10-04-2007, 06:50 AM
I need to replace my boiler and I am not familiar with what is out there. The existing one is 37 years old.
Can somebody recommend a good middle of the road product to heat a 2000 sq foot house?
Also, where can I find what the prices are? Also, what is a reasonable cost for installation?
10-04-2007, 09:34 AM
Without knowing a lot more details, this is really tough. How many zones, hot water, steam, radiant flooring, radiators? Access to a flue, proximity to an outside wall? The ultimate BTU sizing (don't go by what's there, it may be way oversized) is also important. Many of the new ones are much more efficient, and existing flues may not work.
the most efficient are modulating, condensing boilers. The more efficient, the lower the energy costs, and the bigger the rebates or tax credits, so that should play into it as well.
How do you make your domestic hot water? Is it from an indirect, an in-tank demand system, or a separate WH tank?
Your question is sort of like walking into an industrial supply and saying you need a screw without identifying the size, material, length, or material.
All houses, even with the same size, are not created equal in their heating load, so where an 80Kbtu boiler might work in one, another might need 250Kbtu...a significant difference in costs.
For a reference point, I had a top-of-the-line condensing boiler and large indirect WH installed with three zones on an R&R, cost me $9400. I could have done it for much less, but the efficiency of this unit is pretty much at the state of the art, all SS (including the WH tank), and should last a very long time.
I had bids that ranged from $3500 for a simple R&R with an 80% efficient unit to ~ $10,000 for boiler R&R with an added indirect water heater from top of the line (factory training, years in service) folks.
You can find boiler pricing by googling around a bit. As for what's good, well that depends on what brands folks in your area are used to working with. A tech can troubleshoot and repair a piece of equipment a lot faster if they work on a particular brand/model a bunch.
There are some basic choices such as cast iron or stainless steel heat exchangers, length of warranty, and efficiency. Some folks say to avoid the aluminum heat exchangers but I'm not sure how good of advise that is since any material selected can give problems if it isn't designed, manufactured and installed correctly.
From the questions you're asking I'd suggest you talk to some heating contractors to start the process. They should do a heat load estimate based on your installed radiators. Ask them about boiler efficiency and perhaps price out a couple different boilers. You didn't mention fuel type and that will have a big impact on efficiency choices.
Along with the boiler, it may be a good time to replace zone valves and/or pumps just so you don't have problems at 3 am some cold winter morning.
If your water heater is getting on in years then going to an indirect may be a good option. The indirect tanks aren't cheap by any stretch of the imagination but they last forever and you may save a little on operating cost since the boiler may be a little (or a lot) more efficient than the old water heater. On the other hand the indirect may be difficult to justify from an economic point of view unless your current costs to heat water are pretty high. Also, with the indirect there are more points of failure that will leave you with no hot water until repair.
Getting started with the bidding process can be a bit of a challenge but in the end it's just a matter of getting on the phone and talking to people. The usual rules for dealing with contractors apply so look a training, experience, and licensing. When you've narrowed down the choices go ahead and take some time to check on vendor's background by verifying licensing and inspection results with the local authority (they're used to getting these types of questions). Checking with the BBB is hit or miss in my opinion but it can't hurt to call.
I'm sure other folks will have some good advise to add to this.