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Furnace dead 19 yrs.

How can you test the steam heat, house pipes, when furnace has been dead for 19 yrs.? The house was built in 1939, and has numerous problems I'm trying to fix where possible. No heat in the house for 19 yrs. hasn't been good for either the physical plant of the house or myself. I have inquired about the heat; but, I was told, the furnace would have to be replaced before the rest of the system (pipes and radiators) can be tested?? Why would I pay for a new furnace when I don't know about the pipes.. ISN'T THERE SOME WAY TO TEST THE PIPES BEFORE PAYING FOR A NEW FURNACE AND ITS INSTALLATION?? I'm praying the pipes are OK; but, it seems to me the should be checked first.

Re: Furnace dead 19 yrs.

If the system hasn't been run for 19 years and it's a one pipe steam system there not going to be worth the time and effort it would take to test the lines. Chances are there all plugged with scale.

Re: Furnace dead 19 yrs.

So what does that mean? Abandon old system and try something entirely different? That's why I'm hesitant to agree to new furnace install. I can't afford to tear up all walls to get at pipes when it's found the pipes are shot. I thought they could be presurized in some way to test integrity first. I'm being told that can't be done. :confused:

Re: Furnace dead 19 yrs.

I think that you're looking at a whole new system, if you want a trouble free working furnace and pipes.

BTW, today's new furnaces are very advanced and fuel efficient. Sometimes you can find rebates and promotions, that make your new system pay for itself very quickly. Shop around and get a few estimates.

Re: Furnace dead 19 yrs.

I tend to agree with John & dj1; it's probably not worth the expense to try & bring a steam system back if it's been sitting there for 19 years, and the system is perhaps decades older than the 19 years it's been out of service.

You also have to remember, as dj notes, that steam heat is a more traditional system that was used in residential applications many decades ago when the alternatives available today (such as high efficiency forced hot water heat) weren't available or hadn't been perfected; not only would a "revived" steam heat system cost you a fortune to have put back in service, steam heat requires DAILY MAINTENANCE that has to be performed, such as removing rusty boiler water, and cleaning clogged radiator vents, etc. which is another disadvantage.

Typical efficiency of an antiquated steam boiler is in the 50% to 60% range, which means that approx 50 cents of every dollar of heat is wasted, flying up the chimney to heat the great outdoors; modern boilers/furnaces, on the other hand, have an efficiency of 80% to 95%, which is a tremendous savings---and they're almost completely maintenance-free & reliable.

A new forced-hot water system with hi-temp plastic PEX tubing and baseboards can be easily installed, and the small diameter tubing can be ferreted thru the wall cavities easily to connect all the convectors.

I would recommend you consult the Yellow Pages under "Heating Contractors" to get several estimates on a new sytem, preferably gas-fired, if available on your street, or oil-fired; while he is there, the heating contractor can also give you an expert evaluation & his recommendation on the condition of the steam system.

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