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Residential Boiler Help

ScottNeedsadvice Member Posts: 5
edited June 5 in Gas Heating

I have a Natural Gas Cast Iron Pennco boiler that was installed (2008) by the previous owner in my house. This Pennco has been nothing but problems since I bought my house in 2014.

I am in a position to replace it and I have scoured through this board but would like some assistance fine tuning what I should replace it with and ensure I am asking the right questions of who ever I can find to install/purchase through

2900 sq ft home with 1 zone (its fine even when freezing), I would like quality, reliability and simplicity. I believe that would be in a cast iron boiler system (20-30 years if not longer) I would be using natural gas for my hot water system as this is a replacement.

It appears Buderus no longer makes Cast Iron NG boilers, only Oil. Who would be next for reliability and quality? Burnham, Peerless? Your recommendations please.

I plan to add a side-arm/indirect hot water heater at this time too. What about adding a filter/treatment option such as a fernox kit?

I know this is going to be a pretty penny, but I have saved up and I figured I would do it right so that I do not have to do it again. High Efficiency boilers have been suggested, but it sounds like you only get 10-15 years and the maintenance costs eventually get you. I would like quality, reliability and simplicity


  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,205

    I prefer Burnham, but Peerless, WeilMc Lain are all VG. Even Utica, Crown & Williamson are solid. See what the bidders use. Go with the best installer you can. Really...that is the most important thing. Also..

    Spirovent or Caleffi Air eliminator.

    Taco or Caleffi Pressure reducing/Back Preventer combo.

    Highest Qaulity Full port Ball Valves

    Apollo by Conbraco

    Taco Circulator w Isolation Flanges

    Outdoor Reset ODR ??

    All these features will make for a better installation & service.

    Mad Dog

  • mikedo
    mikedo Member Posts: 203

    what kind of chimney is it going into an old masonary chimney will need a liner.

  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,202

    Energy Kinetics EK-1F with a Carlin EZ gas burner. Simple, efficient and a bullet proof design. You should be able to enjoy significant fuel savings with the EK-1F. It will be nice and quiet too.

    If you have a limited budget any standard boiler from Crown, Burnham, Weil McLain or Peerless will work. Proper sizing and the quality of the installation are more important than the brand of boiler with these models. The installing contractor determines the lifespan and reliability of the installation.

  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,386

    I like the Burnham, but as mentioned, the installer is 95% of the equation. Concentrate on finding a good HYDRONIC contractor.

    At the very least, a radiation survey should be done to determine the output of your radiation. It makes no sense to install a boiler that has significantly higher output than your radiation. Don’t allow someone to install an oversized boiler! Bigger is not better in the world of hydronics.

    Where are you located? Have you tried the contractor locator above?

    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • ScottNeedsadvice
    ScottNeedsadvice Member Posts: 5

    Thank you for the responses,

    I do have a Dual lined chimney vent that the current one is using that goes up through the middle of the house. When I remodeled my master bathroom we had a more in-depth look at it and it was in great condition. It extends from the basement out of the roof (2 story house with full basement).

    I have seen the ads for energy kinetics but I have been unsuccessful in finding actual reviews from consumers that are not on their site. I am concerned when the show a replacement heat exchanger is $325 listed on their site for an EK-1F, but I will look deeper into them.

    I agree, with a good contractor. So far the companies I have reached out to are the local big names that are charging for their name. All of them have offered me the same Dunkirk model or High Efficiency brand at the costs ranging from $20k-40k for replacement install with new sidearm (I have saved for quality install). Why I came here is they all offer me different ideas that all conflict each other and all different BTU's ranging from 155k to 90k. I have yet to see any of them offer me a brand that has been named on this site, which is a concern as I feel you guys know this. And If I am going to spend this kind of money, I want to do it right and only once; I want this to last 20-40 years.

    All of the companies have offered the same parts you all mentioned and I figured for the money they are asking for to do this replacement, I should feel comfortable to ask for a name brand that is backed by its reputation and as well try to become better informed on what I should be looking for. Even the referred contractor I was given was disappointing…

    I am in Colorado… where the contractor locator does not work… Any of you know a guy?

  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,039

    A good reputable installation service contractor is the best way to start. Sometimes the best way to find them is to see if they do a heat loss calculation to properly size the replacement boiler. This is a first step in getting a properly sized boiler.

  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,205

    BB is correct...a HYDRONIC contractor not an HVAC Tinknocker..I don't DO ductwork or AC. Mad Dog

  • ScottNeedsadvice
    ScottNeedsadvice Member Posts: 5

    Thank you for the responses and guidance.

    I was disappointed by the referral I used from a friend who had his replaced 2 years ago (my friend who referred me was even upset that the referral was that obnoxious). I have received quotes ranging from $20k-40K and all of them are providing a Dunkirk DXL150 or suggesting I go High efficiency with an unknown brand. I have had different information thrown at me from all of them with some saying I am oversized and others saying I am good on the size I have. As well as I need this item or that item or we can remove all of this.

    All but 1 of the 5 quotes I have received was from a large company that does it all. I know this will be expensive (I planned for that) but my take away from sites like this and from friends out of State who do this, is that the product I am being sold does not meet the price tag

    I agree with all of you that finding a true Hydronic contractor is key and I have a couple of months until it starts getting cold. I am grateful for your responses, I feel with the information I have been receiving from these companies and comparing it to what I can try to understand online, is that with this kind of money; I should be getting quality work… But it does not explain why 5 different quotes all provide the same boiler, same size sidearm tank and such wide costs… I understand skill, knowledge, education, tools, HR, benefits, retirement… But this just seems ridiculous…

    To answer some questions, My chimney/flu venting is double lined venting that extends up from the basement and out the 2nd floor, I will be using the existing venting. My house was built in 1960 and the exterior walls are Dead Space/no insulation, but I haven't had any issues with being cold, it was -10 here for a week straight.

    I have seen the Energy Kinetics site, but I have yet to find a review for their product on another site from a consumer unlike Burnham, Peerless, Bosch/Buderus. Is that something I should look at? The Energy Kinetics brand… I am concerned that they advertise replacement of the heat exchanger for $325 on their site (price does not always equate to quality)

    The contractor locator does not work for me, if any of you suggest a good person to use in the Denver Metro Area of Colorado, I am happy to explore and get some first hand wisdom/even use them if their work is quality and they are reliable

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,554

    Energy Kinetics boilers are well worth the extra money, assuming you can find a dealer and installer in your area. The fact that they aren't reviewed much on consumer weep sites is that they just work and work well. You don't find that many reviews of, say, Porsches or Bentleys either, come to think of it

    As to different quotes. You may be getting different products quoted. The product is the whole heating system, up and running smoothly. The install — as has been said — is at least 95% of the value…

    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,205

    We really don't discuss prices here. Just keep in mind...the Best Doctors, Dentists & Attorneys get top dollar. So do top companies & installers. Get referrals from folks who have had similar installs..ask for pictures of the work. That will seperate the men from the boys. Mad Dog

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,842

    There was a great contractor in Colorado but he is retired. If there is an EK dealer in the area they have had at least some vetting from EK. There is someone from Energy Kinetics that spends some time here who might be able to tell you more about the local contractor in your area.

    Most online reviews are written to sell a specific product and aren't constructed in a way to give an unbiased comparison.

  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,390



    He is in Summit County, so if Denver is outside his area, perhaps he can recommend someone.

    I DIY.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,764

    As the other have mentioned the contractor is more important than the boiler. Personally I would stay away from Burnham. There present products may be ok but I my area (MA) there steam and water boilers did not last. Maybe it is the water.

    In order to help you pick a contractor do some homework. First figure out what size boiler you need. You can do 2 things.

    Download the Slan Finn App (if it is still available) and do a heat loss on your house. It is not hard to do.

    2d measure your baseboard or radiation and figure the output that it has. We can hep you do that if you post some information on your heat emitters.

    Both of these things will point you in the direction of the correct size boiler.

    Why should you do this when it is the contractors Job?

    Because most contractors will not do this. They will guess or size the boiler off of the old boiler. Either of those 2 ways are wrong.

    If you get a contractor who does size the boiler correctly without you giving him the answer he may be your guy.

    Lastly, what is wrong with the Pennaco? They make decent boilers.

    Knowing what is wrong with it or the problems your having may steer the new install in a different direction.

    You're in for some expense and time and money so the effort to do it right will pay off

  • ScottNeedsadvice
    ScottNeedsadvice Member Posts: 5

    Thank you for that, I do not mean to discuss price as to what should be appropriate, moreso to highlight that I have 5 quotes from 5 different companies with 1 specific model that they all suggested and side arm with a very large discrepancy in price from one to the other. I completely respect the quality of the workmanship and recognize that a good mechanic can make a Ford Pinto into a muscle car, just like perhaps a good contractor will make the difference for a good install regardless of the product.

    Thank you for all of your help and guidance

    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,874

    You could still do a CI Buderus G115 with a gas power burner. Simple, and more efficient than CI atmospheric.

  • Roger
    Roger Member Posts: 344

    Thank you for all your comments.

    @ScottNeedsadvice , Energy Kinetics does not have vetted contractors or distribution in the Denver Metro area. I would like to mention that the trade list price on our website is for a hot water plate heat exchanger (PHE), not the pressure vessel/boiler heat exchanger, and I feel that it is a competitive price for a PHE up to 130,000 BTU/hr output. The hot water PHE is used to very efficiently transfer the heat from the boiler water to the domestic hot water and keep the fluids in each system separated. It also allows our heating systems to run our thermal purge cycle for exceptionally high efficiency. The PHE is also Sealix® coated, which is unique in the boiler world; this is a non-stick surface that has extremely good performance in hard water applications. We also note that the hot water PHEs may be backflushed to remove silt, cleaned like a tankless coil if fouled from mineral deposits, or replaced with installer friendly union connections.



    Energy Kinetics, Inc.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,205

    Reach out to Mark Etherton..he'll know whom to recd in Colorado...Mad Dog

  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,558

    I would second calling Mark but he is Retired now..He used to work for Advanced Hydronics in Denver. 1 303 778 7772 Tom Olds is the owner

  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,205

    Yeah..that's who he's probably gonna Recd anyway. Mad Dog

  • ScottNeedsadvice
    ScottNeedsadvice Member Posts: 5

    Thank you,

    I reached out to them and already in contact to have someone take a look. Just talking to the project manager, I feel more confident by the questions he asked and the conversation we had. Thank you all for your help and direction

    pecmsgMad Dog_2