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Do I need a new boiler?

Barry Member Posts: 15
My house was built in 1923 and still has the original coal boiler that has been converted to gas. I am thinking of replacing it even though there is nothing specifically wrong with it. What $ range could I expect for a complete replacement? How much to remove the asbestos boiler? How much could I expect to save with an efficient boiler? Is the existing boiler unsafe because of its age? Any other advice? Thanks!


  • ed wallace
    ed wallace Member Posts: 1,613
    new boiler

    sorry we dont discuss prices here there are 2 many varibles involved yes you will save money that heating system is probably from around the 1920s its not very efficent as to asbestos removal youneed to hire a asbestos removal co. for a good contractor in your area look up someone in the find a pro section of this web site

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  • Robert O'Connor_7
    Robert O'Connor_7 Member Posts: 688
    New boiler?

    I'm from the if it aint broke, don't fix it school. However if i see correctly, the boiler doesn't have a LWCO, or does it? Does it have a pressuretrol? It is of sufficent age to warrent replacement. Get rid of that asbestos properly!! Boc

  • That looks exactly like mine did before I had it replaced two years ago! My wife called it "The Mummy". New boiler is not high tech and fancy (I favor the KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stu____!) and is rated at 81.5% AFUE. My best attempt at calculating enegery savings shows about 30% less gas being used by the new boiler. Had a heck of a time with the installer/installation, though. Pick yours carefully. It wouldn't hurt to spend some time over the next few months educating yourself on the subject. It will make it easier to separate the wheat from the chaff when you get around to picking a contractor. The Heating Q & A page on this website is a good place to start. Good Luck! Brian.
  • would you keep a car

    if you were getting 2 miles to the gallon? get a new boiler. you are throwing money out the window. bob

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  • jackchips_2
    jackchips_2 Member Posts: 1,338
    It makes a difference

    if you mean "need to" or "want to".

    I agree with the advice that if it isn't broke.....

    Then there is the question of is it time to?

    You should start that answer by how long you intend on staying in your home. If this is your dream house then a new boiler is probably the way to go, although you may want to even look at a total system replacement.

    So many questions and directions: What is the shape of your home, the rest of the heating system, are you looking at any major renovations, is the sytem in good shape, what can you afford to spend, on and on and on.

    I also agree with the earlier reply about learning as much as you can and hire a competent, referenced, insured heating contractor.
  • Paul Mitchell
    Paul Mitchell Member Posts: 266
    IT was

    It was time twenty years ago. Nooffense but the aint broke dont fix it does not apply to that piece of equipment. Matbe murphys law...it will break and leak when it is -10 out and you are away.....get it over with.
    Good Luck

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  • Joe_13
    Joe_13 Member Posts: 201
    Even if you don't plan on staying long

    What's a home inspector going to say when he sees the asbestos? If that boiler goes durring the winter, you'll pay dearly to get someone to remove it ASAP.
  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909
    That's a gravity HW system

    And even if IT isn't broke, the person paying the fuel bill for it will be.

    Take a look around and see how many 1920 vintage cars you see driving around.

    It's 2004. Why not bring your home comfort system up to date?

    IMO, the asbestos removal will cost as much if not more than the new boiler.

    Mark H

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  • Barry
    Barry Member Posts: 15

    Thanks for all the advice. I am set on replacing it, now I have to decide what to replace it with. One person I called recommended the Weil Mclain Ultra another recommended against it. I am all for high tech, high efficiency but also want reliability. Is there a good compromise? How about the smith boilers? Also what are the advantages of sealed combustion? What other "extras" should I look for in an installation? What kind of warranty is normal/good? Thanks again!
  • Boilerpro_3
    Boilerpro_3 Member Posts: 1,231
    First thing to look for

    is a contractor that conducts a heat load calculation. With Gravity hot water, usually the system can run at very cool temps if you've added insulation, storm windows,weatherstripped doors and windows. About 95 % of the boilers I install are at most 2/3 thirds the heating capacity of those they have replaced. A properly sized boiler, no matter what type or brand will be more efficient, last longer and give more reliabilty. For your type of system, single zone converted gravity, I would defintely look closely at condensing or condensing- recuperative boilers.

    Outdoor reset is really not very helpful on your type of system since the system tends to reset itself...hot radiators in cold weather and cooler radiators in warm weather...because of the sheer mass of the systems being able to absorb large amounts of btu's without rapidly changing the heating output of the system.

    A typical converted gravity sytem where I installed a copper tube, (very low mass boiler) has about 20 minute burner times on the typical winter day and the sysetm water temp only changes about 20F.

  • Brian Macdonald_4
    Brian Macdonald_4 Member Posts: 27

    Another feature that I have found undesirable on my gravity conversion job is nightime temperature setback. As Boilerpro points out the mass of the whole system (cast iron radiators plus a whole lot of water) holds a lot of heat so when the temp is set back it takes a LONG time for the house to cool down to the set point, say, just in time to start heating it up again to reach the target temp in the morning! Not much energy savings here, it seems to me. Brian.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,718
    One of my Dead Man's Books

    says that type of boiler will not show an efficiency higher than about 40% when burning oil. I would assume it would do as poorly on gas.

    It is possible to baffle an old round boiler to slow the hot flue gases as they leave, increasing efficiency- I've done it. However, this would be a stopgap measure while you prepare to replace it.

    Try the Find a Professional page of this site to locate someone near you who can do the job properly. If you're in the Baltimore area, e-mail me!

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    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Barry
    Barry Member Posts: 15
    Ultra vs. Gold

    I have received a few bids to replace my old boiler. Now I need to decide if I should spend the extra $ to get an Weil Mclain Ultra vs a Gold. Last year I spent $1285 in gas. The efficiency difference between the two is about 10%, and the cost difference is $2000. Will I really only save $128.50 a year or is the Ultra more efficient in warmer weather? Is there a more sophisticated way to compare the two?
  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    Are you a good gambler?

    The Gold series have been around and are proven. The Ultra is fairly new, to this market. More sensitive to crud in the water, and sort of an unknown, as to longevity issues.

    Plenty of other good cast boilers out there for long term proven technology. Shop the "right stuff" for a contractor first and get their input, and brand preference. they'll be the ones doing any warranty work :) Ask how many of the models they propose they have in service, and for how long.

    hot rod

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  • Boilerpro_3
    Boilerpro_3 Member Posts: 1,231
    Take a look at the Dunkirk Q90- 200 series

    Probably about the same cost as the Gold, but condensing with much simpler technology. The Gold has outdoor reset, something really not beneficial on your type of system with a boiler sized to the heat load. I also understand WM does not recommend the Ultra in gravity conversions, not sure why. Dunkirk says the Q90 is just fine in gravity conversion. If your gravity system is typical you will almost never or never see return water temps above the condensing range, so your actual seasonal efficiency will probably be in the mid 90's with the Q90. This boiler is also available under at least a few other brand names, such as Carrier, I believe.

    I plan on installing several of these this year in converted gravity systems or staged commercial systems.

  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    if it goes Ka Boom! Ya do :)

  • Wayco Wayne_2
    Wayco Wayne_2 Member Posts: 2,479
    Hey Boilerpro

    I;ve read that Dunkirk has been working on a new Q90 that has modulating capacity. Has that come out yet??? WW

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  • Boilerpro_3
    Boilerpro_3 Member Posts: 1,231
    Havent seen it yet, however

    if the gas train on teh Q90-200 series is the same as the modulating Munchie and Ultra, I suspect its only a matter of time. I would sure hope they set up the controls to work with the modulating Tekmar controls. According to tekmar, the only "residential" boiler that can work these controls is the Ultra, which appears to need it if its reset curves are really as far off as folks here are saying.

  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,796
    ...I'm just a homeowner like yourself.

    I second the notion that you should get several bids from folks regarding the cost of getting rid of the asbestos and replacing the older unit. Ask for a Manual-J load calc and see what size new unit you need. From what I have read, many residential heating systems were/are way oversized to prevent call-backs.

    You can do your own load calc using programs like HVAC-Calc for a reasonable cost and compare that as a second opinion to the stuff the HVAC folks recommend. Doing your own heat-load calc is a bit tedious (there is a lot of data to input), but the programs out there do a good job of summarizing your needs. Furthermore, they allow you to change factors and see if (for example) your money is better spent insulating the place and upgrading the storm windows.

    I would be very surprised if a new system could not achieve much better efficiencies and pay for itself in a matter of years but you're looking at a large up-front cost due to the asbestos. Unfortunately, there is no safe DIY way I know of to do it before the heating contractor shows up to yank the old unit... the particulates are simply too fine for most vacs to contain safely, containing asbestos safely requires training, equipment, etc.

    What you could have the installer do though is to simply leave the old unit in place and install a new boiler adjacent to it. I doubt the plumbing would not support an adjacent installation. if you plan to sell the house though, I would imagine that the inspector may have an issue with an abestos "monument" in the basement.
  • Ken D.
    Ken D. Member Posts: 836
    New Boiler

    All good advice, the most important is to dispose of all that asbestos properly. In my area there are contractors that say they will properly abate it but actually just rip it off with no precautions at all with others not aware of what they are dealing with, exposing the customer to severe health and financial problems. Home buyers are becomming more savvy and are testing for that sort of thing. If not done properly, your house will be worth squat in addition to opening yourself up to lawsuits and serious ilnesses for you and your children. Be careful!
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