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    Advice on Oil Boiler Replacement (21 Posts)

  • kgk14 kgk14 @ 2:46 PM
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    Advice on Oil Boiler Replacement

    I am an average homeowner replacing a 52 year old tankless oil burner, Burnham Jubilee, with a high efficiency option.  Heating is forced hot water, 20 linear feet of contemporary baseboard in the basement, and 110 linear feet of cast iron baseboard, 6” and 9” tall, in the first and second floors.  Current boiler is vented through a 6x12” clay lined flue within a three sided chimney, about 30’ high.  House also has two fireplaces (one in basement, the other in first floor), and almost never used. House has 2774 total sq. ft, includes basement.  One heat loss calculation, which includes a 15% fudge factor) put the result at 63,000 btu/hr.
     
    After a recent weatherization project, the blower door test result is 1830.  Although a natural gas line is only 525’ away, I am resigned to using oil for warmth and hot water, though would like to make a smart purchase of a vessel where the burner could be swapped out if the gas line ever makes it up the street. 
     
    I’ve talked with several contractors, who generally offer either System 2000 EK1 or a Buderus G115/3.   Those that swear by the System 2000 point to its low mass, low water content.  It is offered with the System 2000 heat exchanger tank or a Superstor tank.    They also purport that the System 2000 is more reliable and less finicky than a Buderus, and does not need an outside reset. 
     
    The Buderus proponents point to its cast iron construction and it being a better match with the cast iron baseboard.  Their advice is that the Buderus would be able to work more efficiently with the cast iron baseboard by operating at a lower temperature and by maintaining the heat within the distribution system longer.  The SuperStor tank is proposed with the system.  Proponents say that if it is correctly installed, should work fine with few if any problems.  They also say the System 2000 Digital Manager can be fussy and  is a proprietary part.  Would also like opinions about whether the G115/3 is the right size for the house.
     
    I am also concerned about the potential for condensation in the chimney flue with either system, and whether it should be lined to a smaller dimension up front, or wait and see what might happen after a replacement is installed.  Or would a smarter move be to direct vent to the outside?
  • Aaron_in_Maine Aaron_in_Maine @ 8:06 PM
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    Either one

    Both of those boilers are good choices. I would line the chimney with a insulated stainless steel liner which will be good for oil and gas and help with condensation in the chimney. I personally would put in the Buderus because of availability of parts. Both will save tons over that jubilee.
  • kgk14 kgk14 @ 8:52 PM
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    Aaron

    What do you think about the direct vent option rather than lining the chimney with stainless steel?
  • Aaron_in_Maine Aaron_in_Maine @ 7:54 AM
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    Direct vent

    If you wanted to go direct vent I would go Buderus with a riello BF burner they are super quiet. The sys 2000 cannot be direct vented it requires a power venter which is more moving parts. Sorry to take so long to reply.
  • SWEI SWEI @ 8:19 PM
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    The G115

    tolerates lower return water temps than most boilers.  Combining that with outdoor reset should increase both comfort and seasonal efficiency. 
  • icesailor icesailor @ 10:17 PM
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    3 sided chimneys:

    " "" Current boiler is vented through a 6x12” clay lined flue within a three sided chimney, about 30’ high. " ""

    If you have a 3 sided chimney, if you are in Massachusetts, it isn't legal to use it and you need a certified chimney inspection. If the installer can get away with the install and the AHJ doesn't care, well and good. You're a candidate for a power sidewall vented boiler or a direct  LP gas until the Nat. Gas gets there.
    LP gas probably won't be nuts next year because this year, the Nat. Gas providers had to suck up as much LP gas as they could to keep their gas pressures and BTU's up because they oversold their supply.
  • kgk14 kgk14 @ 11:19 PM
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    3 sided chimney ....Not

    Ice sailor...my bad... The house does not have a 3 sided chimney... I would like to know the merits of either boiler system, pros and cons of direct vent v. chimney vent due to condensation concerns, best fit with cast iron baseboard, best reputation, etc. Everything else in my post is accurate. Thanks.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 12:45 AM
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    Can't go wrong with either one

    as long as it's installed properly. That's most important.

    I prefer chimney venting since it does not add any moving parts to the job, and you don't need to worry about finding a safe place for a sidewall vent. Definitely line the chimney with a proper stainless steel liner.

    Both makers sell gas burners for their boilers.
    "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.
  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 7:33 AM
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    I have installed many direct vent

    buderus units..

    I would go that direction...

    I finished one last week, G115 4 section with a smart 50, 4 zones of baseboard {existing}, 5 bumble bee circulators setup for delta t for each zone and a grundfos alpha on the primary loop, taco 5 zone priority control exp model so it controlled the system pump, each zone was taken off the loop with a webstone purge tee... The boiler has no issues with low return temps but I have great luck with p/s piping systems like this with odr... I was told by a buderus rep that p/s is a good way to insure the boiler lasts the longest amount of time...
  • Jim Hankinson Jim Hankinson @ 8:43 AM
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    Boiler choice

    Whichever you choose make sure it's piped p/s as previously mentioned. For the System 2000 it's not a matter of boiler longevity, rather an issue of comfort. Sys 2K will not require ODR for higher efficiency, that comes from the post purge feature of the digital manager.
    The manager is not finicky. The biggest problem is lack of understanding on the part of service techs. Yes it's an OEM part but if you go with the Buderus and opt for the Logamatic control to achieve the highest possible efficiency you'll find that it's also OEM. The Sys 2000 has a limited lifetime warranty so if at any point in time it does fail there is always at least a core credit for the old one.
    Direct venting sounds good but if you have a solid chimney you'd be better off having it lined. Once and done.
    One other point - the Sys 2000 is fuel neutral, meaning that if you have it installed as oil fired you can switch to gas if you choose just by changing out the burner, no need to replace the boiler, venting or any boiler controls.
  • kgk14 kgk14 @ 1:14 PM
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    Boiler Choice continued

    Appreciate the feedback very much.  

    Regarding primary/secondary piping, would that be something an installer would customarily do or is it considered above and beyond standard practice?   Would an installer need convincing to do p/s? 

    Regarding the Sys2K, does anyone think it is better than, equal to, or worse than a cast iron boiler when matched with cast iron baseboards?   This gets to the question about what is best matched to a cast iron distribution system.

    Are either the Buderus G/115 3 or the Sys2K have the right BTU output for the house as described in the original post? 

    No one has yet to comment on the pros/cons of using a heat exchanger tank such as the System 2K tank, or an internal coil found in SuperStor.

    Is spring ever going to arrive in central NH this year?
  • Jim Hankinson Jim Hankinson @ 1:28 PM
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    Boiler choice

    The type of radiation doesn't really have a bearing on which type of boiler to install, CI or steel. Not all installers are familiar with p/s but it's really the best way to go with a system that has a lot of mass compared to conventional fintube.

    The plate heat exchanger used by Sys 2K makes hot water faster than a coil in tank. It also leaves less heat in the boiler at the end of the cycle so there is less stack loss between cycles. If your water is hard have a Scale Stopper installed to prevent scale accumulation.

    As far as sizing, because the Sys 2K has the post purge feature the issue of oversizing goes away. For the best explanation of this go to their website www.energylinetics.com.
  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 3:47 PM
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    steel

    I am just not sold on steel boilers...... Others have good luck with the sys 2000 but I just dont like steel...
  • icesailor icesailor @ 6:58 PM
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    Steel Boilers:

    Their light and cheap. Easy for one person to jack around by them selves.
    Seals between the block and base fail.
    Replace with wet based cast iron one.
  • Jim Hankinson Jim Hankinson @ 8:31 AM
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    Steel boilers

    Sys 2K has no seals to leak and the steel is not cheap. You can't really say it's dry base because the combustion area is completely surrounded by the boiler.
    I worked on many cheap steel boilers over the years and they really gave steel boilers a bad name. On the other hand we had a lot of low pressure GE boilers and Bethlehem Dynatherms that were high quality and would last almost forever.
    Just a thought, does anyone make a high pressure CI boiler or CI submarine?
  • kgk14 kgk14 @ 10:55 AM
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    Earlier comment about oil to LP gas conversion

    With the conversation focused on oil burners, icesailor's comment on being a candidate for LP gas until the natural gas line arrives (unknown) was overlooked.  
    It does raise the question about whether converting the old system to LP gas may be more prudent in the long run.   I am on a fixed income and would like to make a move that positions the house best for the long term, and at the best value. 
    Predicting energy futures is a guessing game.  While I live in NH, I read that there is a growing percentage of oil to gas conversions in Maine.  The current apples to apples price comparison (per million BTU) shows oil at $28.31 and propane at $42.02. 
    The house is 525' away from a natural gas line (current million BTU price is $15.96) though the drift from Liberty Utilities is that any line extension is years away.    It makes for an interesting and costly dilemma.  
     
    Does anyone think I should try to repair the tankless coil and mixing valve in the 52 year old Burnham Jubilee that puts out good heat, though the real hot water lasts about 20 seconds before turning lukewarm, and then sit tight?   One thing for sure is that the hot water need is urgent.
  • SWEI SWEI @ 12:44 PM
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    LPG prices

    Have long cycles (year over year) and short cycles (seasonal.)  If you can buy and store enough for the winter season during the spring and summer months when prices are lower, you will pocket some nice savings.

    A mod/con boiler running on LPG can easily be converted to NG for a fraction of the cost of the burner replacement required when changing from oil to gas.  It will probably consume 20% less fuel than a conventional boiler with a single stage gas gun. I'd be looking that way if I had more than one LPG vendor to choose from and the space for a decent sized tank (which you want to own, in order to have a choice of vendors from whom to purchase.)

    How much of that 525 feet is on your property?  If more than half, I'd want to investigate the possibility of meeting the utility somewhere nearer their existing line.
    This post was edited by an admin on March 25, 2014 12:45 PM.
  • icesailor icesailor @ 12:45 AM
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    Gas Boilers:

    Where I worked, 525' isn't considered a long distance for an electrical service, I wouldn't consider 525' a overly long distance for a gas service. I personally don't think that Propane is going to stay as high as it is now. I believe that the price is artificially high because the natural gas companies couldn't provide enough gas for their over subscribed gas systems. So, they bought up LP supplies so no  one ran out of Nat. Gas. When the honest MSM (Main Stream Media) gets to telling the story of the rape of suburban gas customers using Propane, there might be some squirming. I'm not holding my breath though. Either way though, any gas boiler you pick can be converted from LPG to Nat Gas easily. They are all convertible. I understand about fixed incomes.
    Modulating/condensing gas boilers aren't your only choice. There are other gas choices. But they would be a very good choice for your situation. The cheapest way out is to just replace the oil boiler. You can buy a lot of oil for a long time for what you will pay for a complete renovation of your heating system.
    Make someone work for your money. Ask for multiple quotes on differently priced options. From inexpensive, basic to more expensive. YOU should decide. Not be handed a steak that you didn't order and cooked the way they liked it cooked.
    Where I worked in Massachusetts, Sys2k's were introduced and pushed by someone. They never caught on. In the mind of some, they are the greatest thing since pre-sliced salmon. If you know how to work on them and can get parts. There was one in my customer base that was in a house, built by some heating oil dealer from New Hampshire. He sold the house to a friend and then customer. It was what it was. But with a Buderus, there are few qualified techs that can't work on a Buderus. I stayed in a house in Wolfeboro once when ice sailing at Lake Winni. The owners had a Riello that they couldn't get anyone to service it because "it took special tools and training". That's BS.
    I'd also consider a Weil-McLain WTGO, the hated PINNER!!!. But if they are run as a warm start, they are as easy to clean as any boiler I have ever serviced. With a Carlin EZ-1, it will still be running when you and I leave this earth. If you got 50 years out of that Jubilee, you obviously take care of your equipment.
    If you do a straight boiler swap, you can buy a lot of oil for the savings. If I was in your area and working, and you asked me, I'd be quoting on everything I have said. And let YOU decide on how you want to spend your money.
    MO.
  • kgk14 kgk14 @ 9:27 PM
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    Good advice

    This is a quality site and I have gained much from everyone's input.  Whatever decision I make, I'll make it back here to share the experience.  If anyone is interested in contacting me offline about doing the work, or suggesting those who can, similar to what iceman or heating pro have recommended, please get hold of me soon via the protocol suggested by the web site host.  I have already met and talked with several potential installers and have yet to communicate with anyone else as specific and knowledgeable about CI boilers as some of the advisors on this site.
    Completely off the subject, icesailor, one of my young adult kids expressed interest in icesailing this winter.  As Lake Winni and other great ponds are in our backyard, if you have any suggestions about where a novice can go around here to get properly introduced to the sport, please let me know.
    All the best.
  • icesailor icesailor @ 9:34 PM
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    Icesailing/off topic:

    Winni was bad this year. Too much snow and such. Look on the NEIYA web site. Join the club. There are over 1,000 members from all over. Join and get a list of the members. There are many in NH. During the "season", they always post places that the sailors go. If anyone shows up and shows an interest in sailing, someone will give them a ride. If they can sail well, someone may let them sail a spare boat.
    Happy sailing.

    http://theneiya.org/
    This post was edited by an admin on March 26, 2014 9:53 PM.
  • Kakashi Kakashi @ 8:25 PM
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    EK

    I would go with an EK for a few reasons, aside from the fact that I love them. If your circuit board goes bad you have a dummy board for it, you can fire them without a chamber if needed and, if you do convert to gas down the road you can just buy the gas burner for it.

    The downside is the plate heat exchanger. I am no fan of acid so I never clean them quickly with anything that can blind me. Our office has a few soaking in white vinegar to clean them. Sometimes I see them on ebay for 30 bucks.
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