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Replacing steam oil boiler with gas

branimalbranimal Posts: 95Member
edited October 2018 in Gas Heating
I’m replacing an old oil steam boiler with a gas boiler. The oil boiler cracked (water spewing out the side) last winter after it was winterized by a boiler technician. Fortunately insurance is covering part of the damage.

I’ve gotten three quotes for the job.

The property is a 3 family, 3 floors + basement and each floor is about 1100 sq ft. 19.75’ x 55’. Attached house (house to the left and right). 3-4 windows in the front and the back on each floor.

I don’t know much about gas boilers …. and from what I’ve read this is not a DIY project at all, so i’m hiring pros.

All 3 quotes are for burnham boilers (independence). IN6 and the IN7. The btu range is as low as 175K and as high as 210k.

How do I know whats right for the space and the existing steam system I have in place?

One contractor (175K BTU) said installing a stainless steel chimney liner may not be necessary. They are going to clean the chimney I’ve read that dangerous gases can seep into the apartments if the chimney isn’t properly lined.

The 2nd contractor says he’ll clean the chimney… but as long as its in good shape, it doesn’t need a liner.

The 3rd contractor is installing a chimney liner.

Any advise on the process will be greatly appreciated.


  • Danny ScullyDanny Scully Posts: 1,220Member
    edited October 2018
    First piece of advice I can give you is that we don’t discuss pricing @branimal, so you’ll want to remove that text. Second piece of advise is, did any of the contractors measure the radiators? This is how you determine the appropriate steam boiler size. If none of them did, then award none of them the job. This is step 1.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 12,132Member
    There is only one way to size a steam boiler: go around the building and add up the EDR of all the radiators. Any other approach is doomed. If any of the folks you have talked to hasn't done that, they're out.

    We don't talk price here on the Wall, so it might be well to edit the prices out...

    Where are you? We may know a really good steam guy in your area to help you out.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • branimalbranimal Posts: 95Member
    edited October 2018
    I’m in brooklyn, NY

    No one measured the radiators but they all assumed they’d be a certain size.

    Ill measure the radiators today. There seem to be some spots where there should be a radiator but none present. Maybe the old owner took them??

    I’ll google EDR -thx.
    Anyone who did not measure radiators is an obvious amateur and should be shown the door. No if, ands or buts.
    Boiler needs to match the heat output of the radiators. No two ways about it.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 12,132Member
    Brooklyn? A number of good folks around -- check the "find a contractor" tab on this site.

    EDR is "Equivalent Direct Radiation" and is a measure of the surface area of the radiator...
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • delta Tdelta T Posts: 801Member
    Chimney liner depends on what you have already. Some masonry chimneys have clay tile liners that can work well as long as they are in good shape (this is up to the local code officail though, so you may want to check with them). If there is no liner, then you will have to install a flexible stainless steel liner. The reason for the liner is not so much about allowing carbon monoxide into the building, as it is about keeping the carbonic acids that form in the products of combustion from eating away at the lime in the mortar. If this goes unchecked for too long, the chimney will start to degrade and eventually fall apart. Because of the higher stack temperatures and the different combustion chemistry, this is not as much of a concern with oil boilers.

    Agree with all of the above, anyone who did not actually size up all the radiators, or who at least did not agree that before the boiler was ordered they would do so to finalize the price, needs to be shown the door.
  • branimalbranimal Posts: 95Member
    The most knowledgeable contractor (measured each radiator to come up with EDR number) recommended a Williamson boiler. (Its a Weil-McClain with a different shell). Every other contractor recommended a Burnham.

    The one issue I have with this contractor is he does not want to do the job with a permit. Most likely he doesn’t have a license to install boilers. He said National Grid (my gas provider) would not care if my gas bill jumped from $75 (water heater & stove) to $250 (water heater, stove, boiler). For ConEd that’s an automatic red flag. They will shut down the meter and report it to NYC Department of Buildings (NYCDOB). That would be a **** storm. This is not a risk I am willing to take. If for any reason National Grid changed their policies, I’d be up sh*t’s creek.

    I’ve got quotes from two licensed contractors that are within spitting distance of one another. Higher quotes, but they are filing permits. They said they will measure each radiator after I sign contracts and pay a deposit.

    I have 3-4 missing radiators in the building. I’m going to have the plumber replace them. Also is it worth replacing the air valves and control valves on each existing radiator?

    What boiler bells and whistles should I look into?
  • gfrbrooklinegfrbrookline Posts: 603Member
    I would never sign a contract and pay a deposit without knowing what boiler I am getting and that can only be determined properly by calculating the edr.

    As stated previously check "find a contractor" on this page, there are plenty of professionals that know what they are doing in Brooklyn.
  • SailahSailah Posts: 822Member
    I would start over with your quotes and have one of the pros on Heating Help get you straightened away. You are lucky that there are a number of excellent contractors right in your area. Guys who are willing to post pics of their installs for everyone else to critique.

    Your posts and thought process are just setting off alarm bells that you'll be back in 6 months with problems. No disrespect but that seems the common course when advice is not heeded by the folks here who are only interested in you having a great experience.

    I would post in Strictly Steam and see what folks say.
    Peter Owens
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,368Member
    edited October 2018
    How are they even giving a quote without knowing even close to what boiler size they need?

    This is speculation, but I doubt many that know would disagree with me. I would suggest the boiler size they have quoted is massively over sized for an 1100 sq ft house. For steam it is all about the radiation, but I can't imagine you having that much radiation in such a small house.

    If you want to figure the boiler size yourself, we can help with that as it's pretty straight forward. Measure the height and depth of each radiator and count how many sections each one has. Also post a picture of each one. With that information I'd be happy to calculate the EDR for you and let you know what size boiler you should have.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • branimalbranimal Posts: 95Member
    Following up on the replacement of oil boiler with gas boiler. Found a plumber with great ratings on google for heating systems. He’s replacing the boiler KIN-7 steam boiler. Obtaining all the permits, removing the oil boiler & 275 Gallon oil tank. Installing a new header, equalizer, hartford loop, automatic water feeder, low water cutoff, new thermostat.

    I’m getting a new meter for the gas boiler and the water heater.

    Making the system ready for split system fittings - in case i want to heat the basement.

    As far as the chimney liner is concerned… I’ve heard that NYC may require me to have a stainless steel liner, or may not. It depends on the inspector. The clay lining in my chimney is in decent shape. If the inspector deems a liner required I will have to file some form with the city which will cost $$$$. If the liner is in place, I can always say the previous owner had it installed.

    I went ahead and had a liner installed. The contractor connected it to the water heater (properly pitched), left a new connection for gas boiler and installed a cleanout. I needed a ovalized duct b/c my boiler requires a 7” diameter, but the flue is 6 1/5/16 x 11.

    The liner install seemed like a possible DIY job, but time is of the essence here with temps dropping.

    Thanks for the help guys.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 10,500Member
    KC_Jones said:

    branimal said:

    He’s replacing the boiler KIN-7 steam boiler.

    He's installing a Burnham IN-7 boiler, in an 1100 sq ft house? Are you positive he sized it correctly? That is a massive boiler for a house that size, as I stated in my previous comment.

    I only comment because this is an extremely common mistake made by a lot of contractors.
    To put things into perspective, I have a 1600sqft 150+ year old house with the equivalent of little more than a Burnham IN-4. And my radiation is grossly oversized for the house.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • wpmikewpmike Posts: 13Member
    The home is 1100 sq. ft per floor, or 3300 sq ft total.... if I read the OP post correctly.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,368Member
    opps...need to work on my reading comprehension.

    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • branimalbranimal Posts: 95Member
    The home is 1100 x 3 = 3300. Plus at some point I'd like some heat in the basement in case I duplex the 1st floor and basement. Common in Brooklyn renovations these days.
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Posts: 2,857Member
    > @branimal said:
    > I don’t know much about gas boilers …. and from what I’ve read this is not a DIY project at all, so i’m hiring pros.
    Why do I feel just a little insulted by that comment.

    I was reading how I could give myself a lobotomy but after the first page I realized I must've done it already.
  • info43info43 Posts: 50Member
    edited November 2018
    branimal said:

    I’m in brooklyn, NY

    No one measured the radiators but they all assumed they’d be a certain size.

    I'm Brooklyn, I have 37 radiators and they range from 14 to 30, the larger on the top floor where there the risers stop. oh and a 65 in the hallway.
  • branimalbranimal Posts: 95Member
    edited November 2018
    Boiler has been replaced with the Burnham KIN7. Installed a 7" ovalized stainless steel flue pipe.

    The electronic damper was defective so the plumber left it in "jumped" mode. The plumber will be replacing that soon.

    The building is nice and toasty. In fact the tenant is complaining it too hot in his bedroom after he's shut off radiators near his bedroom.

    I'm going to drop the temperature from 70 to 68.

    Thanks for the advice guys.

    @HVACNUT I didn't mean to insult. The main mechanic was a real pro.

  • JohnNYJohnNY Posts: 2,404Member
    That's a nice installation. I'm glad this worked out for you considering the train wreck that seemed inevitable in your first few posts.
    For installations, troubleshooting, and private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
    "72°F Mechanical, LLC"
    Or email John at [email protected]
    John is the Boilers and Hydronic Heating Systems Course Instructor at NYC's Mechanics Institute, a professional Master Plumber, licensed by The Department of Buildings of The City of New York, and works extensively in NYC while consulting for clients in and out of state.
    John also oversees mechanical installations and maintenance for metro-area clients with his family's company, Gateway Plumbing and Heating along with his brother/business partner.
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