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Planning on replacing my steam radiators with heat pump and central air, but is it worth it?

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JayLow
JayLow Member Posts: 4
edited September 2023 in THE MAIN WALL
Some background: Bought this house at the very beginning of 2022. It is a 1913 Sears catalog home, about 1400sf with a full basement, in New Jersey. The current heat is steam radiators, and the cooling is accomplished via window units.

I would like to replace it all with a 4-ton heat pump and air handler. I have already run the manual J and manual D calculations to figure out room load requirements, sized up my proposed ducts, and roughly planned out how I want to run things through the basement and up the walls. Previous homeowners were generous enough to leave enough random empty cavities for me to run duct through, so surprisingly planning this out hasn't been much of an issue despite the age of the house.

Now, I'm aware that in 99% of cases people would tell me that I absolutely should not even be thinking about replacing steam heat with a forced air system. Most conversations I've browsed refer to comfort -- but I can tell you right now that my current steam system is *not* comfortable.

On my second floor, I have three small rooms that (according to my manual D calc) have heating loads of 5100, 4300, and 3600 BTUs each. One of these rooms (the middle one) doesn't have a radiator at all, and the other two rooms aren't receiving the proper load, with identical 28"x12" wall-mounted single column radiators in each, which I'd estimate at 1000-1200 BTUs each. Each winter I open up the vents on these ones all the way and limit the vents downstairs as much as possible in order to maximize the time that steam spends in the upstairs radiators, but it's not enough. The best thing I can do is put a fan on the radiators to wick the heat off and around the rooms.

The first floor comfort is much better, however the bathroom doesn't have a radiator (recently renovated to include floor heating, however) and the heat is often unevenly distributed. The furnace itself is oversized for the house and very inefficient. The steam pipes running through the basement are also a mess and essentially prohibit me from ever finishing my basement, unless I redo 90% of the piping.

Installing a proper central air system and heat pump (while leaving the radiators in for one winter as a worst case scenario backup) next summer just makes too much sense to me. It'll fix the comfort issues on my second floor, allow me better control of where the heat and air goes in my house, make it so I don't have to deal with window unit ACs in the summer anymore, and eventually free up a ton of basement head space.

The other options (keep the first floor radiators, replace/upgrade the second floor radiators, and redo all of the basement piping) feel prohibitively expensive and counterintuitive compared to the central air plan.

I've already made some upgrades to the building cavity tightness, but would get a proper blower test done before making any moves as well to see what other improvements I can make to stop as much air leakage as possible.

I would also like to get ahead of the obvious suggestion of getting ductless mini-splits, cassettes, or a smaller heat pump for the second floor -- I've considered this but there are too many mitigating factors that make it difficult to pull off and I don't really consider it a great long-term solution anyway.

I guess I'm posting here because I'm worried that I will somehow regret it and want someone to talk me out of it, despite how I've gotten here. Most stories seem to go that people regret forced air because they find it more uncomfortable, but I'm *already* uncomfortable with my steam heat, so I don't know if I'd even be able to have the same regret. How often do you come across homeowners who don't like their steam heat? Am I missing any considerations that could change my plan?
tanklessman01
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Comments

  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
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    Hi.  Put some money in to improving the performance of your Steam System and do mini-splits for AC..I think you'll have the best of both worlds   mad Dog 🐕 
    WMno57ttekushan_3tanklessman01
  • JayLow
    JayLow Member Posts: 4
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    Mad Dog_2 said:

    Hi.  Put some money in to improving the performance of your Steam System and do mini-splits for AC..I think you'll have the best of both worlds   mad Dog 🐕 

    Unfortunately I think that "some money" to improve the performance of my steam system would be about 2-4 times the cost of the option to replace with central air, based on a few estimates, what I'm able to DIY, and my own knowledge of equipment costs (new furnace, near-complete tear-out and replacement of basement steam pipes, three new radiators and risers, etc). On top of not fixing the other issues that I mentioned. I'm hitting a wall seeing the feasibility of keeping my steam.
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,882
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    I guess I'm posting here because I'm worried that I will somehow regret it and want someone to talk me out of it, despite how I've gotten here. Most stories seem to go that people regret forced air because they find it more uncomfortable, but I'm *already* uncomfortable with my steam heat, so I don't know if I'd even be able to have the same regret. How often do you come across homeowners who don't like their steam heat? Am I missing any considerations that could change my plan?


    This is the tricky part. By all accounts, steam is wonderful, God's gift to earth, etc. On the other hand, only about 1-5% of US homes have it and that decreases annually. So I think 95+% people find that AC + forced air heat is the better value. That said, you don't have to choose, you've already got it in place. If after one winter you decide you can't live without it, you can reevaluate.

    PS. That is a massive heat loss for that space. I would double check that that for sure.

  • JayLow
    JayLow Member Posts: 4
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    I guess I'm posting here because I'm worried that I will somehow regret it and want someone to talk me out of it, despite how I've gotten here. Most stories seem to go that people regret forced air because they find it more uncomfortable, but I'm *already* uncomfortable with my steam heat, so I don't know if I'd even be able to have the same regret. How often do you come across homeowners who don't like their steam heat? Am I missing any considerations that could change my plan?


    This is the tricky part. By all accounts, steam is wonderful, God's gift to earth, etc. On the other hand, only about 1-5% of US homes have it and that decreases annually. So I think 95+% people find that AC + forced air heat is the better value. That said, you don't have to choose, you've already got it in place. If after one winter you decide you can't live without it, you can reevaluate.

    PS. That is a massive heat loss for that space. I would double check that that for sure.

    Yeah that's the nice thing about my situation/plan -- I'll be able to live with both for a winter, and if the forced air isn't working out for me, I can reassess my ability to keep the steam going in winter and only use the ductwork for AC.

    And regarding the heat loss -- those two rooms with (small) radiators on the second floors are built into dormers and have large floor-to-ceiling windows. At least 50% of the wall space including the windows is exterior, so the BTU/sf needed is massive compared to downstairs. I am definitely planning on running my numbers through one or two more software packages, but I'm pretty confident in my first go at it.
    Hot_water_fan
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
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    Through my consulting, most residential homes with steam heat need  improvements (keeping the boiler) that average just a few thousand bucks...cheaper than going with most any new system.  Do you feel you had a top notch Steam Man look at it??  Mad Dog 
    CLamb
  • JayLow
    JayLow Member Posts: 4
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    Mad Dog_2 said:

    Through my consulting, most residential homes with steam heat need  improvements (keeping the boiler) that average just a few thousand bucks...cheaper than going with most any new system.  Do you feel you had a top notch Steam Man look at it??  Mad Dog 

    Well I'll tell you that my current boiler is 150k in/90k out which I've been told (and I agree) is way oversized for my house and radiators. So if my goal is efficiency and safety, that would have to be one of the first things to look at and get replaced. The piping is also a complete mess and would be very labor intensive to replace in such a way that plays nice with my plans to install ductwork and eventually finish the basement.
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,882
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    Yeah that's the nice thing about my situation/plan -- I'll be able to live with both for a winter, and if the forced air isn't working out for me, I can reassess my ability to keep the steam going in winter and only use the ductwork for AC.


    I think you've answered your original question, as comfort is super subjective and your opinion is the only one that matters.



    Although I am biased in favor of heat pumps :smile: .
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    @JayLow , where are you located? I'm sure there's a real Steam Man near you. Sounds to me like the only voices you've heard so far are the heat-pump pushers.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    CLambMad Dog_2PC7060
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,882
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    I don't think the decision is between steam and heat pump heat, rather it's between ducted AC and window units and basement remodel potential or not. The steam can stay with a heat pump installed.
    CLamb
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,428
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    Forced air heat -- which includes central ducted heat pumps -- is not, usually, as comfortable as steam, if both are equally well installed and balanced. They both, also, have their quirks regarding installation and, oddly, both are often equally poorly designed and installed.

    Your description of those two upstairs rooms with the dormers and windows suggests to me that they will need a lot of heat, and your descriptions of the radiators suggests that you don't have it. That said, it will be much simpler and cheaper to install larger radiators in there than it will be to get adequate supply and return air ductwork installed. The supply pipe is, after all, already in place. Note that I said return air ductwork. It needs to be at least as big as the supply in a bedroom or any other space which will need heat with the door closed. You may have space for it -- but don't omit it.

    On costs of installation, there is no way -- sorry -- that getting your existing steam system properly balanced is going to cost anywhere near what installing a central ducted heat pump system is going to cost. There are several very good steam people in your area -- @EzzyT comes to mind, as well as @clammy -- who might be able to help you out.

    However, if your heart is set on a heat pump, it's your house and who am I to dispute?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Mad Dog_2
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,882
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    On costs of installation, there is no way -- sorry -- that getting your existing steam system properly balanced is going to cost anywhere near what installing a central ducted heat pump system is going to cost. 
    I think this goes back to the original question: are we trying to fix heat (existing will be cheaper no doubt) or are we adding AC and freeing up basement space? I read it as the latter, and in that case the heat pump is more or less free vs. the equivalent AC. 
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,335
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    Another vote for paying @EzzyT or @clammy to look it over and give you an estimate on what it would cost to get it into top notch shape.
    I have a 1916 home. Looks like a Sears home, but I don't think it is. Big low hanging pipes in the basement, but I'm OK with that. I like my 1916 radiators, they look right for the home, and they are warm!
    About 20 years ago AC was added to the first floor with a package style unit sitting outside a basement window, one large sheet metal duct running across the basement, and small flex ducts running off that to registers.
    No AC on second floor. If I decided I needed second floor AC, there are ways to do that.
    I DIY.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,428
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    On costs of installation, there is no way -- sorry -- that getting your existing steam system properly balanced is going to cost anywhere near what installing a central ducted heat pump system is going to cost. 
    I think this goes back to the original question: are we trying to fix heat (existing will be cheaper no doubt) or are we adding AC and freeing up basement space? I read it as the latter, and in that case the heat pump is more or less free vs. the equivalent AC. 
    Quite true. In fact, @Hot_water_fan , in mid-range climates like that, I can see no point in putting in central air without using a heat pump. Cost is similar, ductwork can be configured to work reasonably well for both, and, as you have pointed out, if the electric rates are reasonable you can use the heat pump at least in the shoulder seasons and save some money. So if the fundamental driver is central air -- yeah, do the heat pump. Comfortable warmth on those cold nights is another matter -- so I'd say if there is a functioning other heating system keep it.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Hot_water_fan
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    WMno57 said:

    Another vote for paying @EzzyT or @clammy to look it over and give you an estimate on what it would cost to get it into top notch shape.......

    Make that three.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,882
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    I’m glad you agree @Jamie Hall! The reality is almost all Americans desire central air. When we stray too far from that fact, we stop listening to the customers and start preaching. 
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,218
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    I would definitely get a decent steam person in there. From the description of your problem, it may be able to be largely improved by a simple 5 minute adjustment to the thermostat internal settings. The only way to know is to get a truly knowledgable steam person in.

    The other thing to consider is that it became quite clear last Christmas that about 1/2 to 2/3 of U.S. states are running out of electrical capacity during cold snaps... not a good thing if you have a system that uses massive amounts of electricity, where your boiler just uses a very small to tiny amount ( as little as 10 to 20 watts) Also, look at life cycle costs... 14 year heat pump life versus 30 to 40 year boiler life. Ducts take up ceiling space in the basement too and if it is typical ductwork, you have now increased the heat loss of the home ( based on DOE studies)
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    Mad Dog_2
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,155
    edited September 2023
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    You need to have EzzyT or Clammy to come and look at your system and upgrade it with the proper main venting and TRV's and a pair of low water cut offs to protect the boiler and or the automatic water feeder

    If you do not have low water cut offs to control the boiler they should be installed anyway for code.

    The boiler probably needs a good cleaning, new main vents and TRV's on each radiator to allow you to heat the rooms when you want or lower the temperature in the rooms you are not using which will save you a great deal of fuel.

    You probably have mud/sludge in the boiler steam chest that needs to be washed out as it is affecting the boilers efficiency and to have an oil skimming port added as well.

    You will spend less doing the boiler cleaning, installing the 2 low water cut offs, main vent(s) and TRV's for each radiator for your steam system to improve it.

    With steam heat a single drop of water expands 1,700+ times in size to provide the heat energy that travels to your radiator.

    Buying 2 of Mr. Holohans bibles on steam heating are a must for you and they are "WE GOT STEAM HEAT" and "GREENING STEAM HEAT".

    You can purchase these excellent books from The Heating Help bookstore page on the secure web page and there is no middleman to deal with as you order the book directly from Mr. Holohan and he ships the books to your door.







    Mad Dog_2clammy
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    Personally I stay away from steam removal and installation of ducted hot air been there and done that over the years and most were never as comfortable and usually increase in fuel and energy usage regardless of claims ,at least when compared to a properly operating and clean steam boiler . Everything works like crap when filled w mud and rust w bad radiator vents and main vents giving steam a bad name . Everything needs some maintance and steam generally gets a bad name because people go decades w doing nothing and then they complain and say it’s to expensive to repair . Wonders never cease . But on the other side if the boiler was not installed w the ability to be flushed washed out and skimmed then when it was installed it was just set up for failure and replacement plain and simple or installed by the clueless who cut corners . As for mini splits yeah they’re great keep them clean and serviced regularly and maybe 10 to 15 years if lucky remember they will never last as long as a real heating system and also that they’re only listed as an appliance doesn’t make me feel warm all over . Lol
    Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    Mad Dog_2
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,335
    edited September 2023
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    I get wanting central AC. Since you are in Jersey and not the Northwoods of Wisconsin, an air to air heat pump will heat your home. Not as comfortably as Steam, and you may be up a creek in a few years when everyone else electrifies and there are rolling blackouts some January evening.
    JayLow said:

    piping is also a complete mess and would be very labor intensive to replace in such a way that plays nice with my plans to install ductwork and eventually finish the basement.

    It's probably too late to complete your heat pump project before this winter. If anyone can pipe your existing boiler and radiators to be compatible with future ductwork, its Ezzy and Clammy. Clammy's pipework looks nothing like his writing (he may have been drawing up piping layouts years ago in English class :D ).
    You gave figures that show your boiler at 60% efficiency. How old is it? If you post pictures of the boiler and its current piping in the basement, we may be able to offer some suggestions on how you can have both a Heat Pump and Steam Heat. Or, we might come to the same conclusion you have, which is their not going to both fit in your 1400 sf home's basement.
    I DIY.
  • Bruce MacNeil
    Bruce MacNeil Member Posts: 4
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    Heat pumps are generally awesome -

    The east coast area I grew up in used to be steam, coal, furnace oil and hot water rads. Now - almost 100% of these buildings are 100% heat pump. Back up combustion is not even an afterthought.

    Removing the radiators and installing an air handler coupled with a heat pump will provide very comfortable heating and cooling.

    The heat will be much more comfortable and generally far more manageable - no more "on-off" and galloping steam.
    WMno57STEAM DOCTOR
  • EggyToast
    EggyToast Member Posts: 6
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    Hey! I'm in NJ, bought a home built like a hundred years ago, and was dissatisfied with steam heat. I posted here about replacing it with forced air or similar. And people were skeptical just like you said, too.

    I had radiators that were too hot, others that didn't get hot, and some that clanged so loud that it woke up my kids. I even had an emergency where the pressure had worn a hole in a main pipe and sprayed hot steam in the basement that was hastily patched by a "heating guy" who said I should replace it all.

    But after posting here, EzzyT reached out to me and took a look at the system in person. Just like you, my boiler was MUCH too big and the pipes were a mess. We talked about it and I decided to invest in him redoing the pipes and replacing the boiler (which needed repairs anyway, was old).

    The difference in the finished product was huge. Come winter, I set the thermostat to "71" and forget about it. The steam heat is quiet and gentle, and works throughout the entire house surprisingly evenly. The radiators were all balanced with new valves to match their size and the room size, and the only noise in the system is a gentle "pff pff pffff." It's certainly quieter than the central air that was retrofitted into the house that runs in the summertime, and which (due to windflow and thermostat) is often a "little too hot" or "a little too cold" and only runs best when all the doors are open, making us freeze in the summertime if we're sleeping and it kicks on. The only change I make to the heat all winter is, on the very cold days, set it to "72" so that it is just a little warmer.

    If you're going to convert and your heart is already set, there's little anyone can say to change your mind. But it's also a one-way street, and steam is a great heating system IF it's done by real professionals. Almost all of the problems are tied to getting some random "heat guy" who thinks bigger is better and messing it up.
    WMno57DJDrewSTEAM DOCTOR
  • tanklessman01
    tanklessman01 Member Posts: 11
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    JayLow said:
    Some background: Bought this house at the very beginning of 2022. It is a 1913 Sears catalog home, about 1400sf with a full basement, in New Jersey. The current heat is steam radiators, and the cooling is accomplished via window units. I would like to replace it all with a 4-ton heat pump and air handler. I have already run the manual J and manual D calculations to figure out room load requirements, sized up my proposed ducts, and roughly planned out how I want to run things through the basement and up the walls. Previous homeowners were generous enough to leave enough random empty cavities for me to run duct through, so surprisingly planning this out hasn't been much of an issue despite the age of the house. Now, I'm aware that in 99% of cases people would tell me that I absolutely should not even be thinking about replacing steam heat with a forced air system. Most conversations I've browsed refer to comfort -- but I can tell you right now that my current steam system is *not* comfortable. On my second floor, I have three small rooms that (according to my manual D calc) have heating loads of 5100, 4300, and 3600 BTUs each. One of these rooms (the middle one) doesn't have a radiator at all, and the other two rooms aren't receiving the proper load, with identical 28"x12" wall-mounted single column radiators in each, which I'd estimate at 1000-1200 BTUs each. Each winter I open up the vents on these ones all the way and limit the vents downstairs as much as possible in order to maximize the time that steam spends in the upstairs radiators, but it's not enough. The best thing I can do is put a fan on the radiators to wick the heat off and around the rooms. The first floor comfort is much better, however the bathroom doesn't have a radiator (recently renovated to include floor heating, however) and the heat is often unevenly distributed. The furnace itself is oversized for the house and very inefficient. The steam pipes running through the basement are also a mess and essentially prohibit me from ever finishing my basement, unless I redo 90% of the piping. Installing a proper central air system and heat pump (while leaving the radiators in for one winter as a worst case scenario backup) next summer just makes too much sense to me. It'll fix the comfort issues on my second floor, allow me better control of where the heat and air goes in my house, make it so I don't have to deal with window unit ACs in the summer anymore, and eventually free up a ton of basement head space. The other options (keep the first floor radiators, replace/upgrade the second floor radiators, and redo all of the basement piping) feel prohibitively expensive and counterintuitive compared to the central air plan. I've already made some upgrades to the building cavity tightness, but would get a proper blower test done before making any moves as well to see what other improvements I can make to stop as much air leakage as possible. I would also like to get ahead of the obvious suggestion of getting ductless mini-splits, cassettes, or a smaller heat pump for the second floor -- I've considered this but there are too many mitigating factors that make it difficult to pull off and I don't really consider it a great long-term solution anyway. I guess I'm posting here because I'm worried that I will somehow regret it and want someone to talk me out of it, despite how I've gotten here. Most stories seem to go that people regret forced air because they find it more uncomfortable, but I'm *already* uncomfortable with my steam heat, so I don't know if I'd even be able to have the same regret. How often do you come across homeowners who don't like their steam heat? Am I missing any considerations that could change my plan?



    Several things if I am not too late responding..

    1- 4 Ton is way oversized for 1400sqft. 
    2- There are ducted mini split units,... only the outside is same as mini split, inside has a ducted Air handler.
    I suggest using one of those with  20 SEER or better.

    Here's the key factor in choosing the right heat pump.
    Make sure it's İNVERTER TYPE HEAT PUMP
    Reason; it's just like the tankless water heater or boiler,... it's on demand and adjusts it's capacity as needed.
    I would pick a model that can deliver 1.5 to 3 Ton and you will never look back to steam boiler.

    With that said;

    I have been installing them for ducted and ductless applications for quite some time with extremely good results.

    Some, keeping the radiators and adding the ductless mini split Heat pump units to the rooms and areas of demand,.. by the way most manufacturers don't bother with cooling only units anymore, they're Heat pump units capable of heating the house without any electric back up heat. This gives you 2 sources of Heat.

    Some with similar to your situation where there's a way to run adequate duct for all the rooms, owners got rid of the boilers and all the pipes.

    I had a propane boiler with hot water Air handler.
    Converted it with 4 to 5 ton inverter heat pump with no backup heat.

    Results were amazing
    a-) 50% reduction on my total electric bill in the following summer months
    b-) This inverter heat pump is heating 3300sqft home without any backup heat even at the coldest weather we have in Maryland,..fell below 10 degrees at some point..

    Note:
    Conventional Heat pump system no matter how high the efficiency will have to have a backup heat capable of heating the house by itself and more.
    Remember, they start going into defrost at temperatures below 40 degrees outside.
    Defrost means Heat pump switches back to cooling mode in the middle of winter, that, inverter heat pump doesn't..

    I am hoping this will help you or someone else in your situation.
  • Forever_Student
    Options
    I'll echo what a lot of people have said here, including both sides. DISCLAIMER: I'm an efficiency consultant, and a TON of work that I do is heat pumps, so I'm moderately pro heat pump, but I'll also try to be neutral. Just put on your skeptical glasses.

    It sounds like your existing boiler is ancient and needs to be replaced. Maintenance will probably be possible, but might be of comparable cost as replacement, which would net you a vastly more efficient system, so your real question would be whether you want to spend extra money on a condensing boiler that needs more maintenance but saves on utility bills, or a traditional non-condensing boiler that requires less (but still some) maintenance.

    It also sounds like you might have/get air in your pipes, and your mains might need some (new) vents. Adding or replacing vents might solve the inadequate heat upstairs

    If you do need new radiators upstairs, a couple of new radiators shouldn't be THAT expensive.

    I'd recommend at least getting the system looked at by a real steam guy. Don't just assume it'll be too expensive.

    If you do decide it's too expensive, or that you just want AC, or you're hopping on the green train, make sure you get a NEEP-certified cold climate heat pump (CCHP). I'd also really recommend variable speed. It'll run low and quiet most of the year, except when it's really needed.

    But honestly, as others have said, I can't imagine it would be less expensive to run a bunch of brand new ducts and install a complete system than it would be to replace the boiler, some piping, and a couple radiators.

    Let us know what you wind up doing.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
    edited September 2023
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    ...........The heat will be much more comfortable and generally far more manageable - no more "on-off" and galloping steam.

    Obviously the steam you experienced then was not something a real Steam Man had worked on. Knuckleheaded systems will behave that way.

    Once a steam system is running as it should, it will offer far greater comfort then any heat pump.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    bburdSTEAM DOCTOR
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
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    Heat pumps are generally awesome - The east coast area I grew up in used to be steam, coal, furnace oil and hot water rads. Now - almost 100% of these buildings are 100% heat pump. Back up combustion is not even an afterthought. Removing the radiators and installing an air handler coupled with a heat pump will provide very comfortable heating and cooling. The heat will be much more comfortable and generally far more manageable - no more "on-off" and galloping steam.
    I completely disagree!
    Almost 100% not even close!
    i highly recommend a back up, heat pumps are still computer driven and sourcing parts is a problem!
    the heat will NOT be as comfortable!

    you sir are full of ${%t
    STEAM DOCTORjim s_2
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,882
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    It sounds like the decision is either install ductwork and fix the steam system or install ductwork, wait one winter, then decide on fixing the steam. We’ll have our answer after this winter and the arguers can restart then. 
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,335
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    Now - almost 100% of these buildings are 100% heat pump.

    No. That one statement makes me doubt everything else you say.


    I DIY.
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,335
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    by the way most manufacturers don't bother with cooling only units anymore, they're Heat pump units

    This week my brother had a brand new York 80 percent gas forced air furnace and York AC only central AC professionally installed. 1-10- 20 year warranty. It was the right choice for him.
    I DIY.
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,335
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    It sounds like your existing boiler is ancient and needs to be replaced.

    My boiler is 75 years old and in excellent shape. It might have a longer life remaining than some of the new heat pumps going in today. I maintain it myself, partly because I don't want to hear BS sales pitches from 20 somethings who have limited mechanical and maintenance knowledge.
    Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I read the rest of your post, and you have some good points.
    To all the heat pump cheerleaders, salesmen, and efficiency consultants out there. Cut out the BS. This is a different crowd here on Heating Help. Repeating the BS that is ubiquitous in the mass media isn't going to fly here. Stick to the facts. Heat pumps have some benefits and are ideal in some applications.
    I could care less when someone tells me what "most other Americans want, or are doing". That will never carry any weight with me.

    I DIY.
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,882
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    @WMno57 we can agree most Americans want AC and ducted heat and do not want steam?
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,002
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    All Americans want the best option. Not all Americans know what the best option is. They are very few Americans who have lived with both an optimal steam system and an optimal heat pump system and comparable climates and markets.
    CLamb
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,002
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    What most Americans want, is a pretty lousy way to determine which of anything is best. And I am quite patriotic and from a family of veterans.
    CLamb
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
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    What most want is Cheap! Now the smarter ones don't shop by price.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,774
    edited September 2023
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    I’m glad you agree @Jamie Hall! The reality is almost all Americans desire central air. When we stray too far from that fact, we stop listening to the customers and start preaching. 


    I installed ductwork and central air in my house, in addition to the steam heat.

    So, yeah, we want central air.
    But some of us also want some form of good, constant heat. That doesn't mean a heat pump, it means a properly setup steam system, or, if applicable hot water.

    This forum used to be about repairing and upgrading steam. Now it seems we have a few that are against it..........
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,774
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    pecmsg said:

    What most want is Cheap! Now the smarter ones don't shop by price.

    EVERYONE shops by price.
    It doesn't necessarily mean cheap, but there's no way I'm going to believe when you go to buy equipment, parts or tools you don't look at price. When you buy a vehicle, price isn't a consideration? A house?

    Price is always a consideration.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,882
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    I installed ductwork and central air in my house, in addition to the steam heat.

    So, yeah, we want central air.
    But some of us also want some form of good, constant heat. That doesn't mean a heat pump, it means a properly setup steam system, or, if applicable hot water. 

    This forum used to be about repairing and upgrading steam. Now it seems we have a few that are against it..........
    You like steam, I like hot water. Doesn’t change the fact that most Americans don’t care about either. We can be pro steam and still be helpful and respectful of the 95% who don’t have it. 
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
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    ChrisJ said:

    pecmsg said:

    What most want is Cheap! Now the smarter ones don't shop by price.

    EVERYONE shops by price.
    It doesn't necessarily mean cheap, but there's no way I'm going to believe when you go to buy equipment, parts or tools you don't look at price. When you buy a vehicle, price isn't a consideration? A house?

    Price is always a consideration.
    Buying a vehicle is different. Thats built in a factory. My last van I shopped around and looked at pricing from the different dealers and settled on the local that was slightly higher, but I knew them, and they know me.
    Heat pumps, Steam, HW all come in several box's that have to be assembled in your house not a factory. That is where pricing comes into play.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,774
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    I installed ductwork and central air in my house, in addition to the steam heat.

    So, yeah, we want central air.
    But some of us also want some form of good, constant heat. That doesn't mean a heat pump, it means a properly setup steam system, or, if applicable hot water. 

    This forum used to be about repairing and upgrading steam. Now it seems we have a few that are against it..........
    You like steam, I like hot water. Doesn’t change the fact that most Americans don’t care about either. We can be pro steam and still be helpful and respectful of the 95% who don’t have it. 

    It does change the fact of what we should be recommending on this forum.
    A lot.

    Whether or not people listen to the advice is one thing. Giving advice to rip out systems is another.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,774
    edited September 2023
    Options
    pecmsg said:

    ChrisJ said:

    pecmsg said:

    What most want is Cheap! Now the smarter ones don't shop by price.

    EVERYONE shops by price.
    It doesn't necessarily mean cheap, but there's no way I'm going to believe when you go to buy equipment, parts or tools you don't look at price. When you buy a vehicle, price isn't a consideration? A house?

    Price is always a consideration.
    Buying a vehicle is different. Thats built in a factory. My last van I shopped around and looked at pricing from the different dealers and settled on the local that was slightly higher, but I knew them, and they know me.
    Heat pumps, Steam, HW all come in several box's that have to be assembled in your house not a factory. That is where pricing comes into play.

    Yes and no.
    Price is still a factor and unfortunately, I still have no idea how to tell people how to find a good contractor because price doesn't work. I personally had the highest bidder do worse work than a cheaper guy. Much worse........down right dangerous.

    Obviously a guy who knows his stuff that takes pride in his work deserves to be paid well. But there doesn't seem to be a way to figure out who that is until it's too late? And then there's all of the people who you're talking about that don't know, don't care and just want cheap.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,882
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    If a homeowner tries steam and forced air and decides that one fits their needs (comfort, space, expense, etc.) better, that’s the decision. Doesn’t matter what we say :)