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Repair, or replace...

new_angle
new_angle Member Posts: 6
Hello,

New to the forum, had been reading/researching about boilers, haven't found what I was looking for.

I currently have a NG fired Triangle combi-boiler (120 BTU with 42 gallon CI thank) that also provides DHW. The ranch-style house is 1,300 sqf with two zones. Zone one has eight radiators and zone 2 a single, long baseboard. The combi-boiler is in a 4.5'x5.0' room, that's all the room I have for heating and DHW since there's no basement. There had been some work done already, the LCWO sensor, the expansion thank, a transformer on the boiler and the external Taco zone control replaced within the last year or two.

The unit is 16 years old and as of late, it's been having issues. At times, the boiler would go off and does not run even if the the thermostat calls for it, no DHW either. Shutting off and turning on the external emergency switch, or the switch on the unit, fires up boiler. At times, it runs just fine for days after the reset. Other times, it runs for about 20 seconds and stops and refuses to stay on. Even resetting number of times doesn't work. I did notice that leaving the switch off for a longer time period gives the boiler a better chance to stay on.

On the coldest days in March, low teens, it worked fine during the day. The the thermostats for the two zones are programmed, after 10PM they keep the temperature at 66 degree and 6AM raise the temperature to 70. Waking up in the morning around seven, the house temperature was 62 degree and boiler off. Resetting the switch kicked in the burner, but it ran for only 20 seconds. No matter what I did, it wouldn't stay on. I had one plumber looked at it, but he didn't know what to do with it. I've reached the company that installed it, but by the time he arrived at noon, the boiler was running just fine.

I cannot go through another winter with the boiler being unreliable, I have two grandkids to babysit 3-4 times a week. Is it worth for repairing this boiler, or should I look for replacement? Due to the limited space available, one of the heating guys recommended wall mounted condensing DHW and boiler from Navien. That would work, but people in this forum don't seem to like them much, probably for good reasons.

Are the condensing unit worth for considering, or should I look for a similar CI combi-boiler?

TIA..

PS: The house is Lower Fairfield Contry, CT

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,095
    I very much doubt that there is any need to replace the boiler. The problem is most likely in the burner or in the controls, and if you find a good technician he or she should be able to diagnose it. Intermittent failures, however, can be a bit tricky.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    kcopp
  • new_angle
    new_angle Member Posts: 6

    I very much doubt that there is any need to replace the boiler. The problem is most likely in the burner or in the controls, and if you find a good technician he or she should be able to diagnose it. Intermittent failures, however, can be a bit tricky.

    Thanks Jamie...

    I actually have a heating guy here now, since it stopped working again. He seems to think that the UT 1016-400 series spark ignitor and the ignitor in itself needs replacement. Plus he found a gas leak in the union, ouch, that he'll replace as well. Tightening it up did not work. I do like this guy, he sems to know what he's doing.

    I just hope that the problem will go away, after replacing the ignitor. Do you think that he should do a blackflush of the boiler? It had been drained about two month ego when the LCWO had been replaced.

    TIA...
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,095
    Sounds very promising. And quite possible. And, no you really don't need to flush the boiler again. It would do no harm, but it's not needed. If it ain't broke...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • gschallert
    gschallert Member Posts: 170
    edited March 2017
    16 years in service... and with the other recent system repairs that's a tough call. If it were me it would depend on if the boiler issue was a simple/cheap fix and if that was indeterminate I'd probably go with replacement. At a certain point you end up throwing good money after bad. If this guy fixes it and you don't have any more issues this heating season count your blessings and cross your fingers. ;-)

    Combis can be a great solution if the heat load turn downs are low enough for your shoulder season heat loss and your DHW needs can be met with the high end of the output. There are people that don't like the Navien and there are people that love them. There are also other manufacturers. What are your hot water demands? How many bathrooms in the home? Basically determine your peak GPM hot water demand and take a look at the combi boilers that can deliver it. First identify what fixtures you have:

    Kitchen faucet
    Kitchen dishwasher
    Bathroom faucet
    Bathroom tub/shower
    Laundry
    ?

    Each hot water fixture has X amount of flow and based on which fixtures you desire to draw from concurrently you can calculate your demand. If you have two bathrooms will you need to have two showers run simultaneously?

    The Navien NCB-150E might be a good fit but it would depend on your hot water needs. :)
  • new_angle
    new_angle Member Posts: 6
    I am hoping that this guy will fix it for good. He went to the plumbing store for the parts, hopefully, they'll have it in stock. If not, the boiler is working at the moment and will be ordered I am sure.

    Thank you very much for your help and quick responses, much appreciated...
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 10,317
    All you need is a technician who knows what he is doing. These days they are harder to find
    kcopp
  • new_angle
    new_angle Member Posts: 6

    All you need is a technician who knows what he is doing. These days they are harder to find

    This guy seems to know what he was doing. When I first talked to him, he was very interested in my issue and made me promise to call him, if the boiler does not start up again. That was about two weeks ego and gave him a call yesterday when the issue resurfaced. He was here couple of hours later, did a diagnostic on the boiler and its controls, called TriAngle Tube directly, presumably discussed the issue and got the right part numbers. I was just suprised that he didn't have to be on hold much at all. Anyway...

    He brought the parts today, replaced the UT Ignition Control, Igniter, and fixed the leaking union on the gas-line. The latter one I've put in more than 30 years ego; oh, back in the days when I used to do lot of things...

    The boiler runs fine and I would swear that it sounds better. One noise that went away is a sort of humming noise that the boiler/controls used to have. The chances are that I've got used of it so much that I didn't notice it, until it went away today. Parts carry one year warranty and labor is for six weeks. That's fine with me, especially if the issue does not come back. I really won't know it for a couple of weeks.

    @gschallert..

    The current TriAngle unit replaced an aging Veil-McLain boiler, converted from oil to gas. My gas bill in the winter month dropped from low 300s to low 200s, or about 30% saving. I don't believe that the condensing boiler would make much of a difference in a heating bill. Nonetheless...

    Initially, I was approaching this issue on the same way, get a combi and/or separate wallmount units and get it over with. A few people, like Jamie and the repair guy changed my mind. The boiler is really not in a bad shape and the chances are that I can get at least 3-5 more years out of it. Let technology advance a little more... Yes, the repair wasn't cheap, but fraction of the cost installing new unit(s) would be. The fact that the wallmount unit(s) require yearly maintenance also played the role in my decision. The house in itself on the small side, one bathroom, dishwasher, front-loading washmachine and that's all.



  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 10,317
    @new_angle , Hopefully it's fixed..If you decide to replace it some day get someone competent to do a heat loss of your house before you do

    120,000 btu boiler on @ 1300 square ft house is crazy
    KC_Jones
  • new_angle
    new_angle Member Posts: 6

    @new_angle , Hopefully it's fixed..If you decide to replace it some day get someone competent to do a heat loss of your house before you do

    It's been running for couple of days without an issue, but we'll see. Hopefully, I won't need to talk to someone competent for 3-5 years...
    120,000 btu boiler on @ 1300 square ft house is crazy
    I am certainly not competent, but it didn't stop me from doing the calculation...

    Boiler BTU estimate based on the square footage, location, age of the house:
    1300*60=78,000

    Efficiency rating (20%) loss:
    78,000*.2=15,600

    Total heat loss, includes walls, windows, doors, ceiling, etc.:
    13,840

    The boiler BTU requirement based on the numbers above:
    107,440

    While the result is still 13% more than required, it does not seem to be way oversized. For the DHW it certainly too much, but it is what it is...

    Again, not being competent seldom stops me from pushing my luck. At times, it is a disaster, while other times it ends up pretty good.

    Let me know which it is in this case, thanks...

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,837
    new_angle said:

    Boiler BTU estimate based on the square footage, location, age of the house:
    1300*60=78,000

    Your calculations are incorrect. There is no arbitrary number you multiply the square footage by. You do the calcs for the size of each room amount of glass insulation etc. and come up with a heat loss number. You then size the boiler to that number. Also to get to 60 per square foot would require some windows and doors to be wide open all the time while you were heating the house.
    new_angle said:

    Total heat loss, includes walls, windows, doors, ceiling, etc.:
    13,840

    What is this calculation from? This seems way low, but most likely much closer to the actual heat loss than the 107k number you came up with. If your loss was 50k I'd be surprised. Roughly speaking to get to 50k would most likely mean no insulation and single pane windows.

    You should be very clear on the proper way to size the boiler so you don't have a contractor massively oversize the boiler the next time around.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • new_angle
    new_angle Member Posts: 6
    Thanks for the correction KC.., much appreciated...

    Yes, I used an arbitrary number (60) for the estimated size of the boiler, from an old website that I don't seem to find now.

    The heat loss calculation came from this website:

    pexuniverse.com/content/calculate-heat-loss

    Based on that link, these were the results for the total of 13,840:

    Wall surface heat loss 1,995
    Windows surface heat loss 4,875
    Door heat loss 1,764
    Ceiling heat loss 1,750
    Infiltration heat loss 3,456

    Couple of years ego, the aluminium siding and single pane windows had been replaced. The replacement plastic siding also had 3/4" styrofoam insulation and added double pain windows from Okna below:

    http://www.oknawindows.com/windows/2012097-insul-tec.stml

    Some plumbing stores offer boiler BTU calculator, like this one:

    supplyhouse.com/sh/control/BTUCalculator

    The site above had an estimate of 57,200 BTU for my house. Seemingly, Ed was right, the 120K BTU boiler is way over that I'd need.

    Sixteen years ego I had no time, or inclanation to look in to this calculation and relied on the heating contractor to come up with the size of the boiler. The same contractor that did not know what to do with my issues described earlier.

    I don't need the exact calculation at this time, just needed an estimate for the boiler size for future reference.

    I do have one question, though...

    Would the around 60K cut the heating bill substancially, or just be running twice as long as the current one?
    TIA...