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Oil heating contractor in Catskill region? Given $ price for an oil boiler!

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Jells
Jells Member Posts: 566
edited May 2020 in THE MAIN WALL
My friends need help, IMO their oil vendor is trying to rip them off! Their ancient oil boiler sprung a leak and they were given a price of $ to replace it! The contractor insisted that the indirect tank with no problems be replaced, along with some other song and dance.

Just for context, these are not 'mechanical' people. They had poor water flow at their kitchen sink and a contractor told they they needed to frack their well, and charged them thousands without solving the problem. This was explained to me on a visit, and when they said the pressure was fine in the bathroom I walked over to the sink and cleaned the aerator screen. Years long problem solved.

They also desire to be 'green', and are considering installing a whole load of minisplits and a heat pump water heater instead of a new boiler, because it seemed competitive with the boiler price they were given. I think this is ridiculous, especially where they are at high altitude for the area and down the road from a ski resort! They'll spend a lot on resistance heating during the winter, and they don't have a desperate need of AC in the summer. I think they'd be better off doing a solar hot water system.

I don't know if they've had a heat loss calculation. The house is perhaps 40 years old and 2500 sq ft.

Comments

  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,002
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    There are lots of variables when it comes to pricing. What is the heat load? How old is the indirect? What size and type of equipment is the contractor proposing?.......
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,614
    edited May 2020
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    I would stay away from a HP water heater for sure. They should get several quote's on the same thing so they have an apples to apples comparison. If one contractor quotes heat pumps and another quotes boilers you have nothing to compare
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    @jells, go here and follow the instructions:

    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    > @Steamhead said:
    > @jells, go here and follow the instructions:
    >
    > https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/

    Thanks Steamhead, but while I may not live here, I'm not a newbie. That was the first thing I did. Did you? There are no contractors within 2.5 hours of there.
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    > @STEAM DOCTOR said:
    > There are lots of variables when it comes to pricing.

    Since moderators have removed reference to pricing, I can simply assure you it was unjustifiable for a new boiler and indirect.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,002
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    PM me with pics and specs.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    Jells said:

    > @Steamhead said:

    > @jells, go here and follow the instructions:

    >

    > https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/



    Thanks Steamhead, but while I may not live here, I'm not a newbie. That was the first thing I did. Did you? There are no contractors within 2.5 hours of there.

    No, because I'm not familiar enough with that part of NY to do so with any degree of accuracy.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,805
    edited May 2020
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    Ski cabin ? Few weeks a year ? Do they winterize ?

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
    edited May 2020
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    > @Big Ed_4 said:
    > Ski cabin ? Few weeks a year ? Do they winterize ?

    Was a year round weekend place, now full time residence. I tried seeing what contractors were available through Google. Holy crap. 3 hits only, best sounding one was an hour and a half away! but if the person is fair, even if they charged full hourly rates for travel, they would be nowhere near what the quote was. A hydronic boiler, even with an indirect, is a one day job!

    What I'm afraid of them finding is a guy who spends most his time on drain clogs who says "yeah I can install that!"
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,002
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    @Jells. I am not really sure what your question is. Do you want to know if you are being charged to much? Answer is that there is no way to know. Do you want to know if he is putting in the correct boiler? That we may be able to help you with. But, we need some facts and figures. What is the heat loss of the building? Which boiler is he proposing? How many zones are there? What is he doing for air elimination? Pumps vs zone valves? There is a lot that goes into installing a hydronic boiler and an indirect. It can probably be done in one day if fellow knows how to solder, press, screw.... But there is a lot more involved then that. Some highly qualified guys might take a good few hours to research particular circumstances and come up with a game plan. Combustion will need tuning and attention......
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,861
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    That's why a minimum of 3 es> @Jells said:
    > > @Big Ed_4 said:
    > > Ski cabin ? Few weeks a year ? Do they winterize ?
    >
    > Was a year round weekend place, now full time residence. I tried seeing what contractors were available through Google. Holy crap. 3 hits only, best sounding one was an hour and a half away! but if the person is fair, even if they charged full hourly rates for travel, they would be nowhere near what the quote was. A hydronic boiler, even with an indirect, is a one day job!
    >
    > What I'm afraid of them finding is a guy who spends most his time on drain clogs who says "yeah I can install that!"


    How do you know it's a one day job? A proper installation is not a race against time.
    What's coming out and what was going in?
    How far is it to the supply house if a part is needed, or broken?
    How far is it to anywhere?
    Is there coffee?

    How old is the indirect? Is the contractor responsible for problems with it after the installation?

    Is it possible the location is so remote that any contractor would charge accordingly to go well out of its radius?

    Call the other contractors and see what it takes for them to take a ride for a look see. I think with apples to apples quotes, pricing will be similar.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    Might just be a seasonal/resort thing. Here’s how it went for my buddy in Cape May, NJ
    “What’s the address”
    “...”
    “Yeah I know that house. This is what it costs. Send me a check for the full amount, and a key, and I’ll get it done by spring.”

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    @Jells. I am not really sure what your question is.

    The question is the first line of my header. Everything else was incidental. They need another contractor to look.

    For those defending a price without even knowing it, whatever. Since I can't name the price there's no point in discussing how unjustifiably outrageous it was. My sense of how long it takes is based on having several boilers of my own, some more complex, installed, and installing my own indirect.

    I've gotten quotes for work that varied by 300%. I call it FU pricing. The contractor doesn't want or need your job, so the give you the price at which they're happy to do it. Is it better than refusing the job outright? IDK. I have my own quote based business and I've done both but I prefer not to. You either get a rep as expensive or a prima donna.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,002
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    I don't think that anyone is defending the price. They are just saying that the price isn't necessarily outrageously high, just because you think it is. The price might be quite fair and it might be outrageous highway robbery. We will never know. People who aren't in the business don't necessarily understand what is involved in determining a price. There are jobs that are hack jobs and there are jobs that are Cadillac jobs. Obviously, the Cadillac job will cost more. The Cadillac job isn't more expensive, it's more valuable. Businesses are entitled to earn a fair profit. There are many expenses involved in running a heating business. Insurance, truck expenses, payroll, workers comp......... There is no sin in turning a respectable profit.
    We are here to help and we can help. Just not with pricing. Give us some details on the job requirements and proposals. Which boiler do they want to put in? Was a heat loss calculation done? What is the piping plan? What is there analysis of indirect? Will they test combustion? We can help you separate the hack job from the Cadillac job.
    STEVEusaPA
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    @Jells , no one is defending a price. Rather, they are bringing up variables which would affect pricing.

    I see plenty of installs that were done in one day. They look it. Instructions aren't followed, workmanship sloppy, sometimes safety issues- hack jobs, as @STEAM DOCTOR said. Most don't have the installing contractor's name on them- with good reason. Those guys don't want to be bothered when the problems start.

    Without exception, the contractors in this thread only do the kind of work they're proud to put their name on. This is the kind of contractor your friends need.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
    edited May 2020
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    > @Steamhead said:
    > Without exception, the contractors in this thread only do the kind of work they're proud to put their name on. This is the kind of contractor your friends need.

    I know that, which is why I asked here to begin with after not finding anyone near them in the search page.

    Since numbers cannot be named, there is simply no point in my defending what I think is a fair condemnation of the price they have received. But as I said, this isn't my first rodeo, I've hired very similar work before, and from HH associated contractors who did an excellent job for a fraction of this quote.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,428
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    May I make a suggestion, @Jellis ? Before you attack the contractor as being greedy, which is what it sounds as though you are doing, be very sure that there is nothing -- nothing -- about the job which might justify a higher price. Since we know almost nothing about the job -- except a very general location -- we are not in a position to comment on the price. You may be -- but not by comparing it to "very similar" jobs, but only by thoroughly analyzing this specific job in this particular building in the particular location.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    HVACNUT
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    May I make a suggestion, @Jellis ? Before you attack the contractor as being greedy, which is what it sounds as though you are doing, be very sure that there is nothing -- nothing -- about the job which might justify a higher price. Since we know almost nothing about the job -- except a very general location -- we are not in a position to comment on the price. You may be -- but not by comparing it to "very similar" jobs, but only by thoroughly analyzing this specific job in this particular building in the particular location.

    I have examined this boiler in the past, and am pretty familiar with basic hydronic systems. The only thing unusual is it being in a vacation area rather than in the NYC metro area. But the city is usually noted for higher prices than small towns rather than the reverse. Even if the contractors were charging full hourly for 2 men 4hrs travel for 2 days, it would not account for the price. If my friends hadn't already had the experience of 3 'professionals' who came to solve their sink problem and none of them checked the aerator & pullout hose screens, I might be more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt.

    But I don't really need advice on the price, there's no where to go with this discussion. I need an alternative contractor to bid.
    Honestly, if I were more familiar with oil burners and had combustion instruments I'd just do it for them, they're great people who don't deserve to be victimized.
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,861
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    I think your looking for Angie's List. That's not this.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,002
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    @Jellis. You may be entirely correct. Maybe the price is a ripoff. Do you feel comfortable with the hydronic end? Maybe get get someone else just for the burner. I don't know what regulations are regarding homeowners doing their own installations. Each jurisdiction is different.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,331
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    Hi @Jells , You might call some local property management firms or possibly realtors to see if they know any local contractors who might have the chops to do the job. Property managers particularly seem to know who is good.

    Yours, Larry
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,002
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    In my part of the world, property mangers know who is cheap. @Jells. Why not get a few quotes?
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
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    Where in the Catskills is the residence? By Bellayre or Hunter? I could possibly refer you to someone competent.
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    Where in the Catskills is the residence? By Bellayre or Hunter? I could possibly refer you to someone competent.

    Awesome Paul! This is what I was hoping for with the post. They're off rt 42 west of Hunter.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
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    The company I used to work with is Kosco in Kingston (845) 334-8060. They used to service Hunter. Or you can try Advanced Radiant Design at (845) 687-0044 and ask for John. Installing a steam boiler correctly requires previous experience and is not for beginners. Most contractors will have a trip fee to make a visit and develop a proposal
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    Thanks so much Paul! I'll forward this immediately.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
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    There's also Woodstock Plbg, Htg & Air at (845) 679-5762. The owner, Geoff, may have steam experience.
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    There's also Woodstock Plbg, Htg & Air at (845) 679-5762. The owner, Geoff, may have steam experience.

    Thanks, I'll pass that on too, but this is hydronic not steam! Another reason why it should not be a hugely expensive job. I had a steam boiler installed by Jstar for 1/3 of what they were quoted!
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
    edited May 2020
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    If it is hydronic, and not steam, either of the contractors could provide costs for replacement of an oil fired boiler. Finding qualified professionals will always be a bit more difficult in remote locations.

  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    It'll be interesting to see what they choose to do if they get a decent boiler quote, when heat pumps seemed the same price (after rebates) as repairing the hydronic they seemed excited by that. I was dubious, but numbers I see say heating that way as long as you don't use resistance is cheaper than oil or gas. Seems impossible, at least in the NE where we have very expensive electricity and cold winters.
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,861
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    A resistance coil, or coils will be needed for second stage and noticeably when the system goes into defrost.
    Without an auxiliary, on the colder days the HP alone might fall behind during defrost. And never catch up again.
    But it's not exactly uncommon to see heat pumps in the North East. They have come a long way and do a much better job than they used to IMO.
    And of course tighten the envelope.
    A fireplace wouldn't hurt either.
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    They do have a fireplace, but it's above my paygrade to figure out how much resistance heating they'd actually end up doing. Researching for this thread has got me thinking again about doing a 2 zone mini-split for my ground floor, I have only window units in my home currently. I was not aware that it could also save me money on gas heating in moderate weather. It seems like there's thermostats capable of handling kicking in the hydronic in those zones when required.

    I'd have to crunch numbers. NJ is #11 in top electricity cost.