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Boiler Repair and Installation



Tankless Boiler

Hartford & Ratliff has been servicing and installing residential and light commercial boilers in the Metro Detroit area since 1955. Our Technicians have serviced thousands of units over the years and are familiar with most every brand and model. With this extensive knowledge and well stocked trucks, backed with a warehouse carrying thousands of parts, your unit can be repaired quickly and efficiently. Our Technicians will quote you a price prior to starting the work and inform you as the job progresses.

If your boiler is ready for replacement, whether hot water or steam, we have several brands and models we have field tested to meet your needs effectively.

Call Now for Service or Installation  248-471-3110 For more information check the FAQ's below and to Boiler Service or Boiler Installation.




Copper Fin Boiler
Q: Can I use anti-freeze in my hot water heating system?
A: Yes. For cast iron construction heat exchangers we recommend using an anti-freeze designed for hydronic systems such as propylene glycol, or ethylene glycol. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations when mixing a solution of up to 55%. Never use automotive anti-freeze or any petroleum based anti-freeze in a hydronic heating system.
For aluminum construction heat exchangers we recommend using only Intercool NFP-50 coolant (Please contact customer service at 1-800-422-2436). Some brands have corrosion inhibitors that break down more rapidly or become ineffective at higher operating temperatures when used with aluminum. Follow the anti-freeze manufacturer's instructions to determine the proper ratio of anti-freeze to water for the expected low temperature conditions, and for maintaining the quality of the anti-freeze solution from year to year. Never use automotive anti-freeze or any petroleum based anti-freeze in a hydronic heating system.
Q: There are dirt streaks above baseboard heaters, what is causing this?
A: The dirt streaks that are being created above your baseboard are mainly dust, dirt, and carbon soot that might come from fireplaces, water heaters, furnaces, standing pilot lights, candles, cigarette smoke, cooking byproducts, and even automobile exhaust by the natural convection that occurs during the heating cycle. Convection is a natural occurrence that allows the living space to be heated by a baseboard heater where heat is transferred to the air moving through it, this air moves vertically upward because it is lighter than the surrounding cooler air.
Q: What would cause a popping or sizzling noise in my boiler?
A: A "hot spot" can be created by sediment accumulating in the bottom of the boiler sections which is typically the lowest point in the hydronic heating system. The sediment acts as insulation and can be carried into the system by poor water quality and should filtered if necessary and corrected to a proper pH level of 7 to 8.5.
The popping sound that is being generated is water that turns into steam until it escapes back into the cooler water where it is rapidly cooled and creates a popping sound. Most of the time this can be repaired by having your service technician flush the system and if necessary use a boiler cleaner to help remove the sediment deposits.
Q: What is the normal operating temperature for a hot water heating system?
A: The normal operating temperature depends on the type of system being used. A hot water baseboard system normally will be set 180° F supply water temperature. A radiant floor system can vary widely with a supply temperature from 90°F to 130°F depending on what type of construction and material is covering it (carpeting, hardwood flooring, and ceramic tile).
Q: Can I convert my boiler from Oil to Gas or visa-versa?
A: The simple answer is no, except for ECR International's "Ultimate" brand boilers. The "Ultimate" boiler may be converted by replacing the existing burner with a factory supplied substitute burner.
Please bear in mind that most boilers are designed to accommodate the characteristics of the intended fuel. A boiler that is designed to burn natural gas (a vapor) utilizes burners that simply cannot burn No. 2 fuel oil (an atomized liquid). There are power gas burners available from third party manufacturers that are intended to replace oil burners; however, none are sanctioned as suitable replacements in our appliance certifications. We do not recommend their use.
Q: Do I need a chimney liner for my new boiler?
A: In most cases, your heating contractor will install a chimney liner if your chimney has an over-sized or deteriorated terra cotta (clay) liner. He will always install a liner if you have an unlined masonry chimney. Both the National Fuel Gas Code (NFPA 54) and the national Installation of Oil-Burning Equipment code (NFPA 31) compel the contractor to install the chimney liner in these circumstances.
As boilers have increased in efficiency, the temperature of the flues gases has declined. This is for the most part a good thing since less heat is wasted up the chimney. If the flue gases cool too much, condensation may become a problem. Condensation contains impurities from the fuel, which causes it to be acidic; therefore corrosive to most metal components. Condensation tends to be absorbed by brick, non-glazed clay and mortar. Condensate can freeze between boiler cycles, which will cause materials such as mortar to pit. You may notice a course or two of brick at the top of an old chimney apparently missing its mortar. This is the result of condensate damage. Over time, prolonged exposure to condensation may cause the chimney to become weak and unstable.
A chimney liner is useful for correcting an over-sized chimney. The liner reduces the surface area of the chimney; therefore, the amount of flue gas heat lost to the chimney. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the reduced chimney diameter will often result in better draft for the boiler.
Q: Do I need a Low Water Cut Off on my water boiler?
A: In many cases, the boiler is located at the lowest point in the system, which means that there is little likelihood, that the boiler will run dry. If radiators are installed at an elevation below the top of the boiler, a low water cut off is necessary. Examples include baseboard radiators near the basement floor, and basement in-floor radiant heating. There are some states, New York and New Jersey for example, and some local jurisdictions that mandate their use regardless of radiator location.
Q: The water in my steam boiler is fluctuating, how do I prevent this?
A: a fluctuation in the water line of a steam boiler is referred to as Surging. A small amount of fluctuation is not uncommon, but if severe enough can cause a number of undesirable conditions, i.e. water hammer, inefficient operation, etc. Severe surging is recognized by a water line that is fluctuating more than one-inch or when water is visibly running down from the top of the sight glass.
Surging is caused by a violent boiling action as a result of oil on the water surface. Skimming as detailed in the installation manual is the only true way to rid the water of oil. Chemicals and draining the boiler may help slightly, but will not work to remove all the oil from the boiler. Oil on the waters surface will simply stick to the sides of the boiler when drained, and resurface when the boiler is refilled.
To prevent this and other problems from occurring, always pipe, clean, and maintain your steam boiler as detailed in the boilers installation manual. Proper piping, cleaning and maintenance will insure overall performance and efficient operation of your steam boiler.
Q: What should I know about Carbon Monoxide?
A: Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas which accounts for more deaths annually in the U.S. than any other poison. CO can be produce when burning any carbon based fuel.
To safeguard against the potential of CO, always have your boiler, furnace and any other heating or cooking appliance installed and periodically serviced by a qualified heating technician.
It is recommended that all homes be equipped with at least one CO detector.
Q: Should I have a CO detector in my home?
A: It is strongly recommended that at all homes be equipped with have at least one carbon monoxide detector. It is as important to have your fuel burning equipment serviced annually to prevent the possibility of Carbon Monoxide.
Q: Who should I contact to work on my boiler?
A: It is always recommended that the installer of the boiler be contacted first. If the installer is unable to be contacted or is unable to provide service, a qualified local heating technician should be contacted. In the hands of an inexperienced person, heating equipment can be dangerous, never attempt a repair yourself.
Q: How do the costs for natural gas, oil electricity and propane compare?
A: Costs for different types of fuels vary tremendously throughout the US, and therefore so does the cost comparison. The formulas below can be used to compare equivalent energy costs (price per 1 million BTU's) among different fuels.
Electricity: (insert price per kilowatt)* x 293 = Cost per 1,000,000 BTU's
#2 Fuel oil: (insert price per gallon)* x 7.21 ÷ rated efficiency** = Cost per 1,000,000 BTU's
Natural Gas: (insert price per therm)* x 10.0 ÷ rated efficiency** = Cost per 1,000,000 BTU's
Propane: (insert price per gallon)* x 11.0 ÷ rated efficiency** = Cost per 1,000,000 BTU's
* Price per unit of energy can be determined by contacting your local provider.
** Rated efficiency can be found on the heating product literature (AFUE efficiency).
Q: What size boiler/furnace do I need for my home?
A: The only way to determine what your actual requirement is to have a heat load done on your home by a qualified heating technician. This calculation looks at the size of the structure, insulation, doors and windows along with your climate area for outdoor design temperature. A heat loss is then calculated to determine what is required for the boiler and the heating elements to heat the structure. It is an exercise worth the time and effort to know that you have the sufficient sized equipment and radiation to do the required job next winter, with out over sizing the unit and loosing efficiency.
Q: How do I rid my hot water heating system of air?
A: By having your heating technician install an air elimination system external of the boiler to remove air form the water system; this is installed on the main supply pipe as the water leaves the boiler.
Where is this air coming from you may ask. First let's review; what is water?
Water is H2O 2 parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, as the oxygen is being driven out of the water; it needs to be removed via this air elimination system. If you have air in the pipes upstairs bleeders or automatic air vents can be installed by your technician at the pipe that drops down from the heating element back to the basement. This is where the air will collect since the pump is working to pump it back down stairs and the laws of physics make it always want to bubble back up to the highest point in the system making it a hard to remove with out the proper access.
Q: My new steam boiler cycles very frequently, what could be wrong?
A: A new steam boiler could be short cycling due to a number of reasons. The first may be something as simple as having installed a room thermostat that has an adjustable heat anticipator setting with in it. This setting needs to be at 1.2 for the longest cycle setting as possible allowed by the thermostat. The best thermostat for this is the standard Honeywell T87F round design unit that has this internal setting on the unit. The new digital thermostats of today are timed and many do not offer the option to give you a set point to satisfy the system requirements. The other item that can cause short cycling and surging is making sure the internal sections of the boiler are clean. This is done the best way by having your installer skim the top of your boiler water off via a skim tapping that he installed on the system during installation. A new boiler and pipes when manufactured have oil on them - this oil will float to the top of the water and cause the water line to rise and lower with in the boiler, this is happening due to steam looking to escape thru it during the process. With this oil removed the system will make steam and the boiler should not short cycle or surge.
The last item is that the piping around the boiler on both the supply and return systems (Near Boiler Piping) making sure that this is correct in both size and design for the Btu/hr of the boiler. Incorrect pipe size with allow the steam not to escape out of the boiler and cause the system to also short cycle.
Q: Why is my new oil boiler noisier than my old one?
A: The boilers designed today are more efficient then your old oil fired boiler that you replaced. This major efficiency is not only due to the internal design of the equipment so you get the maximum heat transfer but also the oil burner design that is the reason for the higher pitched noise of today's equipment. This noise is due to the fact that the oil burner is running at 3450 RPM (revolutions per minute) compared to the old unit that was only at half that speed of 1725 RPM. This new higher efficient design oil burner is going twice as fast and breaking down the oil into smaller droplets along with mixing it better with the combustion air for a higher efficiency. Your old burner may have been around 50-62% efficient, when your dealer adjust your new burner for maximum efficiency it should run around 83-85% combustion efficiency which is going to save you real dollars in fuel cost.
This site is specifically designed to help you become an informed consumer when it comes to your home's heating and cooling systems. Go ahead, explore. The pull-down menus make it easy. Not only will you learn how these systems work, but also how to shop smart and protect your investment. If your not sure where to find help with a specific question, try our site's Search Engine.
If you're curious about what's new in home comfort, here are a few pages you might want to visit:
  • If programing your set-back thermostat frustrates you, or you have loved ones that are visually impaired, check out our new and exclusive, user friendly talking thermostat.
  • If you're tired of having rooms that are either "too hot" or "too cold" this page is for you.
  • Curious about what's inside your home's ductwork? Here's an informative page to help you decide is duct cleaning for you?
  • Learn how you can save money through ongoing maintenance.
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By doing what it takes to ensure each customer's satisfaction, Vincent's Heating & Plumbing is welcome in more homes in The Blue Water Area than any other contractor. We invite you to give us a call.
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