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OIL Boiler just took a dump

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

  1. captjack

    captjack Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Eastern Shore of MD
    I would like to know if there is a general consensus on using an add-on wood boiler to an already existing oil burner. Is there such a thing ? Is it cost effective to do?

    I heat the house with wood stoves and only use the boiler for hot water. Oil is just crazy in price and I have an abundant supply of wood. I also have a chimney in the basement already so it would be easy to plug in.

    Any recommendations would be great !

    Thanks

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  2. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    Don't know quite what you are saying. I have an oil boiler that I always had. It can supply heat to the emitters only.

    My wood boiler heats it's storage. That storage water moves to the emitters if the temps in the storage are above 135. If the storage is cold.. the oil boiler comes on like it always did to heat DHW or the house.

    JP
  3. GS7

    GS7 New Member

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    Loc:
    Connecticut
    Sounds like you could tie in a central boiler, to make your oil burner the back up system. Gasifier boilers are great solutions for whole home heating but far from inexpensive. If you are happy and able to heat your whole house with your stoves, your least costly solution MAY be switching over to an electric hot water heater. People I know with them, tell me the cost is actually low. Add on boilers do exist as combo units too, but they are not the most efficient solutions in my opinion. I recently had an hvac guy try and sell me on the idea of a combo unit that runs on wood and oil, quoted $8200 installed WITHOUT chimney liner expenses. I showed him the way out and I'm looking hard at a gasifier that heats the whole house and provides hot water. This will be a major upgrade from my insert stove, but with gasifier boilers, you can have water storage and make one fire a day and heat the whole house well.
  4. GS7

    GS7 New Member

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    Sorry about the lack of clarity. O.K. If your current oil burner works, and is used only for your hot water needs, the least costly option MAY be to switch to an electric hot water heater. I'm not sure of your exact set up, but in my case I have an oil burner furnace, and a separate oil burner on my hot water tank. If yours is the same way as mine you could continue heating with wood as you're doing now if you are happy with your current wood burner, and heat your water with a new electric hot water tank. Just one option, and probably the least expensive.

    Google benjamin wood boilers, or look at the harman website under central heating and you'll see the add on or combo units that I'm not a fan of because a gasifier boiler is a more complete and efficient solution, but expensive to set up with the recommended amount of water storage of around 1,000 gallons for whole home heating and water heating. There is plenty of info and a wealth of knowledge on Hearth regarding gasifier boilers, just do a quick search. Plenty of people are on this site who can explain it better than me.
  5. hobbyheater

    hobbyheater Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Port McNeill BC
    pig2.jpg
    Our first wood boiler (1979/1980) was one like the one pictured and was used as a "Add On" and was originally plumbed in series with our oil boiler .In series it burned 22 cords in the first year. Next it was plumbed in parallel this change dropped its wood consumption by 4 cords , meaning there is a lot of stack loose if you continue to keep your oil boiler warm . But if you want automatic switching between the two it gets more complicated plus expensive.
    Operating experience has also shown me that a wood boiler does not function that well when the fire cycles as it is slaved to the house thermostat . Creosote buildup in the smoke pipe and chimney can become a very serious safety concern .
    It does not sound like you are planning on using heat storage so if you have a high heat load in the winter months a small gasification boiler may be able to work with some success as a add on , but without storage operating it in series with your oil boiler may give a little more load and slightly longer burn cycles .
    If you you really want peace of mind a wood gasification boiler with storage is the only way to go .
    Our old Jetstream gasifcation boiler with 1,000 gallons of storage on average burns 4 1/2 cords where the original burned 22 cords .
    Best of luck many of us have been where you are !!!!
  6. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    Ah.. I get what you are saying now. You likely don't have an indirect DHW heater. Your boiler itself must be hot.

    You have a FURNACE now that you can heat with.. and you're running your oil side JUST for DHW with this setup.

    Heck yes... you could go electric DHW and save a bunch. Oil is about the worst way to heat DHW.. especially in the summer when you don't have any other call for heat. In winter, when the boiler is hot frequently for house zone calls for heat, it's much less efficient.

    If you had a wood boiler and storage, you would need a sidearm, coil for DHW in storage, or an indirect DHW tank ( OR use the storage to heat your oil boiler THEN let it heat your DHW) previous poster mentioning the loss of heat out your chimney for this setup.

    JP
  7. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I'm assuming you have radiators that your oil boiler is hooked to - but you don't use them to heat with, just the stoves?

    And you only use the oil boiler for DHW?

    That must be close to the least efficient & most expensive use of an oil burner I can think of - I kept an oil boiler hot year round for 17 years. Ouch.

    The oil boiler taking a dump is divine intervention: I would take this opportunity to get rid of the oil all together (and the related oil tank liabilities), and replace the oil boiler with a simple electric hot water heater, and if you want a backup heat source that will rarely get used, add in an electric boiler to the heat piping system. You will gain a ton of space, still have a spare chimney for the future, and your oil savings should be sizeable.

    If you have the space, budget & drive to go for a wood boiler, I would only do it if I could also incorporate storage with it.
    hobbyheater likes this.
  8. captjack

    captjack Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
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    50
    Loc:
    Eastern Shore of MD
    my boiler is hooked to an (Heat coils i guess) air handler and heats the house if I choose to turn air handlers on. The boiler is also hooked to a hot water tank and is set to a certain temp. If the temp drops the boiler kicks on and brings it up to temp.

    The repair guy came out today and said the timer for the power venter is bad and that is why the boiler wont fire - Im assuming that the power venter activates then a relay is tripped to turn the boiler on .

    at any rate im looking for an add on boiler that I could plumb into this system to heat water - I hope this makes sense

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