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DIY heating upgrades

gdowie
gdowie Member Posts: 14
Hey everyone, I'm in the midst of upgrading the heating system on my home and trying to do as much as possible on my own. This site has really helped me! I just wanted to share my progress and perhaps get a little more specific advice since I'm getting to the point where I've been firing the burner and have some questions about tuning the combustion.

New items:
Oil tank (275gal)
Oil line
Boiler Buderus G115WS/3
Burner Reillo F40
Chimney liner 6"
Boiler piping/zone valves
Boiler controller Logomatic R2107

Before picture:

Comments

  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
    edited October 2019
    Current status:

    I went to hook up the R2107 and found the boiler temperature sensor was bad (I had bought it 2nd hand). So, since the weather is getting cold (30°F last night) I decided to use the old Honeywell L8148 to fire the boiler and see if I'm going to run into any other unexpected issues... Happily it runs cleanly and quietly, bringing the supply line (and my house) up to temp easily.

    I don't have any of the special equipment to set the draft or stack temps, so I closed the barometric damper all the way to avoid CO risk until I can get a professional in here to tune it for me. Not worried about burning a little extra fuel in the mean time.

    Now here's my first question: The manual for the boiler says I should used a 5" vent pipe to a 6" chimney liner. Boiler to top of Chimney is 25ft. Is it really much of a problem to use the 6" vent pipe I had left over from the old boiler? I realize the smaller pipe would help keep my chimney a little hotter.

    Second question. I looked at the exhaust out the chimney and its a clean white smoke gently venting. My old boiler looked hot, sooty, and high velocity out the chimney. I guess this is a win for my wallet and the environment, but I'm concerned about condensation in the chimney liner. I got the 316L stainless liner because I read this was more tolerant of condensation. Now my question is: What happens to that condensate? Won't it just pool at the bottom of the liner below the Tee?

    I've turned the high limit up to 190°F to try to minimize condensate, but still haven't removed any baffles.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,865
    I strongly suggest you have a technician check the combustion as soon as possible. Anything you do can change combustion and cause a potential problem. White smoke out the chimney is usually not good but you may see flue gas if the outdoor temp is really cold.

    When the combustion is adjusted properly any minor condensate formed on start up will be vaporized out quickly with no issues as long as combustion is proper, boiler temp is above 140 and venting is correct
    DZoroSTEVEusaPAgdowieSuperTech
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,929
    "I don't have any of the special equipment to set the draft or stack temps, so I closed the barometric damper all the way to avoid CO risk until I can get a professional in here to tune it for me. Not worried about burning a little extra fuel in the mean time."

    This is very wrong as proper draft is very important, especially with a Riello burner. Probably need positive draft over the fire. Closing your baro is giving your burner too much draft.
    Riello's especially are a little finicky when not set up perfectly, and can cause high CO to be generated.

    "Now here's my first question: The manual for the boiler says I should used a 5" vent pipe to a 6" chimney liner. Boiler to top of Chimney is 25ft. Is it really much of a problem to use the 6" vent pipe I had left over from the old boiler? I realize the smaller pipe would help keep my chimney a little hotter."

    How does a smaller pipe keep the chimney hotter? Stack temperature is mostly based on firing rate, draft, and excess air.
    Code calls for the chimney connector (flue pipe) to remain the same size as the appliance outlet to the chimney base, unless connected to a wye or (hopefully not) a tee for multiple units.
    Chimney liners are sized on btu output of the appliance


    "Second question. I looked at the exhaust out the chimney and its a clean white smoke gently venting. My old boiler looked hot, sooty, and high velocity out the chimney. I guess this is a win for my wallet and the environment, but I'm concerned about condensation in the chimney liner. I got the 316L stainless liner because I read this was more tolerant of condensation. Now my question is: What happens to that condensate? Won't it just pool at the bottom of the liner below the Tee?

    I've turned the high limit up to 190°F to try to minimize condensate, but still haven't removed any baffles."


    All of this can be addressed and solved when you get a professional in there to get your combustion tested and adjusted.
    steve
    gdowieSuperTech
  • DZoro
    DZoro Member Posts: 1,049
    You seemed to have decreased your distribution supply and return piping.
    At bare minimum you should be at 1" -1 1/4" hard pipe. IMO
    Definitely have that burner/draft/combustion set properly.
    D
    gdowieSuperTech
  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
    Thanks for the feedback guys. I hear you loud and clear about getting a professional in. I've actually had a hard time getting anyone to return my calls. Left several messages. I can understand people want to service their existing customers and this is the busy season. I'm only running this when I'm awake and present to monitor things.

    @STEVEusaPA:
    If the code says I need 5" from the appliance to the chimney base, I'll bring it to code. Not looking to cut any corners, just do as much as I can myself. I expect a 5" pipe would have a higher velocity flow for the same amount of flue gas, compared to a 6" pipe, thus getting to the chimney faster and therefore hotter. I don't imagine its a lot hotter. Thanks for the help.

    @EBEBRATT-Ed
    Re: the "white smoke". I should have said "vapor". It looks like clean exhaust vapor to me. Towards the end of the burn cycle I can see it forming a few inches from the chimney cap (ie. not condensing inside) and it dissipates ~10-20ft beyond the chimney to invisible. My concern was that it was taking ~90% of the burn cycle to get to this point, so I assumed condensing in the chimney most of the burn. I'll have a look in the bottom of the Tee when I change the flue pipe.
  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
    A little background on this project: Been in this house about 4 years and it's my first oil-boiler; so I'm learning how it all is supposed to work. Tag on the old boiler said it was installed 1985. Last winter, it started leaking water slowly out the cover where a DHW coil had once been installed. I put some "boiler fluid" in it and that stopped the leak, but I wanted to replace it ASAP - with air-source "cold climate" heat pumps. Turns out you need a reliable combustion back-up for the really cold nights with those... So, here I am, try to minimize the money spent to rehab the oil-fired system so I can save money to invest in heat pumps. I found this boiler, burner, and controller all from separate sellers on craigslist (boiler was new, but case was dented), Burner had just been removed after 1 season by heating professional changing a customer to Natural Gas, and logomatic was "too fickle" for someone (I'm guessing this was because of the bad boiler sensor I found).

    Through the course of sizing the heat pumps, I got some quotes on pellet boilers, or just a new replacement oil boiler install. All were a huge investment. I also came to realize the old boiler was grossly oversized. It was venting to the clay (terracota?) lined 8" ID. I had a chimney sweep come in to inspect the chimney, and he recommended the liner, and sized the liner for the G115 for me.

    I've got good records on oil consumption these past 4 years, so I'm eager to see if there's much savings this winter.
  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
    edited October 2019
    @DZoro no reductions in supply or return. 1.25" supply and 1"return same as ports on boiler. With all 4 zones open, pumping 10gpm with pump on high dp setting. Auto adapt setting seems to like 1-2gpm for a single open zone. All 3/4" copper baseboard zones.

    Note this boiler is 75,000 btu/hr replacing 130,000. Also I have upgraded home insulation this season.
  • ron
    ron Member Posts: 143
    is there (or where is) the expansion tank?
    hard to tell from current status pic but i see pex tubing (is it oxygen barrier pex for heating?) and I can somewhat make out the supply side having one circulator pump to 4 zone valves on the supply side to the heating zones. Then it looks like 4 return side pex's going behind wallboard at the top... and can't tell where the system fill is coming from...

    it might be worth drafting a pumping schematic and posting it to get validation of correct piping

    the calleffi idronics tech articles are pretty good, there's a few definitely worth reading, what comes to mind is #8 hydronic balancing and #19 proven hydronic systems.

    https://www.caleffi.com/usa/en-us/technical-magazine
    mattmia2gdowieSuperTech
  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
    Thanks for the comments Ron. Here's some better pics. Yes all oxygen barrier pex on the hydronic piping, supply to fill is not. Correct on the returns behind the board. I looped them upward with about 20" loops to avoid thermo siphoning. I'll make a drawing when I get a chance.

    On @STEVEusaPA s recommendation, I installed 5" flue vent. No evidence of condensate pooling at the bottom of the tee, so I guess I was concerned about nothing there. While putting that in, I decided to add a Fields oil vent damper. It seems people are conflicted about the effecacy of these, but it made sense to me so I'm giving it a shot.

    I installed a new sensor in for the logomatic to measure boiler temp. So thats working now. I still need to put in the outdoor sensor, so just have a resistor in it's place fooling the controller to think it's 45F all the time outside (not far off).

    I got a local guy to come by and test combustion, he was very pleased with the burn and only adjusted the barometric damper. He seemed very familiar with the riello. He had no interest in working on the logomatic and recommend another outfit that specializes in them if it gives me trouble.
    He also recommended I ditch it, but I'll give it a solid attempt before I do that. Attached is the printout he gave me. I'd be interested to hear what others see in it, since I'm not familiar with these numbers enough to know if they're just adequate or really good.

    Next step is to clean up the zone valve wiring, but at this point it's running 24/7 heating my home unattended so that's a win!
  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
    > @ron said:
    > is there (or where is) the expansion tank?
    > hard to tell from current status pic

    Yes, tucked in behind the boiler. System seems to sit between 20psi @130F and 25psi @180F.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,359
    That boiler, with the 2107 properly adjusted, will save you about 40% in fuel over the old one. Don't ditch it even though it's not that easy to set up.

    I'd get rid of the flue damper. It's not necessary with the G115 with the Riello.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    gdowieSuperTech
  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
    I struggled to get a new outdoor sensor (FA), then read up on NTC thermistors. Found this one from TDK that should be a direct replacement:
    B57800K0103A001, maybe a little slower response time (seconds).






    Hope this helps someone else!
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,102
    edited November 2019
    I'm Impressed @gdowie. You have done your homework well.
    As far as zone valve wiring clean up, if you can spring for a Zone Valve Control panel Like Taco ZVC 404.

    Will make zone wiring look great. if a zone has a no heat condition... it helps in future zone diagnostics with LED indicating Power on (Green) Thermostat calling, Yellow and end-switch activated (Red). If all lights are lit... the problem is not in the control wiring, thermostat or zone valve actuator.... go purge air from the loop!!!

    If an LED fails to light... it will help pinpoint the place to start looking
    NO GREEN? check power, fuses or the 24V transformer. If GREEN is light and NO YELLOW, Check the thermostat circuit. If you have Both GREEN and YELLOW, but no RED, the zone valve actuator may be at fault. Eazy Pezy!


    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
    Thanks for the kind words @EdTheHeaterMan, I like the concept on the LEDs of the Taco ZVC , I've already started on something more custom (hacked? - we'll see). Will post once completed.

    Here's some preliminary usage data, still need to correct for heating degree days, but all signs are pointing in the direction of improvement!


  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
    Well, I got my hands on a used zvc per @EdTheHeaterMan's advice. Things are much cleaner in the wiring dept. Fuel consumption this season is down roughly 33% so far!
    SuperTech
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,929
    edited February 2020
    Thanks for the update. Lots of different color pipes :)
    Btw, what's this set up for the expansion tank. Never seen one before.

    steve
  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,635
    Nice work so far!
    As far as combustion analysis goes, in my experience that boiler usually wants higher CO2, lower O2 and excess air then that. I believe you will find this specified in the installation manual for the boiler. Pull it up online and take a look. I'd prefer to see lower CO PPM than that as well. What is the draft over fire? This is critical with Buderus boilers! Usually should be slightly positive, +.01-.02". You can find this in the manual as well.
    Also, what are you using for oil filtration? Last time I checked the manual calls for double filtration using a standard general filter at the tank and a Garber spin on filter at the burner. This will help keep your boiler and burner running cleanly.
    gdowie
  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
    edited September 2020
    Update and question:
    Here's and update on our fuel consumption for the past year, very pleased with the results.
    (edit: attached pic instead of inline)
    Note the forecast past the last purple dot is totally bogus.

    So I'm due for an annual service and I'm wondering if this is something I can take on myself? Per @SuperTech 's comments, it doesn't seem like the guy I hired last year did anything to tune the combustion, just measured it. So I'm tempted to purchase a combustion analyzer and really dial it in myself. Seems like If I can get away with the ~$600 low end models, this might be cost effective after a few years. Don't think that financially works out on the $1.2K+ models though.

    What do the experienced people here think? Would a Testo 310 or Bacharach fyrite intech be good enough? Any others I should consider?

    Plus I'm the kind of guy who'd want to check it and chart it over time, so having my own measurement capability appeals to me.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,929
    edited September 2020
    I can't really read your chart. Zooming in doesn't help. Remember that last winter was pretty mild in most places. Best to base fuel consumption on degree days and K factor.
    I don't recommend getting a low end analyzer. I'd recommend finding a good competent tech and let them do it.
    Even if you get an analyzer with field replaceable sensors, they'll die sitting there idle and you're probably replacing them every year just to do one combustion analysis.
    You'll also need a smoke gun, and know how to use it, as well as proper use of an analyzer, what the numbers mean, and how to adjust the burner based on those numbers.
    steve
  • gdowie
    gdowie Member Posts: 14
    @STEVEusaPA , your point about the mild winter is well taken. Seems that accounts for the vast majority of my reduced oil use:
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,929
    All may not be lost.
    You'll have to see how it performs as you near design temperature.
    Mild winter = boiler very oversized = short cycling = less efficient. A more practical way to count degree days has to factor in wind.
    A leaky house on a design day, cloudy and windy, is gulping oil and has the lowest K-factor. Same exact temperature, sunny, no wind, higher K-factor. The tight house is closer in K factor with both of those scenarios.
    steve
  • super_snop
    super_snop Member Posts: 20
    This is a great post. I plan to do my upgrades as well. This gave me motivation. 
    gdowie
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