Replace Water Heater & Boiler

schroadsAugust 5, 2009

Hello Everyone:

I have been reading this forum for the past 4 weeks. It has been wonderful to see other people experiencing the same worries (initial buyer's remorse) that I have been. I know it shall pass, but it can be discouraging. I have a couple of general questions about WH and boiler.

My wife and I closed on our old house (85 y.o., 2 1/2 story four square with prairie accents) in New Jersey about a month ago. We finally moved in after painting the interior and remodeling the bathroom. Now, we are onto the bigger issues. The hotwater heater (40 gallon) is at the end of its life (14 y.o.) and the oil boiler is also not in good shape (per home inspector). We could try to wait until the spring, but I would rather not have a surprise in Dec. or Jan.

I am in the midst of getting estimates to see how feasible (i.e., affordable) it will be to replace both. My general questions are:

1. Does anyone have experience with tankless WH (gas) working in older homes (i.e., 4 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, 2200 sq. feet)? Recommendations, Problems, Unforeseen Issues.

2. Would you recommend or discourage converting from oil boiler to gas boiler? The oil boiler is 30 years old with a new above ground oil tank. We could possibly repair the damages (i.e., corroded portions), but I like to start fresh if possible. we plan on being her for a very long time, so I'm thinking the boiler will need to be replaced at some point anyway.

Thanks for your responses in advance. I will be posting alot as I find more issues, including how to keep the 30 original wood windows (20/1, 16/1 and 12/1) somewhat energy efficient.

Thank again.

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I assume your heat is with radiators, either steam of hot water -- probably hot water, given the age of your house.

I think switching to gas would be a good move because it is cleaner and more energy efficient. Gas tankless heaters are supposed to be the most energy efficient systems on the market today.

I would also look into the tax credits that are available from the IRS if your water heater and heating plant meet certain specs in the tax code. That could save you lots of $$ for 2 reasons: the tax credit; and, lower energy costs.

And I agree you should do it now. You do not want to risk a big problem in the dead of winter.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 12:16AM
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I am going to add wood storm windows to our house (see "Our 1910 Colonial Revival Restored") The original windows are just too wonderful to replace but they are a bit drafty. After much research the wood storms (not aluminum!) is what we have decided on. We, too are going to change our oil fired furnace to Natural Gas. Ours is a steam one Pipe system. :-( Hot water is MUCH more affordable! Looking at the tankless HW too. Good luck with your renovation!!! It will be worth it!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 11:15PM
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Most of my response will be purely opinion :)

Water heater. We moved in last Labor day with an approx 20 year old WH! Didn't replace it right away, and ended up HAVING to the week before Thanksgiving. Because of the timing we were right in a short period of no energy refunds! Sigh. We went with an efficient tank. We have 1 full bath downstairs and the bath upstairs is technically a full bath but only the toilet/sink are used. And no hot water is run up there currently. Eventually I would LOVE to get a tankless for the upstairs shower/sink and leave the tank for downstairs as well as filling what will hopefully be a large bathtub upstairs. With a tankless the closer the fixture is to it the better. Bottom line? Sooner rather then later.

Boiler. Oh how I envy you! We've actually asked ourselves (knowing the answer was no) could it even begin to make sense to convert BACK from the forced air to the boiler? My gut says gas, but I have no data to back that up.

And good luck with those windows! TOTALLY possible to make them worth keeping. Air infiltration is one of the biggest causes of heat loss, not single vs double pane. There are tons of posts here that will point you to good resources.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 12:06PM
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If you have hot water heat, and are getting a new boiler system, why not just have the tank add-on? During heating season, your boiler is running anyway and your hot water is essentially a freebie. If you have access to gas, it's the cheapest way to heat a home in almost every area.

We may retrofit that into our newer boiler. When we went to gas-fired hot water heat, our water heater was not considered, because we have one of those huge ceramic clad ones. Terribly energy efficient and it powers up once a day in off peak hours. It's still cranking. But, if and when it does go, I think we'll get the hot water tank to power off our boiler. Perhaps with a two small tankless units for summer use.

Definately look for energy credits on this.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 4:58PM
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We did the corversion from OIL to GAS last winter. We have hydro-air with a oo-demand heat and hot water system by BAXI. It is as big as a carry-on luggage and as efficient as it could be. Love it, love it, love it! It is my husband's new baby!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 12:55AM
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Thank for all your comments. We have some estimates and are converting to natural gas boiler. I am still debating whether to go with tankless WH or a tank add-on to the boiler. I will let you know.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 11:50AM
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