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Direct Vent Existing Oil Burner to free up flu - Sugestions wanted!

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by benking, May 2, 2008.

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  1. benking

    benking Member

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    Loc:
    Portland, Maine
    I have a couple of questions I hope you folks can help me with.

    I have a cape with a downstairs floorplan of 1000 sf, the house has a center chimney with two flues. One flu is used for the oil
    burner and the other for a Jotul F3 that I installed in the first floor fireplace. The oil burner is in the basement. My wife and I
    plan to turn our cape into a Colonial this fall by tearing the exiting roof and walls off the house and putting 8 foot walls and a full roof system with attic above the second floor.

    The Jotul keeps the first floor at a decent temp if monitored closesly (filled every couple of hours). It gets chilly here in Maine and my thought are as we start a family and expand our home I'll need more heat and I'll have less time. I'm trying to determine how I can put a large woodstove in my basement that will have good burn times without having to invest in a chimney that goes up three floors and requires tearing apart my house.

    Anyone have any experience with direct vent oil burners? I want to keep the exisiting hot water system as its nice to have a reliable backup and be able to go on vacation, etc. Any ideas on how I can get a big motha wood stove in my basement with my current setup? If I can get my oil burner venting via another method I can use the flu for a new wood stove.

    Thanks everyone.

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  2. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    What do you have for an oil boiler, currently?

    Some are convertible to direct vent. Others would require a powervent unit. (direct vent uses the burner to blow the flue gas out - powervent uses a separate fan at or near the wall which sucks the flue gas out of the appliance and then blows it outside)

    Joe
  3. benking

    benking Member

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    Loc:
    Portland, Maine
    I currently have a weil mclain made in the mid 90s. It has an internal coil for my hot water use and also heats the baseboards in the house. It sounds like I'd need the powered direct vent add on. Anyone have any experience with these? Do they work or am I just asking for trouble.
  4. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    You'll want something like a Tjernlund SS2, most likely. Depends on your exact situation and the BTU rating of the boiler, though.

    Joe
  5. benking

    benking Member

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    Loc:
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    Have you had good luck with these models or am I just asking for trouble?
  6. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Anything mechanical does have a lifespan associated with it. Keeping the boiler in good condition (regular service by a competent service company) will help to prevent problems. So will protecting the electronics from power surges.

    Tjernlund makes a good unit, and the SS2 is probably the easiest to install and to service, when it eventually does need some sort of repair. The guts are in a "drawer" that can be slid out of the housing, so even if it needs to be replaced, it's a quick job.

    Joe
  7. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Coastal ME
    I have the problem of only having one flue in the house and when the house was built/setup it was ok to pipe in a oil boiler and a wood stove. We are common sense people and tend to the chimney regularly so blockage has not been an issue over the years. Now with the new code we changed our insurance and they balked at the chimney setup. I got a grace period from them for last winter but this summer we are installing a power vent unit, I can post the info on it if your interested. ALot of restrictions on where the output can go, ie away from windows and doors. ALso the lenght of pipe. I had a furnace friend buy it for me for under $500 but I was quoted $1200 for it when I tried to buy it myself at the supply house (talk about mark up)

    Anyhow we will be using it this fall so if I have bad experience with it ill update on this forum.

    ~ Phil
  8. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    My house was built in 1978 with Electric heat therefore no chimney was available when I wanted to install a new oil furnace 12 years ago. I had to go with direct venting method and so far I have not been sorry. I`ve not had a hiccup yet. (knock on wood) I instruct the oil burner repairman to set the flame at no trace of smoke when he does the yearly cleaning and adjustment and my white vinyl siding is still white.
    I saved a ton on money when the oil was cheap over the electric over the past 12 years but now at $4.09 a gallon I just finished with a new pellet stove installation. Hopefully this will reduce my oil bill significantly come the heating season.
    OK, back to your question. My direct vent is a Fields system. I am an electrician and have wired many of these units and I believe the Fields ( motor outside) to be the better unit. The Tjerland might be somewhat noisier since the fan is mounted inside.
    My oil furnace is a Burnham rated at 115,000BTU and heats 1800 sq ft. plus a separate 40 gal hot water tank.
    Hope this helps,
    John
  9. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    In theory, it's a better design. Total suction for the entire interior run, etc.

    Problem I've found is that the hot motor and the cold outside air don't play well together. Especially in vaguely-coastal areas, where the salt content of the environment is higher.

    You definitely do need to use the isolation mounting bracket with the Tjernlund, or you will have noise issues.

    Joe
  10. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    You can adjust the draft on either of the units that was mentioned, so it won't over-draft the system.

    Joe
  11. benking

    benking Member

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    Loc:
    Portland, Maine
    Thanks for the info guys, I'll be looking into this more in the near future now that I know its an option.
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