Oil to Natural Gas Conversion Costs

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Martik wrote:

operated damper in place, closing it, then venting a quantity of vapor and attempt to detect back pressure. If only atmospheric pressure in 5 seconds after release, then open damper and allow furnace to run. Need a largish supply of compressed air or an air compressor and a bottle to store the gas.
This system would add at least $500 to the cost of the furnace.
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writes:

I have a condensing furnace with both intake and exhaust horizontally vented thru PVC and a draft inducer fan. Would this furnace have a safety shutoff.
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Martik wrote:

Most likely. The exhaust inducer has a pressure switch to monitor performance and also shut down the furnace if there is an exhaust problem. The computer in the furnace will attempt to check again (without lighting the burners if it fails) to clear the fault. If not, an error code is stored.
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John wrote:

For reference some of the better oil burners have similar features. Side power vent kits which can be used with any oil burner also have this feature where if there isn't airflow they lock out the burner.
Pete C.
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Martik wrote:

UNOBSTRUCTED. Both vents MUST be inspected on a REGULAR basis to ensure that gas is free flowing thru BOTH of them.
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writes:

2 secs.
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Robert Gammon wrote:

Your condensing furnace doesn't have an automatic shut down if if the exhaust is blocked? If that's not working properly, you need service.
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Martik wrote:

There are draft sensors that could detect blockage, but they are not generally used. The much more common CO detector would detect such conditions if properly installed and maintained.
Unfortunately some people install CO detectors right next to the furnace and then eventually unplug them after too many false alarms due to momentary back drafts from wind gusts. They need to be installed a sufficient distance away so those non-threat conditions do not give false alarms.
Pete C.
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"Pete C." wrote:

They are just about always used on a modern efficient (greater than 90% AFUE) furnace that has direct vent.

Everyone with an attached garage or interior combustion device should have CO detectors, at least on every level. They aren't expensive and some states are now mandating them, just like smoke detectors.

Wind gusts? Back drafts? Yikes! Isn't your oil burner using sealed combustion to prevent inside air from ever touching the combustion chamber of the furnace? It would be a shame for the furnace to consume heated house air.
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John wrote:

Correct, however they haven't really found their way into non-direct vent furnaces yet.

Right and if you have gas you can get the combination explosive gas (nat. gas or propane) and CO detector. Note that with these you have to mount them high to detect nat. gas and low to detect propane since nat. gas rises and collects ceiling down and propane sinks and collects floor up. I think most states have CO detectors mandated in rental housing already.

Only a small percentage of furnaces oil or gas are sealed combustion at present. The Riello burners are particularly nice in a sealed combustion configuration with their pre and post purge cycles.
Oil furnaces are more prevalent in the northern climates where gas service is spotty and backup more critical. In those areas they are typically in basements to they are not consuming heated air.
Pete C.
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"Pete C." wrote:

Exactly where is this spotty gas service that you speak of?

The basement air is sealed from the air upstairs?
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John wrote:

Anywhere outside urban and close suburban areas. There are vast areas without nat. gas service and many of those areas are also in colder climates where backup is more critical. There wasn't gas service where I was in CT and there isn't gas service where I am now either.

To a large extent yes. Warm air also rises so you aren't going to get warm air from upstairs going downstairs. Indeed waste heat from the furnace is rejected into the surrounding area and that warmer basement air will rise and warm the floors above slightly.
Pete C.
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"Pete C." wrote:

Well obviously if there is no nat gas service and propane isn't feasible, oil would be a way to go in climates too cold for heat pumps to work well. Oil. Cleaner than Coal.

Wow! I've never seen a house where the basement air was sealed from the house air. It's nice to know that the air "consumed" into the oil burner wouldn't need to be made up from air leaking into the house via window gaps, exhaust fans, cracks etc.
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John wrote:

<trimmed>
Propane is even more dangerous than nat. gas. Because it is heavier than air it is even less likely to dissipate from a leak in a house. Because it is not a pipeline service you have to store a large quantity on-site in a tank that you can't smoke/grill/whatever around and that has to be outside where it is exposed to the weather and more likely to rust than an oil tank in a basement.

Air typically leaks into basements just fine through garage doors which are damn near impossible to seal, utility penetrations, dryer vents and other basement openings. You won't generally see a draft sucking under the gap at the bottom of the one basement door.
Pete C.
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"Pete C." wrote:

Wow! You can't grill near a natural gas tank! I think you just ruined a lot Labor day parties. Nice going. :)

Well my garage IS quite sealed from my basement, with a tight fireproof door with lots of weather stripping. Of course it's a moot point for the furnace discussion,since the natural gas furnace uses outside temperature air (colder air contains more oxygen too :) which it brings directly inside for its use.
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John wrote:

You have a nat. gas tank? You have your own refrigeration and liquification facilities too?
The reference is to the large "hot dog" propane tanks of several hundred gallon LP capacity. They can and do vent some gas while roasting in the hot sun so you aren't supposed to smoke/grill/whatever near them.

And your point is? Oil furnaces can and do use sealed combustion as well. Neither gas nor oil furnaces used sealed combustion until fairly recently and both are able to use it currently. No real difference.
Pete C.
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"Pete C." wrote:

Sorry, should have said a *propane* tank. I'm sorry that I confused you, although I'm not sure why you think refrigeration and liquification facilities would be needed for a natural gas tank. ???

Basements are not sealed from houses.

The difference is that all oil furnaces dump a lot of heat up the chimney. Condensing furnaces do not, and they just don't exist for oil since it is a much dirtier burning fuel.
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Robert Gammon wrote:

A large percentage of chimneys do not have screened caps. Raccoons nesting in open chimneys are not unheard of.
Pete C.
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"Pete C." wrote:

Chimneys? Modern efficient gas furnaces do not require "chimneys." They use ordinary piping to bring fresh outside air in (so you're not sending your heated home air into the combustion chamber to throw away) and remove exhaust.
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Where, pray tell, does the exhaust go? It doesn't matter if it's a 1" rubber hose; it's still a chimney if it carries exhaust.
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