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    Burnham has a sense of humor! (19 Posts)

  • Robert O'Brien Robert O'Brien @ 12:07 PM
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    Burnham has a sense of humor!

    From their Facebook page

    Condensing Vs. Cast Iron Boilers:

    Read an email from a well-informed, tech savvy homeowner that surprised us with his knowledge about condensing vs. cast iron boilers.

    "I was glad to see when U.S. Boiler Company posted on its website that in overall efficiency, cast iron may be better than modcons or high efficiency boiler systems. I believe this is greatly understated. The best and most effective system is a large volume, large radiator heating system.

    I have a 2350 sf house in the Chicago area that is 80 years old and has single pane glass (well sealed) and leaky storms (over 500 sf of glass area). My attic averages about 12" of insulation or less, and 60% of the walls are uninsulated and 40% is insulated with fiberglass. I have come to understand that fiberglass loses half of it R-value at -18f, which makes it almost useless in a cold weather climate.

    The proof is in. My large radiators plus my 38 year old 80% efficient cast iron boiler is the best way to go for heating. The last couple of years I had been paying close to $1900. This last fall, I found that my boiler had a two inch flame when the book says it should be 3/4". I adjusted the boiler to a 1" flame. I also found that my chimney (2 fireplaces)was leaking air like an open window. I blocked that off.

    So, it was a little warmer this winter (equivilent to a normal new england winter), but the proof is in; my total natural gas bill from March, 2012 to March 2013 was $1,033, not $1900. The gas attributable to heating was only $783.41. In the summer, my gas bill averaged $25 per month for hot water and for the gas dryer amounted to $300 for the year.

    I don't care whether you have a modcon or anything else, how do you beat a $783 natural gas bill for an annual heat bill (total therms = 1,553.54)? For a 60% uninsulated home? When you find that a modcon has half the life span of a cast iron boiler, cost more to fix, has occasional lockouts that leave you without heat plus another repair bill, and require $300 per year to maintain, THERE IS NO COMPARISON. Only buy 80-84% cast iron boilers, and you will maintain your sanity and not have to explain to your wife that you are without heat one more time."

    Want to read more about condensing and cast iron differences? Check out our Condensing Prodcut Line Brochure @:
  • SWEI SWEI @ 12:40 PM
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    I'm not clear if tongue is actually in cheek here or not

    I'm quite aware of the advantages and limitations a conventional CI boiler offers, but IMO they are missing the boat on a huge opportunity for themselves by not offering a modulating version of their G iron boilers.

    Most of the magic of a mod/con comes from the modulation and its associated controls.  Condensing is the frosting on top.
    This post was edited by an admin on May 6, 2013 12:41 PM.
  • Robert O'Brien Robert O'Brien @ 1:02 PM
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    Not tongue in cheek!

    I would expect a social media intern!
  • knotgrumpy knotgrumpy @ 12:51 PM
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    Better rip out all the fiberglass insulation!

    "I have come to understand that fiberglass loses half of it R-value at -18f, which makes it almost useless in a cold weather climate."
    Maybe, if you live in Siberia!  I can't remember weeks of -18f temperatures near Chicago this past winter, can anyone else?

  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 2:42 PM
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    I don't know what to say...

    I have the mod con vs cast iron debate often, and I argue both sides.. In the rite situation both are better than the other.
    If you have a small cape, ranch, ect. {for example a 40K BTU heat loss, with 3 zones of base board} than I would not recommend any of the mod cons that are currently available. Instead a properly sized decent cast iron boiler will be a better long term choice... Now take that same 40K BTU home with a single first co hydro air and a TT60 may fit good enough...

    On the other hand, the customer is a techy', he has a 2900sq ft house with 2 zones totaling a 77K BTU heatloss, a veissman, Buderus GB, TT solo, ect starts making more sense...

    But here is my argument against mod cons for the small heatloads {and why I suspect we are not seeing 30K BTU output modcons in the works} , when the custmoer is spending a total of $750 a year on heat and hot water, you walking in with an oversized mod con is going to cost them in all aspects... The initial install is going to be more {easily double}, the annual Preventive maintenance is going to be more, the service calls are going to cost more and be more frequent, and the lifespan is going to be less...

    So even if you could save them 20% over a properly sized cast iron with ODR that is only $150 per year, they are going to spend more than that in extra maintenance costs....

    Don't get me wrong here, a lot of m business is installing mod cons {I will say the bigger part of it is mod cons and tankless heaters these days} and I have them in my properties and a solo 175 in my own home {a little oversized but it works we came in a 128K BTU heatloss 4300sq ft, the 175 is overkill but the 110 was under}.... And honestly that unit doesnt save me much, I use heatpumps down to 47* and on the super cold spells I run the coal furnace for 3 days a t a time {normally on the weekends my wife is off fri, sat, sun, and the hopper full of coal lasts exactly 3 days, so it works out}.... Plus I use a rinnai tankless for DHW... Now if I used it constantly with no other aux system, than yes it would save me a substantial amount over oil or an old propane unit.
  • Robert O'Brien Robert O'Brien @ 2:56 PM
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    Another gem of wisdom

    " Can I use an Alpine boiler as a
    replacement boiler for an older
    heating system with large radiators?

    The Alpine boiler will work in this type of
    installation, however, achieving optimum system
    efficiencies is generally associated with lower
    water volume systems (see above). Additionally,
    depending upon the home, it may be impractical
    to vent a boiler directly to outside air without
    using a chimney. In this type of installation, it is
    possible that other Burnham brand boilers, such
    as the ES2, Series 2, or Series 3 may be a better
    option. A consultation with a professional home
    heating contractor will provide the best answer"

    Who writes this stuff? With P/S or a LLH,which you would need with either a mod/con or CI boiler on a high volume system,flow through the boiler is constant,who cares how much volume system has? The mod/con has the advantage in these applications,it's condensing all the time!
    This post was edited by an admin on May 6, 2013 2:59 PM.
  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 3:27 PM
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    Who writes this stuff?

    Robert, that's our competition, like when I ask "who can install a boiler, 120ft of baseboard, a gas water heater, and 3 thermostats for $4300"? the answer is my unlicensed, untrained, and uninsured competition, that works out of the back of his 1987 volvo wagon and has to visit the methadone clinic before he comes to your house... Oh yeah, and don't forget, "if an inspector comes by I am your brother in law"....... Sorry, rant over... I just got a call from a friend of mine that I priced a job for his cousin {and gave a really good price to} that they found someone that would do it for half...
    This post was edited by an admin on May 6, 2013 3:29 PM.
  • gennady gennady @ 8:00 PM
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    Condensing vs CI

    There is no vs. with small condensing boilers with low going to 9000 btuhr The fight is over. BURNHAM just lost in the past. This facebook posting is very damaging to their reputation.
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
  • Chris Chris @ 9:14 PM
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    Been Ponder This All Day

    Kurt sent me this thread early this morning his time and have been ponder all day. My take is this.

    The cast iron market due to European influx of technology and advancement cannot compete in the long haul. American mfg's have pennies in R&D to develop their own boiler from the HX to the burner to the control. They have turned into assemblers of others technological advancements and need to survive.

    I remember back in the late 80's early 90's these same mfgs saying how 3-pass cast iron boilers weren't worth the fuel savings while in the back room they scrambled to come up with one they could stamp their name to.

    We are going through that same phase now with mod/cons with one difference. The Europeans now have market share with 10, 20, 30 times the war chest and will out advance them around every corner .

    I know of one of the American big three that was approached to be boughten out by a European boiler manufacturer but that same manufacture took a step back because they saw that in the end the cast iron business is dieing a slow death.

    Just look at the oil market in general. Five years ago you saw zippo oil companies selling propane and now it's hard to find one that doesn't.

    It's not worth commenting on the foolishness in the original post.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • Jason Jason @ 4:45 PM
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    Burnham Alpine

    I saw a newer piece where that was straightened out. Probably a marketing error. They are saying radiant heat and large wter volume systems are a good application. Guess someone caught it.
  • gennady gennady @ 9:19 PM
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    Mod Con to CI boiler upgrade

    I met with NYC DOB boiler inspector to do boiler inspection. He looked at Viessmann Vitodens we installed and said he has a lot of inspection lately where contractors removed new mod cons and installed standard efficiency cast iron boilers. So Burnham is pretty much in the mainstream America.
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
  • Robert O'Brien Robert O'Brien @ 7:39 AM
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    Think I'm going to dump my IPhone and go back to this!
  • SWEI SWEI @ 9:59 AM
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    I started with one of these

    $1750 (wholesale) plus $45 per month and $0.45 per minute for the service.  Paid for itself in 3 months.
  • Robert O'Brien Robert O'Brien @ 3:51 PM
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    Same here, although the phone was less but it was $1.00/minute or portion of. Made for very abbreviated conversations,even so the bill was over $1K/mo and worth every penny!
  • Charlie from wmass Charlie from wmass @ 7:54 AM
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    The diffrence between genius and ignorance?

    Genius has limits. The condensing boiler requires through knowledge of the operating system. If an installer does not understand how to set up the boiler and just goes by factory settings some people will be very unhappy with the mod con boiler.  
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • Robert O'Brien Robert O'Brien @ 9:00 AM
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    Ditto, Charles!

    Do we cater to the lowest denominator or raise the bar? Modcons aren't the answer for every job but the decision should be based on an informed judgement!
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 2:02 PM
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    At least they mention this:

    "Additionally, depending upon the home, it may be impractical to vent a boiler directly to outside air without using a chimney."

    Can't count how many times I see PVC sticking out of a building one foot above grade. They're gonna have problems if we get more snow than that.

    Or the same thing too close to a window or in an inside corner.

    Some people will throw them in any old way, no regard for safety at all. This is the stuff lawyers dream of.
    "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.
  • Robert O'Brien Robert O'Brien @ 3:54 PM
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    While I agree,venting is sometimes a challenge,I've almost never seen a job where it couldn't be done. Disclaimer- we don't work in urban areas
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 8:20 PM
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    That makes all the difference

    also one might say it can be done, but at what cost?

    When we tell the customer the only way to vent a mod-con is to go thru the chimney, which then means they will also have to replace the water heater with something else, they shake their heads. With cast-iron they only have to re-line the chimney.
    "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.
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