Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Boiler Replacement/Fix

Badbisco
Badbisco Member Posts: 16
Hi,

My boiler started leaking water a few days ago, and after reading all the helpful posts I thought I'd post to get all of your educated thoughts. I also seem to have a unique boiler and thought everyone would be interested to see it. My heating guy has indicated that there is no likely ST fix to get through the winter and has started calculating what the new system should be.

House
- 1820's Federal with approx. 1/3 un-insulated. 1/3 w/ 1920s insulation, and 1/3 w/ 1960's insulation
- Windows are single pane with exterior and interior storms
- Around 4,000 sq feet
- Separate Propane instant HW heater
- Existing HW heating
- 49 ft Baseray Cast Iron Baseboard (370 BTU/hr/Linear ft)
- 35 ft Baseray Cast Iron Radiant Radiators (Inset, 187 sq ft at 240 BTU/Hr/Sq ft)
- 10.5 ft Classic Cast Iron Radiators (3 ft tall x 9 inches wide)
- 5 ft Smaller Classic Cast Iron Radiators (2 ft tall x 9 inches wide)
- Tiny Classic Cast iron Radiator (1.5 ft tall x 4 inches wide)

Current Oil Boiler
- H.B. Smith 2500A/2500L Smith Mills
- Estimated circa 1960's
- Approx. 3 ftx 3ft x 4 ft tall
- Previously told that half is filled with bricks due to it being over sized, see pictures
- Believe it's a universal pump/circulation
- 10 Taco zone valves for diff rooms, each feeding off main HW feed
- Believe it has an outside therm to adjust water temp
- Exhausts through existing chimney
- Dampness around base a week ago is now expanding and small trickle can be seen coming out of corrosion near base

Questions
- Why is my boiler so big? Ha
- Heating guy indicated that we have such a high thermal mass of radiators/baseboards, that a a lower water temp system would work well, agree?
- Unfortunately, was not able to Nat gas hooked up yet, was just run down my street. So it looks like we are stuck getting an oil unit so we have heat this winter. Any brands/models best if need oil now but would like to switch to nat gas soon?
- Any possible fixes to get us through the winter so we can just fully replace with a Nat gas unit?
- Main concern is getting the most reliable brand/model that is most likely to run for years w/o problems, less concerned with squeezing out a few extra % of efficiency. Saying that, any recommendations for most reliable brands, even if they require a larger initial outlay? Understand that installation/maintenance is most important factor, but would like to know people's opinions on most bulletproof option if willing to sacrifice "new school" improvements for the best reliability.

Thanks for taking a look and appreciate any guidance you all have. Will likely have a recommendation from my guy in a few days and would like to run it by you all when I get it.








Comments

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,010
    Size of house and square footage baseboard lengths are good information but what you need is a accurate heal loss of your house. You contractor should do this but you can do it if you want to.

    Regardless of what anyone tells you it is the only way to size your boiler
    Badbisco
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,689
    You could put in a properly sized Energy Kinetics, then switch it to a gas gun.
    You may want to do an analysis of new oil vs. gas. May not be a huge savings.
    Also, where are you located? I may have to come get that old Carlin Burner off of you before you toss it in the trash.
    steve
    BadbiscoSuperTech
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Thanks, I’m in southern Maine
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,868
    edited November 2018
    You could also put in a gas boiler that's setup on propane and then convert it back to natural when that's available. Usually, two or three 100 gal propane bottles can easily be setup for temporary use. Converting from natural to propane and back is very simple on most all mod/con boilers.

    Steve's right about the operating cost of oil vs. propane. Around here, natural is about 1/2 the cost of either. You need to check the fuel cost per therm for your area as prices can vary a lot from one area to another.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    Badbisco
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Thanks ironman. We already have a 100 gal propane tank for HW, stove, and fireplaces. Maybe that would be easy given the existing lines.

    Will check the $/therm for gas/oil here. Like the monthly billing for gas vs me ordering manually to save 30 cents a gallon on oil. Given I work in finance, exposed to the volatility of oil prices daily, may be biasing me against staying with oil.
  • brnrman1
    brnrman1 Member Posts: 30
    Badbisco,
    Contact the folks at P. Gagnon and Son, So. Berwick they are a Premier Energy Kinetics dealer they will help you with system sizing and replacement and you will cut up to 40% off your fuel bill with the System 2000.

    Roger Mitchell
    "Mitch"
    Energy Kinetics
    51 Molasses Hil RD
    Lebanon NJ
    800-323-2066
    "Mitch"
    Roger Mitchell
    Senior Technical Representative
    Energy Kinetics
    Erin Holohan HaskellBadbisco
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Thanks Mitch. Think EK is one of the frontrunners.
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,792
    First thing I thought while reading your post was that I would recommend an Energy Kinetics boiler. I'm confident that you will be quite pleased with their boilers
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Update

    Walked through the house this morning with my HVAC guy as well as someone who appeared to be from the wholesale heating supply company FW Webb. I am waiting for them to do the full calculations on my radiators and provide their full recommendation for boiler and size but had a few questions for everyone.

    Due to the repeated advice on this wonderful board that a heat loss calculation is REQUIRED to size the boiler properly, I asked if they would be doing that calc along with figuring out the radiation capacity. They replied that they could, but didn't need to.

    I pushed again, citing the advice on here and my desire to prevent buying an overly large boiler and the resulting short cycling. They indicated that I have an unusually gigantic circulation system (see details in original post above) and a huge amount of radiators that would require a large boiler, the boiler size will be determined by that rather than by heat loss.

    Questions:

    1. My guy refused to give a rough estimate until he did calcs but the FW Webb guy offered a prelim size guess of around 375,000-400,000 MBH. The current boiler is 450,000 MBH and doesn't seem to short cycle. My house is very large (>4,000 sq ft), very old (1820), very drafty, but does this seem really large?

    2. They mentioned Buderus as a possible brand, and think they may have mentioned the G315 series. Does anyone have experience with those or thoughts? I want an oil unit that could be switched to gas in the future and prefer reliability to super efficiency.

    3. Is it possible they are right that the system can be sized just based on the current radiators? I trust my HVAC guy to a ridiculous degree but their response doesn't jibe with the thoughts on this board. He indicated that my system has to move so much water that short cycling shouldn't be an issue.

    4. What is the benefit to my heavy cast iron baseboards vs regular base boards. He indicated they actually throw off less BTUs but radiate the heat better???
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,082
    edited November 2018
    Badbisco said:



    Due to the repeated advice on this wonderful board that a heat loss calculation is REQUIRED to size the boiler properly, I asked if they would be doing that calc along with figuring out the radiation capacity. They replied that they could, but didn't need to.

    This is 100% wrong, heatloss is literally the only way, find a new contractor
    Badbisco said:

    I pushed again, citing the advice on here and my desire to prevent buying an overly large boiler and the resulting short cycling. They indicated that I have an unusually gigantic circulation system (see details in original post above) and a huge amount of radiators that would require a large boiler, the boiler size will be determined by that rather than by heat loss.

    This is 100% wrong, the amount of emitters doesn't impact boiler sizing, it could influence water temps. Find a new contractor.
    Badbisco said:

    1. My guy refused to give a rough estimate until he did calcs but the FW Webb guy offered a prelim size guess of around 375,000-400,000 MBH. The current boiler is 450,000 MBH and doesn't seem to short cycle. My house is very large (>4,000 sq ft), very old (1820), very drafty, but does this seem really large?

    2. They mentioned Buderus as a possible brand, and think they may have mentioned the G315 series. Does anyone have experience with those or thoughts? I want an oil unit that could be switched to gas in the future and prefer reliability to super efficiency.

    3. Is it possible they are right that the system can be sized just based on the current radiators? I trust my HVAC guy to a ridiculous degree but their response doesn't jibe with the thoughts on this board. He indicated that my system has to move so much water that short cycling shouldn't be an issue.

    4. What is the benefit to my heavy cast iron baseboards vs regular base boards. He indicated they actually throw off less BTUs but radiate the heat better???

    1.For 4000 sq ft. if you need more than 150,000 BTU I'd be shocked, find a new contractor
    2.I have no imput
    3. No it's not possible, they are wrong, you have too much trust in someone given what you have posted, find a new contractor.

    It sounds like the people you have don't desire to do things properly.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    1MatthiasSuperTechGrallert
  • 1Matthias
    1Matthias Member Posts: 148
    The proper and only way to size a boiler for a hot-water system is through an accurate heat loss calculation. I will eat my hat if you actually need a 300K-400K boiler. They clearly either don't know what they are doing, or do and don't want to do it properly. Find someone else.
    SuperJSuperTech
  • John Mills_5
    John Mills_5 Member Posts: 935
    Reminds me of years ago Auntie wanted to modernize. The old National US Radiator was 335K input. 2 of her bids wanted to put in 2 boilers, 1 per floor, 200K EACH. 400K. My Manual J was 133K, baseboard output was 155K. The guy I dropped that hint to got the job with a 210K boiler! This a turn of last century home but with baseboard not the old rads. Cools good with 1 3 ton unit!
    BadbiscoSuperTech
  • SuperJ
    SuperJ Member Posts: 605
    Your wasting your time trying to get a contractor who doesn't get it, to change his mind/methods. Find someone who does it the way you want as a their standard way of doing business. Even if your guy did a heat loss I wouldn't have much faith it, you need to care about to details for it to be worth anything.

    Vote fore propane modcon, makes a future NG hookup a breeze. Tons of good modcons on the market. If you don't go condensing, make sure you have adequate low return water temp protection as part of your quote.
    Badbisco
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Thanks everyone, just did a rough fuel-use based heat load calc and it was just 65K BTU/hr from 12/20/17 to 1/25/18. Is it really possible that my current 450K boiler is 9.6 times oversized?

    Plan to firm up my numbers and do my own EDR calcs to confirm they are recommending a boiler over 5 times too big.
    SuperJ
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,082
    Badbisco said:

    Thanks everyone, just did a rough fuel-use based heat load calc and it was just 65K BTU/hr from 12/20/17 to 1/25/18. Is it really possible that my current 450K boiler is 9.6 times oversized?

    Plan to firm up my numbers and do my own EDR calcs to confirm they are recommending a boiler over 5 times too big.

    Yes, it really is possible. You are very quickly going to understand the ridiculousness of boiler sizing among many contractors.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    SuperJ1MatthiasBadbisco
  • SuperJ
    SuperJ Member Posts: 605
    Badbisco said:

    Thanks everyone, just did a rough fuel-use based heat load calc and it was just 65K BTU/hr from 12/20/17 to 1/25/18. Is it really possible that my current 450K boiler is 9.6 times oversized?

    Plan to firm up my numbers and do my own EDR calcs to confirm they are recommending a boiler over 5 times too big.

    Keep in mind with hot water (as opposed to steam) you don't have to match the boiler to the installed radiation (EDR), you just need to calculate your house's heat loss (sometimes DHW loads). If you're lucky enough to have some extra radiation capacity installed it simply means that you can run things at lower (more efficient) temperatures.

    Badbisco
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Just finished my EDR calc. It came in at 179k BTU/hr, does having so much radiant capacity versus only a guesstimated 65K load lend itself to a particular type of boiler. i.e. what kind would be best at running lower more efficient temps? Sounds like gas is best for that but are there oil options that go low?
    SuperJ
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,010
    Re posting what I posted 2 days ago:

    "Size of house and square footage baseboard lengths are good information but what you need is a accurate heal loss of your house. You contractor should do this but you can do it if you want to.

    Regardless of what anyone tells you it is the only way to size your boiler"

    Do the heat loss yourself if need be. You getting the best advise from all the professionals here.

    You can download the Slant Fin program and do it yourself.
    BadbiscoSuperTech
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,868
    I've been doing load calcs since about 1980 when we did them by hand. I have never seen even the most leaky old farm house need more than 32 btus per sq. ft. on the coldest night of the year. 4,000 X 32 = 128,000 btus. When it's 35* out side, you only need half of that.
    When we install a mod/con on an old converted gravity system, I may go up one size because of the extra mass to shorten the response time, but no more than that. I just installed a UFT 120 on one where the load calc called for 86k btu. It's still a good practice to allow a 15% pickup factor with old, uninsulated Gravity piping.

    Based on what you've posted so far, I'd recommend a UFT 199.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    BadbiscoDZoro
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Thanks EBEBRATT-Ed_9, I plan to do the heat loss next. The heat load and EDC calcs seemed quicker so I did those first.

    Thanks to everyone for all of the help, think you've saved me from getting sold a commercial boiler.
    SuperTech
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,990
    You say Southern Maine... Is that Portland or Kittery?
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,792
    @Badbisco if you want a great boiler that is high efficient and capable of burning multiple fuels than a proper energy kinetics would work well with your application. In my experience they are very reliable and easy to work on.
    Now if efficiency is more important than reliability and lifespan than I feel like a gas modulating condensing boiler would be your best choice. The installation is crucial or they won't last long. And parts can be model specific not usually stocked in service trucks. But they deliver the most efficient performance in high mass low water temperature heating applications.

    Most boilers have several good attributes, you just have to decide what suits you best.
    BadbiscoJayMcCay
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Saco, 10 miles south of Portland, 30 north of Kittery
    kcopp
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    edited November 2018
    Thanks Supertech, calling the local EK premier dealer today to ask about getting a bid. Any sense of how low a water temp those can run given I have an estimated radiation capacity 3x the load at 180 degrees?
  • JayMcCay
    JayMcCay Member Posts: 17
    Hi Badbisco
    It sounds like your application is a perfect match for a System 2000, if your contractor thinks you should reline your chimney, then consider the 90+ Resolute. Both are high efficiency on oil and can be converted to gas, and they both achieved higher annual efficiency than the 95 AFUE gas mod con in the Department of Energy study.

    https://energykinetics.com/afue/

    We recommend primary secondary piping and you can reset the loop temperature if you’d like. All of the zone controls for primary/secondary are on board the standard manager control, with the 15 zone manager option to match the 10 zones in your home (the loop temperature reset control is not included). You can run the loops as low as you’d like because the boiler already has condensing protection and a bypass built in.

    We would also recommend upgrading to new energy efficient zone valves from the slow acting older style Taco heat motors.

    If you consider gas, our 97 AFUE Accel CS is fully modulating with outdoor reset built in, and up to 15 zones is an option. It’s actually a few percent more efficient than the 90+ Resolute, and all are designed, manufactured, and assembled to order for immediate shipment from our factory in NJ. We still recommend primary/secondary for high mass radiation as it will provide much more even heat distribution.
    Any questions, my contact info is below

    Regards

    Jay McCay
    National Sales Manager
    Energy Kinetics
    908 328-7154 c

    Jay McCay
    National Sales Manager
    Energy Kinetics
    908 328-7154 cell
    SuperTechBadbisco
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Thanks Jay, waiting for a response from P Gagnon in Sanford ME. Any other premier dealers near Portland ME?

    I’m functionally illiterate in terms of the current piping and primary/secondary but if mine can be easily/cheaply altered to work with lower water temps then the EK sounds like it would be a good fit. My beginner and very rough calcs seem to indicate a 125-135 water temp would put out enough BTUs due to the approx 2.5 potential radiation BTUs per actual load.

    Forgive me for any misunderstandings or bad lingo, starting learning all this stuff 3 days ago.
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    edited November 2018
    My plumber just called with a verbal rec of Buderus g215, 225k btu despite just 900EDR or 153,000 BTU in radiation at 180 degree water. Also wants to replace all of my 30 radiator vents, which are working fine, with new automatic vents. Seems to be suggesting a 130-160 degree water temp range based on outdoor reset. Also doing bypass piping rather than primary secondary setup. Estimated 3-4 days with 3-5 guys working.

    While I’m waiting for the actual write up and exact details, disappointed the $xxx bid seems based on how nice my house is rather than the right size/setup/way to do things. Thankfully I have another bid pending and another guy walking through Monday.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,805
    ixnay on the price say

    get more proposals to the size you need
    known to beat dead horses
    Erin Holohan HaskellBadbisco
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Sorry for including pricing, forgot about the rule that I’d seen mentioned in other posts. Shouldn’t have posted that.
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,805
    you're a bad bisco
    #smileyface
    known to beat dead horses
    Badbisco
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Just received written bid, quoted below:

    We shall provide and install one Buderus 215 six section cast iron boiler with a Riello F-10 oil burner and associated electrical and piping to existing around boiler. We shall also install 1-SX60 expansion tank, 24 Automatic radiator vents, 1-Watts Pressure regulator and back flow preventer, 1 -Tekmar or Taco modulation control, Tac 00e Veraridian Variable speed circulator with isolation flanges, flue pipe, 1-by pass loop, 1-1” Taco Zone valve with transformer for den / entrance room, draft regulator, High limit, piping, electrical and associated labor. This price does not include domestic hot water production.
    If Automatic radiator vents are not desired, deduct ($xxx)
    This price does not include a stainless steel liner that I recommend with these boilers but that are not required if the chimney has an internal clay liner. This quote does not include disposal of old boiler and associated piping.

    Just curious, normal to not get breakdown of specific materials and labor? Thanks!
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,868
    Not on something like a boiler replacement. I very clearly specify what is and is not included, but what purpose would it serve to line item price everything when it's all necessary?

    If it's something that's optional, like a particular thermostat or adding an indirect water heater, then the cost of each of those is listed.

    If you went to a garage to get your transmission rebuilt, you wouldn't expect the mechanic to line item every gasket, seal, clutch, torque converter, fluid, etc. You'd just need the total cost and that all those things were included.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    Badbisco
  • Badbisco
    Badbisco Member Posts: 16
    Thanks Bob. You make a good point, think I wanted more detail because the total is over 3x the boiler&burner cost w/o major repiping. This is obviously edging into pricing questions which i know aren’t cool. Was just looking to see if it’s normal to get such a non detailed bid.
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 406
    Happy Thanksgiving. I am with the other guys - figure out what the heat load of the house is. The large amount of thermal mass in the radiation system is not a problem if the system is piped and controlled properly.

    There are multiple boilers that are rated for either oil or gas. Installing an oil unit now and switching it to NG later is an option.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,868
    Badbisco said:

    Thanks Bob. You make a good point, think I wanted more detail because the total is over 3x the boiler&burner cost w/o major repiping. This is obviously edging into pricing questions which i know aren’t cool. Was just looking to see if it’s normal to get such a non detailed bid.

    One thing that's almost always overlooked by those who are not in business is the cost of doing business. That includes a multiplicity of taxes, insurance, trucks, tools, advertising, support personnel, a shop, utilities, phones, training, paid holidays and vacations, sick leave, health insurance, etc., etc., etc.

    The overhead for an average HVAC company is usually 50% or more.

    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    ratioDZoro1Matthias