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Oil boiler, remove baseboard from entire house but keep the water heater

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frosy12323
frosy12323 Member Posts: 3
edited June 2023 in Oil Heating
Hello,

I have a question about removing Hydronic Baseboard but keeping the boiler and water heater in place.


Is this relatively straight forward?

1. Shut off power
2. Cut off the supply and return for the baseboard, than remove it. The pressure should remain the same for the supply/return for the water heater, correct?
3. Remove/cap baseboard lines
4. Restart power?



Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    Why do you want to do this?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    DerheatmeisterMad Dog_2mattmia2SuperTech
  • frosy12323
    frosy12323 Member Posts: 3
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    Why do you want to do this?

    I have a new HVAC system, so this oil system would only be useful as a backup. That'd be fine on its own. However, the current baseboard locations are blocking a renovation project.

    I don't think it's worth redoing the baseboard plumbing if it's a backup system. I already have a heat pump, a working fire place and a pellet stove.

    However, I don't want to replace a functioning water heater system.

  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,861
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    Is the indirect new?
    That's an early 90's WBV before the swing out door. If you don't need the heat, why not a direct fired water heater? What you're asking will work in theory.
    5. Disconnect all control wiring to the heat zone(s). 
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,060
    edited June 2023
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    Makes sense to me! I remember installing a brand spankin’ new Buderus Boiler with a Buderus Indirect tank to supply unlimited hot water to a summer home in Sea Isle City NJ. Future plans for an addition and possibly baseboard heat in the old electric heated original home. That boiler stayed there for 7 years before any other radiator ever was connected to it. Then there were only 3 panel rads and a towel warmer added with the addition. The rest of the home never got the upgraded baseboard heating.

    So your plan is sound. Keep the system as is with the indirect zone heated by the boiler. Cap off the zone that is going to be abandoned and let it run ‘til it don’t!


    If you want. to get really fancy... remove the electric resistance heat and install a hot water coil in the air handler. Now you will have the best of both worlds. HP efficient heating until it is very cold. Then the hot water can heat the ducts whenever it is feeling like the HP isn't cutting it.

    If you are interested in this, I can give you a wiring diagram for the logical sequence of operation.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

    MikeAmannGGrossHot_water_fan
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,729
    edited June 2023
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    Using that crusty, inefficient, heat-radiating boiler to heat your DHW is not a sound plan. Even a resistive electric water heater only costs like $600-$800 per year in electricity, and of course a heat pump water heater is so much better.

    Having to maintain oil delivery service, oil burner maintenance, boiler cleaning/maintenance, and the circulator pump to heat a few gallons of hot water per day is the strangest idea I have heard in some time.

    You mention backup, but what is the backup? You need electricity to run the burner and circulate the water anyway. This is a plan that only an oil dealer could love :sweat_smile:
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Mad Dog_2mattmia2Hot_water_fanSuperTechKC_JonesEdTheHeaterMan
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,428
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    Have to admit that I'm not enthusiastic about this one. You won't have a backup for heat -- you've taken all the heating stuff out. Using that old boiler solely for hot water is, as @ethicalpaul says, not a good plan.

    He like heat pump water heaters. I don't, but I also like plenty of hot water. But the basic idea is sound -- simply put in a good electric resistance type water heater and get rid of the whole thing.

    But as I say you will have no backup in the event of a power failure but, depending on your climate, that may not be a problem (an HVAC system big enough to heat the house would take a really big generator to run)(oh and by the way -- does the HVAC really heat the house? To code?)
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaulbburdSuperTech
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,735
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    I don't think your savings in other options will save you enough to make them pay for their costs. If you have natural gas or propane available the lower maintenance costs could make those cost effective, if you have to go to an oil direct fired water heater then you will still have the annual maintenance.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,729
    edited June 2023
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    I can't see how an electric water heater couldn't save money vs the oil and maintenance costs and eventual replacement cost of that boiler, but let's say it doesn't.

    We are talking about like $1000 plus $600-$800 per year (minus whatever the cost of the oil system is) to never have to worry about oil delivery, oil tank, oil burner maintenance, flue, boiler cleaning, and the heat of the boiler during the summer and that is worth way more than that. I mean I know I listed all this stuff above, but come on. Am I crazy that I don't like all that stuff to have to worry about?

    You really wouldn't just get a water heater, Matt?

    Apparently I am too enthusiastic in my answers or something because I got 2 "disagrees" and 2 "LOLs" and Jamie who agreed with me got three thumbs up. Not sure what to make of that LOL. I know Mad Dog doesn't like me, but that boiler is a weird way to heat DHW you must agree, no?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Mad Dog_2
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,882
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    @ethicalpaul I was laughing at your joke! I agree that indirects aren’t common or practical for 99% of Americans, especially when there’s no other use for the boiler. Small market product. 
    ethicalpaul
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,735
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    Unless I'm way off on the cost of servicing an oil burner, you can do that for close to a decade for the cost of a heat pump water heater. You could probably even do it every other year if it is only being used to heat hot water.
    Mad Dog_2
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,185
    edited June 2023
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    @ethicalpaul I lol every time you comment about a boiler with an indirect.  I don't think you have any actual experience from your description of an oil fired boiler or a boiler with an indirect.

    "Crusty, inefficient, heat radiating"....

    That boiler doesn't look crusty to me, especially considering it's age. It looks like a decent installation and well maintained.  My favorite is the 'heat radiating" comment that you always make.  I have an indirect.  A few hundred customers of mine have indirects. You know what we all have in common? Our basements are all still nice and cool in the summer.  I don't notice any difference in homes without boilers. Maintenance can be minimal with modern oil burning equipment, when it's done right. My boiler hasn't seen soot in years, it's a nothing special WBV-03. 

    I know you are highly biased because you have a heat pump water heater, but your comments show a bit of ignorance much in the same way some folks describe steam boilers as inefficient, noisy, dirty, etc.
    Mad Dog_2ethicalpaulEdTheHeaterManSTEVEusaPA
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,774
    edited June 2023
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    SuperTech said:

    @ethicalpaul I lol every time you comment about a boiler with an indirect.  I don't think you have any actual experience from your description of an oil fired boiler or a boiler with an indirect.

    "Crusty, inefficient, heat radiating"....

    That boiler doesn't look crusty to me, especially considering it's age. It looks like a decent installation and well maintained.  My favorite is the 'heat radiating" comment that you always make.  I have an indirect.  A few hundred customers of mine have indirects. You know what we all have in common? Our basements are all still nice and cool in the summer.  I don't notice any difference in homes without boilers. Maintenance can be minimal with modern oil burning equipment, when it's done right. My boiler hasn't seen soot in years, it's a nothing special WBV-03. 

    I know you are highly biased because you have a heat pump water heater, but your comments show a bit of ignorance much in the same way some folks describe steam boilers as inefficient, noisy, dirty, etc.


    I had a Burnham V83 setup for steam and a hot water coil.
    It kept my basement quite hot in the summer just doing domestic hot water and from what I recall it wasn't cheap to operate.

    I ripped that out back in 2011. Obviously a hot water coil isn't exactly the same, and that was keeping the boiler at 180 or 190F I think. But the boiler with it's cheap thin 1/2" insulation was most certainly giving off a fair amount of heat.


    As far as the cost of replacing the OP's equipment and what it'll save I have no idea honestly.
    But I'd choose even a 240V electric tank heater over an oil fired setup like they have, at least if I was replacing equipment.

    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
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,729
    edited June 2023
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    Thanks for your reply, @SuperTech. Yes, I think indirects are weird when there are other options. If that makes me biased, then...OK? I thought they were weird way before I had a heat pump water heater, though, don't misrepresent me :smile:

    I do think they can be OK when it makes sense...when is that? When there is no natural gas or electric available for a standalone water heater, or if you need massive amounts of hot water like in a multi-unit situation. But yes, for single family residential, I do think they are pretty bad.

    But SET ALL THAT ASIDE in this case, because in this case there is no home heating even being performed by the boiler. The boiler's ONLY purpose here is to heat DHW. And in that case, there is no possible way anyone would want all the hassle and negatives of an oil burning boiler when you could install even a normal resistive (NOT HEAT PUMP) water heater. (although yes, a heat pump one is better)

    PS: It's true, I don't have experience with an indirect, but I did own a house that had an oil-burning boiler with a direct hot water coil. I cut the lines to the coil and put in a resistive electric water heater. I am definitely biased against burning oil all summer to heat my basement. And biased against unnecessary complexity and failure points (which are plentiful in this scenario--am I wrong?)

    And oh yes, thanks for reminding me, that oil burner is noisy, too.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • frosy12323
    frosy12323 Member Posts: 3
    edited June 2023
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    I'll replace the water heater at some point with a heat pump water heater. I just don't see the point while it's still working and I have a full tank of oil.

    If it ends up costing a lot or if it or the boiler breaks I'll replace it. Until the I don't want to spend the money to replace something that is working.

    The boiler is in an insulated room in the garage that is isolated from any living space in the house.

    As for backup in the case of the electricity going out. First I have underground lines to the house so I'm somewhat protected from trees falling on wires. Also I have a fire place and a pellet stove that I can run to at least keep things habitable while I wait for the power to come back on line. I am also considering either Solar/Battery or getting a gas hookup to run a Generac. That's a a long term plan though.
    mattmia2
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,774
    edited June 2023
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    I'll replace the water heater at some point with a heat pump water heater. I just don't see the point while it's still working and I have a full tank of oil.

    If it ends up costing a lot or if it or the boiler breaks I'll replace it. Until the I don't want to spend the money to replace something that is working.

    The boiler is in an insulated room in the garage that is isolated from any living space in the house.

    As for backup in the case of the electricity going out. First I have underground lines to the house so I'm somewhat protected from trees falling on wires. Also I have a fire place and a pellet stove that I can run to at least keep things habitable while I wait for the power to come back on line. I am also considering either Solar/Battery or getting a gas hookup to run a Generac. That's a a long term plan though.


    There are a few on here who say natural gas cannot be trusted and that it's unreliable.

    For what it's worth, I built my own generator that runs on natural gas because, at least in my area, I trust it. I've never had an issue with natural gas reliability to be honest. I don't think in the 42 years I've been around it I've ever seen it fail.

    So I'd highly recommend a generator that runs on natural gas.
    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
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,729
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    Definitely burn your oil! 

    The backup I was referring to was that some other respondent seemed to indicate this setup provided some kind of backup—it doesn’t because it needs both oil and electricity in order to heat the water
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,735
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    I do think they can be OK when it makes sense...when is that? When there is no natural gas or electric available for a standalone water heater, or if you need massive amounts of hot water like in a multi-unit situation. But yes, for single family residential, I do think they are pretty bad.

    Tank type direct fired water heaters are pretty bad at transferring the heat from the fuel burned to the water. Even 75%-85% efficient boilers do a better job at that. You do have to be careful about how you size the tank especially with a conventional boiler so that it does not run a lot of short cycles because the losses from the boiler heating up and cooling down between dhw calls will kill your efficiency if they are frequent.


    PS: It's true, I don't have experience with an indirect, but I did own a house that had an oil-burning boiler with a direct hot water coil. I cut the lines to the coil and put in a resistive electric water heater. I am definitely biased against burning oil all summer to heat my basement. And biased against unnecessary complexity and failure points (which are plentiful in this scenario--am I wrong?)

    A tankless coil is a very different animal. Keeping the boiler hot 24/7/365 just to make hot water wastes a lot of fuel. An indirect can have better and more reliable controls and the boiler can be made of materials that better resist the flame so there are many types of indirect that can last a lot longer than a direct fired water heater. If the only fuel available is oil you can make it so that you only have one oil burner to service instead of 2.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,729
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    Thanks Matt--

    I'm not sure keeping the boiler hot 24/7 wastes much more. If the boiler is allowed to get cool between calls for water from the indirect tank, then the fuel has to heat up all that water in the boiler just to start to be able to heat the water in the indirect tank. Isn't this similar to the age-old question of "does a setback save energy?"

    > If the only fuel available is oil you can make it so that you only have one oil burner to service instead of 2

    Absolutely, I can see the value of this, and I believe that was the case above where I said I could see an indirect making sense. But this does not apply in this case. If he goes with an electric water heater, he will have no need for any oil service at all, no oil burner, no boiler, no need for a flue, nothing.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,060
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    @ethicalpaul, if you have a perfectly good working water heater that is operating efficiently on fuel oil, and you were in the identical situation as @frosy12323, you would recommend taking out working efficient equipment to try your experimental heat pump water heater. WOW.

    I don't understand why you keep promoting that steamer of yours. Just because there was an old steam boiler there and you did the DIY boiler that is so impressive, I just thought you liked to experiment with steam and therefore the over-cost to operate inefficient steamers were just part-in-parcel of your passion.

    You know the reason so many people have One Pipe Steam in their home is because it was cheaper than installing a water boiler that could operate at much more efficient, lower temperatures. With your assertion that @frosy12323 should stop all fuel oil usage once the decision to stop heating the home with the oil fired boiler is like me saying that the Steam boiler you so meticulously installed to perfection, should never have been conceived. You should only have considered a heat pump with ductwork. That boiler is a dinosaur no matter how beautifully it was installed.

    If the electric resistance heater will use $600 to $800 per year plus the cost of installation Then the Oil will heat that same water for $250.00 to $350.00 per year with no cost of installation. Also, since the oil burner will be used a lot less fuel heating only the DHW, the maintenance frequency will also be a lot less. Maybe every third year or so. I think you are doing the gaslighting now by inflating costs of maintenance and trouble with the way that they operate.

    Your experience with oil heat in the past is nothing like today's Modern Oil Heat!

    COP of heat pump compared to electric resistance might translate to 300% or higher AFUE
    And your gas steamer is near 81% AFUE with 30% loss for piping and pickup where a ModCom can get to be over 95% AFUE with as little as a 15% loss for piping and pickup.

    PS I still like your steamer setup and I’m sure it is operating as efficiently as a steamer can. But you are not getting anywhere near the efficiency of a heat pump or ModCom.

    Just saying that @frosy12323 has a sound idea. Meaning it will work. And I can't even say that I wouldn’t do it because I did. But I would not recommend replacing the system with the same thing after its life of good service. And I believe that Frosty knows that is not a smart idea either.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,729
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    There's a lot of stuff to unpack there, Ed, really too much, but I'll just say that the 30% pickup factor of a steam boiler is not a loss, it's just used to help properly size a boiler.

    > And your gas steamer is near 81% AFUE with 30% loss for piping and pickup
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,060
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    Paul. I'm just saying that the concept is not flawed. It is sound. Use the working water heater until it is no longer useful or practical. And " >:) people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones". Especially at the glass boiler pipes! No matter how awesome they look.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,060
    edited July 2023
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    I hated installing tankless coil boilers. When ever there was an old boiler with a tankless coil, I pushed hard on upgrading to the Indirect. In order to convince myself that what the water heater manufacturer's reps were not making this stuff up, I conducted a very unscientific test. The next time I install an electric water heater, I would time how long it took from the time I filled it with cold water and turned on the power, until the electric meter stopped turning so fast from those electric elements inside the tank. The water heater was a standard Bradford White 40 Gallon Electric. I was installing a new boiler at the time and the water heater looked pretty bad so I was able to stay the rest of the day to see how long it took. My Amp meter was also placed on the incoming electric line. This took about 4 hours from switch on til the bottom element thermostat was satisfied. This was not an exact timer but it was more that 3h45m and less that 4h10m.. That was good enough for me!

    I conducted the same experiment with a Bradford 40 gallon atmospheric gas water heater. That took about 31 minutes from gas flame on until gas flame off . That was a more accurate timing because I heard the gas valve shut off and my timer read 00:30:49.

    It just so happens that I use a 3 section Buderus Oil Fired boiler with a Riello, to operate a 40 gallon indirect. So I did the same experiment at home and it took 17 minutes from a summertime cold boiler and cold water tank until the circulator stopped moving water from the boiler to the tank.

    I thought this was a pretty conclusive experiment. After comparing the times for energy usage to heat up 40 gallons of water for a Gas, Electric and Oil fired Indirect, I discovered that the least costly energy source was OIL, based on the energy prices at the time and allowing for combustion efficiency.

    One further experiment on the "VENTED" gas automatic water heater and a "NON VENTED" Indirect tank. The unused gas water heater would loose enough heat up the vent and into the basement that it required reheating after only 4h:28m of standby time. (you can do these experiments easily when you install HVAC equipment in unoccupied summer homes). the gas valve would operate for about 12 minutes to recover the differential of the thermostat therein.

    My indirect will no call for reheating for over 20 hours (not quite a full day) sitting unvented, in my garage, (that I converted to an office). After 20 hours the oil burner would operate for 9m:32sec. to recover the thermostat differential.

    Like You @ethicalpaul, I liked to experiment also, and wanted to believe the facts that I was offering my customers. I didn't want to just take the word of the "experts". I think you understand where I'm coming from on this point... (Dimension "A" comes to mind). BTW You converted me on that point.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

    bburd
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,729
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    I agree wholeheartedly that a vented atmospheric water heater is throwing a lot of money up the chimney!

    I won't comment further about this setup I've said it at least two times already in this thread :smile:
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    .......I don't understand why you keep promoting that steamer of yours. Just because there was an old steam boiler there and you did the DIY boiler that is so impressive, I just thought you liked to experiment with steam and therefore the over-cost to operate inefficient steamers were just part-in-parcel of your passion.

    You know the reason so many people have One Pipe Steam in their home is because it was cheaper than installing a water boiler that could operate at much more efficient, lower temperatures. With your assertion that @frosy12323 should stop all fuel oil usage once the decision to stop heating the home with the oil fired boiler is like me saying that the Steam boiler you so meticulously installed to perfection, should never have been conceived. You should only have considered a heat pump with ductwork. That boiler is a dinosaur no matter how beautifully it was installed.

    .........COP of heat pump compared to electric resistance might translate to 300% or higher AFUE
    And your gas steamer is near 81% AFUE with 30% loss for piping and pickup where a ModCom can get to be over 95% AFUE with as little as a 15% loss for piping and pickup.

    PS I still like your steamer setup and I’m sure it is operating as efficiently as a steamer can. But you are not getting anywhere near the efficiency of a heat pump or ModCom.

    Figure in the mod-con's much shorter life and increased service costs, plus proprietary parts that no one stocks and take at least two weeks to get there from the factory, and steam starts looking pretty good.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    ethicalpaulEdTheHeaterManSTEAM DOCTOR
  • coreahvac
    coreahvac Member Posts: 1
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    I think the water heater only will do the job as well for hot waters at your home.
    so you can remove the oil heating system and instead install heat pump.