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Boiler Recommendation - Propane

jkmola Member Posts: 4
Been through two boilers in the 18 years I've owned my house. Both times the cast iron basically rusted out and began leaking. I have well water with a high salt content. Last two years i've tried heating solely with a wood burning insert, but when its cold out (-6 last nite here in MI) it just can't keep up. Besides that, I can't be away for longer than about 10-12 hrs to refill the insert.

So now I'm thinking of replacing the boiler again. There is no NG available where I live - only propane. I would use that to maintain a minimum heat of say 55-60 and use the insert to make things "comfortable", and also to enable me to venture away from home for weekends or such and not worry about things freezing up.

My house is two story with basement built in 76. All three floors are roughly 1300 sq/ft, total 3900 sq/ft. Three zones, with baseboards. I have been reading around on this site a lot, and I've learned the most important thing is finding a good contractor. However, if I know of a couple really good mfr's and models, I can look to those contractors that handle that brand. For instance, there is only one dealer that handles Veissmann, and he's 3 hrs away. The big two in this area are slant fin and weil mclain. The last one I had is a slant fin, lasted maybe 7 years.

Anyway, just trying to narrow down my hunt for a good brand/installer and get something that will last me more than a handful of yrs.


  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 21,874
    Something else might be going on, cast iron boilers sized and installed properly often last 20 years or more.

    It needs to be a leak free system, filled once with good water, maybe add some conditioner chemicals.

    Over sizing a boiler can lead to short in-efficient run cycles, make sure the installer does an accurate load calculation to size the boiler.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • jkmola
    jkmola Member Posts: 4
    I suspect as much, and that the installer maybe was the main culprit. That's why may main emphasis for this install is on the contractor. However, since I have to buy another new unit, thought I would maximize my purchase with selecting a quality brand. In the event the installer does not voluntarily do a load calculation, I'll insist on it.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,947
    Both SlantFin and Weil McClain are good makes, and last as long and run as well as most others.

    As has been said -- do the load calculations!

    Also, as @hot rod said, something else may be going on: poor water quality can ruin a boiler -- or the piping -- in remarkably short order. Make sure the system really is leak free (although obviously you have to have a safety and perhaps a fill for when it does leak...) and then fill it with good quality water -- not your high salt content well water -- with perhaps some conditioner and anti-corrosion treatment. You can get bottled water (it doesn't have to be distilled) at the supermarket, and it's cheap insurance.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,344
    I got nothing to add @hot rod & @Jamie Hall have given you good advise.
  • jkmola
    jkmola Member Posts: 4
    Thanks all. Did a lot of research and digging last nite. I think I found the first installer I'm gonna talk to and get an estimate. Turns out he is literally 5-7 min from me. Seems to have all the accreditations and certifications, and favorable reviews. It appears from his website his boiler of choice is Lochinvar, which I hadn't heard of til last nite but did a little reading there as well. I'm gonna get with him after the holiday weekend, see what he has to say. Thanks again
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
    Lochinvar is a good boiler and is my go to for most jobs. I will say however that considerations should be made on the type of system that you have, what water temperatures can be expected, and whether or not a condensing boiler is worth the expense. Fin tube baseboard is often not a good match with a condensing boiler, though that is not always the case, a heat loss and radiation survey are necessary to answer that questions.
    Lochinvar does make non condensing fin tube boilers as well, but this will not be as long lasting as a cast iron boiler.

    I think that whatever you do, you need to have the water quality issue addressed.

    I Also second everything that has been said above. Any leaks (however small and seemingly insignificant) need to be fixed, your initial fill and purge of the system should be done with clean good quality water, and the sizing and installation of the boiler need to be correct. Theses are far more important than the brand of boiler that you choose.
  • jkmola
    jkmola Member Posts: 4
    Thank you. I'll make sure that the water issue is discussed thoroughly, and what the plan is to address that issue. I'll probably print this thread out and have it in front of me when I talk to the installer(s).