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Old 11-22-2008, 02:49 PM   #1
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Using boilers in tandem...


So my wife and I recently bought a 1908 Victorian.... yea! It has a 20-year-old oil burner that is expected, if all goes well, to last another 5 years, and the previous owners pulled the underground oil tank out and so we have a brand new oil tank in the basement. So for the time being, I'd rather not just junk the ability to burn oil; it is already there.

The previous owners were also fireplace junkies and have three natural gas fireplaces. Consequently, we've already got the gas line running to the house and it occurred to me that it would be rather simply to add a gas boiler--we've got steam radiant heat--to this system in case we ever run out of oil or to run whichever boiler is less expensive at the given moment (what with all the swings in energy prices). I've even been told that PSE&G might give us a gas boiler.

Still, all this leaves me ignorant to one key question: do we have to choose? Or can we run these systems sort of 'in tandem,' by which I mean having both hooked up and ready to go and use one or the other to heat our home? It sounds so simple in theory, just flip a few switches or something and shut off one boiler, activate another, and away we go, but I have zero knowledge here....

Room in the basement isn't an issue, we have a large house with a large basement (probably 5,000+ sq. feet not incl. basement for just two people plus a four car garage) so I really don't mind the space.... Let me know if I need to supply more information.

All the best and thanks,
Aaron

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Old 11-22-2008, 06:43 PM   #2
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Using boilers in tandem...


Sure you can. People have done it many times. Install a new gas boiler properly piped and a set of switches and valves and you are set to go. I would use a two position/off switch so both cannot run at the same time. You will need to make piping changes to the existing boiler piping. Did you say steam system or steam system with some radiant floor heat.

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Old 11-23-2008, 02:20 AM   #3
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It is an all steam system, no floor heat. This is a very old system and right my wife and I are worried about running up some serious heating bills, so we're looking for any advantage we can eek out. Also, even though oil is coming down now, I doubt it will last....

Thanks for the info. I think we're going to go this route.

Aaron
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Old 11-23-2008, 05:51 AM   #4
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Using boilers in tandem...


I doubt they'll "give" you a boiler.
Exspecially since you won't be using gas all the time. That would be a money losing propostion for them.

The set up your asking about though is easy to do.
If, the right person does it. If not, you will have more heating problems then you can imagine, including noise isues.
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Old 11-23-2008, 10:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
I doubt they'll "give" you a boiler.
Exspecially since you won't be using gas all the time. That would be a money losing propostion for them.

The set up your asking about though is easy to do.
If, the right person does it. If not, you will have more heating problems then you can imagine, including noise isues.
Well, I won't be doing it, that's for sure... that would be one long, Homer Simpsonesque 'doh' moment... No, I have no problem finding a good, qualified contractor to do this type of work....

The gent who said that PSE&G would give us a gas boiler wasn't sure about it either, and to be honest, I'd doubt it myself, but I could see that they'd make money on it. After all, I'm using all of about $5 worth of gas right now with the fireplaces, as opposed to, say, $100 to $300 a month if I used a gas boiler. So I could see an incentive program being available.... but free always sounds too good to be true to me....

-Aaron
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Old 11-23-2008, 11:00 PM   #6
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Using boilers in tandem...


They will charge you the same as they would someone they are just doing a boiler change out for, that already uses gas for heat.

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