[quote="whistlenut"]I'm assuming you have a hot water boiler...with a prehistoric oil burner on the beast....and efficiency is not as 'kind to the fuel' as you would like.
<<Yes, you are correct in your assumption.>>
Hot water baseboard? or radiators?
<<radiators, newer ones on first and second floor- old steel kind on third floor>>
Look for a name plate on the old boiler...you should see Gross BTU and Net BTU output. Now you will know where the previous folks started from
<<will do that tomorrow. I really hate going into our basement, lol. But, will do so if we get a coal boiler>>
You would be a candidate for a new or refurbed coal stoker boiler, and as you read on the forum, there are many very good units, both new and used. I checked out you location on mapquest, and there are a number of members close by. My thought is to see if you can get an 'invite' to an operating system.
<<Yes, I think I need to see a system in operation. I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the learning curve, but I refuse to let that get in the way of being warmer.>>
DO NOT freak out when you get the blast from the eco folks who want you to replace the windows, add insulation, etc. All that can come later, meanwhile you will be safe and warm and still be able to afford groceries!
<<Thank you for this advice. I would love to get all of those new things, but with 5 kids and helping to pay for college for one of them, we barely have two pennies to rub together, so one thing at a time.>>
Start the research by learning about: Axeman Anderson, AHS, Alaska, EFM, Gentleman Janitor, Harman, Keystoker (Keystone Manufacturing), Leisure Line Products, Patriot.NET, Van Wert.....and who did I miss????????
The wet basement gets my attention...but that can be done at any time. Chimney flues? One, two...or none?
<<would love to have a better solution to the basement, but we've had a "lawn drain" installed and the two sump pumps and really need to deal with the boiler next. We have one chimney flue.>>
Rice, buckwheat, pea, nut, and stove coal sizes. It's all surface mined these days, so don't 'sucker' for : Pure Deep Mined Coal!
<<which of these kinds of coal do you feel is best?>>
I always recommend a stoker boiler with the ability to generate your hot water. Used, Refurbed or brand new, there is plenty of time, but the first 40 degree day will sure get your attention! Your lifestyle will have some influence, but any stoker will give you 24 hours at a minimum.....some several days. A hand fed unit will do the same but requires more attention; however they are less costly. If you are the 'Davy Crockett Type' and just 'killed dinner' you might want to have a hand fed unit.
<<We are def. not the Davy Crockett type but not unhandy either... somewhere in between so it sounds like a stoker boiler is the way to go.>>
Tampa tonight, and a couple of days......and JUST ASK ME if I want to see or hear another political advertisement on TV or on the Radio.....Lots of 1-866 or 1-800 calls.....what a freaking waste. We could have you guys burning in a week, however you have to suffer through this war of words.
<<I hear ya. My hubby loves to watch CNN and between the constant political drivel and phone calls, I am going batty.>>
Thanks for all of your help, Whistlenut!