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Hot water radiator versus forced air

zoom
zoom Member Posts: 72
I am taking a old house back to the studs. I will be installing AC. The old house has hot water radiators and a WM boiler ~20 years old. I have no knowledge of the state of the radiators, since the house was in foreclosure, although it is clear that there has been some "clumsy" radiator installations more recently that clutter a few rooms quite severely.

So the question is: Replace the old hot water system with a blow heat system, or try an renovate the old radiator system with a new boiler? What are the considerations either way?

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,966
    How comfortable do you really want the house to be in the heating season? If you're looking for comfort -- that is, if this is your house at least for the time being -- you'll refurbish the hot water system. It may not take that much work, mostly depending on how much damage occurred (if any) during the foreclosure due to freezing.

    On the other hand, if you are flipping this place, you'll put an undersized (cheap) hot air furnace on the a/c, sell the hot water system for scrap (you won't get much), and get out of Dodge.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Brewbeer
  • zoom
    zoom Member Posts: 72
    Thank you Jamie ... this is not a flip, we will be here for a few years. I definitely am not going for cheap over quality and comfort.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,966
    OK. Good! Then your best bet is to keep the hot water system. The first thing to do is to check for damage -- leaks -- and the least messy way to do that is with air. Air is not goof-proof -- in fact it may fool you into thinking you have leaks when you don't -- but it would find any gushers.

    Then do a heat loss on the building as you plan it to be -- room by room (there are several good programs for doing this; try Slant/Fin's. And they don't need rocket science to do) and compare the results with the existing radiation. You may find that some radiators can be changed (like the ones which were kludged) without difficulty. And even the ones which were kludged can likely be moved to somewhere better. Not hard to do with hot water heat.

    And post information about the existing system and controls and boiler and we can probably make even more -- and hopefully intelligent -- ideas and comments.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • zoom
    zoom Member Posts: 72
    Thanks Jamie. I will get to the house this week and take lots of picture to post.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,690
    If you're really interested in comfort, and are gutting the place, why not just go with radiant floors/ceilings? Then you can avoid the state of the radiators.
    steve
    EYoderCanuckerluketheplumber
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    When the forced air system died in my house, I ripped it out and installed hot (warm, actually) water baseboard heating. Yes, it was a lot of work, and cost much more than replacing the forced air furnace, but I plan on living here for many, many years, and the forced air system was horribly drafty, noisy, and left the room most occupied in the evening, cold.
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg