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hot water heater and boiler suggestions?

Just purchased an old house that needs a new hot water heater and a new boiler (for baseboard heat). Doing research on tankless and indirect water heaters and weighing them again conventional storage units. I'm obviously going to talk to professional plumbers on this, but was wondering if anyone had suggestions. House also needs some electrical upgrades (new electrical box), is in Pennsylvania, and in a dense urban area. Looking to stay in there for a while and looking for options that are considering the environmental impact in the equation.


Re: hot water heater and boiler suggestions?

Yes, a new boiler and a companion indirect hot water heater are strongly recommended if the present unit is over 10-15 years old; the newer boilers, even the basic, entry level units with their improved engineering design will allow you to realize a considerable drop in fuel consumption over the old unit.

Click onto my name to get extensive back posts on the subject of replacing a boiler, recommended brand names and other background info.

There is often a considerable markup in the quoted replacement cost, as well as a wide variation on the choice of equipment, so it is imperative that you go thru the process of getting at least 4-6 separate estimates from various plumbers, heating contractors, oil dealers, burner repair persons, etc.---check the Yellow Pages under these headings to get a wide list of prospective installers---also contact family members, friends & neighbors in your area to ask if they have had a recent boiler install & their level of satisfactiion with it; also check the YP under "Heating Equipment" for the heating supply houses in your area & ask the counterman to recommend a qualified installer---also put up a note on the bulletin board where you work to see if any co-workers have had a good boiler install recently.

If you have natural gas installed, the oil dealers are also licensed to install such equipment, & often charge less for the install.

The prospective installer should do a Manual J heat loss calculation to determine how much heat (in BTUs/hour) your house is losing on a cold day, so that the boiler can be accurately sized to the needs of the house---chances are your old boiler is oversized for the size of the house & has been wasting fuel since it was installed.

If there is minimal or no insulation in any of the exterior walls or attic, it SHOULD BE BLOWN IN NOW (see Yellow Pages under Insulation), and your windows upgraded if they are old & drafty---these two measures will pay for themselves in coming years in heating & cooling fuel costs---blown-in insulation only costs a few hundred $$$ & is strongly recommended before the boiler is ordered.

If you get 4-6 estimates on the cost & type of new boiler, you will pay a lot less money & get a good unit at the right size than if you just call one installer---there will be a wide diversity in the cost quotes as well as the type & brand of equipment they offer.

Important: if you are on a fixed income, laid off or otherwise strapped for cash, make sure you communicate this to the installer before they give you a final quote---they may take this into consideration & lower the cost of the install.

There are 3 basic types of HW boiler---the basic "entry level" boiler made of cast iron & widely made by numerous mfgs at approx. 83% AFUE efficiency with standard components by Beckett,Carlin,Riello,Honeywell,Taco,Grundfos,Watts,etc., costs the installer $1200 to $1500; additional components needed for approx. $500; new indirect HWH for approx. $1200 plus labor to remove old unit & install new unit $1k = $4k approx.

This assumes there is no need to add a metal chimney, draft inducer, or other specialized equipment, & the existing brick/stone chimney is in good shape, has a good draft & needs no metal liner.

The next step up is to install a 3-pass boiler at approx. 87% AFUE efficiency, which may add $500 to the base price---these are also a good choice, since they burn fuel more efficiently & will save fuel costs over the years.

The Next step up is to install a condensing, variable output boiler, which gets approx. 95% AFUE efficiency, & thus will save more on fuel costs, but may require additional service calls during the first 6 mos. of ownership due to the more complicated nature of the equipment.

All 3 types of boiler usually come with outdoor reset components that monitor the outdoor temp & burn fuel & heat the house accordingly---outdoor reset is recommended.

I recommend a stainless steel indirect hot water heater by Triangle Tube, HTP Superstor, Weil McLain Gold Plus, or TFI Everhot over any other type of hot water heater---the indirects have been shown to be the most efficient way of getting domestic hot water (for the taps, shower, etc) than anything else; since they use the heated boiler water to heat the domestic HW, & have no burner or flue, they are very efficient.

Boiler mfgs recommended would include Buderus, Burnham Crown, Dunkirk, Hydrotherm, New Yorker, Peerless, Slant/fin, Smith, Utica, Biasi, Weil-Mclain, System 2000---Viessmann also recommended, although it is expensive.


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