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  1. #1
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    Default Condensing, Wall Mounted, Gas Boiler...Compatibility with Hot Water Radiators?

    My oil fired, boiler is spitting back at me, telling me it's time for a change, and a quick burial.

    I live in a Delaware 1900's farmhouse with hot water, radiator heat. The boiler heats my domestic hot water too. I can hook up to natural gas. Can I, or should I, update with a condensing, wall mounted, gas boiler? If not, what would you suggest? I am on well water too. Would this boiler type be compatible with the old fashion radiators, in this old house, or might it cause unforeseen problems?

    Next dilemma, would you suggest having the domestic hot water heated through a gas boiler system, or would it be better to separate it out of the boiler, and purchase a gas hot water heater?

    Your advise and expertise would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    I remain Anxious and Clueless, but forever Hopeful...that is, until my sump pump fails.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Condensing, Wall Mounted, Gas Boiler...Compatibility with Hot Water Radiators?

    All I can tell you is that I know a guy who lives in NY and replaced his oil burner with a natural gas unit, following my advice, a few years ago. He says it was one of the best decisions of his life. There are plumbers who do this sort of thing exlusively, 1 a day.

    For hot water he has a 50 gal traditional tank heater. It's still the best idea for heating water.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Condensing, Wall Mounted, Gas Boiler...Compatibility with Hot Water Radiators?

    My concern would be that there would be far more water in the system then what would be in the boiler. From a cold start it would take some time to get the system up to temperature.

    John

  4. #4
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    Jul 2009
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    Default Re: Condensing, Wall Mounted, Gas Boiler...Compatibility with Hot Water Radiators?

    in.need:

    Could you explain what you mean by saying your boiler is "spitting back at you"????

    If you have a good relationship with your present service tech, perhaps you can call them to see if any service issues exist now; otherwise, you posit some excellent questions on a potential replacement if the heating equipment is more that 20-30 years old; the radiators are a slightly different matter; many modern day homeowners would give their eye teeth to have HW rads, as they are considered to provide the maximum of comfort, aside from perhaps an expensive remodel going into sub-floor radiant; while it does take more initial fuel oil or nat gas to heat up the water in all those rads, once they get hot, they STAY hot a very long time, unlike the quick heat loss experienced by baseboard convectors, for example that rapidly give up their heat to the room, which causes the t-stat to call for more heat more often during a heating cycle; radiators thus emit convective as well as radiant heat into a room, & this is why they're still valued today.

    Another issue is the square footage of your large house, & as John mentioned, the volume of water carried by the older rads & associated piping; by all means consult the Yellow Pages under "Heating Contractors" and get at least 3 to 5 estimates from different prospective installers as to the way to go on this deal, and the choice of equipment; new boilers, whether wall-hung, floor-based, condensing, or conventional combustion chambers (3-pass recommended), pin-type, etc., are all installed according to the heat load needed by the building; a small house of 500 sq.ft. (depending on geographical location, level of insulation, building tightness, etc.) would need a boiler of approx 18,000 btu/hr to provide adequate heat; a 3000 sq.ft. house would need a boiler closer to approx 105,000 btu/hr to do the same job; in this regard; your first concern before changing the heating equip is to make sure you have ADEQUATE BLOWN-IN CELLULOSE INSULATION in all exterior walls, & attic, & have double-pane vinyl/aluminum windows---any $$$ spent in these 2 areas will cut your future heating bills in half & pay for itself in a few short years, not to mention cooling bills savings; once the insulation is updated, the heating installer can put in a smaller boiler that will burn less fuel, since the insulation will keep the heat in the house, where it belongs.

    If you have a chance to have a nat. gas boiler installed, by all means jump at it; fuel oil has been rising rapidly & all predictions are that it will continue to rise due to continued reliance on Middle East oil sources----this could get lots worse in the coming months/years; nat. gas, on the other hand is mostly produced from U.S. sources & newer drilling methods have created a nat. gas surplus in the U.S., although the homeowner has yet to see a drop in prices.

    Many heating techs will probably advise you to keep all the rads & update to a new boiler; but HWH is so flexible, that you can put many rooms or parts of the house on separate zones, with a t-stat for each zone (sounds like you have a large house) & keep infrequently used house sections at cooler temps---an excellent way to save on gas bills.

    A gas-fired HW heating system might thus include a gas-fired boiler by Triangle Tube Prestige/Solo Condensing and a companion 40 gallon Triangle Tube Phase 3 stainless steel hot water heater for the domestic hot tap water (DHW); also look at Buderus, Viessmann & Burnham for condensing or Burnham, Crown, Peerless, Utica for 3-pass combustion chamber units, together with the companion stainless steel heat exchanger 40 gallon hot water tank by Triangle, HTP Super Stor, Weil-McLain, Lochinvar, TFI Everhot,. or Viessmann Verticell for the DHW; the companion units are 40 gal heat exchangers that run off the already present hot water from the boiler via a zone valve or zone circulator, & thus don't require any additional gas burners or flues to waste fuel; the companion DHW heat exchangers initially cost more (approx $1500), but they have no moving parts or burners, thus they often last for decades without need for repair.
    Last edited by Pelton; 02-13-2012 at 12:28 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Condensing, Wall Mounted, Gas Boiler...Compatibility with Hot Water Radiators?

    It is squirting water out. It is old. Rust and corrosion have caused a hole, and it is just spraying out water. I have a closed system, I guess it still under pressure, as I have not shut off any valves, or turned off the water pump, so it continually is spraying water. I was told if I shut it down, that is, stop the water, than, the radiator system, and bathroom water pipes will begin to drain out of the system, and with no water, in the system, it will not operate. So I cannot shut it down, because I need heat, and hot water. I have turned off the emergency switch, and only turn it back on to fire up the boiler, when heat domestic hot water is needed.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2009
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    Default Re: Condensing, Wall Mounted, Gas Boiler...Compatibility with Hot Water Radiators?

    By all means call your service person ASAP to get someone in there to make the needed repairs; even if it costs a few hundred $$$ it is well worth it to have the system running correctly & not cause further damage until you can get into the warm months & make the change over to new equipment; if you do not have a contract with a regular service person, call various fuel oil dealers to see if they can send someone over right away; also consult the Yellow Pages under "Oil Burners-Service & Repair" ----these are independent service techs who do not require a service contract before they come over to service your heating system.

    Don't panic! HW heating systems operate under a low 12 psi water pressure (as opposed to 50 psi for tap/well water); thus leaks can be more easily stopped & temporarily sealed with metal hose clamps & neoprene & rubber hosing that can be slit down the side & attached with metal clamps for a temporary seal.

    Naturally, any broken pipes or any with holes leaking water should be replaced ASAP.
    Last edited by Pelton; 02-13-2012 at 12:57 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Condensing, Wall Mounted, Gas Boiler...Compatibility with Hot Water Radiators?

    Last Monday my oil guy came, and basically told me I should start saving my money. He thought it "might be" the gasket, in front of the domestic hot water coil. Said it "might need" a new coil, although I have had no "run out" of hot water. He also said, getting the nuts off the 4 bolts, on the cover plate, "might be" next to impossible to remove, without breaking them, and even if they came off, they may not reattach. It is very rusty and corroded around the cover plate. All that being said, I actually told him to get the parts, and lets try, but I have yet to hear back from him.

    I have had some heating people come out, none think it can be repaired. I think, thought is, if it is tried, and it can not be done, it may not be able to continue to be used. At which point, I have noting.

    At this point, I am not hopeful, of a repair, and I do not think I can stretch it till spring. My sump pump runs to remove the water, on the floor, and then my water pump kicks on to put more water, into the system. I have been turning off the emergency switch so it is not continually heating, and I usually turn it on for an hour or two, in the AM and PM.

    I am thinking if there is any further mishaps, than I have to shut off the water pump, and not have heat or hot water. However, I do have an appointment for another estimate today, and I will suggest to him, that we explore your repair ideas, if for nothing else but to buy me some time, as a new system, and the new gas line are not going to appear at a moments notice.

    Thank you for both of your replies, I will be using information from both of them when I talk with the heating guy later today.

    PS: I want to keep the radiators, and I want to connect to natural gas. I just want to do the right thing in getting the right replacement. I am trying to do my homework, as best I can.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Condensing, Wall Mounted, Gas Boiler...Compatibility with Hot Water Radiators?

    Is the boiler cast iron or steel? If it's steel then your chances of removing and replacing the gasket are slim. The bolts that hold the coil in are not actually bolts. What they are is studs that are welded to the boiler plate. When you try to remove the nuts holding the coil in place they will shear off. Take the advice of you heating contractor and replace the boiler.

    John

  9. #9
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    Delaware
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    Default Re: Condensing, Wall Mounted, Gas Boiler...Compatibility with Hot Water Radiators?

    Thanks for your reply.

    The boiler is cast iron.

    I want to replace it, the only reason for wanting to repair it would be to buy time, so I can figure out what system will be best for the house, and to get the natural gas line trenched in to my house.

    Since I have radiators and an old house, I am not sure about the condensing boilers 95% efficient system. Maybe I would be better off with the 90% or 80% effecient ones. I also have to figure what system to get for my domestic hot water, that is, a separate gas hot water heater, an indirect, or have it be part of the boiler system, as it is now, with my oil fired boiler.

    I am just trying to do my homework, and then I think I need to figure out how to size it, as everyone wants to just take the information from my old boiler plate and use it to size the new boiler. I would think that boiler has been replace 3 times, in this old house, so who knows what each person did, at each time of replacement, with regard to the sizing, of the new boiler.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Condensing, Wall Mounted, Gas Boiler...Compatibility with Hot Water Radiators?

    If the boiler is cast iron then replacing the coil gasket is a viable option. You may have to cut the existing bolts but they are not part of the boiler as they are in steel boilers. If you do replace the boiler then a indirect hot water tank would be your best option. Get at least three prices from reputable heating contractors. If they don't take a heat loss of your home then don't use them. Just looking at the size boiler you have doesn't cut it. Most of the old hot water systems were over sized. A boiler that is sized correctly will save you fuel. One that is over sized will not. No matter what the efficiency of the new boiler is.

    John

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