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Joined on November 26, 2011

Last Post on April 20, 2014

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LPG prices

@ March 25, 2014 12:44 PM in Advice on Oil Boiler Replacement

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.

Powder coating

@ March 25, 2014 12:32 AM in i got to get rid of this steam heat system, i got questions

should last at least one lifetime as long as the surface prep is good.  Maintenance will involve a damp cloth every so often to remove dust.

Measure first

@ March 24, 2014 1:34 PM in Best way to increase output from 8-fin cast iron steam radiator converted to hot water

Buy a few clip-on pipe thermometers.  Install them next to each other on the same pipe to verify that they read consistently.  If not, take note of which is off by how much so you can make reasonable measurements with them.  Now move them so you can see the water temps at the inlets and outlets of both radiators.

Re-piping the two radiators in parallel rather than series will help a lot.  How much will be determined by the measurements above and the size of the pipes feeding them.

I've installed a lot of sediment filters over the years

@ March 24, 2014 11:10 AM in main line water filter

and I continue to recommend them as long as the owners are willing to perform regular cartridge changes or pay us to do so.  There is far more rust and sand in most municipal water systems that most people realize.  HOWEVER -- if the owners are too cheap and/or lazy to change cartridges, it is a very bad idea.  Filter media grow very nice bacterial and fungal cultures over time.  Clear housings help a lot -- out of sight, out of mind.

Try constant pressure mode

@ March 23, 2014 8:24 PM in My first ALPHA pump

if you have zone valves, it usually works quite well.  Adjust the pressure with both zones calling until the ∆T looks good.

The G115

@ March 23, 2014 8:19 PM in Advice on Oil Boiler Replacement

tolerates lower return water temps than most boilers.  Combining that with outdoor reset should increase both comfort and seasonal efficiency. 

Indeed, not an exact science

@ March 23, 2014 4:56 PM in Want to move from oil to gas boiler. Best way forward?

yet still better than no science.  Sounds like your old boiler was indeed massively oversized, but that hardly makes oversizing the new one a good idea.  The old boiler was a high mass design, both in iron and in water.  The new boiler is a low mass design, with very little water content.

The second sentence in your initial post demonstrated an apparent lack of understanding of the proper selection and application of heating appliances.  I made an effort to remedy that by providing you with correct information.  You have chosen not to discuss the merits of your proposed plan, but instead to question my intentions and my integrity.

I do not perform energy audits, though I do employ many of the same tools and techniques which energy auditors use.  I am located more than 2,000 miles away from PA and do not perform work there.  I have nothing to gain or lose from this other than my time.  Good luck with your project.  Please consider employing the services of a qualified designer or installer before you decide where and how to spend your money.

DId your installer

@ March 23, 2014 2:14 PM in New boiler supply/return question

wire up the outdoor temperature sensor and configure ODR on the boiler?


@ March 21, 2014 6:26 PM in Buy used electric boiler

would be determined by a heat loss calculation on the house.

Integration with a wood boiler is not all that difficult.  Properly installing and controlling the wood boiler is far more complex.  Have you read by chance?

How many hours do you expect this backup boiler to operate during a season?  You might want to spend a bit of time with before you get too far down the road on this plan.


@ March 21, 2014 2:25 PM in Warmboard on slab versus PEX in slab

costs as much or more than pouring a typical 4" slab does.  Adding it to a new slab really makes no sense.  The required water temps for an insulated slab are quite low, and with proper design, they can easily be made to match those of the Warmboard floor above.

Both will work well with geothermal, solar or other low temperature heat sources.

Water quality

@ March 21, 2014 1:46 PM in Munchkin replacement

Fire-tube heat exchangers are generally more tolerant of calcium and magnesium than the older high restriction designs like the one in your Munchkin.  If the system uses any appreciable quantity of makeup water, these will accumulate over time which can really make things bad.  How hard is your water?

Softening exchanges calcium and magnesium ions for sodium (or potassium) ions in the water.  It also increases the chloride content of the water as a side effect.  Many stainless alloys will not tolerate high chloride levels.

Where water quality is less than perfect, I typically recommend chemical treatments which can prevent most of the problems from affecting the various metals in the system.  Where water quality is truly bad, we fill partially (or sometimes completely) with RO water and then add treatment to prevent corrosion or leaching.

Brand new

@ March 21, 2014 12:13 AM in Buy used electric boiler

they do not cost all that much.  I'd check that out before I even bothered to evaluate the condition on a used one.

Tight quarters

@ March 21, 2014 12:11 AM in Weil-McLain & Caleffi Installation

looks like a nice installation.

Not speaking for Navien here

@ March 20, 2014 11:49 PM in Gas piping

but based on conversations with engineers at tankless manufacturers, I suspect this may be a case of marketing spin applied to what I believe to be a very reasonable engineering decision:  In the event that gas pressure drops, reduce the firing rate until gas pressure stabilizes (as opposed to throwing an error and shutting down altogether.)

Current codes do not take this behavior into account.

More important info

@ March 20, 2014 11:43 PM in Want to move from oil to gas boiler. Best way forward?

"Heat loss calculations" should never be put aside.  I would be quite surprised if your design day heat loss comes in higher than 40,000 BTU per hour.  Installing a boiler with more the three times the required capacity is highly unlikely to produce a happy ending.

Still working?

@ March 20, 2014 2:10 AM in Original Equipment

Looks very well built.

Oventrop valve

@ March 19, 2014 12:33 PM in Ornate Cast Iron Radiators

Lochinvar boiler pump control

@ March 19, 2014 11:33 AM in Please critique this design

I'd double-check that one if I were you.  I'm pretty sure someone at Lochinvar gave me different info about a year ago, but I don't have notes on the conversation.

Abandoning the snowmelt loops

@ March 19, 2014 11:08 AM in Piping a Wallhung Modcom for concrete radiant.

Are the snowmelt loops on a separate manifold?  If so, I would consider separating them from the space heating system and (after checking the glycol pH as Carl suggested) leaving them isolated.  Then refill the house system with straight water plus an inhibitor.  If not now, then perhaps when the glycol does need changing.  

Where do we start?

@ March 19, 2014 10:08 AM in Want to move from oil to gas boiler. Best way forward?

Minimum modulation on the NCB-240 is 18,000 BTU per hour.  You have a 1,200 square foot house.  It s NOT "better to oversize"and it WILL affect efficiency (as well as longevity and comfort.)  You must start with a heat loss analysis of the building.  Unless the house is very old and has leaky windows, I suspect you will find that your house needs less heat on a design day than the smallest gas-fired boilers you can buy in in North America.

Among many other issues with your plan is the fact that all of your gas pipe must be sized to the maximum firing rate of the appliances.  3.5" WC is _very_ low pressure.  Your your contractor or designer needs dig out the tables and "do the math from scratch" for the whole house.  If I were asked to do this by a client I would have a frank conversation with one of the utility engineers about real-world probability of low pressure conditions during peak load times before I specified either the appliance or the piping.

System help

@ March 18, 2014 6:21 PM in I'm working out in the shop today

Is this an Uponor CCN control system?  You'll get more eyeballs on it if you start a new post in the Controls forum.

Radiant education

@ March 18, 2014 5:41 PM in Scott's radiant heating project

quite a bit is available gratis online.  You should start by checking these out: (start with #12)
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