If you’re still using an oil-fired furnace in your Nashua, NH, home, you’re spending more than necessary to keep your space warm. Natural gas is not only more cost-effective but also readily available during the coldest months, eliminating the need for regular fuel deliveries and costly emergency heating oil service. Your local utility provider will directly supply natural gas to your home, allowing you to eliminate the maintenance and hassle of an oil tank. Switching to natural gas can enhance your property’s value and appeal. Here’s what you can expect during an oil-to-gas conversion.
Furnace Replacements Are Always a Complex Endeavor
Depending upon the level of maintenance they receive and the type of fuel they burn, most furnaces last between 15 and 30 years. As such, if you’re gearing up for a furnace replacement, it’s probably been a while since you last seriously explored your options in heating equipment.
What may surprise you is that modern oil-fired and gas-fired furnaces are significantly larger than their predecessors. High-efficiency options have two heat exchangers rather than just one, along with slightly bigger and highly refined combustion chambers. Thus, whether you’re converting from oil to gas as your heater’s fuel source or simply sticking to what you know, you can expect the need for slight modifications to your furnace’s storage area.
To support larger and more efficient furnaces, HVAC air ducts often require refinement as well. Given that HVAC air ducts last between 15 and 20 years, you may be advised to replace these features too if you haven’t done so since your last furnace replacement. This is especially true when HVAC air ducts have sections that are leaky, collapsed, or have other structural imperfections or damage. Replacing your furnace’s air distribution system during an oil-to-gas conversion will ensure that your ducting perfectly supports your new heater.
Removing Your Old Heating Equipment
Among the first steps in an oil-to-gas conversion is the removal of existing heating equipment. This includes the furnace itself, the heating oil tank, and the furnace venting system. To prevent oil spills and soil contamination, all parts of this process must be handled by a licensed professional.
Special contingencies are put in place to capture spilled oil. Whether your tank is at ground level or buried, these contingencies will protect nearby groundwater and ultimately, the municipal water supply. All of the components and residual heating oil removed during this process must be disposed of at approved facilities. If you have unused heating oil, you can’t sell it back to your heating oil supplier, but you may be able to find a nearby heating oil recycling company.
Connecting or Activating Your Natural Gas Supply
Your home may or may not have an existing gas line. Most residential neighborhoods throughout Nashua have main natural gas lines that supply this fuel to small-sized areas but not to each home. Your HVAC installer will look for both a main gas line and a separate service line that travels to your property. If there’s a main gas line in your area but no direct service line, you can contact your utility company to request this extension. Many utility companies will install a limited length of service line for free. However, if you live a fair distance away from your neighborhood’s main gas supply, this extension could require out-of-pocket spending.
If your home has never been serviced by natural gas pipes before, the installation of a service line will include the addition of either flexible or stiff iron gas pipes leading into the furnace storage area. These installations must be performed by either utility companies or licensed professionals, and they must be up to code. Your installer will handle all necessary permitting and approvals and ensure that the specifications for all components are correct.
Setting Up Your New Gas Heating System
Once your gas lines are in place, your new gas furnace will be installed. As with all other heating equipment, this unit must be properly sized for its service area. The Manual J Load Calculation is a complex calculation that considers factors like:
- Household sizes
- Ceiling heights
- Insulation types and amounts
- Window sizes and types
- Square footage and available, usable area
The Manual J also accounts for building layouts, the layout and materials of duct-based air distribution systems, and more. Often performed with advanced software, this calculation ensures that new heating systems are neither too small nor too large for their environments.
In addition to gas furnace sizing, you’ll also want to choose a model that has the right efficiency level for meeting your energy-saving goals. Mid-efficiency furnaces have annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 90% to 93%. This means that they convert between 90% and 93% of the natural gas they consume into usable heat. The remainder is lost in exhaust gases.
High-efficiency furnaces can have AFUE ratings as high as 98.5%. This is due in large part to their additional, secondary heat exchangers. After the majority of their heat is harnessed in their primary heat exchangers, exhaust gases travel into these secondary units for additional heat extraction.
After your new furnace has been selected and installed, you can contact your utility company to start your gas service. Both your utility service provider and your HVAC installer will give you detailed information on maintaining and troubleshooting natural gas appliances along with tips for identifying and mitigating hazards like natural gas and exhaust leaks.
Replacing Your Furnace’s Venting System
Much like your oil-fired furnace’s storage area, its venting system must be altered to support the vastly different needs of a gas heater. Rather than simply modifying this system, your HVAC technician will replace it entirely. This includes all vent pipes traveling to the exterior of the building and all exhaust vents.
Installing, Upgrading, or Relocating Thermostats
Whenever new heating equipment is put in, thermostat locations are assessed and older thermostats are upgraded. If you haven’t done so already, this is an excellent opportunity to learn more about smart and programmable thermostats. During this process, we’ll make sure that your thermostat is in a safe, neutral location and that it isn’t too near any heat-generating appliances or large windows that might impact its temperature readings.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Even with well-designed and highly functional venting systems, all indoor, fuel-burning appliances require the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. This is but one of several exhaust gases that are produced during the incomplete combustion of fuel. Given that carbon monoxide is both odorless and colorless, it’s all but impossible to detect without CO alarms. When your new furnace is set up, your current CO alarms will be inspected and tested. As needed, we’ll perform battery replacements or update these features.
Completing an Oil-To-Gas Conversion in Affordable, Manageable Phases
When converting from oil to gas requires the installation of larger or more complex service lines, it’s possible to complete these projects in manageable phases. Service lines are usually kept as short as possible to prevent gas leaks and other hazards. However, when completing these projects in phases, utility companies can cap off newly installed sections until new line extensions are created. This way, homeowners can gradually achieve their goals of conversion without subjecting themselves to undue financial stress.
Residents of Nashua, NH can count on us for top-notch heater and air conditioner maintenance, installation, and repair services. We also provide oil-to-gas conversions, boilers, and ductless mini-splits. To find out more or to schedule an appointment, contact Joyce Cooling & Heating Inc. now.