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Hydro-air to avoid running a duct from the basement to the 2nd floor?

Members of another HVAC forum sent me here, since there might be more "wetheads" in here (not sure why then nickname).

We bougth a house in one of the Boston's suburbs. It is a 1938 house with addition built in 1978. Two-floor Cape with 2900 sq ft. and a goofy HVAC setup.

So in the 1938 part of the house (which is 2/3 of the house) previous owners kept the single pipe steam radiators on both floors and got forced air just on 1st floor (ducts are only on the 1st floor, since basement is unfinished).

We are converting to gas. Furnace has maybe a year of life left in it. Boiled maybe another five or more.

Biggie is that my wife absolutely hates those old radiators. I don't care for the hissing and knocking, since I have same ones in the office and they are annoying as heck. Plus, we have a toddler and planning on the 2nd child. Radiators and toddlers - guaranteed ER visit. Radiator cover pretty much kill the efficiency.

I am trying to educate myself on so I can do a better job finding and selecting HVAC folks to get me the best solution. Would love to do it before the heating season, especially if it can be done at reasonable budget.

Since I want to remove radiators and there are already ducts for heating and cooling downstairs, what do you think more cost effective options are?

My uneducated guess is removing furnace in the basement, replacing it with hydro-air unit that will handle downstairs, then ran supply line up to the attic, where there would be another blower box and have ducts installed in there? Would be nice to add cooling capability to 2nd floor at the same time.

Ideally I would like to just consolidate to something like a water boiler for both heating and water supply and remove the furnace. It would reclaim a lot of space in the basement.

Yes, cost definitely matter, but I also would like to have something that is bit more future proof.


  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    What to do?

    Get out the check book.

    Outside Boston? You need AC.

    New boiler in the cellar, an air handler in the cellar with AC to do the first floor. Another Air handler with AC in the attic to do the second floor.

    Depending on the layout, you might need a third air handler for the addition.

    Hope there's gas at the street.
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    edited June 2014
    Ready for my wallet to cry


    Would be interesting to hear how much damage I am looking at for my wallet.

    If I can just start by putting up something on the top floor for heating and cooling for say under $10K, that would be absolutely awesome. Then we just have to wait for the downstairs unit to die and then we can handle that. We just really really hate radiators. And I am absolutely scared about my daughter getting burned.

    And yes, we do need AC. House gets a lot of sun. Lots of windows. And we like our house to be at about 75 degree. Boston is not that cool anymore in summers. 84 degrees today already.

    Yes, already confirmed with the gas company they can bring it to my house for $1400. Considering both oil tanks are in, as inspector put it, do not breathe on them, do not even look at them, stage of aging, timing could not be better.

    Lastly, would love to get some pointers what type of contractor I should be looking for. There are tons of HVAC folks, but how do I find one who will be able engineer best system with hydro-air. I searched Angie's List and basically three I contact never got back to me.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    We don't discuss pricing here and I couldn't tell you what it might cost anyway. I'm not there or doing it.

    What I was saying is that it is very doable. Especially if you do a WA/AC air handler on the first floor, with ducting in the cellar, and an air handler W/WA and AC in the attic, with the hot water coil fed from a boiler in the cellar. A lot depends on the expertise of the installer. The compressor for the attic is on the ground floor and the line set runs up the side of the building into the attic to the air handler. The end result is that you end up with new heat and AC too. I hate to see you give up the radiators. There's nothing better. The rug roaches do grow up and they don't tend to hang out on the hot radiators. As they get older, they might sit near to feel warm but they don't usually want to get burned. Then, there's all those holes in the floor to patch where the pipes come through.

    I haven't seen the building so I don't know what is involved. I tend to not see things as impossible. Just some things are harder than others. What I'm really saying is that it is extremely do-able. Everything cost money. How much I can't tell you.
  • agurkas
    agurkas Member Posts: 238
    OK, so who do I call?


    Too bad I can't find out at least what range I am looking at. Challenge I have is that neither plumbers nor HVAC folks in Boston seem to answer. Maybe I pinged wrong ones.

    So the question is. Who the heck do I talk to about getting the burner swapped out. Plumber or HVAC company? In research I found that Carlin EZGas Pro might be the burner to go with for conversion, but for the life of me I can get Carlin to give me some local installers.
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