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Question DetailsAsked on 12/4/2014

What's the most cost effective option for repairing heating/cooling system? Should we fix or replace our oil boiler

We just bought a 100 year old 2-story 1300sq foot brick row home heated by an old oil-fired cast iron boiler (possible coal conversion?) with a system of hot water cast iron radiators. There is no AC.

When we went to have our first oil delivery, we were told that there was something wrong with the fill valve alarm so they won't deliver us oil until we fix it. A service person from our oil company told us that fixing the whistle would necessitate replacing the vent pipe with 1 1/4" pipe (right now it's 1"). The service company has said that they can't provide an estimate of the costs of the job without sending people ($$) out to look.

Our original plan was to ride out the old boiler for one winter and then replace it with a new gas-fired one (we have a gas hookup for stove/dryer), so we're not sure if we should repair the whistle or bite the bullet and replace the system.

However, we also were going to look into mini-splits for AC at some point. Should this factor into our decision?

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2 Answers


Generally converting from oil to gas is an economic move (at time of boiler replacement) provided you have natural gas service to your area. Here are some prior similar questions with responses which might help - more links (and duplicates) can be found under the responses to each question as well -

On the mini-splits - if you currently have a central air handler A/C, then you would have to consider combining both (if ducting is adequate) into a central air furnace and A/C unit or mini-splits. If you do not have ducts now, then mini-splits would be a logical step or the A/C because it does not use the same system as the heating system. OTherwise you would be looking at a totally new furnace/AC/ducting system - which might be the best in the long run if you intedn to stay in the house forever, but would be a radical change from your current hydronic heating system.

You would need to get a couple of HVAC vendors to come and discuss your system and the benefits of each with you, but generally converting to central air for both heat and AC would likely run an addition $5-10,000 over just replacing the current boiler with either gas or oil. And of course involves removing the oil tank and cleaning up any contimination too - which would eventually have to be done anyway but can make for a goodly chunk of change now if it had outdoor oil spillage.

On the whistle - I would certainly have them look at it - that is likely only a few hundred $ issue, and an electronic overfill alarm might work instead of modifying the vent pipe size (which generally requires emptying and cleaning the tank beofre working on it, so expensive). Certainly, if looking at converting to gas anyway next year, rather than put money into the oil tank this would seem an opportune time to convert to gas - depending or course on what sort of lease terms you have if you do not own the tank.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD


Here is another similar question with response and links to seeral others which might help with your decision -

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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