We’ve learned too late the joys of radiant heating. We grew up in the south which meant no personal experience with radiators. We now live near Asheville, NC and were led astray by a “family friend” HVAC installer who told us we’d hate the two-pipe steam radiator system in our new-to-us historic home claiming they’d only heat 12 sq ft and even with upgrading the boiler we’d “still have old Pipes and old radiators, etc. Things that can break and flood.” We removed much of the steam piping in the basement to make room for the HVAC ducts. (Arg!!) He installed forced air: combo Heat Pump/NG Furnace in basement for first floor; Heat Pump in attic for second floor.
This has nearly doubled the heating costs (electricity plus NG for furnace) over what the 1981 Burnham boiler was costing to run on kerosene and the heat isn’t even keeping up (perimeter of the house stays cold which is unfortunately where the bathrooms are and drafty everywhere.)
We’ll be insulating the attic roof soon (most likely open-cell spray foam) which will help tremendously but even if it cuts heating costs in half we’ll just be back to where we started if we’d done nothing except turn on the lovely, toasty radiators. Needless to say we’re horrified, chilly, and now know that steam pipes couldn’t have broken and “flooded” the house!
I’ve spent the last few weeks reading extensively on heatinghelp.com and lamenting the pointless loss of our steam system and painful expense of installing an unneeded forced air system.
Some of the steam system is still here, including half the radiators, the 1981 Burnham Boiler with hot water appendage, and the risers to the second floor radiator locations. We’re looking in to what it would take to put the steam back together or convert what is left to hot water (since much of the piping has to be redone anyways) at some point in the future.
We have natural gas piped to the house and have a dedicated, relined chimney from the basement (it was relined for potential use with a wood stove). The radiators aren’t on-site but I’m going to check them for compatibility with hot water (based on the excellent info here on these forums!)
There’s such great information here about both steam and hot water systems. It seems like much of it is geared towards much colder climates. I’d really appreciate anyone’s thoughts on which option might be best for the climate here in the mountains near Asheville NC.
I’ve included a few photos of the parts of the system that are left.