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Need advice on switching from oil steam to hydro air!!

jfed31jfed31 Posts: 5Member
edited January 28 in Gas Heating
I'm hoping to get opinions from those with experience on these systems. We're current heating our home with a 18 year old 80-85% efficient oil steam boiler and we have a gas fired water heater that's around 7 years old. I've been looking into upgrading because there's a state run program that offers a 7 year 0% interest loan for certain heating upgrades. I recently had a local HVAC contractor come by and he recommended utilizing my current duct work from my central AC and to go with a Hydro Air system. All vents are in the ceiling and its a 1 story bungalow about 1k square feet. The quote is for all necessary work to install a Lochinvar Noble Model# NKC150N 150,000 btu Combi Boiler and to remove all of the old systems including radiators and steam pipes. Our systems are functioning fine but I'm looking to finish off our basement and can almost double the space down there by doing this work. Any opinions on whether this makes sense to go through with?

Comments

  • SeanBeansSeanBeans Posts: 325Member
    I yearn for the comfort of a steam system. currently I live with the same system as you wish to install. An said handler that does AC and has a coil for hot water heat, I turn my system on because I’m cold, and 15 minutes later I’m ripping off layers or turning the heat off, just to re create this process again in another 15-30 minutes. The comfort level of the system I have is very low. Everytime I walk into a building with steam heat, I wish I lived there!
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,121Member
    edited January 28
    @jfed31 , it's this simple: Don't do it. You will never be comfortable again in that house.

    Depending on what boiler you have, you might be able to convert it to gas firing with a conversion burner.

    Keep the steam, and get a steam pro to tune it up. Where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,129Member
    First we don't discuss pricing on this site so it would be appreciated if you remove that from your post.

    Second, you probably aren't going to get much support from anyone to switch out the steam for what we call forced hot error. Your comfort level will not be the same, some will argue this point, but I just don't agree.

    Second you mention efficiency, well IMHO anyone suggesting a combi boiler in the name of efficiency doesn't understand the word. A combi boiler is always a compromise, at 150k BTU it will most likely be massively over sized for your house unless you live in a 5000 sq ft mansion. It is being sized for DHW not space heating when it's primary function is space heating. So basically a combi boiler is a compromise and it isn't perfect at either job it's being asked to do. The opinions on this vary, but that is mine. An analogy is I can buy a dump truck as a daily driver because I do a bunch of remodeling and sometimes need that kind of capacity, but does that really make sense?

    Has the contractor done a manual J heat loss calculation? Has the contractor then done a Manual D duct design? You do know that duct designed for cooling only is different than duct for heating and cooling? I'm guessing your contractor either does't know this or didn't tell you.

    With ceiling registers you are most likely going to have to "overheat" the space to be comfortable. Hot air rises so your registers will push the hot air out and it will hover at the ceiling until you pack enough in that you get the set point at the thermostat level. Ceiling registers are fine for AC only, but would be a serious compromise for heating.

    Also don't obsess about those efficiency ratings of the equipment, you need to look at system efficiency and with everything you stated and with the above information I think you will see the contractors plan is far from an efficient system. In fact quite possible the efficiency will be higher with your current steam system, if it's in proper working order.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,657Member
    And on the rebates and zero percent financing. Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch, much as some folks would like you to think so. Somebody is paying for it -- and the odds are that, buried in the accounting, the somebody will be you, eventually.
    Jamie



    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
  • jfed31jfed31 Posts: 5Member
    Thanks @KC_Jones for the advice, sorry about the pricing first time posting on this website. I've had 3 separate contractors come by and the other 2 quoted to put a hot air furnace and last 1 suggested a hydro air which sounded better to me then a furnace. I am no HVAC professional but none of the 3 mentioned anything about a need to change my duct work. The efficiency ratings aren't all that important to me as much as the state programs are and unfortunately these are what they cover so I'm trying to see if it makes sense to take advantage of those. It sounds like my best option may be to look into a gas boiler for my steam system?
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,129Member
    jfed31 said:

    Thanks @KC_Jones for the advice, sorry about the pricing first time posting on this website. I've had 3 separate contractors come by and the other 2 quoted to put a hot air furnace and last 1 suggested a hydro air which sounded better to me then a furnace. I am no HVAC professional but none of the 3 mentioned anything about a need to change my duct work. The efficiency ratings aren't all that important to me as much as the state programs are and unfortunately these are what they cover so I'm trying to see if it makes sense to take advantage of those. It sounds like my best option may be to look into a gas boiler for my steam system?

    If none of them are talking about duct design or anything like that I know what my opinion of their work is without seeing it, and it isn't good.

    HVAC involves a lot of math and a lot of contractors that don't want to do math. I am guessing you are seeing that.

    Where are you located? We may know a competent contractor in your area.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • jfed31jfed31 Posts: 5Member
    @KC_Jones located in Massachusetts, south of Boston. They did check the duct work and I asked those questions since I assumed ducts for heating would be different than cooling but none seemed to think it'd be an issue.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,129Member
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-england-steamworks
    @New England SteamWorks
    One of the best if you want a good evaluation of your situation.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • jfed31jfed31 Posts: 5Member
    Thank you, I'll be reaching out for an evaluation. Appreciate your help.
  • jfed31jfed31 Posts: 5Member
    @KC_Jones @Steamhead any thoughts on swapping the oil boiler out for a gas boiler? Attached an image of the current boiler. Thanks!
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,121Member
    edited January 29
    That's a Burnham MegaSteam- the best residential steamer out there.

    The problem with this boiler is the people at Burnham. They throw a tantrum whenever someone wants to convert one of these boilers to gas using a conversion burner. There is no technical or safety-related reason this can't be done, but certain people in that company apparently want their way and don't care about anyone else. So they threaten to void the warranty if it's converted. And they don't sell nearly as many MegaSteams as they could.

    If that were my own boiler, I'd go ahead and convert it with a Carlin EZ-Gas burner.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
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