I have a vapor/vacuum heating system - my system looks pretty identical to the "Hoffman" system described in Dan Holohan's book. The boiler is oil-fired and is about 50 years old. One of the nipples rusted through and I was told it was time to replace the boiler. Ideally, I would like to replace it with a multi-fuel boiler. I'd like a wood/oil/propane gas or at least an oil/wood combination boiler. I currently use a wood stove in my fireplace and it works great. If I could use wood for my heating system, then that would be even better. I have a lot of wood, so having a wood burning boiler would be very economical. I live in Westchester County, just outside NYC.
I have a lot of questions and appreciate any input. What choices for multi-fuel boilers are there? Any recommendations? Is it safe to say my oil company would not want to install a multi-fuel boiler? What special mods would need to be done (e.g.- venting) to install a wood burning boiler? Can multi-fuel boilers work with my heating system or do changes need to be made? I was told that I should choose a boiler with a large water capacity - it's a 4500 sq ft house and is not particularly seal-tight, so based on that, roughly what capacity should I be looking at? I was also told that today's boilers are "too efficient" because they heat up the water too quickly and therefore can create too much pressure in my system -- is this true and if so are there any boilers that would work better with my system in this regard? Although not too important for me, can I have zone heating for my heating system? Are there any other concerns I should be looking out for? Many thanks.