Massachusetts Contractor Solves Large Residential Project With Multiple Boilers

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By Thomas Renner

Any couple will tell you an enduring relationship depends on effective communication. So, too, do some home heating systems.

Jeff Potvin came across this scenario in a project at a six-bedroom, 6-bath house in Andover, Mass. Potvin, the owner of Jeff Potvin Plumbing & Heating in Methuen, replaced two 150k BTU boilers and a 75-gallon natural gas water heater. He chose two HTP Elite Ultra high efficiency condensing boilers as the alternative.

“The two new boilers will communicate with each other and increase efficiency, which will save the homeowner on his heating bill,’’ Potvin said.

No Ordinary Home

The residence where Potvin installed the boilers is no ordinary home. Built in 1954, the home is located in one of the state’s most historic towns just 20 miles north of Boston. The structure sits on 1.4 acres and extends across more than 7,800 square feet, including a sunroom, multiple fireplaces and is a mile away from Phillips Academy, a prestigious private high school. The school’s graduates include 2 former Presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, Humphrey Bogart, Jack Lemmon and Bill Belichick, among others.

The challenge Potvin faced in the project was establishing communication between an outdoor sensor and the aquastat that were on air handlers to help reach the correct temperature.  Aquastats are used in hydronic systems and adjust the temperature of the water in the boiler based on the outdoor temperature.

“We needed to move a few dip switches on the board to get it to work properly,’’ Potvin said.

The setup will increase efficiency and save the homeowner money on monthly heating bills. It will also heat domestic hot water and keep the home at a better temperature.

Project scope

The units provide hot water and heat for the home. Potvin said it is unusual, however, to replace three heating elements and get the same firepower with just two.

“It is unusual to change a water heater to a storage tank,’’ he said. “We completed the job during the summer, so no heat was needed.”

But the homeowner should realize some important benefits, according to Potvin.

“The two new boilers communicate with each other and increase efficiency,’’ Potvin said. “That will save the homeowner with the heating bill. The boilers have a larger BTU and will heat up faster and more efficiently. It will heat domestic hot water and keep the home at a better temperature.”

An Elite Solution

Potvin chose the HTP Elite Ultra boilers for other projects and knew it would be a good fit for this application.

The calling card for the Elite Ultra is a proprietary heat exchanger. The XtraTech Durable Stainless Steel Heating Technology exchanger ensures maximum quality at the heart of the boiler and resists corrosion to guarantee reliability for years.

The design provides increase in water flow, which creates more internal turbulence, scrubs the internal walls and reduces heat exchanger deposits to ensure a longer life span for the boiler.

Deposit buildup is a major problem in boiler operation. Scale and sludge deposits in boilers impede heat transfer, which leads to higher energy costs and can cause a loss of equipment operation and premature failure.

Boiler deposits can include calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, aluminum and others. Water treatment options can help reduce scale buildup, but those annual expenses can reach between $1,000-$2,000.  Annual maintenance on the boiler will also help, but service calls can also reach more than $600.

The pipe surface on the Elite Ultra is up to 150 percent larger than conventional designs and ensures extremely low pressure water pressure drop. “The heat exchanger guards against corrosion and guarantees a long lifetime for the boiler with less maintenance,’’ Potvin said.

The boiler has a 10:1 turndown ratio that limits short cycling and provides more efficient energy consumption. The boilers rated thermal efficiency is among the highest in the industry at 96%. Adding the outdoor sensor provides the opportunity to increase that efficiency by reducing the delivered water temperatures to match the load based on outdoor temperature. This feature allows homeowners to save even more money on their monthly energy bills.

Two HTP Elite Ultra high efficiency boilers were installed in a Massachusetts home by Jeff Potvin Plumbing & Heating. The boilers replaced two 150K BTU boilers and a 75-gallon natural gas water heater.

Additional Advantages

The boiler also offers whisper-quite operation and an HTP Link that lets the homeowner control boiler operation from anywhere. With the link, homeowners can view boiler parameters and status, receive boiler text and e-mail updates, and access the unit and troubleshoot issues without having to be onsite, as long as the unit is connected to Wi-Fi and registered.

“We have used these HTP products in the past found it to be a great product,’’ Potvin said. “We also found tech support to be very good.”

Home and hot water heating can be especially challenging in Massachusetts, where temperatures fluctuate wildly from season to season, and sometimes daily during transitional periods. Having an efficient system on a large residence will generate considerable savings for the homeowner.

“Projects such as this can be challenging to find the proper solution,’’ Potvin said. “We think the homeowner will be quite satisfied with this product for years to come.”

Thomas Renner writes on building, construction, engineering and other trade industry topics for publications throughout the United States and Canada.

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