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Removing an oil furnace, replacing with vc vigilant

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by merr, Oct 31, 2011.

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  1. merr

    merr New Member

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    So, this may sound a little backwards, but I am trying to remove my oil furnace (which has broken several times in different ways in the three winters we have lived here, mostly due to sitting unused because we cant pay the mortgage and the oil bill at the same time-and is in fact broken and out of oil right this minute), and put a wood stove (VC Vigilant) in its place. I dont, however know the best way to remove the oil furnace, hopefully without doing too much damage as it is only a 6 year old furnace and I am hoping someone will want to buy it who is more handy with fixing furnaces than I am. My husband has suggested we just cut the pipes (and let the water spill out), but I am wary of doing that. I also could probably use some guidance on how to insall the stove into the chimney once the furnace is removed, although my husband has insalled a wood stove before. The biggest thing is getting that oil furnace out of the way.

    Thanks-
    Merr

    PS- we also have a pellet stove (which needs a new fan) that we will use as our primary heat as soon as we fix it, but right now we have no heat so any help would be appreciated.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Welcome merr. Is this a boiler? If so, don't go cutting out pipes. It could be perfectly fine and just need a cleaning and oil filter if it is only 6 yrs old. Hacking it out could lead to a serious mess and it will degrade the value of the house. Let's start from the top and see what all the options are. First, have you tried to get any financial assistance? Often there is for a necessity like heating. Next, wouldn't it be much less expensive to just get the pellet stove working? And is the Vigilant in good, safe operating condition?
  3. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    6 years old seem like a pretty short life span. As BeGreen mentioned, remove it carefully. You can fix it up and sell it if it's only 6 years old.

    And to go further with what BG said, you should replace all the gaskets on the stove (flue collar, griddle, doors), vacuum out the back burn chamber, and check for leaks and gaps in the castings. Also, check the doors to be sure they are not warped and seal correctly.

    If it is unpainted, you should apply stove polish to the stove to cut down on surface rust which will make future maintenance easier.
  4. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Texas- West of Houston
    I love our Vigilant. It is the primary heat source for our 4000 square foot house. Haven't turned on the heat pumps in several years.
  5. merr

    merr New Member

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    Hi,
    yes it is a boiler, and no it is not just a filter and cleaning that it needs-those have been done along with a lot of other things. The mother board on it went last year, then the temperature gage, and a couple of other parts. So far we have put around 1000$ into replacing parts and rerouting pipes that werent getting proper pressure- and this was the cost with having a former boiler repair guy, who now works in a different field, to insall the parts- a total of 300 in labor and 700 in parts. The problem is the furnace leaks, and because it is so rarely in use as it usually has no oil, it leaks more after it has sat for a while. and then it destroys things like the main circuit board etc. Sooo...We have only been able to put oil in it 2 x in 3 years, because we are broke lol. That being said, we decided to remove it and put in a woodstove so we would have a more reliable secondary heat source for which the fuel would be basically free as we live in the country and have plenty of access to wood. We already have about 2 cord of wood. As to the pellet stove being cheaper to fix? The fan is a combex fan-both an intake and out-take fan, patented and all that, and the part is 410-450$, labor is about 150$ for first hour, plus extra fee as we live in the middle of nowhere. We already have the wood stove...it is old but appears to be in good condition, the doors are not warped and no cracks. We are planning to replace the gaskets, and I have already sanded and painted it with high temp paint. My brother in law is willing to come out and install, but on his schedule, and the no heat thing will only work for the short term. So, if anyone knows an easy way to unhitch the furnace....let me know-
    Thanks Again-
    Meredith
  6. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    How about installing the Vigilant as a stand alone and just leaving the oil/boiler as it is. When you resell the house it might be good to have the oil furnace there even if it is Tango Uniform.
  7. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I would go with this idea. Leave the furnace in and repair it when you have the fund available. At the very least, for the resale value.
  8. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    If you really want to get the furnace out there should be a drain for the water.
    Should be a valve also to shut the water flow off for the feed..you might have a auto feed so make sure this valve is off and don't cut on the wrong side of it if you resort to that technique of cutting the pipes.
    Copper?
  9. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    Does your boiler have a tank, or do you get your hot water through a cil in the boiler?
    Reason I ask is that some boilers are made to run "warm" vs being turned on and off all the time as the seals leak.
    Maybe you can post some pics?
  10. RWA6541

    RWA6541 Member

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    Loc:
    BRONX, NY
    replace the pellet stove with the wood stove and leave the boiler intact, look into oil assistance. pellets cost $$ and the stoves in my experience are time consuming, wood can be got for free and makes more heat.
  11. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    If the pellet stove has one motor that does both combustion and convection blowers. Then its a positive pressure firebox. These can be dangerous if the gaskets start to leak.. Have you checked im the Pellet Mill Forum here? Many dont have an old stove like that anymore. But may be able to help you get a cheaper motor. And help you un-install the old and re-install the new. It does not take much to work on them.

    The woodstove is a good idea. You say you have 2 cord. When did you cut it? What species wood is it? And how long since you split it?
  12. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Also taking out the PRIMARY HEAT SOURCE could be a code violation. A Solid Fuel burning device is not rated as a Primary source of heat. You must have something else if you ever intend to sell that house.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Agreed. This is a rash act. Although it sounds like the original installation was flawed that is not a reason to remove the system. Water should not be leaking just because the system was idle.

    We need to see what you are up against. Maybe just the flue could be disconnected? But we also need to be sure the flue is safe to hook up the stove. Is there a fireplace or a tap into this chimney on the first floor? That would be better. Can you post some pictures?
  14. littlalex

    littlalex Member

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    Loc:
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    Merr - I'm with the majority who agree that leaving the furnace in place is your best bet.

    I had to sell the house before my present abode without it's furnace. It was not a pretty experience Also, like others have written, it's possible that you will break code with the furnace removed and many insurance companies don't cover homes with wood heat as their primary heat source...check with your agent!

    Regarding your other questions, you have lots of good advice to choose from.

    Best of luck and chin up...I can relate to your present financial problems very much from my present situation.

    Regards,
    Littlalex

    P.S. - Did a quick search and Maine does have a variety of heating assistance programs.

    Start here if you haven't already:

    http://www.mainehousing.org/programs-services/energy/energy-assistance-programs
  15. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    ditto all of the above. Just because it is there doesnt mean that you have to use it.
    You want that because
    a) code violation
    b)resell
    c) what happens if you get sixk/hurt/lazy/stuck away from home and dont fire the wood stove every few hours... it will get mighty cold in your water pipes....

    I always leave my thermostat on, just at a very low temperature, it doesnt turn on, but in an emergency, it would keep the pipes in one piece.
  16. hemlock

    hemlock Feeling the Heat

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    If you do remove the boiler, are you sure the chimney is the right size/classification for wood?
  17. MaintenanceMan

    MaintenanceMan Burning Hunk

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    Southern IN
    I was a HVAC contractor for 10 years and still work in industrial maintenance today. The most I would do in your case is drain the boiler down and maybe remove the chimney, but only if you need to use the chase for the stove/class A. Filling the boiler, hooking up the chimney, and fixing the boiler is a lot easier to do than if you had no boiler to work with at all. A wood stove does not classify as a primary source of heat. You also never know when you might become incapable of loading a stove. Broken leg or bad health (God forbid).... You might need something less labor intensive as a wood stove again.
  18. merr

    merr New Member

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    Loc:
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    After seeing all your responses we have decided to leave the furnace downstairs and just unattatch it from the chimney so we can hook up the vigilant,
    Thanks, great help from everyone.
    Meredith
  19. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    Good call.
  20. littlalex

    littlalex Member

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    Great!

    Best of Luck!

    Littlalex
  21. klustgarten

    klustgarten New Member

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    Good call on keeping the boiler hooked up. My primary heat is wood but there are times like this coming weekend that I will be away from home with the family. If it gets cold while we are gone the pipes could freeze. Wood saves money but by not having a standard form of heat makes you a slave to the stove.

    I would recommend pulling the pellet stove and replacing it with a wood stove. The pellet stove that you have doesn't sound like it is much better then your boiler. You said that seasoned wood is available, that coupled with the fact that wood stoves are simple devices that don't fail when needed makes it the clear choice. This would allow the boiler to be left hooked up and fixed whenever funds allow.

    If you must hook the stove up to the chimney that the boiler is using could you please give us a detailed description of the chimney. It may not be suitable or may even be dangerous if a wood stove is hooked up. Is it masonry? Does it have a liner? How high is it? What size is the flue? If it is pipe is it triple wall? These are the types of things that we need to know. If in doubt the advice of a professional it much cheaper then a house size pile of ashes.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Good call. We'll still be here Meredith. Make sure this is done safely.
  23. Bone1099

    Bone1099 Member

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    Northwest GA
    Sell the pellet stove and the vigilant and buy a real stove maybe in the order of an englander 30 or older like fisher or knokoff of fisher. Vigilant is a good stove but it requires frequent cleaning and minor maintenance that if left undone can become hard to operate even dangerous. The englander can be had at the right time new for around $700-$800 used maybe $300-$500.
    Older fisher or similar maybe cheaper. Either will be much simpler to operate and maintain and also are real powerhouses.
    "my two pennies"
  24. madison

    madison Minister of Fire

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    FYI, you can not vent the the stove into the existing boiler chimney as is.
  25. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Beware: cheap oil boilers can develop leaks when left cold for long periods. (i.e. with the flue off, its cold). I would at least turn off the feed water.
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