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Add Improved Baseboard - after oil to gas conversion contractor suggests more spend - huge miss ?

aseidman62 Member Posts: 10
edited July 2022 in Radiant Heating
I hired a 5 star company to do an oil to gas conversion for a 3300 Sq ft home + basement (unheated).

He priced a high efficiency unit for me (Triangle) amd installed w two zones. My upstairs heads just fine, but on days where ot falls below 10degrees outside the downstairs struggles to warm amd falls below the target temp on the thermostat. We cam set the heat to 70 degrees bitbthe oise struggles to stay at 65 as it gets colder outside.

After lots of testing a tuning the company that installed tells me that I have 3 rooms that simply don't have radiators capable of transferring the heat to the house. They have prices units that have two times the heat transfer capability amd assure me that this upgrade WILL fox the issue. The challenge is the $$$$ price tag.

They say they wouldn't have known that the baseboard was short. When I said that I thought they measured and calculated they answered "I only measure the connected load to size a boiler replacement" - negligent or reasonable ? I believe the house stayed warmer downstairs w oil , he says that because oil burns amd heays the water to a more extreme temp but that it's also inefficient. 

To be fair, I think the house struggled w oil on the ground floor but heated better than it does right now. 

Bottom line:
1) is this a huge miss on his part ? Or is ot understandable ? I don't want to be a hard-**** but did not expect a $ add on to a $ job.

2) does $ for about 100 feet (my guess) of replacement radiators sound fair ?

3)is the comment that "I only measure the connected load to size a boiler replacement" reasonable or negligent?

Please advise. I want to be fair but I also want to understand if this guy is any good ! He does have ALL 5 star reviews so I am confused.


  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,434
    You'll have to remove those prices. But the answer is no, oil vs. gas doesn't change the output of baseboard. Higher temperatures will output more and gas can hit those higher temperatures (the limiting factor is the water, not the fuel). For free, you can increase the water temperature, automatically, for the coldest outdoor temperatures with little change in efficiency since these temperatures are rare.

    Find a new guy.
    Erin Holohan HaskellIn_New_EnglandEdTheHeaterMan
  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 698
    Not supposed to talk pricing on here, might want to edit that out.

    My recommendation is to hire someone else. There was either a miscommunication between the two of you at install time or the guy messed up. If you are saying now that the area struggled to heat in the past that should have been discussed prior to install. Sometimes on retrofit, installers will assume the space was heating well unless told differently by the people living in the space. Sometimes homeowners will hire a company to change a piece of equipment and leave out important details to try to make the new installer own past mistakes. A conversation about your heating system is a pretty important step in the install process in my opinion to avoid either of these situations occurring.

    That all being said making assumptions that things are working well is not the best way to operate, especially considering that they are aware the output of the emitters has changed now that the entering water temperature has changed. for that reason I would hire a different company and cut ties on good terms with the other ones. Of course if you have something that shows you had hired them to provide MORE heat to the space that was struggling, you may have a leg to stand on getting the work done at no charge but it sounds unlikely as neither party seems to have been properly informed about the scope of work needing to be done.
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • aseidman62
    aseidman62 Member Posts: 10
    I don't think we emphasized that downstairs ever struggled to heat on really cold days. Amd while I beleive it struggled I believe it's worse now !

    I don't want to punish the guy and I kind of want one company to finish the job and be accountable. 

    The contractor did adjust the water temp and even verified w the mfg of the unit that it's doing what it should and my baseboard is simply short. 


  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,434
    The contractor did adjust the water temp and even verified w the mfg of the unit that it's doing what it should and my baseboard is simply short.

    That's not enough to troubleshoot - it could be inadequate flow, inaccurate aquastat, etc. It seems unlikely that you're 5 degrees under setpoint now but weren't before solely because the baseboard is short, so adding radiation should be the last resort for you (but most profitable for them). Another option would be to ensure nothing has changed with the building envelope downstairs - perhaps the output is the same as before but now the heat loss is higher. Improving insulation/air sealing might be a cheaper route too.
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,258
    A lot of mod cons won't let you set SWT above 180°. The oil system limit could've been at 200°.
    More baseboard won't do anything if there's no BTU's to release from it.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 8,432
    You have to start with a heat loss calculation for the building and work from there. There are online calculators and applications where you can do this yourself.

    You will get a heat loss for each room and you can compare that to the amount of heat the emitter in each room can supply at various water temps.

    Unless there is a lot less emitter on the first floor compared to the second or there is a whole lot of glass or something else unusual about the architecture of the first floor your issue likely lies elsewhere since the roof will have a lot more heat loss than just walls on the first floor. Also possible all the heat from the first floor rises to the second.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,541
    My apologies to your installer. I missed the bit where you casually mention that the first floor had struggled before. If he didn't know about that, there was no way he could have fixed it -- and that is your problem, not his.

    Follow @mattmia2 's comments above, then see what can be done to fix the problem. More or different emitters may be part of the solution -- but at this point, no one really knows.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 8,432
    It could even be a piping issue or a hidden balancing valve or strainer somewhere or a misapplied zone valve or any number of other design or service issues with the system causing the 1st floor to not get enough flow.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,813
    Still. It's the contractors fault as far as I am concerned. JMHO.

    it's a hot water job with 2 spaces to heat. He should have done a heat loss for both spaces, sized the boiler accordingly and made sure there was enough baseboard to heat both zones at whatever his design water temperature was.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 6,095
    edited July 2022
    I had just acquired a new fuel dealer to do service calls for their customers, some years ago (after his top technician retired). One of my first service calls for the new company was on an unusually cold winter night. They had just installed a new Columbia boiler the previous winter. I looked at the great plumbing job, the site built manifold and the zone valves were very pretty. The only problem was that all the near boiler piping was 3/4". Supply manifold from the boiler to 3 zone valves were all 3/4". Same on the return, All 3/4" teed to 3/4" manifold back to the boiler return. I explained that this would not work because the supply manifold needed to be at least 1" to each zone valve with a 3/4" branch to each zone valve. The customer then told me that the Fuel Dealer just installed the boiler last year. So I told the manager of the fuel oil company what the problem was and gave him a reasonable price to make the correction. This manager wanted to hear nothing about it. "We installed it last year and it worked fine". There was no telling him how to fix it or that they should eat the cost of doing it correctly.

    I offer this story for 2 reasons. First I should have asked who installed the boiler before I told the customer what the problem was.
    SEE https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/188729/dead-men-tales-the-dopey-kid-who-used-to-wear-your-clothes#latest
    ...and second: You have something that has changed between the previous boiler and this new boiler, (like that customer) and it has nothing to do with the fuel. It most likely has to do with the water temperature being set lower than the old boiler water temperature OR perhaps an overlooked piping design at the near boiler piping. As suggested by @Hot_water_fan, @Jamie Hall and others have suggested.

    Either way, we could use some pictures of your near boiler piping from at least 3 different angles from far enough back to see the floor to ceiling piping. The different angles will help the determine where closer pipes cover up other pipes behind them.

    There may be an easy fix or there may be another answer.

    Finally, Make sure the baseboard radiators are clean, The under side of the aluminum fins can collect a lot of dust that will block air flow thru the convector. Also see that any dampers that are closed are fully opened. The dampers are there to reduce the output of the radiator if you want to have a cooler room. and finally, be sure that the under side of the radiator cover is at least 1" above the floor covering. Sometimes wall to wall carpet is installed in a way that reduces the air flow at the bottom of the baseboard radiator (Ask me how I know).
    I hope these tips will help.

    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 799
    Here is a story about a hot water system in a catholic rectory that used to heat but later did not. The company I worked for did a lot of the Catholic Diocese heating work and my boss knew the Bishop. The Bishop is the boss. The Bishop calls my boss and says that a certain Rectory has been having heating issues for the last few years and he wants it fixed. The "company of record" doing their service installed larger pumps, then added numerous zones, raised the operating set point to 220F and still not enough heat. I met the pastor in charge and after a short conversation and survey of the system, I said that the problem was the fairly new ultra expensive carpet and that it had to be lowered or cut away from the bottom of the baseboard units. He refused to acknowledge that as the problem and showed me the door. My boss called the Bishop and the carpet was replaced. The carpet salesman and installers that installed that too thick carpet and pad closed off the bottom of the baseboard radiation not allowing air to flow through the heating units reducing their heat output. Make sure that you do not restrict the air flow through the baseboard radiation.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,813

    How many schools did you go into where the Unit Ventilators were covered on top with books and papers so they couldn't heat?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 6,095
    edited July 2022


    How many schools did you go into where the Unit Ventilators were covered on top with books and papers so they couldn't heat?

    Did @retiredguy ever go to school? Were there any schools around yet?

    ... Never mind, you meant worked on any schools during his working career?
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 2,983
    Just to add to this post as a remember to do when looking at any hot water boiler for either a service call or bidding to replace a hot water boiler is to check the aquastat settings . It seems that durning the mid to late 70 s w the rising prices of fuel and material that a lot of contractors where doing at little corner cutting in a lot of cases it was raising the aquastats up to 190-200 and cutting down on baseboard or even better install 1/2 piping and baseboard and run it at 230 .
    On both of these set up they worked ok w any set back but as soon as set backs where used and below average temps where upon them I see when the issues would start . Another issue that occurs w 200 degree and over is baseboard ghosting issue depending on wall insulation which will stain the wall over and over again until the aquastat is lowered ,been there done that this is why I know .
    So when I look at either service or replacement jobs ,pull that cover off and check it out never know what you many find and with out looking u may be in trouble down the road and lose any trust your customer may have had it you .
    Not to sound like a preacher but when installing a modulating condensing boiler one of the contractors first thought should be will this unit operate in condensing mode ,will this unit at design day and set at it’s maximum temp heat this home as it did previously .if the answer to any of these question is no then stick to a hi temp cast iron boiler and do the chimney liner and Be done and be happy no issues . Again mod con ain’t for every job in my option there only as good a side the system you connect to and if it cannot heat the home w lower temps it a wash and go w a standard cast iron boiler . Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,468
    What size is the boiler? What temp does it run at on the coldest day? How many linear feet of baseboard do you have?
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein