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New gas steam boiler or HVAC? Old house

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JustinDavid86
JustinDavid86 Member Posts: 8
edited November 2017 in THE MAIN WALL
House is built in 1928. Boiler is from 1974 and is on its last leg and we're just going to go ahead and replace it (*Edit: We were told by a plumber that it's leaking and has been patched a bunch and can fail at any time). Natural gas. Steam. Radiators. We tested the old boiler and there is next to zero noise, which is a far cry from most old radiators (though they have been updated within the last 30-40 years, I think). And this was also the first time it was run in 7 months. So I'm pretty confident that the system is in decent shape.

Now, my friend, who is our contractor for the few projects we are doing before moving in, suggested I look into HVAC if I'm already spending a significant amount on a new boiler. My first quote was for HVAC was almost double a boiler cost (2 zones, as we have a finished attic). I'm getting more estimates, but I assume they're all close, and I just can't really afford that right now. Unless it really is the end-all-be-all smartest answer. Which I know there is never a "clear" answer in these cases.

The HVAC guy also suggested ductless. He said the heating system would suffice for us (New Jersey), yet suggested a boiler replacement for a backup. The point of it was to remove the radiators, so doing both just doesn't seem to make sense to me. But maybe it does?

Any thoughts? Anything else I need to add to help come to a conclusion? Thanks guys!

Comments

  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,159
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    Why waste your hard earned money and throw out a perfectly good steam boiler and steam radiators if you can have one or two window or wall mounted air conditioners for your cooling load??????

    I would do a couple of window and wall mounted units long before I spent that kind of money when you have a good steam boiler and steam radiators.

    Save your money!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep what you have and add a window air conditioner or two to cool the home and add a wall unit later if needed.
    JustinDavid86
  • JustinDavid86
    JustinDavid86 Member Posts: 8
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    Thanks for the quick response. I should have written that we were told by a plumber that the boiler is leaking and has been patched a bunch and can fail at any time. So it seems like the boiler needs to be replaced regardless.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,742
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    We don't discuss pricing on this website so please edit your post to remove that information.

    To be honest, the recommendation to tear out the steam isn't using comfort as a criteria, so you have to decide if comfort is important to you. Your friend isn't doing you a favor with that suggestion (IMHO).

    What makes you think it is on it's last leg?

    I see you are in NJ, I would suggest getting a good steam contractor in to give you an honest opinion.

    @EzzyT @Dave0176 are both fantastic with steam, let them take a look and tell you what is going on.

    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • JustinDavid86
    JustinDavid86 Member Posts: 8
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    Thanks for that response. I removed all $ mentions. Sorry about that.

    I agree that steam heat (have had it most of the life) is extremely comfortable.

    I have had trouble find a steam contractor. Just qualified plumbers. Unless that's one and the same.

    The reason I believe it's on its last leg is because I was told it has an irreparable leak underneath, has been patched before, is from 1974, and seems to have marks on the outside (black discoloration) from something not being satisfactory.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,742
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    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • EzzyT
    EzzyT Member Posts: 1,296
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    @JustinDavid86 sent me a private message and we can discuss on what you have going on
    E-Travis Mechanical LLC
    Etravismechanical@gmail.com
    201-887-8856
    KC_Jones
  • JustinDavid86
    JustinDavid86 Member Posts: 8
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    Great to know! I haven't come across them/they don't have any reviews or ratings, so that's why I guess. Thank you again.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,742
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    Great to know! I haven't come across them/they don't have any reviews or ratings, so that's why I guess. Thank you again.

    Here's a review for them, don't call anyone else....seriously.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    JustinDavid86Canucker
  • JustinDavid86
    JustinDavid86 Member Posts: 8
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    Hahaha. Great to hear!
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 660
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    Your plumber could very well be correct in that the boiler is on its last leg. It is after all more than 40 years old. You could qualify for a rebate on a replacement. State by state, worth looking into. That said, your boiler is only one component of your system. Have the boiler replaced if needed and keep the system. With some fine tuning you'll be glad you did and you'll save some money. After all you mentioned it worked quietly when you fired it up, That's often half the battle. My two cents. Keep us posted.
    Miss Hall's School service mechanic, greenhouse manager,teacher and dog walker
    JustinDavid86
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    I wouldn't give up the steam for any FA system. I kept mine and installed two FA systems to provide Central air. One,in the basement is zoned for the first floor, the other is on the third floor, in a storage area and does the second and third floors. The price difference between air handlers and FA furnaces was insignificant so I went with the furnaces/central air systems, thinking I'd have the temporary heat if the boiler died in the dead of winter. Over the last 26 years, I've had to use the furnaces for a total of about 3 days but it's there if needed.Keep the Steam and call @EzzyT or @Dave0176 as @KC_Jones said. They are two of the best! You can add the air anytime.
  • EzzyT
    EzzyT Member Posts: 1,296
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    I spoke to homeowner earlier today and I’ll be doing a system analysis next week.
    E-Travis Mechanical LLC
    Etravismechanical@gmail.com
    201-887-8856
  • Dave0176
    Dave0176 Member Posts: 1,177
    edited November 2017
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    When it comes to heating where we’re from plumbers don’t seem to be the best choice anymore for steam unless your dealing with hot water.
    DL Mechanical LLC Heating, Cooling and Plumbing 732-266-5386
    NJ Master HVACR Lic# 4630
    Specializing in Steam Heating, Serving the residents of New Jersey
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/dl-mechanical-llc

    https://m.facebook.com/DL-Mechanical-LLC-315309995326627/?ref=content_filter

    I cannot force people to spend money, I can only suggest how to spend it wisely.......
  • mikeg2015
    mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,194
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    If your looking toned central AC, you could do
    What I did and install her pumps sized for cooling requirements. Then you’ll have efficient heat and capacity down to 35-40f using het pumps only if sized right... smaller is better for cooling... then in both boiler and heat pump as it fall behind, then boiler only in very cold weather. Install backup heat strips but disable at the breaker or use only for defrost.

    Use an outdoor sensor and a Honeywell visionpro to control the staging and balance points using outside temp.

    Advantage is heat pumps make about 30-50% more heat per $ than stem boiler above 30f and you won’t short cycle or overshoot. They will run nice long and even.

    Do not oversize AC. It will cost more to operate , install, noisier, drafty, bigger ducts, uneven cooling and poor humidity removal. Probably 90% of ac systems in and the US are oversized. Half that are sized right are by pure luck.
  • CKNJ
    CKNJ Member Posts: 57
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    My 2 cents. Also live in NJ and have steam for heat (I would never give it up) and the house was retrofitted with Central air with the air handler in the attic by previous owner. Both systems work great. I have the best of both worlds.