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Convert Oil Boiler Hot Water Baseboard Heat to Forced Air Oil Funace?

We have a brick ranch home built in 1955 in Western Pennsylvania.  Originally it had a coal fired forced air system.  Around 1970, the previous owners tore out the coal furnace and ductwork and installed a hot water baseboard system fired by a Crane oil boiler.  We are looking to replace the boiler before it fails us.  Every HVAC contractor we have had in here wants to tear out the baseboard heat and install a forced air system with an oil furnace.  Their reasons being that forced air is a faster heat and we will be able to add air conditioning.   We have new casement windows, so window units are out.  We do have a full attic however and could put the A/C up there and vent from the ceiling (I believe).  My husband insists the baseboard isn't very efficient anymore because the copper pipes are covered with a 40 year old layer of dust that is virtually impossible to remove with all the fins.  He says it's like a blanket holding the heat in the pipe.  Putting in forced air is a whole bag of worms with running duct work through the 1800 sq. ft. basement and to a second floor room (part of the attic is a finished living area).  Holes will be left in the hardwood and ceramic! floors where the baseboard pipes will be removed.  Is forced air worth the hassle and major expense of all this duct work (and tile repair, new oak baseboard thoughout house)??   Gas is not available where I live and the contractors claim that a heat pump will cost more in electric bills than oil, because the heat will not be warm enough.  We also have a wood burning fireplace that we are considering putting an insert in.  Contractor says we could tie this in with the forced air system to save on oil.  Is it worth it? Or should we just keep the baseboard heat and get a new boiler?   Any and all thoughts are very appreciated as I have lost enough sleep over this and need peace!  Thank you!!


  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,541
    Hot Water BB

    is vastly superior to an warm air system. You have the right idea with AC,put it in the attic! 
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086

    I didn't hear you mention that any of the contractors performed a heat loss of your home. Without it their opinion as to savings is smoke and mirrors. A properly sized heating system requires a heat loss of the existing home.

    Hydronic heat, in your case baseboard, can be designed to be much much more efficienct than forced hot air. A 87% AFUE oil boiler with outdoor reset and a properly designed system will provide you many years of comfort much more efficienctly than the forced hot air. It would also be more cost effective to replace the baseboard that your husband feels needs to be replaced.

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