Thinking of hot water heat

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Old 01-05-14, 04:20 PM
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Thinking of hot water heat

My house is 800 sq ft, 2 bedroom, living room and kitchen and a small bathroom. For the last twenty years I've been heating with a coal stove. Which is fine unless its really cold out.

I'm getting old and I'm tired of shoveling coal.

There is duct work for forced hot air, however I would really like to convert to hot water heat. I have access to a three old fashioned cast iron steam radiators and I do know that with a little work they can be adapted to hwh (I saw them do it on This Old House). I even have a pretty good idea where I would like to put them. Depending on the room, I would like to use the CI radiators, baseboard units or a combination of both.

Big problems though. I have no access to under the house so the hw piping would have to be a combination along the walls and in the attic and the exterior walls are cinder block with paneling and no room to put piping inside walls. I don't mind boxing in the piping in the rooms where necessary as it would only be in a couple of places.

Now for the questions so I have a fair idea of what can be done and what I need to ask before I talk to a contractor:

1. Can the piping be PEX and what type and size?
2. Can I run the piping in the attic and then down to the floor?
3. Can I use a combination of radiators and baseboard units?
4. Does hot water boilers have a DHW coil in them and would it be practical to tie my water heater into it?

I'm sure I'll have more questions before I actually decide to do this.
 
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Old 01-05-14, 04:46 PM
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1. Can the piping be PEX and what type and size?
Yes. The type must be for HEATING systems and have an OXYGEN BARRIER. Size of the tubing depends on other design factors, such as how many BTU it needs to transport.

2. Can I run the piping in the attic and then down to the floor?
Yes. Need to take care that you don't freeze the tubing in cold weather.

3. Can I use a combination of radiators and baseboard units?
Generally not really advisable. Cast iron heats up and holds heat, radiating it slowly over time. Baseboards heat up fast and cool down fast. Mixing them can create imbalances in the system... cold rooms / warm rooms ... if you mix them in EQUAL PROPORTIONS in each room you would probably be OK.

4. Does hot water boilers have a DHW coil in them and would it be practical to tie my water heater into it?
They do, but it is the most inefficient way that there is to make hot water. You really don't want to do that I don't think.
 
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Old 01-05-14, 04:49 PM
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You probably don't need anything bigger than say a 30K BTUH boiler.

You've got natural gas?

You should do a heat loss estimate before selecting the size boiler to be installed.

See:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...alculator.html
 
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Old 01-05-14, 05:18 PM
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I was thinking primarily using the radiators one in the kitchen and two in the living room, then because the bedrooms are small I would baseboard units. I prefer the bedrooms cooler anyways.

I would use either oil or propane. Though I'm leaning towards propane as any fuel tank would have to be outside regardless of fuel type
 
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Old 01-05-14, 05:49 PM
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If this is your first stab at designing and installing a hydronic heating system, then it's probably best to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible.

Along those lines, you might be better off passing on the used steam rads. Trying to convert and incorporate them into the system will add uncertainty to the equation (what is their heat output rating, will they leak under higher water pressure, etc.) that you don't need.
 
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Old 01-05-14, 06:16 PM
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Thanks for your answers. I'll stick with baseboard units.

Next two questions.

I know that there many opinions on this but, what is a good brand of boiler to consider and are there any brands to avoid?

Are there any questions I should ask the contractor when I talk to them?
 
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