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Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Philkinson's Avatar
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    Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?


    Seeing as my Motogp thread didn't take off...

    Just moved, first time with oil since I was a kid. The house is built in 91, has the original Burnham furnace, records show it was maintained every year. No issues with it, but I'm wondering... how much more efficient would a new oil furnace be vs my 1991?

    I believe the Extrol expansion tank is original as well... Model number 30, Date Code 11228991.

    Also, I have a small bedroom upstairs that is getting extremely warm vs. the other 2 bedrooms which are larger. We have been keeping the doors closed probably 22 hours a day while our dog gets acclimated to the new house.

    Forced hot water baseboard heat, btw.

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  2. #2

    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    I upgraded my 33 year old oil furnace 2 years ago. I stopped counting but I think we have seen 35% increase on efficiency/drop in oil consumption. Much quieter also.

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  3. #3
    BMW track whore e30addict's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Fuel is cheap right now. Boilers are $$$$$$. Is preventive replacement gonna pay for itself anytime soon or is the money best spent elsewhere is the question that would be in my mind. Without running numbers, I doubt it's worth it with current price of oil.

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    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Get it cleaned and see what an expert says about life expectancy. If its got a few years left I wouldn't bother changing it right now. As mentioned, oil is cheap right now.

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  5. #5
    Backwoods lobster boy number9's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Do you have natural gas in your house? If so might be a good time to switch from oil to gas...

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Philkinson's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    No natural gas in the area. Traded a 7,500 sq ft lot for an acre. Lost the natural gas, gained some land

    Yeah, oil is cheap right now so it's not a huge concern this year. I'm going to keep records of how much oil we use this year/next year. Currently I have no idea what the consumption is.

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    Don't bother me! R7's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Weíve got the same era Burnham boiler. If I recall, itís in the 77/78% efficient range.. newer boilers are in the 90/91% range. If itís functional and has been maintained, Iíd keep using it. I also have it serviced by an independent tech that isnít part of any oil company. When I first moved in this house and had the boiler serviced, the nozzle in the burner was twice the size it needed to be, the guy said oil companies usually put the larger burners in, which uses more oil.
    We use about 210 gallons a year for heat and hot water from mid April-mid November. Prior to getting the boiler serviced, we used a little over 300 gallons in the same time frame.

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  8. #8

    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Also depending who your energy provider is there are incentives to upgrade boilers

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  9. #9
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    I have a 35 year old Thermopride oil burner & same vintage Woodchuck wood burner, FHA, parts readily available for the Thermopride, (any hardware store, HD, etc.) the Woodchuck is obsolete

    been thinking of ripping that out and going to FHW radiant, or maybe just adding a Rinnai/Monitor direct vent heater in my basement. I heat my office with one, my house is smaller sq/cu ft than my office (20sqft less, 2ft lower ceiling) As I get older, wood is more and more work.

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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Interesting, my house was built in 91 and the boiler seems about ready to die.

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    Lifer Gixxer's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Quote Originally Posted by GearHd6 View Post
    Get it cleaned and see what an expert says about life expectancy. If its got a few years left I wouldn't bother changing it right now. As mentioned, oil is cheap right now.
    How often should you clean a boiler? Asking for a friend..

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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gixxer View Post
    How often should you clean a boiler? Asking for a friend..
    Depends on how often it runs. Conventional wisdom says once per year. I usually go a few years and call it good. I'll pop my own filter in more often though.

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    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gixxer View Post
    How often should you clean a boiler? Asking for a friend..
    I have mine cleaned annually. It helps heat my hot water even in the summer so it runs all year long to some extent.

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  14. #14
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    I have a cast boiler from 1987. Tune up every or every other year. (realizing I forgot this year!)
    Slip says efficiency in the high 70's whenever it is tested.
    Year or so after I bought the house the tech doing the tune-up insisted my boiler was old and really should be replaced. Why? Well, the new ones are so much more efficient! How much more? Maybe 5-10% more. How much to replace? Now is that for a quality cast boiler, or some shitbox steel plate thing like my buddy with his tract house? How much for a boiler of the same quality as what I have? That much huh.

    Every time I do the math I cannot justify.

    I did install a heat pump electric hot water heater and cap off the old tankless coil. Now I shut the boiler down in the summer.

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  15. #15
    Lifer Gixxer's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?-5c19a9ff-1054-4fc5-81bb-2a958fe003f4Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?-c6e1eaf4-29bf-41d1-a683-b92af8bd3f24
    I find it weird that our water is tied into the boiler even though the water heater is electric. Seems like kinda a Frankenstein system.

    Luckily one neighbor is a plumber and the other is a boiler guy, so I might get a super hook up on labor.







    *ive seen other people post pics that come out sideways, which happened to me in this thread and SteveMs, if you take a screenshot of the pic and then try to post them it seems like it fixes that.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?-8a9e1042-9402-45f1-9dc5-d779f15b1326   Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?-301c2ee3-eada-4f79-a3f1-4ba22022368a  

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    Last edited by Gixxer; 01-10-21 at 02:25 PM.
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    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gixxer View Post
    How often should you clean a boiler? Asking for a friend..
    I find the most important maintenance item is the fuel filter on the tank, that and my nozzle, get replaced annually, cost for parts <$10, time involved, 2 beers.

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    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    my furnace has a Beckett burner
    Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?-afg-stainless-retrofit-2_01-1000px

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    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    you'll want one of these to check electrode gap


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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    I agree oil prices are low. You'll have to weigh that against the chance keeping the old boiler another year and the $$ to replace the boiler next year being as cheap as this year. Either way I'd recommend insulating the copper lines with the foam sleeves and going with an indirect tank for hot water preheat (if it doesn't have it). Think of an indirect tank like a thermos bottle your cold water goes through before your boiler sees it. Kind of like making your boiler see incoming water temps from the Spring or Fall vs temps from Winter.

    Look for the RI equivalent of programs MA has (MassSave.org). I don't recall what the name of the program is in RI. Seem to recall another thread here that someone can point to.

    The comment about oil fired burner nozzle size is spot on. I switched over to a .5 nozzle to let the burner run a bit longer but with lower consumption. The aim was to extract as much of the heat as possible for the given amount of oil burned.

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  20. #20
    suburban ghetto living... black's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Have a Burnham for 3000sq ft house. Its been here since 85
    Base board HW. Propane water tank
    She is solid ish we thought of replacing but cost ( 6-8k) turned us off since we might move soon ish
    We service it every year. The older techs who come here say it will last another 8 years easy. We replaced a couple circulators. I replaced the expansion tank last summer
    Vacuum the dust off the baseboards. Purge your lines

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  21. #21
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Good point about replacing the expansion tank. They tend to rust from the inside at the top around the threaded coupling. Tapping the sides gave me false confidence that it was fine. Hollow sound indicated the bladder was still intact so I thought it was OK. Didn't see any rust so never occurred to me it was on the verge of failure.

    Cheaper to replace it than come home and discover if failed and now has city water pouring out on your floor. Almost learned that one the hard way. Next door neighbor, not as lucky.

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  22. #22
    Lifer Gixxer's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Quote Originally Posted by 02redhawk View Post
    Good point about replacing the expansion tank. They tend to rust from the inside at the top around the threaded coupling. Tapping the sides gave me false confidence that it was fine. Hollow sound indicated the bladder was still intact so I thought it was OK. Didn't see any rust so never occurred to me it was on the verge of failure.

    Cheaper to replace it than come home and discover if failed and now has city water pouring out on your floor. Almost learned that one the hard way. Next door neighbor, not as lucky.
    Mine doesn’t sound hollow, it sounds solid

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  23. #23
    BMW track whore e30addict's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gixxer View Post
    Mine doesn’t sound hollow, it sounds solid
    Then it could be filled with water because the diaphragm is blown or there isn't enough air pressure in there. I think most have a schrader valve on the bottom, not sure what the PSI should be.

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  24. #24
    ain't nuttin wrong w/that scubasteveRR's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gixxer View Post
    Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?-5c19a9ff-1054-4fc5-81bb-2a958fe003f4Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?-c6e1eaf4-29bf-41d1-a683-b92af8bd3f24
    I find it weird that our water is tied into the boiler even though the water heater is electric. Seems like kinda a Frankenstein system.
    it looks like to me you have mixing valves on your heat loops, that is why the hot water goes back to your boiler. I've honestly never seen something like this on a heating loop unless you have radiant heat in the floors (do you?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Gixxer View Post
    Mine doesn’t sound hollow, it sounds solid
    the side opposite of the inlet should sound hollow, the side that the inlet is on should sound solid


    Quote Originally Posted by e30addict View Post
    Then it could be filled with water because the diaphragm is blown or there isn't enough air pressure in there. I think most have a schrader valve on the bottom, not sure what the PSI should be.
    between 5psi less that or equal to the house pressure. there can't be any pressure on the water side when you pump it up so you would either need to have an IPS ball valve at the tank (how we install them 100% of the time) that you can isolate and unscrew it to pump it up or shut off the water to the house and drain it then pump it up.

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    Last edited by scubasteveRR; 01-10-21 at 08:09 PM.

  25. #25
    Lifer Gixxer's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade my 30 year old oil furnace?

    Quote Originally Posted by scubasteveRR View Post
    it looks like to me you have mixing valves on your heat loops, that is why the hot water goes back to your boiler. I've honestly never seen something like this on a heating loop unless you have radiant heat in the floors (do you?)
    I don’t. My neighbor plumber found it odd too.

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