Boiler help

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On Thursday, September 26, 2013 1:33:06 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

I think a complete new boiler could be in order even if money is taken into consideration. You have to look at what it costs to convert the old inefficient boiler to gas, versus what it costs for a whole new efficient boiler, the annual energy cost differences, rebates, etc. Just a few years ago you could get $1500 in a federal tax credit, plus state incentives, utility rebates, etc but only on new systems that met energy star efficiency standards. You wouldn't have gotten any of that here in NJ on a conversion. That brings the cost of a new boiler way down. With the cost of new boiler at $2000, I would think today even without the federal credit, it could make economic sense to get a high eff new boiler. You have to look at the actual numbers, rebates, etc.

That's nice, if such a deal happens to be available. What would the cost have been if you had opted for a new high eff boiler?
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On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 11:05:19 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

It's certainly worth it to run the numbers. A boiler may be $2000 but it's likely 6000$ installed, forgetting any issues with the structure (running a new flue, etc.) In the Houston climate, it might not pay. BTW, the burner is $500 or so, so that certainly has to be part of the equation.
As has been pointed out here several times, one has to run the numbers on all of the reasonable alternatives. I'd start with the conversions that are common in the area.

Well over $6000.
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I can easily imagine why you didn't go that route.
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
On 9/26/2013 4:26 PM, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

Bug Out Bags -- levels and layers by Christopher A. Young August 15, 2008
Emergencies come in different levels. It is some times possible to size up a situation. Before, or during the event. If your car breaks down, and you're walking home. That's a different severity than if another nation is invading, and you need to be out of the cities.
Bug out bags can also be "get home" bags. It is very possible you're at work, and your chosen action is to get home to your warm home with a good stock of supplies.
This article won't tell you what to put in your bag. Contents are varied, based on your personal and medical needs. Also time of year, and type of emergency.
And here are some proposed layers of bags.
FANNY PACK When you are on a day hike with your church group, a fanny pack (also called bum bag) can be worn, without attracting much attention. This bag straps around your waist, and allows you to pack some supplies. With out wearing a full backpack.
KIDS PACK Children, when they start walking, can understand carrying something along. Especially if everyone in the family is carrying stuff. Kids pack should be lighter weight than the adult packs. Perhaps focusing more on food and clothing. Kids grow rapidly, so check the clothing two or three times a year, and see if it still fits.
SHORT TERM BUG OUT BAG (ALSO GET-HOME BAG) If the emergency happens when you are away from home, a short term bags is needed. Some call this a 72 hour kit. These bags would be lower profile and be without obvious weapons. You'd not want to be wearing a battle rifle on your back to get home from a traffic jam. That's sure to get you questioned by the police.
LONG TERM BUG OUT BAG
This is what you would take along if there was a good chance that you would not be coming back and things were really nasty. Foriegn invasion, or maybe EMP burst, and the cities are riot zones. You'd want much more food, clothing, medical, and weapons, etc.
STEP UP PACK Since many of the same items are included in a short and long term bag. It makes sense to figure out what "extra" items are that are needed for long term. Develop a pack that could be used to upgrade the short term bag to a long term bag. In the case of a long term bug out, you would take along both the short bag, and the upgrade. Since you're planning for a much longer time frame, the upgrade may be in a wheelbarrow, or some kind of wheeled "Mormon Handcart".
CAR KITS If you have one emergency vehicle bag, then much of the time it's in your "other car" and not with you. Each vehicle needs a bag, a 72 hour kit of sorts. With the basics (matches, flashlight, food, space blankets). Winter beater vehicles will get extra winter related supplies.
When possible, start your long term bug out by vehicle. If you have enough early warning, you may be able to be far enough ahead of the crowds. You may be able to do 65 MPH down the open road, which is a lot faster and more comfortable than walking with a wheel barrow. Rope the wheel barrow on top of the car, you may need it if you get into a traffic jam or can't get gasoline.
RUBBERMAID READY      At least a couple articles have been written, on the advantage of making an emergency kit for your home. This is typically packed in a Rubbermaid tote. Kept near the main door of your home, in case you need to leave in a hurry. While this is a good idea, many emergencies happen when you're already away from home. So, the Rubbermaid kit should be in addition to your car kits.
>>>> significantly less than a new high eff boiler would be

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How does one "rent" a burner?
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
On 9/26/2013 1:33 PM, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote: Subject: Battery booster pack Date: Thursday, July 24, 2008 8:17 AM
A useful device, is a battery booster pack. You can find them at Walmart, or any auto parts store. Just a 12 volt gel cell battery and a couple cables and clamps. The one I have, I paid about eight bucks at BJ's Wholesale Club. I got one about five years ago, and it was totally useful. The battery is strong enough to jump start a vehicle, when the auto battery is dead. The inverter on the back provides up to 300 watts of AC 110 volt power for up to 45 minutes, if the internal battery is fully charged. The booster pack has an internal charger, just flip open the little door, and stick on the end of an extension cord. The booster pack will run a floor or table lamp for several hours of light. More hours, if you use a power saver compact fluorescent bulb or fluorescent desk lamp. Much brighter than candles or camping lantern. And far, far safer.
Has a light on the front. On mine, I pulled the lens off, and pull the bulb out. It's too easy to bump the light switch and the battery goes dead. At least, that's what I thought was the problem. Turns out the battery wasn't holding a charge. This was winter time, so I figured I'd killed the battery by letting it freeze. Here is an identical unit, with a different brand name.
http://store.chromeauto.com/keas104.html
Now, the price has gone up a bit. I paid eighty bucks for mine, and now they are getting one seventy five. Ouch!
http://www.aumauto.com/albowiin.html
Says retail $250 but they only get $150. Things going up in price, I see.
When mine went dead, I took the cables, clamps, and so on. And the inverter. Wired it all to a garden tractor battery from Walmart. Found out later on my own van, that the garden tractor battery isn't strong enough to boost a vehicle engine. However, it does provide some 12 volt power, and also the 300 watts of AC for a few minutes is useful.
About the time I bought a second one of these. Another eighty bucks. And the battery went dead. I called the factory and found out they had bought a load of old batteries. The rep there offered me a replacement battery, which was much cheaper than replacing the unit. Being a repair man, it wasn't all that hard to pull the box apart, and swap out another battery.
Harbor Freight has booster packs aroud fifty bucks, with a battery and lighter socket and some cables and clamps. The inverter is only about thirty bucks at Walmart, so you can get the jump pack and a separte inverter. For about the same money I paid five years ago. The Walmart $30 inverter plugs into a lighter socket, so you can move it from car to car, or run it off the battery booster pack.
Of course, you have to charge the unit after each use. Most of these come with their own wall charger. Take it home and plug it into the 110 volt power. I rigged a cord with a 12 volt lighter plug on each end. So I can plug the cord into the vehicle and into the jump pack. Charge while I'm driving.

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On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 15:24:42 -0400, Stormin Mormon
The same way you rent a propane tank or even a cable box. It's part of the bill.
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Ed Pawlowski;3126518 Wrote: > 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

All of my experience with boilers is with gas fired commercial boilers. Here in Winnipeg, everyone uses gas fired heating equipment, whether it be boilers or furnaces. The odd place, usually commercial buildings like strip malls use electric heat.
I'm surprised to learn that oil fired boilers can be converted into gas fired units, and vice versa, but it's clear that the boiler would have to be designed for either fuel right from the start, and I've never seen that. Perhaps it's more common in more expensive boilers like Viesmann. But, if you go onto a more common boiler manufacturer's web site, like Weil McLain, they classify their boilers as gas burning and oil burning, and so far as I've seen, they don't have a catagory for either/or.
Anyhow, now the OP is aware of the possibility and can check to see if it's a feasible option in his/her case.
--
nestork


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On 9/26/2013 8:13 AM, nestork wrote:

Never heard of a vice versa. Wouldn't think there would be a demand.

If I remember right there were gas conversions for coal furnaces. I know there were gas conversions for oil furnaces. I would think there are (were?) gas conversions for oil boilers. (Maybe not now with tighter standards.)

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Weil McLain is the largest manufacturer of cast iron boilers in the USA, and I expect the largest manufacturer in all of North America.
Here is Weil McLain's "Products" web page that shows all of the different types of boilers currently available from Weil McLain.
'Residential Boilers, Commercial Boilers | Weil-McLain' (http://www.weil-mclain.com/en/weil-mclain/pc-boilers /)
Note the "2" at the top of the product selection indicating that the first page only shows the first 12 different kinds of boilers. Weil McLain offers 9 different kinds of residential gas fired boilers, 4 different kinds of oil fired residential boilers and 7 different kinds of commercial boilers.
On the second page it calls three of their commercial boilers "gas oil" boilers, which to me means that they can be set up to fire on either kind of fuel; and could undoubtedly be switched from one to the other relatively quickly and easily. I could see a demand for that feature in places like Alaska where gas may be temporarily interrupted by an earthquake that severs the gas lines. Places like hospitals and government offices could have their own oil storage tanks and switch over to burning oil until the gas service is restored.
What I don't see, however, are residential boilers that can burn either kind of fuel or a conversion kit to allow a residential boiler firing one kind of fuel to burn another. What I do see, however, is that Weil McLain's GV90+ gas fired residential boiler can be easily converted to propane, which would be of similar advantage to houses in Alaska or California or British Columbia where earthquakes are more common; or in urban areas where the gas utility isn't reliable.
'GV90+ Gas Boiler | Weil-McLain | Product Detail' (http://www.weil-mclain.com/en/weil-mclain/pd-gv-90-plus-gas-boiler /)
Anyhow, it's possible that boilers made 20 years ago, and those that sold well in some parts of the continent were different than those available today. But, from what little snooping I've done on Weil McLain's web site I'm coming to the conclusion that being able to switch a boiler that's meant to fire gas to one that burns oil, or vice versa, isn't very common. If the boiler was designed to fire either fuel, you have that option, but if it wasn't designed for that, then I'm expecting that option isn't available to you.
But, I'm old enough to acknowledge that I don't know everything like I did when I was 15, so I might be dead wrong on this one too.
--
nestork

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On 9/26/2013 10:13 AM, nestork wrote:

All sorts of combinations exist.
I've been associated with boilers in one way or another since my first job in 1963 where we build heating and AC products. Last place I worked we had dual fired units. We'd run gas most of the time, but when it got really cold, the gas company would call and give us two hours to switch over to oil. We got a special low rate for that and we'd only have to go to oil a few days a year. We burned about 250 gallons of oil a day so the price differential was considerable.
At another place, we burned #6 oil. On a Monday, you's start up with #2 until the pre-heater with steam probe warmed the #6 to flow.
The building we have where I work now has just about anything you can imagine. Two fire tube gas high pressure steam boilers for process, a gas cast iron low pressure steam for heating, 5 gas unit heaters, 2 steam unit heaters, 2 oil furnaces. 2 gas high efficiency water boilers, 3 gas fired rooftop heating units, fin and tube cooling tower, water cooling tower, water recirculating system (tank, sump, 5 pumps) for process cooling and even some electric baseboard. Getting ready for winter keeps my maintenance guy busy for a couple of hours.
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On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 08:39:14 +0200, nestork

You can. There are gas "conversion burners" made to replace oil burners.

The gas is "sprayed" into the combustion chamber with air, just like the oil burner. Gas has the advantage that it's cleaner and is already a gas so doesn't have to be atomized. It works really well.

You can. It's a simple swap of the burner. They aren't all that cheap but it's a trivial job for anyone who has serviced oil burners.

Somewhat true. Many areas that didn't have gas service fifty years ago, now do. It really is worthwhile to convert, given a chance. Obviously, if there is no gas available (or propane is too expensive) it can't be done (or isn't worthwhile).

Not so much. A 20Y0 firebox likely won't last that 80 years. If major surgery like that is needed, scrap the whole thing and get an updated unit.

That's a good point. Heating-degree-days make all the difference.

If natural gas isn't available in Houston, I'd be looking at a mini-split (heat pump).

Good grief. These things aren't rockets. If it doesn't work, swap the part.

There's no way to know without running the numbers. I'd certainly do everything possible to get rid of an oil burner!
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Sure, but like a refrigerator, it was time to replace them long before they failed.

Conversion is easy IFF there is natural gas readily available. Propane may be a solution but its price varies widely so there it's not necessarily worthwhile.
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I would convert to forced air and add AC...... costly initially but in houston AC is essential......
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wrote:

You bring up a good point. It's quite likely that he already has AC, so switching that to a heat pump shouldn't be a big deal. Gas is almost certainly a better choice but a heat pump shouldn't be a terrible choice for Houston.
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Another consideration that hasn't been mentioned so far is that by switching to a high efficiency gas (or oil) boiler, you also acquire a new problem.
They call them "condensing boilers" because they recover so much heat from the burning fuel that the water vapour in the flue condenses to form water.
Now, anyone that's familiar with drinking carbonated soft drinks knows that CO2 dissolves in water, and that's often what gives carbonated soft drinks their "bite". Well, in the case of the condensate that comes off of high efficiency condensing boilers, that condensate is actually very acidic, and just putting it into your house's main drain line isn't healthy for that drain line.
In my case, when I put my two high efficiency condensing boilers into service, I immediately set about making a pH neutralizing filter out of limestone. Basically, the condensate would pass through a 5 foot long 2 inch diameter PVC pipe containing limestone before it would end up in my sump pit.
The limestone we have here near Tyndal, Manitoba is about 95% calcium carbonate. It's basically the calcium carbonate shells of sea creatures that lived millions of years ago and compacted into a continuous rock by the weight of Lake Aggasiz, which was a lake that covered most of southern Manitoba millions of years ago. But, even at 95 percent calcium carbonate, I was still finding that I had to clean my limestone every coupla weeks or so. The condensate would dissolve the calcium carbonate, but leave behind the 5 percent that didn't dissolve as a "fuzzy" kinda residue on the limestone rocks. That fuzzy residue would keep water stagnant within the thin layer of fuzz just like insulation keeps air stagnant, and that would severely reduce the effectiveness of the filter. I had to empty the limestone rocks out every couple of weeks and basically rub them against each other so that they cleaned that fuzz off each other, thereby restoring the effectiveness of the filter. Now, I'm using a product called NM-20 from Axiom Industries in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan that's almost 100 percent soluble in the condensate, and so I only clean my pH filter once every few months now; more often in winter because of the additional condensate produced.
But, if the OP is a busy professional with kids that need to be chauffeured to soccer and judo and ballet and every other kind of activity kids take an interest in, it might not be the smartest thing to opt for a high efficiency condensing boiler because that's going to give him/her one more chore that needs to be done periodically. They might prefer to simply have a less efficient boiler and let the water vapour go up the chimney than be saddles with additional work cleaning their condensate neutralizing bed regularily.
I know when I was still using limestone in my neutralizing bed I was wondering how much longer I could keep up that practice of cleaning the limestone every 2 or 3 weeks, and the idea of keeping it up for years was a depressing one.
--
nestork

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On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 21:53:16 +0200, nestork

Well, many soft drinks use phosphoric or citric acid to give them a "bite". Carbonic acid isn't all that "acidic".

What's the problem with mildly acidic water in the sump pit? There's plenty of water in the ground to dilute it. I can understand some concern about cast iron plumbing (though it will he highly diluted) but PVC?
<snip> >But, if the OP is a busy professional with kids that need to be

Not buying it.

Sounds like you're way too anal.
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On Thursday, September 26, 2013 3:53:16 PM UTC-4, nestork wrote:

I guess that depends on your definition of "very acidic". I'd say it's slightly acidic. Very acidic would be hydrochloric acid you use to etch concrete. And whether it's healthy or not for your drain system depends on the drain system material. I have ABS and that's where my condensate goes. Condensate isn't going to do anything to it. If you have cast iron or copper, then I guess it's another story, especially if the condensate is the only thing that's in that waste line. If it's a cast iron main sewer line, with all the other water that typically goes down it, I would think it would probably take a very long time for the condensate to have an effect on it. All kinds of slightly acidic or slightly base liquids that are slightly corrosive go down sewers all the time.

Around here they go into the sump pit with no neutralizer. I haven't seen or heard of any bad things happening.

That must be fun. I can't imagine many people doing it.

Only if they have special circumstances that require it or local code requires it. I've seen dozens of condensing furnaces installed here in NJ, not one has a neutralizer.
They might

If most people were doing that cleaining/maintenance, you'd be hearing a lot of bitching.

Did you seek therapy? Maybe some Prozac would help.
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On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 21:53:16 +0200, nestork

Do you have a PH number? I don't see a problem with either clay or plastic drains. If it goes into a washtub or similar drain, it is so diluted I doubt it would bother anything. The cast iron, maybe, but that may even be coated with a protective coat of scum.
Condensing boilers have been around for a long time and I've never heard of anyone actually having a drain related problem from them. Have you?
I do know that with steam heat, the condensate pipe will rust out before the steam feed pipe. But we are talking gallons of condensate per hour over years.

Seems rather extreme and a lot of work. How about dumping in some baking soda once in a while and eliminate the other filters?

I'm getting tired just reading about it.
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Ed Pawlowski;3126816 Wrote:

I used to take samples of my condensate down to my plumbing wholesaler and they would measure the pH as a free service. I've had condensate of pH 3.1 coming out of my boilers, which is about the same as grapefruit juice. That's when I discovered the problem with using 95 percent limestone. The remaining 5 percent that didn't dissolve caused a stagnant layer of water around each limestone rock, preventing the limestone from neutralizing the condensate.
Ed Pawlowski;3126816 Wrote:

I have a concrete sump pit with a Little Giant 6cia sump pump. That pump has a cast iron body and pumps water through a copper drain line that eventually hooks up to a 6 inch cast iron main drain line leaving the building. Every one of those materials could potentially be damaged by the corrosive condensate coming out of my boilers.
Ed Pawlowski;3126816 Wrote:

No, but I'm not in the drain repair business. I do know that the Province of Ontario requires a pH neutralizing bed be installed on every condensing boiler and water heater, but I don't know the reason for it. I expect it's to protect both the sewers of the cities in the province of Ontario, and the environment from the corrosive condensate.
Ed Pawlowski;3126816 Wrote:

If you mean dumping a bunch of baking soda into my sump pit, it'd be concerned about it clogging my sump pump and/or my drain lines. I'd also be concerned that if it didn't clog the sump pump, it'd be pumped out into the city sewer system and do no good at all to protect my property.
If you mean using baking soda in my neutralizing bed, baking soda is far too fine a powder to be used in the neutralizing bed. You have to remember that it's only a pressure difference of about 4 inches of water that drives the condensate through the neutralizing bed, and a fine powder like baking soda simply would't be permeable enough to allow water to flow through it with that small a pressure driving it. And, of course, CO2 bubbles are produced as the condensate dissolves the carbonate, and those bubbles have to be able to pass through the neutralizing bed as well, or else everything gets clogged up.
What you need for a condensate neutralizing media are stones somewhere between the size of peas and grapes that will allow condensate to flow through them easily but still provide enough surface area for all of the condensate to be neutralized.
--
nestork

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ChloeP wrote:

I've read all the responses up to this date. Another expense to consider is that when converting from oil to any other fuel or electricity there is the expense of the removal of the oil in the tank and either filling the now empty buried tank with an appropriate filler (I would use concrete to prevent the tank caving in) or the removal of the above ground tank. http://inspectapedia.com/oiltanks/oiltend.htm
--
Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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On Thursday, September 26, 2013 10:30:27 AM UTC-4, willshak wrote:

Good point, that is one other factor. And if it's an old tank or likely old, then it's one more MAJOR factor to consider in the decision to switch fuels. Meaning that even aside from switching to gas to save energy costs, an old oil tank is a problem even if you don't convert and continue using the old system. If it's in the basement and it starts to leak, I would think it would usually happen with a small leak that you'd probably smell, see, etc. before it gets really bad. But maybe they can suddenly spring bigger leaks too?
If it's underground, it can be leaking and you'd never know it until the ground is contaminated big time. And then it becomes a very expensive problem. I don't know what the best practice recommendations are, but if it were me, I'd be concerned about any tank that is 20+ years old for sure. And I'd be checking with neighbors on any experiences they've had with similar tanks. The age of the tank might be the thing that is the driving issue that makes converting to gas the best course of action.
Filling the tank with concrete wouldn't be my first choice. It creates another potential problem, ie that if you ever need to excavate that area for something, eg running some pipe, septic system, house addition, etc you now have a huge concrete mass. Sand or gravel sounds like a much better and cheaper alternative, which is what I've seen used here in NJ.
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