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Getting Ready for Gas in Central CT

WalnutFarmer
WalnutFarmer Member Posts: 42
Greetings.

I'm a homeowner in central CT. Have been lurking here over the years and have learned a lot as I've undertaken several additions at my home (so thank you!). We currently have oil heat, but gas will be installed in our neighborhood this fall. I'm hoping you all can point me to sources so I can educate myself for the process that will come.

Here are the basics:

1. House: 1975 developer built colonial in central CT. Three additions over the past 17 years. House now totals 3100 sf. Attic has spray foam under the roof deck. All windows have been replaced, so fairly tight envelope overall for a house of this vintage.

2. Heating system: Weil-McClain 68 boiler, 23 years old. Weil-McClain AFG burner. Four baseboard zones, plus fifth zone heated by hot water from boiler circulating through air handler (recent addition where baseboards wouldn't work). Hot water (2.5 baths) is from boiler coil. I've been burning ~800 gallons of oil a year.

3. Family: Me, wife, 3 teenagers. Surprisingly, coil has handled shower load well, but not if two showers need to run simultaneously. Wife and I plan to stay here a while, even as kids depart for college and beyond over next 4 years.

4. Other: I have a propane tank running kitchen range, fireplace and gas grill. During a recent addition, I had these piped to handle gas because I knew it was a possibility.

Given the age of my heating plant (and the fact my oil co. told me two years ago that it was approaching the end of the line), plus the propane appliances, it seems to me a no-brainer to switch to gas. I could also regain some basement space by installing a wall hanging boiler and losing the oil tank.

I have not yet had any contractors in to take a look. I want to be reasonably educated first. Have not had any heat loss calcs done, so I know it's too soon to be spec'ing a system. A few neighbors have started getting quotes, and they have been all over the lot (combi systems, indirect HW, brands, etc)

One thing I have learned reading your threads is that choosing a knowledgeable contractor is paramount. I feel I have to be somewhat knowledgeable myself to make that happen..

My initial questions:

-Any big reasons NOT to switch to gas?

-Where should I start? Any articles or threads you can recommend I read?

-Thoughts on high-efficiency systems vs. regular efficiency?

-Considerations for hot water options (indirect, combi, etc)?

-Any brands to avoid? (I've read that contractor/brand familiarity is more important than brand alone).

-Any other advice?

Many thanks for sharing your wisdom!

«134

Comments

  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    High efficiency stainless steel boiler with an indirect water heater installed to meet or exceed manufacturers recommendations. If you have a good installer the brand of boiler is moot in most cases. I personally use Knight frequently, IBC is being pushed a lot and Viessman is always a good choice. All three have stocking wholesalers in Hartford for when parts are required.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • WalnutFarmer
    WalnutFarmer Member Posts: 42
    Thanks Charlie.

    Anyone else have any thoughts on this??
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    edited September 2016
    What defines the wrong boiler? As none of us have seen the job or the heat emitters yet how can we determine what the right boiler is? Short cycling is easily addressed with proper boiler sizing and buffer tank if necessary.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    Hatterasguy
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    I currently have a customer in West Hartford that has a 300 and hates it. Just saying that we can't call out size of the boiler without knowing the size of the zones and the size of the heat loss for the whole building.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    The customer I have a West Hartford has a house that is over 5000 square feet and uses fan coil units that were sized for 180 degree water. When they're munchkin boiler died various forums online the owner was convinced that they needed to use the viessmann boiler. With the heat loss on the home completed they bought their own boiler online. They have been through two blowers and 1 control board in 3 years. I personally confirmed the combustion on the boiler.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    edited September 2016
    Need to start with a room by room heat loss and emitter survey. Modcon boiler may not make much sense if the radiation requires water temps above the condensing range for most of the year. I have a 40 gallon indirect tank run priority off a Lochinvar WHN055, you may want more than 40 gals if running simultaneous showers (depends on boiler output).

    Not sure where the lipstick on a pig comment is coming from. There are situations where a buffer is a really good option, as there aren't an infinite range of boiler options out there, especially when the zone loads are small and the days aren't that cold. Buffer is a decent workable solution for those situations where you have existing conditions and can't design it out of the system.

    I can also recommend to you a top notch installer from Springfield who will do a really good job.
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
    Charlie from wmassZman
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,328
    Given that you have heating emitters (baseboard and fancoil) that are generally designed to run high water temps, you may not reap all the benefits of a condensing boiler.

    Before I decided, I would do a room by room heat loss and do a careful inventory of the emitters.
    With this information along with the sizing of the zones, I would look at the required water temps and output of the smallest zones to see which boiler is a better fit.

    A low mass high efficiency boiler running at 180 degrees can actually be less efficient than a high mass conventional boiler.

    I would highly recommend getting all your details organized and making an educated decision.



    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    SWEICharlie from wmass
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    Not for the system in @Brewbeer 's house.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    Hatterasguy
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    edited September 2016
    Forget about it
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    edited September 2016
    Everyone is intitled to their opinion
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    No offense meant to anyone that has a buffer tank, but, it has never made any sense to me, to heat an un-necessary volume of water to do so "efficiently"? I suppose one could MacGuyver a control strategy to use the latent heat in the tank on the next call for heat, but that certainly eliminates the prospect of constant circulation.
    Hatterasguy
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616


    There most certainly are boiler options that are currently available that will perform well without a buffer.

    Of The boilers you mentioned the minimum low fire is about 8,000. Small low temperature zones on mild shoulder season days won't typically allow that much heat to get off the train. You can overheat the zone to end the heat call, but that could sacrifice comfort, and isn't that why people heat with hydronics?

    Sorry @WalnutFarmer to go off topic. Tell us more about the radiators in each of your rooms, fin size, emitter lengths, any hot or cold areas, etc.
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
    Zman
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,328
    Paul48 said:

    No offense meant to anyone that has a buffer tank, but, it has never made any sense to me, to heat an un-necessary volume of water to do so "efficiently"? I suppose one could MacGuyver a control strategy to use the latent heat in the tank on the next call for heat, but that certainly eliminates the prospect of constant circulation.

    @Paul48 Love your posts,
    I am not sure where this aversion to buffer tanks comes from...

    There are certain applications where they are perfect. IMO, constant circ is absolutely one of them.

    The controls need to be a bit different but not outrageously complex. Some mod cons have sensor inputs that will handle the control side.

    I just picked up a Caleffi ThermoCon for my house and can't wait to get it setup.

    Now for the OP to post some info.

    Drum Roll..............
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    @Zman
    It's not an aversion to buffer tanks. It's an aversion to everything that creates a need for them....real, or imagined. Not to sound condescending or anything.
    Rich_49
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    @Paul48 the buffer actually would help with constant circulation at low level heat calls. But I fear we are getting into high mass versus low mass debating which is worse than debating politics.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,328
    edited September 2016
    I do believe buffer tanks are an absolute necessity in certain types of systems. Geo thermal, OWB, radiant cooling, micro zoning to name a few. They also are a good band aid for oversized boilers.
    Yes, there is some jacket heat loss but with proper insulation it is minimal.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    Charlie from wmassSWEIRich_49
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    You are wrong Hat. But that is your choice.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    Hatterasguy
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    My customers are quite happy with my installations. When you take away options sight unseen you are wrong. When this is a job and not a hobby for you let me know.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    Hatterasguy
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616


    Just about any single zone won't accept 8,000 BTUH when the SWT is down in the weeds (100F or lower). The boiler will cycle at that point.

    This is my system when it is above freezing outside.


    Or, you limit the bottom of the reset curve to stay away from this operating mode.

    Whether it's the high limit or the thermostat, the boiler it still cycling.


    It's simply not a good argument that an 8K boiler might cycle for two months of the year and, therefore, it also needs a buffer tank.

    The "good argument" is the comfort of the occupants.

    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    edited September 2016



    From memory, the low fire on yours is quite a bit more than 8K?

    The entire argument is based upon the premise of using a boiler with a minimum fire of 8K so I don't see the relevance?

    If we are talking about comfort of the occupants, the discussion of the buffer is irrelevant. I can get the same comfort with or without the buffer.

    If we are talking about the comfort of the boiler, that's a different story and, if you don't have a minimum fire of something close to 8K, the lipstick has to be put on the pig.

    With few exceptions, an 8K minimum fire boiler doesn't need an buffer tank and you'd be stealing money from the customer by convincing him that he needs one. They are certainly not cheap.

    Yes, it's the WHN055, which has a low fire of ~11K, or about 37% higher than 8K.

    The boiler manufactures have done a good job of pushing down the minimum fire output of small mod-con boilers in the last couple of years, but they aren't to a point yet where small and/or low-temperature zones will keep the boiler occupied without cycling during shoulder seasons. Gonna need to get quite a bit lower than 8K to achieve that goal.

    Is buffer on this system "lipstick on a pig"?
    cd8ba0b44a15c10065fd-24461f391e20b7336331d5789078af53.r23.cf1.rackcdn.com/heatinghelp.vanillaforums.com/editor/b5/jr6tx5y75xuh.jpg
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    On a different note......I wonder whether at below 8k, it would be economical to say, stage 3- 500W immersion heaters? Just a thought.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    Hat, I have the knowledge, no worries. I have only had to install one buffer tank in 3 decades of helping or personally installing boilers . I still do not take options off the table. My rub is you speak with authority like your answer is the only answer. I acknowledge there are many paths to comfort and longevity of the system from a view point of sourcing of repair parts, achieving respectable efficiency, and financial pragmatism.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    A little knowledge does not make one knowledgeable. Caveats need to be used if one does not have an actual and accurate set of information. The more one knows the more they know they don't know it all. Like teenagers, if only we could all be that smart again.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,827
    And you do welch on bets.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    I agree some mod cons I installed would have benefited from a buffer tank. I also know you have no idea of windows, outside wall area to volume ratios, wall thickness or insulation values, attic insulation values, or even what the siding is on the home. The reason every other buffer tank that never was does not exist is I was close minded as to the usefulness versus cost of buffer tanks. Getting a larger mass boiler is not a good solution when a buffer tank allows the low mass where the greatest standby heat loss is and allows the heat imparted to the heating fluid to be stored at a more stable temperature for a longer period of time.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,827

    ChrisJ said:

    And you do welch on bets.

    Apparently, you want the money but don't want to fulfill your end of the bet.
    The end of my bet was filled.
    You said the wife wouldn't allow it which was baloney. You forgot my wife also was fine with me mounting a 4" Magnehelic in the livingroom wall to watch steam pressure.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    Pioneers are crap. I would not put my name on that Frankenstein monster. Poor reliability and simply a buffer tank without a buffer tank. Simple answer NO.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
    Robert O'BrienZman
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    I prefer the flexibility in sizing the buffer to suit the system requirements and being able to chose the boiler that has parts availible when things go wrong, and every boiler will need parts. Also why replace a tank when a heat exchanger fails? Waste of resources. Extremely poor parts availability in my region, bulky unit to fit in the spaces allocated for mechanical rooms, fire rate limitations (variety is the spice of life) . Guess I am just the guy who gets the "gee no one else has had an issue" problems with equipment. I seldom hear anything is a problem until the problem shows up on my door. I also will not use Utica or Slant Fin boilers or certain Weil McLain boilers. The Ultra gas boiler being one.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    I have installed 0 pioneers, I have serviced dozens after the original installers abandoned the customers. Btw there were no mistakes with any of the installations as per the manufacturer in either piping, sizing, or programming. Just parts failing.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,692
    Brewbeer said:



    From memory, the low fire on yours is quite a bit more than 8K?

    The entire argument is based upon the premise of using a boiler with a minimum fire of 8K so I don't see the relevance?

    If we are talking about comfort of the occupants, the discussion of the buffer is irrelevant. I can get the same comfort with or without the buffer.

    If we are talking about the comfort of the boiler, that's a different story and, if you don't have a minimum fire of something close to 8K, the lipstick has to be put on the pig.

    With few exceptions, an 8K minimum fire boiler doesn't need an buffer tank and you'd be stealing money from the customer by convincing him that he needs one. They are certainly not cheap.

    Yes, it's the WHN055, which has a low fire of ~11K, or about 37% higher than 8K.

    The boiler manufactures have done a good job of pushing down the minimum fire output of small mod-con boilers in the last couple of years, but they aren't to a point yet where small and/or low-temperature zones will keep the boiler occupied without cycling during shoulder seasons. Gonna need to get quite a bit lower than 8K to achieve that goal.

    Is buffer on this system "lipstick on a pig"?
    cd8ba0b44a15c10065fd-24461f391e20b7336331d5789078af53.r23.cf1.rackcdn.com/heatinghelp.vanillaforums.com/editor/b5/jr6tx5y75xuh.jpg
    Well Brewbeer , yes , it is in fact lipstick on a pig . I can verify this . Beautiful job in both the original incarnation and with the buffer added because of a hydro fan coil that caused an inordinate amount of short cycling . Any more questions , wanna ask how I know ? Read the thread again beforehand .
    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
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,692
    edited September 2016

    I have installed 0 pioneers, I have serviced dozens after the original installers abandoned the customers. Btw there were no mistakes with any of the installations as per the manufacturer in either piping, sizing, or programming. Just parts failing.

    What parts mostly Charlie ? Parts is rather general and as you say parts fail . I have several installed for quite a few years now and have yet to see an issue . What do you think of Phoenix water heaters ?
    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
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    Shofar blowers, gas valves, control boards, ignitors ( but they all use ignitors)
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    And one was leaking in the heat exchanger.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    @Hatterasguy how many boilers have you installed?
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    How many as a licensed contractor?
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    So you illegally installed 15 boilers with voided warranties
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,827
    I legally installed one, probably with a voided warranty though.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Charlie from wmass
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    So you are a licensed contractor?
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,216
    You publicly denounce licensed contractors yet you yourself can not legally install a boiler. Pm is for talking behind peoples back. I am not that style. I will publically ask how many code violations your 15 amount to and if the insurance company will void their coverage when they find out you installed the boilers.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,692

    Shofar blowers, gas valves, control boards, ignitors ( but they all use ignitors)

    In other words , the same stuff that fails on every manufacturers stuff !

    So you illegally installed 15 boilers with voided warranties

    Maybe illegally in Massoftwoshits but not everywhere . A licensed M.E satisfies many states requirements as licensed it also would be a qualifying benchmark almost everywhere to sit for a state's exam .

    For instance , in New Jersey there are 6,300 (appr) licensed plumbers yet there are really only 650 plumbers or whom I would consider plumbers . Kinda bogus argument Charlie . A homeowner should be able to install in his own home (primary residence) as long as the job is permitted and satisfactorily passes inspection by the AHJ . This is the case in most states I do understand that is not the case in your state however . Extortion at the state level in the cradle of the free US , awesome .
    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
    Hatterasguy