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Hydronic baseboard heating system

tawang813 Member Posts: 1
Hi everyone,

New to this forum. Thanks in advance for any advice.

Our family is looking to purchase our first SFH in Montgomery County Maryland. In our search, we have come across a house built in 1962 that utilizes hydronic baseboard heating system in the entire house. There is updated CAC, natural gas water heater as well. The boiler unit looked original, I didn't take down the name the first visit but I will take a picture and write down the name the 2nd visit. I am unsure of the maintenance required for the baseboard heating since I've always grown up with forced heat air.

If we decide to move forward with this house, what are the important questions we should ask about the baseboard heating system? This is the list of questions I jotted down to ask; would it be reasonable that the owner know these answers or not?

1. Are the pipes in the system original? (The actual baseboard heaters look upgraded but the boiler looks original by first glance.)
2. When were the baseboard units replaced?
(insert more questions here)

Other questions I have for anyone on the listserve:
1. If we upgraded the boiler, would the house qualify for any energy efficiency rebates with MoCo?
2. What kind of boiler should we upgrade to?
3. Does anyone have experience with baseboard heating system and any advice for a new home owner when maintaining this type of thing?
4. Should we ask for a heating/AC person to perform an energy audit on the house before purchase?

Any advice or insight people have is greatly appreciated!!

Angela in Four Corners


  • josieT
    josieT Member Posts: 53
    I'm a homeowner, not a heating expert but I'll give you some of my opinions based on my personal experience.

    I highly recommend an energy audit. Typical home inspection doesn't tell you much. You'll get a sense of how good the windows and insulation is and if there leaks. This will give you an idea how efficient the house is. OR ask the current owner for the utility bills.

    hydronic heating is much more comfortable than forced air. I'd consider it a premium feature. You'll likely never be uncomfortable or have uneven heating.

    High efficiency boilers are the way to go. 85% efficient is fine. I was over sold on these 92% condensing boilers which I think was a waste of money. You'll find a hundred different opinions on manufacturers. Focus more on the competence of the installer more than the equipment. There are a lot of high pressure sales people too who give the estimates. Get references.

    These systems have been around for a very long time. Just as with forced air, you need to get a checkup and tune up every year. If you do that, maintenance isn't a big deal.

    Kudos to you for asking these questions. I wish I had been that smart as I incurred a lot of headaches from not doing my homework.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,832
    And if you do buy that house, we know a very good hydronic contractor in the DC area who will take good care of you.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,607
    Josie T offers very sound advice . She has been through the wringer and knows first hand .
    I suggest that you use the Find a Contractor portion of this site to identify a possible candidate that can visit the home with you and give you his opinion of the system . This should be compensated of course . Bigger headaches could loom if you show us pictures , you may not take the right ones and an eye on it in person is invaluable .
    Possibly you can even find someone with a building science background to look at the house as a system to really give you an advantage at the offer stage . Home inspectors are really not home inspectors for the most part .
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Steamhead said:

    And if you do buy that house, we know a very good hydronic contractor in the DC area who will take good care of you.

    Dan Foley of Foley Mechanical Inc. You will find him in the "Find A Contractor" Section of this site.