Help on oil heat (water baseboard) boiler

We are first time house buyer, buying an old house in New England area. The current furnace is 60 years old (hot water baseboard oil furnace).
The house is 1600 sqrt and the cost is 400 dollars for 6 weeks. We need help to decide if we should buy a new one.
Any help is highly appreciated.
1. Which brand is good. 2. Should we change oil to gas or electric? 3. How to find contractor to install good one. There are so many website.
Thanks in advance.
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On Fri, 03 Feb 2006 05:01:52 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@spam.invalid (firstbuyer) wrote:

To use the industry term, you have a "boiler", not a furnace. A furnace heats air directly. A boiler heats water.
In any event, by replacing it you'd probabaly save about 20 to 25% in your heating bill. Most current oil fired boilers are around 80 to 86% efficient. Your old boiler is probably around 60% efficient.
You can do the numbers and see if a new boiler would save enough to pay for itself over its average lifetime of 15 to 20 years.
Don't even think of changing to electric heat. I'm in Connecticut and know that throughout New England, we have some of the highest electric rates in the nation, typically exceeding $.15/KWH. Thus your heating would probably be a good 50% higher than even your current price of oil.
Actually, $400 for six weeks of oil consumption in the winter months isn't that bad. Many folks around here are paying more. Natural gas would be price competitive with more stable rates but only if you are on city gas lines. Propane is not cost competitive, compared with oil or natural gas, here in New England. However, propane would still be chaeper than electric heating.
Don't consider an electric heat pump. They don't work well here in New England - too many days below 30 degrees. The backup resistance heater in the units woudl be on much of the time.
Doug
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My last bill from CL&P was .169. It is going up another 5% the first of April.
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My last bill from PPL was .089.
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Yeah. We have a co-op and our rates have just about doubled in the past 2 years. Had a pretty mild winter so far and my bill for December 20th to January 30th was $480!!!!!!! Granted, my oldest son was home so a lot more showers/laundry were done and stuff like that, but our usage was only a little higher than last year.
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You definitely need a new boiler, even though $400 in 6 weeks is not too bad. Someone may have already replace the original burner with a flame retention burner, or added new windows and insulation. Older boilers like that have a lot of heat loss even when they aren't running. You have to take into account 'SEASONAL' efficiency, which can be very different than 'STEADY STATE' efficiency. It's not uncommon for a replacement to pay for itself in 2 or 3 years.
DEFINITELY do not change to propane gas or electric. Natural gas and fuel oil have averaged out to be about the same cost per BTU input over the last 25 years. Here is a Penn State web site where you can figure how much each will cost: http://energy.cas.psu.edu/energyselector/ If you have natural gas available, it's an option. If you don't already have a gas line to your house, there may be a charge to install one. If your oil tank and oil line are also 60 years old, they probably need replacing. Natural gas gives you the option of getting a gas stove and/or dryer, but oil is a little safer.
Most brands of boilers can be gotten anywhere, but some tend to be regional. I like New Yorker and Weil-McLain, but there are many efficient boilers on the market. Try to stay between 81% and 85% efficiency.
The MOST important thing is to find a good contractor who does quality work, returns phone calls, and comes back when you have a problem. The only thing to use websites or advertising for is to find someone in your area. Talk to friends and neighbors (even if you never met the neighbor). If someone can't recommend a specific company, ask them if there's any company they definitely would NOT recommend. After you talk to several contractors, eliminate anyone who is unprofessional, sloppy, or uses a slick salesman. Narrow it down to 3 or 4 good contractors and throw out the high and low estimate.

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Look into a gas condensing boiler of 93-96% , you are likely at 50-60% efficiency. Remember the efficiency % diference is the difference between the two boilers, such as an a 92% efficient boiler is 15% more efficient than an 80% unit not 12 % as you may think. So you could possibly cut yur bills in half with a modulating Weil Mclain running low temp heat. I payed 100$ the highest in Dec for 1800 sq ft Zone 5, so you have alot of things to look into to reduce bills. You need an energy audit to know where to up insulation. Be sure you get a written load calc because you can save a bit by not oversizing your new unit. Electric is much higher and long term will be as it is made from fossil fuels. What you pay is very high compared to what redoing systems and upping your structure can do for you. Start by checking out the Energy Star site.
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I am glad to get so good help, thanks.
1) the original owner is an old woman who need live alone in a "cool" house for her breath issue. 2) I am not sure is there is a gas line there, I thought oil maybe much expensiver than gas now. 3) There are 2 oild tanks, the original own just use one. I need find out if oil tank is same old. 4) BTW, if there is a way to how much need to pay to replace the boiler? And, how much for the oil tank and pipes?
Thanks!
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You have to call contractors in your area for prices. Definitely replace the two old oil tanks with only one new one.

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a stupid question, why need replace oil tank? It is just a container. Thanks.
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On the presumption that they're original. Water, from vapor, bacteria and fuel-oil can attack the tank from within. Old tanks were not coated like some currtent ones.
If you have a fuel oil leak in your basement, you will know firsthand what a HUGE problem is. Replacing tank beforehand is enormously cheaper.
J
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Besides what barry said, humidity gets inside a tank, condenses and runs down the walls of the tank at night. Your oil burner can atomize some of the water, but not all. The point where the water touches the fuel oil is an ideal breeding ground for micro-organisms, which die and become sludge. Because you've got 2 tanks, you have more water and sludge in them. I've seen people forced to move because a leaky oil tank caused odors. Get rid of both of them, and install only one tank.

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they most likely have 2 - 275 twin together for decent storage because the other option is to bury the ball fiberglass 550 or 1100 gallon...big bucks.
with gas heat your confined to the local supplier, with oil, you have a little competition.
now the chimney with gas: if its acceptable..get it cleaned with a reputable co. not a rip off artist.. check with the better business burure you will have to line it with a liner if its a center of the house job, old house? most likely or you could go with a direct vent unit which doesnt require a chimney, vents directly outside, within its specs [ away from windows and doors, off the ground 2 feet, ect }
but the direct vent units are limited in regards to their btu size. and you dont want a retrofit power venter to set on a standard gas boiler.
you will need a contractor to do a heat loss of your house to size the boiler. see if the gas co. has a recommended list.
check the local codes..you probably will require a licensed plumber/contractor to file a plumbing permit with the building dept. to do the job.
see if the oil co. has an installation crew to do the job if you go with oil they will finance it and warrantee it naturally.
go Burnham...gas or oil boilers
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Why would he need to get the chimney cleaned and/or lined? I'm a big fan of heat loss calculations, but if he wants a 'summer/winter' hook up, he should make certain there's enough hot water, and if he does, there will always be enough heat. The Better Business Bureau is a profit making organization funded by member companies. Don't put too much faith in them.

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gas heat produces a much lower stack temperature than oil heat, especially an old clunker. what will happen is the gas exhaust, being much lower, will condinsate in the chimney. 3 things will happen
1- if the chimney isnt cleaned out of the soot from the previous heating system, the soot will fall to the base along with the scale, blocking the new flue pipe... now you are depending of the spill switch on the flue hood.. to shut it down, because if it doesnt, you will develope carbon monoxide once that exhaust is reburned, and respilled.
2- if the chimney is one of these center of the house brick lined babies, again, the condinsation will deteriorate the mortar, and bingo, you are releasing exhaust in the house.
3- if the chimney is on the outside wall, with 3 exposed sides and tile lined, 7 inch probably, on a cold day again with the condinsation, and you might actually see the water coming out of the cleanout door by the boiler.
the chimney liners will actually reduce the 7inch clay flue to a 5 or 6 aluminum or stainless [more money] metal liner, so it warms up nicer [better draft] with the lower stack temps, and is impervious to the wetness.
this is perhaps the most important item to resolve when converting to gas heat. [ along with not cutting off the fill pipe in the basement and removing the oil tank, and yet leaving the fill end outside...which has happened]
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The OP has an oil burner.
Old clunker oil and gas heaters are so inefficient that a lot of heat goes up the chimney, keeping both center and exterior wall chimneys dry.
Getting a chimney cleaned, and vacuuming out the base are two different things.
The only time a replacement boiler needs a liner, is when the stack temp is below 350 deg. net. You only need a stainless liner for oil fired equipment.

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