Get me hot: residential boiler info needed.
July 30, 2007 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Does my home really need a new boiler? How do I choose one? Where should I buy it? How much should I pay?

My oil company just raised my monthly payment by over 50% ($288 -> 438) because last winter my oil usage soared for my 4-zone FHW system. Which is weird, since my house is only ~2000 sf. Yes, it's an old house (+/- 200 years) but it's not much older or bigger than it was last year! ;-)

Have you replaced a boiler (or furnace) lately? Any shopping tips, dire warnings, trenchant observations, before I shop? Can you recommend any brand names or models? Bonus points if you're a boiler repairman or expert. How much should I expect to shell out for this? Thanks in advance.

Oh, if you'd like to loan me a few grand to pay for it...
posted by wordwhiz to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My good friend just replaced his boiler, an older 70's model for an ultra efficient like 97 or 98% model. Parts plus labor cost him approximately $4,000. He is saving an average of 40-60% per month for months that require heating.

There's a really easy way to do the math:
Say you've got a 70% efficient boiler, that means that that 30 cents of every heating dollar goes up the flue. So, every $100 you spend, you're throwing $30 in the dumpster. Look at your bills, I guess you're saying $438/month? That means that, assuming a 70% boiler, you're throwing away $131.40. Also assume that, regionally, gas/oil prices go up about 7% per annum, which means they double every 10-11 years.

Sorry I'm not more help. I assume you've bled off air from the radiators and turned down the heat as low as you can manage? Opened blinds on south facing windows, closed them on east/west ones?
posted by TomMelee at 6:09 PM on July 30, 2007

What leads you to believe there's a problem with your boiler? There are a couple of places you might want to look first. I assume you are on a budget plan with your oil company. If so, your bill might have gone up to cover a rise in the supplier's cost of oil. Keep in mind a budget plan makes it easy for you to, well, budget your heating costs. The other side of the coin is your oil company needs to predict the cost of heating oil before the season starts, and they will most likely overcharge a bit to cover any potential rises in their costs.

On the other hand, depending on where you live this past heating season was worse than the one before, thus a rise in consumption. Or, your 200 year old house is poorly insulated, or you have leaky windows.... The boiler is just one potential piece of the puzzle.

I assume you live in the US. You should check with your state's public utilities office to get a recommendation for an energy audit for your home. They will be able to tell you where your money will be best spent.
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:34 AM on July 31, 2007

find a reputable HVAC service technician (preferably someone who specifically works with your brand of boiler) and have them do a 'tune-up' or at least give it the once over to check that it is in proper working order. they might also advise you on how much life your current boiler has left, and perhaps also let you know what options are available for replacement if necessary.
posted by kuppajava at 10:54 AM on August 1, 2007

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