Boiler help

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I recently moved into an older property, from early 1950s, and we've got an oil burning boiler that's at least 20 years old if not older.
I want to replace it with something more efficient but don't know whether to go for gas or electric.
I presume electric is more efficient but more expensive, I'm not sure it evens out in the end.
Also I need recommendations for contractors in the Houston area. I've searched online and found these guys 'Houston Plumber | Air Conditioner | Heating Services | Aramendia' (http://www.aramendiahouston.com )
but being new to the area I'd like some actual recommendations before I start ringing around.
--
ChloeP


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On 9/25/2013 8:43 AM, ChloeP wrote:

it depends upon your local energy prices. right now, natural gas is probably cheapest, unless you have enough solar to run your boiler.
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On Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:43:17 AM UTC-4, ChloeP wrote:

Electric at 100% isn't that much more efficient than a new high efficiency 90%+ boiler to make up for the huge difference in energy prices, unless you're living somewhere with unusual prices for energy. Also, you have a gas boiler, so electric what? Resistance to heat the water? Never seen that done for a whole house. Heat pump? That makes more sense from an energy standpoint, but I don't think heat pumps can heat water to the temp typical baseboard heat needs. And even if it does, you're looking at a much higher cost that a new gas boiler. Most logical thing is going to be a new high eff gas boiler.
But what about AC? If that is a consideration, switching to a gas furnace/AC system would give you heat and AC, but that is obviously going to cost a lot more because I presume the house has no duct system. How much that would cost depends on how the house is constructed and how hard or easy it would be to run the ducts.
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Ground source heat pump? Also can be reversilbe for cooling.
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On 9/25/2013 11:43 AM, ChloeP wrote:

First choice is gas if it is available. I'd stick with oil before going to electric, at least at our rates.
I put in a new boiler a few years back. Based on degree days, I'm saving 39% on my oil bill compared to the old setup This is what I have http://www.energykinetics.com/ In my case, paying for itself just from oil savings.
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A heat pump may be a reasonable alternative but probably not for a hydronic system (perhaps a mini-split, though).

I was never happier when I dumped oil for natural gas (conversion burner), even though fuel wasn't any cheaper.
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I've heard NG burns more clean, and so there is a lot less maintenance, failure to light, etc.
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
On 9/25/2013 8:06 PM, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

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On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 08:44:06 -0400, Stormin Mormon

No maintenance. After doing the conversion I never had anyone look at the system again.
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On 09/25/2013 11:43 AM, ChloeP wrote:

I can't imagine any possible scenario when electric is more efficient than *anything*.
nate
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replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
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wrote:

More "efficient", easy. Cheaper, not likely. It comes down to defining what you mean by "efficiency". If you use the normal definition of efficiency, Kw(out)/Kw(in), there is nothing more efficient than electric but efficiency isn't all it's cracked up to be. ;-)
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Electric is a way to get energy from one place to another. The real energy source is coal, natural gas, water fall, nuclear, etc.
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
On 9/25/2013 4:40 PM, Nate Nagel wrote:

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On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 08:42:45 -0400, Stormin Mormon

Well, if you're going to be that way, the *real* source of the energy is *solar*. ;-)
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I hope you send copy of that information to EPA and Wash DC and so on. They will be thrilled.
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
On 9/26/2013 1:07 PM, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

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ChloeP;3126189 Wrote: > I recently moved into an older property, from early 1950s, and we've got > an oil burning boiler that's at least 20 years old if not older.

> whether to go for gas or electric.

> evens out in the end.

> searched online and found these guys 'Houston Plumber | Air Conditioner > | Heating Services | Aramendia' (http://www.aramendiahouston.com )

> start ringing around.
Chloe:
20 years old is an old gas fired furnace. 20 years old is a young cast iron boiler.
Where I live, it's common to see hot water heating boilers that are 100 years old and still going strong.
Why would you want to replace an old heating boiler in the Houston area. You only use that thing for a couple of months at the most each year, so despite the fact that it's not nearly as efficient as the newer equipment, it still doesn't cost you much to operate because you don't use it all that much.
Yes, a new boiler will be more efficient. But it'll also cost a lot more to repair because heating companies know they're a lot more complex to diagnose problems with them, and so most homeowners just pick up the phone and open up their wallet. The heating contractor just takes as much as he wants cuz he knows that you wouldn't have known what to do to fix it yourself. With older boilers, half the handymen on this forum could tell you what's wrong if you explain the problem to them.
Unless there's a solid reason for wanting to replace this boiler, I'd think twice about that decision. You'd be better off just using what you have for all the heat a house in Houston needs in the winter, and given what a new high efficiency boiler will cost you.
But, a properly maintained cast iron boiler will last longer than grandma, so 20 years is NOT an old boiler, and replacing it just to save on fuel costs in a place like Houston is a money losing decision.
--
nestork


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On 9/25/2013 4:52 PM, nestork wrote:

Those 100 year old boilers will probably outlast some of the 20 yo. I've seen quite a few 25 - 30 yo being replaced for various failures.

You make a good point, but run the numbers. It may be a good idea to consider just converting the burner to gas if the rest is in good condition.
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Ed Pawlowski;3126413 Wrote: >

> condition.
I don't believe you can turn a chicken into a duck that way. Gas fired boilers will have burner trays running under the sections of the boilers where the gas burns as it comes out of the burner trays.
I have no experience with oil fired boilers, but they couldn't use burner trays like a gas fired boiler would because the oil is a liquid and would simply spill out of those burner trays onto the floor. My understanding is that oil fired boilers have a "pump" of sorts that pressurizes the oil so that it's injected into the boiler as a fine mist so that it burns both cleanly and completely. And, that difference alone is going to require a boiler of fundamentally different design than one that burns gas.
So, I really don't think you can change an oil fired boiler into one that would burn gas in an economical way. That is, I expect it would be cheaper to buy a gas fired boiler than convert an oil fired boiler into one that will burn gas.
Also, my understanding is that oil fired boilers are commonly used in rural areas that aren't serviced by gas utilities. Instead, heating oil companies deliver heating oil by truck to a storage tank on your property, and it's that heating oil you burn to keep your house warm. So, even if you could change the burner section to burn gas, if there's no gas service to your area, you'd have further expenses setting up some form of gas storage facility on your property.
But, in any event, a 20 year old cast iron boiler can last another 80 to 100 years if properly maintained. Longer if it's a popular brand and your local heating contractors stockpile parts for it. If this boiler were in Winnipeg, the economics of replacing it with a higher efficiency model might start to make economic sense based on the fuel savings. But, in Houston, where "winter" is the last two weeks of January when you might put on a sweater before going outside, replacing a perfectly good boiler with a high efficiency boiler to "save on fuel costs" is crazy. You're going to spend far more money on the new boiler than you're ever going to save in fuel costs.
And, on top of that, your average 20 year old boiler is pretty simple and every heating contractor in town is going to know how to repair it. A high efficiency boiler will have it's own computer to determine when and how it comes on and how it operates. So, if it's not working properly, only the heating companies in town that sell that make of boiler are going to be able to diagnose what's wrong with it. They know they know they have the customer over a barrel and charge accordingly for their services to repair it.
If I were in the OP's boots, I'd keep the existing boiler in their basement and keep the money that a new high efficiency boiler would cost in the bank so that when something crops up that really needs to be done, they have the money to do it. This way they're spending a pile of money in an effort to save $20 per year, and they leave themselves exposed to potentially having to borrow money if something else crops up that, unlike the boiler, really needs to be done.
--
nestork


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Some boilers are easily converted from oil to gas an vice versa. Depends on the design. And finding someone with the ability to do it.
But you are right about the economics. In this case you only change the boiler when it leaks or when parts can't be got.
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On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 08:39:14 +0200, nestork

What you think does not matter. What is possible and done frequently does. I've seen many a boiler converted. When you get into commercial units, dual fuel is common too. Oh, I've also seen coal heaters converted to either gas or oil too. That was common back in the 50's and 60's.

While that is true, I know of plenty of houses with gas service and oil heat. My in-laws is one. They cook with gas, heat with oil. About 30 houses on that street are/were like that. Your speculation will be trumped by fact. The OP is asking about conversion so I'd guess it is available, but only he knows for sure.

Mine was a popular brand but needed replacing after 28 years, not 100. If this boiler

Yep, mine is paid for by fuel savings alone, plus enough left over to go out for dinner.

But since neither of us is in his boots, we don't know the situation at all. Anything we suggest is based on speculation at this point.
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On Thursday, September 26, 2013 6:03:42 AM UTC-4, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

But what kind of EFFICIENCY do you get after you've converted that 20 to 40 year old boiler to nat gas? I would bet it's significantly less than a new high eff boiler would be and what does it cost to convert, versus just buying a whole new high eff 90%+ nat gas boiler? Isn't the cost of a whole new boiler only like $2,000 for the eqpt?

They must be nuts. It doesn't take long to recover the cost of switching to gas. And with the $1500 fed tax credit that was available just a few years ago, possible state rebates, utility rebates, etc, lower maintenance costs, higher efficiency, I can't imagine why they wouldn't have switched instead of using $4 a gal oil.

Were like that, as in 30 years ago, I can see, but I can't say I've seen a single one here in NJ. But today? I don't know of any houses here in NJ that have nat gas piped in for cooking, but don't use it for heat. The only ones I know of are those like Nestork says, where nat gas is not available. There are cases where nat gas is available at the street, down the street, etc, but it could cost a lot to get it into the house.


and they leave themselves

Nestork has a good point there. I would not think the heating bill would be that large in TX, so maybe it's not worth changing anything at all. Might make better sense to install more insulation, which would also help with cooling, which might save even more money. As you say, only the OP knows the numbers and they didn't provide them.
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On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 06:58:33 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

Roughly the same as you had with the old oil burner. The lost heat goes up the chimney. With the same boiler design and the same output heat, the same heat goes up the chimney. TANSTAAFL.
The conversion burner is a cheap way to do exactly that; convert between fuels. Of course, if money is no object or the old boiler needs more than just a burner, a complete replacement is in order.

When I did it, the gas company paid for all of the work (inside and out) except the burner (which I rented) and a cleanout cut in the chimney $50 (which should have been there, by code).
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