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calcium build up

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hol
hol Member Posts: 4
I have an oil fired furnace, (base board hot water heat) and a domestic hot water coil in it. It plugs up every 3 to 4 months with calcium and I have to get it flushed. Can I disable this and go to an electric hot water heater without damage to oil heat system?

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  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,297
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    Hi and yes you can do that. There have been discussions here about how to (or not to) cap off the ends of the coil after it's been disconnected. I think leaving one end open will prevent any pressure issues from happening.

    Yours, Larry
    ps. Might be a good time to do a little research on heat pump water heaters.
    hol
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,838
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    There is another consideration that is often overlooked. The brains of your system are currently set up to make hot water at an additional cost (or use of fuel). The idea of having hot water ready for use at any time you need it results in greater stand by loss. That is: the fact that the boiler is able to produce hot water on demand is a result of keeping the boiler at a higher operating temperature.

    If and when you cut off the pipes that make the hot water, you don't tell the brain to stop making hot water, you will still have the hot water stand by loss. I have visited new customers that have done this disconnecting of the pipes 20 years ago and have not reset the brain to not making hot water.

    At least that is how I explain it to them. I might charge anywhere from $50.00 to a couple of hundred dollars for resetting the controls to stop making hot water depending on the control system they have and the parts and labor needed for the change. I tell them if you don't reduce your oil usage, Next year when I return for maintenance, I will put it back the way it was and refund the cost of the change.

    Never needed to refund any $$$

    If you are interested, I will let you how it is done if you tell me what control is on your boiler that operates the burner.
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    mattmia2hol
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,653
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    You could also go to an indirect water heater heated off the boiler.
    hol
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,303
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    Your water must be rather hard? Have you considered a water softener for the domestic water?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    hol
  • hol
    hol Member Posts: 4
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    I will have to see if my aquastat can be switched off. Yes our water is high mineral and no I don't care for the expense and waste of a water softener system causes. I would install an electric, stand alone water heater, shut one line from furnace coil and leave one open. Don't want to switch to a heat pump either as I have good base board hot water heat system now, that is serviced by a tech every year.Thank you for the replies, I will go thru them again.
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 973
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    what makes you think that the calcium will not attack your heating elements? wouldn't it be prudent to solve the calcium issue.
    delcrossvholjringel
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 742
    edited February 29
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    pedmec said:

    what makes you think that the calcium will not attack your heating elements? wouldn't it be prudent to solve the calcium issue.

    Got gas?

    Would a gas tank heater rather then an electric immersion heater be better with mineral laden water? Take a long time for a tank to crust up.
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
    hol
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,303
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    An alternative which you might investigate and which might work, depending on how hard your water really is and how much you use, is to subject that coil to a vinegar soak and rinse. Might have to do it monthly to keep ahead of it. You can use any kind of strong vinegar you like.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    hol
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,144
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    Moderate water hardness in the Toronto area 6-8 gpg. But any minerals will precipitate out with heat. The elements in an electric tank will scale over also.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    bburd
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,972
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    hol said:
    I will have to see if my aquastat can be switched off. Yes our water is high mineral and no I don't care for the expense and waste of a water softener system causes. I would install an electric, stand alone water heater, shut one line from furnace coil and leave one open. Don't want to switch to a heat pump either as I have good base board hot water heat system now, that is serviced by a tech every year.Thank you for the replies, I will go thru them again.
    I think that Larry was suggesting a heat pump water heater, not a heat pump to give you heat in the winter. Two different creatures (sort of).
    holLarry Weingarten
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,266
    edited February 29
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    hol said:

    Yes our water is high mineral and no I don't care for the expense and waste of a water softener system causes.

    I bought my current water softener for $400 at a big box store and installed it myself. Basic timer model. I don't use the timer though. Manual regeneration about every 10 days, so minimal salt use.
    If you prefer hard water for drinking, just run a line to the kitchen sink for that. Another option is to only soften the hot water for the house.
    I've had water softeners for 30 years. Not a big deal. Not expensive to buy or maintain. They get a bad reputation because people don't want to deal with the "water treatment" shysters.
    Don't get a cabinet model. Get a separate brine tank.
    Most of them can deal with moderate amounts of iron, so don't fall for that up-sell either.
    I DIY.
    hol
  • hol
    hol Member Posts: 4
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    My thoughts on an electric heater are I can at least drain it often to remove any scale and if I had to replace the element it is easier than replacing the coil of my domestic hot water in the furnace. I have flushed it myself before, the furnace coil, a tech charges $200.00 to do it. I'll call in a tech and get suggestions on a fix, thanks for the replies!
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,297
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    Hi, If you go with an electric, look into Marathon tanks. They aren't cheap, but last a lifetime and are the only tank I know of with a center drain, and the bottom head is domed down, so sediment will actually fall out of the drain when you use it. Other tanks are not much cleaned out by draining.

    Yours, Larry
    GGrosshol
  • hol
    hol Member Posts: 4
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    Just did some research on water softeners and my poor well is not up to the task! I cannot spare 65 gallons of water for a system backflush, I would run low on water just washing my school bus when I used to drive one. I did a coil flush with CLR and it's flowing good hot water again, $20.00 fix. So just another maint. job every 4-6 months. Thanks again for all the replies!