How To: Choose a New Boiler


If you’re looking to update your boiler before winter sets in, make sure you take into consideration your boiler’s size, efficiency, and venting requirements.

Feel that chill in the air? Winter is coming. Now is the time to assess your heating system and replace any aging or malfunctioning components. The first thing to look at is your boiler—the most common heating source in any water- or steam-based system. Boilers use natural gas, oil, electricity, propane, or wood to create hot water or steam that heats your home through radiators, baseboard convectors, radiant floors, or fan-forced coils.

There are several different types of boilers available, including high-efficiency units designed to help homeowners rein in high heating costs. If your heating system is more than 10 years old, you may be able to achieve substantial savings by switching to a newer model.

“While the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ certainly still applies, older boilers were often grossly oversized for the heating load of the house,” explains Daniel O’Brian, one our tech team members. “This leads to a dramatic drop in efficiency and an increase in heating bills and maintenance visits. A heat loss calculation can determine whether your current boiler is properly sized for your home. It’s a good first step in deciding whether or not to replace it.”

Boiler capacity is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. This figure represents the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Every building has a unique BTU requirement based on its geographical location and climate, the number of windows and doors in the home, and the quality and amount of insulation in the walls and ceilings.

An easy rule-of-thumb for BTU requirements is to figure that you need about 50 BTU per square foot of interior space in a cold climate; 35 BTU per square foot in a moderate climate; and 20 BTU per square foot in a hot climate. As an example, if you have a 2,000-square-foot house in a moderate climate, you need a boiler that can produce approximately 70,000 BTUs. Use this handy BTU calculator to determine what size is appropriate for your home.

A key factor when shopping for a new boiler is the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. This rating shows how effective the unit is in converting fuel into heating energy. “Replacing your boiler with a high-efficiency unit may seem like a no-brainer, however, these units require different operating conditions to reach their efficiency ratings,” comments O’Brian. “A straight-up trade may not net you much in the way of fuel savings without adjustments to the heating system.”

Any boiler with an AFUE rating of 85 percent or more is considered to be a high-efficiency boiler; many of these are Energy Star-certified, which means they meet strict energy-efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Most new oil furnaces today have AFUE ratings of between 80 percent and 90 percent, with their gas equivalents rating between 89 percent to 98 percent. Condensing boilers can reach ratings of over 95 percent when used with an outdoor reset modulation feature that accounts for outdoor temperatures. Electric boilers are nearly 100 percent efficient because they produce no waste gas; they can be a good option in areas of the country where electricity costs are low.




Another consideration when shopping for a new boiler is selecting a venting system that will work within your home. Chimney-vented boilers exhaust naturally through a chimney, while power- and direct-vent boilers use fans to push exhaust through a roof or side wall vent. Since power-vent boilers use air from inside they can be installed only in open rooms, not in tight closets or crawl spaces. Condensing boilers have special venting requirements due to the acidity of the condensate that they produce.

To learn more about boilers and how to choose the one that’s right for your home, watch the video below, or visit And, if you are in the market to buy, take advantage of the our annual Trade Tuesday event, December 3, 2013, for 5% site-wide savings.

This post was written in collaboration with Bob Vila

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Custom Baseboard Colors

Tom offers four primary options for baseboard heaters and enclosures: Slant/Fin and Runtal baseboards (primarily for hydronic systems), QMark electric baseboards, and Baseboarders universal replacement covers. All four brands come in white, but there are options for changing the colors of each of them to match the design of a room.

Slant/Fin residential baseboards feature a nu-white finish, but they can be spray-painted in the color of your choice. The manufacturer recommends the Rust-Oleum brand of spray paint. Baseboarders covers have a semi-gloss white powder-coated finish by default, but can also be spray painted. QMark covers can be painted with high-quality enamel paints. The manufacturer recommends roughing up the exterior with steel wool prior to painting and being careful not to allow paint on the inside of the heater. Only Runtal radiators can be made-to-order in custom colors. Find the list of available custom colors on Runtal’s website and contact SupplyHouse to order the baseboard you need in the color of your choice.

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The Aqua-Logic Indirect Fired Water Heater, new from Weil McLain, is a class-leading domestic hot water producer with simple plug and play installation.  Combined with the WM97+ range of boilers, this complete system gives high performance and maximizes savings during low demand periods.

With its advance control for personalized scheduling, you will really feel in complete control of your system, and with various modes including Vacation Mode, you’ll be increasing your energy savings and costs when you’re not at home.

The Aqua-Logic has the ability to flow more hot water during peak demand times, and there won’t be any temperatures changes when other faucets or showers are running.  Made from stainless steel, the indirect water heater comes with a limited lifetime warranty for the tank assembly and 1-year for parts.  You can find the WM97+ Condensing Technology boilers here.

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PexTV Episode 14


In Episode 14 on PexTV we highlight our selection of Air Eliminators.

We also tell you about our companies plans to take part in MOVEMBER, and change the face of mens health!

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Viega FostaPEX Tubing


Viega’s FostaPEX tubing provides a unique option for PEX installations. Its aluminum layer serves as an oxygen barrier, making FostaPEX compatible with closed-loop heating systems. The aluminum also keeps the tubing more rigid and reduces linear expansion. Unlike other PEX-AL-PEX, FostaPEX has the same dimensions as standard PEX tubing. Only PEX Press fittings can be used to make connections with FostaPEX tubing. FostaPEX is lead-free and NSF-approved for use with potable water. Viega MANABLOC manifolds have PEX Press fitting options. Make sure to use an appropriate prep tool to prepare FostaPEX tubing prior to making any connections.


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Watch the Tailpipe


Dans_Tip_Watch_TailpipeStart your car on a cold morning and walk around to the tailpipe. See that water dripping? That’s the way a high-efficiency, condensing boiler works. It removes so much of the heat from the flue gases that the gases turn to liquid and drip out. That liquid is acidic so we use neutralizers to deal with it before we dump it down the drain. Your car isn’t a condensing boiler, so it has a thermostat to keep the heater from heating the inside of your car until the engine comes up to a certain temperature. That’s to keep the acid out of your car’s muffler and tailpipe (Hey, repairs are expensive!). The next time your kids are yelling that they’re cold, and for you to turn on the heat, explain how a car is like a high-efficiency, condensing boiler. They’ll love you for that.

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Tank vs. Tankless Water Heaters


Tankless water heaters present an alternative to conventional tank water heaters. Tankless units generally take up less space, can be mounted on a wall, and only heat water on demand. Although tank-style water heaters expend extra energy to keep the contents of their storage tanks warm at all times, they are the preferable option in many applications. Tankless heaters can provide hot water indefinitely – but only if the maximum per-minute flow rate of a unit at the required temperature rise is not exceeded. This makes them an ideal choice for homes and applications in which extended use at relatively low flow rates is the norm. Since conventional tank water heaters have a pre-heated reserve of hot water, they function more effectively when heavy bursts of simultaneous hot water usage can be anticipated. Find out more about these two methods of water heating in’s video, “Choosing Between Tank and Tankless Water Heaters.”

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Spruce Up Old Baseboard Heaters With Stylish DIY Replacement Covers


Looking for a way to retrofit your old baseboard heaters? Do-it-yourself with the versatile and easy to install Baseboarders replacement covers.

Baseboard heaters have been an extremely popular choice for many homes since the mid-1950s—and unfortunately, many of these units are showing their age. Dents, dings, scratches and rust spots can make these sleek, compact radiator covers look dated and shabby. Luckily, there is an easy do-it-yourself retrofit for today’s homeowners with Basebaorders.

Baseboarders is the versatile, one-size fits all replacement heater covers that offer homeowners an easy way to refurbish old, ugly and damaged baseboard heaters. The sleek, architecturally-inspired covers take only a couple of minutes to install, and are a simple DIY home improvement project that can dramatically improve the look of any room.

“The main benefits to Baseboarders replacement heater covers are the elegant look, the ease of installation and the fact that they are safe for children,” points out Daniel O’Brian, one of our tech team members. “Baseboarders heater covers can give your room a whole new look in minutes; they are the sturdiest covers on the market, and they have a lifetime warranty against rust.”

Baseboarders replacement heater covers are made of 22-gauge perforated steel with two separate layers of protection against rust: an electroplated galvanized undercoat finished with an epoxy-based top coat in semi-gloss white. The sleek, curved silhouette of the covers allows them to fit easily over most existing baseboard heaters, measuring from 5 ½ to 6 ¾ inches tall, 3 ¼ inches deep from the wall and between 7 ½ to 9 inches from the floor to the top of heater. There is also a premium tall version available to fit over larger heating elements. To determine the correct size for your specific heater, check out this handy retrofit guide.

Another key feature of Baseboarders is the perforated steel screen construction, which promotes superior airflow to the heating element, while keeping it concealed. The child-safe design prevents children’s fingers from reaching into the heater, and also prevents small toys or other flammable objects from becoming trapped inside or under the heater cover.

Installing replacement baseboard covers is literally “a snap” due to the innovative construction. Simply remove the existing end caps and front cover; then position the Baseboarders replacement cover over the existing back plate and heater unit. Push down the lip of the new cover over the existing back plate until the new cover is secure; then snap in the new end caps, which can be adjusted side-to-side to ensure a perfect fit. If there is no existing back plate, you can purchase wall brackets to hold the new cover in place. For longer heaters, you can put multiple sections of Baseboarders covers together with a simple coupler strip.

Prices range from $41.95 for a two foot section up to $129.95 for a six-foot section; end caps start at $16.95; inside and outside corners, coupler pieces and mounting brackets also are available. All of the components are finished in a powder-coated, semi-gloss white tone and can be painted to match any décor. Baseboarders replacement heater covers allow you to transform a grungy and decrepit eyesore into an architectural asset in minutes, and at a fraction of the cost of replacing the heating system.

To learn more about the installation process check out the video below, or visit where you’ll find more information on baseboard heater covers and how to choose the right produce for your needs.

This post was written in collaboration with Bob Vila

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AO Smith Voltex SHPT-50


Joining AO Smith’s range of high performance residential heat pump water heaters comes the new SHPT-50 Voltex Hybrid Electric 50-gallon model.  The SHPT-50 has increased energy efficiency to ensure there is available hot water at the lowest possible cost.  With an Energy Factor (EF) of 2.75, the annual cost is $170, $25 less than a leading competitor, and $350 less than a conventional electric model.  This model conserves energy and meets Energy Star qualifications, which can reduce water heating costs by up to 66%.  It also meets the Uniform Plumbing Code requirements for 3 bedroom/3 bath homes with a 67.5-gallon first hour rating.

The SHPT-50 is ideal for basements or garage installations. It works by absorbing ambient heat from the surrounding air to heat the water using a compressor and environmentally friendly R134a refrigerant.  There is a self-contained heat pump that is integrated into the top of the tank, and choice of operating modes to maximize efficiency and performance, including Vacation mode, which can be programmed for up to 99 days. This reduces operating costs and provides freeze protection during extended absence.

The SHPT-50 also has a quiet operation of 51dBa compared with competitor’s level of 55dBA, and comes with an easy to use electronic interface.  It is SmartPort ready for connectivity to home management and utility smart grid applications, and has a 10 year tank and parts limited warranty.shpt-50-1

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PexTV Episode 13


In this Episode we talk about the products we carry from Triangle Tube.

Also, out of no where…there is a new host? WHAAAT?

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