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hydro vs. hot air?

tjslp
tjslp Member Posts: 2
We have a dying oil burner for a steam system and are taking this opportunity to switch to gas fuel (gas is already in the house) and to get rid of the radiators/steam system that doesn't heat our drafty 3600 sq. ft. in a comfortable manner (and yes we've tried regulating it for the last 10 years...). We have several contractors recommending a hydro air system and several recommending a highly efficient variable forced hot air system. Both systems would run on gas. We are totally torn as to which is better. Any ideas out there? Btw, in either case we are running it up through the basement for the first floor and down through the attic for the second floor.

Comments

  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    RE

    Sounds like you've never had a good steam guy at your house. I would never recommend forced air to anybody. Not even my mother in law!



    Steam can be very comfortable and efficient if set up properly.
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    Keep The Rads

    If they can be converted to hot water, I'd keep the rads, add thermostatic valves and install a condesi g gas boiler. At the minimum I would look at this viable, better comfort and efficient system.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,330
    edited November 2011
    Don't dump the radiators

    if you think you're uncomfortable now, you'll really be in bad shape with a "scorched-error" system!



    Also, i don't recommend trying to convert your present radiators to hot-water. You'll be increasing the pressure on them at least ten times, which will make any weak spots show up as leaks. Moreover, since a hot-water radiator puts out only 64% of a steam rad of the same size, you may find your radiators are too small to heat the house on hot-water.



    You mention your oil burner is dying. If it has a leak above the waterline, the steam is going up the chimney instead of to the radiators. That doesn't lead to good comfort!



    Where are you located? Have you tried the Find a Contractor page of this site?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • tjslp
    tjslp Member Posts: 2
    rads need to go

    You guys all love the radiators huh? Anyone actually have them in their houses?? There are reasons they don't put these things in houses anymore. Thanks but 10 years of fiddling with them, my house either sweltering or freezing and my kids and their friends burning themselves, I am all set.

    Anyone have an opinion on my original ?, hydro or regular hot air?
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    edited November 2011
    Steam

    How can you say give them up without advising him to calculate a heat loss? You must watch alot of news. Ten times sounds alot bigger then saying going to 12 lbs. I know you love steam and I agree it can be made to provide great comfort but telling him not to even look at converting as an option is a little over the top without advising him to atleast do the math.



    To the poster, Still sell rads and if I had them I'd keep them. With a condensing boiler we can run lower water temps and if installed correctly no issues.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • njwebdevguy
    njwebdevguy Member Posts: 33
    Hydronic better for IAQ

    This is just my personal experience as a user but I think hot water heat is the best way to go because radiators are easier to clean than many ducts.. Ive seen so many problems in homes heated with forced air. I don't have any experience with steam but I like hot water heating. It retains heat for quite a while after it goes off and so it also seems more economical.



    Many cutting edge heating systems Ive read about also tend to use hot water in some way. People often use hot water with solar heat collectors. Those systems use lots of new hardware, but still I would not be surprised if it was possible to integrate solar with an old hydronic system. Probably unusual, but still, because they both use hot water i'd guess that even so almost certainly it can be done and it would probably work. Some high tech heat pump systems use CFCs or similar materials.. Water isn't toxic..its relatively cheap and it doesn't do much harm if it spills, as long as you catch it within a day or two, assuming it was clean water, often you can just dry it up.
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 797
    Hydro vs. Hot Air?

    Answer: They are the same, i.e they both equally suck.



    The main reason they don't put in radiators anymore in the U.S. is, like most things worth having, they are very costly.  It also takes two men about two days per radiator to put them in.



    Scorched error has always been cheaper.  Now they are claiming it to be "highly efficient." to boot.   Ooookay.

    They may actually believe it to be true.



    Your system used to work very well, providing even, quiet, comfortable  and efficient heat, or the original contractor who put it in wouldn't have gotten his final payment without proof.



    Imagine it!   Every radiator in your house can be made to heat up evenly at the same time no matter where it is!  Wouldn't that go along way to providing you the comfort you deserve? 



    It can be done.



     It is done every day by knowledgeable steam contractors and, in some cases, by homeowners like yourself.





    Spend $25 and buy and read "We got Steam Heat".  Find out why your system doesn't work like it should before you rip it out and lose forever one of the best heating systems known.  Also, check out "The Greening of Steam".



     
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,330
    Yes, I have radiators

    and they will only be taken out over my cold, dead body.



    No ducted system will ever equal the comfort of a properly-operating radiator system. And yes, some people do install radiators new.



    C'mon, you came here to ask us what we think, and that's exactly what you got. What's the problem?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,330
    Ten times is about right

    1.2 times 10 equals 12. So a steam system running at a pound, if converted to hot-water, would run at ten times the pressure- at minimum.



    If you've seen some of the chronically leaking steam-to-water conversions I have, you'd change your tune. The only thing such a botched job does well is attract lawyers. We're happy to let someone else take on the liability.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    It Is

    Not disagreeing with you on the pressure difference but do disagree with you on just flat out saying not to convert. Of course a proper inspection of the system needs to be done. My suggestion was that it is. viable option and one that could be looked into. Have done plentynof conversions that work like a champ. Its all about doing your homework which includes a heat loss. I also agree with you that the existing system could be made to run much better. That would also require a proper inspection.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,330
    You've been lucky so far

    Our company will continue to recommend against converting steam to hot-water. There are just too many pitfalls. Plus, we can get similar results by fixing the steam system, often for a lot less money. So why take the risk? 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • James Day_2
    James Day_2 Member Posts: 191
    hydro air

    I've lived in homes with all three. My current house has hydr air. I Hate it. I have it set up on outdoor reset with a variable speed fan and it still feels cold when it comes on and off. stick with radiators, have a good controctor come in and see what can be done.

    James
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