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Joined on March 11, 2004

Last Post on April 15, 2014

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What part of Maryland

@ April 15, 2014 11:34 PM in Need advice/ help for new heating system

are you in? We're located in Baltimore. 

It would give you some flexibility

@ April 15, 2014 12:26 AM in Is my steam boiler way oversized?

but switching fuels on such a burner might take more than opening/closing valves and throwing a switch. We'll have to look at this more closely.

That's what I'm thinking

@ April 15, 2014 12:23 AM in Is my steam boiler way oversized?

the combustion test will determine how low we can go. We don't want to get the stack temp so low that the flue gases condense inside the chimney.

One-inch pipe won't cut it

@ April 14, 2014 11:24 PM in Is my steam boiler way oversized?

unless they figure on the entire gas distribution in the house running at 2 PSI, and even then I'm not sure. Have to look it up but I'm not at the office.

Burnham offers Beckett and PowerFlame burners for the V9A series boilers. PowerFlame would be the better bet, since they offer lo-hi-lo firing in smaller burner capcities than Beckett.

In those sizes

@ April 12, 2014 4:13 PM in recommended NG Burner?

Burnham sells Beckett and PowerFlame gas burners. The PowerFlame line offers smaller units with low-high-low than the Beckett line does.

Carlin and Midco make very good gas burners too.

Not sure what brand of gas burner is popular out your way, but around here we see a lot of PowerFlame, with Carlin in second place.

We did

@ April 10, 2014 11:49 AM in Is my steam boiler way oversized?

and the OP says it's running better after some repairs we made (vents and crossover traps), but still using a lot of oil. This is a Hoffman Vapor system.

One thing to be determined is whether enough gas is available from the street main to fire that boiler. Then we'll know if converting is even possible.

We did not open the boiler when we were there to see how dirty the fire side is, but given what we usually see, I expect it would take several soot-vac bags to get it clean. We just ran out of time that day.

But there's nothing about this system that can't be fixed.

If memory serves

@ April 9, 2014 12:37 AM in FST-200 Boiler Breeching Rumble after conversion to gas

the Federal FST boilers run with a slight positive pressure in the firing zone. Check to see that the breech damper is properly set.

What were your combustion test readings?

Post a picture of the boiler

@ April 6, 2014 11:55 PM in American Standard boiler

and we can probably ID it.

Our business volume

@ April 5, 2014 3:53 PM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

is something like 70% steam, on average. As others will attest, there is more than enough work for a steam-oriented contractor who knows what he or she is doing.

Every so often we get someone who wants to know why we even deal with steam at all on this site. Here's one where Dan gives a real good answer. This came from the previous version of the Wall, so the postings are scrambled and some of the names didn't line up properly. The OP called himself "Legend of the Past", and unless he is now posting under a different name, I believe he only participated in this thread:

Oversizing will waste a lot of fuel

@ April 5, 2014 3:42 PM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

which would explain at least another part of the savings. Also the indirect tank is one of the more efficient ways to handle DHW- if the old boiler had a tankless coil, it was wasting a lot. 

I'd suggest our Find a Contractor page

@ April 2, 2014 10:55 PM in To convert or not

but there aren't any listings for RI. Any contractor in this area who's reading this- get listed! We did and it's one of the best moves we ever made.

With no insulation

@ April 2, 2014 10:39 PM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

it's still going to cost a lot to heat that house. That's where you can get the best bang for your buck.

Add to that the service and reliability issues on mod-cons mentioned further down the thread. I've heard of a few mod-cons (using Gianonni heat exchangers) that only lasted five years. I've read that in Europe if a mod-con over five years old or so breaks down, they replace it. Where's the savings in that?

Was it this thread?

@ April 2, 2014 10:32 PM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

If so, that was in September of last year. What probably happened is we actually had a real winter this time, and any heating contractor who is any good was swamped with no-heat calls, dead boilers etc. etc. etc. just like we were. If you had had a no-heat situation, you would not have been happy if you had to wait for service. Most people are like that.

There are plenty of younger guys who know steam, several of whom are on this board. I'm sure they'll keep it going, especially when we get some efficiency improvements for these systems, beyond what we already have.


@ April 2, 2014 10:23 PM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

we will always have people who will use alleged fuel savings to justify a lot of unnecessary work. Sure, sometimes all that work does result in savings, but there are often less complicated, less expensive ways to do the same thing.

Here's one example, which speaks for itself:

double post

@ April 2, 2014 10:16 PM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

how'd that happen?

That oil boiler must have been in bad shape

@ April 2, 2014 10:16 PM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

when I use this online calculator:

and plug in your costs per gallon and use 85% efficiency for the oil-fired unit and 90% for the mod-con (since there have been issues with some mod-con's ratings) the operating costs come out as $33.93 per million BTU for the oil unit and $33.46 for the mod-con.

I'm not questioning your figures, just saying there was probably more to this story than just switching fuels.

I don't make the rules here

@ April 2, 2014 12:45 PM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

and neither does anyone else in this thread. That's Dan's job. But for those who say they don't want to start another argument or debate, it might be better if they simply avoid posting in threads where that is likely to happen.

Of course if this thread gets too nasty, Dan will likely just pull it like he did last time. That, again, is up to him.

Just sayin'.


@ April 2, 2014 12:28 PM in Need used or cheap commercial steam boiler

do you want to rip out the steam? That would cost them even more money, and you say they're struggling. 

If this is gas, you might look at a Dunkirk D247 or Utica JD series boiler. They're not my favorites, but they do offer lower prices. But you couldn't use that burner with them.

Need more info

@ April 2, 2014 12:16 PM in Webster's the trap

take some pictures of this thing, also the system it's used on and post them here. 

Around here

@ April 1, 2014 11:11 PM in Burnham gas conversion

inspectors don't care as long as the installation meets Code. We have never had an inspector ask whether the conversion burner would have been an OEM option. UL has listed these burners for conversion/upgrade installations as well as OEM use, and Code requires equipment to be UL listed. So do insurance companies.

The installation itself must meet the ANSI Z21.8 standard, with the gas portion meeting NFPA 54 or whichever Code is used for gas in your area. So there are the standards: UL approval, ANSI Z21.8 and the gas code.

For generations, coal-fired boilers and furnasties were converted to burn oil or gas instead of being completely replaced (OK, some of these things should have been replaced instead of converted, but that's another story). So there is more than enough precedent for converting oil-fired boilers to gas. Some of these boilers were made by companies that did not survive the Depression (1929, not 2008) so it would have been impossible to coordinate with their manufacturers. The solution was to establish Codes and standards for the equipment and workmanship, which we still have.

ISTR the auto manufacturers once tried to void their warranties if any non-OEM parts were used on their vehicles. The outcome was that they would have had to prove the non-OEM part caused the failure to deny warranty. I don't have the details on this though, maybe someone out there would know who was involved.

Burnham is basically shooting itself in the foot over this. Most people would react that if they have to buy a new boiler, it won't be a Burnham. That's a shame, since the MegaSteam could have been a real game-changer for them.

The MPO and the W-M Ultra Oil

@ April 1, 2014 8:53 PM in Burnham MPO IQ147 or Weil Mclain WGO3

are both 3-pass boilers, which are much easier to service than pin-type ones, even if a pinner is warm-start. If those two makers were the only ones available, I'd use an MPO or Ultra Oil.

Other good 3-pass boilers are the Biasi and its relatives (Solaia, Tri-Fire etc.) and the Slant/Fin Eutectic.

The most important factor is a proper installation.

Here we go again

@ April 1, 2014 8:40 PM in Burnham gas conversion

There is a certain person who will almost certainly come on here and try to discourage you from converting that boiler.

There is apparently some sort of political situation within Burnham where one or two people in the company are opposed to this. It certainly is not a good business decision, since a gas-fired MegaSteam would sell extremely well. Like it or not, oil heat is circling the drain except in areas with no natural gas, and it makes no sense to tie your best equipment to a declining fuel source.

I can find no technical or safety reason that a modern gas burner like the Carlin EZ-Gas or the Riello would not work in a MegaSteam. If it were mine, I'd convert it.
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