I found out the hard way when I had to get to the heat exchanger to repair a lack of screw/gasket on a relatively new install. Looked like a Friday night build!
    Hope this helps.
    Rick

    Bob Bona_4
  • Oilmon
    Oilmon Member Posts: 3
    Have kept many of the older Dornback units operating satisfactorily for many years. Have installed a few dozen of the newer Adams units recently. MUCH better performance than the prior generation, but also very important to use low or ultra low sulfur fuel. The units combustion chambers also must be properly cured and run-in for several hours of actual run time before final burner adjustment, or your readings will be incorrect. And, yes, as Rick stated, their quality control leaves a LOT to be desired. I now unpack, disassemble and fix all little issues in the shop before transporting the unit to the customer's house. That being said, however, absolutely phenomenal performance when set up properly. I would also insist on the Beckett NX burner only.