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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Delaware
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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
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    SoCal
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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
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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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
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    143

    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; 02-12-2012 at 11:28 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Delaware
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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
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    143

    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; 02-12-2012 at 11:57 PM.

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

    in,need.of.help,

    This one is a no brainer: you have access to natural gas, you have a lousy heater...replace it.

    "Buying time" will end up costing you more, and not only in term of money.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Keyport, NJ
    Posts
    36

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

    Switch to natural gas if you can. It is way cheaper than using oil.

    A mod/con boiler will work very well with a system like yours. However, it may not be worth the extra cost over a conventional boiler. Mod/con boilers do require a cleaning every year. You also need to have low return water temps to keep the boiler in the condensing range. You will not have the 95%+ efficiency unless it is condensing. However, it is very likely that you can achieve that with an old system like yours. That were always way over sized. Especially if the home has had insulation added. Another option is a boiler like the Burnham ES2. It can handle 110F return water and has an optional outdoor reset available. This is a conventional cast iron boiler and doesn't require the upkeep that a mod/con would. They have another version of this boiler that is sealed combustion too.

    This is what you need to do. Get a heat loss done. I used hvac-calc.net to do mine. It cost like $50 for a few months of use. Slantfin offers one for free. You should never size the boiler based on the amount of radiation in your home or based on the size of the previous boiler. If your current boiler was not in such dire circumstances, I would insist you insulate first, but you may not have the opportunity to do so.

    For hot water, get an indirect hot water heater. The built in coils are the worst way to make hot water. The indirects last a lifetime and have a faster recovery than a direct fired water heater.

    Check out www.comfort-calc.net . There is a lot of great information there about mod/cons and heat loss calculation. Also see: http://www.colonialsupply.com/resources/radiator.htm to determine the output of your radiators. This will help you figure out what water temperatures you will need to heat your home.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Delaware
    Posts
    8

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

    Thanks so much, it looks like you have offered a lot of useful information, it is all very much appreciated.

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