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Does anyone still make non-digital Mechanical Home Propane Furnaces for central heating?

treysoucie
treysoucie Member Posts: 10
Im getting sick of dumping hundreds of dollars into our 4 year old rinnai combi furnace/hot water heater. we've only lived in this house for a few months and this Rinnai unit is nothing but problems. I'm on the verge of throwing it out the third floor window and buying an old school propane hot water/tank heater and finding the simplest mechanical/analog controlled furnace i can find. No more "high efficiency" appliances for me. This will be the last time we spend an entire week without home heating and hot water.

Comments

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,081
    Are you positive it's the unit and not a problem with the installation and/or contractor?

    See many threads on here of people complaining about equipment that ends up being an incorrect installation or a contractor that doesn't know what they are doing.

    What are the symptoms? Can you post pictures of the installation for the experts to look at?

    I am no expert, just responding to get the ball rolling so to speak.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 564
    Rinnai's modulating/ condensing combi boilers are excellent products...if installed well in the proper situation. You are using the word "furnace" and I am assuming you mean "boiler." Rinnai does make a gas-fired wall "furnace"--also excellent devices.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,449
    I too have had great success with practically all Rinnai products. Their combi boilers however are lacking IMHO. It is my opinion that most combi boilers are lacking, and Rinnai is not an exception.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    Henry
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 564
    I agree on the general combi boiler opinion EXCEPT for the Viessmann 222-F floorstanding model. It has a 26 gal. inboard tank AND a plate heat exchanger for DHW.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • treysoucie
    treysoucie Member Posts: 10
    The unit I have is a propane E110CP. It was installed at the end of 2013. so far we have dumped about 2k into it since we moved in 2 months ago. first we were getting issues with it not firing and it was spitting water, so the heating company replaced one of the valves. then it was doing the same thing starting a few days later. they then replaced the metal tank that sits below the unit. Now apparently the air vent at the top is dripping brown colored water onto the flow control valve and its blowing fuses and the pump needs to be replaced along with the air vent at top. the previous month before we moved in the last owners had dumped another 1500.00 or so replacing a bunch of internal parts. the worst part is that no one up here in southern maine has rinnai parts on had so we essentially have to wait days without hot water and house heat while the parts come in. The unit was installed by a highly rated and professional heating/plumbing company up here from the receipt i found when we moved in.

    I will get some pics taken but the taste is just too sour in my mouth. I never had these kind of problems with propane water tank heaters... Although I moved up here from Houston where there are no boilers installed in houses. i wouldnt be opposed to ripping out the entire baseboard heating system and just installing mini split ac/heat in the rooms. I still have a mitsubishi mini split i took with me from houston that had a hard life in a workshop. it still works flawlessly and ive never had to repair it.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,907
    First off here -- we never talk price. It's about the only rule we have...

    That said, however, the Rinnai is a perfectly good unit. Your description of what is happening to it, however, sounds very much as though whoever you have working on it has, at best, a somewhat shaky appreciation of how it should work and be maintained and adjusted. Just like a modern car, or any number of other modern widgets, they work splendidly when they are treated right, and miserably or not at all when they aren't.

    Have you contacted Rinnai directly to see who might be certified to service units in your area?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    CanuckerSolid_Fuel_Man
  • treysoucie
    treysoucie Member Posts: 10
    edited November 2017
    I have been using Rymes propane to work on it. I had assumed they were rinnai certified but now looking back at how he diagnosed the problem i seem to be incorrect (unless they did diagnose the problem correctly).... they are not showing up on Rinnai's website as a trained dealer/comfort expert... the last time they were out the unit was completely dead. no power at the lcd screen. he essentially unplugged everything in the unit, put in new fuses then plugged things in one at a time until the fuse popped again. thats when he diagnosed the issue as being the grundfos pump. i dont think he even put a multimeter to it... These are not the guys who originally installed the unit back in 2013. I looked up the installer and they are indeed listed as certified Rinnai dealers. i'm not sure why the switch was ever made but the damage is done and I have an extremely sour taste in my mouth with this high efficiency unit.

    after doing more digging on Rinnai boilers... https://www.furnacecompare.com/water-heaters/rinnai/reviews/
    I dont plan to sink anymore money into this unit. the next time it misbehaves (probably a week after fixing this pump based on how things have been going) i will bypass the unit with a new hot water tank and as soon as i have money saved up i will scrap this Rinnai and put in a new boiler.

    anyways back to the original topic. I'm hoping to find the simplest most reliable mechanical or analog NON-high efficiency boiler that I can. Is there a unit that can be recommended that close to what im looking for? Maybe a Buderus since all to the techs up here usually carry the parts in their trucks. As for hot water I plan on picking up a standard 50 gallon propane hot water tank unit.
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 489
    efm-heating.com is one boiler brand you should look at that can also make hot water up to 7 GPM with an internal heat exchanger coil
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,907
    Well, your choice. But your problem isn't the Rinnai. It's the people working on it who don't know how.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Canucker
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,081
    You should also keep in mind even with a simpler boiler you could still have problems like you are having due to improper installation.

    Changing the brand/style doesn't eliminate these possibilities.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    MilanDCanuckerdelta T
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 995
    It sounds like an installation and service problem even though we stopped installing combo units here in 2006. The combo units here are a headache to the utility that promoted them for condos. In colder climates, the only one that seem to work are HTP. They don't use far East components except for some heat exchangers and are built in New England.
  • treysoucie
    treysoucie Member Posts: 10
    New grundfos pump and Taco air vent installed and it was working for about an hour then the heat stopped working again... went down and was getting an E115 code... (replace control board)... I'm done. I already bypassed the hot water with an electric water heater. next is to rip this boiler out and put in something less "digital".


    Does anyone know much about the slant/fin Sentry boilers? Ive read good reviews on them. Are they reliable? from what i've read on review sites basically anything to do with boilers is unreliable and up here the heat and plumbing guys charge a fortune for service which is tempting me to scrap the whole baseboard heating system and just get a mini split heat pump for each room and be done with it.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,907
    Perhaps a silly question, but how clean is your electric power? It doesn't take much of a spike to burn out most electronics, and I wonder if that might not be part of your problem.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • treysoucie
    treysoucie Member Posts: 10

    Perhaps a silly question, but how clean is your electric power? It doesn't take much of a spike to burn out most electronics, and I wonder if that might not be part of your problem.

    Actually we think that's a problem here. we lose power about twice a month and a few weeks ago we were out of power for about a week after a wind storm hit us here in southern maine.

    Rymes Propane seemed to think it was a coincidence because the Taco air vent was leaking water onto the grundfos pump electrical housing. I have since installed a whole house surge protector and when we get our new boiler i will try to install a surge protector at the boiler itself. This is another reason im looking for something that doesnt operate with a digital control board.

    What is the consensus on a Slant-Fin direct vent gas boiler? I dont care about the efficiency only its reliability and least amount of digital or microprocessors controlling it.
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 489
    Just so you know,

    its very easy to just not install the digital controls(which as a homeowner I absolutely hate) on a replacement boiler and just set them aside and install honeywell mechanical controls as they are still available-I bought 2 sets and have one set as a spare triple aquaststat with the rest of my spare parts horde.
  • treysoucie
    treysoucie Member Posts: 10
    will the Bosch Greenstar or other wall mount direct vent condensing units work without the digital controls?
  • Leon82
    Leon82 Member Posts: 684
    > @treysoucie said:
    > will the Bosch Greenstar or other wall mount direct vent condensing units work without the digital controls?

    No.
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,985
    You say southern Maine. What town? I'm nearby. from the description ounds like you have something else going on.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,987
    My old man used to say "buy a Ford or a Chevy you can get em fixed at the corner garage" It is something to think about.

    The new electronics and mod con boiler work like a dream. But, the cost of parts and longevity.........still up for debate. Compare a mod con to a new conventional boiler:

    difference in cost of equipment
    installation cost
    longevity
    parts cost and availability
    fuel savings

    I am not for one or another. They both have their place.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • treysoucie
    treysoucie Member Posts: 10
    I only drive toyota's and honda's now days. they rarely break but if they do It can still easily be fixed at the corner garage.

    If i do a conventional boiler with mechanical controls will the installation cost be higher? Seeing as right now the Rinnai has a plastic exhaust tube, would a conventinal boiler need a full blown chimney or something to be installed?

    My old man used to say "buy a Ford or a Chevy you can get em fixed at the corner garage" It is something to think about.

    The new electronics and mod con boiler work like a dream. But, the cost of parts and longevity.........still up for debate. Compare a mod con to a new conventional boiler:

    difference in cost of equipment
    installation cost
    longevity
    parts cost and availability
    fuel savings

    I am not for one or another. They both have their place.

  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 489
    If you do a floor mounted gas boiler you may be able to use a power venter if the boiler builder allows that as an installation option to vent the flue gasses, but in saying that you may not need a power venter and just a stainless steel chimney with a rain cap to get rid of the flue gasses if you can place the floor mounted boiler near the wall.

    You may end up with a conventional boiler with digital controls but you can still buy mechanical controls and a separate low water cut off that will work. I got rid of my hydrostat 3250 plus controls after the second failure and I am glad I did as I have a simple Honeywell L8124L1011 triple aquastat boiler control, a Honeywell L6006A to control the circulator to activate it for the dump zone and a McDonnel & Miller RB-122-E low water cut off that is wired as the first control before the triple aquastat to kill the power in the event of a low water condition.

    I bought many spare parts so I have them as a back up but the last honeywell triple aquastat I bought with the new oil boiler in 1988 lasted me 27 years so I may not need to replace it.

    The mechanical boiler controls for boilers with steam chests are very reliable. You may just need to buy a very small gas boiler the size of a typing table to heat your home and heat your hot water with a domestic hot water coil in the steam chest. The domestic hot water coil is fully submerged in the steam chest of the boiler and they will last a very long time before they need to be cleaned with vinegar or replaced due to mineral build ups.







  • treysoucie
    treysoucie Member Posts: 10
    Thanks for the info! We managed to get a Rinnai Tech on the phone with a new heating/plumbing company this weekend. stepped us through about 40 different variables, settings and trouble shooting maneuvers. he is making a trip out next week and he got the Rinnai functioning with a jumper for now. it looks like out exhaust gas is getting sucked in to the fresh air intake. The Rinnai tech offered to replace any parts that may be broken for free we will just have to pay labor. too bad we didnt look at this route before sinking a small fortune on it with our previous service company just throwing parts at it.
  • FranklinD
    FranklinD Member Posts: 399
    As has been said on this board time and time again, the installer is the most important part of any new equipment installation. Trust me, there are companies out there that can totally screw up a “non-electronic” boiler or furnace installation too.

    My boiler has an electronic control board (as do most of our appliances)...the only time we’ve had one replaced was due to shipping damage on our new oven/range. Hard to get away from these days in one form or another.
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
    Lover of Old Homes & Gravity Hot Water Systems
  • treysoucie
    treysoucie Member Posts: 10
    Well to be more specific, this was only causing our BL81 error only. The Grundfos pump and condensate tank failure thus far have not been explained. The tech seemed to think our heating company was merely throwing parts at the unit not diagnosing with Rinnai on the phone as they should have. Needless to say I am no longer using them for service, they were not that ones that originally installed the unit and the tech that came out said everything looked installed properly...