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advice for ancient boiler

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Posted by Brendan on January 07, 2006 at 23:33:12:

My house is about 100 years old, and as far as I can tell, it still has the original coal fired boiler (hot water) with a gas conversion unit. I suspect this because the boiler was made by Pittsburg Heating Supply, and Pittsburgh hasn't been spelled without an H since around 1905. The whole setup is pretty simple: huge firebox where the heat sweeps up through two chambers and up the flue. One aquastat to control the water temp and another controlling the B&G circulator. It's like a dinosaur.

And inefficient. Last month's heating bill was $620. Sure the house has little insulation and old windows, but I really think the best thing to lower the gas bill would be a new boiler. I cannot even touch the flue pipe for fear of being severly burned. That's $$$ going up the chimney.

So my questions are: any guesses on this things efficiency? Is there anything I can do to get the most out of it (like what should the aquastats be set at?) Is a programmable thermostat really helping?

And ultimately, where can I read up on buying a new boiler? I've browsed this message board for input, and it has been interesting, but I still feel overwehlmed. Any input on sources of information or other advice on equipment, etc, is appreciated. Thank you!

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