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Dead Men Tales: The Secret to Heating Old Churches

HeatingHelp Posts: 366
edited February 22 in THE MAIN WALL

The Secret to Heating Old Churches

In this episode, Dan Holohan shares advice for keeping old churches and other buildings with lofty ceilings comfortable in the winter without sending fuel bills soaring.

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  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 1,851
    I love that WHoly story. Especially the lofty temperatures. Nun of these episodes are as good as this one Dan
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 289
    Interesting that you bring up/mention Liverpool, home of the first air conditioned building, St. George's Hall. I guess air conditioned isn't quite the right word, but centrally heated and ventilated building of the modern age would be more accurate. It's quite impressive with massive ducts for low velocity air city - quite a feat for the early Victorian era.

    Do you know if the heating in the cathedral was inspired by Roman hypocausts? Frank Lloyd Wright was inspired to use radiant heat from a visit to Japan and experiencing the Ondol, or Korean radiant floor in a nobleman's house when he was building the Imperial Hotel (or so he says).
  • detroitslumlord
    detroitslumlord Member Posts: 3
    Excellent story. Amazing what the 1890 guys knew and we are still learning about. Miss your seminars in Detroit. Speaking of Holy Books, I wore out my first copy of "Lost Art of Steam Heat" but keep it taped up next to my 2nd copy. 50 year old Burnham 800,000 BTU two pipe steam system has blue water in the sight glass. Very Clean water. But they quit making Rust Raider ! What do you suggest for a replacement anti rust additive ? I want this boiler to live another 50 years.
    JACKJR Member Posts: 1
    Amen, Brother.
  • wam525
    wam525 Member Posts: 7
    Interesting comment about Roman hypocausts. The 18th century Hampton Mansion ( in Maryland has an Orangerie, where they kept orange and other citrus trees growing year round. In the winter the floor and trees were heated by a hypocaust. Nowadays, though, they don't use it.
    This website has a picture of the reconstructed Orangerie:
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,443
    Durham Cathedral in Durham, UK, also has heated floors. Since it is Norman and very early Gothic -- mostly somewhere around 1000 AD -- I have no idea how they were originally heated. Probably novices chucking in great quantities of wood!

    And on a similar note, the church I once attended -- when services were held, which was rarely -- in central Vermont had a very simple, if effective system: a huge wood stove near the entry, between the doors (women and men, you know) which was fired up early in the morning before a service. The stove pipe went from there up about 12 feet, and then along the length of the church and out a chimney near the altar. Radiant heat, 1800s style...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • jeant
    jeant Member Posts: 9
    Love this article. As a designer I see a lot of hot water pex systems going into floors of homes. Your comment "Actually, more than one ceiling fan. Someone told the clergy that heat rises, which it doesn’t. Hot air rises. There’s a difference. Consider that beautiful cathedral in Liverpool, England. Up near those high windows, 97 feet above the floor, the air temperature is only 1-1/2 degrees cooler than it is four feet above the floor. Air won’t rise unless you heat it, and a floor radiant system doesn’t heat the air; it only heats the people."
    So it appears that the radiant heat floor systems will keep folks (just the people) warm. I like knowing the difference between heating the air (which doe rise) vs a radiant floors which heats just the lower floor area thus keeping folks warm. That was counter intuitive for me.
    Thank you.
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 289
    Interesting orangerie and tidbit about Durham as well. I think I may have heard of that before - not surprising since they had Roman villas and baths in England.

    Getting way off topic, I came across a movable glass house for a camellia tree in Germany which is on tracks and covers the tree in winter - apparently it's mainly to keep it sheltered and temperate rather than heated per se. There were older ones which were more wall than glass, but the new one gets lots of solar gain and moves a few dozen yards depending on season.
  • Tomato
    Tomato Member Posts: 17
    A high school buddy's house was built with radiant heat. I hated going to his house because it was so uncomfortable, unless we were playing board games while we were lying on the floor. My house was heated with forced air.
    I wonder if they just had the thermostat turned to too low of a temperature.
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