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Emmie in SC
1850's house with boiler system

We recently purchased an 1850's era, 2 story house in SC. It's about 5,000 square feet, and still has an intact boiler/radiator heating system. I have no idea when it was last used, if it works, or if it would be a good idea to try to use it. We are about to start some renovations, and don't want to demo it out if it could be utilized efficiently. That type of system is not common in this area, and I'm having trouble finding someone who even knows what it is. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Sombreuil_mongrel
Re: 1850's house with boiler system

Hi,
We are always gladdened when the homeowner chooses to retain the radiators. Many people with historic houses in my area find it a no-brainer to retain the even heat of old radiators, whether steam or hydronic.
For Air/con many people opt for a multi-zone high-velocity-type system. The first floor ducts are run in the basement, and the upstairs ones in the attic or ceilings, that way no huge vertical chases are required between floors.
On one house we did, the steam boiler required replacement, and finding a contractor for that was not easy; very few firms who are familiar with steam want to bother with residential systems.
Casey

johnjh2o
Re: 1850's house with boiler system

Is it a steam or hot water system? If it's steam then there would be one pipe feeding the radiators. If it's hot water it is more then likely a two pipe gravity feed system. Either system can be updated, but in either case a boiler replacement is in order.

John

Emmie in SC
Re: 1850's house with boiler system

It is a water system. Any idea about how much a new boiler might cost? The old one ran on oil, but I would like to change to propane, which we have for cooking and the central heat. The central heat does not keep the house warm at all on the colder days. We had it checked out, and it's working properly. We are zone heating with gas logs, electric heaters in the bedrooms, and a kerosene heater in the kitchen. LOL, a little of everything!

Dobbs
Re: 1850's house with boiler system

Emmie,

A hot water boiler heating system is a great way to heat the house, but you'll have to get at least one to three experienced boiler men in there to evaluate how much $$$ it will take to get it in working condition once again.

Try checking the Yellow Pages under 'Heating Contractors"; also go to Google on your computer and enter "hydronic heating service in South Carolina" (or your town).

Also note that most fuel oil dealers also provide boiler service; so check the Yellow Pages under "Fuel Oil Dealers"; also check under "burner service" or "oil burner service"; on your computer, Google the same phrases just listed for your locality; also check the Yellow Pages under "Gas" for propane dealers and propane boiler service dealers.

Once you have the estimates, you should also get other estimates for other heating types such as forced hot air, etc.; they may be a lot lower than trying to revive an old hot water system that is too far gone and too expensive to repair; always get the estimates in writing so you can make an accurate decision on the most economical system.

It may even be economical to shut off some of the upper floors during the cold months and confine the living space to the lower floor areas.

Sombreuil_mongrel
Re: 1850's house with boiler system

First you said you have no idea if it works or when it was last used; then you said that it doesn't keep the house warm on the coldest days. If it hasn't been used lately, how do you know its limitations? Especially since you "recently bought" the place. Can you clarify and reconcile the two (contradictory) statements?
The new gas boilers are supposedly uber-efficient for this sort of thing.
Casey

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