FirstChoice Install
FirstChoice install arriving at the job.

Bringing the Mechanical Room Back to Life

July 9, 2024
Michael Flynn and his crew conduct a successful oil-to-natural gas conversion.

MONTVALE, NJ — In the past, it has been widely accepted that plumbing and mechanical systems belong behind the wall or in some dark, confined space tucked away in the basement. Not any longer! Thanks, in part, to the rise in social media popularity, use and acceptance, and some progressive thinking on behalf of some homeowners, plumbing and mechanical contractors are becoming all-stars, showcasing their work for fans to follow, especially that younger generation that spends an inordinate amount of time on their phones. Let’s face it, we all know that’s a fact.

One of those highly talented boiler installers—and content creators—is Michael Flynn (@flynnstone1 on Instagram), First Choice Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, Metuchen, NJ. Flynn and his team—which included two additional installers, Ryan Adam and Tommie Boymann—were called out to a residence in Montvale to perform an oil-to-natural gas conversion, which included a new boiler and indirect water heater retrofit.

Help from the Homeowner

Having created engineered prints and mock-ups for case and store showroom displays for his day job, the homeowner was proactive with the project on many fronts. One, the work was to be performed during warmer temps—May 2023—while minimal heat, if any, was needed, “because he told me that oil prices have gone way up and he’s not about to go into another heating season with oil,” says Flynn.

The homeowner—and the First Choice crew—were instrumental in bringing the mechanical room to life by using a black plywood backdrop to accentuate mechanical equipment from the original boiler swap out. In addition the owner asked the crew if he could document the work as an amateur photographer.

Nuts and Bolts

The install featured baseboard heat powered by an NTI FTVN 199 boiler with a 20-gallon NTI SW-20 wall-hung indirect water heater. The FTVN 199—199,000 BTU/HR—is a high efficiency, wall-hung boiler using a durable, vertical down-fired stainless heat exchanger. With 10:1 modulation and 96% AFU, an integrated ECM pump and domestic hot water diverter, quick connect components, WIFI connectivity for remote monitoring and alert notifications, the FTVN is mainstay with First Choice. “NTI has been our go-to boiler for many years; the manufacturer offers great products and even better support,” says Flynn.

Some other pieces to the mechanical puzzle were the use of a Taco VT2281 ECM high efficiency delta T circulator and four Taco Zone Sentry two-way valves—press of course, adds Flynn. “They are a full port ball valve and have the highest CV rating on the market, and it allows for the highest amount of BTUs you can push through a zone valve. It also features a 4-wire low voltage that directly integrates into the Taco ZVC control board,” says Flynn. 

The VT2218 ECM high-efficiency circulator comes with two temperature sensors to provide Delta-T readings to the pump’s brain. The VT2218 circulator uses up to 85% less electricity and maximizes total system and boiler performance so it’s ready to slash fuel bills right out of the box.

With a sump pump pit conveniently located a few feet away, Flynn and his team installed a Neutrasafe CN2-220v condensate neutralizer. “The tube-style gravity neutralizer was a perfect fit for this job,” says Flynn. “The media is encased in a sack for easy removal upon service, and the unions are located directly on the top, not a separate fitting. There also is a built-in, stainless steel screen so one can mount vertically without an inverted trap.”


But the conversion didn’t come with its handful of challenges. According to Flynn, it was a very difficult gas line to run. “It was about 70 feet of 1-1/4” piping around many corners under a deck which was only crawlable,” says Flynn.

But some of those headaches were alleviated with the REMs Tool USA Curvo tool. “It saves time and fittings, and the piping looks amazing,” says Flynn.

In the end, with this boiler change-out, Flynn is doing what he loves to do. “I always have a great time piping a boiler. For a project like this—the times I get to do both wall-hung units—it’s extra special because of the piping schematic and layout,” says Flynn.

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