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Going to stick with oil this winter, hope I dont regret

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Aborting the upgrade to modcon gas (propane) w/buffer tank for this season.
-seems to be difficult finding a contractor that will just hook up the parts I supply (is hourly work just not a thing ?) (combine that with- forced air guys are everywhere, boiler guys a little harder to find)
-no govt rebate/incentive for what I need currently, maybe next year ?
-bill would have come in around 4 or 5 large.. bad time to sink cash maybe
-natural gas line didnt extend to our road this year, maybe next year (would avoid setting up for propane and then re-do with natgas later)
-hoping that oil prices will be more stable than gas this winter ?

So, Roth tank will be installed (ins requirement).
Hope I dont kick myself for this in a few months..
30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
Currently in building maintenance.
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Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,536
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    Good luck... at least you may get natural gas sometime (LP is not an option around here -- it's a LOT more expensive than oil). We were able to prebuy about two thirds of our oil for the winter at a price which, although it made us wince, wasn't hopeless. If the stuff comes down by the end of February, we'll look very smart.

    On hourly work, though -- the problem is, perhaps, two fold: first, if someone installs something, they own it as far as warranty and repair goes. They kind of like to have control of that. And, second, they usually make a little profit on it. Top that off with most of the installers I know are so busy they don't have time to eat lunch...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    The upside is the Roth tank should have good resale value if you make the change in the future. 

    LP is a funny thing, around here it is much cheaper than oil if you buy enough of it. I think it works out to be a wash for typical residential customers price wise. But for large consumers of people with multiple buildings LP ends up being well less than half the cost BTU for BTU. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 531
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    LP is a funny thing, around here it is much cheaper than oil if you buy enough of it. I think it works out to be a wash for typical residential customers price wise. But for large consumers of people with multiple buildings LP ends up being well less than half the cost BTU for BTU. 

    It is the same here. If you use 500-1000 gallons of LP per season generally oil costs the same or less. Once you get over 1500 gallons of LP per year, pricing tends to favor LP. 3000+ gallons of LP will have a very attractive price compared to oil.

    This Co-op has a good chart to show how their LP pricing varies with volume:

    https://galwayco-op.com/propane/
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 531
    Options

    Aborting the upgrade to modcon gas (propane) w/buffer tank for this season.
    -seems to be difficult finding a contractor that will just hook up the parts I supply (is hourly work just not a thing ?) (combine that with- forced air guys are everywhere, boiler guys a little harder to find)
    -no govt rebate/incentive for what I need currently, maybe next year ?
    -bill would have come in around 4 or 5 large.. bad time to sink cash maybe
    -natural gas line didnt extend to our road this year, maybe next year (would avoid setting up for propane and then re-do with natgas later)
    -hoping that oil prices will be more stable than gas this winter ?

    So, Roth tank will be installed (ins requirement).
    Hope I dont kick myself for this in a few months..

    The cheapest fuel is the fuel you don't use. Have you already taken care of the low hanging fruit like attic insulation, rim joist, air sealing?
    pecmsgSTEVEusaPACLambMikeAmann
  • Labenaqui
    Labenaqui Member Posts: 72
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    Northern New England is highly dependent upon oil heat. We procedurally refer our customers to a Fuel Co-Op buying strategy up front.
    Propane and NatGas (where available here) are a cost premium and we are in fact vacating our Gas License as a business strategy.
    Looking at the current situation, we quote Lord Wellington who stated "The whole art of war consists of guessing at what is on the other side of the hill." All we view is our massive hydrocarbon reserves prevailing "after the smoke clears".
    Unfortunately it appears that demands upon NatGas Feedstocks are and will significantly skew the equation as we reestablish our re-shoring efforts.
    Careful heating appliance selection and fuel purchasing strategy wins every time.
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,401
    edited September 2022
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    Robert_25 said:
    Aborting the upgrade to modcon gas (propane) w/buffer tank for this season. -seems to be difficult finding a contractor that will just hook up the parts I supply (is hourly work just not a thing ?) (combine that with- forced air guys are everywhere, boiler guys a little harder to find) -no govt rebate/incentive for what I need currently, maybe next year ? -bill would have come in around 4 or 5 large.. bad time to sink cash maybe -natural gas line didnt extend to our road this year, maybe next year (would avoid setting up for propane and then re-do with natgas later) -hoping that oil prices will be more stable than gas this winter ? So, Roth tank will be installed (ins requirement). Hope I dont kick myself for this in a few months..
    The cheapest fuel is the fuel you don't use. Have you already taken care of the low hanging fruit like attic insulation, rim joist, air sealing?
    I'd like to add that foundation insulation is important too, at least the top 2/3rds. Last January I went around the outside of the house in the middle of the night with my thermal camera. I know it's often quoted that the attic is your biggest opportunity to save energy but what I saw on the thermal begged to differ at least once you have at least some insulation in the attic. 
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 603
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    Attic was updated to R60 a few years ago, leak sealed pretty good (great blower door test), glass all recent.
    Foundation/perimeter could use some insulation for sure.
    Going to tie some in-floor zones together for this winter to reduce some short-cycles.
    Set temp is going to be a bit cooler.

    Im guessing 400 gallons this year.

    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,898
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    Attic was updated to R60 a few years ago, leak sealed pretty good (great blower door test), glass all recent.
    Foundation/perimeter could use some insulation for sure.
    Going to tie some in-floor zones together for this winter to reduce some short-cycles.
    Set temp is going to be a bit cooler.

    Im guessing 400 gallons this year
    That’s a low heat loss! Hard to make any new appliance/ new fuel pencil. 
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 603
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    That’s a low heat loss! Hard to make any new appliance/ new fuel pencil. 
    Thats what I get when I try to use my brain instead of an online converter.
    Plus, I was thinking in Imp gallons instead of US.
    So.. lets go with 550 USg




    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
    Hot_water_fan
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 755
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    I just got a $2.54 buy for 1900 gallons at my place in PA ... I own another property and that one only needs one fill a year -- last month it was 750 gallons for $2.40
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,898
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    Thats what I get when I try to use my brain instead of an online converter.
    Plus, I was thinking in Imp gallons instead of US.
    So.. lets go with 550 USg 
    Happens to the best of us. Heat loss around 35kbtu if you have about 4500 HDD? Not too shabby! 
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 531
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    That’s a low heat loss! Hard to make any new appliance/ new fuel pencil. 
    Thats what I get when I try to use my brain instead of an online converter. Plus, I was thinking in Imp gallons instead of US. So.. lets go with 550 USg

    Still a terrible ROI on a new boiler.  If your current one is shot that is one thing, but if it is still reliable I would leave it alone.  
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,536
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    TAG said:

    I just got a $2.54 buy for 1900 gallons at my place in PA ... I own another property and that one only needs one fill a year -- last month it was 750 gallons for $2.40

    I'm jealous. Prices in New England are quite a bit higher... it's been above $5 per gallon, though recently it came down to about $4.50 in bulk. Haven't seen prices around here as low as you quote since at least early 2020.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
    edited September 2022
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    TAG said:

    I just got a $2.54 buy for 1900 gallons at my place in PA ... I own another property and that one only needs one fill a year -- last month it was 750 gallons for $2.40

    I’ll take 500,000 gallons. How are you getting it for more than a dollar under wholesale price?

    Edit: Turns out that was the price for propane.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 531
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    TAG said:

    I just got a $2.54 buy for 1900 gallons at my place in PA ... I own another property and that one only needs one fill a year -- last month it was 750 gallons for $2.40

    Are you referring to heating oil, or propane?
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 603
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    Heat loss around 35kbtu if you have about 4500 HDD? Not too shabby! 
    Im feeling confused.. lol

    I know last year I used 565 USg and the year before it was 535.
    I thought it was terrible.
    My design loss is about 70k.
    According to weatherstats.ca , Jul 2021-Jul 2022 was 5612 but thats metric .


    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,857
    edited September 2022
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    Heat loss around 35kbtu if you have about 4500 HDD? Not too shabby! 
    Im feeling confused.. lol

    I know last year I used 565 USg and the year before it was 535.
    I thought it was terrible.
    My design loss is about 70k.
    According to weatherstats.ca , Jul 2021-Jul 2022 was 5612 but thats metric .


    70K?
    What size house, and what's the design temp?

    My actual loss at -8F is around 72K in a 1600sqft house.
    That's terrible.
    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
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 755
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    TAG said:

    I just got a $2.54 buy for 1900 gallons at my place in PA ... I own another property and that one only needs one fill a year -- last month it was 750 gallons for $2.40

    I’ll take 500,000 gallons. How are you getting it for more than a dollar under wholesale price?

    Something happened to my first line of the reply ...... My numbers are for propane.

    It seems every old place I have bought is oil ... upgrading out of oil is always in the plan. I did keep it in one where it was a single newer oil boiler a/ Roth.
    STEVEusaPA
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,536
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    Ah. Propane. Now that makes more sense. That brings your cost per BTU right in line with our cost for oil here. Since what I'm buying is BTUs, that's the number to work with -- not gallons.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    PC7060
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,898
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    Im feeling confused.. lol

    I know last year I used 565 USg and the year before it was 535.
    I thought it was terrible.
    My design loss is about 70k.
    According to weatherstats.ca , Jul 2021-Jul 2022 was 5612 but thats metric 
    What’s your design temp, in Celsius? Unless you’re burning a lot of wood or away for months during the winter, I think you have a much lower heat loss than 70k. Makes any change harder to pay off. 
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,341
    edited September 2022
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    It seemed like realistic predictions in this interview.

    Gasoline consumption drops in the fall so refinery's start bulking up on fuel oil, diesel, and jet fuel now.

    You can probably find data like this for your area.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,857
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    To be honest,
    If anyone on this forum was able to accurately predict fuel prices, they probably wouldn't be on this forum.
    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
    Hot_water_fanSTEVEusaPASolid_Fuel_ManPC7060
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 603
    edited September 2022
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    ChrisJ said:


    What size house, and what's the design temp?

    My actual loss at -8F is around 72K in a 1600sqft house.
    That's terrible.

    Design temp is -21f here. (-29c @Hot_water_fan )
    Two stories above ground (1000 sqft each), slab at grade then a 5ft deep filled foundation.
    Attached garage with same foundation, 600sqft. We keep the garage cooler than the house.
    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
    Hot_water_fan
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,898
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    Ha! Dave, you have an efficient house! 70kbtu is not even close. Your heat loss through the attic is only about 1300 btu/hr. The rest of your house isn’t R-60 but it’s not R-2 either. You’re probably around 25-35kbtu. 
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 603
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    @Hot_water_fan Slantfin app said I need 42500 for the main house, plus 27500 for the garage.

    I wasnt sure how to properly identify the big box of fill under the slab though, it does seem to have some momentum.. we generally burn a tank from start to new years, then a tank to early Feb, but then a half tank until spring.

    The old boiler (well, not that old.. 22yrs) is a DOE 118k (103 IBR).
    At extreme cold (-40) it does pause now and then but not much).
    I dont think I'd risk anything smaller than an 80k when I replace it.
    (I was going to go 115k and cap the burner to 80% or such.. allowing room for indirect someday)
    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,898
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    If the boiler is 118kbtu and a oil gallon has 138kbtu, that means it runs only 550gallons/(118/138) = 643 hours per winter. Way, way oversized for a climate and house like yours. My old one was 3-4x oversized and ran about 400 hours per year in a much warmer climate. 

    Apps can’t compare to tracking the usage, too many places to mess up. If I had to guess, you got the insulation right but the air infiltration is off. Plus garages are especially difficult. 

    Is this a cold start boiler? Does it have a thermal purge or something similar? 
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,536
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    @Dave Carpentier -- I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the Slant/Fin app wasn't very close to design -- give or take 10%, and usually a little on the conservative side, and I doubt that your usage is out of line, given your climate. It can be very difficult for people who do not live in a genuinely cold climate, such as yours, to appreciate just how much energy it really takes to keep things acceptably warm. I'd go with your numbers, if I were you.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,341
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    Theron lies the challenge for a conventional non modulating boiler. You need to design for the coldest condition, keeping in mind you could be below design for weeks also.
    But 80% of the heating season you are oversized, grossly for maybe 25% of the shoulder season
    That is wher efficiency go bad, fuel consumption up, cycling wear go up, etc. That possibly 85% boiler drops into the 60% range for much of the season. A 110k boiler doesn’t go well with a 10k load
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    PC7060
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,898
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    Ideally you would know how much oil it burns on the coldest day. That’s where gas smart meters are handy. Once you have one, there’s no point fussing with an app. 
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,536
    edited September 2022
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    Another approach, @Hot_water_fan , for oil at least, is if you know your flow rate just get the run time on some miserable day. No problem at all (for example, Cedric actually flows at about 3.3 gallons per hour (2.75 nozzle at 150 psi) with an efficiency of 85% (measured).The worst I've measured was 10 below and very windy and he ran 12 hours almost exactly. So about 196,000 BTUh for Cedric's home in those conditions. But, of course, Cedric is steam, so you go by EDR -- he's not oversized at all.

    (Works out, by the way, to about 28 BTUh per livable square foot, which isn't too shabby for a house part of which was built in 1780, with the most recent bit being 1893).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Hot_water_fanPC7060
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    One HUGE advantage for gas equipment is modulation as well as condensing. In many low temp installations where we have remove oil boilers with injection or other strategies to lower temps for heating and replaced with primary/secondary mod/cons fuel usage was nearly identical. That nearly 30% reduction in BTUs a gallon of LP has was made up for by the modulation and condensing equipment. More of an apples to apples comparison when looking at costs per gallon of LP vs Oil. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    PC7060
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,536
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    I wish I had time this morning (it's Sunday, and there are other things which need doing) to write a complete refutation of the 30% savings in BTU usage by switching the fuel source from oil to LP.

    I don't.

    All I do want to say is that, all else being equal, sorry. No. I might buy 10%, for hot water or air if you can have enough radiation to always operate in full condensing mode and you weren't before. Otherwise, No.

    Sweeping generalisations don't help the clients, they don't help other pros, they don't help the industry.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,909
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    I wish I had time this morning (it's Sunday, and there are other things which need doing) to write a complete refutation of the 30% savings in BTU usage by switching the fuel source from oil to LP.

    I don't.

    All I do want to say is that, all else being equal, sorry. No. I might buy 10%, for hot water or air if you can have enough radiation to always operate in full condensing mode and you weren't before. Otherwise, No.

    Sweeping generalisations don't help the clients, they don't help other pros, they don't help the industry.

    and a good part if not all the savings are eaten by the more frequent and costly repair costs!
    SuperTech
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 755
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    In the old days with a cast boiler the oil/ propane game was a Zero. Have been doing the calculation since building my first new house at 28 in the late 80's. Typical propane cast boiler will run forever .... oil needs work every year (not a problem for people here) .... loud operation. In a big house the propane storage can become a problem. Fuel wise (cost) they match each other over time with one winning one year and not the next. I would still avoid oil boiler unless storage of fuel was difficult.

    It's when you can get NG or the equipment is forced air ... oil is not going to win.

    I agree on the condensing boilers ..... for years any saving was more than eliminated with equipment cost problems and early replacements. Did a huge house in Chestnut Hill PA and everybody said my savings would be great going NG condensing. The two Buderus cast boilers are still fine at 20 years -- both needed vent dampers and one a relay. I'm sure the condensing would be landfill now.

    My newest projects have condensing propane -- time will tell. Typical boilers are really NLA for low temp.
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,898
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    30% btu savings vs a new oil boiler aren’t happening, but by the time an oil boiler is replaced with a condensing propane boiler, I wouldn’t be shocked if some home’s 1st year BTU savings were in the 30% range. 
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,536
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    30% btu savings vs a new oil boiler aren’t happening, but by the time an oil boiler is replaced with a condensing propane boiler, I wouldn’t be shocked if some home’s 1st year BTU savings were in the 30% range. 

    I would agree with that -- but it's not the change from oil to LP which is doing it.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Hot_water_fanMikeAmann
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,477
    edited September 2022
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    Is oil going to be a cheaper source of energy? Cost effectiveness over the long haul??? Making predictions is the easiest thing in the world to do. Why I've done it a thousand times myself. It's getting it right that's the hard part.

    “The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, / Gang aft agley,”= “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”

    The fact of life is that some people will guess right and some people will guess wrong.

    "The future ain't what it use to be."-- Yogi Berra
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,341
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    What is the cost of a "proper" yearly oil boiler service? Compared to a yearly mod con service? Any consumables on oil boilers? filters, nozzles??

    I'd guess the labor hours are a wash. Mod cons may need an ignitor or flame rod occasionally, some gaskets for a yearly breakdown and clean.

    I question that all mod cons need yearly breakdown and cleaning. It's all about what they breath, and first combustion adjustments and check. I had one on LP that went 10 years before I touched it. Not proud of that :) It was a Combi and cycled like crazy in my mother in laws home.

    As far a standard cast NG boilers, they rarely get serviced, certainly not yearly.

    I'm on my 7th mod con now in the various buildings I have owned 1 Laars Mascot, 1 HTP Contender, 5 Lochinvar, (3 Knights, 1 Cadet, 1 Nobel). I had one inducer replacement, a few flame rods. Several of them ran 5-6 years before the first cleaning.

    Of the dozens of mod cons I installed for customers over the years, and the ones I keep track of, I haven't had any of these alleged expensive replacement/ failures. Although I suspect a few of the early Weil Ultras dissolved themselves by now, sorry about that. Lesson learned.

    I doubt that mod cons are any more un-reliable than a modern oil fired with electronics. It you have a lot of mod con problems I'd look closely at the installation, and maybe the brand :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 603
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    I'd hate to tempt fate, but certainly the ROI for this cast iron oil boiler has been good. In 22 years other than normal maintenance, Ive only had to change out the refractory box, the burner head, and the oil pump valve. I suppose the head and valve would be considered regular maint too (the refractory swap was precautionary after the fun times when the valve was leaking).

    I mentioned to the systems guy at the supply house that I was thinking of getting rid of it, he said thats a shame because that boiler (Olsen OBD) should be good for 30 or 40 years.


    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.