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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    15

    Weil-McLain vs. Burnham boiler

    We live in the Chicago area and last month we had some flooding which damaged our old AO Smith boiler and 50-gallon water heater. So I have been looking around for a new boiler, possibly along with an indirect water heater.

    I was told by a friend that Weil-McLain makes a good product. I have had a couple estimates from contractors, but so far I have not decided which way to go. One of the contractors recommended a Burnham unit, saying that Burnham and Weil-McLain boilers are very similar because the parts are made by the same manufacturers, but that Burnham was a bit less expensive. The contractors I have talked to have been selling a particular product and as a result I am not sure if I am getting unbiased advice. Based on the recommendations I have received, I am looking at either at a Weil-McLain CGA-4 or aBurnham 204H or 205H gas fired boiler.

    I am also considering an indirect water heater. I have been told that an indirect water heater is more efficient than a separate water heater, but I am not sure about the reliability.

    Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    701
    Those are both standard efficiency boilers, if your budget allows, you might want to check into modulating and condensing high efficiency boilers.

    As far as differences, the sections of the Burnham are joined with push nipples, while the Weil Mclain are joined with gaskets.

    Some choose one over the other, really you should choose the contractor that comes highly recommended, the installation has every thing to do with the quality of the boiler.

    You could have the best boiler in the world, but work like crap if it's installed incorrectly.

    Do your research, and get a proper heat loss done on your home, check references, and ask your friends and neighbors.

    Indirects work well and and are more efficient than a standard water heater, and if the system is sized correctly can give you almost endless hot water.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,837
    Are you aware that you're talking about late 1800's technology? That's right, the old Weil McLain and Burnham cast iron boilers are coal boilers shrunk down. If you want the basic 80% boiler and want to save money, put in a low mass boiler like the LAARS JV boiler. You can get them in boiler only or combo units. Because of their small mass, you don't have the cast iron to heat up and therefore save on operation. Costs are about the same for installation. If you want to move up to 2010 technology, get a modulating/condensing, direct vent boiler that pushes well up into the 90% efficiency level. Such boilers as the Knight, Buderus GB142, Pinnacle, Munchkin are just some of the boilers that are up there. Oh yeah and Weil McLain has their gas fired Ultra boiler that's also a mod/con. Be wary of any installer who only offers one product line. They're less informed and are not giving you enough information to make an intelligent choice. You should have all the information and then choose based on your own comfort level of installation costs versus climate impact and your best estimate of future fuel costs.
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,086
    In gas furnaces, there is a minimal price diff between 80 and 90 so we sell a lot of 90s. But every time we quote a 90+ boiler, the huge spread scares people away. The payback even with high gas prices is so long nobody yet has spent the money. I imagine being a forced air market, what we pay on the high end boilers locally are steep and since many take special piping, it isn't a slide out/slide in situation on labor either.

    We've sold W-M, Burnham, Dunkirk & Smith. Only leaks have been caused by lime damage from taking on fresh water. With proper installation, which is even more critical on the high end boilers, you should be fine with any of them, espcially in the basic boilers. Make sure they size it right, our experience says boilers around here are even more grossly oversized than forced air.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    977
    I service the area you're in. Contact info is in my profile.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,086
    There ya go, nothing better than have a H-Talk pro in your area

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    67,913
    Baldie.
    What % savings are you coming up with when you try to sell a 90+ mod/con.

    I have yet to install one that doesn't exeed 20% fuel reduction. Including on copper baseboard systems.



    OP. If you can afford it. 90+%ers are good investment against future high heating bills.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    15
    Thanks for all your helpful responses. I have decided to go with a W-M CGa-4 and an indirect water heater (AFUE= 84.0%). I also got quotes on more efficient boilers, but after calculating projected savings based on our gas usage level over the past 5 years, I concluded that a boiler with AFUE= 94% would save us only about $90 a year at the current gas price. Even with increases in gas price, it would take decades to make up for the added cost of such a system.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,086
    We used to figure a savings around what the OP came up with. Might be a bit higher now as gas prices have come up a hair more. In our area, not many choices in mod-con stocked and those that have or can get seem to have a very healthy premium over the basic cast iron models. Then when you add more piping for them, and whatever flue, the installed cost was very high. As cheap as most homeowners are getting, makes it hard to sell.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    67,913
    At $1.71 a therm. Around here, the OPs posted savings estimate would be on a house that only had a 400 to 500 dollar heating bill for the year.

    On small houses, it is real hard to justify a mod/con.

    The price does sway a lot of people into staying with a conventional boiler.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    15
    Thanks, everyone for your useful comments. I finally had a W-M CGa-4 and an Ultra Plus 40 indirect water heater installed last week. The boiler seems to be working fine, but I'm having a slight problem with the water heater. I will post that as a new thread.

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