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HVAC boiler>>furnace conversion &- best products?

Posted by -hh on March 7th, 2001 10:37 AM



I have a ~50 year old, very small ranch on a concrete slab, which means that the boiler for the current hotwater baseboard system was boxed into a tiny "closet" during a 1970's remodelling. Domestic hotwater is produced via an immersion coil in the boiler. It originally was oil fired, but was converted to natural gas.

The problem (#1):

The boiler is giving up the ghost, so it needs attention. The local contractor recommends a complete opinion is that he doesn't want to work in the tiny space to attempt a firebrick replacement and I can't blame him for that. Its not that efficient of a system anyway.

However, his recommendation is that a new boiler (with domestic hotwater tank, to replace the immersion coil) won't fit in the existing space, so he wants to install a new boiler out in the (new) attached garage. I find this proposal unpalatable beause storage space is very dear.

Plans & Opportunities:

We've been thinking about adding air conditioning for awhile and to do this requires 100% new ductwork for the house. Because there's no basement, everything would have to be installed in the attic. This work can be combined with the work that's now needed, which represents the opportunity listed in Alternative #1, below.

Alternative #1:

From an initial SWAG on prices, it appears to be cost-competitive to add a hot air furnace to the A/C system to be installed in the attic instead of replacing existing hotwater boiler system and installing a separate A/C system. Domestic hotwater would be made by installing a conventional (gas) hot water heater in the closet where the boiler currently resides.

Due to attic clearances (4ft), the furnace would be a horizontal installation. Overall, this looks like a viable solution, but I'm looking for comments on the technical reliability of such systems, etc...I've already heard the classic "force hot air is too dry" comment, so you can skip that one entirely: we plan to include high-end components for filtering as well as humidity management.

Alternative #2:

Worry about the AC separately. For heat, rip out a wall (which is acceptable to me), yank out the old boiler & reinstall a new boiler in the existing "closet" space.

Figure out how much more room is needed to install a domestic hot water supply system and where it can go - - can I relocate this tank somewhat removed from the boiler itself? If low-height storage tanks are available, my thoughts are that I could install it in the attic above the boiler, which would be less than 15 feet away.

Alternative #3:

Other suggestions? My basic priority is to avoid losing precious storage space on the main living level, which includes the garage.

Problem #2: What makes/models of equipment would you recommend? I've searched the archives and Carrier & Rheem seem to be the 'short list' contenders. I expect to stay in this house for at least 10-15 more years, and would also prefer as high of an effiicency is available, but the first priority is that I simply will not tolerate a fussy or unreliable system.

Thanks in advance...please also email me your responses,


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