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Old 01-27-2009, 02:17 AM   #16
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


Time to step in here... First, I really appreciate the experience you're sharing on this question. I feel a bit paranoid because I know nothing about what to expect in this type of work, and having been an auto mechanic, I know there are cases where the service provider isn't ethical, while in other cases, they are, independently of the price they charge. What is clear from this thread is that I need to get a break-down of what services are going to be provided for the quotes given.

For example, I doubt the contractor would remove a buried oil tank as part of the quote (I'm guessing that would be more in the $5,000 to $8,000 range, alone), and I know that the gas line and service meter will be installed for free by the gas company (I told this to the contractor), but that would only go to the exterior wall of the house, adjacent to the boiler location (inside the house).

I assumed the job would require him to disconnect the existing water lines, oil feed, and electricity from the old boiler, unbolt it and take it away. Then place the new boiler, connect the water lines and electrical lines, and route the gas line from the meter, through the wall, and up to the boiler. Lastly, I'm fairly sure it would require a modification to the chimney. Perhaps there's more to it... but without a breakdown, it's all speculation. I'll get a breakdown of the tasks involved, and find out how much he's charging just for the boiler itself. He's not an independent, but rather, works for a local heating oil company, and there could be some additional overhead because of that.

The main thing is, you've all given me a lot to think about, and some important guidelines for how to proceed with the estimation process. If his cost for the boiler is in the $2500 range that I think is reasonable (for the 90+ AFUE), it'll be interesting to know how the other $9,000 will be spent. It's also peculiar that there's a $4,300 difference in price between a 90+ and an 80+ boiler installation. The labor for each install should be pretty much the same (I think), and if so, it means he's charging $4,300 more for the 90+ than the 80+... which doesn't sound right.

I'll post my findings here. Thanks again, guys. I'm learning a lot. :-)

Mike (mahatmakain)

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Last edited by mahatmakain; 01-27-2009 at 02:21 AM. Reason: to improve readability
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Old 01-27-2009, 07:02 AM   #17
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


Labor time to install a 90% can be much more then for the 80%.
90%ers can't be vented in your chimney.
So he has to run a new vent system.

Just some material he may use for your installation.
1 ¼” copper pipe
1” copper pipe
¾” copper pipe
½” copper pipe
5 balls valves (hydronic side)
Flow check valve/valves
Back flow preventer
Auto water feed
Low Water Cut Off
Second circulator
Y Strainer
Numerous copper fittings
(ells, tee’s, coupling, reducing couplings, adapters (sweat to IP)
Condensate pump
Associated condensate drain line
Hangers
Thermostat wire
PVC/Stainless Steel vent pipe
Fasteners (for gas line, water pipes, and vent system)
Solder, Flux, Torch gas, sand paper/emery cloth
Pipe dope
MC for electric
Emergency off switch
Service disconnect switch
1 ball valve/gas stop
Drip tee set up fittings
Gas line from meter to boiler

Just a very quick short list of some material that gets used on boiler change outs.

Many contractors, don't break out individual items, or small items.
They include them as a percentage of the boiler cost. So you end up with a contractor that seems to charge a lot for the boiler. When in fact, he is including materials in that price.

Be leary of the guy that says X amount is too much for what ever boiler. He doesn't know how the contractor is covering the cost of the material to install the boiler.

Next. Some contractors include warranty (labor) cost in the equipment and material charge, while others include it in the labor charge.
Still others include it as a misc fee.

After all, you don't want to pay labor if it fails in 6 months, for him to repair it, do you?

The manufacturer doesn't pay us to fix their equipment. And some times, charges us a delivery/shipping fee for those parts, that you won't pay us for.

There is a lot more to figuring out how much to charge for equipment and installation, then just what those items cost wholesale.

If we didnt have to provide labor warranty. We wouldn't need to charge as much.

But then, we'd be accused of installing things so they break, so we can charge money to fix it.
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:37 AM   #18
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


The price is only secondary at this point. You are just talking about the replacement. Did he do a heat loss? Did he measure the home, windows, doors, and gather insulation values? If not there is no way he can give you a price. He may have quoted an estimate which may have been high to cover larger boiler than required. DO NOT EVER HAVE A HEATING APPLIANCE INSTALLED WITHOUT A HEAT LOSS OR AN AIR CONDITIONING UNIT WITHOUT A HEAT GAIN.......EVER!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 01-27-2009, 03:13 PM   #19
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


No heat calculations were done as part of this estimate - he's just doing a straight conversion at the same capacity as the old boiler, but with gas instead of oil. The price he's charging for the boiler itself (Weil McLain UG-80) is $5344, and he'll only install it if he buys it, at that price. I've found the same boiler at PexSupply.com for $3160 ( http://www.pexsupply.com/product_dtl...%20Mclain&cID= ), so there seems to be a hefty mark up there. As suggested by someone earlier, it could be that he's folding his warranty cost into the purchase price, but then again, he's also charging around $6,000 for labor and the various parts (which he said would cost around $65). Even if it's a three-day job, that's nearly $2,000/day for labor ($250/hr). So, maybe he would have an assistant working with him, but even so, that would be a lot of money.

I'm not against paying more for high quality, and I have no reason to doubt this guy's skill or craftsmanship, but there's also a reasonable limit to how much a job should cost, even at a high level of quality. I'll ask around for estimates from other businesses and get a feel for the range... maybe he's right where he should be.

Thanks again, guys.
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Old 01-27-2009, 03:26 PM   #20
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


My current furnace is almost double what I need based on a heat loss calc that was done - 1640 sq ft. Increasing the house to almost 3,000 sq ft the same furnace will heat the added space
But since its old it will be replaced when the addition is completed
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Old 01-27-2009, 04:17 PM   #21
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


Also check with you local gas company, there may be an oil to gas conversion incentive that would drive down the price. Is your plumber including any outdoor reset controls or anything that the mod/con boiler can utilize to get the full efficiency out of it?
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:01 PM   #22
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


I'll check to see if any outdoor reset controls are going to be included (though I don't know what those are). I got an explanation of the high cost ($5344) of the boiler - he said he buys the boiler and all needed additional parts as a package (Low water cut off, back flow preventer, spring check, expansion tank, Spiro vent, Hartford loop pump, and y strainer with plug). So that's looking better.

The Spokane gas company offers only a $400 incentive for using a 90+ AFUE gas boiler, though the cost differential, including installation, is over $4,000. Not terribly tempting for me as the owner of a rental property.

Today I learned that the tank in the boiler cracked when the pipes froze, so the boiler has to be replaced right away (I'd originally hoped to do it during the summer). I'm not prepared to pay out this kind of money at the moment, but if I'm lucky, the insurance company will cover the cost. The only question is whether they'll accept that the tank cracked due to freezing water, or simply because it's old (over 20 years). If they'll cover the cost of buying and installing a new oil fired unit, I could comfortably cover the differential for a gas-fired unit instead. Things do have a way of getting interesting...
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Old 01-27-2009, 07:24 PM   #23
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


Quote:
Originally Posted by tk03 View Post
The price is only secondary at this point. You are just talking about the replacement. Did he do a heat loss? Did he measure the home, windows, doors, and gather insulation values? If not there is no way he can give you a price. He may have quoted an estimate which may have been high to cover larger boiler than required. DO NOT EVER HAVE A HEATING APPLIANCE INSTALLED WITHOUT A HEAT LOSS OR AN AIR CONDITIONING UNIT WITHOUT A HEAT GAIN.......EVER!!!!!!!!!!
There's exceptions.


Just ask if you your curious
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:24 PM   #24
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


to install a new boiler (lochinvar solution copper fin 130,000 btu) along with an extra pump, and a new expansion tank, i was quoted $5,950. which, for me, exceeds my budget. i am looking into installing a furnace to heat the first floor with supplimental electric baseboard heat on the second.
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Old 02-11-2009, 09:44 PM   #25
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


ask the contractor if change out includes new, pumps and controls..dont use zone valves,and in no way is a high eff gas boiler 4000.00 more than a standard 80-85%eff one...instalation is basically the same other than direct venting the high eff unit..if you decide to go with lower eff boiler and use the old chimney,make sure instalation includes a chimney liner....p.s..go with a buderus boiler-you wont regret it...our company has installed over 150 units this past year...and as a service company as well..we rarely go back on a buderus....hope this helps
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Old 02-11-2009, 10:28 PM   #26
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


Mahatma,
I would definitely pass on this guy, man.
Your own reticence should be the major indicator here.

Get some other quotes.

By the way - who is he? Just some plumbing/heating guy, or is he an exclusive heating technician?

I had been hiring this local "plumbing and heating" company to service my boiler, and it kept fouling up. Finally I called an exclusive oil burner technician. It turned out that no one had ever bothered to adjust the air intake into the burner! It had been that way for years with the previous owner when the oil company had been servicing it ("all the time," as my neighbor tells me).

The point is, get someone who only does this kind of work.

The same tech who has fixed my boiler (and my dad's) quoted me on switching to a new natural gas unit, as follows:

$1K for the Buderus wall mounted, direct-vented
$4-$5K for the installation.

He was actually encouraging me to get the boiler myself for as cheap as I could. Now there is someone I'd want to do business with! This guy is guaranteed the job if I ever get enough money to proceed with it.

Also, I would never ever do business with anyone who refuses to let me source my own product. Why in hell pay this guy a $2,000 markup for hte boiler? There is simply no valid reason for it, other than for him to pocket the money.

When I had my electrical service upgraded the electrician let me at least buy my own panel and breakers. Sure I saved at least a few bucks there...
I hired this guy because he was flexible in that regard, while the other quote was not.

Shop it around. Call the gas company and find out exactly what they can do for you. They can probably even sell you the boiler directly through incentives at a much lower cost.

Last edited by wombosi; 02-11-2009 at 10:34 PM.
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:46 AM   #27
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


It's all a more difficult because I live over a thousand miles away from the rental property and I can only get up there once in a while. To some extent, I have to trust the contractors I'm hiring to do this work, otherwise I would probably be more aggressive about getting lower price quotes. In answer to the question from Schmolze, "By the way - who is he? Just some plumbing/heating guy, or is he an exclusive heating technician?", he's a boiler mechanic who currently works for the furnace and heating fuel company in Spokane, but he's been doing boilers for 28 years. I talked to the guy at the gas/utility in Spokane, and he knows of this boiler mechanic from the years he's been working for the utility... I guess he's been in the area doing this kind of work for a long time. It's still a pretty steep price to pay, but I'm hoping I'll get quality in proportion to the cost. I sent an email to another boiler service company in the city and asked if they would like to give a quote for such an installation, but they never responded. I could try contacting several, but I really have no way of judging the competence or honesty of different providers since I can't be there to meet them in-person. It's definitely a less-than-ideal situation.

I will schedule a flight up there in the next two weeks, which should put me on the scene while the boiler installation is in progress (we're working with the insurance company now to make sure they'll cover the cost of an in-kind replacement... the money for that would be applied to the cost of a conversion to NG. Should be quite interesting. I have a civil engineering degree and I was a car mechanic before that, so maybe, between those two, I'll be able to tell if this guy's BSing me or just charging a premium for real expertise. I'll update as the situation develops.

Thanks again, folks.
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Old 02-12-2009, 05:10 AM   #28
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


Quote:
Originally Posted by schmolze View Post
Mahatma,


The point is, get someone who only does this kind of work.

The same tech who has fixed my boiler (and my dad's) quoted me on switching to a new natural gas unit, as follows:

$1K for the Buderus wall mounted, direct-vented
$4-$5K for the installation.

He was actually encouraging me to get the boiler myself for as cheap as I could. Now there is someone I'd want to do business with! This guy is guaranteed the job if I ever get enough money to proceed with it.
By having you provide the boiler.
He doesn't have to give you a warranty on it.
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:41 AM   #29
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


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Originally Posted by mahatmakain View Post
It's all a more difficult because I live over a thousand miles away from the rental property and I can only get up there once in a while. To some extent, I have to trust the contractors I'm hiring to do this work, otherwise I would probably be more aggressive about getting lower price quotes. In answer to the question from Schmolze, "By the way - who is he? Just some plumbing/heating guy, or is he an exclusive heating technician?", he's a boiler mechanic who currently works for the furnace and heating fuel company in Spokane, but he's been doing boilers for 28 years. I talked to the guy at the gas/utility in Spokane, and he knows of this boiler mechanic from the years he's been working for the utility... I guess he's been in the area doing this kind of work for a long time. It's still a pretty steep price to pay, but I'm hoping I'll get quality in proportion to the cost. I sent an email to another boiler service company in the city and asked if they would like to give a quote for such an installation, but they never responded. I could try contacting several, but I really have no way of judging the competence or honesty of different providers since I can't be there to meet them in-person. It's definitely a less-than-ideal situation.

I will schedule a flight up there in the next two weeks, which should put me on the scene while the boiler installation is in progress (we're working with the insurance company now to make sure they'll cover the cost of an in-kind replacement... the money for that would be applied to the cost of a conversion to NG. Should be quite interesting. I have a civil engineering degree and I was a car mechanic before that, so maybe, between those two, I'll be able to tell if this guy's BSing me or just charging a premium for real expertise. I'll update as the situation develops.

Thanks again, folks.

The fact this guy works for the fuel company is a huge no-no.
It would be worth your time to fly out there, spend a week lining up an independent boiler technician, and oversee the installation, if possible.
Otherwise, you will be well taken advantage.

By the way, your 20+ year old boiler isn't at all that old. Mine is close to 50, and working perfectly now that the air intake has been fixed. The fact it's a bit "dodgy" is probably because the oil company has been servicing it all this time.
I would get an exclusive oil burner technician to take a look at your existing system. Might be something simply fixed, or, the same guy can quote you on the new system.


Good luck, man.
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:27 AM   #30
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Boiler Installation - Am I being gouged?


Quote:
Originally Posted by schmolze View Post
The fact this guy works for the fuel company is a huge no-no.
It would be worth your time to fly out there, spend a week lining up an independent boiler technician, and oversee the installation, if possible.
Otherwise, you will be well taken advantage.

By the way, your 20+ year old boiler isn't at all that old. Mine is close to 50, and working perfectly now that the air intake has been fixed. The fact it's a bit "dodgy" is probably because the oil company has been servicing it all this time.
I would get an exclusive oil burner technician to take a look at your existing system. Might be something simply fixed, or, the same guy can quote you on the new system.


Good luck, man.

Yeah man, you are so right about the old stuff being so much butter!


I have a 1970 Plymouth with a 440 cu in engine with a quad carb. I just keep throwing parts at it and a little body work here and there. Who cares if I get six miles per gallon. Think of the money I am saving not buying a new car!

Sir, you are either the biggest penny pincher I have ever seen or you just like higher fuel bills.

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