Looking to Replace My Oil Boiler and Any Other Advise

For topics about heating with other types of fuel such as wood burners, gas furnaces, oil burners and geothermal heat pumps.
Zinj
Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue. Mar. 05, 2013 7:53 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: KA-6
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark III
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman MKIII, Keystoker KA-6
Location: West Hanover, PA

Post Wed. Mar. 06, 2013 9:02 pm

Hello all. I am new to NEPA and full time solid fuel burning this year. My wife and I just bought this house in November and were 20 mins outside Harrisburg, PA. My primary heat is oil fire boiler (old as dirt, no name plate, size of a volkswagon) with forced water baseboards. We also have an MKIII that a warped grate (burnt mostly wood this year) and some bad vent piping...The longer I'm here the more I realize the previous owner wasn't really good with proper maintenance. Anyway if I am looking into spending money on repairs or potential replacements why don't I replace the boiler with a multi fuel unit. Some of my many questions are what are good brands and why? IE customer service, low maintenance costs, etc. What are some companies that are good with these types of heating systems? Any other advise, recommended coal yards, are multi fuel boilers efficient or even worth it? Sorry to ask so much but I have a lot to learn and greatly appreciate any help. Thanks all.


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SMITTY
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Posts: 11915
Joined: Sun. Dec. 11, 2005 12:43 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - (custom built by Jim Dorsey, Taunton MA - RIP 4/18/13)
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (SOLD!)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler
Location: West-Central Mass

Post Wed. Mar. 06, 2013 9:11 pm

My advice would be to keep the Mark III for emergencies, and get yourself a stoker boiler for the house. You may have to keep the VW sized boiler in order to keep the insurance company happy, but that doesn't mean your required to use it. Just it's presence is enough.
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dcrane
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Posts: 3115
Joined: Sun. Apr. 22, 2012 9:28 am
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404
Location: Duxbury, MA./Hanson MA./Brockton, MA

Post Wed. Mar. 06, 2013 9:14 pm

Welcome to the forum, always great to hear from new folks.

a lot of people are going to lead you here http://efmheating.com/efm-coal-stoker-boiler-df250 with good reason (I will let the owners of these units speak about their performance). I have not seen many whole house boilers or add-on's but I have seen a couple of these functioning in homes and I was impressed both times :dancing:

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Berlin
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Posts: 1847
Joined: Thu. Feb. 09, 2006 1:25 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal
Location: Buffalo/Adirondacks, NY

Post Thu. Mar. 07, 2013 12:57 am

I would keep the "old as dirt" oil boiler and install a coal boiler next to it. There is a LOT you can do to make those old oil boilers just about as efficient as a brand new one for pennies compared to a new boiler installation. A retention head oil burner set to fire at the lowest possible GPH, a ceramic fiber combustion chamber, a thorough cleaning and wire brushing of the boiler interior, and draft set as low as possible 0 to -.01 @ breach -.02 @ baro (and a good, new, baro) will make your boiler vastly more efficient.
Burning western Pennsylvania Bituminous in WNY using model 77 stoker furnace. BITUMINOUS equiptment: 2 hand fired stoves of my own design, Many Combustioneer Model 77 stokers, stokermatic furnace, Many Will-Burt stokers, & and Two Iron firemen.

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blrman07
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Posts: 2379
Joined: Mon. Sep. 27, 2010 3:39 pm
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Bucket a Day
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vigilant Casting 2310
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Wood in the VC and anything that will fit in the Bucket a Day. It's not fussy.
Location: Girardville Pa.

Post Thu. Mar. 07, 2013 6:22 am

SMITTY wrote:My advice would be to keep the Mark III for emergencies, and get yourself a stoker boiler for the house. You may have to keep the VW sized boiler in order to keep the insurance company happy, but that doesn't mean your required to use it. Just it's presence is enough.
Ditto with Smitty. I would recommend replacing the warped grates in the MarkIII and start using that to heat the house. Then install a coal fired stoker boiler next to the oil guzzler. Keep the OG (oil guzzler) as a backup and plumb in the coal stoker boiler as the primary. You will without a doubt cut your heating bill by more than 1/2 the first year. You will cut a chunk just by replacing the warped grates and burning coal in the Mark III.

You will have some up front costs but in the long run you will save a ton of money. :)
Rev. Larry
Ashland Pa.

1 John 1:9... If we sin and we confess that sin He is faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

waldo lemieux
Member
Posts: 2261
Joined: Sun. Sep. 30, 2012 8:20 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: efm
Stove/Furnace Model: s-20
Location: Ithaca,NY

Post Thu. Mar. 07, 2013 7:53 am

Greetings from tiny town.... Last fall I installed a refurbished efm 520 , based on some research and the reports I found here. These machines are the bomb, so simple its easy to understand how they work." Keep it simple stupid" is how this thing is designed. If something does go wrong its easy to spot ,parts are available....
Dont be afraid of buying a refurb as most all moving parts will be new. Im sure that there are other good units out there and pretty much anything you buy the collective mind on this site will keep you out of the ditch. As far as the combination unit don't bother. you cant build a heat exchanger to be efficient with two different fuel sources. I prefer to hook the boilers in parallel and use one switch(dpdt) and two valves to switch from one to the other . No matter the unit you choose youll never look back, coal is awsome.

Best, Waldo
When faced with a seemingly impossible task, my grandfather always said "can't never can, untill try comes along"

Pacowy
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Posts: 2731
Joined: Tue. Sep. 04, 2007 10:14 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: H.B. Smith 350 Mills boiler/EFM 85R stoker
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/anthracite
Location: Dalton, MA

Post Thu. Mar. 07, 2013 8:03 am

Zinj -

Please check your private messages (envelope icon at top of page).

Thanks.

Mike

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Dennis
Member
Posts: 1066
Joined: Sun. Oct. 30, 2011 5:44 pm
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: AHS/WOC55-multi-fuel/wood,oil,coal
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/stove size
Location: Pottstown,Pa

Post Thu. Mar. 07, 2013 9:29 am

Welcome.First before anything,what size house,original boiler size,insulation,how drafty,and possible heat loss calculations.You need to know what size boiler is needed first.I'd go with a stoker boiler and keep the Harman for electric outages.
I'd tear out the old boiler and replace it with a multi fuel stoker boiler(coal with oil back up)
Most likely you old boiler has ASBESTOS wraped around it, if it's the size of a VW.Big money for asbostos removal,but you can remove it yourself.Just water the boiler down with water so no absotos is disturbed and flying around,then put in trash bags and toss in regular garbage(do you really thing the pros dispose the "toxic waste" in a special place,it go's to the same landfill as your trash) and save $5000.00 and buy your coal boiler with the savings. :shh: :stfu: :shh:
Depending on boiler size needed:
EFM 520 with oil back up
LL 110 with oil back up
The oil back up is not as effecient,but it's a back up and not going to be used except for when you go on vacation or unexpected long term trips.


Zinj
Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue. Mar. 05, 2013 7:53 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: KA-6
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark III
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman MKIII, Keystoker KA-6
Location: West Hanover, PA

Post Thu. Mar. 07, 2013 9:05 pm

Thanks for the advise and the warm welcomes. And to answer your questions Dennis, our house is a little under 2800 sq ft, the existing boiler is rated at 198 MBH and 2 GPH (rest of the boiler plate is tough to read), insulation is better then the usual especially from 1945, the are 2 single pane windows on the first floor that need replaced and 4 in the basement, also 2 wood doors which I plan on replacing as well, everything else is double pane, 2nd floor and attic (same level) have 4" foil faced fiber glass batts for insulation which I plan on upgrading and some access panels which I plan on sealing. I found an online calc that estimated my heat loss at 43000 BTU/HR. Also I don't fear asbestos after 14 years of construction and maintenance. Double bagged and duct taped and out with the weekly trash. And if you can't pulverize it by hand, it's not friable. As for plumbing a separate boiler in parallel with the oil can they use the same flue?

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Rob R.
Site Moderator
Posts: 11340
Joined: Fri. Dec. 28, 2007 4:26 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy
Location: Chazy, NY

Post Thu. Mar. 07, 2013 9:15 pm

Zinj wrote: and some access panels which I plan on sealing.
Start there. Air leaks into the attic often account for 40% (or more) of a home's heat loss.

As for the two boilers and one flue, yes it can be done...the building code foolishly treats a coal fired boiler the same way as a wood-fired appliance, and we all know they are two different animals. It is perfectly acceptable to hook two boiler boilers into a properly sized flue, and you can do the same thing with a coal unit and an oil unit...but it won't meet code. :gee:

You will save 2/3rds on your oil bill with a stoker boiler...it is the first step that stops most people, don't wait until next fall.

Flaz
New Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun. Mar. 10, 2013 10:19 am
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker K-6 combination
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker combination
Stove/Furnace Model: K-6
Location: Central PA

Post Sun. Mar. 10, 2013 10:35 am

Bought a Keystoker K-6 combo unit Sept 2011 to replace a oil boiler that was failing. We fired the oil part for two weeks that year and have been on coal ever since. The initial investment was 8k installed but I will pay for that in oil savings next heating season. I used 3.5 ton last season and have approx. 1.25 ton of coal from the 5 ton I started with in Sept. 2012, with old oil boiler I was using over 900 gal. yearly. Coal heat is so much warmer than oil ever was and very little work to keep running, (fill hopper once a week, change ash pan 2 x wk) clean boiler in summer. You cannot go wrong!!!

Zinj
Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue. Mar. 05, 2013 7:53 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: KA-6
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark III
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman MKIII, Keystoker KA-6
Location: West Hanover, PA

Post Tue. Aug. 13, 2013 6:06 am

Everyone please welcome my new baby...I did have to think for a second that if I knew it would've been this much hassle getting it installed I may have opted not to buy it. A moment of weakness I promise to never have again. Guy I hired to do the install lost his helper, a bad fuel tank shut off valve that had to be replaced live, a then clogged fuel line that we replaced, and last but not least a return trip to fix a leaking coupling in the fuel line....and it's done. Now I just have to reinforce the existing coal/wood shed earlier next month and get 4 tons delivered. :D
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Zinj
Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue. Mar. 05, 2013 7:53 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: KA-6
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark III
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman MKIII, Keystoker KA-6
Location: West Hanover, PA

Post Tue. Aug. 13, 2013 6:09 am

Also I forgot to mention that the oil/coal selector switch was wired wrong from the factory. They had voltage going to the oil burner directly from the switch...OOPS! Easy fix even with the kind of generic wiring diagram in the install manual.

waldo lemieux
Member
Posts: 2261
Joined: Sun. Sep. 30, 2012 8:20 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: efm
Stove/Furnace Model: s-20
Location: Ithaca,NY

Post Tue. Aug. 13, 2013 8:16 am

Before you spend any time lamenting your purchase, wait one heating season and see how much money you don't spend buying oil and how much warmer your can be. Those things with the oil line would have showed up sooner or later...... :)
When faced with a seemingly impossible task, my grandfather always said "can't never can, untill try comes along"

Zinj
Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue. Mar. 05, 2013 7:53 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: KA-6
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark III
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman MKIII, Keystoker KA-6
Location: West Hanover, PA

Post Tue. Aug. 13, 2013 9:53 am

True story. I did have some moments of frustration due to the added work on the oil side but am very happy with the unit now that its done.


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