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45-year-old oil-fired steam system - Worth it to switch to gas?

This discussion was created from comments split from: Fuel waste if boiler size exceeds capacity of radiators?.

Comments

  • bleederbleeder Member Posts: 28
    brand new today sorry if off topic I have 45 year old oil fired steam system think of switching to gas is it worth it? gas is in house.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,479
    bleeder said:

    brand new today sorry if off topic I have 45 year old oil fired steam system think of switching to gas is it worth it? gas is in house.

    The oil guys here will tell you no.
    The gas guys will tell you yes.

    Sit down and calculate the cost difference between fuels in your area and you'll have the real answer.

    What boiler do you have right now? Can you share some pictures? Make sure we can see the steam piping from far back to get the whole idea.
    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
  • bleederbleeder Member Posts: 28
    45 year old peerless 120 heats seond floor two family always maintained about 1000 sqft at best stucco house
  • bleederbleeder Member Posts: 28
    if I change to gas I understand size is of importance my question is will the radiators tend to leak more steam with a gas burner rather than the original oil, is pressure higher with gas will I need to change steam valves on radiators (6)
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 14,906
    bleeder said:

    if I change to gas I understand size is of importance my question is will the radiators tend to leak more steam with a gas burner rather than the original oil, is pressure higher with gas will I need to change steam valves on radiators (6)

    No, no, no. To all three questions. The type of fuel heating a boiler has no bearing at all on pressure. That is controlled -- at the high end -- by the pressuretrol (or vapourstat).
    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
    ethicalpaul
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,739
    Size is of utmost importance with any boiler.
    steve
    Robert O'Brien
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,479
    Size is of utmost importance with any boiler.
    Are you familiar with Sigmund Freud's work?    :p
    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
    HVACNUTRobert O'BrienEdTheHeaterMan
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,739
    lol . Should've said 'sizing'...
    steve
    ChrisJCanuckerbleederEdTheHeaterMan
  • bleederbleeder Member Posts: 28
    Still torn on why buy new boiler , my oil company is telling me its almost 50 years old, I say but its running close to 80% why buy new , I have steam cant buy high effiecency
    then the question stay with oil or switch gas , its present
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,354
    bleeder said:

    Still torn on why buy new boiler , my oil company is telling me its almost 50 years old, I say but its running close to 80% why buy new , I have steam cant buy high effiecency
    then the question stay with oil or switch gas , its present

    No reason to replace it unless it is failing, is so old or poorly installed that it doesn't meet relatively modern safety standards, or it was poorly installed and performs poorly (uneven heat banging, doesn't heat well, etc.) and correcting that would be a major project to a boiler that may be in the middle to end of its life.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 14,906
    bleeder said:

    Still torn on why buy new boiler , my oil company is telling me its almost 50 years old, I say but its running close to 80% why buy new , I have steam cant buy high effiecency
    then the question stay with oil or switch gas , its present

    Actually, the efficiency argument is pretty weak. You can get, with a modern boiler, 85 to 86 percent all the time with steam. Under certain conditions -- such as the shoulder seasons when you don't need much heat -- you an squeeze up to 95 percent or so from the most recent mod-cons, provided they are properly installed and calibrated for your specific conditions. 90 percent on the average is probably more like it.

    So... you have to do the math. Let's suppose you burn 1,000 gallons of oil with the existing system. Let's suppose that you install the very latest mod-con and get it properly calibrated. That will burn around 900 gallons -- saving you 100 gallons a year. Um... how much is that going to cost you? You'll save perhaps a few hundred on oil. It's going to take a long long time to pay for a new boiler if the old one ain't broke...
    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
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,354
    I think you save less than 100 gallons but let me think about the algebra.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 14,906
    mattmia2 said:

    I think you save less than 100 gallons but let me think about the algebra.

    So I was rounding off... what's a few gallons among friends?
    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
    mattmia2
  • jumperjumper Member Posts: 1,568
    Gas burners are more reliable in my experience. They don't need pumps. Gas utility is more fussy about fresh air supply.
  • dopey27177dopey27177 Member Posts: 433
    The only reason you seem to offer is oil may be to expensive.

    What you need to do is convert all your gallons of oil used to therms. A therm is 1000 btu's
    find the cost of 1 therm and compare that to the cost of a therm of gas.

    Then take all the terms of the fuels for one year useage and compare the annual cost of each against each other.

    Here is the benefit of gas. Normally, an un-interrupted supply of fuel year round, no oil tank to worry about or a missed delivery of oil.

    Hear is the benefit of oil, A service contract from a company that maintains your equipment usually with qualified technicians, a company that knows your equipment and for the most part has parts and controls in stock in the truck.

    If there is some strange problem the tech can call the office and resolve that problem quickly by phone or send a a supervisor or an ace trouble shooter to fix the problem.

    Then there is how much will it cost to install a new gas gun.

    If the savings with fuel change does not pay off in three years don't do it. You have an old boiler, they do not last forever.

    Another reason to change to gas could be all the oil suppliers are
    capable of taking care of sometimes problems which is highly unlikely.


    Jake
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 14,906
    Jake's comments are all well taken -- mostly. Except one: depending on where you live, you may not be able to connect to gas at all, due to limited supply -- and if it is anywhere in New England or New York, you should be aware that the supply may be reduced or cutoff completely in the event of really cold weather, since electric power generation has priority.

    On the other hand, if you stay with oil, and always do business with a well established reliable supplier, it has been my experience that they will have oil -- and really bust themselves to get it to you when you need it, regardless of the weather (it helps to plow your drive and the walk to the oil fill pipe, though...). This is not true, of course, for bargain companies or cash on delivery supplies.
    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
    STEVEusaPA
  • jumperjumper Member Posts: 1,568
    Another advantage of gas is smell.
  • bleederbleeder Member Posts: 28
    last year was 1st time I had a no heat call in over ten years, it needed a pump , I just installed automatic low water feeder because I moved >been hand feeding for 40 years, I cemented flue and new control box installed . it burns a lot of oil 900 gallons last year 1000 sqft 8ft ceilings, stucco walls no insulation and
    8 inchs of insulation in attic adding more
  • Robert O'BrienRobert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,255
    bleeder said:

    Still torn on why buy new boiler , my oil company is telling me its almost 50 years old, I say but its running close to 80% why buy new , I have steam cant buy high effiecency
    then the question stay with oil or switch gas , its present

    That is combustion efficiency, an incredibly deceiving number
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 14,906
    A very important point: you mention your dismay at burning 900 gallons of oil last year. Well... switching fuels is not going to save you on BTUs. You will still need around 126 million BTUs to heat that place, and it doesn't matter whether it comes from oil or gas or LP or whathaveyou.

    Now if you want to save BTUs, and hence fuel, the only way to do that is to improve your insulation and draught tightness. If you can add insulation, particularly in the attic, without creating a moisture problem, do it. The walls are stucco -- but are they solid? Or studs with stucco outside and maybe plaster or sheetrock inside? You might be able to insulate the walls. Might not, too -- be very cautious about that. Can you improve your windows? I don't mean ripping old ones out and putting in Home Depot specials. I mean making sure the old ones are tight (even 200 year old windows can be draught free, if cared for) and add storm windows (many options there) if you don't have them. Search out other air leaks -- it's may surprise you how many there are.
    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
    luketheplumber
  • bleederbleeder Member Posts: 28
    appreciate your comments gentlemen
  • bleederbleeder Member Posts: 28
    Burnham or Weil-McLain oil - steam any opinions ?
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,606
    If you stick with oil, the Burnham Megasteam is one to look at. The best efficiency available in steam heat and apparently, a real solid boiler built to last. Some people even gas fire them with a third-party burner.

    But me, I can't give up the quiet of not having to run a power burner. It would sound like a jet engine under my living room.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG

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