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1940's Massive Skuttle Vapoglas humidifier hot air furnace in a house I'm buying

1940's Massive Skuttle Vapoglas humidifier hot air furnace in a house I'm buying

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  #1  
Old 10-25-13, 06:13 AM
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1940's Massive Skuttle Vapoglas humidifier hot air furnace in a house I'm buying

I'm about to buy a house and it is equipped with a massive and I mean massive Skuttle Vapoglas Humidifier hot air furnace from the 1940's. It's around 6ft tall and 3-4ft in diameter. I can't find any info on it. I emailed the manufacture with some questions and their only response was we stopped manufacturing that in the 70's.

I plan on having it checked out by a technician in the next couple of weeks but would like to learn more about it. Surprisingly, the thing looks immaculate considering it's age. The service records show it's operating at 73% efficiency. It fire's right up and is very quite.

It runs on oil but has a side door similar to what you would see on wood stove or coal furnace. Anyone know if this thing can burn wood or coal? Has anyone ever seen one or owned one?

I'd appreciate any information anyone may have.

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 10-25-13, 09:38 AM
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I'd be surprised if that's 60% efficient. Note the white tape on the joints. From here, it looks like asbestos. I've changed out a couple of them and it was VERY expensive to properly adapt a new forced air system. Edit....I will add that I have never seen this brand, but those of that style that I did change like it were gravity systems, no blower. Many were originally coal fired and later adapted to gas. Usually there was presence of a coal chute outside the house leading to the basement for delivery. Had to split them up with a sledge hammer to get them out. One house went to had an old one that the company that installed a new system just pushed the old one of to the side in the basement. heh
 

Last edited by tinmantu; 10-25-13 at 09:51 AM. Reason: Adding
  #3  
Old 10-25-13, 09:53 AM
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Yes, you are correct, that is asbestos tape. I know eventually, I'll probably have to replace it but I'm not really sure the best way to go about it. I'm not sure if it would be cheaper to replace it with another forced air furnace or something totally different. The state I live in is pushing really hard for people to install heat pumps. The states offering some sort of tax credit or rebate. Maybe installing a heat pump in conjunction with the existing furnace may be the way to go.
 
  #4  
Old 10-25-13, 09:57 AM
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It would have to be totally separate duct work IMO. I don't see a way to integrate a coil on that system. Maybe an attic install with it's own duct?
 
  #5  
Old 10-29-13, 06:32 PM
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Forced air pretty much needs a completely different duct system to work properly - heatpump or furnace.

After experiencing a gravity furnace, u may not like the luke-warm air a heatpump puts out. (using larger registers can help with this)

Anyhow, you're probably looking at over $10k to convert to high efficiency forced air.

---------------------
A word about efficiency testing...

The combustion analyzers techs use measure steady state efficiency, not seasonal efficiency.

Due to cycling, an old gravity furnace running at 73% could be only 50% on average due to cycling. The more metal there is to heat up/cool down every time it cycles, the lower the seasonal efficiency becomes.

73% combustion eff isn't too great; ideally you want 75-80%.
 
  #6  
Old 10-29-13, 08:32 PM
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I missed the "I'm about to buy" part.

Hopefully you can use the gravity furnace as a negotiating tool, since upgrading is a huge expense especially if the house is two story.
 
  #7  
Old 10-29-13, 10:32 PM
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Heed well what the others have written.

We used to call those old piles of crap an octopus furnace. Most likely this one was either originally fired with coal or it was at least designed to burn coal. IF your area once had several nearby sawmills it could have been a sawdust burner.
The service records show it's operating at 73% efficiency.
That is BURNER efficiency, NOT system efficiency. Even in that old POS you should be able to get better than 75% burner efficiency.

The ductwork will be set up in the old style of having the heated air discharged in the interior of the house. That is absolutely bassackward from the concept of perimeter heating that has been used for the last 60+ years. The house will have a noticeable temperature difference between the outer walls and the interior. I would state that an entire new duct system would be required.

Honestly, unless you are absolutely in love with some architectural features of the house (and maybe not even this would be enough) I would run from that house as I can almost guarantee it will become a money pit.
 
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