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Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Swedishchef, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Hey guys

    I may be moving due to my job (by choice) and a house my wife spotted is heated by oil!! It is an old victorian era house. It has water heaters (radiant) in the rooms.

    Can this be converted to some sort of wood boiler system???

    Andrew

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  2. Radiators are a great match for a wood boiler AND storage.
    BoilerMan likes this.
  3. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    They are also a great match for a Wood Gun WITHOUT Storage:)
    CTFIRE likes this.
  4. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Mike, lets not get that going in here. ....

    Shef, any boiler will work better with storage, even a WoodGun. This is a highly debated thing in here, but the laws of physics say that a wood fire burns most efficient and clean when not cycled and run flat out. This is simmilar to the Osburn you are fimiliar with, but with a boiler and the limitations of temperature due to the water jacket, flat out burns are what gets the most heat out of the wood and to the water so you can use it to heat those big old radiators.

    BTW are they steam or hot water? How many pipes go to each radiator one or two, and are they on both on the bottom if there are two? Take some pics of the place and of the radiators! You know the rules....we love pics.... and the old monster oil dragon boiler too!

    TS
  5. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Yeah Mike from Maine .... Lets not get started in here.

    Oh wait was that meant for me.
    Sheesh

    Bottom line .... Switching from oil to gasification will be the best thing you do, no matter what unit you get.
    Nice, even, comfortable heat.
    Just came back in from lighting a small batch fire for the DHW. MAN DO I LOVE NOT SEEING THE OIL MAN.
    Now if I could only get my Duramax Diesel to run off wood life would be grand.
    Oh wait ...I actually can. Ahhh... To much work, maybe when diesel hits $6/gallon
  6. Cast Iron radiators in particular are a great match for storage. They allow you to use lower water temps from storage and go longer between fires if necessary.
  7. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    Every room or our old house have holes in the floor where those cast iron radiators once set. Really a bummer now that we have the boiler but have to use the "modern" ductwork. I'd sure try to use those old things for the reasons everyone above said. Victorian means late 1800's to early 1900's. Bet those things look right at home.

    BTW, how does a Swedish Chef and nuclear explosion relate? A swede that likes to cook but is a nuclear scientist in Canada? Welcome
  8. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Hi Andrew,

    A few thoughts-

    Any chance you can get a hold of the oil bills from the last few years? It sure would be nice to know but even with this info I would still run a heat loss calculation-that is what the pros would do! Also consider a blower door test as this is the ONLY way to get a number on air infiltration and with IR imaging/smoke stick you could know where to do some air sealing(lowest hanging fruit).

    Once we have some real numbers we can start figuring out things like what kind of supply temps the rads will need with what flow rates, then we can figure out how much storage you would need/want based on your priorities.

    I agree with the guys advocating storage-DO IT!-but IF you have a high heat load and you need high supply temps than you may not see much benefit from large thermal storage whereas a smaller amount might be all you need to keep the boiler from idling. Of course in the shoulder season more storage would be better....Just so many variables here!

    Good luck and keep us posted,

    Noah
    BoilerMan likes this.
  9. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    LIKE LIKE LIKE LIKE!!!!! 100% dead on!

    TS
  10. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Tanks for all the great information guys....this is all new to me. I may not be buying the house but my wife certainly loves it.
    Here is the house http://www.century21.ca/Property/NB/E3N_1Y3/campbellton/Athol_st/6

    When you guys mention storage, I presume you mean a boiler system with a water reservoir? What would be a base cost for a unit like that?

    I would certainly do a blower test and rewire the house, that is for sure. I would also spray foam the exterior walls. I think I could get that test. Getting oil bills would be easy. The real estate agent said they used 7-8 tanks of oil a winter!!!!!!

    and for sure I would install a wood insert in the fireplace :)

    Thanks for the comments guys, all stuff to look into.

    Andrew
  11. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    That's a nice looking house!

    There are a ton of used propane tanks for storage available in NB - but it's on the opposite end of the province from Campbellton (Moncton). That's where I got mine. I got 3 of them - 2x330 gallons for storage, and 1x110 gallons for expansion, that was around $800. Extras like pipe & fittings & maybe extra circ pump & mixing valve, $1500 should cover all the storage expenses. Then you'd want to insulate them the best way for your situation, factor that in also.

    Damn, that's almost $10,000/year to heat. Scary!

    (But would make justifying a gassifer & storage a lot easier).
  12. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Hey Maple,

    Yes it is a nice house indeed. My wife and I may be moving there in the next year or so. If we do, that is the house she wants. I has been for sale for a while (2 years) and I would only buy it if the price was reduced significantly.

    I like the idea of used propane tanks for storage. It is certainly something I would do as well! Going to Moncton is no problem as I have family there. $1500 for storage is nothing, how much would a wood boiler cost? Do they make wood with electric as backup?

    Andrew
  13. arbutus

    arbutus Feeling the Heat

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    I'm a newbie at boilers, but I am retrofitting a hydronic system into an existing home with baseboard electric. Lots of good information is available here, and lots of helpful people too.

    There are several ways to accomplish back up: A separate boiler (electric, gas, oil, mod-con gas, etc) is an option. Some boilers have electric or gas or oil add on kits for backup as well. Take a good look at how much you will be using the back up, and how much the kit costs. Some are nearly as much as a small separate boiler.

    In the 40kw size (just a guess, you might be able to go smaller or be required to go bigger, depending on your heat load) EKO, Attack and some others should be less than $6000 delivered. Prices go up from there.
  14. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Well - the cost of my boiler alone was $5500 USD, +/-. That was at the dealer in Pennsylvania.

    By the time I was all said & done, with me doing it all myself, that went to around 15k.

    Extras at the boiler dealer was a very nice loading unit (thermostatic vale & circ pump in one), optional stand, extra refractory, and most costly - getting it here. Exchange rate at the time (my timing was terrible but unavoidable), taxes, duty & freight was between $1500-2k. to get it to my driveway. So by the time I got the boiler & its extras landed, I was into about $8.5k CDN.

    Above that was the storage talked about before, new 80 gallon electric hot water heater, electric backup boiler, and way more piping, valves & fittings than I thought I'd ever need. Then carpentry-type stuff for my storage enclosure & insulating, and a bit of framing I did/changed before I started it all. (I feel like I'm forgetting stuff). Throw in 15% tax on everything I bought up here. Pretty close to that 15k all-in mark.

    I got rid of my oil stuff, and the small electric boiler does backup. But it rarely gets used (just one day last winter). If we would need backup heat more often, I likely would have stuck with a smaller cold start oil boiler for that - electric boilers can really make your meter spin if they're used much. The one day wasn't noticed on our power bill. Getting rid of the oil & all its potential liabilities and the space it took up was a big bonus.

    I also considered geothermal, but I would have been in an extra $10k up front at least, and had larger power bills for the rest of its life.

    More info in my install thread linked in my sig - that needs updating sometime...
  15. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    I can't tell from the pics and there was no mention of heating type in the listing, but a Vic house from that era may very well be steam. If it's steam and not hot water, we are talking a whole different can of worms. I'm sure the realtor wouldn't take any pics of the boiler for you, or some close ups of those radiators, we can tell if it is steam of HW.

    That is one beautiful house for sure! But the oil bill to go with it at over a grand a tank 7-8 tanks.................... That'd be alotta wood, even with gasification............

    TS
  16. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Good point! I don't know if it is steam or HW. Crap. Well, time will tell. If I find out I am moving there I will check the house over every square inch...

    What's the big difference in terms of heating between HW and steam? Something tells me it is HW.

    Maybe I will just close off part of the house, get a wood furnace and heat the parts we live in most of the time! lol

    Andrew

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