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Professional Advice on Boiler Replacement: An Interview with Sasha Tsakh of Absolute Mechanical

By Sasha Tsakh

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We are a licensed plumbing company specializing in heating systems. Absolute Mechanical is on the forefront of heating technology, focusing on the implementation of technology and knowledge to make heating systems efficient and comfortable.

We are committed to utilizing only the highest-quality products and equipment manufactured, ensuring a superior installation in regard to both innovative function and impeccable design. Our system installations provide comfortable, quiet, and reliable heat with even heat distribution.

We offer many services related to heating systems from installation of new boilers with the design of the entire heating system, correction of existing installations, correction of hard to identify heating issues, and upgrades to heating systems.

What is the typical lifespan of an old boiler?

A properly installed and maintained boiler can last well over 30 years.

What are the most common signs that should warn homeowners that their boiler needs replacing?

a. A sudden increase in water consumption is a good sign that the boiler needs to be replaced.

b. If the repairs are starting to cost more than purchasing a new boiler, however often times this is because the repairs aren't being done correctly or on the right issue. Very often contractors will replace just the part that has failed without diagnosing why this part failed and addressing that issue.

Why do homeowners need to get professional help with an old boiler replacement?

Heating and boiler work is a profession; people tend to think that replacing boiler is just a matter of connecting a few pipes and a boiler. But there is a lot more to it, starting with proper design and finishing with commissioning of the boiler.

A proper installation of a boiler requires knowledge of physics, thermodynamics, and technology. When we do our installations we basically act as engineers putting together all the pieces. It's a very specific field of knowledge and having unqualified contractors can cost homeowners more over time than they may have saved on the installation. We correct so many installations it is really disappointing.

Homeowners need to make sure that their contractor can understand why certain ideas work and why others don't. Every installation is different.

We have many horror stories that we can share that show how important it is to have not only a licensed but also a qualified professional installing the system. The saddest part about heating is that sometimes homeowners don't even know that it could be better. They believe that poor heating is just something they have to live with.

How can getting a new boiler affect energy efficiency and long-term homeowner costs?

The boiler is just a part of the heating system. A qualified contractor will take into account the following during their design and installation--proper boiler sizing, control strategy, and design of the piping around the boiler. These factors mean more in terms of efficiency than the boiler efficiency itself. As a matter of fact, boiler efficiency itself is a smallest factor in achieving energy efficiency of the heating system.

Often correcting an existing installation combined with other measures can cut heating bill by 50% or more without even changing the boiler or converting to gas. We have buildings that we didn't even convert to gas or replace the boiler that are saving over 50% on their fuel bills just by making the necessary modifications to the system as a whole.

We've also seen contractors take the most efficient boilers and install them in such a way that a single-family house pays more than some of the buildings we've modified. Many of our multi-family buildings pay between $500-$1,000 in gas bills per month after our boiler installations and heating system modifications.

Do you have any advice for homeowners in Long Island who need to decide what type of new boiler to get?

The most important piece of advice is that it is not about the boiler brand or type of boiler; it's all about the installer. It is extremely important to perform your due diligence because this is a very large purchase and you should have only one boiler purchase per house. It's not something that should be replaced every 5 years.

Your installer must have experience in design and installation of heating systems. Since the license to install a heating system is the same as the one to work on sewers, lavatory installations, and any gas lines it is important to make sure your contractor specializes in one field of expertise. We recommend visiting their installations, asking for their references and even going as far as seeing the bills of those homeowners, before and after the installation. We often take our potential customers to see similar installations. We show them our Department of Buildings permits list so they can see that we only do heating systems.

Our customers also like the stories that we tell about our experiences, installations, and corrections of others' installations. We let them speak with the customer without us so they can discuss their experience with our company, our installation, and our performance.

Also ask your contractor how they would solve certain issues, if you have an issue in your house ask the contractor their opinion on it and research if that answer makes sense. A lot of homeowners hide the problems such as banging in the pipes, uneven heating distribution, or even domestic hot water not being hot enough. I think its because they think that will increase the cost of the installation. But this is a great way to test the contractor's knowledge. Don't be afraid that you may offend the contractor; if they know their stuff they will welcome these questions. Most of our clients have tons of questions even after we leave the meeting. There are tons of emails back and forth about how we handle this issue and that issue.

Also we recommend asking to see the contractor's calculations. How did they determine the required size of the boiler? How did they determine the domestic hot water load, etc.? They might have just a rough draft prior to signing the contract but it is important to know that their calculation didn't stop at reading the current size of the boiler.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

The best way to contact us is to call or email. We answer within a few hours.

Please visit our website for more information, we have a blog that addresses many common heating issues: www.absolutemechanicalcoinc.com. Or you can email us at sasha@gthvacp.com or call us at 718-492-3057.

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About The Author

Sasha Tsakh studied finance and marketing at Northeastern University, class of 2007....

Phone: 718-492-3057

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