Need help to evaluate offers to replace a boiler
I am told I must replace within a couple of months the boiler in my 2,400 square feet 34 year old house, with 2.5 bathrooms, replaced windows, good insulation, etc. I have 4 bedrooms and we are 2 people still living here. Most likely we will have to sell within 3-5 years and move into something smaller. Apparently the steel boiler has developed some cracks; I did not see them, but the heating company man showed them to my wife.
The unit to be replaced is a 10 years old New Yorker AP-790 with a heating capacity of 149 MBH. It has been satisfactory: excellent on heating (2 zones) but could use a bit more hot water as I like to soak in the tub... but not vital.... Never had any major problems with two showers going at the same time even with two kids in the house and frequently a house-full of guests.
Got three offers:
1. A Burnham V84 at 159 MBH for $5,500 installed. A new expansion tank is included (capacity not mentioned) but I am not sure if this is the same as an indirect water heater. Lots of sundries included as well which I assume should be standard for any installation.
2. A Weil-McLain WTGO-4 at 145 MBH for $5,200 installed, Extrol tank (whatever that is - probably similar to the expansion tank) and again a slew of sundries.
3. A Buderus GB125 BE/30 at 102 MBH (only 100 MBH in catalog for 178/140 degrees Fahrenheit) for approx $ 11,400 plus two programmable thermostats Honeywell FocusPro 5000 at $350 each. Offer not finalized and an alternative for a GB 125 BE/22 at 75 MBH for approx. $9,600 is also under consideration. Wonder if I will ever amortize the price difference by higher efficiency and lower size on the Buderus... but that's for me to decide. This contractor came with a heat loss calculation showing 43,083 BTU. He used the data available publicly on my house. Even had a picture of the house (!!??).
My question: I understand that at an average rule of thumb a 20-30 BTU/H/sqft loss is reasonable, so all I would need is a 72 MBH unit... or less... as a minimum. Have I been running too big a unit for all these 27 years I spent in this house, throwing money down the drain for too much oil? Or is the Buderus guy trying to sell me be a bill of goods?
Someone recommended looking into a Burnham MPO-IQ84 or IQ115 (could not find on the Internet any pricing info compared to the Burnham V84). It sports an 87% efficiency vs. Buderus's 91-93%. Someone else suggested using an indirect water heater and yet someone else believes that the steel tank is a lot better than a cast iron one and that the cracks that the service man showed to my wife were in the “refractory” rather than the steel… implying an ethical problem with the service man? This latter point tempts me to approach the BBB… but would hate to do so on a simple hunch.
I am a former mechanical engineer (not in HVAC) so I am capable to understand the concepts but since I have been doing something else for the last 25 years, the terminology is somewhat foreign to me. A word from anyone who knows (a lot) better than I do what this is all about, and a suggestion as to how I could get an HONEST opinion, would be very much appreciated.
Ned help to decide which replacement boiler I should buy with which contractor.
Dana: All I can say to your detailed response is WOW!! THANKS.
I made some progress:
Today I had an offer @ $7,576 by the Sears people for a Dunkirk 105 MBH boiler (believe it is model Kenmore KWX) with 7 years service and guarantee for parts and labor, annual inspection and 24/7 coverage transferable to the next owner. They sized the Dunkirk unit by measuring 120 ft of baseboards in the house.
I narrowed down my choice to the Dunkirk and the $5,500 Burnham V84 at 159 MBH by a local contractor who was very prompt in the past responding to small repairs we needed done. Should I attempt to get from him a quote for the next smaler size Burnham V83 at 123 MBH?
The heat loss calculation done by the Buderus rep. at 43,100 BTU heat loss seems to be born out by your comments, as well as by a rather rough calculation I made using the Excel spreadsheet offered at
but without entering all data required for each window, door, etc.
Looking for comparisons, I found a website
where an equal proportion of overwhelmingly bad comments are "gracing" both brands.
Can someone help me advance with my decision?
Just for the record: the house is a 2,400 sqft, 34 years old colonial with unheated basement, located in Southern Connecticut. We lived here for 27 years and since it is now an empty nest we will likely have to sell within 3-5 years.
In an effort to make their offer more competitive, the Sears people estimated that the boiler they proposed would reduce my current 850-900 gal/year average oil consumption by about 100-125 gal/year. They further suggested that, should I add about 10" of fiberglass to the 4" covering now my attic floor (about 1,200 sqft) for an R30 vs current R11 estimated at a cost of $1,900, I may cut our oil consumption by 20%. Do these two oil usage reduction estimates make any sense? As you say, at $3.77 for my latest fill-up, this does matter.
I see the advantages of an indirect waater heater but there is no room for such a thing where the boiler is located and I am told by the Sears guys that that may cost me another $3,000 or so: hard to justify economically, especially with a 3-5 year time horizon, as it is highly unlikely that I could recoup this expense when selling the house.
Although I am an "engineering type" as you say, I am deffinitely not a "do-it-yourself type", particularly when it comes to a big job like this. So increasing the number of heating zones is out as well.