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Thread: To Fix it or Not to Fix it, that is the question...

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Send513's Avatar
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    Mar 2013
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    Default To Fix it or Not to Fix it, that is the question...

    Last night our boiler (oil with copper piped water radiators) decided it was time to spew water everywhere / PRV failed. We did get the water source off, but when the oil company says "we aren't really sure what is going on, or even how your system was working in the first place" I hear the bill climbing. So, we are trying to decide if it is even worth considering repairing it. (Now the guy says its done / needs to be replaced).

    1) We heat the house 100% with wood at this time
    2) The boiler was only used for hot water
    3) The boiler didn't really even do the job for hot water. We have to keep the boiler set at max temp to get a reasonable shower temperature.

    First floor bathroom - when you first turn on the hot water its scalding hot, but then rapidly turns down to a level where you have to keep adjusting the temp knob to 100% hot. After about 5 minutes, the boiler kicks in and you then have to keep adjusting the temp knob down / add cold back in. It works, and we can shower, but its a PAIN!!

    Second floor bathroom - again, scalding hot (although not quite as hot as the first floor) when you first turn on the hot water. It then goes luke warm (i.e. we don't even bother to try to shower there). After the boiler has kicked in, it does maintain some reasonable temp, kind of...

    We are thinking of the following.
    1) Not replacing the boiler at this time. Instead, installing a hybrid hot water heater (which the house is already set up for, but there is no tank).
    2) Leave the radiators drained for the foreseeable future
    3) Eventually installing mini-splits as backup heat and AC (which we DO not currently have)

    What are the risks to the existing radiators by draining the system and leaving it inactive at this time.

    We may eventually install a natural gas system, but that is no time soon!

    Thanks!!

  2. #2
    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    Sounds like you hot water source is a tankless coil. Think about an indirect water heater. It can be used with your current system and with a gas boiler if you decide to replace the existing one.

    John

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The make as you use it (tankless) WH can work well, but the older ones often don't especially if they've not received regular maintenance. Personally, I prefer a tank, and with a boiler, an indirect is usually quite efficient. Many older boilers do not like cold starts while the new ones generally work quite well. Having to keep the boiler hot 24/7/365 and then getting lousy results is perplexing, and I agree, I'd want to do something about it! If your system doesn't have a working tempering valve, it really needs one. A leaking relief valve is one of three things: leaking heat exchanger letting potable water enter the boiler; blown or saturated expansion tank; or, leaking or bad autofill valve. Well, it could also be a bad valve. All of those except the first are easy fixes. As we get more and more into greenhouse gasses, burning wood may end up being taxed as it produces lots more CO2 and pollutants than burning a fossil fuel in a modern burner.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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