Upgrading Heating - Help please: Gas Hotwater Baseboard vs. Forced Hot Air Gas


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Old 04-04-08, 08:17 AM
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Upgrading Heating - Help please: Gas Hotwater Baseboard vs. Forced Hot Air Gas

I live in Massachusetts (cold winters that can drop well below freezing) in a 2000 sq ft slab ranch (no basement). Built in 1969, my home was previously fitted with radiant floor heating via water boiler. Unfortunately, one of the coils has sprung a leak, an effect (I’m told) of acid in concrete eroding the copper coiling over 40 years. The system is essentially on its way out and I imagine that this leak is the first of many. It has already done a number to my floors and I don’t want to be ripping my floors up every other month next winter.

The previous home owners installed a central air conditioning system with vents in the ceiling only, with ductwork through the attic (minimal insulation).

My boiler is very old and everyone that looks at it is surprised it hasn’t already died, which is why I bought a home warranty to cover the cost if it goes.

I am only planning on living in this current house for about 5-10 years (not a long term investment).

I am trying to determine what would be the better investment of my limited money that would also heat my house well enough for my wife and 2 yr old son:

1) My father-in-law said he would help me install hot water baseboard heating using the existing boiler. The current system has 2 heating zones due to the length of the home. The current boiler is estimated at only about 60% efficiency, but I wouldn’t have to pay anyone else for labor. I wonder about the difficulty of this project though since I don’t have a basement to easily run piping, and everything runs out of a central utility closet attached at the far end of the house. Also, I am not certain how well insulated the exterior walls are. I also have big bay windows in the dining and front sitting room where I worry the heat from the baseboard (if run below the windows) would just escape out the window and never make it into those rooms really.

2) I pay a contractor to replace my boiler with a furnace and run forced hot air using the current ductwork from my central air system. There’re only vents in the ceiling, so given the way heat rises (or cold air condenses and falls), I am concerned about the floors being cold all the time since I’m walking on a concrete slab essentially. Any added lower vents would have to be in walls since I have no basement to run ducts under the floor.

I also wonder about resale when someone looks at baseboard heating vice forced air.

Thanks so much for your time in reading and responding.
Sean
 
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Old 04-04-08, 09:32 AM
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Wink

You have so many IFS IFS there Its hard to say what to do. Is all back up to you for sure. Most of the time if you will be in the home for 10 years then go for the good stuff.
long cold winter . They both come out go for the boiler. It will be hard to get use to the hot air over the boiler there

Will sell the home in 5 years. Dont have many $$$$$ duct work is in Then go for heater in the attic with the AC
might go to http://warmair.net and compare fuel cost for there to see what you want to use.

Unfortunately, one of the coils has sprung a leak, an effect (Iím told) of acid in concrete eroding the copper coiling over 40 years. The system is essentially on its way out and I imagine that this leak is the first of many.
Thats for sure. Forget it go to the base board if you stay with the boiler
 
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Old 04-04-08, 09:49 AM
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I would never want to live in a home where the heat comes from high level ducting, even if it were in Florida and only needed heat 2 months a year. It's not comfortable.

One of the beauties about hydronic heating and is that a standard little pump like a Taco 007 costs about a penny an hour to run. You can round up and deliver BTUs far easier using water than you can with air. So not only is it far more comfortable, it distributes heat far more efficiently.

You need to do a heatloss calculation. The SlantFin web site offers up an excellent tool. From that you can do your room by room heatloss. You'll need this for your planning. It's critical for your design.

From there, I'd try and get a handle on your heating budget and desired outcomes. If the budget permits, I'd install panel rads with individual TRV temperature controls, all piped with EVOH coated Pex or Pex-Al-Pex back to manifolds. The Pex may be far easier to run in your case. I would pipe the manifolds in such a way as to make a boiler installer's job an absolute change-out breeze, for if and when you or the subsequent owner changes it. With a lesser budget, I'd still do the same, but I'd use fin-tube baseboards. With outdoor reset they are very comfortable.
 
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Old 04-04-08, 11:21 AM
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You are really between a rock and a hard place with this problem.

I'll agree with the others that your radiant floor is shot and that overhead distribution for a forced air heating system in a residence is not a preferred solution.

This is not going to be an inexpensive fix. I think that Who's suggestion of a PEX-piped system using radiant panels (or baseboards) is probably going to be the best.

I will also state that improving the envelope (insulation and sealing of air infiltration) is a must before anything else.
 
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Old 12-24-09, 01:19 AM
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on the cheap

search out a hydronic heat exchanger and install in existing a/c ductwork , this will keep you going and wont be too expensive.. you can always re-use this in a new system later on...
 
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Old 12-24-09, 03:30 PM
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Id go with a new boiler and install a warmboard combination
If you have some decent carpentry skills you could lay down 3/4 advantek, with tracks cut out over the concrete. Lay the radiant in the tracks, attach new flooring. Voila. And you could do a room (zone)at a time.
And in theory you could keep the old boiler.

It would be slick.
 
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Old 12-24-09, 04:06 PM
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He probably already has a solution since this thread is from a year and a half ago.
 
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Old 12-24-09, 04:14 PM
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My bad.. I saw it was replied to yesterday. But didnt check the original date. Sorry to have bothered you.
 
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Old 12-24-09, 04:16 PM
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No bother to me. I just wanted to point it out since the OP probably won't be replying.
 
 

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