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New Boiler vs. Gas Gun Conversion ?

hieoctane
hieoctane Member Posts: 5
Looking for some honest opinions! I currently have a Weil-Mclain oil boiler that is 22 years old and I'm in the process of getting quotes for gas conversion. I've read a lot about how the typical boiler can last from 15-20 years and have gotten quotes for both a new boiler/hot water system and for just a gas gun conversion (Carlin EZ Gas Pro), one being from my current oil supplier.

Setting aside efficiency for a second, what do you guys think? There's obviously a big difference in cost, but do you think I'd be able to manage with this boiler for another couple years with a gas gun conversion on it?

Comments

  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,194
    Is the WM a 68 series (blue) or the GO (gold)?
    What else (besides the gas piping) is the contractor offering, safety and prep. wise for the conversion burner?
    Chimney liner?
    What are your plans for domestic hot water?
    Is there a sticker with a code starting "CP- - - -" on the boiler jacket?
    That's the serial number. You can check with WM to see if the block is still under warranty. That might sway your decision.
    You say "efficiency aside", but if your thinking modcon, then efficiency plays a big part, as long as its installed and set up correctly of course.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,837
    When you say-
    hieoctane said:

    a new boiler/hot water system

    do you mean the boiler also supplies your hot faucet water?

    If so- is the heat distributed to the radiators by hot water or steam?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • hieoctane
    hieoctane Member Posts: 5
    > @HVACNUT said:
    > Is the WM a 68 series (blue) or the GO (gold)?
    > What else (besides the gas piping) is the contractor offering, safety and prep. wise for the conversion burner?
    > Chimney liner?
    > What are your plans for domestic hot water?
    > Is there a sticker with a code starting "CP- - - -" on the boiler jacket?
    > That's the serial number. You can check with WM to see if the block is still under warranty. That might sway your decision.
    > You say "efficiency aside", but if your thinking modcon, then efficiency plays a big part, as long as its installed and set up correctly of course.

    It's a WM Gold. The entire quote consists of a new conversion burner, new draft damper, flue pipe, spill switch, and necessary gas piping, chimney liner if necessary, and oil tank removal. Hot water would heat as usual through the coil in the boiler on demand. What do you thoughts?
  • hieoctane
    hieoctane Member Posts: 5
    > @Steamhead said:
    > When you say- a new boiler/hot water system
    >
    > do you mean the boiler also supplies your hot faucet water?
    >
    > If so- is the heat distributed to the radiators by hot water or steam?

    I actually meant a hot water heater tank (sorry for not clarifying that!) Right now heat is distributed through hot water through baseboards.

    I guess my biggest concern is, the boiler is 22 years old. How many years would I likely get out of it, and would it make sense to put money into it if it breaks down in a couple years?
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,306
    edited September 2018
    You're taking an old oil boiler with an overall system efficiency of about 60%, and spending all that money to get an old gas boiler with basically the same efficiency.
    I'd factor in the efficiency gain and savings of using a properly sized (from a heat loss) modern, efficient boiler (mod-con for gas, EK for oil or gas) to make the final decision.
    If you're venting thru the wall, you don't need the liner. You still need the gas line for gas. So a new modern efficient boiler, oil or gas (to me) is the better overall solution.
    steve
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,837
    We've converted a bunch of W-M Gold boilers. They run very well with EZ-Gas burners, and seem to hold up well.

    But, I agree with @STEVEusaPA 's point that if the boiler is oversized, you'll lose efficiency. Do a heat-loss calculation on your house and see what it actually needs, and get back to us.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    hieoctane
  • hieoctane
    hieoctane Member Posts: 5
    > @STEVEusaPA said:
    > You're taking an old oil boiler with an overall system efficiency of about 60%, and spending all that money to get an old gas boiler with basically the same efficiency.
    > I'd factor in the efficiency gain and savings of using a properly sized (from a heat loss) modern, efficient boiler (mod-con for gas, EK for oil or gas) to make the final decision.
    > If you're venting thru the wall, you don't need the liner. You still need the gas line for gas. So a new modern efficient boiler, oil or gas (to me) is the better overall solution.


    What do you mean by “an old gas boiler”? The option is between keeping my old oil boiler and converting it or getting a new gas boiler and hot water heater. Heat loss analysis was done by the companies who gave me quotes and they determined that a gas boiler would either be Thermoflo GWA105N1 or WM CGA4PIDN depending on how much i want to spend.

    Again, my biggest concern is, the oil boiler is 22 years old. How many years would I likely get out of it, and would it make sense to put money into it if it breaks down in a couple years?
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,194
    You throw me 3 pros for each boiler and I'll throw back 3 cons for each.
    If it were me, (my Gold is a '96) I'd do the conversion. But you should nix the tankless coil and pipe in an indirect.
    You'll probably lose efficiency going with a atmospheric gas boiler over a power burner.
    If I had the want to convert to gas and replace everything, I'd install a mod con.
    But it's not me because fuel oil pumps through my heart.
    @STEVEusaPA mentioned the Energy Kinetics EK. The Frontier, or the Resolute. Both can be fired with an oil or gas burner, and easily swappable.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,306
    edited September 2018
    I never said the words "an old gas boiler". But yes when you convert it, you will have an old boiler...with a new gas gun.

    No one can tell you how long the existing one will last. People here will tell you they've seen them rot out in 8 years, and seen them last 40 years.

    Like I said earlier, and agreeing with @Steamhead's comments, I'm sure it will run fine. But will it be efficient?
    If you existing boiler is oversized, you won't save any money operating it.
    If you're entire system isn't piped properly, and have all the right components in good working order, you'll lose system efficiency there and increase frustration.

    What makes sense to me is a new boiler that does both, heat & domestic-with an indirect tank for storage. Considering most experts predict rising gas prices, and they never go down, I'd stick with oil and an EK (all can convert to gas), with efficiencies up to 90%, or a 3 pass oil boiler, with efficiencies in the high 80's.
    Upgrade the components, fix any piping issues.

    To me it's like putting a new engine into a fairly old car. After spending the money on the engine, might as well do the transmission. After spending money on the tranny, might as well do a front end alignment, new tires. Ahhhhhhh let's get the body work done and paint it.

    It'll never be a new modern car, and what you're doing will never be a new, modern, efficient boiler & heating system. Modern boiler may not need the chimney lined (direct vent).

    Your first post you asked "...do you think I'd be able to manage with this boiler for another couple years with a gas gun conversion on it?..."
    Probably.
    Then you last post you ask "...and would it make sense to put money into it if it breaks down in a couple years?..."
    Depends on how much money you want to keep throwing at it. It could run for many years. It could crap out and you could get another block or section. Like my car analogy, it could technically run forever, but at what cost?

    Btw, you did ask for honest opinions...
    steve
    Canucker
  • hieoctane
    hieoctane Member Posts: 5
    Thanks Steve, just as a note you did say “an old gas boiler”. Did you mean an old oil boiler?

    "You're taking an old oil boiler with an overall system efficiency of about 60%, and spending all that money to get an old gas boiler with basically the same efficiency."

    And you're right, I did ask for honest opinions which you guys provided - really do appreciate it. Will take all of this into consideration.
    STEVEusaPA
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 928
    You have a 22 year old W/M oil boiler. You could get another 5 to 10 years on the oil boiler you have in now or it could leak in 6 months.
    How old is your oil tank? Is the oil tank 22 years old or does the oil tank need to be replaced. You could stay oil and put an indirect water heater on your old boiler and when your current boiler fails look at installing a Trio oil boiler that fires with oil and if in the future you want to go to natural gas or LP gas you can put an gas conversion burner on the Trio boiler and not loose your warranty because the Trio boiler is approved for oil, natural gas or LP gas.
    Are you going to natural gas or LP gas?
    If going to natural gas does your local gas utility or state offer any rebates for high efficiency natural gas boilers? If so look at an condensing combi boiler or condensing boiler only?
    The money you are putting into having a gas conversion burner installed could be put into an new gas boiler cast iron 85% AFUE or W/M GV90 boiler 90% AFUE or condensing boiler 95% AFUE. All three of these boiler can be sidewall venting thus no chimney liner needed. If you can not vent sidewall the GV90 and condensing boiler can be vented up the old chimney using polypropylene vent kit.
    There are many options you need a good professional heating contractor that can go over all of your options and bid the different systems.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,306
    hieoctane said:


    "You're taking an old oil boiler with an overall system efficiency of about 60%, and spending all that money to get an old gas boiler with basically the same efficiency.

    You're right. I read it 3x and missed it.

    steve
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 1,775
    Seems like most conversion burner work fine , then some are just nightmares ... Maybe moisture and sensors
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all