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Energy Kinetics System 2000 EK1 system approaching EOL

sevoorhees
sevoorhees Member Posts: 7
Hello folks,

First time posting here on the forum so hoping to not make a fool of myself.

The short story is I had annual maintenance performed on my 1996 EK System 2000 EK1 system. The technician basically said that it’s on its way out and to start shopping for a replacement. I have photos he took of the problem areas. My wife and I are trying to decide whether to do a full replacement or do we fix what’s wrong with the existing system. We are also trying to decide whether to go with an Electric Hybrid water tank and take oil out of the loop for hot water.



Our boiler is doing 2 main functions; heating the domestic water via an external plate heat exchanger and 40gal indirect water tank, and as an auxiliary heat source for 2 forced air heat pump units (hydronic coil sitting on top of air handler).



The main reason I don’t want to go to an electric water heater is that we lose power fairly often in our neighborhood. We have a 7kw portable diesel generator with a direct tie in to our house circuit panel, and with our current setup we can run the heat pumps and the boiler. If we install electric hot water there’s no way our current generator could handle it. We are not going to install a whole house genny. Natural Gas is not available and I’m not interested in a propane install.

The final factor is that we will most likely be selling the house within the next 12 months, so we are trying to limit how much we put in.

I’d appreciate any advice on the best way to go and if there are any other alternatives to go with.

thanks!
Steve

Comments

  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 912
    edited March 10
    If you're selling the house within 12 months, I would just replace that clogged air vent. I see nothing in those pictures that indicates an imminent failure of the boiler, or anything else.

    Bburd
    sevoorheesLRCCBJSuperTech
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,541
    Your oil consumption for DHW is probably in the range of .25-.33 gallon per day or less than 10 gallons/month. What's your electric rate? A heat pump water heater will have a fraction of the recovery of your current setup, it may or may not suit your needs
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    PC7060HVACNUT
  • sevoorhees
    sevoorhees Member Posts: 7
    Your oil consumption for DHW is probably in the range of .25-.33 gallon per day or less than 10 gallons/month. What's your electric rate? A heat pump water heater will have a fraction of the recovery of your current setup, it may or may not suit your needs
    Well in truth our current system isn’t meeting our needs. The house is from 1969, is about 3000sqft, has 3 full baths (all shower/tub combos with the primary being a Jacuzzi 40(?) gallon tub). The HVAC system is 2 York heat pumps (1.5ton and 2.5ton). We also have a Harmon Pellet stove insert putting out around 52mbh at full blast.

    Where we see shortages is with the tubs. The regular sized tubs (20(?) gal) are more or less ok, they will fill half way to the overflow drain before the DHW runs cold. The Jacuzzi is basically unusable because it maybe gets 3inches of hot water before it runs cold and have to wait for recovery.

    The current boiler was installed years before the Jacuzzi and forced air hvac system were added by the previous owners. It was not sized for the applications it now has.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,105
    It has a flat plat heat exchanger for DHW? Those need to be acid cleaned occasionally. Has it ever been flushed?

    The white “ meringue” you see around some seeping connections is an indication of hard water.

    Looking at the air vent opening, I’d say both sides of the HX are probably fouled.

    Seems like that size boiler should provide at least 2 gpm of DHW continuously. Depending on incoming water temperature?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    sevoorhees
  • sevoorhees
    sevoorhees Member Posts: 7
    hot_rod said:

    It has a flat plat heat exchanger for DHW? Those need to be acid cleaned occasionally. Has it ever been flushed?

    The white “ meringue” you see around some seeping connections is an indication of hard water.

    Looking at the air vent opening, I’d say both sides of the HX are probably fouled.

    Seems like that size boiler should provide at least 2 gpm of DHW continuously. Depending on incoming water temperature?

    I can't speak to what the previous owners did. I know that we have never had the whole system flushed as far as I know. And yes Eastern Pennsylvania, where I'm located, has notoriously hard water. Outside of annual maintenance the only things that have been replaced on the boiler are the Electronic control manager, the sidewall power vent and the exhaust pipe, and a plastic tube inside the burner connecting the motor to the wheel.

    The boiler is rated for 102mbh when burning at .85gal/hr (which is the setup we have I believe).

    This is what the tech quoted in his report:

    Customer mentioned that they have to press the reset periodically.
    Two heating zones with hydro coils in the air handlers.
    System is operating, however there are several concerning items:
    — expansion tank is waterlogged, autofeed is corroded. Recommend pressure controls rebuild, including the expansion
    tank, autofeed, and relief valve.
    — air vent is blocked and not allowing air or water out. Recommend replacing air vent on top of boiler
    — front wall of combustion chamber is cracked at the top and several inches down towards the burner. Recommend
    replacing combustion chamber before failure, and potentially hazardous conditions occur.
    — burner motor is rattling during operation. Recommend burner motor and blower wheel replacement before component
    failures.
    —flue pipe does not have a barometric damper. Recommend installing barometric damper for best system operation.
    ***These recommendations and repairs do not include unforeseen circumstances or repairs.***
    Average life expectancy for an oil boiler is about 20 years.
    Current system is going on 28 years old from 1996.
    Recommend considering system upgrade at this time.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,823
    Need another opinion here. @Roger ?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    reggi
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,828
    edited March 11
    The EK doesn't get a draft regulator. 
    All of the parts shown can be repaired or replaced without complete system replacement. 

    I thinking this case the EK might beat out the hybrid water heater because if the Energy Manager is set up correctly, you should be getting free hot water at the end of a heat call. Any unused BTU's should go to the water heater. Recovery will also destroy the heat pump.
    The tech could've probably squeezed another point out of the combustion efficiency. Oxygen is a little high and CO2 could be higher. Pretty good though for a '96.
    sevoorheesrick in Alaska
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,152
    Your problem is the company/tech working on the boiler is not servicing it properly and doesn't appear to know anything about how to service your boiler. I don't see anything critically wrong with it in your pictures. I'm fairly confident that I can fix all the issues you stated and get it working properly for your hot water needs for a fraction of the cost of replacement. Hopefully you can find a more competent service provider. This guy sounds like a sales tech/clown.

    LRCCBJethicalpaulsevoorhees
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 830
    Put in a new DHW plate heat exchanger. Its probably way to plugged up to attempt flushing.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,105
    edited March 11
    A competent home inspector will pick up on some of the hydronic issues, so either you fix them or a potential buyer negotiates the selling price, I know I would😉

    I would have  a hard time passing that system in that condition to a buyer as a system in good working order. At the very least you should be able to take a hot bath in more than a few inches of water😯
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    sevoorhees
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,272
    On the hot water. The suggestion for cleaning or replacing the EK's DHW heat exchange make sense. However... even that may not be enough for a big Jacuzzi. Those are hot water hogs. It will help, though. What surely WON:T work is a heat pump (hybrid) water heater. Unless you got a really big commercial unit, the domestic ones available have neither the storage capacity nor the recovery capability to even come close.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    sevoorheesbburd
  • BKfromEK
    BKfromEK Member Posts: 1

    Thank you for your post, @sevoohees , and for everyone’s’ thoughtful replies.

    Based on your description and the photos, it looks like your boiler is in going strong, but the corroded hydronic parts should be repaired or replaced (this will need to happen with either an old or a new system).  The chamber photo is not detailed enough to tell if it is normal minor crazing or a structural problem.  The suggestion of installing a draft regulator is not a confidence builder as that boiler does not need one and one should not be installed.

    Your plate heat exchanger and/or domestic hot water circulator need to be diagnosed, and possibly cleaned or replaced.  The 40 gallon tank should easily be able to fill a 60 gallon tub, and after that, it should flow 2.5 gpm continuously.  This should be a simple repair.

    To make sure you get up and running quickly and you can address your needs for your home now and for your future sale, please PM or call me so we can get expert eyes on your system.  Hopefully you can enjoy that Jacuzzi soon!

    Thank you,

    Brian Kiernan

    Energy Kinetics Territory Manager for PA, MD, DE & VA

    (570) 872-6997

    Erin Holohan HaskellsevoorheesSuperTechold_diy_guy
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,105
    A 5' tub holds about 42 gallons to the overflow. Soaking tubes could be 60, m80, even 200 gallons. so first define the gallons you need.

    One common way to extend the tank draw down is raise the temperature and add a mixing valve.

    A 40 gallon tank at 150, mixed to 110, for example get you an additional 15 gallons. So a 60 gallon tub could be filled. With a person in it as you displace water based on weight. When you get into a filled tub, water goes down the overflow based on displacement.

    I'd install any plate HX with flush valves, a simple $50 add on that makes flushing super simple.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    sevoorheesLarry Weingarten
  • sevoorhees
    sevoorhees Member Posts: 7
    Thank you all very much for the feedback and you all confirmed what I suspected when I saw the report that the tech presented. I agree that the Electric Hybrid is more than likely the wrong way to go given the demand/recovery times and the fact that my generator wouldn't even be able to power it in the event of an outage (which are frequent). @BKfromEK I am definitely going to reach out to you about what needs to happen to get my system corrected.
    RogerszwedjHVACNUTSuperTech
  • Sootmaster
    Sootmaster Member Posts: 14
    A wire brush and a rub down with wd-40 should take care of most of it. EK has outstanding tech support and should be able to help a tech trouble shoot the plate exchange.  You shouldn't be running out of hw with an ek unless your trying to fill a jacuzzi swimming pool. We have lots of them
    I would think about looking at water quality issues and treating the water (tech support can make a recommendation) 

    Unfortunately techs are pressured to upsell upsell upsell these days.
    sevoorheesszwedjSuperTech
  • sevoorhees
    sevoorhees Member Posts: 7
    A wire brush and a rub down with wd-40 should take care of most of it. EK has outstanding tech support and should be able to help a tech trouble shoot the plate exchange.  You shouldn't be running out of hw with an ek unless your trying to fill a jacuzzi swimming pool. We have lots of them
    I would think about looking at water quality issues and treating the water (tech support can make a recommendation) 

    Unfortunately techs are pressured to upsell upsell upsell these days.
    Totally agree, and like I said the hard water is a problem in eastern PA, even on city water system, so it may be time to look into a softening system
  • sevoorhees
    sevoorhees Member Posts: 7
    edited March 18
    So I ran a tub fill test and determined that it took 2m45s for the hot water to run cold. I figured the tub faucet is flowing a roughly 6gpm. So it’s running cold after approx 17gallons of dhw.

    The EK manual says from the time a heating call is made the is an up to 90 second pre heating time to get the boiler water to 140f. I was not able to clock at which point in that 2m45s the call from the DHW tank is made to the boiler.

    Given a gross output of 102mbtu/h and an 85% efficiency the exchanger is doing 1445btu/min (assuming it’s not clogged up). My street water temp is 50-55f. To get water flowing at 6gpm up to 100-105f the heat exchanger would need to be putting out 2500btu/min correct?
  • Roger
    Roger Member Posts: 329
    @sevoorhees, if you’re running out of hot water after flowing 17 gallons, and you have a 40 gallon tank, clearly there is something that needs to be addressed (domestic circulator issues, fouled heat exchanger, tank aquastat issue, etc.). 6 GPM might “tumble” the tank, but that’s not likely your issue as it’s  technically improbable and because you said the faucet was flowing cold, not lukewarm.  Please reach out to Brian Kiernan (above) to coordinate and help you reach a resolution quickly. 
    Thank you,
    Roger
    President
    Energy Kinetics, Inc.
    rick in Alaska
  • sevoorhees
    sevoorhees Member Posts: 7
    edited March 28

    Following up on this, it turns out the return pipe above the circulator pump for the DHW tank had a spring loaded valve that became stuck part way open and allowed deposits to build up restricting flow.

    Casey from Fields service replaced the valve and the connecting copper as well as added a manual shutoff valve below the circ pump so I can flush the exchanger without having to drain the whole 40gal DHW tank. He also checked the boiler side and DHW pumps as well as the plate exchanger and found all were in good working order.

    I ran some tub fill and flow tests last night and got the following:

    Ran 30gal of hot water at 6 gal/min (5:00 minutes). Filled tub (cast iron) with no volume displacement to 3/4” below overflow drain.

    Water temp at tub faucet was 125deg for 3 minutes. Water temp began gradually falling after 3minutes. At 5 minutes water temp from faucet was 67deg. Turned off tub faucet. Water temp of tub water was 108deg.

    Waited approx 5 minutes and tested utility sink water temp which is located almost directly above the DHW tank. Water temp was 92deg. 

    At boiler cold return from DHW tank to plate exchanger temp is 63deg. DHW supply out of exchanger water temp is 147deg.

    Water tank temp setting satisfied approx 25 minutes after initial heat call.

    I haven’t tested the jacuzzi tub yet but I think the system will put out enough hot water to at least fill above the jets for cleaning and running.

    Thanks to Brian and Roger from EK, the team at Fields and all the feedback from the forum. I appreciate all the help!

    szwedj