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Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

Old 04-10-2008, 03:11 AM
  #1  
CJS
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Default Converting Oil Furnace to Gas


The oil furnace is pushing 15 years old and after shelling out
$600 - $700 per fill up this winter (about every 5 weeks), I'm
considering replacing it with a natural gas boiler. I already
have gas service into the house. It's a hot water baseboard
heating system. The local gas Co. (National Grid) will give you
the furnace if they do the installation, but I haven't had them
in to quote the job yet. Anybody ever done this before? Anything
to look out for or suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 04-10-2008, 05:21 AM
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Default RE: Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

CJS - 4/10/2008 6:11 AM


The oil furnace is pushing 15 years old and after shelling out
$600 - $700 per fill up this winter (about every 5 weeks), I'm
considering replacing it with a natural gas boiler. I already
have gas service into the house. It's a hot water baseboard
heating system. The local gas Co. (National Grid) will give you
the furnace if they do the installation, but I haven't had them
in to quote the job yet. Anybody ever done this before? Anything
to look out for or suggestions would be appreciated.
Not sure you will save on heating bills switching to gas. Oil may be higher now, but that seems to run in cycles. One year or month oil is higher, next month or year gas is higher...
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Old 04-10-2008, 05:30 AM
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CJS
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Default Re: Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

I'd like to think the supply chain is more secure for gas than oil.
And sending a few less $$$$ overseas appeals to me as well.
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Old 04-10-2008, 05:44 AM
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Default Re: Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

CJS - 4/10/2008 8:30 AM

I'd like to think the supply chain is more secure for gas than oil.
And sending a few less $$$$ overseas appeals to me as well.
True, you don't have to worry about getting the oil truck in the middle of a snow storm.
Also, a gas furnace does not need to be cleaned out every year.. Downside is every so often they go KABOOM. Happened right down the street from me, pretty much leveled the house.
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Old 04-10-2008, 08:42 AM
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Default Re: Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

I feel your pain. I too have an oil furnace with water baseboard. Oil was real expensive last year.

For work, I plotted different fuel oils/gases on cost per million btu on a month to month basis over the course of 2007. I was shocked at how much cheaper natural gas was as compared to heating oil. Of course 2006 was a different story.
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Old 04-10-2008, 10:25 AM
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Default Re: Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

bobb - 4/10/2008 8:44 AM

CJS - 4/10/2008 8:30 AM

I'd like to think the supply chain is more secure for gas than oil.
And sending a few less $$$$ overseas appeals to me as well.
True, you don't have to worry about getting the oil truck in the middle of a snow storm.
Also, a gas furnace does not need to be cleaned out every year.. Downside is every so often they go KABOOM. Happened right down the street from me, pretty much leveled the house.
But not counting the shooting incident, did you enjoy the play otherwise Mrs Lincoln?
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Old 04-10-2008, 01:57 PM
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Default Re: Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

Make sure your gas supply line coming into the house is big enough to support the therms used. It may have only been intended for hot water or dryer as well as stove. A good gas boiler needs virtually no maintainece compared to oil. A guy who works for me got a free furnace but it was in a cold snap a couple of years ago. The plumbing charge was steep, but it was cold for weeks and plumbers had plenty of work. In the summer Im sure it would have cost less.
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Old 04-10-2008, 02:19 PM
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Default Re: Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

buy a buderus and save a bundel
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Old 04-12-2008, 05:30 AM
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Default RE: Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

CJS - 4/10/2008 3:11 AM


The oil furnace is pushing 15 years old and after shelling out
$600 - $700 per fill up this winter (about every 5 weeks), I'm
considering replacing it with a natural gas boiler. I already
have gas service into the house. It's a hot water baseboard
heating system. The local gas Co. (National Grid) will give you
the furnace if they do the installation, but I haven't had them
in to quote the job yet. Anybody ever done this before? Anything
to look out for or suggestions would be appreciated.

Lot's of things to consider here. Each fuel has it's advantages and disadvantages.

With oil you can still shop around for a supplier but with gas you are locked in to the gas company and who knows what the future will bring for NG? Although there is historically less maintenance with gas, that may not be the case in the future. The reason is that up til now natural gas has always been a stable fuel as far as BTU/therm content is concerned. This is definitely changing and will become more pronounced as our country has to import more LNG. This will be especially true on the East Coast where current pipeline capacity is barely able to meet demand. These imported fuels will be blended with existing supplies and variation in the fuel will lead to combustion problems such as sooting, CO and poor performance. There are boilers available that can compensate for variation but rest assured, the ones the gas company is offering are not that type. In my location (Michigan......one state depression) natural gas is less than half the cost of oil or propane. It's a no brainer here. BTW....make sure the gas company shows the delivered cost of the fuel. Lot's of them tell you only the cost for the gas then when you get the bill all the other stuff is on there.

As to boilers.......With a hot water system we have found that we can typically reduce a customers fuel consumption by 35-50% when using a high efficiency modulating/condensing (M/C) boiler with an intelligent control package. For a good, better, best range check out the Munchkin, Triangle Tube Prestige and the Viessmann Vitodens. All of these will chop a fuel bill by a minimum of 25% and the best of them will do well over that. They are all capable of providing variable water temperature based on how cold it is outside and will also change the firing rate based on the actual system load based on demand. Cruise control for your boiler. As to the afore mentioned problem of variations in gas, the Viessmann has a burner that is capable of dealing with it.

For a good comparison of actual cost/million BTU's the EIA.gov website has a fuel cost comparison that works really well. ( amazing,something from the government that works) It allows you to input local fuel costs and efficiency of the appliance.

Whoever does your install should do a heat loss calc on you house to see what is actually needed. We find that the vast majority of boilers and furnaces are oversized by a large amount. This is a huge fuel waster. Any heating guy that shows up and gives you a price without doing a heat loss calc should be shown the door. If you want to have some ammunition in your pocket to see if the guy knows what he's talking about. you can go to www.heatinghelp.com and download a heat loss program you can run yourself.

Hope this helps. The times they are a changin' in the energy business.


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Old 04-12-2008, 06:22 AM
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Whoever does your install should do a heat loss calc on you house to see what is actually needed. We find that the vast majority of boilers and furnaces are oversized by a large amount. This is a huge fuel waster.

Hey you sound like you know what you are talking about..... Can't an oversized unit be made more efficient by putting in a smaller nozzle and thus increasing the time of heat transfer and lowering the stack temperature? Also, if the unit is "too small" is the only downside that the house will take longer to heat up (and myabe never make it on the coldest day)? - or is the too small unit inherently less efficient? Another question, my son had a hot ait gas unit with airconditioning. For safety reasons alone (he has propane) he is considering changing to oil - Could an Oil/Hot air system still use the same air conditioning system?
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Old 04-12-2008, 11:34 AM
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Default RE: Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

LI Sound Grunt - 4/12/2008 6:22 AM


Whoever does your install should do a heat loss calc on you house to see what is actually needed. We find that the vast majority of boilers and furnaces are oversized by a large amount. This is a huge fuel waster.

Hey you sound like you know what you are talking about..... Can't an oversized unit be made more efficient by putting in a smaller nozzle and thus increasing the time of heat transfer and lowering the stack temperature? Also, if the unit is "too small" is the only downside that the house will take longer to heat up (and myabe never make it on the coldest day)? - or is the too small unit inherently less efficient? Another question, my son had a hot ait gas unit with airconditioning. For safety reasons alone (he has propane) he is considering changing to oil - Could an Oil/Hot air system still use the same air conditioning system?
I hope I sound like I know what I'm talking about. I'm in bad shape if I don't because that's what I do for a living.

You can drop a nozzle size on oil with no ill effects in most cases. Some boilers and furnaces are in fact designed and rated to handle multiple firing rates. Much more common to find it on a boiler than a furnace. You may be able to determine if yours is capable of that by looking at the data plate on the unit. It may say something like firing rate .85 =119,000 1.00= 140,000 1.10 = 169,000. It really depends on the design of both the system and the boiler.

As to the second question......Most modern forced air oil furnaces will handle A/C nicely. Most of the older designs will have problems due to insufficient blower capacity and the wrong electronic components. These would be designs that are over 10-15 years old. If you're replacing one just ask whomever you are getting it from. They should know. If they don't, it's time to find another furnace man.
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Old 04-12-2008, 11:46 AM
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Default Re: Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

bobb - 4/10/2008 8:44 AM

CJS - 4/10/2008 8:30 AM

I'd like to think the supply chain is more secure for gas than oil.
And sending a few less $$$$ overseas appeals to me as well.
True, you don't have to worry about getting the oil truck in the middle of a snow storm.
Also, a gas furnace does not need to be cleaned out every year.. Downside is every so often they go KABOOM. Happened right down the street from me, pretty much leveled the house.

They just don't go KABOOM for a reason I can guarntee they had a gas leak in inside or outside that migrated into the house causing the explosion, My gas bill for a 1800sqft house was about $150-200 a month thats leaving it on 64 when where not home and 70-75 when we are
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Old 04-12-2008, 04:53 PM
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Default Re: Converting Oil Furnace to Gas

strikerthree - 4/12/2008 2:46 PM

bobb - 4/10/2008 8:44 AM

CJS - 4/10/2008 8:30 AM

I'd like to think the supply chain is more secure for gas than oil.
And sending a few less $$$$ overseas appeals to me as well.
True, you don't have to worry about getting the oil truck in the middle of a snow storm.
Also, a gas furnace does not need to be cleaned out every year.. Downside is every so often they go KABOOM. Happened right down the street from me, pretty much leveled the house.

They just don't go KABOOM for a reason I can guarntee they had a gas leak in inside or outside that migrated into the house causing the explosion, My gas bill for a 1800sqft house was about $150-200 a month thats leaving it on 64 when where not home and 70-75 when we are
Yes I know that, common knowledge.
In this case a construction crew digging in the street pulled out the line that caused the leak, blowing up the house.
Does not happen that often, but it does happen from time to time....
Years ago, oil companies used the safety factor as a selling point..
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Old 04-12-2008, 05:16 PM
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I have 2 Identical houses in ocean county NJ. all things the same, The one heated w/oil is 30% cheaper and that includes the annual maintainance fee. W/fall cleaning included
S_Ebels is right on about downsizing the nozzel. Don't look at is taking longer to heat the house ,Consider it heating more evenly
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