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Boiler replacement timing

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Our oil burning boiler is leaking a small amount each time it fires. It's well beyond it's rated life so we will replace it. We'd like to convert to gas but it could be 8 weeks or more for the gas company to install a larger meter (there's already gas line in the house for water heater and a separate forced air system for a portion of the house.

Option one is to immediately install an oil boiler that can be converted to gas burning at a later date, but with whatever efficiency results from that approach.

Option two is go to a high efficiency gas boiler but hope the current one can limp along for a couple months while we wait for the gas company. Because part of the house is heated from a different system, I'd be willing to take that risk if the worst case is just that the boiler stops working. But is there a realistic risk of a more catastrophic and damaging failure mode, such as an explosion, major leak leading to flooding, fire, etc?

Basically, how urgent should I consider a moderately leaking boiler to be? It's been leaking this way for several weeks but we hadn't noticed because we get some water in from rain too in the same area so we misidentified it.

Thanks in advance for any guidance.

nystateofmind

Comments

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    Leaking what, oil or water? I'm going to assume it's water. It depends on where/how much, what the damage looks like. It could let go and flood. It could run out of water, dry fire and crack. It's up to you to roll the dice.
    An Energy Kinetics oil boiler is rated up to 90% efficient. You're not going to do much better with gas, especially when you factor in the cost of running gas to your home. Plus you can convert them to gas...why wait?
    http://energykinetics.com/productoverview/

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  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    If this is a steam system, then why not overfill the boiler up into the pipes, and determine if the leak is from the sections of the boiler, or from a leaking return pipe. If a pipe is leaking, then it can be repaired.
    If the area is damp from rain, then that can cause premature failure of the new boiler.
    What size gas line comes into the house now? If all they have to do is install a larger meter, then they might give you a rush job for an emergency such as yours.
    Don’t assume that your present boiler is properly sized for the EDR of your system. Do a search here for the procedure for this.
    Some pictures of your present boiler and it’s piping would enable us to see how the new one should be piped in so as to follow the boiler instructions.—NBC
  • Leon82
    Leon82 Member Posts: 684
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    There are boilers which will let you limit the firing rate untill you can upgrade the gas piping
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,427
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    Are you located in NY? And if so, where?
  • nystateofmind
    nystateofmind Member Posts: 14
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    Didn't expect such fast responses - thank you! Leaking water, I'll post a couple pictures when I get home. I'm in Westchester County. It's not a steam system. I will ask about getting emergency turnaround from gas company. Low on phone battery, more later...
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,622
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    Roll the dice.

    Buy the gas fired boiler and have it installed right next to the existing boiler right now (if you have room).

    Chance are good your old boiler will last 8 weeks.

    You can always connect it to your existing gas line if your oil boiler fails before the meter is installed. Just don't run your other gas appliances and shut the new boiler off if you run the other appliances
  • nystateofmind
    nystateofmind Member Posts: 14
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    Here are a couple pictures for reference:




    The leak is not coming from pipes, you can see it dripping from below the boiler shell (live, not in the pic). It's been leaking more as we've been cranking the heat up, but only about what you see in the picture so far. As it gets colder it will only get worse of course.

    If it's just an inconvenience (no heat until gas is up and running), I'll roll the dice. If something might catch fire or explode or cause the basement to flood (there is a sump pump), then I don't want to risk it.

    In any event, I will see about ways to get a gas boiler up and running sooner but if that doesn't pan out I want to make an informed decision.

    Thanks,
    nystateofmind
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
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    Has a heat loss calculation been done to determine how much heat you need from the new boiler? If you don't need lots of BTUs, you may be able to use the existing gas line from the water heater for the new boiler, and run an indirect water heat off the new boiler instead of a traditional water heater.
    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
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    Boy that's a wasteful way to make heat. 3 huge pumps, and a boiler that maintains hi limit temp.
    I sure hope you have a hydronics professional doing a full redesign.
    Oil or gas, properly designed, installed, you'll save alot of money on your heating bill.

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