View Full Version : RE: OT Oil Boilers



firefighterjake
05-16-2007, 07:33 AM
My wife and I are giving serious consideration into replacing our old oil boiler . . . anyone have any recommendations as to what they have and like . . . or don't like?

pjpreb
05-16-2007, 08:05 AM
We got a cold start boiler with a water storage tank a few years ago and it really saved us a lot of money on the oil bill. Our family of 4 went from 1100 gallons of oil a year to 600 for a 3 BR ranch style house. (We had a really old boiler before) We chose a Buderus boiler and SuperStor water storage tank. I work at Dead River Company and got my recommendations from our technicians (those are the brands they chose to install in their own homes).

Haffy
05-16-2007, 08:48 AM
I don't have any recommendations but I would hope that you could at least get something more energy efficient and maybe less dependent on the oil companies.....Sorry Jo. Maybe a combo oil and wood or something like that.

brdad
05-16-2007, 08:57 AM
Definitely cold start with an indirect-fired water heater. Buderous is good and well known. In other words, I agree with pj, but don't tell her I said that.

Trezurs*-R-*Fun
05-16-2007, 09:01 AM
I agree with Haffy, become less fossil fuel dependent. You should put in one of those big windmills with solar backup. Then you wouldn't be dependant on the oil companies, well,,, accept to melt the steel ...and... run the manufacturing plants to build all the components ... and... then ship the items to you... and ... then maybe the crane that would have to erect it,,,,sheesh,,,seems like we're dependent, like it or not. :eek: :rolleyes:

I do agree with Haffy though, the newer systems are energy efficient and should lower your annual heating cost. I don't have a suggestion either but would like to know what you end up doing as we need to replace or mid 1970's Memco boiler,,,,every time a technician comes to work on it --unfortunately it's becoming more frequent -- they laugh then suggest we get an updated furnace.

brdad
05-16-2007, 09:05 AM
I don't have any recommendations but I would hope that you could at least get something more energy efficient and maybe less dependent on the oil companies.....Sorry Jo. Maybe a combo oil and wood or something like that.

Wood is viable if you cut your own and have the time to do so. If you have to buy the wood, you might as well be buying oil lately.

Propane is slightly more efficient and usually less maintenence, but it's going to cost about the same in the long run.

If you want efficient, electric heat is the only 100% efficient heating system. 100% of the energy put into it is turned into heat. And electric heat is near nil maintenence. Of course a lot of oil is used to make electricity. As good as I made this option sound, I wouldn't want it!

I wonder if Bucksport High School still has their electric boiler - I can't imagine what that cost to run. It was huge, a thousand gallons I bet, and had at least ten heating elements.

firefighterjake
05-16-2007, 09:20 AM
I don't have any recommendations but I would hope that you could at least get something more energy efficient and maybe less dependent on the oil companies.....Sorry Jo. Maybe a combo oil and wood or something like that.

I may go with an add-on wood boiler in the future (as some of you might recall I started a thread on add-on wood boilers about a year ago) in an effort to use less oil (plus I have access to a woodlot and am a bit twisted in that I enjoy the work that comes with putting up a few cord of wood), but for now I'm simply looking for a decent oil boiler that will work for one entire year without it conking out once or twice a winter (reliability is the one key feature I'm looking for.)

firefighterjake
05-16-2007, 09:22 AM
I wonder if Bucksport High School still has their electric boiler - I can't imagine what that cost to run. It was huge, a thousand gallons I bet, and had at least ten heating elements.

Maybe Steve will jump in here, but if memory serves me correctly the new school being built at Mt. View will have a wood chip-fueled boiler and I thought there was some talk about a windmill company doing a study to see if it would be feasible to erect a wind mill at the site as well.

firefighterjake
05-16-2007, 09:22 AM
OK, one positive comment about Buderus . . . any other good/bad experiences?

Hiram357
05-16-2007, 01:50 PM
I've heard decent things about those "system 2000" units too, I'd be cautious about those outdoor woodfired units, there's been quite the fuss lately about those from people that don't like (such as towns passing ordanances to prevent using them because the smoke bothers people...)

my best advice to you though is; you get what you pay for, and the most expensive doesn't always mean the best. (I know, it's a bit contradicting, but make sure you check out the history of the contractor and the unit ya wanna buy)

firefighterjake
05-16-2007, 02:46 PM
I've heard decent things about those "system 2000" units too, I'd be cautious about those outdoor woodfired units, there's been quite the fuss lately about those from people that don't like (such as towns passing ordanances to prevent using them because the smoke bothers people...)

my best advice to you though is; you get what you pay for, and the most expensive doesn't always mean the best. (I know, it's a bit contradicting, but make sure you check out the history of the contractor and the unit ya wanna buy)

I am actually more interested in the indoor wood-fired boilers as they seem to be more efficient (i.e. use less wood) and are cleaner-burning . . . but again that would be something down the road possibly.

Hiram357
05-16-2007, 04:00 PM
I am actually more interested in the indoor wood-fired boilers as they seem to be more efficient (i.e. use less wood) and are cleaner-burning . . . but again that would be something down the road possibly.

don't forget about all the hard work it takes to find someone to cut and stack your wood for you... :D

WhereRWe?
05-16-2007, 04:45 PM
Maybe a combo oil and wood or something like that.

Speak to a heating contractor and they will probably tell you NOT to go with a "combo unit". What they usually recommend is having 2 separate units - oil/wood - with 2 separate chimney flues (now required by insurance companies, I believe).

One thing about wood heat, though: it heats you twice! LOL!

WhereRWe?
05-16-2007, 04:50 PM
I may go with an add-on wood boiler in the future (as some of you might recall I started a thread on add-on wood boilers about a year ago) in an effort to use less oil (plus I have access to a woodlot and am a bit twisted in that I enjoy the work that comes with putting up a few cord of wood), but for now I'm simply looking for a decent oil boiler that will work for one entire year without it conking out once or twice a winter (reliability is the one key feature I'm looking for.)

We have a "New Yorker" wood boiler that has been running for 16 years with no problems. Compact, simple, efficient...

http://www.newyorkerboiler.com/wc.cfm

brdad
05-16-2007, 05:01 PM
One thing about wood heat, though: it heats you twice! LOL!

Three times if a spark catches your house on fire and FFJ is out caching!

pjpreb
05-16-2007, 07:51 PM
Beware System 2000 - it has a very spendy control board that you don't want to have to replace as most technicians won't have one on the truck (which means a chilly wait while they order one for you). :(

Bruce is right about the red tape with a combo unit - about the seperate flues - and you also may need a technician with a dual license to tune it up (Solid Fuel license and #2 Heating Oil license). Unless you can do that job yourself or use a contractor that doesn't give a hoot about code compliance.:eek:

Ok - someone kick that soapbox out from under my feet....:p

brdad
05-17-2007, 06:39 AM
Just what do you have for a boiler now? How old? Firing rate? Number of zones? Type of Burner? What type of domestic hot water? What's wrong with it?

firefighterjake
05-17-2007, 07:45 AM
don't forget about all the hard work it takes to find someone to cut and stack your wood for you... :D

Oh, but I really enjoy working with wood . . . if I get mad there's nothing like taking it out on the woodpile by slinging wood around!:D

firefighterjake
05-17-2007, 07:49 AM
Speak to a heating contractor and they will probably tell you NOT to go with a "combo unit". What they usually recommend is having 2 separate units - oil/wood - with 2 separate chimney flues (now required by insurance companies, I believe).

One thing about wood heat, though: it heats you twice! LOL!

That's what I would most likely do . . . my own belief is that by keeping things separate it makes thing simpler and less likely to break.

I also believe that the more "tasks" you ask of an appliance the greater chance it will be less efficient at doing any one task . . . in other words a Swiss Army knife may come with a spoon, screwdriver and a knife . . . but the spoon is small, the screwdriver doesn't allow you to get as good a grip as you would with a traditional screwdriver and the knife may not be as good or sharp as a stand-alone knife . . . that's not to say the SAK is no good, since if you need a spoon, screwdriver or knife in one compact package or in a pinch it works well enough . . . it's just not the best tool for every job.

firefighterjake
05-17-2007, 07:52 AM
Beware System 2000 - it has a very spendy control board that you don't want to have to replace as most technicians won't have one on the truck (which means a chilly wait while they order one for you). :(

Bruce is right about the red tape with a combo unit - about the seperate flues - and you also may need a technician with a dual license to tune it up (Solid Fuel license and #2 Heating Oil license). Unless you can do that job yourself or use a contractor that doesn't give a hoot about code compliance.:eek:

Ok - someone kick that soapbox out from under my feet....:p

This is the type of thing I wanted to know about . . . and to be honest I have been a little leery of the S-2000 electronics since previous experience has shown me that very often more complex = more likely to not work well . . . one of the reasons I went back to a traditional thermostat versus the electronic programmable thermostat in my upstairs bedrooms.

firefighterjake
05-17-2007, 07:53 AM
We have a "New Yorker" wood boiler that has been running for 16 years with no problems. Compact, simple, efficient...

http://www.newyorkerboiler.com/wc.cfm

Thanks for the link . . . as I said previously . . . right now I'm just looking at an oil boiler, but this is good to know in case I want to add one of these on in the future.

firefighterjake
05-17-2007, 08:00 AM
Just what do you have for a boiler now? How old? Firing rate? Number of zones? Type of Burner? What type of domestic hot water? What's wrong with it?

Let's see in order . . .

Type of boiler: Trianco (steel) with a Beckett Burner

How old: I'm not really sure . . . can't find a date on it anywhere. If I had to guess I would say it was built in the 1980s.

Firing rate: Uh, not sure what this would be . . . it's not a cold start boiler if that makes any sense . . . constantly cycles on and off.

Number of zones: Three

Burner: Beckett . . . I've never paid much attention to the particular model though

Domestic Hot Water: At one time we had a coil from the oil boiler providing hot water, but due to our hard water it would slowly calcify over time and after several acid baths and still getting only a trickle of water we went to a propane water heater and have been very happy since it provides a lot of hot water (I've yet to run out of hot water) at good pressure

What's wrong: The #@%!^% thing is professionally cleaned each Fall and then craps out before the end of the heating season from an excessive amount of soot -- this is the third and final year. In fact I turned the heater on two days ago and last night I could smell the tell-tale smell that the soot is building up so tonight when I get home I'll be digging out my shop vac, installing a dry wall dust filter in it, donning my latex gloves and vaccuming it out to see if I can't get another couple of days of heat from it.

To be honest I believe the real issue is with the burner nozzle, air-fuel mix or draft from the chimney . . . however it is an older, steel unit and it's reached the point where I don't trust it to run without someone being there and I really want to be able to leave my house for a week in middle of the winter and not worry about returning home to a cold house, frozen pipes and a thin layer of soot everywhere.

WhereRWe?
05-17-2007, 09:26 AM
What's wrong: The #@%!^% thing is professionally cleaned each Fall and then craps out before the end of the heating season from an excessive amount of soot

This is DEFINITELY an adjustment problem.

I had a lot of trouble with my oil burner - same symptoms as you describe. I'd have the "maintenance/repair team" from the company I get my fuel from come out a couple of times a year - mainly because they didn't get the system to run right on the previous visit. Then I got smart and called the guy who designed/installed the system.

Took him 15 minutes to diagnose the problem (misplaced igniter electrodes) and the system has run great ever since. Looks like you need a trouble-shooter rather than someone who just parrots the few instructions he received in his 1-day training session. LOL!

brdad
05-17-2007, 03:56 PM
I agree this is probably an adjustment problem. Since it's a steel boiler, it could also be that there is a crack somewhere into the firing chamber that opens and closes with the temperature, which changes the adjustments made to the unit. There could eb enough draft in the chimney to precent you from smelling it.

Anyway, if you are going to keep your water heater, that's even more reason to get a cold start boiler.

Another high-tech addition which I added to a system 4 years ago which the owners love is a Tekmar (http://www.tekmarcontrols.com/savings.html) control. With this control you change your piping at the boiler a little, so it is a recirculating type, similar to what they use for radiant floor heating. The entire two story house, three zones, is heated through a 3/4 inch pipe! In a nutshell, boilers are most efficient when running at or near full capacity. This setup runs the boiler at full throttle when needed, yet recirculates the water through the baseboard at a reduced temperature on warmer days. So, on a 45 degree day, the water running through the baseboard may only be 120 degerees. When it drops below what it needs, hot water from the boiler is injected into the loop to maintain temp. It's kind of hard to explain how it works, but the one I installed paid for itself in a couple years. The only thing that failed so far is one thermocouple, and the unit has a "limp mode" feature to get by with until it was fixed. The unit was not cheap, $400 I think it was.

I have some pics of the piping but can't seem to find them :confused:

pjpreb
05-17-2007, 06:07 PM
Good advice on the Tekmar brdad. Beckett also makes a similar control called the "Heat Manager" and Beckett guarantees a 10% savings on your oil bill or they'll reimburse you for the control. the Beckett control is much less expensive that the Tekmar but operates slightly differntly - I think it works by monitoring the return water temp instead of the outside ambient temp.