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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2

    Default Boiler Q's/ Circ. Valves vs. Pumps?

    Ok, It's finally time to replace my trusty (serviced annually) 1968 Peerless cast-iron boiler.
    It is way too thirsty at $3.20/gal- it cost me almost $800 last month alone to operate!
    Quick background: It's a 1890 brick Victorian in SE Pennsylvania with about 4000 sq ft living space. The 3rd floor (600 sq/ft) is heated w/elec baseboards and each room is on a separate thermostat. The first, second and basement floors are on separate zones. The boiler is summer/winter hookup style. We use a lot of hot water for residential use; I have 4 daughters and my wife grooms dogs in her shop (basement/ htg zone 3)3-4 days a week.
    I am looking at a few estimates, one is a cast iron Peerless boiler with an indirect hot water heater and they will install completely new zone valves too.
    Another estimate is a steel EFM (pk series)boiler, indirect h/w heater and using my existing 3 taco circulator pumps & elec control box (which are all less than 3 years old).
    I am looking for some advise on boilers as well as circulator pumps vs. valves. I see no reason to replace the taco pumps and controller for zone valves unless there is a considerable increase in efficiency.
    Any help in controlling this $7000 upgrade would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    443

    Default Re: Boiler Q's/ Circ. Valves vs. Pumps?

    This sounds like a house that may be difficult to heat.

    Has the installer done a HEAT LOSS CALCULATION, and has he told you what the number is???

    The first step in an upgrade is always to first install as much insulation as possible into the exterior walls and attic as possible; there should be R19 in the exterior walls and R40 in the attic; there should also be double pane windows (or storm windows).

    These steps HAVE TO BE DONE FIRST before a new boiler is put in because adding insulation and new windows will lower how much heat escapes the building, and thus, a smaller boiler can be put in; many homeowners doing an upgrade will have the insulation and windows installed and paid for in one season, then have the new boiler put in the next if $$$ is a problem.

    Some brick buildings create a problem with getting insulation into the exterior walls, but this is an essential first step that is always done.

    Another obvious waste of fuel dollars is to continue to have electric heat on the 3rd floor; in any upgrade you would save big $$$ if you added the 3rd floor to the hot water baseboard of the other floors to be run off the same boiler.

    Steel boilers such as an EFM are less desireable than a cast iron boiler, or more preferably, a stainless steel CONDENSING boiler that uses natural gas.

    Do you have natural gas available in your area??

    If you do, you can have a condensing boiler installed that will burn the fuel at 95% efficiency (this means that nearly all the fuel will be burned; the EFM burns at only 85%, which means that 15% of the heat goes up the chimney).

    If you DON'T have natural gas available, there are oil-fired condensing boilers now on the market, but they are in the 85k btu/hr range & too small for your building; you would thus have to go with say a Peerless PRO SERIES 3-PASS boiler, which is 87% efficient at approx 160,000 btu/hr.

    What is the rated output of your current boiler??

    Have you gotten at least 4 estimates from four different heating contractors and fuel oil dealers???

    Another possibility would be to get 2 Peerless Pinnacle oil-fired condensing boilers in the 70k btu/hr range which are 92% efficient.

    Other great boilers would be by Buderus, Burnham, Triangle Tube, Viessmann (expensive) or Crown.

    The quote of $7,000 seems way too high, especially if they aren't going to incorporate the 3rd floor into the system.

    The cost of the equipment to the installer is ~$1500 for the
    boiler + $600 for the indirect HWH + $900 for labor/installation/remove old unit = $3,000.

    Recommended indirects would be Triangle Tube Phase 3, Weil Mclain, Crown Megastor.

    Check out the sites below to do a heat loss calculation to find out how many btu/hour are oozing out of your building on a cold day (should be in the neighborhood of 140mbtu/hr); also check the efficiency of all boilers mentioned at the ENERGY STAR site.

    Read up on the different styles and types of boilers available at the ACEEE site; condensing boilers are strongly favored for the best fuel savings.

    At Furnace Compare, click onto "buying a boiler" to get some tips and check out the warranty info on each brand of the boilers mentioned.

    I see no problem with keeping the Taco circulator pumps and the control unit to zone the system; pumps are usually favored by the pros because in the event that one pump fails, in an emergency you will still have heat by simply opening the other zone to aid the zone with the dead pump.

    You're doing a wise and important thing here; after you do the upgrade on the insulation and boiler, you should see at least a 30% drop in your fuel usage; if you multiply that by the number of gallons you burn each year, you'll recoup the cost of your upgrade very quickly.

    Another consiideration is how long do you intend to stay in the present building???

    If you plan to move in the next few years, then a low-cost cast iron type boiler would be more practical.

    http://www.bgmsupply.com/calculateheatloss.asp
    http://hearth.com/calc/roomcalc.html
    http://www.energystar.gov/ia/product..._prod_list.pdf
    http://www.aceee.org/consumerguide/heating.htm
    http://www.furnacecompare.com
    Last edited by JacktheShack; 01-03-2008 at 03:59 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Boiler Q's/ Circ. Valves vs. Pumps?

    Thank you Jack for the great info.
    Yes, this place IS hard to heat.
    There is no Natural Gas here, in the rural area, so that energy source is out. I have been replacing windows as I remodel a room, which 75% of the home is done. That includes 1" foam board behind drywall- which helps seal the room 100X better than it was. I have a few more rooms to do, but that entails more than I can do now (unless TOH needs something to do?)
    I did research your links, and decided on the good cast iron (Peerless PRO)boiler vs. steel. we know that 100k btu's will be more than enough, even with future nneds included.
    I did get 3 estimates from reputable installers (one oil company and two HVAC spe******ts. The lowest was $6000 for a New Yorker boiler, middle was the EFM unit at $7000 and the third, $7100 with the Peerless Pro, all include the indirect h/w install. I guess princing in the NE Penna. region is higher than you?
    Again, thanks for responding and helping to shed some additional info and educating me as well.
    Happy new year.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Panther Valley region of Pennsylvania
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Boiler Q's/ Circ. Valves vs. Pumps?

    Always remember you get what you pay for I'm not too sure you want a $3,000.00 job in your home. We operate in a fairly depressed area of Pa. (Carbon/Schuylkill Counties) We cannot overcharge. A three zone system normally takes our technicians approximately 24 Manhours to complete our Labor rates are $60.00 per hour. thats $1440.00 in labor costs alone. We cannot operate for less. If you want a tech. that has is any good his pay is going to be $15-$20 / hour in our area, get down towards the city and it goes up dramatically. Then we must add the cost of benefits(vacations, holidays, insurance etc.) bottom line is that it costs us $55.00 / hour to put a man in the field. As far as materials go, dont forget to include the rest of the boiler trim and controls, valves the more the merrier, When it comes time for service in the future it can mean the difference if a $60.00 Service Call and a $300.00 call (Been there.I was the guy out at midnite when a 25 minute job turned into 4 hours all @ time and a half, no valves, not our installation) Bottom line is that for the installation you described in our area $7000 for a low mass boiler with indirect water heater is very competitive. If I understand correctly you currently have three zones with circulators for zoning. We prefer zoning with circulators instead of zone valves, the main reason is redundancy. If a circulator fails you still have heat in the remaining zones. With zone valves if you lose a circulator you lose heat on all zones for that circulator. We also prefer Steel boilers over Cast Iron due to the fact that thermal shock is not an issue. There are no push nipples or gaskets to leak. We are still pulling out 50 year old EFM Coal Fired Stokers and installing New EFM PK's. I installed a PK-600 for my parents about 12 years ago. If your looking to gain efficiency (Who isn't) Think about a low mass boiler with priority hot water controls as well as a boiler reset control. I know I left a bunch of stuff out but I'm running out of time here. I am going to attach a picture from a job we recently completed Dual Thermo Dynamics "low mass" boilers in parallel. With a Vaughn Indirect for domestic hot water. We've had customers cut fuel costs by as much as 30% with a system like this.
    Feel free to drop me a line. I'll answer any questions from the professionals standpoint
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by FA Fuel; 02-04-2008 at 01:12 PM. Reason: missing item

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    59

    Thumbs up Re: Boiler Q's/ Circ. Valves vs. Pumps?

    i had the same problem check your high aquastat limit try lowering it to 160/150 you'll save 20 %. At least i did. I have a burnham boiler runs great. Oil companys set them high to burn our money at least mine did I don't use them anymore either!!!!!!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Boiler Q's/ Circ. Valves vs. Pumps?

    hey, FA Fuel with an arrogant post like that you will have a lot of people locking the doors. you come onto this forum waving yourselvas as a professional trying to tell the others here how to act. are you some kind of king?

    we don't care how many licenses or certificates you have. that's not a very good way to attract customers by saying you will charge whatever you want.

    how do you get the idea of charging $150 just to check out a dead furnace without even fixing it?

    a lot of people here cant afford $500 to fix a simple thing on a boiler and you have to pay in advance.

    how can you charge $900 to fill up a oil tank only one time. nobody has that kind of money.

    so, it's just freeze if you can't come up with the dough.

    and you wonder why people are coming here to get help?

    that's just not right.
    Last edited by Manual Labor; 02-06-2008 at 10:27 AM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Boiler Q's/ Circ. Valves vs. Pumps?

    I agree with Manual and Pomer.

    My husband's not working and we have young children.

    We simply couldn't pay the rediculously high fees to fix the furnace.

    If it wasn't for the TOH forum help we would have had to leave the freezing house.

    Thanks TOH!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Northern NJ
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Boiler Q's/ Circ. Valves vs. Pumps?

    i agree with most of these posts. the peerless pinacle, munchkin, or any other of the high eff. condensing boilers are a godsend in reducing utility bills. the other point about lowering aquastat setpoint is a good one but on below design days it will pose a capacity problem if the radiation is not over sized. the best of both worlds is to combine a boiler like the munchkin with a Vision controller that can be programed on a heating curve that will modulate the boiler temp to the outside air temp.

    Gary

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Shamokin, Pa.
    Posts
    645

    Default Re: Boiler Q's/ Circ. Valves vs. Pumps?

    Quote Originally Posted by FA Fuel View Post
    Always remember you get what you pay for I'm not too sure you want a $3,000.00 job in your home. We operate in a fairly depressed area of Pa. (Carbon/Schuylkill Counties) We cannot overcharge. A three zone system normally takes our technicians approximately 24 Manhours to complete our Labor rates are $60.00 per hour. thats $1440.00 in labor costs alone. We cannot operate for less. If you want a tech. that has is any good his pay is going to be $15-$20 / hour in our area, get down towards the city and it goes up dramatically. Then we must add the cost of benefits(vacations, holidays, insurance etc.) bottom line is that it costs us $55.00 / hour to put a man in the field. As far as materials go, dont forget to include the rest of the boiler trim and controls, valves the more the merrier, When it comes time for service in the future it can mean the difference if a $60.00 Service Call and a $300.00 call (Been there.I was the guy out at midnite when a 25 minute job turned into 4 hours all @ time and a half, no valves, not our installation) Bottom line is that for the installation you described in our area $7000 for a low mass boiler with indirect water heater is very competitive. If I understand correctly you currently have three zones with circulators for zoning. We prefer zoning with circulators instead of zone valves, the main reason is redundancy. If a circulator fails you still have heat in the remaining zones. With zone valves if you lose a circulator you lose heat on all zones for that circulator. We also prefer Steel boilers over Cast Iron due to the fact that thermal shock is not an issue. There are no push nipples or gaskets to leak. We are still pulling out 50 year old EFM Coal Fired Stokers and installing New EFM PK's. I installed a PK-600 for my parents about 12 years ago. If your looking to gain efficiency (Who isn't) Think about a low mass boiler with priority hot water controls as well as a boiler reset control. I know I left a bunch of stuff out but I'm running out of time here. I am going to attach a picture from a job we recently completed Dual Thermo Dynamics "low mass" boilers in parallel. With a Vaughn Indirect for domestic hot water. We've had customers cut fuel costs by as much as 30% with a system like this.
    Feel free to drop me a line. I'll answer any questions from the professionals standpoint
    Thanks for the post. Despite what the trolls said, it was an interesting read. {Or maybe us "coal crackers" just stick together**.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Boiler Q's/ Circ. Valves vs. Pumps?

    I own and live in a three family house and I'm having forced water boiler system installed in my floor(I currently have an Empire space heater). The will be installing a Crown boiler (Bali). I have been searching for any comments, good or bad, on this boiler and I come up empty. I just wanted to know if anyone has this type of boiler, how is it? Also, I would like to enclose the boiler area with peg board and I would like to know what the minimum clearances around the unit are.

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