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    Another W-M SGO question (15 Posts)

  • HackAl HackAl @ 10:41 AM
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    Another W-M SGO question

    Hi All.
    I'm getting quotes to convert  my 8 year old, W-M SGO Gold 7 to gas.  I have steam radiators. 20 radiators are spread throughout our 2 1/2 family house which is about 4000 sq. ft.
    I got one quote for a Carlin conversion kit which I can live with.  Another company is telling me that my efficiency will "go down the tubes" if I don't get a new gas boiler. They are saying that the W-M "was not designed for gas" and that "in their experience" conversion kits are almost never worth it.
    I guess my question is: How concerned should we be about a loss of efficiency?  We are currently paying about $4000 a year for oil.  The first conversion company estimates that we can reduce that to about $2500 a year with the conversion kit?
    A new furnance would be almost twice as much as a conversion kit.
    Thanks for any information. Much appreciated.
    This post was edited by an admin on August 15, 2012 4:04 PM.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 7:40 PM
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    The reasons to convert your SGO

    are that it will be more efficient than an atmospheric gas boiler. There are two reasons for this:

    1- the SGO's wet-base design almost completely surrounds the flame with cast-iron that has water on the other side. So it picks up more heat. In an atmospheric boiler, the burners are completely underneath the cast-iron, so more heat is lost out the base.

    2- the power-driven gas burner does a much better job of mixing gas and air. These burners typically run with 20-25% excess air whereas atmospherics typically run with 30-50%. You need some excess air for clean combustion, but you want to keep it as low as safely possible so it won't waste heat up the chimney.

    The Carlin EZ-Gas or 201Gas burner would be a good choice for your SGO.

    Gas utilities are the only ones who benefit from inefficient atmospheric boilers. Enough said.

    Also, there are plenty of things we can do with a steam system to make it more efficient. This is true no matter what fuel it uses. To find a Steam Man near you, try the Find a Contractor page of this site.
    "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.
    This post was edited by an admin on August 15, 2012 7:42 PM.
  • HackAl HackAl @ 9:03 PM
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    Do I have this right?

    So, if I understand, it would make complete sense to switch out the oil burner for a gas burner and not replace the whole boiler because loss of efficiency would be minimal. Not sure I understand what an atmospheric gas boiler is. Is that what would replace the SGO if I got a new gas boiler?

    Can you think of any reason why a new gas boiler (of any type) would be preferable? You seem to be saying that the SGO is preferable regardless but I'm probably misunderstanding.

    Do you know the approximate lifespan of my SGO? It's about 8 years old now. I wonder what the warranty period was.  I realize I am proably voiding it by making the conversion but the savings would seem to justify the risk, - assuming any warranty remains.

    Can't thank you enough.  Very hard to find good, unbaised advice on this.
    This post was edited by an admin on August 15, 2012 9:04 PM.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 10:06 PM
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    It would make perfect sense

    and would run more efficiently than an atmospheric steamer. And it would cost less.

    "Atmospheric" refers to the Bunsen-type burner on the usual gas boilers, such as the Burnham Independence, Columbia CEG, Peerless 63, Utica PEG, Weil-McLain EG and similar series. It's shaped differently from the ones we remember from high-school science, but works the same way.

    There's no reason your SGO should die soon, unless it corrodes from too much make-up water (needed to offset water loss from leaks) or if it runs out of water and cracks (from a bad low-water cutoff).
    "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.
  • HackAl HackAl @ 10:52 PM
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    Great. Thanks.

    I'll sleep better knowing that the investment we made in the SGO wasn't a complete waste. Can you help me with these questions also?
    1. town code officials could not tell me if a chimney liner is required by code.  The terracotta lined brick chimney runs up the exterior of the house, in line with the chimneys for the fireplaces. Should the chimney be lined prior to gas conversion.  If it is ok now and no visible signs of deterioration, is it really necessary?
    2. Does the boiler need to serviced once a year as with oil? How is maintenance different?
    3. Not sure how much make-up water is "too much' though I hear about a gallon of water is automatically added every three days or so when operating. I also flush out about a gallon of brown water every three weeks or so. Why would make up water cause more corrosion than water already in the system? Anyway to prevent corrosion?
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 3:32 PM
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    First things first

    your system is taking on way too much water. Find the leak. It may be a bad air vent, loose valve union or packing, or a leak in the boiler above the waterline. Fresh make-up water is more corrosive than water that has been in the system for a while, which uses up its corrosive elements.

    If the leak is in the boiler, it may be under warranty. Investigate this before you do anything else.

    I'd also suggest lining the chimney with stainless steel, no matter what your local Code says. This is cheap insurance against future problems.

    Every heating system should be inspected once a year. With gas the inspection is simpler, but should include a digital combustion test.
    "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.
  • HackAl HackAl @ 6:31 PM
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    Good advice

    When and how much should steam vent from the radiators? I know the system is not "balanced" like it should be.  I never know what types of vents to put on.  Can you link me a good resouce about how to manage the radiators.  The packing around some of the valves also needs to be replaced.  I could probably have someone come in to review all of this.  I had always just thought that steam escaping was part of the normal operation of the system.
    I never see water leaking around the boiler. Thanks again.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 7:42 PM
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    No steam should escape at all

    it should all condense and go back to the boiler as water.

    If the boiler has a leak above the waterline, you won't see water on the floor. The escaping steam will go up the chimney, and you may see "white smoke" coming from the chimney on a cold day.

    A pro can check for this type of leak without dismantling the boiler. Where are you located?
    "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.
    This post was edited by an admin on August 16, 2012 7:44 PM.
  • HackAl HackAl @ 8:35 PM
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    Bergen County, NJ

    We've had it serviced every year and I know they check for "draft" and take other readings.  I've never seen white smoke out the chimney.  I will definitely get it checked out though. Know anyone in this parts?
  • JStar JStar @ 10:46 PM
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    Steamhead

    What's your method for testing the boiler for leaks? A visual from the chimney? Signs of water vapor in the vent connection?
    - Joe Starosielec
    http://thatcherhvac
    http://facebook.com/thatcherhvac



    Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.


    Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.

    Consultation anywhere.

    (Formerly "ecuacool")
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 8:36 PM
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    We generally flood it

    up to the steam outlets. If there's a leak, water will show up in the firebox. 
    "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.
  • HackAl HackAl @ 2:38 PM
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    Thank you

    Thanks so much to JStar at Equacool for coming out and providing a thorough and professional evaluation.  Looking forward to getting this project completed in October but we are off to a great start.
    Thanks also to HeatingHelp for providing this free, valuable service. 
    Kudos.
    Al
  • HackAl HackAl @ 9:49 PM
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    Job well done

    I had to burn about 200 gallons left over in my oil tank first.
    JStar/Ecuacool installed the Carson burner and its all systems go.  So far so good.  Thanks again to Ecuacool for the advice, the quote, the follow-up and the top-notch install.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 11:10 PM
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    How about

    posting some pictures?
    "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.
  • JStar JStar @ 6:29 PM
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    Conversion

    I forgot to take"after" pictures of the inside of the boiler.
    - Joe Starosielec
    http://thatcherhvac
    http://facebook.com/thatcherhvac



    Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.


    Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.

    Consultation anywhere.

    (Formerly "ecuacool")
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