New house with boiler heating - what are my options for upgrading?


Old 07-18-14, 05:58 PM
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New house with boiler heating - what are my options for upgrading?

I'm considering purchasing a duplex in Minneapolis, MN. The house was built in 1894, but I suspect it was completely renovated in the ~50s as it's reminiscent to other homes in the area of that time.

One thing I really dislike about the home is that it has the radiator heating with a huge boiler in the basement. While the boiler looks old, ugly, and cumbersome, the realtor told me it's <5 years old - what do I know about boilers. I'll need to get confirmation on that.

While I don't mind the boiler system taking up space in the basement, the actual radiators in the room are very obtrusive. The rooms themselves aren't very large, and the radiators take up very needed space in each room.

I've considered gutting the whole system and replacing it with forced air, but I'm uneasy about doing that in a house that wasn't ever designed for that kind of ductwork, let alone the cost of it. Now that I'm finding out the boiler (says furnace in the house ad, I'm assuming they're the same?) is new, I'd rather not replace something that has a potentially long life span left.

I'm wondering if there are more modern radiator systems that I can install? Something that is less obtrusive, takes up less space, etc? If there's no easy plug-and-play option, would removing the radiators and placing piping in the floors be a possibility? I'm not adverse to this as I'm planning on redoing all of the flooring in the house already.

Thank you for any ideas/advice

For reference, these are the kinds of radiators in the home currently:
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Old 07-18-14, 07:25 PM
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Boiler is forced hot water furnace is forced warm air. If you really want the best upgrade you should do hydro air. That's if there's room for it. It's expensive but it's the best kind of heat with the option for ac. You can also add a heat pump type to save on gas or oil.
Old 07-18-14, 08:01 PM
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You know, I thought boiler and furnace were technically different words. It says 'new furnace' in the ad, but in person it's clearly a boiler and not a furnace.

I'll look into that system, thanks
Old 07-19-14, 12:36 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
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Here is the hard part, all boilers (except electric models) have a furnace where the fuel is burnt. But in residential heating service if it contains water it is a boiler and if it just heats air then it is a furnace.

Now, the next question is, do you have a steam or a hot water system? A steam boiler will have a tubular glass on the side where you can see the water level inside the boiler. A hot water boiler will not have the glass but will have a thermometer, often combined with a pressure gauge.

I spent over thirty years working with commercial and industrial size boilers, both steam and hot water. My personal opinion is that steam in residential heating is a poor method. Still, there ARE many steam systems still in use and many people like them. If you can post several pictures of your boiler and the nearby piping we can help you to understand your system. Pictures need to be clear, well lit and in focus. Best to upload pictures to a photo hosting site and then post the public URLs in the forum.

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