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New boiler in 1940s house? Save $$$?

casimosocasimoso Member Posts: 10
Hi, two years ago my husband and I bought a detached house in the Bronx in New York. It is 2 levels plus a finished basement, unfinished attic. The house was built in 1945 I think.

Since we've moved in, we've had the gas boiler stop working fully 2x. The guy who serviced it said it's an old boiler, 1982 (older than me!), but in decent shape. It hadn't been serviced often, he thought.

We have hot water radiators that have worked fine except in 2 rooms. Had these fixed. We also have a hot water heater connected to the boiler, which works fine (although during the winter, showers have to be shorter than I'd like before the hot water runs out, like under 20 minutes for one person, under 10 for 2 people - I like long showers).

Our heating bill for the house seems astronomic to us. The house is about 2500 sq feet and the bill is easily $800 per month in the winter. We've added some insulation in the attic and round the doors, but it has done little. It also feels freezing in the winter, especially on the main floor, though the thermostat reads 68. We walk around in full sweats, wool socks, etc, and are still cold. We also have the thermostat programmed to go down to 60 when we're not there, and the basement isn't used much, and it has its own thermostat, so we leave it cold.

We are wondering if the old boiler makes for high energy bills and cold rooms? If so, what's the best energy efficient replacement to get? If not, does anyone have any idea why it feels so cold or why the energy bill is so high?

We've previously lived in apartments where the heat was included and we were too warm. I grew up in a house in Colorado and remember feeling cold but my dad says our bill is really high (but maybe new York prices are like that for gas?). Our electric bill is only a couple hundred even in the summer, but we use window acs so we only cool rooms we're in, rather than the whole house.
Please help!!!
TYIA!

Comments

  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Member Posts: 2,569
    What would really help is brand and model of the boiler and some pics of the boiler, near boiler piping, and maybe some radiators.
    And I have T-shirts older than you.
  • DZoroDZoro Member Posts: 903
    Sounds like more your buildings envelope than the boiler. Yes a boiler upgrade should be looked at. But would start out doing a full home insulation inspection. Correct any deficiencies and then the heating system will certainly need some adjustments to it. The two need to work together to give you and your wallet some comfort.

    D
  • casimosocasimoso Member Posts: 10
    Thank you so much HVACNUT for your response. Here's the boiler and sticker! 1987, so I am older than the boiler by one year 😂! Looks like it is a Weil-McLain natural gas boiler, EG-45-PI
  • casimosocasimoso Member Posts: 10
    DZoro, we kind of had a full home insulation inspection. A company that works with NYS Energy contacted us, called Sealed Inc. They had suggestions for us based on what they could tell online, they suggested cellulose install in the attic, attic air sealing, rim joist installation, smart thermostat installation, storage platform in attic installation, and attic entrance insulation. We didn't go with them because they were expensive and we did some attic insulation ourselves, and my dad thought it looked pretty well insulated. Also the 2nd floor doesn't get nearly as cold as the first so we didn't think all that attic insulation seemed necessary. Is that wrong?
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 3,364
    You know that's a steam boiler right? With the circulator maybe for domestic hot water and/or a hot water zone.
    Much of your high energy usage (although I don't think it's that high) might be from improper near boiler piping, and poor/bad venting.
    I think you should get a steam guru from this site to come out for a full assessment.
    As far as insulating, maybe the expert you get for the boiler will lend you their thermal imaging camera to go around a look for air leaks.
    steve
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 941
    Are you sure it's not steam upstairs with a hot water loop for the basement?
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, 1913 coal > oil > NG
  • casimosocasimoso Member Posts: 10
    > @STEVEusaPA said:
    > You know that's a steam boiler right? With the circulator maybe for domestic hot water and/or a hot water zone.
    I'm sorry I really don't know anything about this stuff. I knew we had steam heat but other than that, I'm not clear on


    > Much of your high energy usage (although I don't think it's that high) might be from improper near boiler piping, and poor/bad venting.
    > I think you should get a steam guru from this site to come out for a full assessment.
    > As far as insulating, maybe the expert you get for the boiler will lend you their thermal imaging camera to go around a look for air leaks.
  • casimosocasimoso Member Posts: 10
    > @ethicalpaul said:
    > Are you sure it's not steam upstairs with a hot water loop for the basement?

    Honestly I've no idea what any of this is really so no I'm not sure. The radiators are short in the basement and go all along the walls, on the main 2 floors, the radiators are tall but only the length of the window for each room.
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 608
    edited July 8
    Homeowner here, with family in the Bronx you could use for comparison.

    One home has a 104000 btuh input and is oil fired, forced air, three story, 2000sqft, un insulated. Last year we spent less than $800 all of last heating season and we kept the house at 72 round the clock.

    My cousin down the street has a two family house, well insulated, 2000 sqft natural gas, steam heat and his monthly bill is$250-300/month but that includes two gas stoves and one hot water heater for both families.

    My guess is, you need a very good pro to help you out. Most boilers are 80% efficient. But you may have many simple problems amounting to high fuel bill
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,106
    Do you know where your main vents are located?
    Follow the steam main around and look at the ends of the pipe, main vent would be a small (3-4") tall or round screwed into the piping. Should have one for each steam main if it branches to each side of the house. They could be right at the boiler up near the ceiling.

    More pictures of the boiler from farther back, floor to ceiling would show us more. And pictures of the vents.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,227
    Couple of thoughts. First, that basement baseboard is almost certainly hot water, not steam. There should be a circulator pump for it somewhere.

    Second, you mention you let the place drop to 60 when you're not there. Does that mean during the day each day? Or when you go away for a few days? If it's just during each day, that's probably too far and may actually be costing you more in fuel to heat the place back up than it saves. It's a hard call -- very difficult to get accurate numbers on! -- but usually more than 5 degrees daily setback really isn't worth it.
    Jamie

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,053
    @casimoso

    All you need is a good contractor. Try "find a contractor" on this site. Maybe @JohnNY or another good contractor can take a look.
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 941
    edited July 9

    Couple of thoughts. First, that basement baseboard is almost certainly hot water, not steam. There should be a circulator pump for it somewhere.

    I believe you can see the circulator just off the boiler in one of the early pictures. Looks like steam upstairs with a hot water loop in the basement. Unless that circulator is for the water heater??

    @casimoso: find a steam pro from the "find a contractor" section of the site to have a look: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, 1913 coal > oil > NG
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,295

    @casimoso: find a steam pro from the "find a contractor" section of the site to have a look, here's everyone within 30 miles: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/SearchForm?Zip=10457&Radius=30&SecurityID=cbee7408505abc5bbd9426e581cd6a03c3c0df41&action_doSearch=Search

    This.

    If the link doesn't work (it didn't for me) click where it says "Click Here to Find a Contractor in your area" at the top of this page. Then type in your zipcode and choose the distance to search in, and it'll give you the list. Lots of good Steam Men on there.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 941
    Thanks @Steamhead. There is a security value in that link it turns out, so I edited it to be just the page itself: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, 1913 coal > oil > NG
  • GilmorrieGilmorrie Member Posts: 111
    Economically, it doesn't pay to replace a boiler that works OK, and expect the cost to be justified on the basis of fuel savings. That is axiomatic, but boiler salesmen, working on commission, would tell you otherwise.

    You are now paying $800 per year for space heating. Just for grins, let's say that with a new boiler, you could cut that cost to $500, which might be optimistic. That is a saving of $300 per year. If a new boiler costs $10,000 with various other system upgrades that will sneak in, do the math: $10,000 / $300 = 33 year payback period. Use whatever numbers you want to assume, and the conclusion will be the same.
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 608
    @Gilmorrie ,

    $800/month, not year.
  • GilmorrieGilmorrie Member Posts: 111
    Oh, my gosh. You are on natural gas? Something must be very wrong here. My house is 3x the size of yours, with a 60-year-old boiler, and we use about $1,000/yr in natural gas for space heating. OK, NYC vs the Midwest, but still.
  • casimosocasimoso Member Posts: 10
    > @SlamDunk said:
    > Homeowner here, with family in the Bronx you could use for comparison.
    >
    > One home has a 104000 btuh input and is oil fired, forced air, three story, 2000sqft, un insulated. Last year we spent less than $800 all of last heating season and we kept the house at 72 round the clock.
    >
    > My cousin down the street has a two family house, well insulated, 2000 sqft natural gas, steam heat and his monthly bill is$250-300/month but that includes two gas stoves and one hot water heater for both families.
    >
    > My guess is, you need a very good pro to help you out. Most boilers are 80% efficient. But you may have many simple problems amounting to high fuel bill

    How do I find a very good pro?
  • casimosocasimoso Member Posts: 10
    > @JUGHNE said:
    > Do you know where your main vents are located?
    > Follow the steam main around and look at the ends of the pipe, main vent would be a small (3-4") tall or round screwed into the piping. Should have one for each steam main if it branches to each side of the house. They could be right at the boiler up near the ceiling.

    Ok I will look.
  • casimosocasimoso Member Posts: 10
    > @Jamie Hall said:
    > Couple of thoughts. First, that basement baseboard is almost certainly hot water, not steam. There should be a circulator pump for it somewhere.
    >
    > Second, you mention you let the place drop to 60 when you're not there. Does that mean during the day each day? Or when you go away for a few days? If it's just during each day, that's probably too far and may actually be costing you more in fuel to heat the place back up than it saves. It's a hard call -- very difficult to get accurate numbers on! -- but usually more than 5 degrees daily setback really isn't worth it.

    I didn't know this, yes within one day! I will fix this during the winter.
  • casimosocasimoso Member Posts: 10
    > @JUGHNE said:
    > Do you know where your main vents are located?
    > Follow the steam main around and look at the ends of the pipe, main vent would be a small (3-4") tall or round screwed into the piping. Should have one for each steam main if it branches to each side of the house. They could be right at the boiler up near the ceiling.
    >
    > More pictures of the boiler from farther back, floor to ceiling would show us more. And pictures of the vents.

    I tried to look for the steam vent but nothing matched the pictures I found on Google. Here's what I found in the boiler room and more pics of the floor to ceiling boiler.
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 608
    edited July 10
    In the bronx? Not easy.

    @johnny has a very good reputation on this board so I would start with him and if he is too busy, he may be able to refer you to someone else that is steam competent.

    There are a lot of hacks up there who could make you throw good money after bad.

    The Bronx is kinda like the wild west. You have to look at a dozen contractors before you find that one good pro in every trade.

    Please keep us posted!
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,106
    Just for your info, you have a stand alone gas water heater...not part of the boiler at all.
    The green Taco pump on the lower left side of the boiler would most likely be for the basement hot water baseboard heaters.

    If you find no good pro please come back to us.
    Or if you get recommendations from someone not well known here you could pass them on to us for comments....before work starts or money paid.
  • casimosocasimoso Member Posts: 10
    > @JUGHNE said:
    > Just for your info, you have a stand alone gas water heater...not part of the boiler at all.
    > The green Taco pump on the lower left side of the boiler would most likely be for the basement hot water baseboard heaters.
    >
    > If you find no good pro please come back to us.
    > Or if you get recommendations from someone not well known here you could pass them on to us for comments....before work starts or money paid.

    Thank you so much for this info and help! I got the steam doctor from this site, the other 2 in my area don't do the bronx or single family homes. Hopefully the steam doctor can come soon, as he said he's very busy.
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