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How many boilers are in the U.S.?

jbo
jbo Member Posts: 12
edited April 2017 in Strictly Steam
I'm new to the HVAC industry and I was wondering if there exists a catalog, database or even a rough study of how many boilers there are in the U.S. I've heard something to the tune of 30% hydronics in heating applications but have never seen statistics to back this up. Any insights would be greatly appreciated, especially if municipalities or states track any of this as I want to get a picture of boiler concetration and type if possible. Thanks in advance!

Edit: I meant to post this on the main wall, not sure how I got it into steam. Anybody know how to move it? Also, I wanted to thank everyone for the quality content, I've learned a lot from this site in the past few weeks.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,942
    You have absolutely got to be kidding. You might be able to get some idea as to how many residential boilers are in specific areas; in some jurisdictions you might even be able to get a pretty exact count, depending on how the specific jurisdiction catalogues its property tax records -- which is where I would go to start counting. But in the US as a whole?

    There are methods, though for coming up with a WAG which would probably be within 20 to 30 percent.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    jbo
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    Was that a specific question on the census? Or only if you were lucky to get the long form extended version?
    jbo
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    My property tax sheet lists the type of heat and what fuel is used.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
    jbo
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    My tax record just says "Central Heat with A/C, Hot Air" I have steam as a primary and Hot Air only as a back-up and air handler for the Central Air. It said that when I bought the house 26 years ago, before Central air was even installed. Not sure where they get their records from??
    jbo
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,942
    Fred said:

    My tax record just says "Central Heat with A/C, Hot Air" I have steam as a primary and Hot Air only as a back-up and air handler for the Central Air. It said that when I bought the house 26 years ago, before Central air was even installed. Not sure where they get their records from??

    It's always worth looking at your property tax records -- at least in my town their accuracy is somewhere between poor and abysmal.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    jbo
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    Fred, those who compile that info may not know a steam boiler from a gas meter.......your taxes should go down because they believe you have a scorched air furnace....try to explain that one at the county/city office.

    But the future is here, the HVAC guy in the next town was telling me that you should not try to fudge the details to get the residential warranty on a commercial installation. He said that his manf will go to a satellite image of the address given for the warranty and it is easy to see that the 12,000 sq ft building is not a house.

    The brother in law near the twin cities lives in the dream house on the lake. You can not cut any vegetation on your land around the lake without permission. The authorities check satellite pictures and compare them for changes. Then the tree/brush police will show up with the ticket book.
    jboMilanD
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    They also show my house as being only two floors. It is actually three and they are missing some rooms/sq. footage but that's OK. I'm not for paying more property taxes than I already do. One time when someone's poor performance works in my favor.
    jboMilanD
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    As Jamie said to check your tax records, one neighbor did and found that they had his vinyl sided double wide listed as a brick home.
    jbo
  • jbo
    jbo Member Posts: 12
    Glad to see this started at least a little discussion- my goal was only to gather ideas to look into whether or not I could compile something like a database or average in a given area. I was genuinely interested in whether or not something existed and if not what areas I should look into. The local tax records are a great idea but I think there's going to be too much variance to have it be reliable at all. What is a WAG? And how do we get the 20-30% if we can't measure out any of the variables? Even if we could get a cross section of the population to satisfy a sample size there's still a huge question mark. Thanks to all!
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,942
    A WAG is internetese for a wild a$$ guess. Basically what one would want to do is to look at a number of representative areas around the country and see how many persons there were per house; then census data will give you a pretty decent handle on the number of houses. Then assess for each area what fraction of the houses have no or minimal heat (e.g. Los Angeles) or major heat (e.g. Duluth) or whatever, and then what fraction of that is hot water or steam, and what fraction is forced air or electric. None of the figures will be all that accurate! But overall, at least some of the errors are likely to cancel out.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    jbo
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Another good start would be to see if you could identify communities where the housing construction is Pre 1940' or thereabouts. That's where the concentrations of residential boilers will be located. Also go to the National Registry of Historic Places. They should have a listing of all the Historic Districts around the country.
    DanHolohanjbo
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,732
    jbo said:

    I'm new to the HVAC industry and I was wondering if there exists a catalog, database or even a rough study of how many boilers there are in the U.S.

    Not nearly enough!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Mark EathertonjboSeanBeans
  • Wellness
    Wellness Member Posts: 138
    Can't you get a ball park from the ABM.
    jbo
  • jbo
    jbo Member Posts: 12
    Thanks again for the suggestions, I'm looking into most of them. Out of curiosity (and slightly off topic) what do most of the contractors on here do in searching for new job sites? Is this industry largely reactive (by which I mean responding to a customers need after it arises like when water hammer starts or a boiler needs replacing instead of seeking new avenues for applications through special advertising or homeowner awareness programs)? I just don't see a lot of business plans in action that are tailored to homeowners for these types of appliances (heating or cooling installation, I do see some big names advertising new ductless and wifi connections etc.).
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    There is some very specific data in these reports. It seems like they may be a source for types of heating systems in use. May be very worthwhile to contact them. The data is based on US Housing Census.
    https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/housing_patterns/pdf/Housing by Year Built.pdf

    http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/how-old-are-americas-houses.shtml
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    Are you looking to target or move to the areas where there are more hydronic systems? If you read the entire main wall you can find homeowners looking for help, especially in the steam arena.
    And you can advertise here also...look above to Find a Contractor...in the blue box.
  • jbo
    jbo Member Posts: 12
    edited April 2017
    @Fred Those articles look awesome! Thank you very much!

    @JUGHNE Not necessarily looking to target per se, and definitely not ready to move and deal with that headache again. I'm more interested in methods to obtain, and sources of, information for now.

    Using the wall to get a sense of locations is an interesting idea...
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,506
    edited April 2017
    I remember reading in one of Dan's books or newsletters (I think) something like 2-3%. Although I just checked my customer base (Philly suburbs) and it's about 35%
    steve
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    jbo, just curious as to where you are located?
    Are you in the hands on the tools end of things or otherwise?
  • Chris_L
    Chris_L Member Posts: 334
    The only survey I am aware of is the U.S. Department of Energy's periodic Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECs). You can see the latest summary results here: https://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/data/2015/#sh

    I am not sure whether they make the data available at the state level, but I believe they eventually make the database available to query if you can figure out how to do that. Unfortunately, they lump steam and hot water boilers together in their statistics.
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,214
    The number of boilers is very deceptive when looking at market share or the amount of steam or hot water heat that is out there. A single boiler can heat 35 to 40 units, while hot air furnaces can heat at most one unit. Also when looking at sales, it is also deceptive for this reason and the fact that a properly maintained basic boiler should last 30 to 35 years, a heavy duty commericial can see lives up to 100 years. The average life of a hot air furnace was reported by one of the big publications at about 7 to 10years, Of course the average steam boiler has been down to 14 years, but that is to be expected considering nearly all are installed incorrectly and most are poorly maintained. I would suspect that about 30% of the housing units are steam or hot water heated in most northern metropolitan areas, and probably over 50% to 60% in the central cities.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    BobCRomanGK_26986764589
  • jbo
    jbo Member Posts: 12
    @STEVEusaPA One of the articles @Fred linked to shows 3% as the installation rate of boilers compared to other heating means, maybe this is the same stat?

    @JUGHNE Unfortunately I'm not a wrench turner though I will be hands on occasionally. I'm currently looking at analytic options and work mostly behind the scenes.

    @Chris_L That was a perfect link for starting to look at this. I do lament the grouping of steam and water but it does break down fuel type and some geographic and climate information. Thank you!

    @The Steam Whisperer Life expectancy is something I am loath to dig into because it does differ so much, especially when installation becomes a factor. Looking at heating multi-unit buildings will be an interesting designation in whatever I conclude form this exercize.

    A big thank you to all for your input both here and on the Wall.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    @jbo, be careful in your interpretation of that 3% Installation rate. If it is truly a current "Installation Rate" that number is grossly skewed by the fact that, for the most part:
    - boilers are, for the most part, a replacement market as opposed to other heating options that are most popular (and cheaper) in today's housing market, both new and replacement.
    - Boilers have a typical life that is 2 to 3 times the life of a forced air unit so that rate is affected by the fact a FA unit is replace two to three times for every Boiler. That is different from the number of houses that heat with one or the other types.
    - I'm sure there are other factors as well.
    jbo
  • jbo
    jbo Member Posts: 12
    Chris_L said:

    The only survey I am aware of is the U.S. Department of Energy's periodic Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECs). You can see the latest summary results here: https://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/data/2015/#sh

    Below is a quick reference to the information from the link @Chris_L left earlier. Thought someone might find it interesting.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
    edited May 2017
    This is interesting, in my area (far northeast) I see much of the pre 1940 construction as being FHA and much of the post war construction as FHW with steam reserved only for large pre 1960 commercial/institutional buildings. I'd venture that 40+ of the post-war residential construction is hydronic. With the radiant craze of the late 1990s most new construction is hydronic. But we are heating 7months a year.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    jbo
  • k2kash
    k2kash Member Posts: 2
    What is the oldest operating boiler in a commercial facility
    jbo
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
    So, not really answering your question, but found this and thought it was interesting:

    "Denver’s district steam system is the oldest continuously operated commercial district heating system
    in the world."

    http://denverinfill.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Denvers-128-Year-Old-Steam-System.pdf

    Right in my backyard! Had no idea. I wonder who I would have to talk to to get a look at the plant......

    I remember watching a show and seeing something about a boiler that was running a steam engine for a factory in the UK that was supposedly the oldest continuously operating steam boiler in the world, but I can't remember where it was or what exactly it was doing, so my google skills are failing me.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • newagedawn
    newagedawn Member Posts: 586
    get a beckett or carlin burner book that will give you some idea of how many boilers there are and there are alot !!! and ill bet they missed afew,..lol
    "The bitter taste of a poor install lasts far longer than the JOY of the lowest price"