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Old 09-16-2011, 07:58 AM   #1
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Location: North Shore MA
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chimney liner, excuse for propane furnace upgrade?


So I had a chimney guy in to sweep the flue for my oil fired boiler. He brought out several handfuls of material and told me that my clay liner has failed and I need a stainless liner asap (and a rain cap). Their quote for the two is about $2100 which I think is probably reasonable around here, but I'm still getting a second opinion next week.

My boiler is a Burnham V7 that has a sticker listing March 2004 as the manufacture date, I have two heating zones--2nd floor is hot water baseboard and the 1st floor are 1950's convector/radiator type things (like a narrow but tall version of a baseboard). There is also a coil in the boiler that provides domestic hot water, so the boiler is kept ~190* 24/7, it fires at least a couple of times per hour all year long. We haven't been in the house long enough to tell, but we used ~800G last heating season with a vacant house and heat set low and over this spring/summer we've about 20-30G/mo or so for our hot water, but it's hard to tell exactly.

I believe this boiler is rated in the low-mid 80s for efficiency. I've also read some bad things about some Burnham boilers, specifically that the V7 was not a well liked model and failures/leaks typically begin occurring around 5-10 years, tho like all bad reviews I take it with a grain of salt.

I guess my question is--faced with a 7 year old oil fired boiler and the in-tank domestic hot water coil (least efficient way to go in the summer I think?), and now a $2000 bill to line the chimney, would it be worth it to consider converting to direct vent propane? Given less BTU's per gallon of propane, I think propane would need to be about 10-15% cheaper per gallon to break even given ~95% propane efficient and my current ~83% oil setup, tho w/ propane I have the other benefit of being able to get a tank water heater which would cut down on costs in the non-heating months. I also think my current boiler temp of 190* seem high and that it's really that high for the domestic HW production?

My other thought is that converting to natural gas in the future would be more straight forward, my street has it but it's 400' away from my house which would be $20K. There is some chance that when the street is repaved in the next 5-10 years that they will extend the gas lines.

How do propane and heating oil prices compare? I know I paid $3.20/G last year for oil w/ a service contract built into that price. This year I expect it to be at least 80c/G higher based on higher gasoline and diesel prices. I think if I have 83% oil

What would a ballpark figure be to replace my boiler w/ a propane version and add a tank water heater? Overall, is this worth considering, or should I just re-line the chimney now and worry about converting if the boiler needs replacement? (It's my understanding that once the liner is used for oil, it cannot be used for natural gas or propane)


Last edited by bubbler; 09-16-2011 at 08:15 AM.
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