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Old 06-09-2009, 09:58 PM   #1
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


Hi everyone,

I wasn't sure what forum to post this under, so I decided to post it here...

I just moved into a house that was built in 1977. It's a split-level home that is heated with an oil furnace. The oil tank is located in the garage.

Both the furnace and the tank are original to the house, however the tank has the year 1970 written on it in black marker.

Tune-ups and verifications have been done yearly by the oil company, however when he came by today to update the billing information with my name, he informed me that the oil furnace had probably 3-5 years of life left to it, and the oil tank had maybe 1-3 years.

He started quoting me options such as:
- Replacing the oil furnace and oil tank with a new model
- Replacing the oil furnace with an electric furnace
- Installing a Bi-Energy unit (oil / electric)

What do you all suggest would be the best route? Cost-wise, the oil furnace and electric furnaces are very similarly priced (the electric being a few hundred $ more). The Bi-Energy unit is a little more expensive as well.

Upon looking at my oil tank tonight, I noticed a discoloration at the bottom of the tank, as you can see here:


I don't see any stains under the tank or in the general vicinity. There is a very light oil smell in the area, but seeing how this is my first house with oil heating, I don't know if this is normal or not... Judging from that picture, should I be worried and look into getting that tank replaced ASAP?

I also don't want to replace the tank if the general recommendation is to move away from oil and go for an electric furnace... What are the pros and cons of each?

Sorry for all the questions...

Thanks,

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Old 06-09-2009, 10:34 PM   #2
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


a tank at the age of yours should be replaced as soon as possable as the condensation , water acumalation has ate away at metal . the clean up of tank leakjustifies the job . i would suggest an new oil furnace as the best way too heat your home , most likely the most cost eff . the combination electric and oil gives you peace of mind in case of furnce failure in extrem cold

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Old 06-10-2009, 05:14 AM   #3
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


Get other quotes.
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Old 06-10-2009, 06:09 AM   #4
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


Quote:
Originally Posted by heat View Post
a tank at the age of yours should be replaced as soon as possable as the condensation , water acumalation has ate away at metal . the clean up of tank leakjustifies the job . i would suggest an new oil furnace as the best way too heat your home , most likely the most cost eff . the combination electric and oil gives you peace of mind in case of furnce failure in extrem cold
Are you basing your recommendation only on the age of the tank? Or the picture I attached? Or both?

Also, with the Bi-energy solution, the Electric solution would only work down to -12c, at which point the oil furnace would kick in.

Are you all saying that oil is cheaper than electricity in terms of heating?


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Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
Get other quotes.
oh I absolutely will...
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Old 06-10-2009, 06:15 AM   #5
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


A heat pump is usually more economical to operate then an oil furnace.
But, after the oudoor temp gets so cold. Thee isn't enough heat in the air, for it to maintain temp in the house anymore. So an aux/second heat source is required.
In this case, that heat source would be your oil furnace.
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Old 06-10-2009, 07:20 AM   #6
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


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Originally Posted by pure_energy1 View Post
Are you all saying that oil is cheaper than electricity in terms of heating?
Depends. Post your electric rates including taxes, and your current cost of oil/gallon, and I will repost with some operational cost comparisons. Also, what are your typical winter low temps, or what region are you in?

If you are interested in A/C I would consider a heat pump and oil furnace as backup. You will have a backup heat source and hedge against the two fuel costs.
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Old 06-10-2009, 07:27 AM   #7
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


We go thru just over 1 tank of oil a year, usually 1 1/4 tanks
This year was 10% colder then prior years, plus addition of a 250 sq ft sunroom - so we went thru 1.5 tanks of oil
New windows & insulation have helped
I also heat partially with wood
I picked up an oil tank that is 8 years old for free off craiglist
It will either replace the existing tank or be added as a 2nd tank

Our electric around here is over 16 cents per KWH after delivery charges. Its supposed to drop about 2 cents a KWH this month. Oil we filled up at under $2 a gallon, but you also need to figure in the yearly maintenance charge

We had a friend get a Heat pump & his electric went up a lot
He figured (too late) that he would have been better off without the heat pump
I'm not sure of the specifics of the exact system. Do these need to have yearly maintenance?

Last edited by Scuba_Dave; 06-10-2009 at 07:48 AM. Reason: sp
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Old 06-10-2009, 07:30 AM   #8
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


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Originally Posted by dac122 View Post
Depends. Post your electric rates including taxes, and your current cost of oil/gallon, and I will repost with some operational cost comparisons. Also, what are your typical winter low temps, or what region are you in?

If you are interested in A/C I would consider a heat pump and oil furnace as backup. You will have a backup heat source and hedge against the two fuel costs.
Hi dac122,

I'm located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Winter-time temperatures can reach as low as -30c in the colder months but average around -20 to -25 during the winter. Summer-time temps average around +25 and can reach as high as +32 in the warmer months.
My oil furnace is rated at 96,000 B.T.U. / H.R.

Hydro-Electric costs are as follows:
First 30 kWh per day are charged at 0.054 $
Remaining consumption is charged at 0.0733 $

Oil costs are currently .6290 $ per liter (about $2.38 per gallon).
I just signed a 20month maintenance contract for $149 which includes 2 "tune-ups", and a protection plan that covers many parts including the fan belt blower, blower, fan motor, fuel pump, burner transformer, relay and motor, fuel storage tank (maximum allowance of $100 installed cost) and several other parts...

These prices do not include any taxes.

I already have a Ruud AC mounted on the outside of the house which was installed approximately 2 years ago.

Thanks,

Last edited by pure_energy1; 06-10-2009 at 07:43 AM.
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Old 06-10-2009, 07:47 AM   #9
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


Is there any delivery/service charge on your electricity?
Our delivery charge is about 1/3 of our monthly bill
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Old 06-10-2009, 07:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
Is there any delivery/service charge on your electricity?
Our delivery charge is about 1/3 of our monthly bill
There is a fixed charge of $22.76 in addition to the consumption.

As an example, one of my bills at my previous condo looked like the following:

For the period of 2009-01-29 to 2009-03-25 (56 days)

$22.76 - Fixed Charge (delivery/service 56 days x 0.4064 $)
$90.72 - Consumption - First 30 kWh per day (1680 kWh x 0.054 $)
$70.37 - Remaining Consumption (960 kWh x 0.0733 $)

$183.85 - Subtotal
$9.19 - GST tax
$14.48 - PST tax

$207.52 - Grand total


Scuba_dave, I noticed your home improvement thread here... and saw your tank. Are you the same Scuba_dave that I've seen on ReefCentral? I used to have a 180gal saltwater tank. I went by the name tang_man_montreal at ReefCentral....

Last edited by pure_energy1; 06-10-2009 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 06-10-2009, 08:14 AM   #11
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


I am familiar with the area, not too far south of you and have a dual fuel setup. I figure your cost per KWH at 7.8 (= $207.52 / 2640 KWH)

To compare the cost of 1 million btu's of heat for an oil furnace compared to a heat pump:

Oil furnace with oil at $2.38 per gallon, 80% efficient furnace:
(1,000,000 / 138,500 btu per therm) x 2.38 / .80
= $21.48

16 SEER 3 Ton Goodman Heat pump with electricity at 7.8 per KWH, C.O.P. = 3.5 at 35F (1.6C):
(1,000,000 / 3413 btu per KHW) x 0.078 / 3.5
= $6.53

Electric resistive heat (always 100% efficiency) with electricity at 7.8 per KWH:
(1,000,000 / 3413 btu per KHW) x 0.078
= $22.85

Considering your electric rates, and my guess oil is only going higher, you should seriously consider a heat pump.

I would guess somewhere around 20F (-6.6C) your heat pump will not be able to keep up with dwelling heat loss and your furnace will begin to supplement.
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Old 06-10-2009, 08:50 AM   #12
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


dac122,

Thanks for running those numbers for me. They're quite interesting indeed!

A heat pump looks very interesting right now.

Taking into consideration that my oil furnace dates back to 1977, should I look into getting it replaced anytime soon, or keep it and keep my fingers crossed? I know that a new oil furnace would probably be much more efficient however.

That all being said, what approximate costs would I be looking at in the following scenarios?

- Adding a heat pump to the current oil furnace installation, as well as a new oil tank

- Replacing the old oil furnace for a new one, replacing oil tank, and adding heat pump

I'm trying to determine how soon I would see a ROI (return on investment) given the costs involved.

Thanks for all your help...

Last edited by pure_energy1; 06-10-2009 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 06-10-2009, 09:18 AM   #13
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


I would contact Quebec Hydro or whatever they call themselves. Manitoba Hydro has engineers on staff who will give free advice on the different heating systems and operating costs. You need to have good info for them ie: age/square footage/type and amount of insulation in walls and attic for them to help.

Good Luck eh.
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Old 06-10-2009, 09:40 AM   #14
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


Quote:
Originally Posted by pure_energy1 View Post
Taking into consideration that my oil furnace dates back to 1977, should I look into getting it replaced anytime soon, or keep it and keep my fingers crossed? I know that a new oil furnace would probably be much more efficient however.

That all being said, what approximate costs would I be looking at in the following scenarios?

- Adding a heat pump to the current oil furnace installation, as well as a new oil tank

- Replacing the old oil furnace for a new one, replacing oil tank, and adding heat pump

I'm trying to determine how soon I would see a ROI (return on investment) given the costs involved.
Installation cost are highly localized. Be sure you investigate all local incentives as well. I would start getting quotes that include all 3 scenarios.

If your tank is at risk of leaking and you think you'll have an oil furnace new or old it might be best to get a new tank swapped in regardless. That will buy you some time to decide.
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Old 06-10-2009, 09:45 AM   #15
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Oil furnace / tank questions...


I used to do oil and your tank is rotting away from the inside out and should be replaced SOON. There are rebates AND the federal gov't has that 15% home improvement grant until November I believe. It covers furnaces so I would jump on it. The new oil furnaces are a lot more efficient and you should have a heat load calculation done to get the correct size. 95% of the older units are oversized.

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