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Question DetailsAsked on 10/10/2014

Will I able to replace 95% efficiency gas boiler with 85% gas boiler which may be more reliable?

I have 95% efficiency wall hung boiler which heats 2700 sqft of living space and about 1700 sqft of basement with capacity of 150000 BTU. It also supplies water to hot water tank. It requires $500+ maintenance every year and I am always living with constant fear that something will break down during winter. HVAC plumber for high efficiency boiler costs too much. Nobody wants to come to my place in Reading,MA area for less than $400 per visit. I have 9 zones in the home and each zone is controlled by the valve. Each baseboard has a direct feed and return from the boiler. I am considering replacing boiler with more reliable, long life 85% efficiency boiler. Will it be advisable to go to more reliable boiler and how much I need to spend for new boiler and labor.
I have a handicap son which will not able to handle plumbers after I am gone.

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1 Answer


I understand your situation - in my area, between the federal government tax credits and aggressive state energy conservation subsidies, many people got $6-10,000 furnace/ boiler replacements and energy audit and insulation/weatherproofing essentially or totally for free. Now, I keep hearing about $1000-2000 annual maintenance costs and system failures several times a year - and this in a severe winter climate. In some cases the maintenance costs are exceeding what their TOTAL annual gas bill used to be, so not much savings there !

You are in a tough position, but it sounds like you are ready to put out the capital investment for higher reliability. Personally I would be looking at getting some money back from the manufacturer of your boiler for a defective product if it has been the boiler failing, but that can be a tough fight.

Given what you said - there WILL be electrical and plumbing/HVAC issues in the future, maybe roof or siding damage and certainly repainting, etc - those are unavoidable - so I hope you have made suitable guardianship / conservatorship arrangements as needed for your son that will kick in automatically upon your inability to handle that function any more - and that might be temporary due to health issues on your part, or permanent down the road aways, because it soundsw like he WILL need someone to assist with home maintenance, repairs, and maybe cleaning issues.

To answer your question - yes you can got o an 85% boiler without great difficulty, but if you go back from a condensing (low-temp exhaust) boiler like yours probably is to a conventional one, it will require going back to a metal stack flue from the outside-wall discharge horizontal PVC flue pipe you likely have now. Not a big issue at all if they just capped the old flue pipe when the new boiler was installed - could be a bit more work if they took it out so new stack needs to be installed, but should not be much more than $500 or so extra assuming that stack space is still available.

Total installed cost of a replacement boiler would likely be $2500+ in almost all cases. I would say most fall in the $3-5,000 range for a run of the mill Peerless or Weil-McLain for instance, assuming you get a unit that can use the existing manifolds, valves, and combined water tank system - basically just swapping out the boiler, hooking it up to piping and electrical, and reconnecting the stack flue.

One thing you need to consider is whether your failures have been due to poor installation, bad equipment design, or maybe incompetent maintenance person (or one taking advantage of you) - because routine annual maintenance should normally not run over $150-300 depending on if things like pressure tank or inflow control or overpressure/overtemp valve need replacement or not, which they do every 5-10 years or so. And you should not be getting "repairs" needed until about 10 years down the road after a new unit is put in. Depending on types of issues, it may be you need a new repair/maintenance company more than a new boiler, and of course if your issues have been with zone valves or inflow pressure control tank or such those very rarely would be failing due to the boiler - so it may be replacing the boiler wouldnot affect those issues at all. Of course, if the issues have been with boiler controls and motor-controlled flue and such then a non-condensing boiler could solve those issues.

One thing I would say is if the issues have mostly been with thermostat controls or zone valves, to have the demand compared to the transformer capacity - because 9 zone valves and thermostats is WAYYY more load then a normal control transformer is rated for - so ifthat is the case it may be your problem is atleast partly related to inadequate transformer capacity. I have seen this in larger houses where people want individual room heat (or A/C) control, and may require putting in an additional transformer to split the zone valve load. Not real expensive to do - probably about $100-200 extra cost.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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