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Oil to Gas Heating Conversion

Old 11-05-2014, 05:12 PM
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gf
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Default Oil to Gas Heating Conversion

My neighbors and I had the natural gas line extended on our street and now I am evaluating proposals on replacing my 60 year old oil boiler and 12 year old water tank with a new gas boiler and indirect hot water tank.

I thought I wanted a high efficiency condensing boiler but now I am hearing mixed feedback on whether that's the best type of unit to use with our baseboard radiators (as opposed to cast iron radiators) and their inherent complexity seems to lead to maintenance challenges. There is also the matter of where does the condensate drain to? We're on septic so I don't want anything harmful going in to that.

Our gas company offers discounted pricing and significant rebates on Burnham products but any of the greater than or equal to 90% AFUE units qualify for some rebates.

What do you guys say?
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Old 11-05-2014, 05:32 PM
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Go with a traditional boiler with indirect I like Peerless you can get parts just about anywhere
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Old 11-05-2014, 05:35 PM
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I switched from an old oil boiler to a natural gas boiler in a previous home. It is a great thing to do and there are only a few downsides.

1. What do/will you do with your oil tank? If you make the switch please be sure to completely drain or empty the tank and all the lines. We hired a service to do so. EPA and a host of state agencies will be on your ass if there is one drop of oil in the ground. I presume your tank is in ground? In the basement? The main point is that leaving the tank alone will eventually become a problem to somebody when the house is sold. Figure or get estimates on the costs for tank disposal/tearout/handling. An empty tank can be cut up and disposed of easily in the trash.

2. There are now two types of boilers. The old kind that are 80-82% efficient, and the new fangled 95% or better "condensing" boilers. The government wants you to put in the fancy kind. Trouble is, they have failures and repair bills that more than possibly eat up any natural gas savings. (Think of all the rich plumbers now that you can't take a crap in the "new" toilets without flushing 16 times)

The old style boilers have been around for many many years and last. You have very little in the way of service expenses. Your heat will be just as luxurious and good from those baseboard heaters. You really will like a new natural gas boiler.

I'm purchasing a home with a Munchkin Boiler from 2006. It's the fancy kind, and the internet is full of horror stories regarding maintenance. It is now 8 yrs old, and at the first $700 hiccup, I'm pulling it and putting in an old fashioned 80% boiler. I don't have the time and desire to be farting around waiting for parts when it is freezing outside. Munchkin is now, of course, discontinued!!! F-it.

Burnham's have a very good reputation.

Only your furnace guy, or the company sales rep, can advise you regarding the condensate drain. I don't know enough to help you there. It is a good question.

Good luck.

Last edited by dssmith; 11-05-2014 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 11-05-2014, 05:38 PM
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I upgraded to a Weil McLain Gold series cast iron boiler w/indirect HW. Over 90% efficiency so got all the rebates. Durable, efficient & established. I've got Base Ray cast iron baseboards
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Old 11-05-2014, 05:41 PM
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I have a NG combi boiler.it has a neutralizer for the condensation so the little drip of water is just water and has to be changed every two years.there is one air filter on the intake that I had to take out and clean took three minutes.cheap on gas make sure you size it right and install low flow shower heads.no chiminey just pvc.I love mine.
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Old 11-05-2014, 05:41 PM
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You won't see a difference in your monthly bill between a boiler that's 80or 90% efficient you will though when something breaks
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:53 PM
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Update 5 weeks later...

Went ahead with the 95% AFUE condensing boiler and indirect hot water tank. Yesterday was our first day on natural gas.
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Old 12-11-2014, 05:09 PM
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That system will hopefully last a long time. Do yourself a favor and rap your knuckles on the side of that extrol tank, both near the top and near the bottom. You'll hear a "full" sound at the top (full of water) and an empty sound at the bottom (full of air). That way if and when it fails some day, you'll know that it doesn't sound right. Give everything else a once over too, so you'll have a good idea of what "normal" is.

Indirect tanks generally outlast you.
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Old 12-11-2014, 05:13 PM
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Did you have to pay to have them bring the gas down your street . If so what was the cost. Looks like a nice installation very clean.
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Old 12-11-2014, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Rival1 View Post
Did you have to pay to have them bring the gas down your street . If so what was the cost. Looks like a nice installation very clean.

6 houses on our street - 3 each side - had the line extended. We are in the middle of our street and each paid $1500. That included the line extension, bringing gas to the desired location at the house and the meter installation.
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Old 12-11-2014, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by gf View Post
Update 5 weeks later...

Went ahead with the 95% AFUE condensing boiler and indirect hot water tank. Yesterday was our first day on natural gas.
Other than the boiler appears to be "floating" in air, it looks to be a very professional installation. Congrats, you should see a huge difference in your heating cost.

For those that think a condensing boiler is "new fangled", I was installing them over 20 years ago and they were in Europe long before the USA. Almost never had problems with gas. Oil high efficiency was another story.

Also, plumbers were rich long before the EPA regs came along.
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Old 12-11-2014, 07:57 PM
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Not my first choice in condensing boilers but not a bad one either. The piping is correct which is the main thing with any M/C boiler. If that's not done correctly it doesn't matter what brand you have. It will suck.

I don't know what natural gas vs oil cost is in you area but I would suspect you will see close to a 50% reduction in energy costs compared to your old system. Natural gas is very easy on the appliance it is burned in also. Much different than LP.
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Old 12-11-2014, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by s_ebels View Post
Not my first choice in condensing boilers but not a bad one either. The piping is correct which is the main thing with any M/C boiler.

The Burnham Alpine definitely gets mixed reviews in the Web searches I conducted, but it is what the local gas utility offers at a discounted price and with generous rebates. Other contractors quoted Buderus, Lochinvar and Triangle Tube, but they all seemed to have pluses and minuses on the Web and the price differential was considerable in most cases.

I spent $4600 on heating oil for the period of July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014. I would be very surprised if I spend $2400 per year for natural gas. Oil prices are down considerably from last year but I think natural gas will still be less expensive. I was at a point that I had to do something with our previous 61 year old oil boiler. The opportunity to partner with my neighbors to extend the gas line was a clear tipping point. I'm the first one to go live with a new heating system but everyone will convert over within the next year or so, I imagine.
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Old 12-11-2014, 08:20 PM
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I had a condensing furnace (not boiler) and loved it. At first they installed too small of intake and exhaust pipes for the length and it would throw random codes. The owner of the company came out twice and figured it out the second time. From that point on it ran great for 3+ years until I sold the house. Installed the same in the next home and had no problems. Both we swaps from oil furnaces and the savings was noticeable.

Now what did you do with the tank? We had one drained and filled with sand (they will float up if under ground) and the other was above ground and hauled off.
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Old 12-12-2014, 02:40 AM
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Originally Posted by gf View Post

I spent $4600 on heating oil for the period of July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014. I would be very surprised if I spend $2400 per year for natural gas.
Out of curiosity what size home and what temps you keep the home at. Trying to gauge what I use on my new system to others in this area.

I wish I had NG.
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Old 12-12-2014, 03:59 AM
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Originally Posted by captwill_80 View Post

Now what did you do with the tank? We had one drained and filled with sand (they will float up if under ground) and the other was above ground and hauled off.

The oil tank was in the basement and it has been removed.


Originally Posted by BACKTOTHESEA View Post

Out of curiosity what size home and what temps you keep the home at. Trying to gauge what I use on my new system to others in this area.
You can see the house is a modest Cape, built in 1953. 4 BR, 2 BA, 2300 sq ft with a partially finished basement. 3 zones of heat, all with programmable thermostats plus domestic hot water. We would use 1200 gallons of oil per year. That was pretty consistent over the 9 years we have been here. During the heating season the temperature was kept at 67 when we were home and awake and at 64 when we were away or asleep.
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Old 12-12-2014, 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by gf View Post
The oil tank was in the basement and it has been removed.




You can see the house is a modest Cape, built in 1953. 4 BR, 2 BA, 2300 sq ft with a partially finished basement. 3 zones of heat, all with programmable thermostats plus domestic hot water. We would use 1200 gallons of oil per year. That was pretty consistent over the 9 years we have been here. During the heating season the temperature was kept at 67 when we were home and awake and at 64 when we were away or asleep.
Holy Carp!!! 1200 gals? Do you have any idea what the efficiency rating of your old unit was? I'm in the middle of a conversion to gas - just had the line to the house installed a week or so ago, and am waiting to burn through a tank of oil before having the plumber come in. Our house is a colonial but similar sized to yours and we burned 700 per year, with approximately the same temperatures. Our current oil burner is hovering at ~80%.
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Old 12-12-2014, 05:11 AM
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Congrats on the gas conversion. We converted from oil to NG. Our system was 80% oil steam, converted to 82% NG steam so not a big difference in efficiency, however; the $5,500 conversion paid for itself in three seasons! We would have cold months where we'd use nearly $1k in oil just for a month, but with NG we use about $1,200 worth of NG all season.
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Old 12-12-2014, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by nodima View Post
Holy Carp!!! 1200 gals? Do you have any idea what the efficiency rating of your old unit was? I'm in the middle of a conversion to gas - just had the line to the house installed a week or so ago, and am waiting to burn through a tank of oil before having the plumber come in. Our house is a colonial but similar sized to yours and we burned 700 per year, with approximately the same temperatures. Our current oil burner is hovering at ~80%.
Originally Posted by porksoda View Post
Congrats on the gas conversion. We converted from oil to NG. Our system was 80% oil steam, converted to 82% NG steam so not a big difference in efficiency, however; the $5,500 conversion paid for itself in three seasons! We would have cold months where we'd use nearly $1k in oil just for a month, but with NG we use about $1,200 worth of NG all season.
Be aware that the 80% rating a service tech gives a system is combustion efficiency and the 80% EPA rating are 2 different animals. A 60 year old boiler that has a 80% rating for fuel burn is probably 50 to 60% efficient if it were tested the way a new boiler is tested. The new test include ambient loss, flue loss, boiler mass and others as well as combustion efficiency.
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Old 12-12-2014, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by gf View Post
The oil tank was in the basement and it has been removed.




You can see the house is a modest Cape, built in 1953. 4 BR, 2 BA, 2300 sq ft with a partially finished basement. 3 zones of heat, all with programmable thermostats plus domestic hot water. We would use 1200 gallons of oil per year. That was pretty consistent over the 9 years we have been here. During the heating season the temperature was kept at 67 when we were home and awake and at 64 when we were away or asleep.
Depending how much you and up spending on NG you may want to have an energy audit done to see where you are losing your heat. I have a new oil system that is not a problematic high efficiency system but is quality (viessman with mostly radiant) in a fairly large multi story home on a hill with northern exposure, consistent 69degrees throughout, a three car garage that stays high 50's at the coldest to mid 60 typically and burn 100 gallons less +- your burning more than twice as me after adjusting for the home size difference. System efficiency differences of 10 to 15% does a little, NG cost differential is huge but from an energy consumption perspective good insulating and more importantly sealing the home makes the most difference. You may be at a point of diminishing returns though if your bill goes to a third or 1/2 of what it was.

I know my parents former cape that was much smaller was poorly insulated and sealed. Especially the knee walls upstairs. I bet you get huge icycles in the winter from the heat loss to the eaves.
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