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rick in Alaska
rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,378
 I have been doing oil for 21 years here and now it looks like after years of people saying it is coming, it looks like we will have gas by August. It is going to be a mad scramble trying to do conversions and new gas lines along with my normal oil work, unless the people really can't afford to do the work. Time will tell.

 Anyway, I have one customer right now who wants to be ready to go. He has a Bock water heater and an old whirlpool furnace. Since I don't do gas as propane is the only option at over 4 something a gallon, i do not have a lot of experience with different burners etc.

 Question: customer does not want to change furnace, so new one is not an option.

 The furnace is an old Whirlpool model FBL that is still in good shape. What conversion burner can we use on it and what burner for the Bock?

 Also, the chimneys around here are for the most part Metalbestos stainless, but I am not sure on this one if it is masonry. Do all masonry chimneys need liners?



  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    Furnace conversions are a bad idea...

    Switching boilers can work out, I normally only switch when replacing oil boilers with tankless coils, and the boilers in very good shape...

    With warm air furnaces you can buy an entire 90+ furnace for less than the cost of the conversion burner....

    as far as hot water goes, pretty much tankless on demand or a direct tank, unless you want to go heatpump... Or boiler, indirect and hydro coil.... lots of options what is this guys budget, and what is available out there as far as equipment, if gas is just comeing Im sure supply houses havent been stocking gas equipment in great supply or variety....
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,378

     I understand the cost of the furnace is cheap, however redoing all the

    duct work and the exhaust kills that saving. As far as the water heater

    goes, he has a fairly new oil fired unit that he doesn't want to get rid


     Mostly trying to find out which burner is best for each of the units.


  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,515
    How much experience

    do you have with gas power conversion burners? If your experience is limited I would be careful with converting burners. You would probably be better off with new equipment, of course you say that is not an option. So I would recommend the Carlin EZ burner and get in touch with Carlin for information on the conversion with their burner to the equipment you have.

    As for Metalbestos stainless that is fine for gas however if a chimney it must be lined. That now becomes another reason to perhaps go high end and side wall vent.
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,378

    Thanks for the reply Tim.

     I have very limited experience with conversion burners, but I need to learn sometime. As there is going to be as many as a couple hundred people getting gas and wanting to convert, I am going to have to be able to do this.

     As you know, I would love to be able to change units out to gas, but for most people, this is not going to be an option, so conversion is the way to go.

     I am a very good mechanic/troubleshooter, so feel I can definitely do these with the proper guidance.

     I need to get some of your books, but not sure of best ones to have at this time and with my budget. Send me recommendations please.

    Thanks, Rick.
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,515
    Rick e-mail me

    at [email protected] and I will send you a catalog with recommendations for which manual you will need.
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    edited February 2013
    Why would complete change not be an option?

    I use Carlin and Wayne conversion burners, but can honestly say I have NEVER done a residential furnace, boilers yes, especially steam, there are actually advantages of a properly converted oil boiler to gas, but with furnaces it simply does not make sense...

    Say a conversion burner is $1000{round numbers}, you need to remove the old burner scrub the heat exchanger, tune the system {set up burner, check all limits and safeties}, gas line, smoke pipe, wiring, ect... You will be lucky to get the customer 80+% efficiency and they still have an old used furnace firing a fuel it was not designed to fire...... Also don't forget most likely you will need a chimney liner....

    Now a NEW 90+ furnace costs $750 {round numbers}, you remove the old furnace, put the new one in place, {make what ever plenum adapters are needed}, gas line, condensate, wiring, ect... Except now, no need to use the chimney just run a schedule 40 PVC vent and exhaust and you are done...

    My point is, its cheaper to install a NEW gas furnace, and you will get your customers 95+% efficiency vs 80+%, and the system will be NEW 100%....

    I had a customer in the beginning of this season that had a conversion burner installed last year by another company, they struggled last year through lockouts and gas line sizing problems {75% the fault of the installer}. My tech went and talked them into changing the entire unit because the HE was actually in really rough shape.. It cost them about $700 more than they paid for the gas conversion and I installed an Armstrong variable speed furnace 95+, they sold the burner on Ebay to recoup some of their money, but I went back there about 3 weeks ago to deliver their Electrostatic filters {had a weird size return had to have them made} and he told me their gas bill was almost 1/3rd of what it was with the conversion burner was getting them and their electric bill was never this low.... And we have had a cold winter up to this point...

    So do yourself and customers a favor and go to your local supply houses, get some literature on 90+ gas equipment with some prices so you know what brands are available to you, then go online and download the instruction manuals, its all straightforward installation stuff..

    I am taking for granted you have a digital type efficiency tester and know hot to bend sheet metal {although you can always have it made or sub the duct work out} ... These will be two musts for gas furnace installations... Also will need to know how to run PVC...

    As far as converting the water heater I have never done this, a 50 gallon gas water heater costs $400, thats half of what the burner costs!!!!

    And the duct work usually doesn't have to be all redone, gas furnaces are normally smaller, so you just remove your oil unit, put the gas unit in place, measure the height difference, and the length and width of the new furnaces supply and the opening you have for the houses supply and normally 1 plenum adapter will do it {even if you had it made I cant see it being more than $80}... As for the return, normally slap it rite on the sid eof the new unit....

    Now for the venting it is schedule 40 PVC, you compare that to a chimney liner and let know how your customers budget is doing, I don't think I have ever spent over $100 on venting materials for a residential house and that was going through the roof}....

    Like I said, oil fired boilers with tanklesses and steam boilers can make financial sense to convert and when compared to non condensing gas boilers work even better, but most furnaces do not have a gas friendly heat exchanger.... I havent put a ton of thought into it because I personally wouldn't do a gas furnace conversion, but I think they are too thick and get rid of the flue gasses too fast, because the gas burners have a hard time making the BTU's, I have seen them take 25 minutes to kick the fan on in a williamson furnace... and the burner was turned up pretty high...

    So in closing Boilers conversion YES Furnace conversion NO... I think you are asking for trouble, if his equipment is in good shape Im sure there will be a resale value there some where since everyone up there is tight on budgets, used equipment may make sense... And as far as the water heater goes, Why? a conversion burner is going to be $900 for that you can get an on demand tankless....

    The other issue is, you are going to have to learn and learn fast, because with oil, the customer will smell smoke and see soot when it is not running correctly or there is a flue problem, with gas, they just don't wake up, and you will be wearing bracelets in front of a judge talking about "negligent homicide".... And I have been doing this a LONG time, just a word to the wise, the forced gas burners can be tricky, I had a Wayne burner take me hours of adjusting and running to get rite... There is nothing "set it and forget it" about conversion burners, I would warn against it for the gas tech that never did it, never mind an oil tech that never did gas....
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,378
    new direction

    Thanks for all the replies. I have looked at the job again and am going to see about changing out the furnace. I will probably keep the water heater as it is new and even changing to on on demand is going to be expensive given the central location of the existing plumbing and the walls themselves, but then again after looking at the job again I might be able to . Will see.

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