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Rental Tenant Boiler Issues.

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obates413
obates413 Member Posts: 2
Hi all. I am seeking information on my new boiler. As I am in a rental and my landlord has denied assistance and information to me I am hoping that I can find some information here. We had our previous heating system destroyed in a recent flood. A new boiler was installed about a month ago and we live in the North temperatures have dropped below zero on the average day at this point. We are going through over 100gal of propane a month yet never keeping the temperature at higher than 67 degrees. The energy company is shocked by our usage and reported to us this is not average. They say a home of our size (3 bedrooms, 1 story) should be going through 1gal/day on average and we are going through 4-5gal. I have little to no information on our system. We have baseboard heating. Our house is absolutely freezing and I am concerned about the coming months and the financial costs we are facing with the propane usage. I know the previous tenants had no issues with heat so I do not think this is an issue of insulation.

Do we think there is some sort of leak or damage in the system causing this? Any information would be greatly helpful as I feel I must face and solve this issue without landlord assistance.

Thank you.

Comments

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,741
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    Will probably need more information on the system, boiler model number and some pictures of the install.

    One thing to keep in mind is your rights as a tenant. If the system indeed is incapable of bringing the temperature above 67, there are usually laws that dictate the landlord must resolve the issue. In my state 70 is the minimum. If the temperature issue, and the fuel usage issue are interconnected (very possible) than going through the state to file about a lack of heat, should force the landlord to address the situation. If I was you I would be finding out which agency in your state or town handles this and get that ball rolling, that is if indeed the system can't get the home to temperature.

    You have rights, and they should not be ignored by a landlord.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    EdTheHeaterManMikeAmann
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,607
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    As @KC_Jones pictures of the boiler and the piping around it will help. Do you here any sloshing /gurgling in the pipes or baseboard that would indicate an air problem.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    @KC_Jones I don't think the OP is saying the temperature can't get above 67, I think they are saying they are keeping it low because of usage.

    If the boiler is running non stop when it's below design temperature, then the boiler is probably too small. Or maybe there isn't enough water in the system, or maybe even the circulator(s) aren't running.
    If it's not that, they you probably have a leak.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,044
    edited November 2023
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    Contact a lawyer that can hold your rent payments in escrow. DO NOT STOP PAYING RENT. Just do not give it to the landlord until the problem is resolved.

    You may also want to start looking for an alternative place to live, if you can not afford the new, higher utility bill. By allowing the bill to go unpaid because you can not afford it, make sure you turn off the water to the home, so when the pipes freeze the damage will be minimal. Your landlord is responsible for providing a working heating system. If that new system costs more to operate than the older one, then you should not be responsible for the mistakes made by the installer or the landlord.

    Make a record of every transaction with your landlord. Use email, or certified letter so you have a record of everything said. If you have a phone conversation, follow up with a written confirmation of what was said. Like "just to confirm our last phone conversation of November 2, 2023, you will not allow a contractor of my choosing to evaluate the reason my propane bill is 5 times higher than normal and the temperature in the home (apartment) will not reach 70°F. Please respond if I misunderstood your comment". This can be an email or text but keep a record or screen shot of it. Sometimes printing the information on paper is helpful to have.

    When it comes to the legal system, the person with the BEST documentation usually wins.

    Also, inform the landlord by certified mail if you plan on leaving the home unoccupied and unheated until you can afford the utility bill. This will leave you off the hook for any frozen pipe damage. If you want to stay in the home then have the attorney send a letter to the effect that you will be placing the rent in escrow until such time as the heating problem is resolved.

    As suggested by @KCJones above, check with your local government health department or human services department or other agency that handles landlord / tenant disputes. You Have Rights.



    Edward Young Retired

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

    pecmsgethicalpaulMikeAmannMad Dog_2
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,881
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    In almost all jurisdictions the landlord is responsible for minimum heat. 
    As stated, contact a attorney and pay the rent to escrow until repairs are made!
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,993
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    You might just have a leak on the propane line.
    I would get the gas sniffer tool or a soapy solution with a spray bottle and check the connections.
    You might be leaking propane.
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,924
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    Nowhere in the US has dropped to zero at all yet this year, much less as an average, so I'm assuming you're in Canada and are using Celsius? It has not been cold enough to warrant having the heat on for a month straight at 67, unless the insulation is very poor which you said is not the case, so you may be putting the cart before the horse a little bit. Do you use much hot water (bathing, laundry, etc)? Is it possible that the domestic water was converted from electric when the boiler was swapped? What is the landlord saying, specifically? I don't mean to play devil's advocate here, but as someone who has been on both sides of this spectrum, there are some definite holes in the story given here. A boiler doesn't just start using 5x as much gas for no reason. Is there possibly a gas leak? Some photos of the boiler and piping would certainly help determine what may be the cause of the supposed high usage.
    realliveplumberMad Dog_2
  • realliveplumber
    realliveplumber Member Posts: 354
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    Theres always 2 sides to every story. Id love to hear the landlords side.....
    Mad Dog_2
  • obates413
    obates413 Member Posts: 2
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    Hi all. Thank you for the information. As I said, our previous system was destroyed by a natural disaster. It is evident to me that the landlord does not have the funds to properly reinstall a new heating system. I will not be giving any more information on my housing situation, I am simply seeking assistance with a heating issue. It is hard times for all of us but these new utilities are nearly triple the cost of the ones I initially was paying when I first moved in. I live in a very rural area and have no other housing options, hence why I am stuck in my current situation. I was told by my energy company that something was wrong based on their stats. It is a brand new boiler installed two months ago. The house was previously heated by a pellet system and after the flood, our water is heated by electricity. I wanted to make sure that this was abnormal before I had to pay out of pocket for someone to come and look at the system. Simply seeking information that I am lacking. Thank you.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,993
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    Intplm. said:

    You might just have a leak on the propane line.
    I would get the gas sniffer tool or a soapy solution with a spray bottle and check the connections.
    You might be leaking propane.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^ THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^^
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,044
    edited November 2023
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    @obates413 To be clear, you are used to paying for LP Gas to operate some appliances in your home but the original heating source was not LP Gas. It was a pellet stove or boiler of some type.
    The house was previously heated by a pellet system and after the flood, our water is heated by electricity.

    This shines a new light on your situation.

    Was your previous water heater LP Gas? LPG to heat water while heating your home with "Other than LPG" makes a difference in your situation.

    How much pellet fuel was used with the old system? Did you figure that into the equation? I am thinking that you no longer need to pay for pellet fuel. So is the triple LPG bill because you are now heating with LPG and therefore you are using much more gas than when heating with pellets.

    The fact that you mentioned that you are heating water with electricity makes me wonder what you were heating water with previously. Was the water heater LPG?

    You may not have a problem, you just need to divert your energy payments to others. The pellet delivery man will lose a customer and the LPG company will get that money formerly paid to the Pellet guy.

    However there is some concern as to the leaking gas. Do you smell that rotten egg odor that is associated with LPGas? if there is a leak, you will want to find it and correct it. especially if it is making your gas usage high enough to be noticed by your LPG company. There may not be a leak and you are just using the amount of gas needed to heat the home. But I would want to be sure. Especially since new work was just completed 2 months ago. Better safe than sorry.

    To find leaks if your nose can't detect the odor, use a spray bottle of liquid dish detergent and water (about two parts water to one part detergent) and spray it on every connection from the LP tank all the way to the appliances. if bubbles start to form and grow in size, you have a leak. when completed, spray clear water on all the places you sprayed with soap bubbles then towel dry to remove the residue from the pipes and fittings.

    Edward Young Retired

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

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    Is the LPG company aware that you are heating now with LP gas rather than pellets?

    They could be looking at the past usage where you had only a water heater as the main load.
    bburdMaxMercyIntplm.
  • MaxMercy
    MaxMercy Member Posts: 514
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    obates413 said:

    They say a home of our size (3 bedrooms, 1 story) should be going through 1gal/day on average and we are going through 4-5gal.


    Propane? If you're in a cold month (let's say 25F), then 4-5 gallons is not at all out of line. Even a LPG water heater alone uses a gallon or more a day.

  • jesmed1
    jesmed1 Member Posts: 560
    edited November 2023
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    Let's do a little math. In the far north with temps below zero on an average day, the heat loss in a well insulated house could be as low as 20 BTU/hr/sq ft, but probably closer to 30 BTU/hr/sq ft or more. But let's assume the better case of 20 BTU/hr sq ft. Then if your 3 BR house is 1500 sq ft, that's 30,000 BTU/hr heat loss on a zero degree day. Then over ten hours, you've lost 300,000 BTU's.

    One gallon of propane has about 91,500 BTU, so over that ten hour period at zero degrees, you burned 300,000/91,500=3.2 gallons of propane. And that's for less than half a day.

    Your actual numbers may vary somewhat, but as others have have said, there's no way you're going to heat the house on 1 gallon of propane per day in the dead of a northern winter, and 4-5 gal/day average at this point is reasonable.
    hot_rodSTEAM DOCTOR
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,044
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    @obates413 There is some interesting information here. I hope this will be helpful in your decision process. Sorry to hear about your situation, but the way you originally presented the issue, made it sound like there was a poorly installed new heater and a landlord that didn't care. Your situation is much different than that. I hope that insurance or FEMA can help you and your landlord with recovering form the disaster you have suffered. Many of us will be praying for you getting back to normal. Best wishes.

    Happy Thanksgiving,

    Mr.Ed

    Edward Young Retired

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

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,251
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    3.3 gallons a day? Any other  appliances on lp?
    Water heater, stove, dryer?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream