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Replacing a 27 year old boiler?

Hello...I live in Washington, DC, and have a 27 year old gas-fired Bryant boiler for our hot water radiator system.

The boiler is functioning,although it is obviously quite old. But the pump is no longer working - they system is basically a gravity-fed system at this point.

My annual heating costs are about $400 per year.

I'm trying to sort through three issues..

First, should I replace the boiler? It would cost me at least $400 or so to replace just the pump, and I would still have a 27 year old boiler. Plus, I have two small children, and I do not want to find myself with no heat in the middle of winter. I'd rather get a new one before it is an emergency. Given all this, I am leaning towards a new boiler. Does this seem like a reasonable decision?

Second, if I do get a new boiler, what kind should I get? My HVAC guy has given me a choice of units - he'll install any of the three for the same price ($3,100) - either a Crown Aruba 3 (82% AFUE); a Burnham 205 (82% AFUE) or a Slantfin Sentry (84% AFUE). Any thoughts on what would be the best brand to get?

Finally, I am considering adding thermostatic valves to the radiators in each of the three bedrooms. Two bedrooms are in front of the house, and two are in back. We are constantly either comfortable in one bedroom, but hot or cold in others. I am hopeful that thermsotatic radiator valves will help fix this problem. Am I correct? ARe there likely to be any unforeseen problems that might pop up if I use these valves?

Thanks for your help!



    STEVEN MARKS Member Posts: 154
    boiler replacement

    Given the age of the boiler I would look into a new boiler. All 3 boilers are good boilers although I have found Burnham had some leak issues in the past. I presently install Crown myself. I think you will find alot of people on this site partial to SlantFin. As far TRV's it depends on the piping in the house.
  • DaveGateway
    DaveGateway Member Posts: 568

    that lack of insulation or not enough rads or baseboard cannot be fixed by TRV's. Make sure a heat loss calc is done. You might only need a smaller boiler. All 3 are good brands.
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928

    Did the HVAC guy suggest that the boiler really needs to be replaced? Those simple, older boilers can last an awfully long time. Your pump will have to be replaced regardless of whether or not you get a new boiler. It shouldn't cost much more to just replace the pump and extract any remaining life from the current boiler.

    Of course if boiler replacement is highly suggested than I'd go ahead and get it all done at once.

    For a 3-bedroom house in the DC area, $400 annual heating cost seems rather reasonable. The replacements you mention will probably have nearly the same efficiency so your fuel use likely won't show much drop.

    You might want to wait until the new generation of very high-efficiency boilers have been around long enough to weed out any clunkers and become more common and less expensive. At present I wouldn't suggest the more advanced boilers unless you are REALLY concerned about reducing fuel consumption with essentially zero consideration for "payback". Within 10-15 years I'd lay even money that you'll be able to get super high efficiency, high reliability AND true, reasonably fast savings in $$$$.

    Were I you, and provided that the boiler is still in reasonable condition, I would hold out in anticipation of higher efficiency at significantly lower cost and known reliability. Should such never occur, or if we find that it's impossible you can always replace with the tried and true if somewhat less efficient.
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