Oil to Natural Gas Conversion Costs

Page 8 of 9  


thats why when the tank is removed with a permit all the oil feed lines MUST be removed.....
Those pesty rules are there for good reasons!
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Just as a plane crash that kills four people halfway across the country makes the news, but in your state today and most every day, that many people are killed in auto accidents. and it is rarely mentioned. Gas explosions are really rare, but oil leaks just don't make the news. They are not "crown pleasers" like the more rare happenings.

A fellow I work with had the tubing from tank to heater broken and about 20 gallons spilled. Cause was trace to stupidity of one of his kids. Cost of cleanup was about $8000. Never made the news.
Pete has posted some good information on this newsgroup and is a very knowledgeable person. He also seems to have an un-natural fear of gas though. I respect his opinions and ability, but on this subject he is over reacting against gas.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

First off, the incident was a result of criminal activity, not of a problem with the tank/furnace. It does not get counted for the same reason that recent gas explosion / arson / suicide in NYC does not get counted.
Secondly there is not enough information in the above story. How was the insurance company able to weasel out of covering damages resulting from a criminal act committed against the homeowner? They would be covering in the case of a burglary, arson, etc. Also why was there no additional source of assistance like a crime victims compensation fund?

That is also not counted because it is not in any way a failure of and oil tank or furnace. The fill pipes should have been removed and are required to be removed or at the very least capped on both ends by most codes.

Nope, since I always insure my equipment is properly maintained, I look at the risks from that properly maintained equipment and with gas that risk is greater.
Pete C.
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Pete C. wrote:

Explain how big oil isn't a monopopy. They are all in lock step with each other. Most people who use gas tend to use it for hot water, cooking and clothes drying so you tend to use it year round.
is subject to outages and is far

Who all have to buy from the same source yielding little difference in price.
you have an on-site fuel supply that is not subject to outages
No outage here in 35 years.

A natural gas furnace is already "green" since it isn't a petroleum product.

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George wrote:

Actually, the major oil companies are clearly not monopolies. A monopoly requires one single supplier. In the case of the major oil companies, you have at least five. OPEC, a key component of the equation is an oligopoly. But clearly this whole argument against nat gas heat is all based on emotion, rather than fact. The price of heating oil varies. The price of nat gas varies. Over the past, in my experience, they have been similar enough in their total cost that it's not a major difference.

I've asked several times where Pete lives that he thinks nat gas interruption is a big concern. It obviously isn't for 95% of us who use it. I've had nat gas service for 25+ years, that has never gone out once. I live in central NJ, 50 miles from NYC. But I've sure had electricity go out. And it;s the nature of the two systems that's key. An underground piped system is immune from much of what can halt electric service. A thrunderstorm, snow storm, car hitting a pole, all are common electric system weak points, that gas generally is immune from. Again, when you put this in perspective, the gas outtage thing is another red herring.
If oil is so much better, why do only 4% of new homes use oil heat?

Yeah, it;s like arguing the size of an ant to the size of a mosquito. Look at how many people actually die from a fall. It's orders of magnitude larger. Should we get rid of bathtubs and tile floors too?

That isn;t true, as gas furnaces generate CO2, which is the hottest environmental issue of the moment. But, oil generates not only that, but also NO, sulfur emissions, etc.

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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

There is definitely some regional bias involved. Historically, the US east coast has used fuel oil for heat, so there tends to be a "this is how we've always done it, so it must be right" mentality going on.
20+ years ago, oil was substantially more expensive than natural gas. The east coast didn't have the supply infrastructure to distribute natural gas, so few could take advantage of that differential.
With all the EPA restrictions on new power plants, utilities built gas fired plants which sucked up most of the surplus gas and drove natural gas prices up closer to fuel oil.
ConnocoPhillips has an interesting article with graphics that shows price differences over the past 5 years:
http://www.conocophillips.com/newsroom/other_resources/energyanswers/heating_oil.htm
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Clark W. Griswold, Jr. wrote:

http://www.conocophillips.com/newsroom/other_resources/energyanswers/heating_oil.htm
It says that in all but two of the last 6 heating seasons, it has been CHEAPER to heat with Natural gas and in the two exception years, they were very very close to equal cost.
So the choice in heating systems is LARGELY dictated by where you live, NOT what costs more. Northeast states consume 70% of heating oil. Choices there are heating oil or electricity with minor contributions from other sources. But only 1/3 of residences there have oil heat. The rest of the country, its either gas (natural gas via pipleine, or propane in tanks on your property) or electricity.
Safety is not the issue, cost is not the issue, its what your neighbors use and what choices you have for heating fuel. To argue with someone in Pennsylvania or New York that natural gas is the fuel of choice is fool hardy. To argue with someone in Kansas that fuel oil is the fuel of choice is similarly fool hardy. Outside the northeast, the infrastructure to support fuel oil for heat is lacking. In the northeast, natural gas distribution is spotty at best.
So this discussion needs to STOP. Each person who is faced with a decision on a furnace will rely on personal experience, the advice of one or more HVAC contractors, the advice of friends and neighbors.. What we say here is heavily influenced by where we live and what we are used to. There is no single RIGHT answer that applies to everyone.
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Robert Gammon wrote:

When I lived in Pennsylvania, the gas heat there worked just as well as anywhere else. What is your issue with natural gas service in Pennsylvania and New York?

These are newsgroups. Discussion happens, and you cannot "STOP" it on demand. Sorry

Of course.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Agree, maybe I should have said "monopolistic behavior". But they are all joined at the waist. My buddy works in an energy commodity business and says behind the scenes they are all in lock step with each other just as we see at the gas stations where "something may possibly happen somewhere" and they all raise their prices.
In the case of the major oil

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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Right.
Completely false. This argument against nat. gas is based on facts about it's safety, reliability, cleanliness and the service life of the equipment. I have ignored price per BTU since that is constantly in flux.
Price is the only argument made in favor of nat. gas that has even short term validity. All other arguments in favor of nat. gas have been based on either myths, or comparisons of brand new gas equipment to 50yr old oil equipment.

And I've mentioned several times that I'm referring to the northeast. It's CT in particular where I lived for 36 years before moving a couple years ago.

Indeed I did as well and when it did I simply started my generator and went back about my normal business without more that a few minutes interruption.

You are ignoring the fact that it is possible and economical to provide backup for the electricity, something that is not possible with the gas. Additionally time to repair a damaged electric line is significantly less than time to repair a damaged gas line in most cases. You also don't have to spend additional time purging a repaired electric line before returning it to service as you do with a repaired gas line.

Tell that to the folks who lived within 10 miles of me that had to spend several days in a shelter due to a gas outage.

1) Consumer ignorance - Believing nat. gas somehow avoids buying foreign energy. They apparently are not aware of the LNG super tankers delivering foreign LNG just like oil tankers delivering foreign oil. Both nat. gas and oil are produced in the US and both are also imported from foreign sources.
2) Marketing - Some deceptive as in the case of the short lived "safe" in one gas suppliers advertising. Deceptive price comparisons that do not account for service charges during periods of no use. Deceptive claims of reliability of oil fired equipment. Deceptive claims about the cleanliness of oil burners. Deceptive comparisons of "upgrade" costs to low end gas equipment with service lives in single digit years.
I'll also note that that market share is rather slanted to southern states where:
1) There are minimal heating requirements which means consumers can get low end gas systems to last longer.
2) Gas companies cover larger service areas in large part due to lower installation costs vs. the northern states with more rock to cut and blast through.
3) Gas companies market more since they generate more profits from service charges during the long hot months where they have to supply minimal gas.
4) The southern states have been having a huge housing boom as a whole due to lower construction costs and most tract housing gets gas systems not because they are better in any way, but simply because the cheapest low service life units available are in gas which means more profits for the developers and replacement costs for the consumer a short time down the road.

Do we have viable alternatives to bathtubs and tile floors? When there is a viable alternative to a potentially dangerous item it is worthwhile to consider them.
In the case of bathtubs and tile floors however there are patches available such as non slip mats that can overcome their safety issues. Equivalent safety patches are not available for nat. gas though CO and explosive gas detectors do help.
Again safety is only one part of the argument against nat. gas.
Pete C.

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"Pete C." wrote:

Yeah. Decades of living with natural gas and never one service interuption. Real unreliable. Houses are just blowing up all over the place that have natural gas too. I guess everyone is keeping that a big secret from the home insurance companies. Service life? My furnace has a lifetime warranty on the heat exchanger. How many oil furnaces have that? The blower of course will die sooner, but I believe oil furnaces have a blower too.

You mean your argument. A FUD one at that.

That's nonsense. Where do you come up with this crap, now you are claiming "50 yr old oil equipment" comparisons. Compare an average highest efficiency gas furnace with an average highest effiency oil furnace. Which is more efficient and wastes the least amount of energy so that it can heat your house instead?

How many gas interruptions did your neighorhood have in Connecticut?

Good for you.

Are you nuts? You have never heard of automatic standby generators connected to a gas line? If your electric service is crappy enough to warrant it, that's the way to go. No fuel to have to worry about storing and engines last a long time with nat. gas, maintenance is very low too.

Purging a gas line takes seconds or minutes.

When was that? Where was that? What was the cause?
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John wrote:

<trimmed>
A lifetime warrantee on one component is not necessarily a good thing if you keep replacing the components around it.
That mid range Weil-McLain WTGO4 boiler I just had installed in my mother's place has a comparable warrantee:
"Limited Lifetime Warranty Covers cast iron sections. "

Efficiency isn't everything. If the 8% more efficient gas furnace saves me $200 in fuel during a heavy heating season, but subjects me to a gas outage that I have no way to provide backup for which cause $1,000 in damage due to frozen pipes (neglecting the fact that I know to drain the pipes, most people don't).

My immediate neighborhood did not have gas service, guess the gas company didn't want to spend months of blasting to install lines.
The neighborhoods within 10 miles of me that did have gas service had at least a couple outages per year that I heard of and since I was not there to personally count them probably several more per year that got little press. Multiply that times 36 years and compare to the same 36 years of flawless oil service.

Yep. Better to be prepared than screwed. Almost like a boy scout, except I was never a scout.

You misread that statement. I said it is possible and practical to provide backup for electric service. It is not possible or practical to provide backup for gas service.
Providing backup for gas service in a residential setting would require a redundant backup furnace or boiler fired by an alternate fuel like oil or electricity.
Wood fired boilers are becoming popular in the northeast, but as primary sources, not backup for the most part. Some commercial sized burners are available in dual fuel (oil / gas) though and can switch between fuels at any time.

For lines inside a home, not for the distribution lines in a neighborhood.

Somewhere between 5 and 10 years ago. In CT, I believe in the Avon / Simsbury area. I think it was a gas line rupture, not a dig up or anything. Should be somewhere in the Hartford Courant archives if you want to look.
Pete C.
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"Pete C." wrote:

Well the warranty gives some sort of an indication of how long things are expected to last. And if one thing is going to last a damned long time, I'd want it to be my heat exchanger, which is what separates my house air from my combustion exhaust.

And what is the efficiency of that unit again?

There you go with the claims of all those gas outages again. With so many outages, it makes me wonder how all of those explosions can any gas to blow up.

Well if that was true, I wouldn't want gas service in that neighborhood either, and I wonder how long it took them to switch. To anything.

True. Fortunately that is not really necessary.

I would hazard to guess that the "popular" percentage is still quite a bit lower than 17%, which is the percentage that you said is "not significant" for oil generation in USA (1973).

Wouldn't know. Never needed to be purged since it was up and running. Maybe we'll find out some day if maintenance is needed on the pipeline, like water pipes.

Well if that ever happens to me, I'll expect I'll heat my house with electric heat for a few days. Or maybe just keep the wood stove working overtime. But it's good to know that they could just move right back into their house, no long lived $$$ environmental clean up required.
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John wrote:

What does efficiency have to do with the lifetime heat exchanger warranty you were crowing about?

http://www.dailynorthwestern.com/media/storage/paper853/news/2003/01/16/City/Gas-Outage.Repairmen.Down.North.Evanstons.Phone.Lines-1903393.shtml?norewrite200608060208&sourcedomain=www.dailynorthwestern.com http://www.wric.com/Global/story.asp?SB18169&nav=0Rcx http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2003/112003/11102003/1163272 http://girardpress.com/stories/122105/reg_20051221038.shtml http://www.wowktv.com/story.cfm?func=viewstory&storyid 83 http://www.ktre.com/global/story.asp?sB20260&ClientType=Printable http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2003_Jan_12/ai_96369163
Etc. No shortage of gas outage reports.

That's my point. If you are in a pretty urban area gas is probably fairly reliable. Out in suburban pushing rural areas and particularly long established area vs. new developments gas service can be fairly unreliable.

I suppose not really necessary if you enjoy spending a few nights in a shelter with a hundred other people and don't mind repairing frozen pipes.

Correct, wood boilers are probably in the low single digits at this point. Due in large part to their applicability to large heavily wooded lots where you can log your own fuel.

Right. Some of the articles noted above give an idea of how long it takes to get the lines purged and get everyone's pilots lit again.

Why would you have a long cleanup if you ran out of oil, the equivalent of a gas outage? The closest equivalent to an oil leak that would require cleanup would be a gas explosion.
Pete C.
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Pete C. wrote:

http://www.dailynorthwestern.com/media/storage/paper853/news/2003/01/16/City/Gas-Outage.Repairmen.Down.North.Evanstons.Phone.Lines-1903393.shtml?norewrite200608060208&sourcedomain=www.dailynorthwestern.com
including fuel oil and you find a big collection too, spanning the last 5 years as these stories do.
Dp a search for oil pipeline breaks/leaks and you can find several of those too.
This is LIFE, SH?T happens from time to time, and there are NO guarantees for ANYTHING.
Heating water with oil is not problem free. Equipment must be maintained and inspected. Leaks must be dealt with, leaks that can contaminate the land to the point that the property may not ever be sold, except to the town, and at a BIG loss. Spot shortages can develop due to several factors, and yes, diesel fuel is a backup.

Unreliable gas service, in my opinion is MUCH more likely to exist in OLD neighborhoods where the piping has been underground for a long time, access to the piping is difficult and expensive due to roads and buildings built over the distribution lines after the piping was installed.
In a new development, by definition, everything is new. Only ongoing construction in the area is a risk, but even then the construction crews KNOW where the gas lines are buried. Spotty or unreliable gas service is unlikely.
I suggest that the majority of gas service interruptions are caused by work crews who dig where they are not supposed to, and water lines that are too close to the frost line.
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Robert Gammon wrote:

Rail derailments and pipeline ruptures do not happen in my basement or threaten to kill me. Not a good comparison.

I never said it was problem free, indeed I indicated that both oil and gas burners require annual service. Oil is safer and more reliable than gas. However low the incident probability is overall the probability is lower for oil than gas.

That certainly is a factor. Remember that apartment building in I think NJ that was cut in half by a pipeline explosion under it perhaps 8 years ago?

For now. Give it some years and it will become unreliable. Oil service does not have that built in degradation.

Many are, others are the delayed result of improper pipeline installation or damage to the pipeline during installation. I hear of one pipeline rupture on a high pressure pipeline that was traced to a slight nick on the pipe from a backhoe tooth. It did just fine for a number of years before finally failing in the middle of winter.
But again, none of those problems affect oil service. A crew digging down the street or a water main break down the street will not affect the oil supply in your basement.
Pete C.
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"Pete C." wrote:

http://www.dailynorthwestern.com/media/storage/paper853/news/2003/01/16/City/Gas-Outage.Repairmen.Down.North.Evanstons.Phone.Lines-1903393.shtml?norewrite200608060208&sourcedomain=www.dailynorthwestern.com
Yeah, it's just happening all over. Gosh why haven't the insurance companies figured out that natural gas heated houses burn down so much more? Why aren't they as enlightened as you?

I live in a suburban/rural area and I have gas. "Not reliable" to you is never having an outage in *DECADES* to me.

Huh? Shelter with a hundred other people? Sorry dude, never happened. No outages either.

Uh huh. So your point?

Yeah, since pipes need replacing like every year I guess, and they always do that maintenance in the middle of the winter, that's a real concern!

No an explosion or fire of any type would be a disaster.
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John wrote:

figured out that natural gas heated houses burn down so much more? Why aren't they as enlightened as you? Because the total number is low enough not to bother them. That does not in any way invalidate the relative difference in safety between oil and gas.

Different areas have different reliability. If your gas lines were installed fairly recently or your gas company is particularly good about replacing older lines you're lucky. Not everyone has such luck.

Never happened to you perhaps. I most certainly did happen to people near me.

The point was noting the relative impracticality of providing backup for unreliable gas service.

The outages aren't often related to maintenance, they are typically unscheduled emergency events. You do bring up the additional point that even scheduled maintenance can cause gas outages though you at least get a few days warning.

Right, but that has no bearing on the multi day gas outage I referenced. The houses were temporarily uninhabitable because the gas service failed and there was no backup for it. No idea how much damage from frozen pipes also resulted, probably a good amount since not many people know how to drain the pipes before leaving.
Pete C.
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"Pete C." wrote:

figured out that natural gas heated houses burn down so much more? Why aren't they as enlightened as you?

Oh just earlier you were saying they were happening all over. Now the number is low enough not to bother the companies that pay for damage. Hmmm.

So given that premise I should have had my gas service crap out many years ago.

Yeah you know one neighborhood, you claim.

Well yeah of course it's impractical. Because you'd have to go find some "unreliable gas service."

What outages? Again, decades of having natural gas heat. Not one outage.

'No idea." Now that I believe. Good thing that oil furnaces never break down in the winter or run out of oil.
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John wrote:

But keep in mind, this thing heats water that get circulated to radiators in each room, and or to radiant flooring. This is a boiler, not the same as a gas fired forced air heater. Wall thickness in the heat exchanger is much higher as a result of immersion in water, and this also lowers efficiency. But 85% is nothing to sneeze at, pretty darn good.
Someone with radiant heat will always stick with radiant heat. Switching to forced air is very expensive. The installation disrupts the house enormously while the vents are installed and radiators removed. In 90+% of cases, a faulty boiler will be replaced with a similar product.
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